Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chore Chart

I got the chore chart all up and ready to go today. The kids were pretty excited – at least for now. Hopefully this system will serve us well for at least a little while!

There were a few things we wanted with our chore chart.

  1. It needed to be postable in one location. That could be on each child’s door or somewhere local for everyone, but I wanted it to be something they couldn’t lose or destroy through the course of the week.
  2. It needed to be check-offable (yes, I just made up that word. That was fun!). That way they could have the satisfaction of indicating what they’ve done, and I could also see what they claim to have accomplished and what is left to be done.
  3. It needed to be easily maintained. I didn’t want to have to rewrite it every week simply because I know that I won’t keep up with it. Think what you may of me, but that’s just me, sadly enough.

We tossed a lot of ideas around in our minds, tried to solve the problems with each one, but then managed to come back and figure out how to do the original idea: magnets. I love magnets! And, this is such a fun, flexible, and easy way to keep track of everything!

We already had all of the materials we needed for this magnetic project.

  • We used the side of the freezer as our magnetic board, primarily so as to not take our whiteboard out of commission. I drew a grid on the side of the freezer to organize the magnets (yes, I permanently marked on my 10+ year old chore chart 2freezer! Another fun moment in my morning!).
  • We had two sets of little magnetic pie wedges labeled with the days of the week. We just took them out of their pie shape and gave each one a spot in the grid. I put one set at the top and then another set right above Steven’s chores to help him keep track of the days a little easier since his chores are all the way on the bottom.
  • We also already had printable magnetic sheets. I’ve been dying to use them to create my own magnets, but I just hadn’t come up with a fun magnet usage…until now. (A package of three sheets is around $5, I think. I used two full sheets for this project.)

First, Doug and I sat down and delineated what chores needed to be done. Then we divided them among the family members and determined which chores needed to be done which days. The awesome thing about this system, though, is that we can change up a day here or there as needed simply by moving a magnet. I love it!

Next, Doug found a free online chore chart. He entered all of the chores into the online chart so as to be able to print a weekly PDF of each family member’s chores. (We have our printed PDF stuck to the fridge so we can know what we’re supposed to do every day, too! We do have a few chores that alternate for a two-week rotation, so the online chore chart is a tremendous help!

Then, using the information Doug organized online, I created a table on the computer and filled each rectangle of the table with a chore. The kids are supposed to clean their bedrooms every evening, so I made 21 “clean bedroom” rectangles, one for each child for each day. I gave each child a personal font and color so they could see at a glance which chores are theirs.

Finally, I printed out the magnet pages, cut out the individual rectangles, and arranged them in place on the freezer grid.

chore chart 1

Each child has a section of the grid with their name in the middle – just in case they didn’t recognize their chores by the chosen colors! Above their names are the morning chores. Below their names are the afternoon/evening chores. Then there is a “Done” column on the far right-hand side of the freezer where they can put the magnets once they have completed each chore. Then, Saturday night or Sunday morning Doug and I will come in and reset the magnets for the upcoming week.

Here’s hoping this works for our family! It really was pretty easy to set up. It took a little time, but not as much as either of us expected. And, it looks kind of neat there on the side of the freezer! That’s my favorite part!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Changes, Learning, and Routine

Ah, routine. It’s a beautiful thing. It doesn’t seem to be very blog worthy, though. Our days consist of chores, school, swimming, and whatever evening activities present themselves.

Chores: The time has come again to redistribute and reorganize. It just has to be done every now and then as kids grow up and schedules change. Our most recent system was put in place when we first moved to Almyra. And, believe it or not, that has been nearly a year! Wow!

In that “nearly a year,” we have adjusted our school schedule twice and all three kids have grown more competent when it comes to helping around the house. None moreso than Steven, though, so we are working to really incorporate him more into the major chore system rather than just designating him as a helper.

One chore change required us to do a DSCF0179wee bit of kitchen rearranging. We have had the plates, cups, and serving bowls we most frequently use stored up in the upper cabinets. (Why I only opened one cabinet door for this picture, I don’t know, but where the pitchers are now is where cups and glasses used to be, and the plates and bowls were on the right.) It was a great storage location except for the fact that the girls always had to get stools to put most of the most commonly used dishes away, and Steven couldn’t help with that part at all.

