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.


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. 


I’ve posted on Twitter & Facebook quite a bit lately about my long process of packing our house & preparing to move.  Or rather, I’ve complained a lot.  I thought I’d explain a little more in detail, and since that takes more than 140 characters, I figured I’d throw it up on my long neglected blog.

When we bought our first house 8 years ago (2007), we never planned on living in it for longer than five years.  Fast forward two years (2009) and one baby later, Chris started a fantastic company with a few friends.  During the first year of the company, he worked a regular day job and worked all night on the company.  Then came a time he needed to focus on the company - which wasn’t making money yet - and we lived off our savings for three months.  Also during this time, the housing market collapsed.  We, however, were doing just fine because we had underbought by almost $100k.  Our tiny payment on our tiny house saved us.

A few years later, the company was doing well.  The market was getting better.  Interest rates were low.  Not ready to buy something bigger, we decided to refinance our house.  However, the banking environment had changed, and because our taxes were tied up in an LLC running in the red on investor money, banks didn’t want to refinance our home (not to mention give us a loan on a new home).  (Lesson here - unless you want to run a small personal business, an LLC is not necessarily the way to go.)  The company eventually converted to a C-corp in 2013.

Well, that was all honky-dory, but banks want a full year of tax returns before you can refinance.  In the fall of 2013, they wouldn’t even let us co-sign on a lot loan.  There is no way around those rules.

So now it’s 2015, the company is doing very well, and it’s finally time to find a new home.  However, I’ve since discovered this process isn’t as simple as the last time.  When we bought our current house, it was our first house - that was a relatively easy process.  This time around, we have to sell this house first.  Selling a house is hard work.  Seriously hard work.  When our agent came by, he said, “It’s a nice starter home with too much stuff.”  Tell me about it, buddy.  That’s why I’m feeling trapped.  I like stuff too much (and animals).

And so began the packing process.  Packing up the stuff so you can see the house under all the stuff.  Stuff stuff stuff.  Add to that, Chris has been crazy busy and it’s summer break from school.  So I’ve been packing, pretty much alone, under the constant interruption of my child.  Stuff.  Lots and lots of trips to our off site storage unit.  Full of stuff…

On top of “decluttering”, there’s an endless list of projects that need to be finished.  New paint. New carpet. Fixing drywall holes. Power washing. Cleaning. Updating fixtures.  Cleaning appliances.  Rearranging the stuff that gets to stay.  

I’ve given myself (and announced to our agent) a goal date of August 1.  T-minus 5 days.  If you see me with paint in my hair and a deranged look in my eye, just know I’m scrambling to the finish line.



Categories: Cecilia | No Comments

I spent last night caring for a sick Cecilia.  Chris was out of town; there was vomit involved.  I’m a bit traumatized today.  I am, however, quite impressed with my kiddo.  With the exception of waking herself up puking, this kid managed to hit the barf bucket (i.e. trashcan lined with Kroger bags) every time.  She was calm and steady.  Cecilia did whimper a bit between up chuck session, but she figuratively kept her shit together when she needed to.  This is not a one time phenomenon - she even had this skill at age 4.  I know this is a strange thing for a parent to be proud of, but it puts joy in my heart. The less regurgitated food for me to clean, the better.

But like I said, between sessions, she didn’t keep it together.  Cecilia must have a grace under pressure skill.  As her mom, I know my child doesn’t have that kind of attentiveness and precision every day.  For example, my child cannot undress properly.  BEFORE you get concerned about me discussing my child undressing on the internet, let me explain.  The clothes in her laundry basket are all jacked up, especially pants.  Most people take off their pants similarly to the way you’d scoot out a sleeping bag - a little bit of unzipping, a little shimmying, and a little pulling it down.  My kid removes her pants as if she was peeling a banana.  She grabs the waistband of her underwear and pants and peels them down, turning them inside out in the process.  At this point, the unders/pants combo shucking comes to a stop -  they’ve hit a bumper - her socks.  More pulling, more stretching.  The socks pop off into little balls that lodge inside the inside-out pant legs.  It now appears that her pants are wearing underwear on the outside and have kneecaps made of socks. Hopefully, at this point, she puts them in her dirty laundry basket, but probably not…

Washing and folding her laundry feels like a puzzle.  It sort of reminds me of those Chinese fingercuffs that require you to relax in order to escape.  I just have to remind myself to relax, especially when I’m dragging those still wet little sock balls out of her pants.  Sock balls do not dry in the dryer.  I dream of the day that she can do her own laundry.  Six is old enough, right?

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!

Another Year Down…

Another year has passed, and I’m getting closer and closer to gray hair.  I enjoy living in denial of aging, but the occasional gray hair has kept me real.  Well, real until I hank that fucker out.  Then I’m 25 again!

Truthfully, I’d like to subscribe to John Oliver’s opinions to New Years Eve, but I always seem to find myself resolving to make some changes in the coming year.  I only have two this year, which go completely against my belief that resolutions should be specific and able to be checked off a list.

