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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chase Mommy Around the House

This is a game we play often  (although the kids think it should be more all day, every day). They line up, with me facing the count down....and then I chase them while they turn tail and run away.

Because the house has an open floorplan we run in circles around the kitchen, through dining room and front room into the living room. Often I'll switch directions and try to catch them...and sometimes we hide around a wall and try to catch each other.

They are very cute/funny in the playing. Sebastian screams, Elias shoves Sebastian forward, doors get's fun!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Daddy's Boots

Brian recently had a photo shoot at Bonnie Springs, a recreated old cowboy town. He dressed the part wearing his Daddy's old cowboy boots. These boots have seen everything!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Riding Bikes

We've had a lot of great weather this year...and when it's nice we play out front. Everyone has an assortment of bikes and wheeled things...Here's Elias and Sebastian right behind him!

Often our neighbors come out too. Here's Elias, Robert & Sebastian on a 3 wheeler and Zanthippie in the background waiting.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

1st orange

This is our first orange off our orange tree! It has taken quite a few years to produce.But it looks worth the wait!

Here's Maddie, Gracie and Faith sharing the juicy goodness

We've gotten a few more off since then...looks good for next year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Little Witch

He's a Little "everything" ! This kid is curious and outgoing and happy! He's so wonderful.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

I am convinced that 8 is the age when Christmas is perfect! It certainly seems to be so for Elias!

This year Elias obsessed about Santa, wanting to know every detail of everything  (making me cringe with the web of deception!). He made his gingerbread house yesterday and left it for Santa to eat, along with of course milk and cookies, and thoughtfully, some water and carrots for the reindeer. He went to bed early, without even being told to.

Overnight, we became the proud owners of Rock Band 2. When Elias went to check on Santa's snacks, he saw it all set up and ready to go!

Sebastian also saw his big gift, a firehouse/policestation. Complete with helicopter, fire truck, motorcycle and furnishings. This "dollhouse" was such a hit he didn't want to leave it to open other presents!

We eventually moved on to other things.

Brian opening his card from his "other Mommy"  my sister

Elias got the super wazoo BumbleeBee mask and wrist blaster he'd been wanting for months! Thanks Aunt Kristine and Aunt Mary!

And, once Sebastian came in and decided to open presents, he enjoyed himself too. He got lots of "little" things...he loves things he can put into other things. He got some little doggies and this little set of Star Wars characters. Of course everything promptly got put into the firestation!

Well, off to play Rock Band! Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Little Doggy

Sebastian recently spilled his cup of water. Instead of running to the kitchen to get a towel, he gets up on the chair and proceeds to LICK it up! Seriously. Repeatedly. Often enough for me to call Chris and for him to get the camera and snap this shot! What a little doggy!

This kid makes us laugh so much! I am so thankful for him!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Duggars Laundry Soap

I've heard and heard and heard about the Duggars Laundry Soap, but it wasn't until our Teen Homeschool group made a batch as a service project, that I saw how cheap and easy it was!

It spurred me on! I went to Lowes and bought some 5 gallon buckets, bought the washing soda, borax and fels-naptha  at Smiths, and was good to go! I invited some other families over and we got started. By the way, this is the PERFECT Christmas-time effort for a local charity. Easy to make, not much money and can last a  long time! Take a bucket to your local mission or shelter!

We used a food processor to finely grate the Fels-Naptha. I highly recommend this vs hand grating!

Then we stirred it into boiling water...and it took quite awhile to fully dissolve.
Final step, adding additional water and stirring it all up!

Here's what the final version looked like. The buckets seal tightly with the lids, allowing for transportation without spilling! When you go to use it, it will require stirring as it kind of has a sludge ball in the middle.

See below for the recipe. We made the liquid version. Also, FYI we've been using vinegar as a fabric softener in the washing machine for about a year now. No smell, and it's cheap and effective!

These recipes are found at

  • I add tea tree oil to my whites and towels; it's a natural antiseptic.
  • I use my soap straight from the 5 gallon bucket. I don't dilute it again. You might want to if you have soft water, my water is hard. Plus I just don't want to mess with pouring it into something else.
  • If you make the powder make sure your grated soap is very fine! It won't dissolve otherwise.
  • I use regular white vinegar as softener. It works well and does not make your clothes smell like vinegar.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)
*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

Powdered Laundry Detergent - Top load machine

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can often be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2 per batch.