But, it’s amazing what going into reorganization with a little prayer for wisdom can do for ideas. As we pondered Steven’s ability to help with the emptying of the dishwasher, I wondered if most of what we regularly use would fit in our lower cabinets DSCF0178where we store pitchers and storage containers. Sure enough, the pitchers fit in the upper cabinet; the plates, bowls, cups, and glasses fit on the bottom shelf where the pitchers had been; and our most frequently used serving bowls and Doug’s favorite mugs fit on the top shelf with our glass storage containers. I relocated dish towels to hanging bags (thus eliminating the need to fold them!!!) and put the plastic storage containers that had been on the top shelf of this lower cabinet in the deep drawer (to the left of this lower cabinet) that the towels had been in. Voila! Everything in reach of the children. Ah, what a delight!

Now to implement our new chore chart idea. I’ll share when it’s ready for use!

School: Olivia is tackling long division. Oh, such fun and delight! But, she’s hanging in there. She is also becoming so much more creative in her sentence-writing. It makes grading her language arts papers so much fun! One of her instructions this week was to take a list of verbs, add a helping verb to each one, and write a sentence with each new verb phrase. Here’s my favorite one…

looking – am looking – I am looking for the schoolwork robot and when I find it, I’m using it!

Angela just finished second grade math and delightedly rolled right into third grade. She’s excited about the review lessons, both at the end of her second grade book and at the beginning of her third grade book. Somewhere between 20-30 lessons of review that she can relax and speed through.

Steven is slowing down a bit, which is a blessing for me. Some weeks all we do is read and work on phonics together and he doesn’t touch his workbooks. That keeps him from speeding through his KG stuff quite so quickly. His reading is improving steadily. I’m so proud of him!

Swimming: I’ve already pretty much shared where we are with swimming. Steven is now determined to swim in the deep end without his floaties – oh, and jump off the diving board without them, too! I’ve given him a few requirements that will hopefully slow down that aspiration just a little bit. Angela is learning to swim deeper, and Olivia is teaching herself overhand strokes and is building her endurance. Meanwhile, I’m doing my best to watch all three of them as their little heads go underwater like fishies!

Well, it seems like our routine is a little more blog-worthy than I thought! Of course, my readers might beg to differ…

Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 25, 2011

Outside my window...droopy bushes and brown grass; a scattering of clouds just teasing us with the possibility of rain.

I am thinking...about writing.

I am thankful for...homeschool; enough food that we actually got to choose which leftovers to eat today; vehicles that are still amazingly faithful despite their age and mileage.

I am wearing...coral skirt and sea green top, bare feet, hair in a clip.

I am creating...a new weekly chore schedule and plan. It’s just time to revamp.

I am remembering...winter and hot chocolate. Mmmmmm…

I am going...to be very productive over the next hour and a half. I’m determined.

I am reading...just finished Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman, and I’m not sure what’s coming next. Gotta check my book review list.

I am praying...for rain. Lots and lots of rain.

I am hearing...the ceiling fan. Otherwise, it’s mostly quiet in the house.

From the learning rooms...learning about the making books & ball point pens; electricity in the body; magnetism; skyscrapers; the Statue of Liberty; George Washington Carver; the original Ferris Wheel; division, division, and more division.

Noticing that...my mind isn’t getting in gear today.

Pondering these words...I had something I really wanted to share. It was awesome. It’s gone now, though. Not a clue. Maybe it will come back before next week!

From the kitchen...aforementioned leftovers.

Around the house...clutter – hence the need to revamp the chore schedule.

One of my favorite things...rain.

A few plans for the rest of the week...finishing our ladies book study with a potluck tonight; a night in LR with just my hubby!; joining a pastor’s wives panel at a ladies conference on Saturday.

A picture worth sharing...what happens when Daddy tries to lie down on the couch for a Sunday afternoon nap. (What you don’t see is Olivia’s bunny tucked up under him, inviting the “rescue the bunny” attack.)100_9580

Friday, July 22, 2011

Water Bugs

We started swimming Memorial Day weekend. About two weeks in, I shared a post about how the kids were doing. Now it is just under six weeks later, and we officially have three little water bugs!!

