Feb 26, 2014

Bi-Annual Laundry Soap Making

It be time to make the laundry soap again!!

I made my first batch at the end of September of last year (2013) and have just now run out of it.  I love this stuff.  It does not suds up much but everything gets very clean and my washer always smells fresh.

This is a pinterest project for me and here is the link where I got it.

(1) 3 lb. 7 oz. box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda $3.24
(1) 4 lb. box Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda                     2.24
(1) 4 lb. 12 oz. box 20 Mule Team Borax                                3.97
(1) 3 lb. box Oxi Clean                                                             7.52
(3) bars Zote Soap ( or Fels Naptha) grated                               .97
Total for 5 months of laundry soap (your use may vary)     $17.94

You can also add any kind of the good smelling stuff if you want.

Before I tried making my own, I would buy the cheapest I could get away with, which was usually a brand called Extra.  It's very cheap and very good, but not this cheap.  Even buying that I went through at least $30 in 5 months.  You should really try this.  The hardest part is grating the soap, assuming you have access to a 5 gallon bucket.

All you do is grate up the bar soap and mix it all up.  I use a trash bag inside a 5 gallon bucket for storage and fill up one of the little Oxi Clean containers for daily use on my laundry counter.  The little scoop in the Oxi Clean works well as a measure for putting it in.  All you need is about 2 tablespoons per load.

With the boy's clothes I sometimes use more, but only for a really dirty or smelly load.

I am very pleased to announce that basketball season is over for this year.  Hallelujah!!  Our lives can now get back to their regular schedule, and the laundry should be less complicated too!  I practically break out in hives if I have to leave the house for fear that someone with good intentions will put the basketball stuff in the dryer.  I have guarded that stuff with my life!  I'm happily turning it all back in and looking forward to no more late night (for me--but I am ready for bed by 9 most nights) trips out in freezing weather to wait for a bus!  No more practices!  Life is good, and spring is coming, despite the polar plunge we have been enduring lately.

I highly, highly recommend you give this a try.  I don't think you will be disappointed or I wouldn't give you such a big recipe.  There are smaller amount recipe's you can find if you just want to try it.  Or ask me, I have plenty and am willing to share.  The only other thing that might be hard about this is if you don't have a grater.  If you do not have a grater, go to a second hand store and buy one.  It will probably cost no more than a dollar or two, and if you are not grating your own cheese, should be.  But that's another blog post.  

PS  Don't feel bad about using your cheese grater to grate up laundry soap.  It's soap!  

Feb 16, 2014

Things I Had Forgotten....

When I was 32 years old, I had an 8 year old boy, a 5 year old girl, and a new set of twin boys.  I adjusted.  You keep adjusting.  Funny how quickly you can forget some things.

This last week has brought back many things to me that I had forgotten.

    How wonderful to pick a baby up in the morning and have her point to the sky with one arm wrapped around my neck and make her little morning noises.

   How old clothes can be magical outfit with the imagination of a small child.

   How sometimes you get a God wink in a sack of potatoes.

    How hard it is to find something heavy enough to keep the top of a tent anchored, but not heavy enough to hurt you if it falls.

                          How jealous siblings can get.  Yowsa.

What it's like to be wearing a black turtleneck in a public place, see the baby focus on your neck/shoulder area, very carefully pick off a piece of goldfish, eat it, and realize you have been walking around for at least an hour with half eaten food stuck to your clothes.  No one said a word.  But then I hang with older folk.  Perhaps they didn't see it.........

   How getting up early and staying up late are more profound when you have little ones, who depend on you for their very lives, safely sleeping peacefully in their beds.

   How precious it is to have 20 minutes to yourself.

  How you can do anything when little ones depend on you, even if that means digging your car out of a snow drift with nothing but an ice scraper and a lot of gas.  "You're making the snow FLY!" said Abigail.  I think she was impressed with my skillz.  lol  Some day I will take her mudding, so she can learn to really drive.

   How good Popsicle are!  Dang!  Life is too short not to have them, really.

    How heavy diaper bags are!

   How hard it is to remember everything that goes in the diaper bag.

   How amazing a perfume atomizer is--even without perfume.

   How dirty diapers often smell like the last thing the baby ate.  Ugh.

   How much I hate car seats.

  How precious life is and how quickly a catastrophe can happen if you don't remember to keep the house safe at all times.  

  How exciting it can be just to get out of the house for a few minutes when you have been trapped in there for 3 days.

    How special it makes you feel it is to see a baby recognize you and smile all over themselves.

  How long I can snort into a child's neck making them laugh from their belly.   Looong time. :D  They always get tired of it before I do.

   How annoying it is when your bath water gets cold and how little it costs to warm it up so you can get the baby in bed before you get the 5 year old out of the tub.

  How much water does not stay in the tub when 5 year old's take baths unsupervised for even 3 minutes.

   How hard it is to get little shoes on little feet without the seam of the sock "hurting".

    How important it is to look at someone when you are listening to them.

