my thoughts on motherhood, kids, books and stuff

Washing Your Hair Naturally

I have another old-fashioned recipe to share with you that I have been testing out for the past few weeks.  I got it from this site, which is where I also got the recipe for cleaning hard floors.  What a great website!

I have washed my hair a few times with one tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of warm water.  It sounds strange, but it is worth the try!  I have naturally curly hair, but not curly enough that I don’t have to soak it all kinds of product so it isn’t frizzy or yucky looking.  The first time I used this recipe my hair felt so…clean.  Cleaner than with shampoo.  It felt like it stripped off all of the chemicals from my regular shampoo, conditioner, curling cream, and styling gel.  I didn’t even use conditioner with it the first time and I loved the way it looked and felt when it dried naturally.  I have used a little bit of leave-in conditioner the other times I have used it, but I still love the difference. 

I will continue to use this two or three times a week to get the really thorough clean feel.  It will also help me feel less guilty about buying the expensive shampoo and conditioner that I like because I will be using a lot less of it.

 

Food I Love That I Don’t Have To Share

I went grocery shopping tonight.  A few things ended up in my cart that weren’t on my list.  Things that only I will eat.  I will feel responsible to eat all of these items because I know I am the only person in my family that really likes them and I made the choice to pay for them.  And they are all perishable so I better get started!

beets

The first is beets.  They are not something I eat often, but once in awhile when I am browsing the produce they jump into my cart.  I like to slice them and cook them in a little water until they are soft and then lightly salt them.  I just have to remind myself to put a little note on my bathroom mirror that says, "You ate beets today!"  If you like beets then you knooooow what I am talking about.  Don’t rush to the dr. thinking you need antibiotics, because it is really embarrassing when you realize that you don’t have a bladder infection…you just ate beets for dinner the night before.  Then you have to lie to your doctor because you feel like an idiot and then he thinks you are weirder than he already does. Anyway…

jicama

Jicama is another that sneaks into my cart from time to time.  Brett doesn’t hate the stuff, but he doesn’t like it enough to spend ten minutes and risk his fingers cutting the rough skin off to get to the crispy juicy good stuff.   I find the hard work and the danger makes the prize even more rewarding.  I just cut it into strips and eat it plain or cube it and put it on a salad.  My kids think it is weird.

sweet-potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another thing that I usually end up making for myself.  Anna and Lincoln will sometimes ask for a bite or two, but I have never heard the words, "Mom, I want a sweet potato for lunch".  I haven’t tried any fancy recipes or anything.  I just cook one in the microwave, peel the skin off when it is done and put a little butter and salt and pepper on it.  My kind of lunch!

mango

The one that surprises me that only I eat is mango.  I think it is the only fruit my kids won’t eat.  I guess I should be glad that it means more for me, but I just don’t get how anyone could not like mango. 

CarrotJuice

The other thing I have to be careful about buying is carrot juice.  I really like it mixed with orange juice (since I heard it is a really good thing for a nursing mom to drink), but I have to really be in the mood for it because it is a little spendy and I know I am going to force myself to drink every drop of it.  One day I will have a juicer and make my own.

Speaking of carrots.  I bought an extra big bag of them a couple of weeks ago…because it only cost a little bit more than the small bag that I had planned on buying and I am a sucker like that.  So after a couple of days of nobody eating carrots I panicked that they were going to turn to brown slime and so I found a recipe for Curried Carrot Soup.  My four and five year olds loved it!  Did I mention it is full of carrots!  I like it so much I ate it about six times in one week.  Well, I probably would have done that even if didn’t like it very much, because I hate it when food gets wasted.  But I really did like this one.

bok choy

The last item that I bought tonight that only I will eat is bok choy.  I found this recipe for it a couple of weeks ago and I am hooked.  I didn’t love it with the red onion so I just add a little onion powder, and I sliced up some almonds and cooked them in the oil for a minute before adding the bok choy.  Delicious!

 

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Getting Out Of The Way

Do you ever feel like you are on the verge of being hit by a bus?  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

That is how I have been feeling lately.

edgy.

Fidgety.