Olivia and Angela have built up their endurance and are swimming all over the place. I’m still vigilant, but I don’t feel like I have to be right with them in the deep end. I just keep an eye on them. Hard to believe that less than two months ago Angela wouldn’t even get her head under water! Now both girls are doing canon balls off the diving board and diving down as deep as they can to see if they can touch the bottom. Of the deep end.

Then there’s Steven. A few weeks ago I finally got him to start jumping off the side of the pool in such a way as to get water splashed in his face. Then, a little over a week ago, I started hanging on to him and taking both of us underwater together. He decided he liked that better than the jumping. In fact, he loved it! Next I started throwing him a little bit. He had always been terrified of that thought, but this time he thoroughly enjoyed it and started asking me to throw him higher and higher.

Somehow, that did the trick. He started jumping off the side of the pool by himself and with friends. Out and right back in. He couldn’t get enough of it! It wasn’t long before he got up the nerve to jump off the diving board! First it was a jump with me standing beside the diving board and holding his hand while we jumped in together. Then it was me holding his hand from inside the pool. Then it was, “I can do this by myself!” Before the end of that day he was doing running jumps off the diving board, and now he thoroughly enjoys canon balls.

That all happened about a week ago. Today, he started showing us how he could swim with his floaties on. And he was doing really well! I asked him if he wanted to take his floaties off, and he said yes. He took them off, put them on the side of the pool, and took off. Real underwater swimming.

To some people it’s no big deal. But to this mama whose kids were all three terrified of the water, this is HUGE! Especially Steven’s progress! I’m so proud of all three of them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Sillies

If you ever feel like you’re lacking in the silliness department, come right on over. I’m sure we’ll have a touch of it to share. We usually do!

We’ll start with the youngest (the ones I have pictures for this time around).

Misc3Here the little goofball decided that he wanted to carry his sisters’ bean bags around on his head. Don’t ask my why. I guess it just seemed like a good idea to him at the time. They wouldn’t stay on him very well, though, so getting them back up on his head every three or four steps did wear him out a bit. It didn’t last very long.

The bean bag incident came after Steven decided to “help” me with our read-aloud time. I was trying my hardest to finish our book when he grabbed a little hippo puppet and crawled onto the couch with me. The hippo then started to eat the book. Oh yes, it was SO easy to keep reading! And for his sisters to keep listening (amid their cackles)!Misc4

Then there’s Olivia. For some reason she has decided that secluded little cubbies are the best place to work. Closets have been one such location, which is not a problem. There are lights in all of the closets that have the space for her to work. No, the problem comes when she decides to build herself a little fort. She builds it either in the darkest corners of the house, or she puts on a “roof” that blocks out light. Then she goes in and tries to read or do school work. Grrr…

But, Angie took the cake today. The first one was pretty sweet. As I was finishing up my morning tasks before school, she was dressed in her little black tights and skirt. On her feet were knee-high toe socks which allowed her to skate around the foyer. She came in to me and informed me that she was running a skate camp. The purpose was to teach people about Jesus while teaching them to skate. She proceeded to tell me the things she read from the Bible while people were skating, as well as some of the training-oriented crafts she let the campers to do. So sweet!

But, that wasn’t the extent of her training. While I was grading her math from yesterday so we could look over it together, she was sitting on the floor with one of the cats. She looked up at me and said, so very matter of factly, “I’m trying to teach the Mina Cat to talk. She’s not listening to me.” My hoots of laughter did nothing to dissuade her in the least.

I love that life is never dull!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 18

Outside my window...slightly milder temperatures under a beautiful partly cloudy sky; two peach trees growing wonderfully; a small decorative flag that needs to be changed from our early summer flag to a full-fledged summer flag (no, we don’t have an abundance of flags – just two each of summer and fall. Guess we need to get the other seasons, too!).

I am thinking...about school and timing and adjustments we will be making once swimming season ends.

I am thankful for...answered prayers; less hot days; visible results from greater exercise consistency and eating diligence; a van that is still running.

I am wearing...denim capris, black tank top, black sandals, hair in a braid.

I am creating...birthday presents for Angela.

I am remembering...fresh fruits and vegetables from Jordan. They tasted SOOOOOOO good!

