Sunday, December 21, 2014

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago today, we got the best Christmas present ever, our sweet little Rubes got to come home after spending 8 weeks in the hospital. One open-heart surgery, four subsequent surgeries, countless medications and blood transfusions later, they told us she was healthy enough to leave. I can't believe it has already been a year. At times it feels like it was so long ago, and then at other times feels like it was just yesterday that we were there.

Those eight weeks were the hardest I have ever been through, and have had a lasting impact on every facet of my life. I am not the same person I was when I entered the hospital, I left a very different version of myself. I left as someone that expresses gratitude more, shows love more, cares for others more, and has really learned that a life lived for joy, kindness and love is the one that is worth living. I think I knew all of these things before, and tried to live my life that way, but our time with Rubes in the hospital just made those things so much more important and so much more of a focus.

Rubes about 3 weeks in to her hospital stay, still on the ventilator and still on dialysis 

During our time there we only took a few pictures of Rubes, because truthfully it scared me to have a lasting image of how sick she was, because at times we didn't think she was going to make it out of there and I didn't want that to be what I had to remember her by. I hate how that last sentence sounds, so morbid, but I just couldn't bring myself to capture and forever have proof of how scary stuff was. We did take a few though, we wanted to show her when she got older how brave she was, how hard she fought, and how much the staff at the hospital cared and loved for her.

This was the first time Mommy and Daddy got to hold her after she was admitted. 16 days is a long time to wait to snuggle your sick baby, but it was the greatest feeling ever! 

The doctors and nurses that took care of us there are the most amazing people, and words or actions will never be able to express how appreciative I am for all of them. For the ones that literally brought her back to life, to those that just held my hand and gave me a hug when I needed it, to those that told me crazy stories to make me laugh, and to those that wouldn't let me back in the room until I went outside and got some fresh air, I will be indebted to all of them for the rest of my life. I don't think they can understand the impact they have, to think that they helped me in the ways that they did, which is something they have done for countless other families as well. These are truly remarkable humans.

One of Rubes' biggest set backs after we had been there for a month, was that her liver and gallbladder began to stop working properly, making her turn really yellow. We think she just wanted to match her giraffe! 

On the day that we were sent home, I was absolutely terrified, she was still so fragile and needed so much help. I just wanted to borrow all of the hospital's machines and equipment, so that I could know everything was alright, but they said it would be too hard to transport....hahahaha... We were also set home with 13 different medications and a very strict medicine and feeding schedule. There were literally two hours of the day where she didn't have to eat or get some medication. I had to be up around the clock to make sure things were being given at the appropriate time. She still had an NG tube in her nose that she was getting meds and some of her feeds through, so we were also trained on how to replace that if she accidentally pulled it out. It was all so overwhelming and terrifying, yet so amazing and wonderful to have her home. Words can't express what it felt like to lay in my bed that night with Ace, Rubes and Scar all under one roof, something that hadn't happened in months.


The 2nd night we were home! She wanted to show off all of her battle scars. What an amazing little girl. 
On this one year anniversary of our coming home, I'm just so grateful to every moment that I get with her and Scar, and for every moment that I get to see them grow together. This year has tested Ace and I as a couple, as parents, and as people, but we kept on fighting, just like Rubes did and we made it through, just like her. I couldn't be more proud to be her mom or more blessed that she was able to overcome all of the challenges that she did. The last year has been a blessing for us, and I hope for a million more healthy years with my girl.

Friday, December 5, 2014

DIY: No Scrub Stove Cleaning

I have to thank my little sister for this gem. She's a genius, and has saved me so much time cleaning!

I'm not sure what your stove is like, but I have a gas stove at my new house with these "drip pans" (for lack of a better word) that go around each burner to catch things that spill out of your pans as you are cooking. They are great for keeping the stove itself really clean, but they get really dirty sometimes and then the heat from the stove sort of cooks the food on to those pans, and the metal burners as well. I have tried cleaning them in the past with steal wool, which eventually works, but not after a few hours of tedious scrubbing. 

I was talking to my sister about this, and she gave me some advice about cleaning your stove pieces, BBQ pieces, etc. so that you don't have to scrub anything! At first I was really skeptical and thought that she was over-exaggerating, but it actually did work as well as she said. The secret to cleaning really nasty stove messes in a pinch?? Are you ready for this? 


Yup. That's it. 

Here's how you do it.

