Monday, June 30, 2014

The Creative Monster

Just when I think that I am not being much of a writer this month -- or anything creative, really --inspiration strikes. I empty the vacuum canister into the trash can, and what do I see staring up at me but a grinning "creative monster." He has just one eye, a straggler left over from some odd craft project. (This is fairly typical at our house, to step on a sequin, bead, pipe cleaner, or googly eye. Brett is always threatening to throw them away and then the kids grab them and find temporary hiding places for them.) All except for this eye, which apparently could not escape my vacuum cleaner's appetite. I think my creative monster is encouraging me to go create something!

{You see it, too, right? Or am I losing it?}

June at Our House

Wow! This month flew by! We had Brett's birthday and our anniversary. I had hoped to post something fun in honor of my 4th blogiversary, but that came and went with no fanfare. And did I mention that I started a business? Yep, I just hit lead consultant with Jamberry, woo hoo!! A busy month, indeed.

June kept me so busy that I actually forgot to give a shout-out to all my prayer warriors on June 13, which is the date that I went into the hospital with my little man's pregnancy five years ago. So, a belated thank you to all of you who kept us going during that time. It means more to me than I can even express. Here are the funny things the kiddos said this month.

June 5, 2014
Brett {playing hide-and-seek with the kids}: "9... 27..."
M {from her hiding spot}: "Dad, that is not the right way to count!"
Brett: "I thought they were both upstairs so I didn't think it mattered."

June 8, 2014
M: "Where do Canadians come from?"
Well, when a mommy Canadian and a daddy Canadian fall in love...

June 8, 2014
L: "It's not broken. It's just in three pieces."
I have no clue what he was referring to, but at least he's got a silver lining outlook here.

June 10, 2014
Brett {the day after his birthday}: "I feel so old."
M: "Well, you shouldn't! You're not even close to 90!"
Whew! That certainly puts it in perspective.

June 14, 2014
L: "It's a vacuum cleaner!" {said while sucking ice cream off the table with a straw}
Why do I feel like this is just another variant of a familiar story...?

June 17, 2014
M: "Hey, Mom, were there tractors around when you were little?"
Why, yes, honey there were. And it was a good thing, too. You see, my dinosaur had just died so this was the only way I had to get to school. Seriously, though, how old does she think I am?!

June 19, 2014
L: "Whoa, I saw a squirrel. It was dancing!"
M: "It was probably with a girl. Squirrels do funny things when they're showing off."
I find it interesting that she has made this observation, and wondered if she noticed the same thing with people?

June 23, 2014
M: "It's your anniversary? So we've gotta be really, really nice to you?"
Brett: "Yes."
{a little bit later}
M {seeing my gift to Brett, 52 Things I Love about You}: "You've been married for 52 years?!"
Me: "No, we've been married for 13 years."
M: "That's a long time!"
A long time? It's nowhere near 90!

{This was a creative project started at a MOPS meeting ages ago,
and finally completed in time for our anniversary. It's challenging
to come up with so many meaningful and distinct reasons, but
 being a "professional" writer, I pulled it out. I assume
 the inspiration for the project involved a deck of playing cards.}

June 28, 2014
M {while in the van}: "Why do I smell waffles? Oh, never mind, I see the Wendy's sign!"
Yeah, I don't get it either. Even if Wendy's sold waffles, which they don't, she wouldn't smell them near the billboard along the freeway.

June 29, 2014
M: "Maybe we should have named Ritzy 'Licky' because she licks so much."
Well, that would make sense... I cannot even share publicly the reason she got her name. I will just tell you that Brett was responsible for naming her.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Summer Vacation Day 1:
- Extracted loose tooth from girl child’s mouth. (This was good because she had been whining for days about it hurting her.)
- Boy child peed on both sofa cushions.
- Did 3 loads of laundry (when I normally do 1 per day) because boy child is having potty training regression. (Haha. See above.)
- Figured out that 101 Dalmatians is the perfect length to get the lawn mowed. (Seriously, I couldn’t have planned it better. “The End” popped up on the TV screen as I walked inside, meaning that that children had no time to create mischief.)
- Located and used plunger to deal with boy child’s overly enthusiastic usage of toilet paper. (Reminded self that he used the toilet and cleaned himself up – progress!)
- Finally convinced kids to have some outside time, not that we lasted as long as we hoped. (What’s up with the temps in the 60’s?!)
- Did I mention it was Friday the 13th and there was a full moon? (Or does that go without saying?)

Summer Vacation Day 2:
- Our first day of VBS. We are exhausted.
- Kids are cranky and refuse to play outside, and so they are passing time by annoying one another. Fantastic.
- Zumba for stress relief. Obviously.