I am going...to have a busy day tomorrow, it seems!

I am reading...Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman and will hopefully get back to The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb this week. I need to get that one finished.

I am hoping... Steven’s allergies clear out of his eyes. He woke up with one swollen half shut this morning. Poor baby gets it from me. Fortunately, he hasn’t felt badly today, and his eye is looking much better!

I am hearing...the fan rattling and children playing in the foyer – the one place they can put on socks and “skate.”

I am praying...for rain, friends who are traveling and/or dealing with rough weeks, and my parents as they finish up their last month in Jordan.

From the learning rooms...George Washington Carver, building bridges and skyscrapers, heat and cold, using a calculator (Olivia), and finishing grade 2 math! (Angela).

Noticing that...I’m much more content when we are disciplined.

Pondering these words... When God walks away from the church and lets the multiplying sin take its course, that is the worst judgment of all; it will inevitably end in irretrievable disaster. But when God responds to sin with prompt severity, lessons are learned, and the church is spared a worse drift. ~ D.A. Carson from For the Love of God, vol 1 (Just a solid reminder that discipline is GOOD; oh, so good!)

From the kitchen...leftovers and peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. The latter were much more enjoyable!

Around the house...school stuff from years past that has recently been resorted and now needs to be repacked for storage.

One of my favorite things...a day when much is accomplished while still feeling relaxed.

A few plans for the rest of the week...nothing out of the ordinary. Nice.

A picture worth sharing...this is how I found the kids one afternoon. I guess our bed is a good place to relax?

Misc2

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Cook

I just found these pictures and remembered that Olivia isn’t the only one who’s been helping with the cooking lately. We decided we wanted pretzel dogs (for those of you who have never had the delight of pretzel dogs, they are hot dogs – or in our case, Polish sausages - wrapped in pretzel dough) recently, and Steven begged to help make them. So, I called him in when the dough was ready and it was time to wrap the sausages in the dough.

I cut the dough and then he wrapped.

PD3

I dipped the wrapped dog into the soda water (since the water was warm) and transferred it to the baking sheet and then he salted it. He had a perfect salting hand – not too much and not too little!

PD2

We baked them up, and everyone was delighted with the finished product, including the proud chef!

PD1

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Outside my window...grass growing before my very eyes; otherwise, much stillness as the heat has driven even all the outdoor critters to lethargy.

I am thinking...that I really need to get back to singing again.

I am thankful for...health. Four out of the five of us had mostly routine bloodwork done at our dr’s appointments last week, and it all came back good.

I am wearing...turquoise skort and white peasant blouse.

I am creating...sewing plans. I’m very ready to get back to that machine!

I am remembering...where many of our Legos came from. A good number of them were Doug’s, but one year while in seminary we were blessed by an “oops” by Kroger. We didn’t have much for the girls for Christmas that year, but two days before Christmas, Kroger dropped their big boxes of Legos to dirt cheap prices before the after-Christmas sales started. A tub of 100 Duplos was $3 and a tub of 700 Legos was $5!! Legos are such an amazing toy, but they are so expensive. That find was nothing short of a blessing from God, I am thoroughly convinced, because there is no toy my kids have played with more over the years!

I am going...to enjoy being back on a consistent schedule after several weeks of inconsistency.

I am reading...Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry, along with most of the books I mentioned last week.

I am hoping...the forecast for Thursday and Friday holds up. Low 90’s and rain chances! Yay!

I am hearing...two “sneak peek” songs from Downhere’s soon-to-be-released album. This is going to be a really good album, but that’s not a big surprise!

On my mind...a desire to be intentionally more kind – to truly see both needs and how I can help meet them.

From the learning rooms...back to school after several weeks off! It’s been surprisingly smooth today.

Noticing that...I don’t remember when I switched my home out of baby mode. It must have happened very gradually. But, it just takes one adorably curious baby coming for a visit to realize just how non-baby-proofed my house has become! That’s strange for me.

Pondering these words... As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you. Jer 7:16  That is a very, very sobering verse, and it’s been with me all morning.

From the kitchen...a new concoction: shepherd’s pie with scalloped potatoes instead of mashed. It was really good.

Around the house...signs of being a bit behind. Looking forward to catching up this week.

