Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tough Love

I told Kaity this morning that it was time to start school. She started grumbling about it, but went over to the school shelf to get out her first assignment. I called her out on her attitude, basically reminding her that school happens every day so there's no need to act surprised when it's time to start!

Joe was in the kitchen putting his dishes away out of the dishwasher and he quoted from some kids' movie, "You've got some tough life, kid."

No sympathy from the little brother! Ha!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My New Apron

Okay, so one can only have so many talents. Mine do not extend to sewing. One day I hope to be able to get into it -- I think I would love it. But for now, my plate is full! That said, I love cute fabrics and looking through all the designs. My best-friend-since-fourth-grade, Leah, is especially talented in the sewing department so I get to live vicariously through her for now! As a gift, she made an absolutely adorable apron for me. I would love to start collecting really cute aprons and this is my first!

You can check out more of Leah's fabulous sewing projects (that extend much farther than aprons) at her website by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Homemade Household Cleaners

A couple of years ago, my migraines got really terrible and I was desperate for a solution. One of the things I tried was cutting chemicals out of my cleaning routine. I don't know if that actually helped stop the headaches, but I really liked the results of making my own cleaners, so I've kept it up. Plus, it's a LOT cheaper to make your own! Last night at our Ladies' Meeting at church we had a speaker who talked about how to clean your house efficiently and "as unto the Lord". It's inspired me to pass on my "recipes" for household cleaners. Most of these recipes come from a book by Karen Logan, Clean House, Clean Planet. I haven't read the book, but her cleaners are fabulous!

Glass Cleaner
Everyone knows this, probably, but regular white vinegar in equal parts with water works wonders! I add a few drops of essential oil because I like the smell, but it's not necessary.

Bathroom Cleaner
A clean 16 ounce flip-top bottle
1 2/3 cups baking soda
1/2 cup of liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner's -- it's cheaper online, or at Kroger)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Mix baking soda and liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with the water and add the vinegar last. Stir until the lumps are gone. If you can pour it into the container easily you have the right consistency. If it's too thick, add more water. I use a funnel to pour it into the bottle. Shake well before using. For future uses, add more water if cleaner seems dry. A little of this goes a long way!

Furniture Polish
A clean 16 ounce trigger spray bottle
2 teaspoons olive oil
Essential oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
Hot water (enough to fill bottle)

Mix 20 drops of essential oil, olive oil, and vinegar with hot water in bottle. Gently shake mixture. Ready for use. You have to shake this occasionally as you are using it because the oil separates in the water. This is a true "polish" -- I spray it on, then buff the surface until it's shiny and dry. You can't just wipe it off!

All-Purpose Cleaner
A clean 32 ounce trigger spray bottle
2 teaspoons borax
4 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup liquid soap (Dr. Bronner's)
Essential oil
Hot water (enough to fill bottle)

Fill bottle 1/4 full with hot water then add borax. Shake to completely dissolve borax. Next add vinegar, home soap, and 20-25 drops essential oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with hot water. Gently shake mixture. Ready for use.

Of course, I just recently gave you my recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent.

**The essential oil in these recipes is optional. I like to use them in complementary scents and they're fairly cheap considering how long the bottles last. I only pay $3-$4 for them. I have 3 scents and I've had them for 2 years now.

**Always label your cleaners! I write the recipe on the outside, too, so it's handy for when I need to mix up another batch.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

April - May 2008 Memories

A funny (now) Joe story from April 2008...
A couple of weeks ago, I painted (Joe's) room. He decided to "help" me. I thought I had secured the lid on the paint can -- of course not, not to a three-year old's standard anyway. He took the paint and poured it into the pan, put the roller together and rolled the bathtub blue. My friend Kelli was over and she said it sounded like a sitcom mom yelling her kid's name! He was alone (literally) for 5 minutes, for Pete's sake. The ironic thing is that while he was upstairs, I called him. "Joe, you had better not be in your room." He responded with something. A beat later, I said, "Come to the top of the stairs. I want to SEE you." Kelli laughed at me! I saw him and figured everything was fine. *Sigh* Anyway, he got paint dribbles and patches and splotches all over his carpet, naturally. It was definitely a "wait-til-your-father-gets-home" moment. For a few days afterward, Joe would randomly say, "I am not donna do dat adain."

And a sweet Kaity story from May 2008 ...
Kaity and I walked downtown this afternoon on an errand. I was encouraging her to keep walking, not to stop constantly, and this was her reply: "But my heart belongs in nature and I just can't help it!"

Later on the walk, she composed this poem while continuing to add to her nature collection:
Every minute stooping down,
to pick a leaf up off the ground.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flashback -- September/October 2007

Here are stories from Joe, Kaity, and me that happened September/October 2007.

