Rock, Paper, Scissors

That old classic is one we’ve employed many times when we’ve been in a waiting situation–at a restaurant, at a bus stop, etc.

Tonight when the kids were waiting for me to put their dinner plates in front of them, they started playing the game.  Suddenly Norah said, “You know what will beat Rock?  THUNDERCLOUD!” and raised her hands above her head and waved her fingers.  Aiden then said he had a better one, and moved his hands above the heads of the other two and said in a low voice, “THE POWER OF GOD!”

Posted in Kidlet Sayings | 2 Comments

Calendar of Blessings

A couple months ago, I realized that I needed to write down the good things so I could look at them when I was feeling not-so-good.  I don’t mean things like having an awesome husband and kids, but those random, unexpected things that really do happen.  You know, those things we forget about when we feel like we’re swimming in lemons and can’t find the juicer.

So I started writing them down on a calendar that I had originally intended as a prayer calendar–a place to write down the names of people/issues that I wanted to remember to pray for/about.  And wow, did I get stuff to write down.

I’ve always really, really struggled with the whole God-will-provide bit.  I know the verses, I know the stories, but in my head, I tend to add “for OTHER people”.  I can look back and see a LOT of good, but in my more unreasonable moments, I’m a fan of this calendar thing.  Here’s four things I was very excited to write down this last month:

1.  My neighbor knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted a Thomas the Train bed for Ronan.  Free.  Mattress and sheets and blanket included.  It was the SAME one I’d seen on Craigslist last year at this time and just couldn’t afford.  So now Ronan has this:  and he is THRILLED.

2.  I was looking at Nutcracker ticket prices–I had really wanted us all to go last year, but just couldn’t swing it.  This year I still couldn’t find anything that would work–even the nosebleed seats were just too much.  I sighed and reminded myself that some kids don’t have enough food–mine weren’t going to be bereft if they didn’t see the Nutcracker this year.  That night, my father-in-law called and said they wanted to take us all to the Nutcracker for our Christmas gift!  We’re going tomorrow!

3.  The zipper on my coat broke last spring, so I can’t zip it up.  Trips to the park get a little chilly without a zipped coat.  I’d been perusing the racks at Goodwill, but hadn’t found anything.  So my mom called up and said she had a coat that was a promotional special with an online order she’d placed.  She was planning on using it, but it was too big and she thought it might work for me.  And now I have a coat that zips!!

4.  My pair of black shoes went the way of the dodo a month or so ago.  Like water was seeping in–from the bottom.  Again, I’d been checking Goodwill in hopes of finding something that would work.  Lots of black shoes there–most of them high heels.   So Dean’s company Christmas party came along, and I found myself wearing a pair of black heels I bought a few years ago that I swear have gotten smaller.  Really uncomfortable.  And by ‘uncomfortable,’ I mean that at the end of the party, I asked Dean to just bring the car around because I just could not fathom traipsing  limping across that entire parking lot.  I barely refrained from tossing them in the trash when we got home–but I figure I can just add to the stack of black heels at Goodwill.

As I was recounting the awful shoe event to a friend and neighbor, I mentioned that someone kept donating Danskos that were a size too small for me to Goodwill, but I always tried them on anyway, just in case.  She jumped up, left the room, and came back with a pair of BLACK DANSKOS that she hadn’t been able to wear since having kids.  They FIT.  So now I have these:

Hard to feel less-than-a-sparrow in the face of all that.          (


Posted in Family Life, Philosophy | 7 Comments

DIY Laundry Soap

I’ve been using DIY laundry soap for two years now.  There’s not one thing I don’t like about it–clothes get clean, and gone are the days of hefting the Costco-sized tub of detergent, which my lower back appreciates.   It’s so cheap it’s ridiculous–I’d say I spend maybe $15 a year for laundry soap.

There’s plenty of recipes online for this stuff–I really don’t need to be adding to it.  But, I just need to put this out there:  YOU DON’T NEED TO GRATE OR COOK THE SOAP.  OK, the recipes actually call for melting it, but that qualifies as cooking to me.  And that’s AFTER you GRATE it.  GRATE IT.  Ugh.  You also don’t need to make up a massive 5-gallon bucket when you have no place to store it other than the bedroom closet or the middle of the back hall.


Simplify and reuse, I say.  Put some Borax in an old jar or tub (like the kind Costco stuff comes in).  Grab another similar container and dump in some washing soda (laundry aisle, not baking aisle).  Take your old laundry container and rinse it out…or, if you’re short on storage, just grab a pitcher.  Plop in a bar of Fels-Naptha soap (laundry aisle)–an old laundry container will require you to cut the bar into strips just wide enough to fit in the opening.  Fill with warm water.  Shake.

For a full load of clothes, start the water running BEFORE you put the clothes in and toss a tablespoon of EACH of the powders right where the water hits the bottom of the tub.  That way the powder has a chance to dissolve.  Toss in about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the Fels-Naptha/water concoction.  Add the clothes, close the lid.  Ponder your own cheapness and rejoice greatly.

So why don’t you have to grate the soap??  As the Fels-Naptha dissolves, it saturates the water.  Once the water is fully saturated, the soap stops dissolving.  Yes, I know it sounds weird–that’s why it’s fun to use a transparent container the first time so you can actually see what happens to the soap.  When there’s no more liquid to pour, just add more water.  With fresh water, the soap will start dissolving again and saturate the water.  Repeat, repeat, and repeat–for 9-12 months.  I’m not kidding.  It’s a beautiful thing.

