our wee home

musings by michelle

Grout, grout, let it all out

I don’t know why that Tears for Fears song came to my head… =)

In our wee bathroom, we have wee white tiles on the floor. With supposedly white grout. After I first bought this house, I remember trying to clean the grout with straight bleach and a number of cleaners. All I got was a fumey bathroom. After brainstorming a bit, I decided to try to use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

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That worked better than any of the cleaners I bought. It’s been almost five years since then, and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t scrubbed the grout since then. So I looked on the web for a green way to clean grout, and low and behold, my baking soda and peroxide was what everyone recommended!

I started by spraying hydrogen peroxide on the floor (I just happened to have a spray top that was the same size as the bottle), and then sprinkling baking soda on top (I found the idea of re-using a parmesan cheese container for baking soda on pinterest). I ended up spraying more peroxide on top of that and letting it sit for a few minutes. The result was a paste. 20120516-164452.jpgThen I scrubbed with a grout brush, which I frequently dipped into more peroxide. Last time I had used a stiff-bristle brush that was about the size of my hand, but it made a huge mess — spraying my cleaner all over the place… so I got a grout brush thinking that it would contain the mess. I was wrong. It just made the process more tedious and it still made a mess. But, my grout is looking a lot better!  Now I’m wincing while I share with you how dirty my grout really was.  Ewwww!

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If you want to try this technique on your tile grout, just be forewarned that the clean-up is messy. If you use a stiff brush to clean the grout, the paste will spray and will fly up and stick to the walls, bathtub, toilet, etc. So you have to wipe down the walls a bit, and then wipe up the floor. I suppose if you had time to completely let it dry, it might be pretty easy to just sweep or vacuum up before you wipe it down.  I’ve also heard that you can incorporate either lemon juice or vinegar into cleaning grout.  Does anyone have experience doing that?

Now, I wonder if there are any natural ways to seal the grout to keep it looking clean…?

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May 16, 2012 Posted by | DIY, Green living, Home Improvements | , , , | 2 Comments

Update on airport security with infants!

I feel like I needed to follow-up on my last blog post and fill everyone in on how Norah’s first flight went.  I think things went as well as they could, really.  She was just a little fussy on each flight, but we avoided a major scene.  Whew!  Here are some things I learned from my first flight with a 3-month-old:

  • After having stressed out about having to get a birth certificate before flying, I was not asked for it by either my airline or TSA!  Maybe it’s just needed to prove they’re under two (for the lap child policy) when they start to look older?
  • When you have an infant, you can get a “pass” for a someone else to accompany you to the gate!  Matt came in with me to check in, and the man at the Frontier Airlines counter asked if he’d like to come with me to the gate.  Lucky for me, traffic was heinous, so Matt was looking for a way to kill some time before heading home.  It was a great help, as on the other side of security, I needed to pee, Norah needed a new diaper, and I needed to buy some dinner.  While I COULD have managed on my own, it was great to have Matt there to walk me to the gate.
  • If you wear your baby on the plane, some flight attendants will insist that you remove him/her from their carrier for take-off and landing.  Seems silly to me, but oh well.
  • On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised to not have to take Norah out of her carrier to go through security.  They let you wear the baby through the metal detector (not the body scanner) and then they swab your hands to check for bomb-making chemicals or something.  Easy-peasy!
  • My dad was right, babies’ ears will only hurt on the descent.  I had thought it was both take-off and landing.  So I just nursed her before landing to keep her happy.
  • If you use cloth diapers (normally), but plan to use disposables for a trip; don’t forget to change your babe into a disposable before you leave home… otherwise, you’ll have to carry around a dirty cloth diaper for your whole trip.  I remembered this on the way to the airport, so we did a quick change in the car before going into the airport.
  • This tip isn’t mine, it’s from my cousin:  If you’ve recently potty-trained your kiddo, take pull-ups with you on a trip.  You never know if the airplane bathroom will terrify your kid, and then you’ll have to sit through a flight in wet jeans.  =)

I had a great first mother’s day!  Norah met tons of her family, and did a great job of smiling and cooing and being overall just a doll.  She was really adaptable and even slept better at her grandparents’ house in a pack-n-play than she does in her own crib!

Just one of the special moments this weekend was getting four generations of women together for this photo!

4 generations

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Infants and airport security?

