Rhonda (the Roomba)

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A few months back, I asked my Facebook friends if they had experience with Roombas.  Despite receiving a lot of mixed reviews, I decided to give it a go.  We recently double the square feet in our house, which also double the square feet that gets covered in dog hair.  I don’t mind vacuuming a couple times a month (on top of what the house cleaner does every other Monday), but it was apparent that it needed more maintenance than I was willing to do (ie every day).

After looking at all the models available, I decided to splurge on the most recent model, Roomba 980. I chose this one because it connects to our wifi.  I know this seems silly, but the idea of connecting to the Roomba through an app in order to create and adjust a cleaning schedule just seemed easier.  Also, I thought the latest model might have worked out some of the technical kinks that were found in some of the earlier models. At the moment, it does not connect to any smart home hubs, but I’m hoping it will eventually.  Since Chris wants to automate everything in the house, I figured this was a better choice than the other models that do not connect.  

So two months in, how do I feel about my purchase? Would I spend $900 (!) on a robot vacuum again? Hell Yes. It’s ridiculous how much dog hair and dirt gets picked up every day.  The picture is only one day’s worth of dirty & hair.  Rhonda (the Roomba) vacuums in places that I would never get to, including under the claw foot tub and the bed.  If she can fit, she will clean.  In the past, when things get a bit too furry, Chris’s allergies would start bothering him, but that hasn’t been an issue since Rhonda (the Roomba) moved in.  I justified this expensive purchase as a “medical need” so I’m particularly tickled that worked out. (Note: Justified to myself. Chris was always on board.) Also, I find myself using the Roomba app fairly often.  Currently, she’s set to start cleaning at 10am.  However, I often start her after I’ve left the house so she’ll be closer to done when I arrive home.  Or if I find out someone is going to stop by the house, I don’t have to wait until I’m home to get the house vacuumed.

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Then everything is peachy? Things are peachy, but things aren’t perfect.  Rhonda (the Roomba) does great with dog hair.  With my loooong human hair (lower mid-back), she has a hard time.  My hair gets rapped up in her brushes and spinning sensor. However, my hair has wrapped up and clogged vacuums since I was a teenager so it’s not really a Roomba flaw - it’s a vacuum flaw.  If you flip over my Dyson, you would see a very hairy brush that needs to be cut free.

Rhonda also struggles with items left on the floor, such as phone cords and socks.  If you don’t want it sucked up, don’t leave things on the floor.  Once she gets choked on something, she turns off.  Of course, I’d much rather her turn off than ruin the motor, but it usually results in a weekly game of hide-and-seek.  I can see how that would be annoying for some people, but I actually get a kick out it.  Maybe it’s because we’ve anthropomorphized the Roomba by giving her a name, but I feel like I’m rescuing her.  At least once a week I say, “I need to find Rhonda!” She works so hard for us! I don’t want to leave her stranded!

She is noisy.  I wouldn’t say she’s excessively noisy, but she’s as loud as my Dyson.  Also, she’s high maintenance. Her dirt bin needs to be emptied daily.  If her bin is full, she won’t vacuum.  (Technically you can override this feature, but it seemed like wasteful Roomba mileage.) And she needs her brushes washed once a month or so.

Lastly, I had a bit of a hard time setting her up.  It should be simply plug-n-play, and that’s what iRobot, the creators of Roomba, strived for.  However, I had to contact customer service, but that turned into a great experience.  The Roomba rep even played along with my jokes while getting me fixed up. 

Basically, it’s a vacuum and has many of the same drawbacks as regular vacuum.   It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a robot that vacuums and does a good job vacuuming! That makes up for all the funny quirks. 

Cats not in the Storage or the Kitty Igloo

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I hope you read that to the tune of “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin 

Nashville has been hit with a winter storm, and unlike all the previous ones predicted, we did get enough snow and ice for people to freak out and the city to shut down.  Finally! All the crazies are justified with their bread and milk hoarding!  For us on the south end, what was suppose to be a couple inches of snow turned out to be a little bit of snow and a lot of ice.  Just enough to make it look like thick compacted snow until you step out on it and discover that it slips out from under you. It’s not suppose to get above freezing for another few days, and the low tomorrow night is NEGATIVE THIRTEEN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.  I’m not an all-caps kind of girl, but that warrants some all-caps.  I live south of the Mason-Dixon line, y’all, and I didn’t sign up for this. No way; no how.  

So everything is frozen. I’m not going anywhere, and I will be stuck inside with three crazy dogs, a bored six year old, and a swamped CEO husband with only ONE bottle of wine for a week.  Dammit.  Those crazy may need bread, but I forgot to go to the liquor store.  If the weathermen (and women) would stop crying wolf over every “Winterstorm” then I would know when to take them seriously.  Maybe I should just stock extra bottles in the storm cellar.  It can be my plan for “State of Emergencies“.