And I’m not a fan of grating much-loved cheese, so why on earth would I grate soap?

Go forth and grate no more.

Posted in Simple Living | 12 Comments


It’s healthy AND cheap, which makes it worth getting creative with.   Here are some ways we’ve tried it:

Blueberries and cinnamon–with a little brown sugar or honey, of course.

Peanut butter (protein!).

Peanut butter and–for best-mom-ever status–a few chocolate chips on the side, preferably the mini ones.  The kids love plopping them in and stirring it all up.  And yes, it does taste like a peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookie!

Apples and cinnamon–I just chop up an apple and toss it in just before putting the lid on and pulling the pot off the burner so they’re soft and warm by the time the oatmeal is ready.

Peaches’n’cream–chopped peaches (I used frozen) with a bit of sugar.

Strawberry–yum.  I use frozen ones most of the year.

That’s the list so far.  Sometimes I toss in a wee bit of ground flaxseed, which works with any of the above as long as it’s not too much.  I tend to “hide” the flaxseed in bread more, though–I’m not awake enough in the morning to always remember the flaxseed!

What do you do to liven up or healthify oatmeal?  No, ‘healthify’ is not a word that I’m aware of, but it should be, so I’m using it.

Posted in Family Life, Simple Living | 5 Comments

Anyone Need to Slow Down?

I love Christmas.  I’ve never been a fan of the commercial hype, but have only gotten less and less so.  I like to keep things focused on the Reason, simple, and enjoyable.

In other words, you won’t find me out standing in long lines or dodging pepper spray on Black Friday.  I’m not one to flip out over what to cook for dinner or what to get the kids.  I like to give the house a thorough cleaning (although no two room ever seem to get and stay clean at the same time), pull out the Playmobil nativity, set up my burgeoning tree collection,  put lights up inside the house, make cookies for the neighbors with the kids, play board games, and just relish the peacefulness.  And if you want to get away from the bustle for a cup of coffee, I’m the one to call–I’ll fit it (and you!) in.

But, if you’re hustling and bustling and need to slow down for a more scenic view, I’ve got a surefire method for doing so.

Sprain your ankle.

I hope you don’t take my advice–it leans towards the painful side.

Posted in Family Life | 10 Comments

A Turkey to Thaw and No Duct Tape

No, I don’t use duct tape on the turkey–I’m just living in horror that we don’t seem to have any in the house.  Duct tape, that is.  We’ve got turkey.  A big ol’ boy kind of turkey.

Last night I crunched the numbers and realized that no way, no how was  he going to thaw before prep time.  The twenty-three pounds of tryptophanic nap-inducing goodness would have to be dealt with in a more aggressive fashion.  Since we don’t have a cooler big enough to fit the bird, I plopped him in the sink.  He didn’t technically fit there, either, as it was a bit shallow, but I thought I’d just get up and switch the water out every hour (yes, They say every 30 minutes, but COME ON).

Then I discovered that the water was draining from the sink, despite the presence of a plug.  During the day, who cares–but I wanted to sleep.

So I put the turkey in the bath tub.  I was even food-poisoning paranoid enough (have you HAD it?) to check the temp of the water, stay up for an hour, and check it again.  No change.  I tossed the freezer bucket of ice cubes in for good measure, shut the door to keep heat from trickling in, and went to bed wondering why I hadn’t just left it in the fridge.  That’s the power of the Butterball guide to thawing–someone there is probably chuckling over the thought of people like me hanging over bath tubs or getting up in the night to care for a dead bird.

And, for the curious among you, after 5 hours in the cold water tub bath, the temp of the water had only risen 1 degree.  Crazy cold, it was.

Any turkey-thawing adventure stories for me?  Anyone find a way to use duct tape to speed up the process?

Posted in Family Life | 14 Comments

Ghost of Owner Previous

So last night I noticed the bathroom mirror was loose–the screw holding one of the bottom sides was halfway out of the wall.  After further examination, I worried about it falling on the kids and decided to take it down–it was here when we moved in and was old and tacky anyway.  I held it while Dean unscrewed it (did I mention it was MIDNIGHT?), and as he was doing that, I said, “Bet there’s a hole in the wall behind this.”  Every time we’ve replaced or repaired anything in this house, there’s been something ridiculous under what looked just fine outwardly.  Sure enough, it looked like someone took a hammer and smashed a 5×6″ hole in the drywall.  There were a few other smaller holes–like the size of a penny.  It’s patchable, and we were reminded again of how glad we are to have painted the bathroom.  I’m sure the current apple green is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but after that Grey Poupon color, we needed something brighter.

Now that we have that old mirror off anyway, we thought about framing it out or something, but can’t because of an oddly-placed electrical outlet (another lovely feature of the house–very, very strange outlet situations here).  I think I’ll just hope there’s enough green paint left for the mayhem (3 different colors!!!) that removing the mirror revealed and start perusing Craigslist and other avenues for a free/cheap mirror set-up.  While I won’t miss cleaning it, the kids will–and I’ll miss having an easy chore to assign the youngest.

While we don’t have any truly horrific stories about stuff left/done by the previous owner, there’s just been a lot of irritating things which become all the more irritating in that they leave us with more work, but without a good story.  Now THAT’S adding insult to injury!

Posted in Family Life | 8 Comments