Norah and I are heading to Nebraska to visit my family, and I have no idea what I’m in for at the airport ( and in the airplane) today.  Any tips for flying with a 3-month-old?  My strategies so far include:

  • Checking my luggage.  Even though I fit everything into a carry-on-sized suitcase, I just don’t want to deal with it.
  • Wearing Norah in the Ergo most of the time.  She’s usually pretty happy in there, and can nap well in it.  I’ve even nursed her once in there, so that’s an option.
  • Nursing her during landing, to help her ears pop.
  • My family borrowed a car seat for the weekend, so I won’t have to lug that thing along.  I’ll just be carrying Norah & her diaper bag.
I have no idea what to expect with TSA, so that’ll be a lesson, I guess.

Other than being my first time flying (indeed, traveling) with the babe, this weekend holds a few other firsts:

  • My first Mother’s Day.  =)
  • Norah’s first time meeting her aunt (tia) Tami, her cousin Hunter, great-grandma Eva, and a myriad of great-aunts/uncles/cousins, and other family.
  • Norah’s first time in Nebraska (my hometown is Lincoln).

all smiles

Norah had a good night’s sleep last night, and woke up all smiles this morning.  Surely this is a sign that she’ll be an angel all weekend, right?

Wish me luck with airport security and not being “that woman” with the screaming baby on the airplane…

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Parenting, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Formula Fear

It crept up on me. Somewhere between the severe sleep deprivation of new-mom-hood, and the victory of sleeping (mostly) through the night with our wee babe, I stopped adding to the stockpile of frozen breastmilk. I don’t think the significance of this small act really hit me until this last week. My routine was disturbed and then I accidentally broke my pump (a replacement part is on the way). And it dawned on me: for every pumping session that I miss, we will use up one more frozen feeding, and one day I will run out of frozen milk.

Now, I know I KNOW, generations of babies have grown up on formula. What’s the big deal? Especially if it’s just as a back-up supplement? I don’t have an answer. All I know is that every time that I can’t seem to fill up a bottle for Norah, I feel an enormous sense of failure and near-panic. Someone told me this weekend that there are support groups for moms that are having trouble or who can no longer continue breastfeeding… and now I understand why. There is a completely irrational and deep sense of failure and guilt for a woman who can’t supply the most basic of her baby’s needs.

For now, I’m just trying to stay relaxed and stop catastrophizing. I try to push that very tangible frozen countdown out of my head. I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to nurse her at all. Bottom line, we want a happy and healthy daughter, and we’ll do the best we can.

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Parenting | , , , , | 2 Comments

Every nook and cranny

We have a lot of plants in our wee house.  Twenty-one, in fact, now that I think about it.  I don’t know where we’d put any more, to be truthful.  I was pleasantly surprised when my husband moved in that he brought some plants with him.  We both think they really improve the aesthetic of a place, just making it seem more homey.  It makes me happy when my plants look happy.

When we committed to getting a new energy-efficient washer and dryer before the baby was born, we also abandoned any hope of the new machines fitting in the teensy little closet where our old stackable unit was.  The old unit was perhaps the smallest washer/dryer ever.  We could wash two towels at once in the washer, which was approximately the size of a bucket.  BUT, it did fit in the closet.  Behind a door, even!

When we installed the new machines, they stuck out of the closet.  A LOT.  (P.S. I forgot to mention that the closet is in our kitchen!)  So when I saw a happy little plant hanging on the wall in an ikea container on Pinterest, I thought, “Maybe that would ‘soften’ the edges of the machine a bit…”   A little washer/dryer camouflage, if you will.  Plus, we could squeeze a few more plants into a new nook/cranny in our house.

We got these containers at IKEA and hung them with some 3M/Command hooks.  I will admit that since we took this picture, the bottom container plummeted to its death since apparently the dryer gets really hot on the bottom and the adhesive hook just wouldn’t stay put.  I was able to save most of the plant, though; it has a new home in an old candle jar in the nursery (repurpose, repurpose, repurpose!).

The other major bonus about house plants is that they naturally clean your air.  And our planet can use all the help it can get, right?

So what do you think, is the dryer sufficiently camouflaged?  😉

May 4, 2012 Posted by | Green living, Home Improvements | , , | 3 Comments

On giving birth, naturally

People usually have one of two reactions to the idea of natural childbirth:

1.  “You’re crazy!  What are you trying to prove?  Get an epidural.”

2.  “Way to go, mama!  Natural is the only way to go.”

Well, that’s not fair.  There are also the moderates:  “Do whatever is best for you!  Every baby comes into this world differently.”