Anxious.

But I can’t even explain why.

I had a counselor tell me once that I was the kind of person that if I was standing in the middle of the road and at the end of the block a truck was driving straight for me…and I had plenty of time to get out of the way…I would stand there so long trying to decide how to move that I would get hit.

I don’t think that was a very nice thing to say. But I know what he meant.

So I am kind of wondering what is about to hit me and why I am not getting out of the way.

Life Lessons From My Childhood Friend

I wrote this months ago and debated whether I should post it.  I have really enjoyed getting to know people through their personal posts on their blogs, so hopefully this will help you get to know me better.

I came across a blog talking about childhood memories and events that make an impact on our lives (darnit, I can’t find the site again so I can’t link to it). I have been thinking about things from my youth that really stand out as life changing events or pinnacles in my growth and maturity.

I had a best friend that was like a sister to me from the time I was in kindergarten through all my years growing up. We both came from big families (eight in hers, seven in mine) and we attended the same school and the same church. We talked on the phone nearly every day. We rode the bus home to each other’s houses at least three out of five days a week. We took gymnastics together. We walked or biked a couple of miles on dirt paths through the desert to visit each other nearly every day during the summer break (in 110 degree weather).

She lived on the outskirts of town on an acre of beautifully landscaped property that was surrounded by many more acres of sagebrush, lava rock, sandstone, and washes (dirt trenches that drained the flash flood waters). Her Dad had built their red brick ranch style split-level home with the extra large two car garage, long sloped drive way (perfect for roller skates) and multi-tiered matching red brick fence that surrounded their home. In those days there were only two homes or less to a block (very big blocks) and there was so much privacy and freedom. We would walk or ride or roller skate on the long roads and wave to all of the other families that lived around there. They were mostly wealthier retired couples, but there were a few families with kids mixed in here and there.

We would sleep out on the wood deck outside her parent’s room and stare at the stars and tell stories until we all dropped off to sleep. Our sleep out group usually included her and I, her sister who was a little older and her brother who was a little younger and sometimes a friend of his. Her Mom was always on the other side of the sliding glass door and we were young enough that there were never any concerns of the co-ed sleeping arrangements. There were no streetlights or houses close by so it was very dark and the stars were very bright and clear.

When she came to my house I am sure it felt different and fun for her to be in the middle of “the neighborhood”, which was the first planned development that had been built in our small town. All the neighbors knew each other and there were no fears of letting your kids sleep out in the yard or walk after dark to the gas station that was the only store we had in town. We would play night games most summer nights with all the other kids in the neighborhood and the adults would sit out on their porches and chat until the mosquitoes became too unbearable. It probably felt like city living to my friend with her family’s large property and lack of close neighbors.

Two of my brothers that are three and four years older than us always paid her a lot of attention and teased her relentlessly that she was their girlfriend. She would blush and I am sure loved that they pretended to fight over her. They looked at her as another little sister and they were almost as much her older brothers as they were mine.

We both had great lives that we were happy with and we were happy we each had a second family and home. We had the best of both worlds.

We started working together in the dining room at a health resort (known to locals as the “fat farm”) that was about a mile up the canyon from her home when we were in seventh grade. We would help prepare and dish up different kinds of tofu desserts, set the tables, serve meals, clean tables, and gossip and giggle with the other girls we worked with (who were also mostly from our same small town).

A lot of times my friend’s mom would come pick me up before work since my parents both worked and I had to be to work before they got home…and then my mom or dad would pick us up and take us home. On one of these days, when we were fourteen years old, I called my friend before work to make sure they were still planning on picking me up and her Mom answered.

“Uhhh, she can’t come to the phone right now. She isn’t feeling well. Did you need a ride to work?”

“Ya, if that would be all right. Is she okay?”

“Umm, she will be okay. We will be there in a little bit.”

I was a little confused and could tell something was wrong by the tone in her mom’s voice. I worried the whole time while waiting for them to pick me up and continued to worry as they picked me up and everyone had puffy red eyes and wouldn’t look at me.