One of my favorite things...looking back and remembering the joys of being a mommy to little kids, but also thoroughly enjoying where we are now. Parenthood is an amazingly miraculous blessing.

A few plans for the rest of the week...not much – and it’s nice. School, swimming, regularly scheduled church activities, a birthday party Thursday night.

A picture worth sharing...how much more laid back can you get while folding clothes?

Misc5

Friday, July 8, 2011

New Cook in Town

Olivia has always enjoyed cooking, but for a long time she’s lacked the ability to focus in and take a recipe from start to finish. But lately that level of maturity has seemed to just click. I’ve tried to work nearby and check in on her as she’s worked, but she has it figured out! This makes me happy because that means we are on the verge of having three competent cooks in the house. Yes, this makes me smile.

Cook7About a week ago she made bread start to finish on her own (I took care of the oven part because it’s just too high for her to safely maneuver stuff in and out of it). It took her a good bit longer than it takes me, which was predictable, but I told her she’d speed up with practice.

 

Yes, she is drumming on the dough. She just can’t help it!

Cook6Cook5

Cook4Cook3Then later in the week she made quiche. I already had a ball of crust made and in the freezer, but she did all of the rolling out. She also successfully transferred the crust to the pie plate all by herself!  You can tell by the grin how excited she was to use the “kitchen power tools” to blend the egg mixture! She made a lovely and delicious turkey bacon quiche.

Cook2Cook1

This week we had some overripe bananas, so she asked if she could make banana bread. It was delicious! Yes, I think this new level of maturity and kitchen competence will greatly work in my favor.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hibbard Visits

Do you ever get it into your head that you’ve done something, but then find out you never really did – you just imagined it? (By the way, if your answer is “no,” I don’t want to know it. Just let me proceed with the comforting assumption that I’m not alone in this! Thanks!) Well, that’s how it is with me and blog posts. I could have sworn I wrote several posts, but they’re not up! So, I guess I never wrote them – and I guess I have some catching up to do!

We’ll start with the weekend before last. Doug’s parents had been on vacation and were returning home through Little Rock. They had also just celebrated their 30th anniversary. So, we met them and Stephannie and Morgan in North Little Rock at Olive Garden to celebrate with them. Mmmmmmm.

Anniv1

That was on Saturday. They spent the night there Saturday night and then came our way for church on Sunday. After church we got into that trunk of trains! Train4

The trains themselves are great treasures!

Train3

But, having PopPop there to tell everyone about them was even better.

Train5

The girls liked the trains, but they were pretty fascinated with all of the “extras” at the other end of the trunk – the accessories that go around the tracks.

Train1

There’s still a lot of work to do to actually try to get the set running, but it was fun to go through it all with PopPop and Grandma.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Outside my window...occasional teasing clouds on this hot July day.

I am thinking...that the bananas we bought the other day have ripened much quicker than expected. I might have to make a batch of banana bread.

I am thankful for...

  • my country. There are a lot of things I don’t like, but I am still proud and thankful to be an American. Happy birthday, USA!
  • 10 plus pounds of fresh corn (weighed after cutting SW3it off the cob), a blessing from several different church members. Corn is a HUGE favorite in our household!
  • a hubby who SW1likes to cook, is GREAT at it, and is constantly hunting down ways to make his delicious concoctions even better.

I am wearing...denim capris, red Razorback polo, hair pulled back.

I am creating...plans for Angela’s birthday, both gifts and celebration; also trying to design Steven’s birthday cake. He has very specific requests – now to see if I can actually make it the way he wants it!

I am remembering...celebrating Independence Day growing up. In Jordan we would sometimes go to the American Community School where there was almost a fair-like atmosphere. Other times it was cookouts at the Browning house – we lived in one of the most beautiful (and coolest in the hot summer) spots in the country. Friends would come from the city for a bit of a break. When we were in Arkansas, we would gather at my grandparents’ house. I remember the watermelon most of all. We always had watermelon.

I am going...to get pictures sorted eventually. I have gotten over 1400 of them separated into categories, and I have about 900 still requiring that task. Then I’ll make sure they’re all renamed and matched with the right date. Then I need to commit to not waiting nine months before I tackle this task again.