Most of my life, I was definitely pro-epidural, when thinking about the vague some-day-I’ll-have-a-baby idea of childbirth.  Growing up watching “A Baby Story” on TLC, I definitely didn’t feel like I had anything to prove by not medicating through the experience.  Plus, I was terrified of giving birth.  Over the years, though, my philosophy on health has slowly changed to be in favor of trying natural remedies first, and if that doesn’t work, then turn to western medicine.  I get massages and see an acupuncturist… but I’ll also take antibiotics for a dreaded sinus infection.

So when I got pregnant, I decided that maybe I should be open to the idea of birth being very natural, and if that didn’t work out, I could turn to western medicine.  I looked into birthing classes for Matt and I to attend, and I ended up deciding on HypnoBabies.  Our class met for 6 weeks, 3 hours each week.  It covered a lot of general birth-related information, as well as teaching self-hypnosis techniques for birthing.  Their philosophy is that your expectations for your birthing can influence your actual experience of birthing.  So they use alternate vocabulary to re-set your expectations:  “birthing waves” for contractions, “birthing time” instead of labor, etc.  I won’t go into too much detail describing the class, but rather, I’ll share my thoughts on it now that I’ve given birth.

Did HypnoBabies work for me?  Yes and no.

What I liked about HypnoBabies:

  • I agree that most normal births are not medical in nature.  The U.S. has gone off the deep end in medicalizing (is that a word?) birth, in my opinion.  Many other developed countries have way fewer births in hospitals, with a growing number in birthing/midwifery centers and at home.  And those same countries have much more impressive statistics for healthy births, mamas, and babies.
  • I feel naive for admitting this, but I really appreciated learning that I get to choose what medical care I will receive.  Unless my life is in danger, I will get to decide what, if any, interventions to allow.  What an empowering concept!  Before taking this class, I think I would have just done whatever intervention the doctors/nurses suggested to me.
  • The class included an overview of the most common medical interventions during birth, what they mean, when they may be necessary, etc.  This was so helpful!
  • Creating a birthing plan.  My mentality was not, “this is the way it MUST go!” but rather, “This is ideally what I would like, but I understand things can change.”
  • I learned that I could labor at home, and be more relaxed.  No need to rush to the hospital right away if I don’t want to.
  • Self-hypnosis was a great skill to learn for overall relaxation.  It definitely helped me through the first several hours while I labored at home.  I was really calm and we even took the time to bake some cookies for the nurses at the hospital.  It also helped for the drive to the hospital, and during my intake in the triage center at the hospital.
  • I think Matt and I were as prepared as we could’ve been for what to expect, overall, for first-time parents.

What I did not like about HypnoBabies:

  • Self-hypnosis is the ONLY technique that they teach to relax and deal with the birthing process.  So if you reach a point in your birth that you no longer can do it, you’re screwed.
  • I felt like using their alternate vocabulary was a little silly.
  • The self-hypnosis training and practice was a serious time commitment!  I will admit that I did not practice as much as they suggest.
  • While clearly HypnoBabies works beautifully for some women, it doesn’t work for everyone.  The class focuses so much on the best possible outcome, that it doesn’t prepare you as much for reality.  For example, they only show you successful HypnoBabies birthing videos.  These women are smiling through delivery and as calm as Hindu cows.  As a result, I was completely traumatized and embarrassed by my carnal screaming and writhing during birth.
  • The class set up an expectation that the hospital staff was going to be trying to force me to use medical interventions and arguing with me about my natural birthing plan.  I found this to be completely untrue.  My hospital (Exempla St. Joseph’s in Denver) was absolutely fantastic.  In fact, when (at the very end) I started asking begging for an epidural, they actually kind of stalled a bit.  A nurse later told me, “We just know when someone can do it… and you did!”  They did everything that my birthing plan asked for, and more.  But maybe a lot of other women experience less accommodating nurses and doctors than I did.

I did ask for an epidural, but by that point, I was starting to push… essentially it was too late.  So yes, I did have a 100% natural birth with Norah.  There is certainly part of me that is very grateful for this:  we had no complications, my labor was pretty fast (12 hours from start to birth), Norah is healthy, and my recovery was pretty quick.  But, there is another part of me that regrets having a natural birth.  The pain that I experienced was so all-encompassing that I do not feel like I was present for the birth of my daughter.  I was so in my pain, that I could not feel the joy that I had hoped for when I saw her.  The pictures from that moment show a look of dazed shock on my face.  I did not have the “otherworldly” experience that a lot of women talk about.  I wonder if an epidural would have allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the entire process.  I’ll never know the answer to that — each birth is so very different.

Will I have another natural birth?  I don’t know.  But right now, today, I don’t think I would choose to.  Just being honest, folks.

May 3, 2012 Posted by | Parenting | , , , , , , | 1 Comment