From the Mudroom

As we all know, spring has arrived in our neck of the woods. While it has been cold and rainy ever since we decorated our pumpkins for Halloween, the traditions of the new season have found its way to our town: Tulips are bursting through the cold soil, lilacs will soon be overwhelming us with their sweet fragrance and many of us are now opening our windows for some delightful spring air. Thus, my problem. McGuire

For the past several months, our house has been sealed shut. My heating bill has set world records and it’s amazing my family is still alive, as we have been breathing the same recycled air since football season started.

But my favorite time of the year has arrived with one minor issue that often sets me on edge. Just as we prepare for longer days, sandals and baseball, we also anticipate a springtime ritual in our household. It happens every year with great anticipation: the annual “opening of the windows.”

What does this mean?

It means keeping our family conversations at a respectable level as we open our windows for the first time in months. It’s a lifestyle we must relearn. For example, music must now be kept at a reasonable volume, as our neighborhood does not want to hear my son’s latest iTunes selections. I also need to remember that having a “conversation” with my daughter regarding the condition of her bedroom needs to be whittled down to dramatic eye stares and over-exaggerated hand motions. By looking at me you would think I was attempting to guide a plane down a runway at PDX. Yet, the dog walkers on our block don’t need to know that my child’s bedroom could very well qualify for an episode of “Hoarders” nor that I need a tetanus shot to enter her room.

It usually takes us until the middle of July to stop prefacing every conversation with, “Remember, the windows are open!” By then, our neighbors know that my son is reminded half a dozen times to take out the trash and to make his bed or his FIFA 13 is gone. I’m sure that our friends who hear this daily battle from the comfort of their own homes are ready for me to mix up my threats, but forbidding FIFA still does the trick, which of course, they already know.

Now that windows are open, I must also remember that my singing voice is not ready for prime time. Therefore, it is necessary for me to hum along with my favorite songs as opposed to singing them as if I’m a contestant on “American Idol.” I’m not a big television watcher, so music plays in my house often. All you need to do is give me a little Abba and I’ll show you who’s the Dancing Queen.

So the night before the traditional “opening of the windows,” we gather around our kitchen table and give each other pep talks on how to talk at a normal level. My husband and I remind our children that there is no need to shout what they are feeling every time they are feeling it. That can be reserved for the winter months. We tell them that having some pride is a good thing. We don’t want the first thing our neighbors to think when they see us is that our son requires daily reminders to take a shower or our youngest daughter yells at the top of her voice, “tap tap” as she runs through the house reserving the television for the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

And in case my neighbors are wondering about the loud scream that occurred last night around dinnertime? Well, my son still doesn’t like it when his food touches on his plate. Sorry, I’m working on it.

Julie McGuire is a busy Lake Oswego mother of three children, a freelance writer and a monthly columnist for the Lake Oswego Review. When she’s not playing chauffer, she writes a blog, “From the Mudroom,” at

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