I am reading...too much at once! I think I’m trying to catch up after several weeks of practically no reading. Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall; Desiring God by John Piper; The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter (for Bible study); and I’m about to start Route 66 by Krish Kandiah, an 8-week Bible study I’m reviewing. Like I said – too much at once!

I am praying…for more rain this week. 

I am hearing...music, the whir of the fan, the tapping of my keyboard and Doug’s, quiet in the house thanks to rest time.

On my mind...several prayer requests that have been shared with me. I want to fix them. But the best thing I can do is pray over them and leave them in the hands of the only One who can fix them.

From the learning rooms...one more week off.

Noticing that...I like productivity.

From the kitchen...corn taken off the cob and prepared for the freezer; apples cooked down to be made into applesauce (we were also blessed with lots of apples!); delicious burgers.

Around the house...corn husks laid out and drying a bit so they can be used for an experiment in making corn husk dolls. The girls have had their hearts set on trying it since we planted corn back in the spring!

One of my favorite things...relaxing family days.

A few plans for the rest of the week...doctor’s appointments (annual – no one’s sick) tomorrow and Thursday; hopefully a hair cut this week if I can get an appointment.

A picture worth sharing...Happy Independence Day!

SW2

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Laundry Detergent

For the record, I love convenience. But, if I can get something as good or better for less money by making it myself, I’m at least going to try it. I have to be honest – the experimentation and sense of accomplishment are pretty cool, too.

My most recent experiment was with laundry detergent. Doug and I have been talking about this for a while, and we finally decided to dig in and try it.

***Just to warn you: I am a detail-loving person, so this will be a pretty detailed post!

There are blogs and sites galore that give recipes. This post at tipnut.com was my favorite because it provides a variety of recipes in one place and has this awesome FAQ page as well.

I typically prefer liquid detergent, but as I looked at the recipes, I decided to start with the easier-looking powdered recipe. So, I chose recipe #9 from Tipnut’s site and reduced it so that if I didn’t like it or someone in the family had an allergy to it, I wouldn’t be wasting a ton of detergent! I’m going to post the recipe that I made – multiply it by four or follow the links above for the full recipe.

Powdered Laundry Detergent RecipeDet 4

Tightly sealing plastic storage container

Hand grater or food processor*

3 cups Borax

2 cups baking soda

2 cups washing soda

2 cups bar soap, finely grated  I used Ivory – the website gives examples of good soaps to use. Just make sure they are pure soap without fragrances or perfumes that will stain clothing.

**A tip I saw indicated that frozen soap grates better. So, I put the soap in the freezer overnight. Sure enough, it grated beautifully!

  1. Det 3Grate the soap into a fine powder. I had small bars on hand, but I think one 4.5 oz bar of Ivory will give you almost two cups of grated soap.
  2. Combine all ingredients  and mix well. (Just try to not inhale the powder! Smile)
  3. Seal for storage.
  4. Use 1/8 cup (2 Tbs) per load.

Det 2

With the grating (which I will probably delegate to the kids in the future, or try the food processor), this took 30 minutes at the most.

*If you’re using the food processor, use the grater attachment first and then use the processing blade to make a fine powder.

 

Doing the Laundry

  • Whites (mainly underwear) – I used the full 1/8 cup measurement even though I only had a medium load. I also added bleach, as is my custom, and washed the load in cold water. Our water tends to make whites grungy. This detergent didn’t decrease the grunginess, but I did notice that the items that were bright white stayed bright white in this load.
  • Darks (essentially anything that can’t be bleached) – I did a full load (I have a super-large capacity washer), again with 1/8 cup detergent and in cold water. I had all sorts of colors, light and dark (including reds) mixed into the load. I typically add OxyClean to my lighter darks (anything that can be easily stained) just because of our water condition. I had just soaked a few stained items in an OxyClean solution prior to washing, so I dumped that solution into the washer water. I also had a dress of Angela’s stained with red Jell-O that I had treated with Shout the day before. The load came out beautifully. No bleeding, no grunginess, and all stains removed.
  • Sheets & Towels – I typically wash in hot water with detergent and I add OxyClean to the sheets. I left out the OxyClean this time around and used 1/8 cup detergent in each load. Leaving out the OxyClean seemed to have no negative effect, and both sheets and towels came through nicely.
  • Bottom Line

    ***I typically use liquid Era for my laundry, in addition to the boosters I mentioned above. I’ve also used regular Tide in the past, and haven’t seen much cleaning power different between Tide and Era. I also use dryer sheets – a variety of brands.