First, I want to live an extraordinary life.  Something beyond existing, which is the realm I believe most of us live in, and move into thriving, growing, kicking ass, etc.  For me, extraordinary living is something you experience, not something that is admired by others. I’ve recently been reading Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness while waiting in the pick-up line at Cecilia’s school.  In a nutshell, he talks about focusing on the good by bringing it to the forefront of the mind and staying with those thoughts/emotions until it makes some good neural memories.  That activity helps your brain stay in a positive happy place versus focusing on the negative or things that need to be changed.  It’s a pretty awesome book, and I highly recommend it.

Secondly, I want to improve my sleep.  As I’ve mentioned time and time again, my sleep is FUBAR , and I’m going to take some of the tools I already have, increase my knowledge, and seek help to make things better.  I’m not ignorant enough to make a crazy lofty goal like, “Fix my sleep problems,” because that’s destined to fail.  Just make things better.  In fact, I’ve already started.  For three nights in a row, I have made it to the bed by 10:30, and from there, I have read a real book (see Hardwiring Happiness above), and avoided screens (like my phone) for at least 30 minutes before I planned to fall asleep.  I’ve also aimed to not eat in the middle of the night, write down the times that I’ve woken up, and wake up at 6:30am every day.  I’ve failed at those last three tasks, but I’m rejoicing in my current accomplishments.  Going to bed before midnight takes a lot of willpower.  I have a crappy relationship to sleep and giving into it early (instead of watching tv and browsing Reddit) is hard.  Also, I started reading The Promise of Sleep by William C Dement. Well, technique I’m listening to it because I downloaded the audiobook from the library. I haven’t made it very far into the book since Cecilia is with me in the car most trips during her holiday break, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Two goals.  Two vague goals.   And I already started on the wrong foot - but it’s not my fault.

Last night, I went to bed early.  New Year’s Eve be damned - this girl wants to improve her sleep.  But I was foiled by my redneck neighbors at midnight because the m-f’ers set off fireworks, a shit ton of fireworks, that woke me up and freaked out the dogs.  This resulted in two hours of awake time and my first thoughts of the new year to be rather unkind wishes for said neighbors.  Of course, I slept two hours past my alarm because I was in no mood for getting up.  Awesome sauce. (As in awesomely bad.)

But there’s always a silver lining since I got to tweet about it later.  

Regardless to the start, this year is going to kick ass.  Here’s to an awesome 2015 (and to not finding anymore gray hairs).  

Depression, Robin Williams, Suicide, & Parkinson’s Disease

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This week NPR played an interview with Robin Williams from 2006.  He stated that he had never suffered from depression but had felt deep sadness.  As a person who’s had depression multiple times since my late teens, I had a difficult time understanding how someone who lived almost 60 years without depression could become so depressed that he could take his own life.

Then his wife announced today that Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. With my experience in the Parkinson’s community, both as a family member, advocate, and outreach coordinator for the NPF, I’ve seen and heard many stories about the depression that accompanies the diagnosis. Williams was such an physical performer.  He had such impressive vocal skills.  He was so animated.  Unfortunately, Parkinson’s slow takes away those talents by inhibiting moving from reduced dopamine production.  It takes away your voice with dysphonia.   It reduces your ability to express yourself through facial expressions.

It easy to say that I know that living with Parkinson’s is not a death sentence.  I know that life with PD is worth living.  But I also can say that I understand just a little bit better.  It’s hard to see which way is up when you’re sink down, down, down. We’ve all lost a great friend.  The world was a better place when Robin Williams was in it. I hope he finds peace and his body renewed in the afterlife.

Where’s the Beef?

For the past year or so, I’ve been slow growing more serious about weight lifting.  About three month ago, I upped my protein goal to 130g per day (or more).  As you can imagine, given my height and size, fairly large percentage of my caloric intake is meat.  Lots and lots of meat.  Meat for breakfast. Meat for lunch. Meat for dinner.  Meat for snacks.  Yep. Meat snacks.  Sounds a bit off-putting, huh? Well, it’s not. It’s delicious.  One reason? Mingua (pronounced Ming-gee) Beef Jerky.  This shit is additive.

Original image by RealFoodTraveler.com

Everyone I know that has tried Mingua Jerky is also addicted. In fact, Chris’s company is classified as a wholesaler so they can order it directly from the company in bulk.  Yep. It’s that good.  Locally, I’ve found it as Mapco, but it’s worth buying it in mass from the company.

Grab a bag.  It’s low in fat & carbs, high in protein.  (And sodium. Drink some water.) It’s also high in nomnomnom.

Where to Start

Categories: health , diet | No Comments

For some, maybe most, this is won’t be new information.  However, recently a friend asked me to help her become more fit and healthy.  Since I was going to write it down, I figured I just post it up instead.