    How much your back hurts when you have to get out of bed, again, and all you want to do is sleep.

   How easy it is to feed little ones with eggs, milk and fruit.

   How nice it is to see you practically grown and normally completely self absorbed teenage boys stop to listen to a made up story by a little girl, and take it seriously.

   How hard it is to say you miss your mom when you don't want to hurt your Mimi's feelings, and how little girls will often orchestrate situations just so they can cry for awhile.

    How fast time passes, and how everything you do counts, one way or the other.

   How much fun flash lights can be.

   How hard it is to clip baby fingernails.  ARG!

   How much more fun it is to do laundry when it's full of polka dotted leggings and footie pajamas.

  The agony of brushing out long hair.

How easy it is to let dishes set to do more important things.

   How good it feels to get a break of a few hours.  I think that might be the best thing about being a grandparent: the happiness to see them come; the happiness to see them go.

   How diplomatic and sensitive young children can be.
Me: Abigail, do you remember (so-and-so)"
Abigail: Is she wrinkly?
Me: uh.................(realizing that what she is to polite to say is "how old is she?  Is she my age or is she your age (wrinkly)".
I swear to God I had to answer this at least 5 times, more cautiously each time.

  It's easy to forget.  Sometimes we all need reminding, and there are so many parents who need the break even if only for a few hours.  Look around, see what you can do.  You might be surprised how precious what you get back can be.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  I am forever in the debt of my Bonus Daughter for these wonderful days and nights of remembering, practicing and pretending.  I never plan to stop, and it will keep on going long after I'm gone.  I'm making sure of it.


Feb 15, 2014

The Queen of Darkness

Today I actually got Abigail's hair brushed without tears on her part or mine, and french braided all the way down.
When I was done I turned her around to discover I had missed on strand on each side of her hair that was just hanging down from the top of her head to below her shoulders.  Was my face red.  I asked her to let me re-do it.  I actually begged her, several times, but no, she liked it.  I had had all the time I was going to get with her hair for this day.

So we went uptown and visited some friends and I had to explain that my french braiding skills were suffering.  My hair dresser, kind soul that she is, even said I did a really good job.  I gave myself a C- and explained the problem with tears and wailing (on both sides) that accompanied brushing Abigail's long, beautiful hair out.

What happened next?  My very clever and kind hair dresser said she had a magic brush that did not hurt tangles!!!  She, also having very long and beautiful hair, swore that it just "went over" the tangles without getting stuck, but it got them out.  This magical item is called The Wet Brush and can be gotten at Creative Edge for only $12.  I promptly bought one for Abigail's mother as a Valentine's present.  

Abigail allowed me to take out her braid as soon as we got home and proceeded to brush her OWN hair for 20 minutes, without any tangles or crying or gnashing of teeth or anything.  It was like a miracle!!!

Back home, I settled the girls in the Princess room with the baby happily looking out the window and Abigail arranging stuffed animals in the cradle.  I went into the kitchen to start lunch and just as I was thinking they had been quiet a long time, I heard the door shut.  Any mother will tell you that gives you a bad feeling.  So I go back down the hall, knock and stick my head in.  The scene had changed.  The blind was now down, the baby was still on the bed, now happily pointing a flashlight around and babbling.  I look down at Abigail, and I don't know why I whispered, probably because it was dark?
"What's going on?" I whispered.
Abigail, busily putting on a pair of my boots that come all the way up her little legs, looks up at me with big blue eyes and whispers back , "I'm being the Queen of Darkness."
I look back up, everything seems fine, and I have left water running in the sink in the kitchen, so I whisper "Okay", and shut the door with no more questions.

Back in the kitchen, laughing to myself, I contemplated  who the Queen of Darkness was.  I had no clue whatsoever.  So when I went back to check, it's a girl in a pretty cool get-up, black boots, a sun hat, and a boa in Mardi Gras colors, who rides tigers in the dark, with her friend the bear.  We had watched Brother Bear II the night before.  I decided that in my house, the Queen of Darkness is Abigail Lea, and she is a good person, especially in the dark.

This was the only shot I got--I can't do everything you know. lol
By 6 pm that evening we were both losing our minds, so I went out with her to play in the snow.  Winters are hard with little ones.  People get cabin fever.  We have ample snow, in fact, we got 13 inches last week.  This week we got a bit of freezing rain and a little more snow on top.  Before that, she sunk in up to her knees and she did not like that.  Just as Abigail was discovering that she could now walk across the yard on top of the frozen rain layer, I pointed out the full, orange moon coming up in the sky.  It was magic.  She said it was "the best night EVER."  I had to agree.  The fresh air did us both good.

I don't think she had ever gotten to play in the snow in the dark before, and she happily climbed a 5 foot high pile of snow next to the driveway and slid down the other side until she was tired.  God bless children who get tired in about a half hour.