    • Cleaning – I know my laundry came out at least as clean as with the Era. I’m hesitant to say they came out cleaner, but I will say this: I’m confident enough with the cleaning power of this detergent to try it for a couple of weeks without the OxyClean booster that I typically use with Era.
    • Softness – This one really, really surprised me. I love soft clothes, and I was amazed at how much softer the loads were with this detergent It was an extremely noticeable (and very unexpected)difference with everything except the towels. There was no difference in the towels. But, most of my towels are old, so there’s probably no helping them! Anyway, the softness alone had me sold on this detergent. 
    • Price – We didn’t save money, really, on this first batch because we didn’t get the best prices on ingredients. But, I know we can make it cheaper. We pay about 11 cents a load for our Era from Sam’s, and so far we have price-shopped this homemade detergent down to 8 cents a load. We are pretty sure we can get it at least a little lower. And if I can leave off the OxyClean, that will save even more!

    A few more things I want to mention:

    1. Whenever I wash with a powder detergent, I do turn the water on hot to dissolve the detergent, then switch it to cold (if I’m washing in cold) and add the clothes. I did that with this detergent and found no signs of clumping or soap stains.
    2. There are no suds with this detergent. That threw me at first – the water stayed so clear!
    3. A friend with an HE washer uses this same recipe, with the 1/8 cup measurement, and says it works wonderfully.
    4. The same friend also will add a little water to a small amount of this detergent to make a paste for stain removal purposes.
    5. This detergent leaves laundry pretty much fragrance free. If you like clothes to smell a certain way, you’ll need to follow the hints (I think they were in the FAQ’s) to add laundry-safe fragrance.

    All in all, I’m very excited that this was so easy, pleased with the cleanliness, delighted with the softness, and fully convinced that this will be an easy way to save a few more pennies!

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Boyhood: Not for the Squeamish

    I continue to be amazed that we have not yet had a trip to the emergency room. Very, very thankful, but still amazed.

    Yesterday was an enthusiastic day for Steven. It all started yesterday morning when he was waiting for the girls to finish their quiet times. Their morning chore was to empty the trash cans, and he didn’t want to do it alone. So, he got the Swiffer and was “dusting” the tops of the door frames throughout the house. This was great fun until he made it to the foyer. A smoke detector hangs just above the front door in the foyer. As he was dusting the top of that door frame, he bumped the smoke detector, and it came tumbling down. The landing spot? Yep, right on his little forehead.

    Fortunately, there was no blood, no real swelling – just a little bruise and scratch.

    Fast forward to a little before 5:00. We were heading out to drop the kids off and go to a dinner in Stuttgart with some friends. All we needed to do was get the bread out of the oven. With about two minutes remaining on the timer, we suddenly hear a horrible wail. We go to the living room to check on the issue, and are greeted by our son. Blood is streaming down into his face, and he’s using one of his beloved silkies to wipe it away.

    I’m reminding myself the whole time It’s a head wound. Head wounds bleed. LOTS.

    We dash to the bathroom and begin trying to wipe away the blood and find the wound. The harder it is to find, the more comforted this mama’s heart becomes. Finally, we trace the would to a deep scratch on the top of Steven’s head.

    Head

    And I was going to cut his hair today! Sad smile

    Come to find out, Steven had been playing behind the couch. Somehow, his the balls he was playing with ended up either on or in front of the couch. Instead of going around the couch to get them he had to live up to the expectations of boyhood and dive over the back of the couch. Problem? His momentum was too great for him to stop, and he went straight into the coffee table.

    We still made our dinner date, he still had fun playing with his friend Sawyer all evening, and he still dove into boyhood behavior full-force while playing.

    But, we still managed to avoid that ER trip, at least one more time.

    Oh, and I do have to confess that I laughed. I just couldn’t help it, especially once the wound proved to be truly minor. Laughter is what keeps me sane!