Summer Vacation Day 3:
- Another day when kids get overtired at VBS and then refuse to play outside.
- Had to carry boy child out of VBS, kicking and screaming. (Cannot recall exact reason, but he was MAD.)
- Boy child poops his pants. {face palm}
- Girl child asks to do homework! {tiny victory dance}
- Zumba is not an option, so Mommy resorts to having a hard cider. (Note: It was terrible and I only drank half of it. Save your money and do not get Johnny Appleseed.)
- Fortunately, a hot bath helped. (Why haven’t I had one of those in so long?)

Summer Vacation Day 4:
- Boy child decided to frontload his tantrum for the day. He had an absolute meltdown over losing a single penny that he had brought to donate to the VBS offering.
- Success! They weren’t so crabby after VBS and we were able to go to summer reading program kickoff and see some fun science experiments. (Girl child informs me that we simply must buy some Mentos and Diet Coke… despite the fact that we eat/drink neither of those things and she has seen this experiment done three times – twice this week! Kids.)
- Learned that girl child has a weird gift: She can catch flies with her bare hands and then release them outside. Second day in a row! Have a mini Mr. Miyagi comes in handy when your flyswatter is missing in action. (Where can that thing be…?)
- Stress relief option for tonight: shopping without children. It’s a wee bit sad when going to Target alone is your definition of Heaven on Earth, but there it is. (The only issue is that you have no one to bounce things off which means you spend entirely too long in a dressing room debating whether or not to purchase elastic waist pants. Yes, they fit, which is HUGE, and they were comfortable and cute, but seriously? Elastic waist pants? Do you really want to go there?! You note material: rayon and care instructions: dry flat. Ha! As if! You wisely put them back and try to pretend you were never really considering them in the first place.)

Summer Vacation Day 5:
- It’s nice to hear them singing the VBS songs. Really, I need to keep reminding myself of this.
- Mommy is the one who is cranky and tired today. Working VBS is exhausting! (No wonder all those other moms just drop their kids off and leave…) It does not help that I am a teensy bit hormonal. (Tomorrow’s the last day for VBS! Then, I can rest a bit.)
- Boy child is being ridiculously loud. And for him, that's saying a lot. He normally only has the one volume setting: loud, but today it's just insane. 
- Why won’t they play outside?! They need it desperately! (And not just for the reason listed above, but oh my goodness, is that a huge factor.)
- Taking photos at softball game for some stress relief. (Yeah, the kids are finally playing outside!)
- Was planning to work on this blog post for more relaxation but accidentally deleted entire thing somehow… and now am trying to rewrite it from memory. {feel like crying} Good news, though, I don't think my brain is quite as decayed as I fear. Most of it is coming back to me.
- In happier news, I have a fabulous new Jamicure which makes me smile.
- Also, chocolate should be its own food group. That is all.

Summer Vacation Day 6:
- Boy child wet his pants during the last few minutes of the last day of VBS. (Fortunately, I had extra clothes in the van, and I had to at least be glad that he made it through the rest of the week without that happening.)
- Then the MAJOR meltdown happened. Cannot even explain what it was all about. He was upset that I threw his potato chips away, I think, and he wanted an ice pop.
- Girl child tore her fingernail and was extremely tired, so she was nearly in tears while all this was going down. (She wasn't the only one who felt that way.)
- Hallelujah! He fell asleep on the way home and napped for 3 hours. This gave her some good down time before getting ready for dance recital.
- I am not good at putting my seven-year-old's hair in a bun. Or applying red lipstick to her tiny mouth. These things stress me out beyond belief -- not to mention that she had her first ever costume-change during recital, and she performed at the beginning and at the END of the show, which is insanely long. It was after 9:00 when I finally got her from backstage (after waiting in that torturous line... WHY? Why do they make me wait every year when I just want to get her home and in bed?!)
- Also, it rained, so I didn't get any photos with decent lighting because we couldn't take any outside. {pouts}
- On the plus side, (because I really need to find a silver lining, and possibly some chocolate...) we made it through recital, made it through VBS, and made it through the first week of no school! It can only get easier from here on out, right?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


If you ever want to know what goes on inside the mind of a child, just check out her artwork. This is the latest installation in an ongoing series of sidewalk chalk drawings by my seven-year-old daughter (who seems to think that she is the only one who has ever been cursed with an "annoying little brother.") I have entitled it, "Lions, and Tigers, and NO Screaming Boys, Oh My!" 

