Not sold

After the mop conversation last week, I became intrigued by the steam mops mentioned by several commenters. They sounded like a great deal. They used only water and killed germs with their heat. The water was internal, so no buckets for the toddler to splash around in. They were mops, so no hands-and-knees cleaning. I went to Amazon, which offers customer reviews, and looked at several models. It doesn’t matter which one I picked, because I think my thoughts will be the same.

My new steam mop came yesterday. I immediately stopped everything to assemble it and try it out. Yes, it mopped the floor. I am sold on the idea of using a mop to clean. I definitely covered the large area I need to cover in a short period of time. In fact, I mopped and re-mopped and kept mopping until the water/steam ran out and probably did the floor about three times in the time it would normally take me to do it once by hand. Nice.

Yes, the steam mop got hot. But. In order for the tiles to get hot, in order for the germ-killing steam to be effective, you need to keep the mop in the same place for about 10 seconds. The directions even suggest only doing this in very germy places like near the toilet. Otherwise, you spend way too much time mopping your floor, bit by bit.

I am definitely not going to stand around waiting for the steam to kill off germs when I can use a cleaning solution to kill them faster. I know some people do not prefer harsh chemicals, so the steam mop may be right for them. But I’m the sort of person who thinks bleach is a wonderful thing (bring it on, I say). Since for me, the biggest draw to the steam mop was the killing of germs, but the killing of germs is time-consuming with a steam mop, the steam mop loses out when compared to an ordinary mop and a bucket of Lysol floor cleaner.

One other major drawback was the electric cord. In order to do the areas I have, I needed to use at least 3 different outlets. That is extremely inconvenient and annoying.

Also, some people raved about the steam mop cleaning up sticky things. I tried several different areas. Just going back and forth over an area (scrubbing) didn’t do it. But holding the steam mop over the area for it to get hot enough, and it did do a great job of cleaning stickiness. So I will grant you that convenience.

I’m not saying that steam mops are bad. But they cost a lot of money and their benefits, for me, are not worth it. I’ll be sending mine back today and heading out to buy some other kind.

Involving Children in the Way of the Cross (Part I)

Last Friday I posted a Stations of the Cross for Children. That’s the “what” of doing stations. I also want to address the “how” and the “why”. Today, a bit on the “how.”

You really can’t do the Stations without stations. Traditionally, there are 14 stations, each representing a step on the road to Calvary: Jesus Falls the First Time, Jesus is Stripped, Jesus is taken down from the Cross. When praying with children, I like to include a 15th station: Jesus Rises from the Dead. It’s nice to end on a definitively optimistic note (grown ups can handle an implied hope). Your “stations” or stops can be as simple as the number, but children really need something more vivid.

I have these prints, which Bill says he had in his classroom when he went to Catholic school way back when. They are colorful, and not too violently graphic. A friend of mine has the same ones, and she has them on the walls of her home year round. I prop mine on chairs on Friday evenings.

Buying a set of stations is nice, but this is also a wonderful opportunity for your children to be creative. My old homeschool group does a stations one Friday every Lent and families pick a station for which they are responsible. Last year, the stations were dioramas with various mediums. LEGOs were popular. Dolls. Clay models. Some were quite large. Several years ago, I used shoe boxes (post new Easter shoe shopping) and had the kids make shadow box dioramas.

This year, I think that homeschool group is doing “live” stations. The students will dress up for the different scenes. The youth group at another parish I belonged to did that for the community stations as well. It’s very nice, and definitely keeps the attention of even young children. Of course, that’s not very practical for a single family.

Two-dimension art is excellent too. Iconography is meant to be done prayerfully. My children enjoy drawing their own stations while listening to Gregorian chant. I enjoy the hour of peace and quiet. I planned to upload a few of the drawings my children have done, but my scanner refuses to cooperate. As soon as I get that fixed, I will update this page.

Whether you have the children create their own 2D or 3D stations or have them act them out, they can not help but think about the sufferings of Christ. And if you use their dioramas or drawings as you pray them in your home, they will have a sense of ownership that will connect them more closely to the meditation.