After that, a warm bubble bath and a movie she went to sleep early.  I did not plan it.  I was just going with the flow.  I realized that I had adjusted back to the schedule of "being home", where there is no set schedule, just a lot of frantic movement and the bare necessities getting "done".  I decided to enjoy it as much as I could because it would be gone before I knew it.  I watched her sleep, as I have since she was 3 weeks old, and marveled at how she has grown so fast.  I thought about all the things she won't remember that I will never forget.  I told her that she was going to be going through a lot of changes, and I would still love her through them all.  Even the snotty, eye rolling teenage stage and the rebellious years that would follow.  She was sure she would never act that way, but I know better.

I had forgotten how hectic, hard, and rewarding it was to have little kids all the time.  I had forgotten a lot of things.

I know it was harder on their mom mentally than it was on me physically.  I also know that for me, at least, it was worth it.

Tomorrow they go home, and life will go back to normal around here, minus most of the magic.  Time to get back to real life.  Children last such a very short time.  It's a shame you have to raise a few before you realize how fast time really does go.

On the upside of things, though, I am ready to be a grandma for real.

Luckily, I have the room all ready to go.  We will be adding another one in June.  That's right!!!

I have a grand DAUGHTER on the way.  

Feb 13, 2014

Men, Women, and the Importance of Your "Hair look"

Advice on life from a 5 year old.   I hear you laughing, but you might be surprised on how good that advice can be.  

I had my two pretend grand babies this week.  24-7 for 9 days.  All these days were good, full, hilarious and exhausting.

One night Abigail decided to comb my hair before bed.  Combing Abigail's hair is always full of drama.  Her hair is very long, and beautiful, and she does NOT like it if you have to work out tangles.  My hair, on the other hand, is very fine and not too long, and she was amazed at how easy it was to comb.

So picture the scene, we are both in fuzzy pajama's, I am sitting on my bed, facing my dresser mirror, and she is standing behind me, combing out my hair, bouncing occasionally, and we are talking to each other in the mirror.  Why?  Because I can't turn my head.  It's a thing with her.  Abigail has rules, and they will be followed.

Once she got into the rhythm, she seemed to channel a hair-dresser, and she started telling me that in order to get a boy to love me and marry me, I needed to have a good "hair look".  

This made me roar with laughter, and liking that response, she really got into the role.

She has a lot of dramatic flair, and she immediately flashed her eyes at me and said "THAT's why that man (she didn't specify, and I was unsure if I had a role also or she was really talking about me) mar-wied some other girl, because he didn't like your HAIR look!" 

(Nodding her head wisely and making eye contact)

I laughed even harder and moved my head, which she immediately righted to her own satisfaction once again)

"You're hair should be long and beautiful, and then boys will fall in love with you all the time, because they will like you're HAIR look." (Making sure I had absorbed this nugget--I had).  "That's why boys fall in love and want to mar-wie me all the time, because my hair is long and beautiful."  Taking a moment to focus on her own hair and stroke it, staring into the mirror.

"But, but, what if I don't want to be married?" I asked.

Incredulous look, as if she was wondering about my intelligence, shaking her head, with furrowed brow, "Well, you need to find a husband to protect you, because it's your job to take care of the children, and us (meaning her and Rose), and the dogs and everything." She waved her arms around to indicate everything, as if I needed reminding---which I did not. "And so you need a man to PROTECT you."

I had to admit she made a good point.  She would not hear any argument about my having guns to protect myself either.  "That's not the same.  That's for in case you HAVE to protect yourself."

I choose to go along and take the advice, because this was getting better and better as the moments went by.

I pointed out that one thing I hated worse than anything in life was cleaning the bathroom.  She thought I was getting off topic and so I mentioned that ALL boys pee on the floor a little bit right in front of the stool, and I hate cleaning it up.

This stopped her for a few minutes.  "ALL boys pee on the floor???"  She did not want to accept this.

"Yep." I confirmed.  Forewarned is forearmed is my motto, and I don't believe in sugar coating the most basic facts of life.

"Well", making a brushing away move with her hands, "I will find you one who doesn't pee on the floor."

More laughter from me.

We compromised, with me telling her she would never find such a man, but if she could find one who would just clean it up, we would have a deal.

BIG mistake.  This sent her into channeling the most ancient of all female spirits, you know, the one who just sticks to the facts and will hear no argument for "modern theory"?  Do you now know this spirit?  It doesn't matter: she knows you.  In fact, she changed your diapers.

She shook her head back and forth, almost sadly, and explained to me that "It's your job to clean, and keep the house nice, and cook and take care of the children, so he can protect you, because being a mother is the most important job in the world."

Ah.  I had it now: "So, I grow my hair to be long and beautiful, like your's, a man will like my hair look, marry me, and protect me, and I will always have to clean the bathroom."

Nodding happily, brushing my hair once again, "Yes, that's right........ and you're hair is getting much longer."

So there you have it, folks, the sure path to love and protection.

It's all about the "hair look".

I don't know why we keep trying to make it so hard.  

Do you?

You can always just ask you're own grandmother, but the advice will probably be the same and you will not get as thorough of a comb out. 

By appointment only, we have bathroom's to clean. :D