Friday, June 6, 2014

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

This post has been a long time coming, but I am happy to be able to finally share this recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent, courtesy of my friend Kim. The good thing about being so busy that I haven't been blogging much is that it's given me a solid two and a half weeks of using this recipe non-stop -- my dishwasher runs an average of once a day. That means you all get my honest-to-goodness opinion on how well this homemade version works (versus the over-the-moon excitement I felt the first time I used it).

Aside from the citric acid, which I purchased on Amazon, these are all ingredients that you can find in any grocery store. This is always something I appreciate in a homemade cleaning solution. Four ingredients is a manageable amount, in my opinion, which is another plus. Everything is reasonably priced, with the citric acid being the priciest component (breakdown of cost to follow).

The main reason for why I wanted to make my own dishwasher detergent wasn't to save money -- although I will do that! The real purpose was to eliminate more chemical crap from the household. This was one area that I have had a hard time finding a good natural alternative to. (I had previously tried a different recipe and it didn't work all that well. In fact, this turned my off from even trying again for a good 18 months or so!) However, my greener spring cleaning series of posts raised the question "What do you use in your dishwasher?" and this prompted me to seek out a better alternative.

Good news, folks! While this one doesn't always remove every single food particle (and let's be honest, your store-bought stuff isn't always up to the tough jobs either, right?), it works pretty darn well -- much better than the previous recipe. (To be fair, the primary reason that I occasionally find stuck-on food is what I will refer to as "operator error." I tend to overload the dishwasher, and that doesn't help it to do its thing in the most efficient way possible -- but I'm stubborn, and I refuse to run it unless it's full, so that's my catch-22.) My conclusion is that it has to be the citric acid that is making this work because that's the only difference from what I had tried before. (On a side note, I've seen some other recipes for dishwasher detergent lately, and many of them call for lemonade mix. My guess is that people have found the citric acid in it to be the magic ingredient that really cleans their dishes. My only thought here is, why use something that has artificial colors, flavors, and other added stuff when you can purchase pure citric acid and get the job done in a more natural way?) Just my two cents.

On the subject of dollars and cents, you may be asking, is homemade dishwasher detergent really a good value? Yup! Breaking this down, I found this to actually be cheaper than the Member's Mark dishwasher pacs we were buying in bulk at Sam's Club. (105 pacs at $9.98 works out to about 10 cents per use.) The Borax and Super Washing Soda are both things I have had at home for years and have been used for many different things including homemade laundry soap and all-purpose cleaner -- and I'm still working from the original boxes. (55 ounces of Super Washing Soda which cost $2.89 when I bought it and 76 ounces of Borax, which was $3.42 at the time. There is no way that you will convince me that these are not good values because even if you don't use them for the dishwasher detergent, you will use them for something.) Honestly, I don't remember how much I paid for my coarse Kosher salt, but I think it was less than $5, so for my calculations I am just going to overestimate and say it was $5 for the 48 ounce box. Again, citric acid was the most expensive at $11.99 for 36 ounces.

So, 55 ounces of Super Washing Soda divided by 8 ounces (per the recipe below) = 6 batches (plus a bit extra, but let's work in whole batches here.) This means that this ingredient costs 48 cents per batch. Borax: 76 divided by 8 = 9 batches, at a cost of 38 cents per batch. Coarse salt (again, I think I overestimated the cost): 48 ounces divided by 4 = 12 batches, at a cost of 42 cents (probably less) per batch. Citric acid: 36 ounces divided by 4 = 9 batches, at a cost of 75 cents per batch. Total cost = $2.03 for 3 cups of homemade detergent. If using the max recommended amount of two tablespoons per load (personally, I have found this to work better than one tablespoon), this works out to 24 uses per batch at a cost of 8 cents per use -- that's 2 cents cheaper than the least expensive store-bought cleaner that we were previously using. Since this only takes a couple of minutes to mix up and it keeps (meaning you don't have to mix up a new batch each time, which can be annoying with some recipes for homemade cleaning products), this is 100% worth your time to make! It's always nice to know exactly what goes into your cleaning products. Here's the recipe.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt (I used Kosher)
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  1. Mix well. (I stirred mine in a large glass bowl, but Kim puts hers in a container with a lid and shakes it up.) 
  2. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. 
  3. Optional: You can also add vinegar to the rinse cycle, which I have been doing. This is a natural way to get shiny, spot-free dishes. I just filled the rinse cycle compartment and let the dishwasher dispense it during the rinse cycle.

(Note: Kim suggests storing the detergent in the freezer to prevent clumping, but I have not really had an issue with this. Mine is being stored in an old dishwasher detergent container under my kitchen sink.)

Thanks for reading! This was my 600th blog post. Cue trumpets. Okay, not really. Maybe for my upcoming 4th blogiversary...