Saturday, March 30, 2013

I Made A Change

Most of you probably know I make laundry detergent here at home.

You may also know that I no longer use the fels-naptha bar ('cause it's petroleum-based and was "clogging" my clothes--not just 'cause no one knows how to pronounce the brand name.)
Instead, I've been using a bar from the Goat Milk Stuff company (which I LOVE 'cause they're name is easy to say, and 'cause they homeschool a bunch of kids and live on a farm, too.)

Well, I got to thinking back to the original detergent recipe that I'd found somewhere on the internet years ago.  I remembered that it listed Kirk's castile bar as an option instead of the fels.

Since I started using Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap to make some body scrubs and our shampoo (which is SO, SO EASY--I'll tell you about it soon), I've been interested more and more in castile soaps.

Now, I've been doing the homemade laundry detergent for at least four years now.  Could be longer, might be less--I can't remember for sure.
I've tried all the bars listed on that recipe--the Fels-Naptha, Kirk's castile, Ivory, and Zote.  Ok--I never came across the Sunlight brand, so I amend that to say almost all the brands listed.
They were okaaaaaay, but nothing really knocked my socks off (pun intended).  I was satisfied with the results and overjoyed that I was no longer lugging home gallon after gallon of detergent from the store and not spending mega bucks to wash the clothes.

When I did switch to using the laundry bar from the Goat Milk Stuff company (again, I LOVE their bar raspberry, baby powder, luv spell, rosemary mint....), I was definitely more  satisfied than I had heretofore been.

Heretofore is kind of a fun word to say, don't you think?  I think I'm going to try to use that more often.

But--BUT!!! As I said, I got to thinking about that castile option...and what the hay--I thought I'd give that a try.
And I'm SO glad I did!

I like this bar  better than any I've used thus far.
It's about $3.00 less per bar than the goat milk soap, so that's a plus for me.  (Now I can just buy the yummy-smelling body bars.)
I can also get the Dr. Bronner's locally, so I don't have to pay shipping.  (If you live near me, Meadowfarm carries these.)

But best of all, I think it's doing a better job of cleaning the clothes.  I'm not really sure why that is, but I really can tell a difference.

I was a bit nervous of "wasting" a whole batch of detergent if my experiment failed.  I didn't know if it would work to make laundry soap out of that specific bar.  I decided to go for it in a daring moment--it was on the same day that I painted my fingernails two different colors--on purpose.
I live on the wild side from time to time, people.
Don't believe me?  Well, sometimes?  I load the plates in the dishwasher facing the opposite direction than usual.
Not everyone can handle wild like that.

Anyway, I'm so glad I took the plunge and trusted my instincts and acquired knowledge (HA!) and that it actually worked!
Now I have a NEW way to be a bit more frugal and resourceful for my ever-growing, constantly-clothes-wearing-and-dirtying family.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Books We Love

I've been mothering little folks for a lot of years now...seventeen in fact.
Since our kids average about 20 months apart (closest space is 14 months, longest space is two months shy of three years), there hasn't been a time when I haven't had little people.
Life with littles can be a challenge; it's definitely an adventure and it can often seem draining.
Little people make big messes, chatter incessantly, seem hungry at every time other than meal time, and are nearly always on the move.
They are finding and asserting their independence, vacillating between wanting to do everything by themselves (even the things you wish they wouldn't try on their own, like pouring from a full pitcher of milk) to feigning helplessness on things you know they can do independently (like using a stool to reach a cup from the cupboard).

What I am thinking about today, though, is how much little people LOVE to be read to.  Nothing draws a crowd of littles faster than reading a story.  I believe it's so important to have and read good books.  I thought I'd list here some of our favorites--feel free to comment and tell me some of yours!

This list is in no way exhaustive, just a sampling of my favorites for younger ones.

The Little House 
Virginia Lee Burton won the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for her memorable picture book The Little House, a poignant story of a cute country cottage that becomes engulfed by the city that grows up around it. The house has an expressive face of windows and doors, and even the feelings of a person, so she’s sad when she’s surrounded by the dirty, noisy city’s hustle and bustle: “She missed the field of daisies / and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.” Fortunately, there’s a happy ending, as the house is taken back to the country where she belongs. A classic!

Farmer Dillo Paints His Barn
Farmer Dillo (an armadillo) loves to work.  He built a brand new barn, but can't decide what color to paint it.  He finally gets it just right.  This is a fun one for little ones because they can easily participate by guessing what comes next.  We are on our second copy because our first one fell apart from so much lovin'.

Katy is a brave and untiring tractor who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, making it possible for the townspeople to do their jobs.  There is a lot of information about heavy equipment in this book made easily memorable for little folks (and mommies).

Since 1933, The Story About Ping has captivated generations of readers. Ping is a spirited little duck who lives on a boat on the Yangtze River. Ping's misadventures one night while exploring the world around his home form the basis of this timeless classic, which is brought to life by Kurt Wiese's warm and poignant illustrations.

The “Little Mommy” in this story is an adorable little girl. We spend the day in her charming company as she cares for her dolls, treats their ills, gives them a tea party, feeds them dinner, and puts them to bed. Beautifully illustrated, this book has a timeless feel.  Definitely a story loved by our little girls! Ruby and Ivy have it memorized.

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

A little girl and a bear wander away from their blueberry-picking mothers and each mistakes the other's mother for their own.  This story and it's illustrations are so, so cute!  