Inexpensive Fabric Softener Recipes

Recipe #1
1 Cup White Vinegar
Add vinegar to rinse cycle. Works great. Removes residue and odors. Also helps to keep washing machine and hoses fresh and clean too.

Recipe #2

1 Container of Name Brand Fabric Softener
4 Inexpensive sponges, cut in half

Pour entire container of softener into a 5 gallon bucket. Fill empty softener container with water twice. (2 parts water to 1 part softener) Add sponges to softener/water mixture. When ready to use wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Felt Board Story Organization

I've been teaching a preschool co-op this year and I've amassed quite a collection of felt board stories. My usual method of organization is binders....but the felt board story binder was not working for me! Even using a big D ring one, it wasn't enough space, and pieces often fell out...

I gave up and bought a file box! And now I'm happy!

I even got to use my laminator!

I separated by alphabet....and also have a master list of stories, as some fall under multiple letters

I kept the stories and felt pieces in the page protectors that they were in in the binder. It seemed less buly than manilla folders, and less likely pieces would fall out.

I also took the time to laminate all my story cards...well, they were already out, why not do the job right?! It was fun!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Welcome Home Decorations

When we came back from FL we were greeted with a beautifully decorated house!  Someone took a lot of time drawing pictures and spelling out Welcome Home. We're Glad You're Home!

Writing all of our names all the way up the sidewalk...

There were streamers taped up everywhere and this wonderful hand made sign that said Welcome Home.

We felt loved! And, since one of the words at the front of the house said "Luk -->"  (instead of Look ) we figured out pretty easily it was our wonderful neighbor Zanthippie and her family. We missed them too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brian's 16th Bday Party

Brian just turned 16 and forbid me from having a party for him! He didn't even want me to make a cake! Luckily he has the greatest friends, and one who took it upon herself to have a party for him anyway. 

Cassia made this tailor-made cake for Brian. His favorite colors are green and black, and she knows he likes peppermint and chocolate. The icing is peppermint and the cake is Devil's Food. This is a recreation of his Holga camera.

She took care of every detail, from decorating to inviting people to the food to be eaten.

Here he is...he said he wasn't surprised, but who knows! He was sequestered away for the day and arrived to find the party in progress, just missing him!

After a long night, lots of pizzas, lots of teens, and lots of the game Sardines, I hope Brian went to bed just as happy as I did. I am grateful to every friend that came, and every friend he all are the best bunch of teens ever! Cassia, especially, thanks for putting so much time and effort and thought into this night!

Airplane Ride

Here are my little lovelies on the plane ride to Florida.  So cute!!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fond Memories & Good Food

Every time we go to FL for the Ironman, we go to Po Folks.  Chris moans and groans, "I lose IQ points every time I walk in the door".  But it's good food, at a decent/good price!  And it brings back all sorts of memories for me!

When I was younger we didn't often go out to eat....Mom stayed home while Dad was a schoolteacher, and there were 4 of us! But every once in awhile after church a bunch of people would get together and we'd cross over into PA and go to PoFolks.

At that time, PoFolks gave drinks in mason jars, and every waiter/waitress knew the Moon Pie story. Not only did they know the story, they brought the red wagon over with the moon pie tree in it, to show us!

Today, that PoFolks is no longer open. Each time I go to the one in FL I ask them if they know the Moon Pie story and they don't! It's heartbreaking! It's tradition! And something the managers shouldn't have let be phased out.  If I had a unique place in the market, I'd keep everything as unique as possible and not lose things!  Like the Moon Pie Story!  These days the drinks aren't in mason jars either!

But, just going there makes me think of fun times, and being a I'll still the food's good!!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Chris' Cousin James

While we were in FL, Chris planned on seeing his cousin James, whom he hadn't seen in years. Well, 15 years to be more precise!  So, James came down from GA and hung out with us, remembering good times with Chris and listening to me pester him about all things Native American.  It was a grand time!

Here's Chris and James

This is a shot of a medicine pouch


And these are leather boots

It was neat to learn about so many differences in culture and history and laws and  ways of doing things.....

James came back down the day of the Ironman and patiently waited for Chris to finish.  It's not that thrilling being an IronMate. Lots of waiting and walking and screaming and crowds...add in a baby's nap and feeding the crew...makes for a long day!

We're all glad Chris got to reconnect...maybe it won't take another 15 years!