Another day, another milestone

Ten years ago, I was an exhausted new mother, again. We’re feeling very celebratory here today and are doing Homeschool Light.

Last year, Billy’s birthday was on Ash Wednesday, so Mardi Gras partying was all for him. This year, Bill won’t be able to be home tonight, so we had cupcakes last weekend. You know you have a Lenten birthday when your mom puts out exactly enough cupcakes for the members of your family. Leftovers went into the freezer and are right now awaiting frosting. Conveniently, there are exactly enough for our family and a friend’s family to share.

Happy birthday, Billy. I hope you have a GREAT day.

No man (or little boy) left behind

I don’t know how the little boys (two 4 year olds and a 2 year old) got into the trampoline without a stool or chair, but they did. And they bounced and bounced and bounced and had fun.

Then Mary came along and wanted in. The 2 year old lay on his stomach and stretched down his hand. His brother got out (with help from Peter) and knelt down so she could climb on his back. It was adorable, although somewhat alarming from my vantage at the kitchen window. Fortunately, Mary was distracted by some dirt on her foot and everybody gave up. I turned away before I saw how the boy got back in. I assume Peter helped him.

The boys bounced and bounced and bounced, and I thought, “Wow, they must really like that trampoline!” About a half hour later, the other boys’ mother returned and we went out to where they were still jumping. As soon as they saw us all three said, “Mommy, help us out!” I guess they stayed in because they couldn’t figure out how to get everybody out. Ooops. But great sticking together, boys!

Wanted: effective and efficient floor mopping device

Do you use a mop? I have always washed my bathroom and kitchen floors the way my mom did: on hands and knees. I think this is a superior method, especially at detecting and cleaning random sticky spots or the debris that collects along cabinet bottoms.

However, this new house has a lovely stone tile that goes from the front entrance, down a hall, into a bathroom and a laundry room, and then covers my generously sized kitchen, eating area and family room. I think there is more square feet of tile in this house than there is total living space in my house in New Jersey. I have washed this floor on my hands and knees, because I do not own a mop. And I have concluded: I need to own a mop.

But the choices are overwhelming. Do I go retro and use a cloth string mop that needs be be hand wrung? Do I use a modern version of the same with a built in wringer? Do I use a sponge mop? How about these disposable swifter mops?

I’m all about learning from other people’s experiences. I don’t want to waste my money only to be disappointed. If you mop, tell me what you like and what works well.

Research I like

BBC News – Peanut allergies tackled in largest ever trial: “Twenty out of 23 sufferers in an earlier study became able to eat more than 30 peanuts safely.”

I think, as a mom, to not have that fear lurking whenever you try a new food or eat at a restaurant or party would be worth using my child as a guinea pig. Imagine if in 5 or 10 years most children entering kindergarten were “cured” of peanut allergies? What a wonderful thing.

And another one down

Fritz joins Peter and Mary in the double ear infection club. I can’t recall EVER taking three kids to the doctor (separately) in one week. Fritz was prescribed pills instead of liquid and is not happy about it. In fact, I had to open it up and put it in applesauce for him to swallow. I’m recalling that he had a delayed gag reflex as a baby and wondering when he’ll grow out of it.

I’m also wondering if I should have just dragged the other three into the clinic for a look-see. I know they aren’t contagious, but…

Stations of the Cross for Children

If you are interested in a Way of the Cross for Children, I have one here. I wrote it, so please give me credit if you share with others. If that link doesn’t work (I’m new to this file sharing technology), email me and I will send it to you directly.

I love the stations of the cross, and we do them every Friday during Lent. If you have never tried it, maybe this is the year to start.

I’ve been trying to put together a booklet with these stations plus tips and suggestions for doing them at home or in a group setting. If you have any questions about the stations or comments on how your family does them, please leave them here so I can be sure to address them or incorporate them in this future work of mine.

My stations are intended to be flexible for different ages. I do not think that a family with all children under the age of 5 should read every single word in the document and say every single prayer. But most children are fascinated by the movement from station to station and the genuflecting. And many 3 and 4 year olds are quick to pick up the line “Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.” I have lots of other ideas about doing the stations with children, so perhaps I will do a special post every Friday this Lent to hopefully inspire you.