Monday, June 29, 2009


On more than one occasion I've been sleeping with Jesse lying right beside me (or on me) and Olivia has woken me up to tell me she wants breakfast. I'd have had to wake Jesse up to move. Meanwhile, hubby was snoozing away. When I asked her why she didn't ask Daddy to get her some breakfast, she said "He's sleeping."

Was I angry? Of course not. Why would I want to sleep a little longer? I'd had a good 5 hours of sleep. Olivia knew that Jesse gets me up several times during the night and, therefore, must have thought it would be easier to wake me up since I'm used to it. She might have even suspected that I require less sleep to function.

The other day hubby was writing a letter to include with some pictures I was sending to his aunt. Olivia was playing at the kitchen table where he was writing. I was in the bathroom, hands in the toilet, washing out a dirty diaper. Olivia walked through the bedroom and into the bathroom and asked me to turn on the computer speakers. When I asked her why she didn't ask Daddy (who was sitting right beside her!) to turn the speakers on, she said "Because he's too busy."

Was I aggravated? Of course not. All I had to do was finish spraying off the dirty diaper, wring it out, drop it in the diaper pail, flush the toilet, and wash and dry my hands. I don't even have to think about it; I just turn on autopilot. You may think all hubby would have had to do was put down his pen. Wrong. I know what an undertaking it is when he writes a letter. Olivia's request would have completely broken his concentration.

Joking aside, Olivia is much more likely to ask me for help than her daddy. When Jesse wakes up in the middle of the night, it's me he's looking for. When they get hurt, no one can comfort them like I can. There are some things mothers just do better. I've often told Olivia that no one loves her like her mama. I carried these children for 9 months, gave birth to them, nourished them, and cared for them 24 hours a day. No one can take care of them better than I can.

Faster than a streaking toddler, more powerful than a stomach virus, and able to leap tall building block towers in a single bound. I am Supermom!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Green Cleaning

A conversation I had with a friend the other day prompted me to write about green cleaning. Alex extolled the virtues of vinegar & baking soda for cleaning counters, faucets, and appliances in an earlier post. I thought I'd include some other uses for these products. I'll also mention a couple more common items that can be used for cleaning.

I hate mops. They disgust me, so I threw mine out. I have a stack of cloth diapers (Gerber flats from WalMart) that I use for cleaning floors, counters, sinks, toilets, etc. I fill my mop bucket with about a cup of vinegar per gallon of water. I wash the floor with the diapers and vinegar-water. When the water gets dirty I start over with clean water and more vinegar. There's no need to rinse. I also replace the diapers as they get dirty. Then I throw them in the washing machine.

Shake baking soda into your toilet and scrub. Add vinegar, let it foam and soak, then flush later.

You can use vinegar as a fabric softener instead of dryer sheets. Just add a cup to the rinse cycle.

Use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your cutting board. It's used as a teeth whitener (hold one capful in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit). It also removes blood from clothing. This last tip I learned from my midwife. She should know!

Speaking of laundry, here's a recipe for detergent you might like to try. One of my good friends posted it on her blog, along with a cloth diaper laundry recipe.

Everyday Family Laundry
(Add 2 drops of essential oil for fragrance to water before adding clothes)
1 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha Soap (you may use other bar soaps such as Ivory, Castile, Zote)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup of Oxygen cleaner powder, such as Oxyclean

Mix all ingredients well. It will look like yellow & white granules. Use 1 tablespoon for light, small loads & 2 tablespoons for large loads. Store in recycled, air tight containers.

Here are some websites with other tips and information:
Vinegar Kills Bacteria, Mold, and Germs
Natural Remedies for Disinfecting Your Kitchen
Vinegar Tips
More Vinegar Tips
Hydrogen Peroxide Uses
More Hydrogen Peroxide Uses
Lemon Tips

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beat the Heat

I don't know about you, but I've been staying inside with the air conditioner lately. This time of year, I look for "cool" recipes. I've been going through my recipe collection (I've got TONS of recipes) and have selected a few of my favorites to share with you. The first is for a salad, but it's a little more special than your regular green salad. Next is a recipe for ginger ale. I don't like soft drinks, but I do like good ginger ale. I like Reed's Ginger Brew but it's around $1.50 a bottle. This recipe allows me to enjoy inexpensive ginger ale without artificial ingredients. Finally, I'm including my homemade ice cream recipe. If THAT doesn't cool you off, nothing will.

Strawberry Salad (I don't know where my aunt got this recipe.)
lettuce, torn
strawberries, sliced
celery, sliced
green onions, sliced
pecans, chopped
raspberry vinaigrette dressing (I bought some Annie's Naturals Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette when it was buy one get one free.)

Toss the first 5 ingredients. Serve with raspberry vinaigrette. You could make your own raspberry (or strawberry) vinaigrette. There are lots of recipes on the internet.

