July 18, 2006

I’ve been really pleased with how the floors in our house turned out, which is a good thing considering all the extra expense and headaches they entailed (unexpected staining resulting in replacement boards, several follow-up contractor visits to hand-sand and apply more finish, and let’s not forget the extra-long stint at Extended Hell Hotel, motto: “Free Semen With Every Blanket!”).

However, the combination of hardwoods and dog hair is not a pretty one. Oh, I know….you told me so. But sometimes you just have to see a fur-tumbleweed the size of a badger in order to believe it.

Since Riley is now semi-ambulatory, he serves as a rather handy Swiffer – if, that is, I don’t mind the front of my 10-month old child looking like a bearskin rug. Which, I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t, but he does tend to need a lot of picking up and handling, and I find it tiresome to lint-roller myself afterwards.

That’s right, I’ll endure having applesauce sneezed on me, poop smeared on me, and formula horked on me, but I draw the line at transferred pet hair, by god.

I’m hoping the dog fur problem will be alleviated somewhat when we get some area rugs, out of sight is out of mind as far as I’m concerned, but I’m getting more and more interested in a Roomba. Those of you who have one, does it really work? Do you program it with your room’s dimensions, or does it just figure it out as it bumbles around? Most importantly, does it terrify your pets in any particularly hilarious way?

I had worried about the potentially disastrous outcome, baby-safety-wise, of ripping out the carpeting, and to that end it’s been about what I expected. I’m positive Riley would be getting bumps and bruises even if we still had carpeting, but the resounding “CLONK” of his little head meeting with the wood floor never fails to dump a kegload of adrenaline into my bloodstream. (I’ve been working on suppressing my inevitable gasp of Dismayed Horror, because while sometimes he barely acknowledges the skull-smash, the sight of his mother making the Edvard Munch Scream Face and croaking “OH MY GOD ARE YOU OKAY” tends to freak him out, just a smidge.)

Things are only going to get worse, I’m sure, and no floor padding can save us – this morning I watched Riley crawl up to the edge of the hearth, use it to pull himself up, then start to swing one leg over in order to climb inside our filthy fireplace.


(The boy, contemplating his next sure-to-be-fraught-with-peril move. Not pictured: the seized internal organs of his parents.)


36 Responses to “Walking on oak and eggshells”

  1. kate on July 18th, 2006 3:15 pm

    I have a Roomba. It works great if you don’t have a variety of floor treatments. That is, it’s great on wood. It’s great on rug. But if it’s on wood, and it encounters a throw rug (or vice versa) — it gets stuck. It also fills up kinda fast. It has a small container for the lint and stuff it grabs so it needs to be emptied after each room and with pet hair it might need to be emptied mid-room.

    What I really love, is my cordless vac. I got it for the stairs but now I use it everywhere. It’s super light. And there’s no plugging in so you clean up is super quick and easy. Target has nice one.

  2. honeybecke on July 18th, 2006 3:32 pm

    Can I just tell you that I love it when you use that word?
    I meant to tell you that the first time you used it, but I forgot.
    It always makes me smile.

  3. laura on July 18th, 2006 4:10 pm

    I got two things: I had hardwood floors when my Lil Guy was a baby, and I just put a big-ass almost room-sized rug in the living room. It was actually a piece of medium-grade carpet with bound edges. Almost defeats the purpose, but you could see the nice wood along the edges, and when he was done bonking himself on the floor, the rug came up, never to be seen again.

    Second thing: I have heard good things about the roomba-thing that mops your floors for you. Like you would pick up all the area rugs at night, turn that thing loose, and the next morning: clean floors.

    Bonus third thing: my mom has a Roomba on hardwood floors, and it sucks. It spends all its time stuck under the sofa.

  4. Nicole on July 18th, 2006 4:39 pm

    I’ve got a Roomba (precisely for the pet tumbleweeds) and it works perfectly. I have two cats that constantly fight and leave giant hairballs on the floor. It also picks up all the food that somehow ends up out of the bowl and the cat litter they track around the bathroom their litter box is in.

    We have a combination of laminate flooring, carpet, and linoleum and it works great in every room. Most of our furniture is either too low for the Roomba to go under or high enough that it cleans underneath and goes back out – I think it’s only managed to get stuck once or twice because it somehow managed to sneak a corner of itself under the treadmill. I bet that it’s likely if there are a lot of obstacles in the way, it may be a pain to have a Roomba, but the pictures you’ve posted of your floors look mostly free of the things that usually trap the Roomba.

    We don’t have area rugs, but I have heard that if there are tassles on the rug, or if the rub is made of thick material (1″ thick), the Roomba may get stuck. I empty my Roomba out maybe every 2-3 days – it doesn’t fill up as quickly as Kate mentioned, but it runs every day, so it generally doesn’t have a serious amount of dirt to pick up at any given time – just the tumbleweeds and a few crumbs.