During the making of Thanksgiving Dinner, both the mashed potatoes and gravy pots boiled over. I couldn't spend time cleaning up the mess right away because 1) I was in the middle of making everything for Thanksgiving! 2) The burners and stove were SUPER hot, and I couldn't have cleaned them until they cooled down and 3) My sink was occupied with other things, that I couldn't clear out to clean. So what happened was the overspilled stuff burnt on to my stove and dried there. No good. Here is a picture of what it looked like, pretty embarrassing: 

Now I'm not going to say that my stove looked perfect before this. Although it works perfectly, the stove in our new house is about 8-10 years old, so it has it's fair share of scuffs and scratches, but this was the dirtiest I had ever seen it.

So here's how this works: the first thing that I want to be sure to note is that it is NOT the ammonia that does the work, but the FUMES from the ammonia that breaks down the grime. For this whole process I used about 1/4 of a cup of ammonia, and that's it.

You will need a plastic bag, ziploc bag or trash bag that is big enough to seal the pieces you will be cleaning. You can split them up into separate bags, or if you can fit them all into one, great. Smaller bags and bags that seal better, work better, but you can ge pretty much anything to work.

Put all of your dirty pieces into the bag. I used two large trash bags, and put one inside the other. I used two because if the inner bag for some reason leaked, or didn't seal that well, I wanted an extra one around it for security. And my bad, I thought I grabbed a picture of this process, but I didn't. Sorry!

After you get the pieces in the bag, pour in some ammonia, I used about 1/4 cup. Remember, you don't have to soak the pieces, it isn't the actual liquid itself that cleans them, but rather the fumes that do all of the work. Just get a good amount in there so it is nice and stinky. Then you will need to seal the bags. If you are using a plastic grocery bag or trash bag, getting good seal is harder. Sometimes I wrap a couple of hair-ties around the top to try to get it as closed and sealed as possible. The ziploc bags are great for sealing in the fumes, but they are the worst in terms of size.

Once you have the bags all sealed up, you just let them set. The longer the better. I do mine just before I got to bed, and then put them on the back porch to sit overnight. Another note, I don't recommend keeping them in your house, unless you don't mind the smell of ammonia. Despite how great of a seal you get, there is a risk of the ammonia smell coming out or the bag leaking. Just to be on the safe side, I put them outside or in my garage. Letting them sit overnight is ideal, but even just a few hours should work well, but the longer they set the better they will be.

When you are ready to clean your items, move them to your sink. Here is the picture of the bag that I put mine in, all ready to be opened in my sink.

Afterwards you can cut the bag open, or open it where you sealed it. I couldn't get the strings undone on my bag, so I had to cut it. 

Then you can take all of the pieces out of the bag, and set them in the sink. Make sure you throw the bag away and put it in your outside trash. If not, it will get your indoor trash all smelly. I really hate the smell of ammonia, like I seriously hate it (not that I think anyone really enjoys it....or maybe the do....who knows?), so I'm probably a bit over-cautious about throwing stuff away outside and putting the initial bag outside, but I'm not going to risk that smell in my house ::shudders::

You can see in the picture above and the picture below that some of the grime is already running off of the big drip pan on the left, but there is still a LOT on there. That's fine that it is on there, don't worry, it will wash right off. 

Once you get everything into the sink, turn the water on, and start to rinse each piece. You will literally see the grime just washing right off. The fumes from the ammonia break down all the grease and grossness, and it just comes right off. You can see it washing away with the water in the two pictures below. 

After rinsing the piece for about a minute, this is what it looked like:

Pretty amazing right? That's is with NO scrubbing, wiping, anything. Just the water rinsing off the piece. After I finished just rinsing it off, I took my orange sponge and wiped the rest of the stuff off. I didn't scrub with the rough side, or use anything else, I just wiped with the soft side of the sponge to remove anything the water couldn't slough off.

And like I said, my stove pieces are never going to look perfect, because they are older. They have some scratches and chips in them that will be there forever, but they did get as clean as they could with this method. And again, NO SCRUBBING. Here's what it looked like after, and the before/after picture.

Not to bad for nothing but the soft side of the sponge and some running water. The burner in the back isn't as dark as it is in the "After" pic, it's just my poor photography skills. And this post really makes we want to get a new stove... Hahaha... All of the other appliances in the house were new when we bought it, except the stove/range, but we'll change that out in due time.

And I would like to say, that I hope it doesn't come off like I know so much better than you about how to clean, I don't want this blog to be about showing you how much better and easier I do things. That's what Pinterest is for, to make you feel bad about all the stuff you *could* be doing better! Hahaha. I just want to share some simple tips that have worked for me as a busy mom, that I'm hoping can somehow help other busy moms and non-moms alike.

What other cleaning tips do you have for me? Give me your best stuff, I'd like to try them too!