Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

This post was on my idea list, so when I saw someone else blogged about it, it reminded me to post the recipe for homemade laundry soap. I have been making homemade laundry soap for almost a year. First I started with the dry mix, and then got brave enough to try the liquid, which is so much better. The liquid mixture will last you months. It will make enough detergent to fill 10 1 gallon bottles, and the ingredients cost about $5. The second time it will cost you only $1 for the Fels Naptha bar because you will still have borax and washing powder from your first time. All of the ingredients can be found at Shoprite in the laundry isle. To the right is a picture of the ingredients I found on the Internet. If you are anything like me, you will have no clue what in the world Fels Naptha is, much less what it looks like.

Some helpful tips:
  • Found my 5 gallon bucket with at Wal-Mart in the hardware section near paint supplies.
  • I use an old 1 gallon laundry bottle. Using a funnel and a fill line I marked on the bottle, I fill it half way with the solution and the rest with water. Then I shake well before each use.
  • Add FEW drops of tea tree essential oil (Trader Joe's). I use this in my rinse cycle for cloth diapers and it gets ride of any smell and is a wonderful cleaning agent.
  • It is not only clean, but also green! (as in environmentally friendly)
  • I use a thin cut cheese grater shredding the bar, which I only use for granting soap.
  • This is just so easy and is hands down the best homemade money saver.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Transition Time!

The weather is crisp and cool. The things of Fall are entering my mind... apple picking, pumpkin pie, cozy sweaters, and glowing candles in the evening. It's a time of transition. A new season. A time to pull out our Rubbermaid containers, pack away our summer clothes, and hang up our fall wardrobe.

It's a time to reflect on what the Lord has for us during this season of life. What areas of our lives need to be tidied or perhaps packed away for another season? What activities simply add clutter or chaos?

Let's prayerfully seek how we should spend this season of our lives. Are there people we should be reaching out to? Do we need a fresh perspective on our current roles? Could we be serving with more joy? Have we forgotten that true joy can only come as we lay our burdens at Jesus' feet and humbly allow Him to transform our hearts?

Carolyn Mahaney has a wonderful message called In Every Season of Life. She uses Ephesians 5:15-17 to remind us of God's providence and to encourage us to discover and respond to His instructions. The audio download is available here for free.

~Ephesians 5:15-17~
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Burnout Post

Here is a great post on burnout at a blog called Conversion Diary, which I found from a link on Building Cathedral's blog. Great to know there are other kindred spirits out there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

There is a Tepee in My Living Room

This has been a lot of fun for us, so I thought I would share the idea. Miss G is studying about Native Americans, so I decided to make this tepee from Family Fun magazine(link will take you to directions). It cost us $33 to make. The most expensive item is the canvas ($20). It was pretty easy to make thanks to my husband cutting the pipes for me to make my 10 ft. pipes into 8 ft. The tepee is also easy to put up or take down. One note of caution, the tepee is more sturdy on a carpet or grass and little ones can knock it over. Ours fell down twice due to excitement, but I do not think this would have happened outside and it is pretty easy to put back up. We are going to try to make a doll size tepee with the leftovers (1/4 the size of ours).

Picture of Miss G doing her math in the tepee.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who's Going to Put Her to Bed?

Okay, I need to know--Who puts your children to bed every night? Is it mom or dad? Does one person take one kid and the other take another? In our house, we have two daughters, ages nearly 5 and nearly 2. Mom (that is me) stays home with the children and home-schools our oldest for Kindergarten. Right now since my husband is really busy with school (he is a teacher), the play (he is the assistant director), and his seminary class, I am making dinner, cleaning up from dinner, bathing both kids, and putting the younger one to bed-- stories, songs, the whole bit. I must say that by the end of that day (especially if it is a soccer night), I am just a bit overwhelmed and putting our oldest to bed and going through the whole story, song routine again is hard for me. For a little while my husband was putting her to bed, but now he DOES have a lot going on, so.... Who is going to put her to bed? I guess I could read to both of them at once, but they kind of like different books right now since they are three years apart. What does your end-of-the-day routine look like? Any ideas?