So back to the cat…

My outdoor kitty, Lazarus, will not come indoors because of the dogs. (This is always the case - she’s always welcome indoors.) She will not go in the shed with a kitty igloo, food, and a HEATER.  She will not go in the kitty igloo on the front porch with food. She just looks at me with this expression that says, “I’m not a dog, woman; I do what I want. Now hold me.” Lazarus has, however, managed to get to her usual haunt - under the house - despite being extra insulated and closed up about two weeks ago by a crew of four. Proof that cats will do whatever the hell cats want to do no mater how many people say otherwise.

So now I get to stay awake at night and worry about her as the temperature drops, and not to mention her sister, Jones, whom I haven’t seen in a couple days.  Jones is very resourceful gal, and I’m hoping and praying she’s okay.  There’s only so many times you can wander the neighborhood yelling “Jones!” (We really should give our cats more cat like names.) Until then, I guess I’m going to move a kitty igloo into the storm cellar under the house.  I’ll just put it where my emergency wine rack will be going.  I may need to hide visit down there to plan it all out; you know, undisturbed by all the upstairs creatures.

Stay tipsy warm, y’all!

Austerity

Categories: home , Married Life | No Comments

After an expensive December that included some anticipated and unanticipated expenses, Chris & I decided to commit to a month of zero spending.  Well, actually it’s 33 days of zero spending, but who’s counting? I was inspired by the 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero challenge on Living Well Spending Less.

On Sunday, I took inventory of our pantry, sat down with the local grocery store flyers, and planned out our meals for the month of January.  I’m a self-admitted food hoarder and usually keep a pretty well-stocked pantry and deep freezer (and fridge freezer and fridge).  Unfortunately, it had been a while since I hit the meat sale jackpot (hello, “manager’s specials” that keep perfectly fine in my sub-zero deep freezer) so the majority of my grocery list was meat, and meat can be expensive.  Between stocking up on household supplies and buying meat & produce, I spent $250 on Sunday.  Keep in mind, that is an entire month’s worth of food and supplies.  (And if I’m being truthful, it’s probably closer to a month and a half’s worth.  However, this will be the first month, probably in this history of mine & Chris’s relationship, that we haven’t eaten out.  I needed to be prepared.)

Alright, it’s day two.  I know. Only day two.  No eating out. No buying stuff. Resisting my child’s pleas to visit the snack machine at the gym. I decided to look around the house and finish some unfinished projects as a way to avoid spending money.  Why spend money when you’ve already spent it on stuff you haven’t gotten around to doing?

As I was looking around our office/craft room, I saw my old Kit Cat clock on the wall.  The poor guy just hangs there, still and purposeless.  In the past, excess dust has stopped him from twitching his tail.  I figured I’d give it a go.  Fix Mr. Kit Cat.  Thankfully, the manufacture has some fantastic tutorials on repairing their clocks.  Within five minutes, I had him going! Yay! But he was missing a part, which turned him into drunk Kit Cat (very apropos for New Year’s Eve). 

I discovered he was missing a part - a J clip that costs $1.50, which includes shipping. I couldn’t fix him because I couldn’t spend ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS. Damn you, austerity.  But then I remembered - I had a very old gift card in my car that was worth $2.29.  Eh? Would it work? Some sites want to put a $5 hold to charge anything. It was worth a try, and HARK! It worked! I repaired Mr Kit Cat, ordered a new part, and didn’t spend any money! Huzzah!

I realize it’s only day two, but I consider that a win.  Drunk Kit Cat agrees.

Keep Calm & Carry On

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I try to avoid house decor trends.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think chicken kitchens are cute, and it’s a hard fight to resist covering Cecilia’s bathroom with rubber duck decor.  It’s just that I’m scarred.  When I was in junior high, my mom let me go all out with the very trendy, very colorful sunflower theme.  My bedroom was painted green and marigold yellow.  Sunflower curtains. Sunflower bedspread. Sunflower, sunflower, SUNFLOWER! A few years later, after that fad had passed, it was bit embarrassing to have folks in my room, and there was no way of covering it’s BRIGHT YELLOW walls.

As an adult, I’ve tried to keep my home a bit more classic.  I like pieces that can be switched out easily without much cost or effort.  I’ve painted all the walls very neutral colors. Even Cecilia’s room is tan.  That’s how devoted I am to a neutral, trend-less house. However, recently I found something I just can’t resist - Keep Calm and Carry On poster.  I’ve seen them in several magazines and websites, and I just think there adorable.  It’s a good mantra to have in your life, especially if you’re a mother of a toddler who’s entering her terrible twos.  Plus it has a very interesting background story.

