Monday, January 28, 2008

Green Cleaning!

You know that dizzying yet satisfying feeling you get from the smell of Pine-Sol or Tilex? That nostril-burning, nauseating, eye-reddening sensation?

Thing of the past in the Romero household these days.

No, we're not on a cleaning strike...although that's awfully tempting. :) I've taken on the mission of greening our cleaning. Yes, it sounds awfully crunchy; but you know what, I'm starting to embrace my innate crunchiness. (After all, I did live in a vegetarian household for a year.)

When I was home on maternity leave, I became addicted to "The View" (I can proudly say that I witnessed, live, the infamous Rosie/Elisabeth fight--and damn, was it great!) One day, Deirdre Imus was on to plug her new book, Green This (see above), singing the praises of "green cleaning." And you know what, it made a lot of sense.

So, I'm starting out small. Being that the bathroom is my domain (see "The Stepford Husband," below), I focused on that first. With vinegar (to disinfect), lemon juice (to deodorize), and baking soda (to scour), I scrubbed away and was shocked by the result. My bathroom was sparkling, and I didn't feel sick afterwards like I usually do! We're so conditioned to think that the smell of bleach = clean, but that's not necessarily the case.

I also made a few other changes...using non-toxic glass cleaner, freshening up our bedroom with an essential oil diffuser, and adopting some plants (which, so far, I haven't killed yet). Maybe it's psychological, but I really do feel a little healthier.

Something about moving to the 'burbs has made us want to live a more intentional lifestyle--making small but important choices to better our family, our community, and the world. Just a few minor changes can make a big difference. (I mean, we're not about to blow all our money on organic cotton sheets!)

Another thing we're trying is to become "localvores" (buying food from local farmers as much as possible.) We'd toyed with the idea of joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but you're never quite sure what you'll end up with--and the next thing you know, you have a crisper full of rotting broccoli rabe and three sad little radishes.
But we did find a great little place: Farm Fresh Express ( Based out of Lansdowne, they carry products from local and/or organic farms. Either way, you feel good--buying local, you're supporting a local farmer and cutting down on fuel used to transport produce from all over the world; buying organic, you know it's just a little healthier for you and the environment. Monday, they send you a list of their choices for the week, you place an order, and then you can pick it up or have it delivered. We stopped by on Saturday, and they are so friendly and just EXCITED about their business. (You don't really get that at Acme!) Plus, they offer free, YUMMY fair-trade coffee from Mexico and Ethiopia. (Caveat: It IS a little more expensive, so we're only going to do it once a month or so at first. We are teachers, after all!)
Sure, we still drive a SUV. Let me expiate my guilt by cleaning my bathtub with vinegar and eating my organic peanut butter. :)

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Quite possibly the best movie I've seen in a LONG time.

Go see it. See it again. Then download the soundtrack. Guaranteed happiness. :D

The Stepford Husband

As I write this, my husband is happily strolling through the aisles of Acme, carefully composed grocery list in hand, dutifully bypassing any product for which he hasn’t clipped a coupon.

No, I’m not home sick on the couch. Nor did we have a wicked fight for which he’s atoning. Rather, I’m married to a singularly unique yet no longer rare creature—The Evolved Husband.

When we first started dating, I smiled bemusedly when he first offered to cook for me. “Aw,” I thought as he whipped up a delicious chicken parm, “this must be the ‘special occasion’ dish his mom taught him to impress girls with.”

Yet that chicken parm gave way to roast chicken with homemade gravy, sausage lasagna, salsa and guacamole from scratch, gourmet Saturday morning breakfasts (with my choice of fluffy blueberry pancakes or omelets with spicy home fries)…as I slowly realized that I’d hit the culinary jackpot with this guy, my burgeoning cooking skills took a backseat. (After all, I’m Irish, and we’re not exactly known for our prowess in the kitchen!)

Not only does he cook and do the grocery shopping, but he also vacuums, sweeps, mops, cleans out my car, takes the dog out, and does the dishes. He also takes equal care of the Teege—feeding, changing, bathing, and playing. This is on top of the typical “male” chores he carries out—yard work, painting, killing spiders, etc.

So what, you may ask, do I do, exactly?

Well, laundry. And boy, is there a lot of it. My biggest shock after getting married was how much laundry there suddenly was. Nick has never been a “wear and air” kind of guy—a sweatshirt worn for two hours, over an undershirt, is promptly deposited into the hamper. Throw a baby’s endless dirty clothes into the mix, and laundry is suddenly a Sisyphean task.

Cleaning the bathroom is another chore falling squarely on my shoulders. Early in our marriage, Nick remarked how glad he was that I “loved to do the bathroom.” Feeling guilty that this was not nearly as taxing as making dinner every night and dealing with the supermarket every weekend, I smiled sweetly and answered, “Oh honey, I don’t mind at all!” Thus, I sentenced myself to a lifetime of rubber gloves and Soft Scrub.

Oh, and I did go through nine months of pregnancy and a little event called childbirth.

Sure, I’m spoiled rotten. But I know that each task Nick does is out of love for us and the home we’ve created. A few days after our son was born, he braved the blizzard to shovel the car out of the snow so he could make yet another run to Target for diapers. As I watched him from the warmth of our living room, I thought to myself, “This man was born to be a husband and father.” He finds such joy in completing these seemingly mundane chores. It has certainly made my decision to return to work an easy one, knowing that he will happily shoulder the burden of homemaking with me.

Some prefer diamonds; some prefer pearls. I’ll take chicken parm any day.