Friday, February 27, 2015


We carved out a little more together time this week.  Sometimes happiness is as simple as a good sitcom and some gelato.

Joining Mamabyrd and others in their weekly impressions.  Join us and post your own either here or there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

I've been anxious to get out in the garden.  This was supposed to be the week.  The peas we planted weeks ago have sprouted and it's time to clean out the winter flower beds, but it's raining.  Like, really raining.  Thankfully I have two whole seasons of Call the Midwife to view and a new knitting project.

I almost put off starting this hat until next year.  It's The Big Easy, found here.  I've seen it on several people and I have a feeling this just may be the hat I've been searching for that will finally fit my oddly shaped head.  It was starting to look like we might not have any more cold spells, but Mother Nature is full of surprises, and if I hurry, it looks like I just might get a chance to wear it.

As for the series I'm watching, I held off watching Call the Midwife thinking it might just be too "real life".  Let's face it, if I spend time watching something I want it to be an escape.  I was worried watching the adventures of a 1950's midwife might not be that, but the BBC does what it does so well, and I'm officially addicted.  The characters are sweet, and real, and developed, and I am now hopelessly involved in their lives.  And the babies, oh the babies!!

There's only 20 minutes left until the bus comes, and Sadie will wake up, and my real life will begin, so I'm off with my yarn to London's East End.  Hopefully I'll get in a few rows on this rainy day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pseudo Succulents

I've been seeing succulents everywhere recently.  I adore them outside, but they've been popping up in magazines and other places as indoor arrangements.  In October I noticed them all over our hotel lobby in Orlando. They had large pieces of bark with moss and succulents growing on them.  I noticed a woman spraying them one morning and I asked her about the arrangements.  She said they were only temporary because it's hard to make succulents last indoors.

I knew this from experience.  Succulents need dirt, and sunlight, and to be left alone, and that's hard to accomplish indoors.  But the look is so classy.  I love how they add just a hint of green, without being a huge houseplant that I forget to water.  Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I found myself in the Dollar Tree searching for Valentine's and birthday items and I stumbled across a rack of mini potted succulents.

I know, I know, plastic plants are not en vogue, but these didn't scream plastic, so I grabbed a few.  Also, have you noticed the price of faux succulents at other craft/hobby stores?  I brought them home and started arranging and I had to go back for more.  I must say, they make me happy.  They've even received a few compliments.

 (They even had dogwood blossoms and pussy willows that I couldn't pass up) 

It feels a bit more like Spring in our house now.  A cheap and easy way to bring a bit of the outside in, even if it's plastic.  At least Sadie can rearrange them to her hearts content and I don't need to vacuum up after her, right?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Year of the Goat

"Mom, did you know it's the year of the goat?",  Alan randomly asked me last week.  Apparently they had been discussing Chinese New Year in the first grade.  Alan seemed interested in it and sweet and sour chicken was already on our weekend menu, so we mad an occasion out of it.  

By "occasion" all I really mean is fortune cookies and chopsticks, but they were pleased anyway.  I tried to find some of the placemats with all the New Year's animals represented, but Dothan doesn't offer much in the way of Chinese restaurants, so we made do with a quick Google search.  We have a Rat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, and Dog in our family.  Some more compatible with each other than others.

I'm crossing my fingers that Alan's fortune holds true for all of us.  May this new year bring happiness to you and yours or as this Chinese blessing says, "everyday a cheerful goat".

Friday, February 20, 2015


We're all in denial about her addiction.  That's why she resorts to carrying around the CD cover and changing into her Frozen shirt the minute we walk in the door.  Sometimes I wish Disney could work their magic on something more useful like a princess who only eats her veggies, or really wants to potty train.  THAT I could fully support.

Joining Mamabyrd and others in their weekly impressions.  Add your own impression either here or there.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Clean Routine

A few months ago we had a Relief Society activity about all things clean.  They taught us how to make our own laundry soap and dishwasher detergent, what different cleaners are used for, etc.  At one point in the demonstration a woman leaned over to me and said, skeptically, "are you seriously going to go home and do this? It's gotta be so much easier just to buy a bottle of Tide"

Though I agreed with her about the ease of buying laundry detergent, it was interesting to learn about and there is a satisfaction that comes with making something useful.  I also like knowing what's in the cleaners I use.  I decided not to mention to her that I make my own shower and general household cleaner regularly.

I realized today as I was mixing a batch that I hadn't shared this recipe on here yet even though I've been asked. So, here it is.  (It's also all over the internet in various forms.)

1/2 C hydrogen peroxide
1/2 C white vinegar
1C water
2 Tsp castile soap  (this can be tricky to find, so in a pinch I use ORIGINAL BLUE Dawn)

(I find if I pour 1C hydrogen peroxide,  and 1C vinegar,  into the empty spray bottle, then fill the rest with water, about 2 cups, and add the soap right before I put the lid on it works great.)