    Roomba comes with Virtual walls, so we wall him into a room and he bumbles around cleaning the floor. It doesn’t really learn your room, but it cleans plenty and keeps the floors free of those annoying tumbleweeds. I’d definitely recommend it. :)

    As for animals — my cats were freaked out originally, but now they mostly ignore it. Since they aren’t paying attention, sometimes it sneaks up and bumps into their rear ends and they do crazy accobatics trying to get away from it. :) Definitely funny moments can be had.

    The Scooba works great too, in case you wanted to know.

  5. Stephanie on July 18th, 2006 4:43 pm

    I too have tumbleweeds of fur floating along the edges of my hardwood floors. I must say that I’m slightly disappointed that my children don’t crawl around and clean it up for me anymore. Stinkin’ kids… growing up and being less helpful around here. I’m interested in seeing more feedback about the Roomba. I’d LOVE one if it works.

  6. LLL on July 18th, 2006 4:58 pm

    I also have a Roomba, and like the others can attest it works really well on pet hair (3 cats) and hard surfaces. It has a hard time if your rugs are too think ot too shaggy. Its nice because you can just turn it on, set the virtual walls and let it run. The model I have is about 2 years old and returns to its dock when its battery is getting low, which is nice. So you can turn it on and leave for the day and get some cleaning done. It does remarkably well at getting into corners and along sides (not perfect but pretty darn good). If pet hair is the biggest problem you shouldnt have too many problems having to empty it.

    The cat…..hide sfrom the Roomba. So you may get some entertainment out of it from them. My friends son LOVED the Roomba when he was about 2-3, so you may get some added entertainment value there as well.

    All that being said, my husband (who is a stay at home Dad and by his own proclamation in charge of all things housekeeping) never uses the Roomba. I dont know why – he’s a man (you know they have the “why” chromosome….) So if you want to buy a “gently” used one cheap – I know where you can get one……

  7. Amy on July 18th, 2006 5:26 pm

    *God*, the part about him swinging his leg up onto the fireplace made me laugh.

    Jacob crawled/climbed stairs far earlier than he could understand the phrase “feet first” (particularly, in retrospect, given that I could barely squeak it out given the lack of air in my lungs). It made for some pretty heart-thumping times. But he’s practiced enough now that the imminent danger is past, from that particular stunt, anyway. So take heart! Soon, you’ll be less worried about him falling off of the fireplace hearth and more worried about what he can do when he gets inside the “Crisper” drawer. ;-)

  8. vedjen on July 18th, 2006 5:39 pm

    Just yesterday, I read some reviews on the roomba and was pleasantly surprised at the majority of people who LOVED their roomba. Somewhere along the way it was even posted that the newer models will have available an attachable arm that will allow the roomba to fetch a drink OR newspaper OR cat for you.

    —change gears—–

    We just bought our first house and are ecstatic to rip up the carpet and observe the wood floors below — in all their carpet glue and pet stained glory. They will undoubtedly need to be refinished and I have been dying to ask you who you decided to hire to do the job and whether you would recommend them (we’re in Bremerton).

  9. thejunebug on July 18th, 2006 6:06 pm

    Yep. If you haven’t bolted your heavy, climbable furniture (dressers, bookcases, etc) to studs in the walls yet, this would be the time. Seriously.

  10. HollowSquirrel on July 18th, 2006 6:06 pm

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like the Roomba? It takes too long, which I didn’t consider before buying. If I want the floors to be clean, I just want to whip out the vacuum and suck up the offending mess. I don’t want to set up the sensor, listen to the Roomba and watch it flit around for 20 minutes to vacuum one room. But maybe it’s just me. I can send you ours– it is just SITTING, taking up room.

  11. girl in greenwood on July 18th, 2006 6:14 pm

    Do you mean to tell me you didn’t read Sars at Tomato Nation writing about the Roomba?????!!!!

    Go forth and chortle:


  12. Shawna on July 18th, 2006 7:29 pm

    Girl in greenwood beat me to it, and after I’d gone to find the url ‘n everything!

  13. Contrary on July 18th, 2006 7:55 pm

    We’re in the process of tearing up all the carpet in our house. Sadly, there is no beautiful hardwood floors in our future, because as it turns out, it’s illegal to sell your children for home improvement purposes. We will be doing an acid stain on our concrete floors and will definitely be getting a Roomba.

    Until we do that, a through sweeping with a rubber bristled broom and then a good swiffering is keeping everything fairly dog hair free (and my shedders make your shedder look like a piker).