There are some great Etsy sellers that offer the poster at reasonable price, and you can customize the size and colors.  I paid $15 for my print (including shipping), $5 for my frame (Goodwill!), and $7 for the mat (Hobby Lobby). That’s just $27 for a 16×12 piece of art!

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Sweaty Shade of Summer

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Starting with our courtship, I’ve been after Chris to keep the hvac unit off when the weather was nice.  I just have a hard time making sense flipping the thermostat from heat to cool without an off period in between.  There’s something refreshing about opening the windows and airing out a dusty house after a long winter.  Unfortunately, with Chris’s allergies, sleeping the windows open cause him to develop sinus infections.

I guess it was a good thing he had his sinus surgery in January and had his sinuses scraped out because our heating unit went out the week before we started our hardwood floor refinishing.  We figured we could live without it for a while since it was a nice temperature outside, it would be off during the renovations, and we were staying with his folks for a week.  Besides, hvac repairs can be expensive.

That was nearly a month ago. So far, so good though.  Early spring in Tennessee can be pretty enjoyable.  Plus I was hopeful that it was just the heating part, not the air conditioning.  Until today. It reached 87 degrees - 79 in the house.  No air conditioning.  We called the repair man.  He came. He went.  And $125 later, the house is still 79 degrees.

Chris also informed me that the Jeep’s AC went out too.  Ugh.

Cat Question

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I’ve had cats my entire life. I love cats. In fact, I had one until I moved in with Chris, and then I had to give her away because he’s deathly allergic. (It was a very hard decision - my kitty or my boyfriend. Ridiculously hard.) Then today we have this adorable stray show up on our back porch.  She’s super friendly, even to Chris, and the baby loves her.  Pretty kitty loves Cecilia too.  The only thing is, if we keep her, she must to be an outdoor cat - for Chris’s health and my sanity. I just couldn’t add to the chaos, not to mention the pet hair.

However, it makes me wonder. I’ve never really been a big fan of outdoor only cats. I guess she would end up being more of a neighborhood cat. Our street already has lots of hobo kitties, which is alarming.  If I don’t find her picture on a flyer or on the side of a milk carton, I’m going to take her into a cheap vet for a once over and spay.  I’ll make sure to get her shots up to date, including her rabies vaccination, but that leaves me with a question.  Do I get her a collar for her rabies tag?  It would be registered in my name.  Do I go one step further and get her a pet id?  I don’t want her picked up by Animal Control, but I’m hesitant to be financial responsible (beyond preventative care) for a vagrant feline.

Here’s her picture (shot with my phone).  I’ve named her Roxy.  (All my children, human or beast, have a song with their name in the title. Do you know which one is hers?)  She’s mostly white with some muted calico markings.  She’s got blue eyes that are a little crossed, and I think she might have six toes on her right front paw.   Also, her meow is almost completely silent.  My neighbor, Jimbo, offered to help watch out for her and feed her.  What do you think? What would you do? Do you think outdoor only cats are okay or cruel?

roxy

Floury Mess

Categories: home , Cecilia , mommyhood | 5 Comments

This week I started letting Cecilia explore in the kitchen while I cook and clean.  Previously we’ve strapped her into her highchair, but with her new found walking ability, she’s can no longer be pacified with Gerber baby puffs (or baby cheetos as the pediatrician calls them).  She wants to GO! GO! GO!

spice-cabinet

A few days ago, during her adventures, she discovered the Tupperware/Spice cabinet and had lots of fun pulling out all the lids and walking around with a very musical container of mustard seeds.  It was so cute, and since Tupperware lids have a lifetime warranty, I was more than happy to let her play with them.

floury-mess

Tonight, however, she found flour jar and dove right in.  For a split second, Chris and I debating stopping her, but it was way too cute.  The end result - a huge mess.  But flour is cheap and a smile on my daughter’s face is priceless. However, I’m going to have to find a new home for the flour.  She’s not likely to forget that fun soon.

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ANTS!

Categories: home , green living | 3 Comments

I know I’m always preaching going green and using earth-friendly methods.  However, I do believe that there is a time and place for conventional ways.  For example, last spring I battled a small army of black ants that were trying to invade my home.  In addition to the usual storing and covering of food, I drew chalk lines, dusted my window sills with pepper, and sprayed my counters with vinegar.  We still had a few ants, but I managed to keep them at bay.  This spring, when the ants returned, I tried the same methods, but they didn’t have the same results. I even tried tracking them to their nest in order to pour boiling water on it, but it didn’t work.  Ants seemed to be sneaking their way into every room of the house.  When I found ants crawling across Cecilia’s changing table several days in a row, I knew it was time to take action.  You can mess with my raisins, but you better not mess with my baby.