When we got to work my friend immediately volunteered to wash the dishes (which we all hated and never volunteered to do), and I got swept up in the preparation and serving and then clearing and didn’t get much of a chance to talk to her. She stayed in the back corner and quietly washed dishes for the three hours we were there.

Before we left work she pulled me out onto the back patio and said, “I know you are wondering what is going on and I am going to tell you, but I can’t do it right now. My family is going to be gone this weekend and my mom said you can stay over and I will tell you all about what is going on.” Her Dad worked in California and was only home a couple of weekends a month and I don’t remember where the rest of her family was going, but I was anxious to spend the time with her and learn what was bothering her.

We talked once on the phone before our sleep-over and she said, “I don’t want to talk about it on the phone, but I will tell you that in involves my mom and dad and we are about to go through some big changes.”

My first thought was divorce. I still remember feeling completely blind-sided (even though I didn’t know for sure). Her family was my second family and I loved her parents and her siblings very much. Her dad wasn’t around a whole lot, but when he was around he was all about having fun and spending time with everyone and I was never excluded even though his time at home was valuable and precious to him and his family. He was the life of the party, a comedian through and through and one of the craziest dancers/singers I had ever known. He was a very hard worker and had turned their home into a beautiful symbol of his love for his family.

I fretted and stressed and even cried off and on and finally the weekend came. My Mom was worried about us being there alone, but I explained to her that we needed the time and something was up and we needed privacy and time to talk. My Mom was very sensitive and understanding and agreed to let us have the night to ourselves. My parents dropped me off at her house and we watched movies, ate junk food, played games, and talked about everything except the thing that was most on our minds. It was getting late and we were getting tired and my friend said, “let’s go for a little drive and talk”. Her Mom had left the keys to their car so she could drive the mile to work while she was away (it was a small town in the middle of nowhere and this was not that unusual). I was very nervous and I remember I was shaking and I am sure she was as well. We started driving on the dark roads around her house and she started talking slowly and quietly.

“I know you have been wondering what is going on, it is just really hard to talk about and I still don’t believe it. It is hard and I don’t even know how to say it. Well…I am sure you figured out that my parents are getting a divorce.”

I nodded quickly and gulped. I had suspected that was true, but hoped it wasn’t.

“well, the reason is….my Dad…has been having an affair….with….a man.”

I felt all the blood drain out of my face and my body trembled and went cold. Had I heard her right?! A man!? This doesn’t happen to people I know. We both belonged to the same church and had very religious and strict upbringings and morals. Her dad sat in church with his family whenever he was in town and had been on committees for the town and was well known and well liked. We lived in a town where everyone knew everyone else and knew their business.

“A man?” I asked, hoping it was a mistake and I had heard her wrong.

“ya.”

We had just circled the last block and she pulled down into the dark garage and closed it and turned off the car. It went pitch black and at that moment I heard her break down and start sobbing.

I froze. I completely froze. I was stunned. I was horrified. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know what to do as my best friend sobbed next to me in the dark station wagon. I wanted to reach out and put my arms around her but I couldn’t move for some reason and I felt like I was falling and spinning and lost. My friend was not an overly emotional person and I had never seen her hurting and in pain like she was at that moment and I didn’t know what to do.

She suddenly stopped and said, “well, should we go in now?”. The moment was over. We slowly walked into the house and made up our beds and crashed in emotional exhaustion.

The next day we decided to spend the rest of the weekend at my house and we were both feeling deflated and spent. We didn’t talk very much more about her family circumstances, but stuck close together and watched tv and did puzzles and quietly supported each other. The first morning we were at my house my Mom came and quietly woke me up and took me into her room and broke down crying.

“Can you tell me what is going on? I know that something is up and you two look miserable, but I don’t know how to help or be sensitive because I don’t know what it wrong.” I slowly told her what had gone on and I watched her as she went through the same flood of emotions I had gone through when my friend had told me. My Dad was the bishop at our church so he had known what was going on for several weeks or months beforehand, but he had not been able to talk to my mom about it because of the sensitivity of the situation and the privacy that they needed as they figured out what they were going to do. His knowing had helped because he had told my Mom to give us a little space and let us have our time while my friend explained things to me and then I could tell her when I was ready.