  14. Sara on July 18th, 2006 9:13 pm

    You know, I actually like our wood floors because they are so easy to clean with my (small, canister) vacuum. It’s much faster (to clean) than carpet and I can actually see how dirty it is, unlike in the carpeted areas. I worried about the “falling baby” factor too, and even had an area rug, but the the cat was so damn fond of puking on it, I gave up after we had to pay $60 for drycleaning.

  15. Pete on July 18th, 2006 9:36 pm

    I had to seal off the fireplace when my youngest started to crawl. It just had a wire mesh screen which he could open easly. The added bonus was the room was warmer in the winter. When I remodeled the living room I covered the slump block fireplace with marble so I could but up a glass screen. I though about the Roomba but I put some nice area rugs over the hardwood so it would get caught on those.

  16. Shannon on July 18th, 2006 9:42 pm

    Holy crap, that Roomba story on Tomato Nation is the funniest damn thing I’ve read all week, with bonus points for referring to “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Pruefrock.” Yay!

    Friends of mine got a Roomba and one day, it mysteriously disappeared. IN THEIR ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT. They’ve looked high and low for it too. The only answer is that someone stole it after a party (which would just suck–ha ha, no pun intended) or else it just up & left of its own accord.

  17. Amie on July 18th, 2006 9:54 pm

    Oh, my god. I almost whizzed myself laughing. First, we have three cats, a dog and hardwood floors. The fur-tumblweeds we get are approximately the size of a small wooly mammoth. And our son, who will be 1 year on the 29th, whether clunking himself down on the floor by way of his or by way of his head, has made more disturbing noises than my poor heart can take. I know exactly what face and gasp you’re talking about. Still, he’s always fine. Kids were built tough.

  18. Jenipurr on July 18th, 2006 10:14 pm

    We have six cats, who all manage to shed a disturbingly large amount of fur – and since there are no carpets in the house at all (it’s all wood laminate flooring) the fur has nowhere to go but into big hairball tumbleweeds everywhere.

    We’ve had our Roomba for about a year now and it is awesome. You just push the button and it toddles off all by itself and you don’t have to program a thing. It figures out where all the corners and the walls and the furniture are and does a pretty good job of getting everywhere. And when it’s done it scoots right back to its little recharging station, docks itself, and then beeps to let us know it’s done.

    Also, you can’t beat the humor of watching the interaction between a determined little robot and nervous pets. Fun for all!

  19. Gentry on July 19th, 2006 1:25 am

    I always say I have three pets. Napoléon the pug, Mimine the cat, and Fluffy the shetland pony-sized hair ball that springs forth from my hardwood floors and regenerates twice daily.

  20. Jessie on July 19th, 2006 5:47 am

    So my determination to have hardwood floors, but no pets, is a good decision then? Because my husband and I were arguing over this point – he wants a dog, I want a cat, therefore we cancel each other out and we end up with no pets, but he’s more likely to win out here – and I needed a good argument for my side. I’ll have to send him your way to read this post, because if there’s someone who hates anything messy, it’s my neat-freak husband.

  21. omuchacha on July 19th, 2006 6:24 am

    On the good side of hardwoods with pat hair, when the pet hair tumbleweeds reach critical mass it’s easy to pick them up and just throw them in the trash. You can’t do that with pet hair in carpet!

  22. ang on July 19th, 2006 6:27 am

    I have two cats, one of which has very long hair. They fight and rip out great tumbleweeds of hair, but this is usually contained in their room. (a combo of vinyl tile & large area rug. I keep the Roomba is the cat room and it works great! Better than a very, very expensive vacuum I recieved as a wedding gift. It also picks up any litter spillage from the cat box as well. I’m waiting til Christmas to get a Scooba. I want one NOW!
    Also, both cats HATE the Roomba, so the evil glares of disgust on their faces when I turn it on?? Worth every penny.

  23. Ang on July 19th, 2006 6:35 am

    Oh how I miss those exploration by crawling and climbing days. So many memories!

  24. Sarah on July 19th, 2006 6:48 am

    We have hardwood in the kitchen but carpet in the living room. I’ve been tempted to rip it up and have hardwood throughout, but I see how much maintenance the kitchen takes – there is *constantly* dog hair to pick up (thanks to a very hairy golden). I couldn’t imagine dealing with that in the entire house (yes, I know it’s still there in the carpet, but it’s hidden!). Slightly off topic – if you do rip up the carpet, what do you do with the stairs? Same thing? And, can you have hardwood downstairs and carpet upstairs in the bedrooms?

  25. Dillygirl on July 19th, 2006 7:29 am

    Not sure if anyone has said this yet, but the Roomba has one teeny tiny flaw. A friend of mine who has the same problem of dog hair tumbleweeds on her hardwood floors bought the Roomba about 1 year ago to do the dirty work. She told me that it works great and cuts down on the amount of dog hair on the floor, but it has such a small dirt container. Once it’s full (and that can happen fast when you’ve got BADGER sized hair balls) it stops and you have to go fetch it and empty it. This friend of mine thought that was a pain in the arse. I still think it’s worth a try. And, they might have improved the Roomba since then.