I invested in several anti-ant remedies - stakes, sprays, traps.  I even mixed borax with pancake syrup.  The repellents worked, but they seemed to pick up and move somewhere else nearby.  Frustrated, I started to track their path again when I noticed that they were flocking towards the grill cover yesterday.  I thought they had found a source of food, and I thought that would be a good place to spray.  Little did I know that grill cover had become their new home.

Despite suffering from a miserable case of hay fever, fiery hatred for the ants started to bubble inside of me as I grabbed a bottle of bug killer.  I sprayed and sprayed, but every time I unfolded more of the cover, I found more ants.  When the first bottle ran out, I grabbed a second bottle.  When that was empty, I grabbed a can of Raid for hornets that was originally purchased to kill a nest of carpenter bees in our carport.  (They’re still there, but I weighed the risk.  Outdoor bees with no stingers vs. ants that bite and enter my house.)  After all was said and done, my arm was sore from holding down the triggers on the bottles, and there was carnage all around.  It was like a Arthropod Hiroshima.

I won’t lie; it felt good.  I won the battle.  Though there were a few survivors, I killed thousands upon thousands of them.  I made no exceptions.  All ants were fair game.  All that the remaining ants could do was run away.  That is until I pulled out an old bottle of Windex with ammonia.

Warning - These pictures give me the heebee-geebees, and I was there.  

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“Cecilia, Earmuffs.”

Categories: home , Cecilia | 4 Comments

My stepmother is an audiologist so I grew up with a knowledge of decibels and its affect on hearing.  With my recent war on dog hair, I’ve become acutely aware of the volume of the vacuum cleaner.  I love my dyson, but I love Cecilia’s hearing more. At first, I tried leaving Cecilia in her pack’n'play while I vacuumed in the other room, but she was upset by the loud noise and disappearance of her momma.  I also tried waiting until Chris was home so he could hang with her while I vacuumed, but that didn’t happen as frequently as needed.  Two weeks ago, I ordered a pair of Peltor Junior Earmuffs.

I was a little worried that Cecilia wouldn’t tolerate them, but I was happily surprised that she was completely ambivalent.  Now I can clean the floors without permanently damaging her hearing, and, as an added bonus, she looks stinkin’ cute in them!

earmuffs

(That’s a drink coaster in her mouth.)

Spring Beginnings

Categories: home , green living | 2 Comments

Spring is in the air, and I’ve managed to keep my gardening fervor at bay.  In previous years, I’ve planted way too early and watched with great alarm as a late frost killed my tomato plants.  Of course, the last frost date for this zone (6b) isn’t until April 6th so I’ve got a while to go before I can plant in the ground.  However, it’s getting to be time to start seedlings.  In fact, I’m even a bit late for some varieties of vegetable.  Thankfully I’m not growing those from seeds.  I’m quite the novice when it comes to seeds, and some plants, i.e. tomatoes, are more likely to survive if I buy them already thriving.

Actually, I prefer live plants most of the time.  Unfortunately, there is one variety of squash that we’re addicted to and is only available as seeds. Last year, I tried to grow it but failed miserably.  After all, it’s difficult to force yourself out of bed to water your garden in the morning, and it is especially difficult if you’re a sleep deprived new mom.  In order to get our fix, Chris, Cecilia, and I loaded up and went to the farmers’ market every Saturday morning because there was one farmer that grew it.  And on the weeks he wasn’t there, there was quite a bit of sadness in our house.  (I might be exaggerating a little bit, but if we thought about it, we were sad.) This year I’m determined to grow my own.  We’ll probably still go to the Market on Saturdays, but we’ll spend our money on other things, like local honey and watermelons.  (We all know I don’t need to grow watermelons again.  I was too successful at that.)

Despite my failure, I did learn a couple things last year.  First, the supplies to start seeds can be a little expensive for something that you plan to either put in the ground or throw away.  Second, you shouldn’t use paper to mark your seedlings because it will wash away when it rains, and you won’t know which plant is which until you have four butternut squash vines growing.  This year, I have a new method, a cheaper method - yogurt cups!  It’s always bothered me that yogurt comes in a #5 plastic, which isn’t recyclable in our area.  How can something so good for your digestive system be so bad for the earth?  Anyway, I thought I’d give the cups one more use before tossing them in the trash.  I also marked the appropriately labeled the cups with a permanent marker.  Take that rain!

So here are my kids.  I might plant a few more veggies in the next few days.  It just depends if I’m craving yogurt. (As you can see, I ran out of yogurt cups and had to use a few traditional peat moss pots.)

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