Mix it all together in a regular spray bottle and use liberally for all your hard water/soap scum needs. We squeegee our shower after use and then spray it down with this.  Is it gross to admit I haven't "scrubbed" a shower since we moved in?  I use it in the tub, the sinks, the shower liner upstairs, and my favorite... the water dispenser on the fridge.  I've even used it on carpet spills.  Best of all, I'm not afraid for my kids to use it.  They keep one in their shower too and use it regularly.

It's so much better than it was, trust me.

I wasn't sure if it was really making a difference until we left Dean alone last Summer for 7 weeks.  He ran out of cleaner about two weeks in.  Let's just say I was scared to step in the shower when we got back.  I tried cleaning it, but I couldn't get all the nooks and crannies around the door.  Three weeks later, after daily sprayings,  all the crud, hard water, and general nastiness was gone.

What are some of your cleaning hacks?  I'm anxious to find more that are as easy and simple as this. Feel free to share.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Liar, Pants on Fire

This morning, while helping Alan with his hair, I noticed a dollar bill sticking out of his pocket. I casually asked him what he had in his pocket.  "Nothing", he said.  We went back and forth this way for several minutes.  I gave him every opportunity to tell me he had a dollar in his pocket, but he insisted on denying it, which led me to believe it probably wasn't his dollar.  Sure enough, it turned out to be some of Ben's birthday money.  Alan cried when I asked him to give it back.  He sincerely felt justified in taking it and angry/hurt over getting caught.

You see, their school sells snacks everyday for a dollar, and even though I pack a granola bar from home for him to eat at snack time,  Alan still feels ripped off that he can't purchase one every day.  He was still angry when he got on the bus.

Two such very different children. One who carelessly leaves his money lying around and saves up to spend on a large item, and the other who covets money and stores pennies in his pockets and under his pillow, and would spend every bit of it anywhere he can.

Once, during one of our foster care classes, we were asked to write down on a piece of paper the behavior that would make us most angry.  Overwhelmingly the behavior most people chose was lying.  At least I know I'm not alone.

So, I'm throwing this out there and asking for all your pearls of parenting wisdom.  We've tried a few different things. (It's been going on for a while now, even at school to his teacher) Really, I just want him to know what it feels like to be trusted.  I know I was a notorious liar in my younger days and my brothers couldn't trust me at all.  It's an awful feeling, but how does one explain that to a stubborn six year old.  I'm all ears.  Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vitamin C

We were given a box of oranges last week.  Delicious, juicy, and straight off a Florida tree.  The children were hesitant at first.  "Why do they have spots?", "They look dirty", "Oranges aren't supposed to have stems", etc.  "Fine", I told them, "you don't have to eat any".  Of course the minute I cut one open the smell changed their minds and they were grabbing for slices.

Our box is almost empty.  I know the minute I have to start buying "Lil' Cuties" again they're going to realize just how much they've been missing.  We may just have to plan a road trip to get some of our own Florida citrus soon. I hear the Grapefruit is even better.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Operation: Birthday

Operation: Birthday was a success.  Ben has been really into spying and detectives for about 6 months now.  He's been talking about hosting a "Spy birthday" for a while, but I didn't get moving on it until about a week out.  Ben approached me and asked to look on the internet for spy birthday ideas. He had a piece of paper and a notebook with a list of the kids he was inviting and then he reminded me his birthday was only 8 days away. 

I feel like I've usually got a handle on his birthday even before Christmas, but not this year.  There we  were scrambling to make top secret spy invitations so he could make sure and deliver them at school.  I added, "this invitation will self-destruct in 3 seconds", at the bottom of the invite and EVERY child informed me today that their invitation did NOT self-destruct.  Nine year olds are funny.

Per our usual, I organized the games and itinerary, but Dean is the navigator.  He was the Super Secret Agent in charge and told all the kids how to make it through the laser net..

jump off high places...

deactivate a bomb...

take a fingerprint and profile a criminal...

Thank you Dollar Tree.  These kits were a lifesaver.
 I went in looking for fake mustaches and magnifying glasses
and came out with enough of these for everyone to take one home.

and finally, how to shoot a rubber band gun. All necessary skills for spies.

My friend is a police officer, She was kind enough to get Ben a real target.  Thank you, Alicia!

Dean cut all the guns from wood we already had.  Then we let the kids decorate them with sharpies.

Ben asked for,  "a bomb cake, mom, and then it can really explode and the frosting will go everywhere and everyone will have their piece and you won't need to cut it.".  Umm, ok... it took some convincing but we finally settled on black cupcakes with sparkler fuses.  

Everyone got a disguise, spy kit, and a badge to take home.  I once read an article that suggested that everyone would be less stressed if dad's got to plan birthday parties.  They maintained that a couple of pizzas and a game of red-rover is all kids really need. The cutesy, froo-frooey stuff mom's do wasn't what kids want at all, and it just causes stress.
 While I certainly agree with keeping it simple, I know these boys really did enjoy coloring their guns and having target practice.  They even went back out and used the yarn laser web while they were waiting for their parents. They all wore their disguises home and showed their parents the target in the garage.  So, maybe there is something to be said for some organization or at least letting the child take the lead in planning their party.
All I know is that Ben is already perusing Pinterest for ideas for his next party.  Can you blame him? I think this one turned out pretty well...