Thursday, October 21, 2010

Double Header

I thought the title appropriate as we are currently in the middle of Playoffs for the World Series. GO GIANTS! That's right, I'm a band wagoner. Haven't watched a game all season and I'm a fan. Whoot!

The other reason for the title is because I'm going to cover two topics. First, is vacuum maintenance. It's a necessary evil. I've been racking my brain and there is no humor in it. No witty remarks. And those of you who personally know me know that I need a week to come up with something witty. I know, its hard to believe but my alter ego writes these posts. 

The second topic is when to teach your kids to clean up after themselves.  Interesting, I know.

Vacuum's:  Here's the deal folks, its super important to clean the machine. Bagless or canister your vacuum came with a user manual that has maintenance that will not only extend the life of the machine but also its productivity.  I know none of you still have your user manual and that's okay. Get your vacuum out beside you and go online to the manufacturer website. Enter in some info and BAM! There is your manual.  Now, I suggest you download this to a house folder on your computer for later reference.  And this tip is for way more than vacuum's. Don't clutter up the house with all these manuals you'll loose anyway. Download them and stay organized. This tip is especially useful for parents. Cribs, swings all the way through electronics. If you have to put it together, resale it, clean it, download the user manual.

Alright enough about manuals. Now you have it. Read the instructions carefully and follow them. In my case, I have several cleanable filters that take 24 hours to fully dry before I can run the vacuum again. 

In the meantime I get a old comb and a pair of scissors, a washcloth and a small bucket of hot soapy water (not sudsy, just soapy).  You'll also need both a phillips head and flathead screwdriver. And because I'm crazy I also get a q-tip and extra cotton ball.  You're going to get your vacuum on the floor, on its front side so that the rollers are exposed. Remove the coverplate to fully expose those rollers. We all know that hair and string get wrapped around those but here is the bigger problem.  You loose suction when those things don't do their job. So clean it all up in there. While you're in there check on the belt and make sure there is no noticeable ware spots.  Put the coverplate back and stand the machine upright. Check all the hoses for clogs, especially at the bends. Now lay the machine back down on its backside.  Using a damp washcloth wipe it down, all the nooks and crannies. this is where I use my q-tip and cotton ball. But that might be excessive.

I know I used the "would you eat off of a dirty plate" on you all already but let me hit you in the wallet now.  I spent 170 bucks on my vacuum. That is sort of middle of the road as far as vacuums go. But I don't have two hundred bucks to be throwing around every time a belt breaks or it looses suction because I don't know how to clean the thing.

Now for the second half of this blog: When to Teach Your Child to Pick Up After Themselves

The other week I overheard a mother of a girl the same age as Alice, say that she is not going to make her daughter put on her own shoes, "she's only 3."   Well this sent my head spinning. Alice puts her own shoes on. Am I forcing my child to grow up too fast?? Is this going to be the 1st point in her life that she realizes I push her too hard?? No, its just shoes. And I want my child to be self-sufficient. If she needs help she asks for it and I give it. Not a crisis. But it did get me thinking about the different ages to start introducing chores.  So it's no surprise that I clean a lot.  I started getting Alice involved too. I would hand her a dust rag or a wipe and show her what to wipe down.  These days though she has responsibilities. Toys come out and are played with all day. Great But Alice is responsible to pick up those toys and put them in the respectable bedrooms.  Eli's toys in his room and her toys in her room.  Then once a week she has to clean both her room and her brother's room.  He's only one, so I charge Alice with teaching Eli how to pick up his toys.  We sing songs and make up counting games to make it more fun. I always sit in the room with her and remind her where things go. But these are her "chores."  Here is what I have noticed: fewer toys now come out of the room. I even have started noticing that when she is finished playing with something it gets put away.  

Now when I mentioned to a couple of mothers that this is what my 3 year old is responsible for they looked at me like I was breaking child labor laws. But I think this is exactly what the experts are talking about when they tell us to teach our children early and they will have better habits later.

Opinions please....

Until next time.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Breath Easy

Hello people! I was going to dedicate this blog to vacuum maintenance but am going to push that one off another week as I was inspired this week to cover a different topic.

I got may hair done this weekend and in talking to the stylist discovered her son too suffers from allergy induced breathing problems. I talked to her about all the research I had done when Eli was diagnosed with his issues and she was shocked to discovered there are things you can do to indoor environments to prevent flare-ups and make those who have breathing issues more comfortable. I want to share with y'all these tips that have helped and also some things that maybe you never considered.  And as you read I've added a few tips to help out as we approach the winter months. Lets call them bonuses.

1st: Windows are often neglected in several ways and not just cleaning.  Most of us have blinds or curtains that block direct sunlight but this also blocks our view of what is lying in those sills and panels.  Pull these back and we all know what we will find; dust and dead bugs. Okay fine clean them up. But Wait! Dead bugs are very brittle and those parts brake off and get kicked up into the air. Those particles get inhaled and can severely aggravate someone with sensitive allergies. The best way to begin cleaning is by vacuuming off the windows. I told you my vacuum was my best cleaning tool. And doesn't the thought of inhaling bug parts totally gross you out!
Secondly, if you live in an older home and you suspect your windows are drafty there are two key remedies to sealing up those pesky windows on the cheap. The first I am not a fan of unless you have a really bad window problem. At your local hardware store they are selling window sealing kits that include adhesive tape and plastic. You tape the plastic to the interior of your window and effectively stop the draft. However, the designer in me gasps! The alternative is spending approximately six bucks on a box of caulk rope. You pull it off like a piece of sting cheese and press it firmly all the way around the interior window casing. You won't be able to open your windows til next spring but, you'll save a ton this winter on heating bills.

