I had to write about our New Year's experience. We went to Houston and had such a strange and wonderful time.
We stayed with Douglas and Ary, and guess what...their water heater broke the day before we got there. They took cold showers, but not me.
I said, if I had to, well okay, but I have too many friends in Houston to be taking a cold shower. We ended up going to Ary's parents and as always they were so gracious and hospitable.
Fito and I then went to visit some friends that we hadn't seen for some time. They are going through some really rough times and we spent the afternoon talking to them.
We then went to Ary's parents for their New Year's party. It was heaven walking into their clean cheerful home compared to the dreariness and emptiness we had just experienced.
I guess that's the way life really is: an up and down roller coaster ride, full of highs and lows, beauty and dreariness, happiness and pain, sweetness and bitterness...
I just wanted to hug Mirna (Ary's mom) and thank her for her hospitality, for providing a clean bright beautiful home. One of the greatest blessings a woman can give her family.
When a home is taken care of, the family demonstrates stewardship. They are also demonstrating to God their gratitude for what they have been given.
Think of the child who is given a toy and then proceeds to destroy it and not care about it. The message to the Giver is that of indifference and ingratitude.
My mother-in-law, whose husband was shot in El Salvador while she was pregnant with her sixth child had to go to work to provide for her family.
She hand washed her children's clothes and pressed them every day as they were the only clothes they had for school. They were taught to be very careful and take care of everything they had...for it was all they had.
She taught me, there are three main rules to keeping your house clean (I came from a so so cleanliness background).
First, no shoes in the house. The Asians are correct. The home is a temple and shoes should not be worn inside.
Second, No food or drink are to be consumed anywhere in the house, except at the table. This is a really hard rule to follow, but when it is followed...the house is 10 times easier to keep clean (especially with little children).
Third, no pets in the house unless they are trained and kept clean. We bought a parakeet a while back for my Mom, but the dander and fluff was horrible. I finally took a thick plastic and duct taped it to the bottom half of the cage. That has prevented all the mess from falling everywhere.
I also bought a plastic floor mat (the kind that goes under office chairs) and put it under the cage.
If I had not found a solution, though, the bird would have found a new home. We had a dog that we gave away because when we put the carpet in my Mom's section that dog decided it like to pee on the carpet.
It didn't seem to matter what we did, that dog peed only inside and only on the carpet.
We found a family that had wooden floor. They adopted our friendly little dog and both have been happy.
But do NOT allow your home-- your heaven-- your temple-- to be destroyed by either an animal or a human.
When I was getting something out of my bag, Celeste (two-years-old) saw a dry erase marker in the bag. She pulled it out and said, "No color on walls." Now how did a two-year-old know that?
I didn't ask her parents, but I am sure she did color on the wall and then Mommy's and Daddy's reaction was so extreme that it was imprinted in her mind to never do so again.
I want to add one more rule on keeping any area clean and organized:
Have a place for everything--and keep everything in it's place.
Do you have a place for your keys? Most people do not. Most people lay them down, lose them, and then are looking for them when it is time to go.
At our house there is a hook right inside the hall closet. All keys hang there. I noticed in Ary's and Douglas's home, a key holder hanging in their entry way. All their keys were hung on it.
This rule saves you hours of frustration and worry. You do longer will have to look for nail clippers, or scissors, or that paper...because it will be where it belongs...in the place you assigned it. Use labels if you need to to get started.
On a bookshelf or in a closet or in drawers...put labels telling what goes where...many schools and offices do this to help everyone know where things go.
When I had some people living with us awhile back, the microwave was always dirty. They would not use the dish cover. I finally took a 3 x 5 card and wrote in Spanish and English: PLEASE, COVER FOOD and taped it to the front of the microwave.
Guess what...they did. My microwave stayed 3 times as clean.
It all boils down to desire...then habit. If you have the habit to leave your keys everywhere. Why not simply change it into a habit to always hang them on a hook.
Through the years, my husband has taught me a thousand such small, seemingly insignificant habits. But when you put them all together, they add up into hours of time saved and less work.
Hang up your clothes when you remove them....this was a bad habit that I did not change for years. I was in the habit of laying them on a chair and hanging them up later. About 4 years ago, I made the concerted effort to change this one habit and now it drives me crazy if I do not hang them up immediately when I take them off.
Our habits RULE us, why not let them be good ones.
Enough of this. We left Ary's family and went to a cousin's home (of Fito's) that was having a party. We stayed there until 4 am and had so much fun we did not want to go.
Good food, great conversation, incredible music (cumbias from El Salvador) family, friends, warmth, friendship, a beautiful clean vibrant home, and a friendly hostess (like Ary's mom).
It was such a wonderful night. No one ruined it by getting too drunk, by having a fight, gossiping, etc. We had so much fun and everyone was great.
Sunday morning, I took Celeste for a walk in her stroller. I took their dog too. He got away from me and finally I caught him...what an adventure. The neighbor's dog got away from them and I helped them catch their dog. New Year's Freedom dog syndrom?
Also, I need to mention, that we went to visit my nieces and nephews later and as we were leaving their home, one of their neighbors was a approaching with his teenage son. He had backed out and hit Douglas's car (which we had borrowed).
What honesty! We started talking and it happened that he knew my father. We told him that we would not say anything to the insurance ( I have six sons) I know what one small accident can do to your premiums. He guaranteed he would get the car fixed and we believe him...he told us the truth in the first place. That says a lot about his character.
We also ate at an El Salvadoranian restaurant on Friday night when we arrived in Houston. WOW! Their Pupusas were better than mine. And their tamales were incredible. I ate red little refried beans with eggs and fried platanos and cream...oh my...what incredible food. We took home food...we ate so good the whole weekend.