Cleaning wars

It is a miserable, grey Thursday with freezing rain falling from the sky. We've all been to a memorial service for a neighbor, and no one is quite sure what day it is (having been forced to put on nice clothes for an hour). And my Arizona-born internal system is screaming at me that February is here and spring has come. Not.

So instead of filling this post with my daydreams of sitting on a lawn chair in the sun with a good book and with the smell of orange blossoms in the air, I'll rehash something I shared on facebook yesterday. (If I'm friends with you, I apologize for the rerun... I really can't think of anything original to write at this moment.)

Yesterday afternoon, A. organized the masses into playing what has become my very favorite game. It's called 'Cleaning Wars' and I think that A. made it up. (A. likes to clean. Actually A. likes things to be neat and clean, so she cleans to keep them that way.) Now, A. is pretty much alone in her desire for neatness and she has always shared a room, so she has had to be creative in her coercion. I think this is brilliant... and I had nothing to do with it at all.

Cleaning Wars is played by everyone going to their rooms, cleaning them, and whoever has the cleanest room at the end of it, wins. (Bragging rights only. I'm not going to ruin a good thing with incentives.) This is pretty much the only time some family member clean without fussing. I guess I am raising a fairly competitive bunch, because they really like to win, even if it is just winning whose room is cleanest.

The other benefit, other than having clean bedrooms, is that by the time a cleaning war is announced, things have usually gotten pretty bad and it takes a while to put them to rights. So, I have occupied children for at least an hour, if not more. And it's not just picking up, they also clean and dust and vacuum. It is a beautiful thing.

Now, don't go thinking that this is something that happens on a regular basis. Cleaning wars are a sporadic activity at best and we have plenty of weeks with parental badgering of children to clean their rooms. I think part of its success is that the adults have never had any part in it. Trust me, I've tried to declare a cleaning war, and I am just stared at as if I suggested that licking the dirt off the floor with their tongues would be a fun game. I have been known to offer end-of-cleaning-war refreshments to all parties, thus (to my way of thinking) making them want to play it more often.

Yes, it was quite a pleasant afternoon. And it was sunny. There were no orange blossoms blooming, though. That might have made it just about perfect.

It breaks my heart to share this. A mother who recently traveled to Harvey's orphanage has said that the decision is that Harvey is too fragile to ever be able to make the trip to the US. At this point, all we can do is pray for his comfort until God takes him home. Pray that while he is still here on earth that he experience peace and love and comfort.


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