A daddy bunny plays with his baby bunny and says, “What will our baby be when he grows up?” Everyone, from the baby’s mother to big sister to Great Aunt Bunny, seems to know: a clown, a policeman, a candy store owner. But the baby only nibbles on his carrot and looks wise . . . for he knows he will grow up to be a nice daddy bunny!

I'd love if you'd tell me about YOUR favorites for little people!

Monday, March 4, 2013


I went to town on Friday to get groceries, houeshold supplies, and to shop for Ivy's birthday and party.
I had just a few stops planned in order to execute my well-ordered list.

As I made my way toward Target, I looked across the divided highway and observed a small accident, a "fender-bender" with out injury (that's how it looked to me, anyway).

Suddenly, I was overcome with memories of a life-changing accident in October and how it has affected me.
I remembered getting the call.
I remembered calling my friend.
I remembered seeing Claire's precious little body in that ICU hospital bed.
I remembered the tears, the heartache, and the way that family and friends were still able to smile and enjoy being together, whether that was in the family room at the hospital or in their house after her death.
I remembered the beautiful music that was sung over Claire, the heart-wrenching prayers of God-following men and women who prayed for mercy for this family.
I remembered her funeral and the sobbing and the grief and the broken-hearted mother who walked in behind her daughter's casket, clinging to one of her grown sons.  This son whom I used to babysit, now all grown up and looking so dashing in his Marine's uniform.
I remembered this family's testimony of God's faithfulness in their grief.
I remembered these and so many other things while watching the road through my tears, pulling in to the Target parking lot and sitting for several minutes there in my car, sobbing and trying to collect myself enough to go in to the store.

Because here I was, shopping for my little girl's birthday and being vividly aware that my friend didn't get to do that for her baby girl's birthday just a few weeks ago.  Her "little" girl was in heaven while mine was at home watching a Max and Ruby video.

I'm sure you've heard someone say, or perhaps even said it yourself, "I just can't imagine going through something like that."
I think, though, that if we're really honest with ourselves, we can.  We can imagine, we just don't want to.
We don't want to imagine what it's like to have that empty seat at the table.
We don't want to imagine what it's like to list off your kids in the manner that has become second-nature to you and suddenly have to leave out one name.
We don't want to imagine what it's like to wash and fold the laundry in the following days and see her see her shoes still by the clean her room and give away her books and go through her trinkets and treasures.
We don't want to imagine what it's like to stumble over a phrase like, "since s/he d-d-d-died." and instead, come up with other ways to say the same thing, like "since she moved to heaven" or "since the accident".
We don't want to imagine the visceral, physical, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching pain of burying a child.

So we say we "can't imagine."
But we can.

I think to myself how, if this is me four months after her death, how much more for her mom!  And her brothers and sisters!
I pray for peace to flood their hearts, for sweet memories to comfort them, for the assurance of Claire's eternal life with her Savior to give them hope (click HERE if you are unsure).

I want them to know that she is not forgotten.  That they are not forgotten.
Even though it seems like life has gone on for everyone else.
Even though everyone else's life seems so "normal" when theirs has been so changed.
Even though the bills still need to be paid, the groceries still need to be bought, and the laundry still needs to be done.
Even though they still have to put one foot in front of another, while a wound still gapes in their hearts.

The blessing in all of this is that this family still knows, believes, and proclaims that God is faithful--even when things hurt so bad.

I drove home that day after my errands determined to remember that we are not guaranteed a tomorrow.
I want to be a more intentional, loving, and present parent.
I want to be a more intentional, loving, and present wife.

And I know, believe, and will proclaim that God is faithful.

Friday, March 1, 2013

To Our Older Children

To Our Older Children:
I want to thank you and let you know that I notice the things that are a part of your life when you have several younger siblings.

Thank you that even though it's frustrating, you still love your little sister when she's eaten another pair of your earbuds.

Thank you for understanding that sometimes little people scribble on papers that don't belong to ones that belong in your books.  Sorry.

Thank you for laughing at completely nonsensical knock-knock jokes from a 4 and 6 year old.  It validates their attempt to join in the fun of telling a joke and it makes them feel like you really listen.

Thank you for realizing that sometimes we can't go to something because it just wouldn't be suitable to have all the littles along.  One day they will know that there were things to which I didn't take them because it wouldn't have been suitable for you.

Thank you for all the times you help clean up a spill, pour more milk, dish up a plate, scoot in their chair, pick up a dropped fork, and convince them to eat a few more bites.

Thank you for carrying them over snowbanks and mud puddles, in the pouring rain and in gusty winds, so that I don't have to make so many trips to load/unload the van.

Thank you for zipping coats and helping with boots and finding mittens.

Thank you for knowing that they are watching you and looking up to you; that they are learning from you by being with you.

Thank you for helping with math, for reading stories, and for reacting so convincingly when ambushed by soldier-cowboy-ninja-spies.

Thank you for admiring and praising the ballerina-princesses in your life.

Thank you for teaching them how to ride a bike, for switching training wheels off--and sometimes back on.

Thank you for squashing spiders and for fast-forwarding the scary part on Lion King.

Thank you for the times you've had to bring the same-gender-as-you child to the bathroom at Wal-Mart.

Thank you for teaching them how to play chess.

Thank you for being good big brothers and a good big sister.

I really do appreciate it.

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