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Tales From the Motherhood: New vacuum inspires teen to clean

Whenever I asked Holly to vacuum, my funny girl called herself “Cinderella” and cited the ills of child labor. But things got ugly last year when the motor finally died on the carpet sweeper attachment of my beloved old vacuum – replacement cost for the broken part? $150.00, HA! – and we were left with only the wimpy brush attachment, good for nothing but vacuuming hardwood floors. Since we’d just ripped up most of our old carpet we made do for a while.

But that got old in a hurry, so Holly launched a campaign for a new vacuum. Noah even joined in, grousing about the duct-tape that held the canister together and the filters that randomly flew off because the cover was MIA. Not the most stylish device, anymore, sure, but you know me, I hate waste and won’t toss an appliance into the dump – or recycle it – until it’s got smoke pouring from its ears. And besides, how could I part with something we bought 15 years ago when my kids were mere toddlers? And at a state fair, no less? I know, I know, never buy a vacuum at a state fair. Whatever.

But this vacuum was a beast, an Electrolux. For the uninitiated, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Both of my kids’ grandmothers had Electroluxs for decades, and just try and get decades out of a newer, plastic vacuum. But I digress. Holly begged, and she begged. And she begged some more. Striking was imminent, so before she threatened to join a labor union I wised up, gave her my debit card and let her buy a new vacuum. I’ve never seen her move so fast. Before I changed my mind – smart kid – she parked herself at the kitchen island, fired up my laptop, and got to work. Buying a vacuum is serious business.

So here’s my latest “pro tip,” people. Want your kid to love vacuuming? To embrace the chore? I’m no business mogul, but hey, everyone knows that if you want your team to buy into something, allowing them some say, some investment in the outcome, yields better results. Hear! hear! I’ve never had cleaner carpets. In. My. Life.  

First, she ogled a sweet Black and Decker. 

“Check out the reviews,” I suggested. She did. Awesome machine. “Now, pick another and compare features and reviews – Then you decide,” I said. She did, and settled on the “Hoover WindTunnel 2 High Capacity Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner in Blue.” Yeah. And a few days later, it miraculously appeared on our front porch. On angel’s wings. Backed up by an angel chorus, to boot. Hallelujah!

“Your vacuum is here! Your vacuum is here! (See what I did there?) Yay!” I shouted. Holly got to work putting it together while I returned to the kitchen to finish the dishes.

“I need a Phillips head,” she called. I rummaged around in the kitchen junk drawer and practically skipped back into to the living room with the screwdriver. “No, Mom, the flat one.” Oh.

“Kk,” I said. The flat one. I brought her the flat one, and voila, new vacuum. 

“It’s got one lever,” she called. Yay! I had no idea what for, but yay for one lever! “Come see! It doesn’t turn on as soon as you plug it in!” Yes, this one’s already a winner! “I’m excited!” she yelled. I was excited, too. I plopped onto the couch and watched, mesmerized, as Holly pointed out the features of her fancy new vacuum and demonstrated how effectively and easily it worked. No duct tape! No randomly flying parts! No risk of death by vacuum! The Big Red Dog didn’t share in our enthusiasm.

“Don’t bark at this,” Holly said. “You’re the reason we have so much crap on the carpet,” she added, as he put his tail between his legs and gamely joined me on the couch. She whipped out an attachment. “You can clean the windows,” she said, wielding the wand.

“You don’t say?” I said, petting Jake. This is good. This is very good.

“Winter, spring, summer or fall, Jake sheds through them aaaa-lll,” Holly sang, as she made quick work of the area rug in the living room. Oh, how I love this girl.

“Mom, look! Hard to reach places! I can vacuum the ceiling!” Those QVC hosts have nothing on my kid.

“And my back won’t hurt as much.” Sing it, sister. “And you can vacuum, too!” Huh? “And you don’t need any bags!”

According to the Hoover website, “WindTunnel 2 Technology’s 2 channels of suction lift and remove surface debris and deep down embedded dirt.” Swell. “Vacuums without WindTunnel Technology rely on only one channel of suction.” Who knew? “Dual-Cyclonic Air passes through not one, but two cyclonic stages to filter dirt and debris from the air path with no loss of suction.” No kidding? TWO cyclonic stages, people! But then we checked out the dirt cup. I couldn’t believe what had already accumulated in there. It was horrifying. According to the site, the vacuum’s “HEPA Media Filter” traps 99.97 percent of dirt, dust, and pollens down to 0.3 microns. I almost felt guilty about betraying my beleaguered Electrolux, tape and all. Almost.

“Noah, look,” Holly shouted, as he strolled in and she proudly held up the dirt cup to show her brother the impressive amount of debris already picked up from one 5 x 8 rug. Gah! But there’s a hole in that cup – where the hose attaches – dear Holly, so all of those ‘microns’ tumbled back out onto the carpet. Oy. But my girl, not to be outdone, was on it.

“I can vacuum it! I got this,” she said. Indeed she does.

So what’s next to go? The kids are lobbying for a new refrigerator, as ours was way past its prime when we bought this house over nine years ago. Hmmm… If I let ‘em pick it will they also clean it? What are the chances?

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at

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