  26. Mallorie on July 19th, 2006 8:27 am

    You should just get this and save yourself the roomba cost, at least you’ll know now when you pick up Riley you can be expecting clumps of hair and all that.


  27. AmyW on July 19th, 2006 8:47 am

    Your floors look gorgeous! I have wood floors and our dog is inside/outside. Area rugs will not help your cause. Sorry to burst that bubble. Just think about all the hair/dander that’s not staying in the carpet! :)

    My little brother’s favorite place to play was the fire place…

  28. Holly on July 19th, 2006 10:50 am

    We have a Roomba and we love it… Actually we got it because our dog was deathly afraid of our regular vaccum and would spin piss/shit everywhere whenever we turned that thing on. One of us would have to take him out side so the other of us could vaccum. Was a big pain in the ass. He’s not afraid of the Roomba at all… At first he sort of barked at it and tried to bite it a couple of times then would kind of follow it around but now he doesn’t even notice it. It doesn’t do the totally complete job that our regular vaccum does but it’s pretty dang good for something you just turn on and walk away from. My husband and I are both really happy with it. It does a pretty good job for us going from carpet to the kitchen too, it auto adjusts the height. You do have to empty the bin pretty often but maybe not as much at your place, at our house it’s sucking up actual carpet fibers non stop so it fills up really fast. Also, it takes kind of a long time to do a room because it is really thourogh, it will pass over every spot like 4 times so at first glance you see that it’s not getting everything but when it’s done w/ the room it will have.

    Also, I saw someone reccomended the Scooba, the mopping Roomba, I’d make sure you know that the solution it uses is safe for Riley since he spends so much time on the floors… I read a story once about people using those Swiffer Wet Jets and the solution turned out to be harmful to pets and it had killed some ladys cat or dog or something… We used to use that so we stopped when we read that ’cause we didn’t want a similar situation w/ our cats! Not sure if it’s the same thing but just be sure before you buy one. -h

  29. Karina on July 19th, 2006 3:55 pm

    Girl in greenwood thank you for the tomatoe nation link.
    Tears in my eyes from laughing so hard!

  30. TB on July 19th, 2006 7:33 pm

    I’m with Kate all the way. If you have area rugs on your hardwood, it’s kind of a pain because the hair clumps that aren’t readily sucked into roomba get caught on the edge of the rugs. But all things considered it works really well and it does eliminate the need to vacuum/swiffer on a daily/weekly basis.

    The biggest problem is it won’t save you any time at first because you will waste all the time you could have been using on other chores watching the roomba work. It’s sick I know.

  31. Lesley on July 20th, 2006 12:56 am

    I’ve decided to take that snap to my hairdresser because I want highlights the colour of that floor, eggzactly!

  32. Lisa on July 20th, 2006 6:48 am

    We live in military housing, thus have concrete walls and floors (with tile on top). Whenever our son Nathan gets tired, he becomes a sloppy crawler and keeps face planting into the floor, walls, furniture, etc. He pretty much has permanent bruises on his forehead!

    On the vacuum note, we have carpet -> floor -> carpet -> floor and so on (because our dog is afraid of everything and has to have carpet) which means no roomba for us. However, we just got a Dyson vacuum and LOVE it. That’s the greatest thing ever!

  33. victoria on July 20th, 2006 6:55 am

    Oh who cares if the kid ends up with a head injury? The floors look AWESOME.

  34. Amanda on July 20th, 2006 1:27 pm

    The “swiffer killed my dog” story is an urban legend. But I have heard that the roomba will steal your kidney if you don’t forward this story to eleven-point-five people in the next three seconds.

  35. telegirl on July 20th, 2006 2:19 pm

    OK, I am so glad that I am working from home right now as I just read that Tomato Nation web page. I am laughing so hard, I am crying. Thanks Girl in Greenwood! And, Linda, the area rugs? Well, they look pretty funny with their new pet hair “fringes” but go ahead, it might save Riley’s little noggin a few times.

    By the way, I know you’re thinking it… (makes curly quotes air sign) Working From Home (end with curly quotes air sign). But, really, I am!! :o)

  36. Mel on July 25th, 2006 7:48 pm

    My mom has a rumba. She likes it a lot because she doesn’t have to vacuum every day anymore. You still have to get the edges with a vacuum cleaner to get rid of cobwebs and such, according to her. I don’t know about programming dimensions but I’ve heard you can. It works well on hard-wood floors, too. Mom doesn’t have a pet so I don’t have pet stories for you. She would be wearing the rumba battery out every day if she had a pet.

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