A Long, Hot Week

For those of you that don’t live in the mid-Atlantic region, you may not know that last Friday Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, and other areas were hit with what is know to the meteorological world as a derecho. According to our buddies at Wikipedia “A derecho ( /dəˈreɪtʃoʊ/; Spanish pronunciation: [deˈɾetʃo]; duh-RAY-cho) is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.”
I had never heard of this type of storm before, but boy does it scare the pants off of you! They are apparently characterized by quick, unexpected onset of very high speed winds. And unexpected it was. I was out Friday night at a church function, and a friend of mine dropped me at my car afterwards. While chatting for a few minutes she noticed what she said was red lightening. I thought it was more likely a fireworks show since the 4th of July wasn’t far off.
Well I was wrong.
A few seconds later wind gusts started picking up great speed, and we thought it best to say our goodbyes and head home quickly.
It took almost 30 minutes to drive what normally takes only 15 minutes, and because of the clouds and wind my cell phone was malfunctioning. Beard and Bitsy Girl were at home in this, and I couldn’t let them know I was on my way.
By what I can only call the grace of God I made it home safely to my, albeit eccentric, weather-fanatic husband who had since filled our bathtub with pillows and blankets and had our daughter laying in it. He had seen tornadoes before and worried one was on its way to us.
Luckily for us, there was no tornado, and through 70-90 mph winds our humble little home survived no significant damage.
Except we lost power.
We were very fortunate to have been welcomed into the home of friends on Saturday evening, with whom we stayed for two nights.
Bitsy Girl and I did have to survive Friday night and Saturday without power, and I’d like to share a few of the things we did to stay cool.

 

  1. We left our windows open Friday night after the wind had died down.  The temperature dropped both outside and in the house to a comfortable 75ish (I had no way of knowing since our thermostat is electric).  Once I felt the humidity kick in again in the morning (around 10 am) I shut all of the windows.  I left all of the blinds shut to block the sunlight.
  2. We wore as little clothing as possible.  This is obviously going to keep us cool.  In addition, I kept splashing a little water on the backs of our necks, knees, and the insides of our elbows.  Believe it or not, by splashing water on these spots you cool down the blood in your circulatory system fairly quickly, therefore cooling down your body quickly.
  3. We bought water.  Again, obviously.  We have well water here at the DP Home, so when the power goes out, we have no water.  And when it’s going to be 101 degrees outside, pregnant ladies and babies need to drink a lot of water.  And drink a lot of water we did.
  4. We sought shelter in cool places.  Some places in a nearby city still had power, including, of course, the mall, and many other stores.  Bitsy Girl and I stopped by to say hello to Beard at work (which also had A/C), then met my in-laws for lunch at the mall food court, then went to Sam’s, all of which were electrically cooled.  🙂
  5. We did not open the fridge or freezer.  I had read on the US FDA website that food in a full freezer can stay safe for up to 48 hours if you do not open the door.  Our freezer isn’t usually fully packed, but I did manage to make it to Sam’s club to buy about 20 pounds of frozen vegetables to quickly shove in my freezer.  They were out of ice, and that was the cheapest and bulkiest thing I could find to stuff my freezer with.
  6. We planned to barbeque.  By the time our power was turned back on Monday afternoon, Beard and I had some meat in the freezer that had defrosted.  Although it was safe to cook and eat, it was not safe to refreeze.  Having just turned the A/C back on after 4 days of 86 degree temperatures inside the house, I wasn’t about to turn on the stove.  So we invited some friends over and grilled our chicken and bratwursts.  Some of our friends had brought some sides and snacks that also would not have been able to be re-frozen.  It was a fun way to celebrate the return of electricity.

What other tips do you guys have for surviving without air-conditioning and electricity in a heat wave?  

Beach Babes

For Memorial Day weekend Beard and I took Bitsy Girl to the nearest beach.  We had taken her to the Outer Banks last summer, but she was only about 8 weeks old and really couldn’t absorb what was going on around her.  This time we chose Smith Mountain Lake, a fairly local man made lake with tons of shoreline.  The Smith Mountain Lake State Park has a nice little beach, and since Beard never works Tuesdays, we thought that would be the best day to avoid crowds and help our little Girly enjoy the sand, sun and water.

Here are some highlights:

All ready to go, but hating me for making her wear hot pink flip flops.

Testing the sand.  Luckily the sand wasn’t too hot, otherwise I never would’ve gotten her to touch it.

Daddy is protecting her from the gross wet sand, but she’s loving the water.  I caught her mid-splash, actually.

She got pretty confident and wanted to stand on her own.  That’s my adventurous girly. 🙂

At the end of the day she was all smiles.  I think it was a good first experience at the beach for the little Bits.

While packing to take a baby to the beach for the very first time I had lots of things running through my head.  I’m a first time mom, remember.  I had visions of my daughter being carried away by an undertow (of which there aren’t any at this particular body of water) or her eating fistfuls of sand and ingesting some nasty garbage along with it.  I wanted to have everything we would need.

At the same time, I have minimalist tendancies, and I want to really only carry what I would find absolutely necessary.