Full disclosure: I am not a nutritionist.  I did not attend school for nutrition.  I am a yoga instructor. I spend a lot of time in the gym. I can only explain what I’ve learned over the years and what works for me. Take what you’d like; leave what you don’t need.

1. Log your food. In the weight lifting world, we like to say, “Six packs are made in the kitchen.” No matter how hard you work at the gym, regardless to all the lifting, no one will see the amazing abs that lie under your beer gut (or pizza gut or cheese dip gut).  It just won’t happen.  And even if you “eat healthy foods”, you won’t lose weight unless you hold yourself accountable for the amount of “healthy foods” you eat.   I love avocados. They’re awesome! Full of good stuff! But they are over 300 calories each, which is approximately the amount of calories I burn during a 30 minute stair climber session.  Food is great! Food is awesome! Just know how much food you’re eating by logging it.  Every calorie that crosses your lips needs to go into your log.  One tablespoon of half & half has about 35 calories.  One pound of fat is 3500 calories.  If you skip logging your calories for 100 cups (which is about what I drink in a month), then you’ve cheated yourself out a pound.

As far as logging systems go, I prefer ones that offer a good mobile app.  I currently use MyFitnessPal.   I’ve also used Daily Burn Tracker. I think both systems are fantastic.  I moved because I like the metrics of MFP better, but that’s not something most people need.  Something to note: Most of the data is created by fellow users.  Please check the calorie information and serving sizes. You cannot assume it’s correct. That being said, you find yourself using the same items over and over (like olive oil, eggs, favorite brand of protein bar, etc) so it starts to become easier to log quickly.

Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge.

2. Check Your Labels & Measure your food.  There’s a thing that we struggle with in America.  It’s call portion sizes.  Most people do not realize (or care) what’s on the food labels. A lot of folks don’t know that that information is based on serving sizes, which can often be deceiving.  The other day, I needed a snack and grabbed what appeared to be a single serving bag of nuts.  I can put away some cashews in my belly, and this did not appear to be a challenge.  But then I checked the label - about 200 calories per serving, which is doable. But there was 3 servings in the bag.  What!?! 600 calories is not my idea of “snack”.

Every three month I get a 6lb bag of almonds from Amazon because, dang, almonds are good.  What an awesome snack! I’ve read in fitness and girly magazines that a handful of almonds makes a great snack.  Finally! My giant hands are good! Yeah, nope.  Better to measure than guess.  A quarter cup of almonds has 207 calories.  Makes it easier and more accurate to log your food if you measure. One thing to be really aware of is cereal.  Most serving sizes are 3/4 to 1 cup.  My child eats more cereal than that.

Two great things for measuring:

A kitchen scale


And a set of measure cups & spoons.

And that’s where you start.  No major changes.  No special foods.  Hell, no exercise yet. Don’t even worry about changing the way you eat - just log it so you know where you’re starting.  There’s more to come, but I think that’s enough for now. xoxo

Parenting Problems

Categories: mommyhood | No Comments

Have you ever had a really long to-do list, but you’re avoiding doing anything because you don’t want to face the endless barrage of questions that will come from your 5 year old about said to-dos?  It’s just me? Oh, okay.  I’ll just go back to procrastinating on Facebook.

Single Stall of Paranoia

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This may only apply to women.  There’s probably a small percentage of men that poop in public with a slight bit of shame.  (Though I’ve never met a dude that feels shame about the excessive amount of time they spend stinking up the place, but I digress.)

I havea hierarchy of desirable public restrooms. Starting from the top: 1. Small, clean single holers. 2. Large, clean multi-stalls (often with automated awesomeness found in airports). 3. Medium sized with several stalls.  (These usually have a weird metallic smell and are found in craft stores or home improvement stores.) 4. Large single holers. 5. Any disgusting bathrooms, especially those that look like the inside of a hookers vagina.

Why the hate for large single stations? The space between the door and the toilet.  They always have locks on the door.  Not the awesome, reassuring latch.  Door locks.  I lock the door, huff the distance to the toilet, lower my pants, start to sit, and then feel paranoid that it’s not really locked.  I proceed to do the pants penguin shuffle back to the door.  Unlock it and lock to reassure myself that it is locked.  Shuffle back, sit down, and then have to convince my bladder to release it’s liquids.  Ugh…. pause…. Dammit bladder. Don’t be shy!  When I finally get things started, I try to push that pee out as fast as possible. So fast.  Like I turned the faucet on full blast.  Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. This is my longest pee ever.  What are you doing, bladder? Emptying the entire Route 44 Diet Cherry Coke Zero that we drank 20 minutes ago? HURRY the F up!

Speaking of push pee out fast - did you know that can cause you a UTI? Well, I read that once, but now I can’t find any information so maybe it’s bullshit.  But I think about that every time I’m in a single bathroom, and I’m peeing like I’m trying to put out a fire.

If you’re a restaurant owner (they’re always in restaurants, aren’t they), please put a latch on your single toilet potty room.  You can probably skip it in the men’s though.  They’re proud of their stink.