My friend’s parents were divorced shortly after that and we continued to become closer as I tried to encourage and help her during this hard time in her life. It was a few short months later that my mom introduced my friend’s mom to my uncle who had also recently gone through a painful divorce. They hit it off immediately and were married within a few weeks. They joined their families to make a new family of fourteen and made plans to move five hours north to be close to my uncle’s work. We were excited to be cousins, but would rather have continued being friends and sisters and only two miles apart instead of three hundred and fifty. Our parents promised us unlimited phone calls the first month (I don’t think it lasted that long as they realized how long we really could talk…even at long distance rates) and we promised to keep in touch constantly.

Our last sleep-over was the night before they moved. Everything in their house was packed up and we slept on the floor in sleeping bags. We decided to go for a walk before we went to bed. It was very late, but the moon and stars were so bright we didn’t need flashlights. It was February but the weather was very mild and perfect and we didn’t need coats or sweaters to stay warm. We walked all over the hilly development that had more than tripled in the time I had known her and we came to a construction site not far from her house and climbed up into one of the empty tractors. We sat in the tractor and looked at the stars and chatted and enjoyed each other’s company. I remember feeling total contentment as I sat there with my best friend, but I also felt an underlying sense of panic that I kept beneath the surface. We both knew this was our last night together for awhile and we wanted it to last as long as we could stretch it out. We both shed a few tears as we reminisced on our years of friendship and some of the petty arguments (there weren’t many) and fun times we had had. I felt grown up that night and I am sure she did as well.

The night sitting in the dark car in her garage after she told me about her dad and the night sitting on the tractor before she moved are two of my most distinct and clear memories I have with any of my friends from my childhood.

The night in the car was a painful memory and a memory of a feeling of helplessness and regret as I sat there and listened to her cry and didn’t have the nerve to reach over and comfort her.

The night on the tractor is a memory full of happiness, sadness, contentment, sorrow, and love for my friend. We laughed and cried and I felt like that was my amends for the night I didn’t comfort her. We were totally open and honest with each other and I told her how much I loved and cared for her and it was the perfect way to say goodbye.

These two nights in my adolescent years were definite life changing moments that had big impacts in my life. I think I matured a lot during these experiences and they helped define who I am as a person. I have never been in a situation like that again, but I know that if I were ever wondering if I should reach out and comfort a friend again I wouldn’t hesitate for even a second.

Homemade Laundry Soap. Review #1

I guess it is time for my first review of the homemade laundry detergent I have been using for about five days.

This is the recipe I used.  I read many sites with recipes that were all very similar.  I liked that she posted pictures with hers so that is what I went with.  I also read a lot about people’s experience with the detergent in he (high efficiency) front loader machines because I didn’t want to use anything that would screw up my washer.  I read a lot of experiences of people that have been using them in their he machines for years so I am not too worried about it.  Also, the detergent hardly makes any suds…in fact, less than the he ALL that I was using so it may be even better for it.  I did use the Fels-Naptha soap, and  I hear that the Dove soap makes quite a bit more suds.

I cut the recipe in half for my first batch.  After mixing it I used a funnel to pour it into two clean gallon sized apple cider containers.  I then set it out to "set up" for the next 24 hours.  Uh…problem there.  It set up too much and was so thick I couldn’t even pour it out of the jugs.  I read online that pouring some boiling water in it and stirring it up would thin it out so I tried that and then I poured it all into a 5 gallon bucket instead.  (5 gallon was overkill…I am going to pick up a 2 gallon one next time I go to the store). 

I let it set up for another day and then I was ready to try it.  The consistency is like jello that is not quite set up or thick egg flower soup.  I used 1/4 cup (use 1/2 for regular machines) and I put about 1/3 cup vinegar in my fabric softener cup.  Vinegar can also be used in a Downy ball.  You can also use 1/2 cup of baking soda with your detergent as a fabric softener…I haven’t tried that.