Joseph ...
My angelic little boy came downstairs this morning with marker all over his shirt and legs. (Just yesterday he had gotten a spanking for drawing on the carpet with a colored pencil. Apparently he felt it was the medium that I had objected to.) Anyway, then his sister yelps, "MU-THER, Joe colored on his blanket with a MAR-KER!" I led Joe upstairs to assess the damage, grabbing the wooden spoon along the way. As soon as we got into his room, I said, "Show me where you colored on your blanket." Looking as though butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, my little cherub snuggles on his bed in his sheet, smiles sweetly and says, "Tell me about 'Dod'." (When I relayed this story to Jeff, he suggested I might have replied, "I'm fixin' to let you meet Him!")

Kaity ...
On Katie's birthday, we played Monopoly as a family. Well, three of us did -- little Joe had scored an unexpected visit with Nannie and Papa! I ended up winning -- which doesn't happen often -- and Katie came in second. You are welcome to draw your own conclusion about who went bankrupt first ... :)
After the game, Katie walked into the kitchen to her daddy and me and stated, "I think our family is a little bit like me playing Monopoly. Half broke."

Jeni ...
I'm always telling on the kids, so I figure it's my turn now! I loaded up the car this morning to go run errands then realized I left something in the house. Our car has this flaw in the ignition so that you can take the keys out without shutting the car off. So that's what I did. I got what I needed from the house and went on my way. Our first stop was the shoe store. I pulled up, parked, and shut the car off. That's when I realized the keys were NOT in the ignition! My heart stopped. In my mind's eye I could see the keys laying on the chair where I had tossed them. Just as quickly though, I instinctively reached for my back right pocket, from which my keys are nearly always hanging. Thankfully, this time was no exception! I was so glad I had them with me -- could you imagine having to explain how I managed to drive ten miles away from my house without my car keys?!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flashback -- June 2007

This is a post about Kaity from June 2007 ...

Father's Day, Sunday morning, our pastor based his sermon on Psalm 128. Verse 3 says, "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." Brian quoted John Phillips who told of how olive plants are slow to grow and the planter has to be very patient and continue caring for it even though it has shown no berries.
"Normally, it will bear no berries until the seventh year, nor will the crop be worth much until the new tree is from 10-15 years of age." (John Phillips) I laughed when I heard this -- God certainly knew what He was talking about when comparing children to olive plants! I thought, with a touch of humor, "But Lord, couldn't I see just a little fruit in their lives, now and then?"

Well, God said, "Yes."

I went on to Sunday School after the sermon, and I began to greet my students (1st & 2nd Grade) and prepared to get them busy until class started. Our children's minister came to the door and told me that Katie was in counseling with Mrs. Annharrow. Kaitlyn had come forward during children's church saying that she wanted to ask Jesus into her heart! Annharrow talked with Katie about her decision and then prayed with her to accept Christ as her Savior.

Katie will go to a special New Christian Sunday School class for four weeks. After that, she'll be baptized as a symbol of how her old life has passed, and 'behold, all things have become new!'

Monday, March 09, 2009

More Flashbacks - November 2006

Here are some pictures from a couple of years ago. This is when Kaity first got her glasses. I can't believe how little the kids look! Here's a sweet story about Joseph from January 2007:

I was putting Joseph down for a nap yesterday and he did the sweetest thing I think I've ever seen! (I wonder how many times, as the parent of two children, I have said that?) He wasn't wanting to lay down, so I was trying to think of something to stop him from fussing. I settled his two monkeys, Jeffrey and George, down next to him and then picked George up and pretended he was talking to me. "What was that, George? You're not sleepy? Would you like me to sing to you? Okay, lay down and I'll sing." I tucked George in and began rubbing his little monkey head (it's so soft!) while I sang "Jesus Loves Me". Immediately, Joe sat up a little and leaned over to Jeffrey, rubbed his head, and sang along with me! It was so adorable. When I finished, I told Joe, "Now if George still can't sleep you might need to sing to him, too." As I left the room I looked back to see Joe leaned over again, rubbing Jeffrey's head and singing "Jesus Loves Me".

Friday, March 06, 2009

Memories -- July 2006

So I realized the other day as I was looking through old posts, that next week makes three years since I started this blog! I didn't realize it had been so long. I thought it would be neat to go back and re-post some of the entries from over these last three years. I certainly got a good laugh out of re-reading them yesterday. I have no idea who these children are or how they got into my house! But here's a sweet entry from July 2006.

Kaitlyn: She's beautiful as ever! And very loquacious -- this is one case where the "Parents' Curse" has come true. You know the one: "I hope you have a kid who's just like you!" Thanks a lot, Mom! :) She is constantly in motion and constantly talking. Her imagination is totally unfettered. She makes up stories about her toys, draws pictures and tells stories about them, and she loves to make up songs. Usually she transforms a praise song or hymn that she knows into something of her own creation. Katie loves to read and write and learn -- she's very inquisitive. She's also silly as a goose. Her best friend is Lydia and her favorite food is tortellini.