So for those of you taking a trip to the beach soon with an infant or toddler, I’ve come up with a few things that really are essential to everyone having a good time:

  1. Sunblock.  I really like Coppertone, and I would never use less than SPF 50 on Bitsy Girl.  She is not a particularly pale baby by any means, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I let her get a sunburn.  While we’re talking about sunblock, might I remind you that proper sun protection includes a hat, some sweet shades, and maybe even a sun cover-up (big T-shirt).  I always bring a hat for the Bits, and if you have a more pale baby, a sun cover-up wouldn’t be a bad idea.
  2. Swim diapers.  If baby is going to be in the water at all, these work wonderfully.  They are a bit pricey, but they are most definitely worth the extra cash.  They don’t get puffy and soggy, and they hold in urine very well.  My friends tell me they don’t do a great job with solid wastes, but I have no personal experience to back that up.  We used Huggies Little Swimmers because that’s what our local grocery store carries.  I was amused by the little Minnie Mouse cartoons on them, and they did their job just fine.
  3. First aid supplies.  If you are going out with a baby or child it is always a good idea to have some bandages, antibacterial cream, water, and maybe peroxide on hand.  Since we were going to a State Park with a visitor center 20 feet from the water, we omitted this from our packing list.
  4. “Toys”.  Why in quotations?  Because anything can be a toy.  I grabbed a few of Bitsy Girls non-plush, non-battery-operated toys, then a few plastic cups and food storage containers.  At her age, she likes to fill up and dump cups with all sorts of things, including sand.   Beach toys do not need to be expensive, large, cumbersome, or unitaskers.  They can be anything that can be cleaned off and you don’t mind getting a bit wet and sandy.
  5. Towels.  You don’t need a million, just one or two.  Usually if it’s warm enough to go swimming, it’s warm enough to sit comfortably outside while wet.  Baby won’t be catching a cold from being wet, so don’t be obsessive about drying every inch of her.
  6. Water and snacks.  As a family, we never, never, never buy food “when we get there”.  Not only is it not usually in our budget, but food at concession stands isn’t really known for its nutrient content.  Of course we bring some treats along, like Goldfish, but I like to know what it is we’re putting in our bodies.  I also like to bring plenty of water; you never know what the water tastes like when you get there, and I will not by bottle water for $3 each.

You may notice a few things missing from this list that you normally bring to the beach.  Swimmies or a flotation device, perhaps.  Although those can be nice to have, I would hardly classify them as necessary.  If you hold your child the entire time they are in the water (which is not difficult due to water’s great buoyancy), you won’t need a flotation device.  And, of course, I would suggest you always hold your baby or toddler at all times when in the ocean, even if they are wearing a flotation device.  Currents and undertows can carry away a small floating child much more quickly than you think.

That pretty much covers it, folks.  Some things you could pile into one duffel bag is all you need to take your favorite little person (or people) to the beach.  I hope this post helps you to breath, relax, and enjoy the fun in the sun with family and friends.

 

Natural Homemade Bathroom Cleaner

I am a closet germ-a-phobe.  On the outside I tell people that I don’t mind my daughter chewing on the dog’s toys because it will build her immune system, and I don’t have a problem eating a cracker that has dropped on the floor (within time constraints, of course).  That is why yesterday I had a bit of a panic attack when I realized I was out of my Scrub-oxy-super-bleach-bathroom-cleaner-of-doom.  This stuff could sanitize a truck stop bathroom floor so well you’d eat off of it.  (Maybe.)

But it was gone.  I tried the spray handle about 5,000,000 times in hopes of getting every last ounce.  I looked inside to see if I could dilute it with a little water, but alas.  It was gone.

How then, do I sanitize my bathroom (the grossest of all gross places in my home)?  I looked up several online recipes for homemade bathroom cleaners; thank God for the internet.  I found a ton of recipes, but most of them had at least one ingredient that I didn’t have on hand, so I had to study them to determine what really these recipes were trying to accomplish, then make my own recipe.

I determined a good bathroom cleaner recipe requires the following:

Some kind of scrubbing/grainy substance – This is usually baking soda or Borax.  The main purpose of this ingredient is to physically scrub soap scum, etc. off your sink, toilet, tub, and tile.  Both ingredients have an odor-eating element to them, which makes the great for the bathroom.

Some liquid soap – This is either Castille soap or dish detergent.  These have antibacterial properties and just make surfaces look clean.

An antibacterial/santization agent – This can be anything from lemon juice to vinegar to tea tree oil.  Any of these will kill the tiny living creatures the lurk about your bathroom.  Sorry to gross you out, but us admitting they are there is half the battle in getting rid of them.

Water – Self explanatory.  Water just adds a little bit more liquid to make your cleaner the right consistency.

Scent (optional) – You can use an essential oil to give your bathroom cleaner a specific scent.  If you are using lemon juice or tea tree oil for your sanitization agent, your cleaner may already have a pleasant smell to you.  Vinegar, on the other hand, is not a smell everyone loves, and you may want to mask it with something more like orange or lavender essential oil.

 

So the cleaner I made yesterday was:

1 cup baking soda

1 tbsp dish detergent

8 drops tea tree oil

3/4 cup water

15 drops lavender oil

I put all the ingredients except the oils in a Mason jar, closed the lid, and shook very well.  After the ingredients were well mixed, I add the oils and shook again.  I transfer my cleaner to a spray bottle first, but because of the baking soda, this cleaner didn’t spray very well.  It’s more of a paste.  So I used a squirt bottle instead.  Perfect!

Anyone made their own cleaning products before?  Let me know what you think of this breakdown.