Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We've Got a "23-19"!!!

We've got a 23-19!!!!

That's what we say in our house when we catch wind of someone coming over for an unexpected visit. Years ago, we bought the movie "Monsters Inc." for our kids. The phrase, "We've got a 23-19!" is what the monsters would scream whenever one of the children had a security breech and walked through their door unexpectedly.

Ever since that movie came out, "23-19" has been code for, "Quick! Clean the house! Someone's coming over!"

When we hang up the phone and yell, "23-19!" the house erupts in activity. The children pick up their shoes. My husband picks up the remnants of the morning paper. I put stray coffee cups in the dishwasher. We make a quick swipe of the guest bathroom with the Windex and a paper towel to erase any possible stray toothpaste marks in the sink. I vacuum the living room. Then...if there's time, I light a good smelling candle.

We have had so many wonderful and unexpected 23-19's that the drill is second nature to us. We drop what we're doing, and spot-clean our respective areas. We run around the house like chickens with our heads cut off until the work is done, and then we jump on the couch as our company is pulling in the driveway and we pretend to be reading a magazine. Then we calmly answer the door as if we'd been resting for hours in our spotless house. OK, I'm kidding about the last part........ sort of.

The truth is, I dream of having the kind of June Cleaver home where unexpected visits won't frazzle us so much, but I've come to realize that this may not happen anytime soon. Sure, there are a few days each week when the house has been thoroughly cleaned. In between those deep cleanings we try to keep the house straightened up, but I have three homeschooled children in this household. Things are bound to be out of place every now and then. In fact, sometimes the messiness of the house is in direct proportion to how much fun we've had that day. Really messy = Having the time of our lives!

There will be plenty of years down the road when our house will be tidy all of the time. We'll be ready for drop-in guests, and I'll always have a pot of coffee and something freshly baked to feed them. But while we're in the throes of parenting, I'd rather enjoy my kids more, and obsess about domestic perfection less. So for now, I'm satisfied with a few 23-19's every now and then.

Besides, a good 23-19 is like a Chinese fire drill. It really livens up the household, and we look so ridiculous while we're running around that we usually crack up laughing in the process.


  1. Have you ever noticed you never have 23-19's when the house is spotless? I'll get done cleaning and then say, "Well, I guess we don't have to worry about having any company!" I have also noticed a correlation between my emotional state and the cleanliness of the house, or maybe it's the other way around. LOL!

  2. Love the "23-19"! All my kiddos agreed that we should adopt that code phrase! And what a blessing to both have fun stuff (life!) to clean up, AND fun friends to drop in!

  3. And my husband thinks we're the only ones...HA!