Joseph: Cute as a button! And a study in perpetual motion! He has two speeds -- fast and asleep. He loves heavy equipment -- especially Daddy's dump truck. Nothing makes Joe happier than seeing Daddy walk in the door. Unless you count food. He is highly motivated by his tummy. He has a shoe fetish -- if there are shoes lying around, they'll be on his feet in no time! He loves to sit and read books, especially "the Bike Lesson" by the Berenstains. He is becoming quite independent and knows exactly what he wants. Whenever he willfully disobeys, Joe backs away from us, covers his hiney with both hands, and giggles. His favorite song is "The Three Little Pigs" by Mr. Eric, and his favorite possession would have to be "Binky", his pacifier.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been wanting to make my own laundry detergent for some time, and I finally did it! I had in mind to make liquid detergent, but figured out that the dry, powdered kind is a lot easier and less messy. Not a tough choice to switch! Anyway, I found a bunch of recipes and decided to just try one. Here's what worked for me ...

1 bar (5.5 oz) Fels-Naptha soap, finely grated
1 cup washing soda -- I used Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup OxyClean
12 drops essential oil (lavender in my case)

Use 2 tablespoons per load. Pour it in while the water is running to allow it to dissolve. I use cold water and have no problems!

Basically, you just mix all this together in a big bowl! That's all there is to it. I figured out that it's so much cheaper than buying detergent and it works great. I found everything I needed at Kroger. Wal-Mart didn't have the stuff, so if you decide to try it out for yourself, you might want to call ahead to make sure your store carries everything. Also, you don't have to use the essential oil, I just have it on hand from making the rest of my cleaning supplies. This recipe will make enough detergent for about 18 loads of laundry. Since I was just testing it, I made only one batch, but next time I'll do 2-3 at once.

I also decided to try vinegar as a fabric softener, because that's much cheaper as well. I bought a small jug of regular white vinegar and added about 15 drops of essential oil (again, not necessary). All you do is pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into a "Downy Ball" ($1.50 or so in the fabric softener aisle), seal it, and toss the ball into the washer on top of the clothes. Just don't put the ball in the dryer along with the clothes! :)

I used the same essential oil scent in both products, but you could use complementary ones, too -- I will next time! And of course, you can adjust the amounts. My laundry comes out with a light, fresh scent with just a hint of lavender. It's not strong at all.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Date Night

Jeff took me out on a date last night! We parked in downtown Athens and walked to DePalma's where we had dinner. It was COLD, but a nice walk anyway. Dinner was wonderful, as it always is there. We went to Kohl's next, where I found a beautiful slate frame for the picture of Jeff and Joe shaving together -- it looks great with it! (I had printed the picture in sepia (brown) tones from Snapfish.) Naturally, we went to Barnes and Noble afterward.

And lest you think it was all romance, we did have to stop at Ingle's to buy toilet paper on the way home. Nice, huh?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Copper Pot, Part Three

Remember the picture of that building we looked at? Well, we've kept in touch with the owner ever since we first saw it. It's everything we could have hoped for in a building -- for one major reason. It has a loft apartment above it. The reason being, Jeff will need to "keep his day job" for a while yet, until the coffeehouse gets on its feet. That means I'll be the one working all day at The Copper Pot. Living in an apartment above the building, we'll have greater flexibility, no need for childcare, and we'll be able to continue homeschooling. The business area of the building already has an office -- perfect for a schoolroom!

We came to the decision for Jeff to keep his job at the quarry pretty early on. One day, we went into a local barbecue restaurant to talk to the owner, who we knew to be a Christian. He gave us a lot of fantastic advice, and a healthy dose of reality since he's a family man, too. When we were talking about Jeff running the coffeehouse full-time, Ronnie made a tentative suggestion. He pointed out that if Jeff has a steady job with good benefits, why not pay someone to work at the coffeehouse with me instead? It would certainly be cost-effective to pay somebody $8 an hour to work full-time while Jeff was getting paid a lot more than that, plus benefits. Well, duh! We had never looked at it that way before! It made perfect sense, so that's what we're doing.

These are pictures of the apartment ...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Great Storm of Aught Nine

Yay! It snowed yesterday! Joe's never seen it and Kaity was 3 the last time it snowed. The only downside was that the power was out for about 5 hours. Jeff lit a fire in the fireplace so we'd at least have some light and heat. I had started some apple cobbler in my little slow cooker earlier. When the power cut off, I wrapped the crock in aluminum foil and stuck it in the fire. I put some potatoes in, too, but only one of them turned out okay. I'm definitely not used to cooking over an actual fire!

These pictures look bright, but the only light in the house was from the fireplace and the few pitiful candles I had lit. Now that's a good camera flash!

The guy on the couch is our friend Robby, one of the college people. He came home with us after church, before we realized how much snow we'd actually have.