I was thrilled with the results of my first batch.  I couldn’t stop smelling the clothes because they just smelled so…un-smelly.  There just isn’t a fragrance and it makes them seem so fresh.  We have two kids with extremely sensitive skin so I am hoping this helps them.  I might try adding a little bit of tea tree or lavender essential oil to a bit of it so see how I like that and to see if my kids react to a light fragrance.

I also have been adding a couple tablespoons of Biz to my laundry for the past few months and I am continuing to do that.  I don’t always catch stains before they make it through the washer and dryer so I figure any little help I can get is great.  I hear Oxiclean works good as well, so I might try that when I run out of Biz.

So, for only using it for five days I am very happy with my detergent.  The only negative thing I have noticed so far is I could slightly smell Brett’s cologne on a shirt that I took out of the dryer today.  Barely, but it was there.  I might up the amount of soap I use by 1/8 cup or use a little more Biz. 

Also, you don’t get the same fluffy soft clothes that you get when you use fabric softener like Downy.  I have used liquid Downy for years and I am used to very fluffy towels and clothes that smell April Fresh, so it will take a little time to get used to.  They are still soft enough, just different.  I can tell that there are not the chemicals clinging to the fabric that there used to be…which isn’t so bad if you don’t have allergies or skin sensitivities, I suppose.

I do put about a third of a dryer sheet in with a batch of towels.  I figure they don’t touch my kids skin as long and I don’t want crispy towels.

So, here is my run down:

It is easy to make

It is very cheap to make (read this article for some more tips and a cost breakdown.  Also, for more information and input read the comments.  The recipe is slightly different as he uses regular bath soap…don’t use a whole bar of Fels-Naptha with this recipe.)

I am expecting it to be a lot better for allergies and sensitive skin

And it just feels good to be using something I made…and to be decreasing the chemicals that are overrunning the house these days.

 

Simple Cleaning

I decided to try cleaning my kitchen floor with vinegar and water and was surprised that it cleaned better than any store bought cleanser I have tried.   I used a half of a cup of vinegar in two liters of hot water. 

I had read that the vinegar smell only lasts until the floor dries and that was true.  But the vinegar smell on my hands lasted a couple of hours so I need to get a new mop so I don’t have to wash it on my hands and knees again.

The blog where I got the recipe said this mixture was good for tile, vinyl or laminate.  I think ours is laminate.  I thought it was hardwood when we moved in, but I had only seen pictures.  Darnit.  Anyway, it cleaned it great and left with just the right amount of shine.  My swifter mop often left it looking kind of….glossy, I guess…and I was never totally happy with it.

Oh, and cleaning with vinegar actually leaves things smelling really fresh…in a non chemical kind of way. 

 

Some UNO Fun

I pass out the UNO cards and Lincoln lines them up in his card holder…

"Ohhhh….you’re going to have to draw two sometime during the gaaame…."

"Yes!  I can change the color TWO times!"

"I totally have good cards this time."

and then the clincher…

"Look at how good my cards are!"

as he flips his holder around to show me every card he has. 

He did have good cards.

But I still won.

But he killed me at pick up sticks.

 

Linc UNO

 

All That Matters Now Is That It Is Consumable

When I make a salad I have been known to get a little out of control.  Only when I am making a salad for myself though, because with the variety of ingredients I put in my salads…chances are there will be something that somebody else won’t like.   I start with the basics and then start going through the fridge and cupboards and chopping, scooping, and sprinkling until the single serving salad is much too big to put on my large plate so I have to bag it and eat it for the next two meals.

Apparently when I try to make powdered hot chocolate mix the same craziness takes over.

What started as following a simple recipe from a family cookbook turned into a Tupperware Thatsa Bowl full of hot cocoa mix.  That’s 32 cups.  I have no clue how many servings that would be.  If the can next to it is 39 servings I am guessing it is in the ballpark of…oh…190…ish, because that bowl is a lot bigger than it looks in the picture.