Ginger Ale (I changed the directions a little. Grating the ginger is difficult, so I put it in the blender.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon active baker's yeast
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root
juice of one lemon
cold fresh pure water

With a funnel, add the sugar and yeast to a plastic 2-liter bottle. Thinly slice the ginger root against the grain (or you'll have ginger "strings" in your drink). Put in a blender with lemon juice; blend, adding a little water if necessary. Add this to the bottle. Pour more water into the blender to rinse out the dregs; pour into the bottle. Fill the bottle with water, leaving about an inch of head space. Screw cap on securely. Invert repeatedly to dissolve the sugar. Place in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours. Do not leave at room temperature longer than necessary to feel "hard." The excess pressure may cause an eruption when you open it, or even explode the bottle! (Been there, done that.) Test to see if carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb. If it dents in, it's not ready. Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually 24 - 48 hours, place in the refrigerator. Thoroughly chill before opening. Crack the lid of the chilled ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly.

Rachel's Ice Cream (6 quarts)
3 cups sugar
1 quart cream
3 - 4 tablespoons vanilla (I never measure, so I'm guessing)

Pour sugar into ice cream freezer. Add cream and vanilla. Stir until sugar no longer sticks to the bottom. Add milk until it reaches the fill line. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Our living room was hit by Hurricanes Olivia and Jesse for the umpteenth time. They have accumulated LOTS of toys in their short lives. We surveyed the damage and cleaned up the debris with a large dust pan (bought just for that purpose). We scooped up stuff and deposited it in storage buckets. We corralled all the ping pong balls and golf balls. We reshelved books. Meanwhile, we had a discussion about which toys seemed to be their favorites. We've discovered that the best toys are the simplest ones - things like balls, blocks, boxes, trucks, and dolls.

We got a new freezer the other day. One of its best features was the box it came in. First it was a post office. Now it's a house for the kids. Olivia takes wonderful care of her baby doll, while Jesse drives trucks around the living room. They both love blocks. And Jesse is obsessed with balls. "Ball" was his second word ("Mama" was his first).

Last week we went to the recreation center for a puppet show, only to discover the schedule had changed. The presentation was now a geography lesson by "Professor World." You see where this is going, right? We walked in to find a 4-foot globe. Jesse pointed to it and exclaimed "Ball!" He does the same thing in the produce section. They're not cantaloupes, oranges, apples, and onions. As far as he's concerned, they're all balls.

For birthdays and "just because," Olivia and Jesse have received tons of fancy toys that light up, make noise, spin around, and do other silly things. They play with them a little, the novelty wears off, and they're banished to the toy shelves. There they sit, played with once in a blue moon, while the boxes they came in are worn out from play. I try to keep this in mind when I give gifts. For her first birthday, I gave my niece some books and edible treats (snacks saved her mom some grocery money and didn't take up room in the house for very long). For her second birthday, I gave her a bath towel with her name embroidered on it and a dress.

Stick with B's and you can't go wrong - books, balls, blocks, and boxes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Changing Blog Look ~ Comments welcome!

Hi everyone! I think that our blog could use a little makeover ~ make it cleaner, easier to read and navigate. As you've probably noticed, I've made a few changes already and I'll be making several more over the next few days. What I'd like to know from you is:

** What features of our blog look do you like and which would you like to see improvement on?

Any and all comments about our blog look are most welcome :)

Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Power of Words

I don't know why, but yesterday I was thinking about a conversation I had with Olivia when I was pregnant with Jesse. Olivia (then 3 years old) asked how the baby ate. I explained that when I ate, my body turned the food into nutrients for the baby and sent it to him through something called the umbilical cord. I told her that before she was born, she had an umbilical cord where her belly button now is, and her little brother or sister would have a belly button, too. Several weeks later we were having cookies after she had been “helping Daddy” with his power tools. She said “I’m having cookies. You’re having cookies. The baby’s having cookies." I replied "Well, kinda." Olivia promptly told me "The baby’s having cookies through the electrical cord!”

Okay, she didn't get the word right that time, but her vocabulary is impressive. We have some alphabet books that start something like "A is for apple, B is for ball, C is for cat." One night Olivia was telling her daddy "A is for anaconda, B is for badminton." I think there was another word further down the alphabet, but I can't remember what it was.

Yesterday Olivia was showing her Aunt Julie some tub toys. One was a turtle. She told Julie that at first she thought it was a box turtle, but then she saw the flippers on each side and decided it must be a sea turtle. Another, as she informed Julie, was a bottlenose dolphin.

Kids really do soak things up like sponges. For the last year and a half we've been taking a weekly trip to the library, where Olivia will check out 8 to 12 books. (She's also been watching videos on the National Geographic website.) I don't think it's possible to read too many books. My husband and I both love to read, although we don't get to indulge in as many books as we'd like. I don't know whether the obsession is hereditary or acquired. (My parents and hubby's parents all enjoy reading.) I took this picture of Olivia in February. She was supposed to be taking a nap and, when I went to check on her, this is what I found.

Here's Olivia in January of 2007 and Jesse in March of this year. It looks like he's gonna be a bookworm, too! A library is a wonderful place for a child. So many books are within those walls and the library is constantly getting new ones. You can also get books through their interlibrary loan program. One of the best gifts you can give a child is a love of reading (and a library card!)