#2: Dusting. So I'm sure most of you are aware that the old feather dusters don't do anything but kick up the dust. And if you listen closely to the commercials for these Swiffer dusters they claim to pick up some percentage "more" than the typical feather duster. Not good enough for me. But before you pick up your bottle of Pledge let me tell you that those chemical cleaners can do more harm than good when it comes to breathing. Most of us have our own cleaners because we like the way it smells. I love when something "smells clean" it makes my endorphins swim in delight. I would die happy if everyday my house smelled like Fabuloso (the purple one).  But those smells can get the best of someone with allergies.  The best way I have found to dust is with a bar towel and a small bucket of warm/hot water with a very small amount of dish soap.  No strong, offensive odors. No harsh chemicals that may damage delicate finishes. Just good, old fashioned clean. 
Here is a tip too to cut down on airborne dust and to prevent waking up with a dry throat during the winter months. Run a humidifier in the bedrooms at night. My pediatricians are saying to run these things throughout the year not just when the kiddos are sick. And I have read that since its adding moisture to the air it is weighing down any airborne dust. Great investment- just be sure to clean regularly to prevent mold growth. I use vinegar. 

So there you have it. . ..for now. We have got to get to vacuum maintenance!  You wouldn't eat off of a dirty dish would you?? Don't tell me if you do.
Ta ta for now and happy cleaning.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pass the potatoes...not the germs

Hello All.

So I am writing to you on five hours of sleep interrupted by alarms to dole out medicine to my baby.  My vision is blurry and my head is pounding. If the coffee doesn't kick in in about 3 seconds I'm tempted to bathe in it and let the caffeine saturate my entire body. 

I've mentioned before that my little Eli has had some breathing problems in the past. By all outward appearances he is a happy and healthy baby boy. And most of the time he is. However, because of his issues in the past he is more susceptible to contracting illnesses than most.  Especially respiratory stuff. Last night his fever spiked to 104. He has never had a fever so high and was lethargic. I was terrified. During the 20 minute drive to the ER I was either praying or wondering why we moved so far away from civilization.  Momma was a wreck.  Once he was all checked out and we found out it was a respiratory infection I was told that about 80% of the patients they are seeing in ER right now are coming in with this same virus! And they said what is worse is a lot of people are making two trips to the hospital because they are reinfecting themselves.

This brings me to the topic of this blog. Everyone is wiping down handles on the supermarket buggy, and lysoling the phones at work and washing their hands with hand sanitizer whenever they see a bottle in public. But what are you doing once you've been sick? Do you replace your toothbrush after you've been sick? How about the kids stuff, bed sheets, pillow protectors, favorite blankets or softies, and yes even TOYS. 

Here is what should be done after the kiddos are sick to prevent reinfection of themselves and others:  Softies (includes blankets, sheets, stuffed animals) throw all the stuff you used to comfort the little ones into the washing machine. If its stuffed animals use the gentle cycle. And drying is really the most important part - the heat from the dryer will kill any germ still living on your stuff. Use the dishwasher for toys that don't have little areas you can't get into to dry thoroughly. The steam from the dishwasher can get into all those nooks and crannies and if everything doesn't dry properly you can get mold and mildew growing inside and then you have a whole new world of problems. The safest way to take care of all of this though is to fill your sink or bathtub with a few inches of warm to hot water and add a little bleach. There are instructions on most bleach bottles for this purpose so please follow the recommendations! Make sure you wash off all the toys and get all the surfaces. Dry as best you can and if you cant get to it don't worry the bleach will not only help it dry faster but will inhibit growth of any unwanted germs.  For the bigger toys, wipe it down with antibacterial wipes.

Don't forget to wipe down cribs too! Tables, door knobs, door casements, cabinet doors, etc. Whatever your baby may have touched make sure you run over it with disinfectant.  Toothbrushes get replaced (that goes for when adults get sick too). And don't reuse sippy cups or pacifiers until they have been disinfected by the dishwasher. 

Its Fall now, my favorite time of year. But it's also cold and flu season so stay hydrated, take a multi-vitamin to help your immune system fight off bugs and most importantly go outdoors and enjoy! Next weekend we are taking a big family trip to a pumpkin farm's fall festival! Until next time, stay healthy.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lightening the Load

Did you ever watch 'Overboard" with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell? Remember when he got home from work and found the boys throwing grapes at the mouth of a catatonic Goldie?  I sometimes find myself feeling like this by the time Hubby gets home from work.

When I stopped working I threw away my slow cooker.  I heard the gasps, thanks. It had been passed down three generations and 'low' no longer worked. The food either turned out ice cold or burnt to the bottom of the dish. And besides, I thought "Well, now I have the time to make meals for my family." Wrong.  I have spent a little over a year learning how to be a "homemaker."  I had this glamorized idea of what life would be as a house wife. Wrong again.

I have decided that I need a slow cooker again. One that works this time. Dinner needs to cook itself while I take on my million other tasks. And the fact that it is one dish sort of thrills me deep inside.  I loath doing dishes.  I would rather scrub toilets. 

So, this afternoon I will be making my way to the store and buying a slow cooker. Tomorrow night dinner will cook itself.  I'm very excited, but I need to get back to work or we'll be eating peanut butter and jelly in a tortilla for dinner. 

Later this week I'll be posting the next cleaning blog and I'll let you know how dinner turned out.

Bye-bye for now.