Picture 019 Large Web view

The recipe I was following must be very forgiving because it didn’t have exact measurements.  It was something like "a half of a box of instant milk, 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, a small jar of Creamora, and a container of Nestle something or other

Okay, so it didn’t say something or other, but what I pictured in my mind as I read it was Hershey’s Cocoa, so this is what I added.

cocoa powder

This is why I get in trouble with recipes.  I read through them quickly.  What it really wanted me to add was a container of Hershey’s Chocolate Milk Mix.

  chocolate milk mix

So I got it all mixed up and put a little hot water in a cup and stirred some up to try my latest project. 

Blech!  Gag! 

It was very bitter.  If you know even a tiny bit about baking you probably know that two cups of sugar is nowhere near enough to sweeten an entire container of cocoa powder.

So the next twenty minutes went something like this.

few shakes of powdered milk

a couple of cups granulated sugar (I had used the last of my powdered sugar)

a little more creamora

some hot water and a spoonful of my new mixture.

GAG!  Ugh!  Bitterness!

a couple more cups of sugar

more Creamora

some more powdered milk

(I probably added too much sugar now.  Let’s put another 1/4 cup of cocoa…uh oh…bad move!)

GROSS!  GAG AGAIN!

Then the lid was put on it and it was stashed in the corner of the kitchen for 48 hours.  By Sunday night my head was filled with all of the hot chocolate recipes I had googled the night before and a new bag of powdered sugar that I had sent Brett to the store to get.

By now I knew that my problem was lack of sugar.  Sugar is the first ingredient listed on the back of my can of Nestle hot cocoa mix and the recipes I looked up averaged about one part cocoa to three and a half parts sugar.  Oops.  I also hadn’t nearly enough instant milk or Creamora.  Had I used chocolate milk mix like I was supposed to I would have been A-OK.

In went the entire bag of powdered sugar. 

In went the rest of the box of powdered milk.

In went the rest of the LARGE jar of Creamora, because I don’t do anything small.

In went the last 2-3 cups from my can of Nestle hot cocoa mix.

And in went a box of instant chocolate pudding.  (???)

I then sifted it all into my other Thatsa Bowl, because if you are going to get one Thatsa Bowl, why not get two?

I called Luca up to test out my new batch, because she is the hot cocoa connoisseur in our household.

"I love it!" she exclaimed. 

Okay, so she has never had a hot chocolate she didn’t like…but at least I know I can give it to my kids without complaint.

I tried it out myself and it was pretty good.  I love dark chocolate and it is certainly not even in the same family or extended family as dark chocolate…but it could be a pretty good friend.

It was quite creamy (all that Creamora and powdered milk) and just sweet enough. 

I think I know what I will be handing out for the holidays this year.  Maybe I will even throw in a baggy of crushed candy cane or vanilla powder.

 

Inside Voices? Anyone? Anyone?

If you have or know some kids who really understand what "inside voices" means please contact me.  I might consider walking, driving, or flying my kids to wherever they are so my kids can see the concept in action.

Pint Sized Gangstas

We had a major heist in our neighborhood this afternoon.  Not just the in the neighborhood…but in my own BACKYARD!

I was in the kitchen and I peeked out the window because I could hear Lincoln’s voice as he came through the back gate (from the home of my good friend and the kid’s preschool teacher) on his way home from preschool.

As the gate opened it was like releasing the water in a dam.  Kids flooded through the gate like kindergartners when they are told it is time for recess.

You see, the house on the other side of the gate is also a home with many daycare kids and it was playtime.

So as I am getting a good laugh at this rush of kids I notice they are running onto my back porch (just out of line of site) and then running back through the gate as fast as possible.  THEN I realize they are each carrying something.  Toys!

By the time I get downstairs I see the princess scooter disappearing through the gate and there is a darling little boy with a curly headed mop dragging a bike up the hill towards safety. 

BUSTED!

So I did what any brave and reasonable Mom would do in my position and sent Anna to deal with it and retrieve everything. 

I still don’t know if there were like twelve kids or just four really fast ones.

So a few minutes after Anna took care of things and I am talking to my friend over the fence when we hear a commotion. 

Jail Break!!

We see kids tumbling out the window, from the bunk bed and onto the picnic table.  They had pushed the screen out and were making a break for it. 

BUSTED AGAIN!

I LOVE it here!  My life would be so boring (in comparison) anywhere else.