SOS Week - Part 2

Here is an update of how my SOS Week went:

- Clean up command central - How can I be organized with clutter on my office desk and piles of unopened mail? Cleaned up and updated my filing system from my "had enough time to save all this scraps of paper." Paid bills, balanced budget. Recycled a ton of paper clutter.

Tuesday - Flylady's Crisis Cleaning - I use baking soda to shine my sink instead of chemicals. They I disinfect it with a natural spray with essential oils from Trader Joes's. It looks shiny and clean, and all the dishes have been cleaned, dried and put away.

For this day I made sure of setting my alarm the night before and to go to bed at a good time. However 2/3 kids woke up during the night, and I did not get the sleep I need to rise up early.

Wednesday - Continued with Flylady's Crisis Cleaning and organized for activities. This week all of our activities start at once, so I have to make sure I know where I am going, when and have the correct forms.

Still having trouble waking up on time, I could not sleep the night before. I believe I would sleep better if I did not drink or eat after 7pm, and if I exercised.

Thursday - Making sure I have everything ready for homeschool co-op tomorrow. Today I am going to focus on cleaning the boys room and dining room. All that school clutter needs to find a place. FYI I do not have a school room, MISS G. prefers the dining room table. All our books are kept in the adjoining living room, which has 7 FULL bookcases. I have stacks of books on the floor, waiting to find a place. This is defiantly a problem I need to solve if I want to be more organized. I spend a frantic hour last night looking for co-op material, which I found in a Trader Joe's bag containing next weeks school books.

Friday - First day of homeschool co-op, followed by a special lunch, and then go to work at the bookstore for a 5 hour shift. Not even laundry will be done today, hopefully I will have enough energy to help my husband fix up our coat/shoe area on Saturday before I leave for work.

Looking back I feel a little disappointed not getting more done, which is the way I usually feel, and not very helpful feeling I might add. Time just seems to slip through my fingers. I know God will give me the strength to plow on through this year of hard work and send me the wisdom to simplify my life to make more room for Him and His plans. It will probably take us until next summer to get to an acceptable level of organization. Focusing on what I have gotten done makes me see the progress. However, there is no use in organizing if I do not train everyone else as well. It is really disheartening to see my shiny sink filled with dishes and stains, and piles all ready accumulating on my desk.

This is not the before picture or the after picture. Rather, it is the after, after picture, the following Monday after I shined my sink on my SOS Monday morning. It does not really show the stains well, but believe me they are there. Sigh. Instead of giving up, I am going to look at what is causing the problems and solve them.

There is no way one person can do all the work. It does start with me, I need to just do it, set the example, and pray for God to equip us and change our hearts.

Here on some next stops on my organizing mission:
  1. My Sink
  2. My Mornings
  3. Chores -training the children and keeping my husband and myself focused
  4. Clutter buster while constructing order
  5. Meals Planned
  6. Papers, Communication & Calendar - e-mail is my Achilles heel
  7. Refreshment - more time with the Lord and exercise
How do you battle the mess in your house? Hearing other mom's tales of clutter battle are always encouraging to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If I faint not...

I'm weary today. Weary from battling heart issues like sharing, respect, and obeying all the way, right away, and with a happy heart. Phew! I usually write encouraging posts about struggles that I've gone through and how we've overcome them. Not today. :) We're still on the battle ground and the end is simply not in sight.

It's tempting to read yet another Christian parenting book, seek out another discipline method, or ask other Moms about the methods that work for them. That's what I would usually do, but I'm not even going to do that today. I know Who the source of wisdom is and I know that these struggles need to be laid at His feet daily (or in my case lately, minute by minute). I'm going to continually petition God for the hearts of my children and for wisdom and patience on my end as I guide them.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9)

I feel like fainting, but I won't. :) I know He'll get us through this season because He is faithful and good. And I know that He uses even these small trials to draw me closer to Him. So if fights over sippy cups, plastic orcas, and animal crackers are enough to bring me to my knees before the Lord and deepen my relationship with Him, the trial is suddenly a privilege.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:6-9)

Saturday, September 12, 2009


My first intention was to write a blog post about how my morning chaos sends a chain effect through the rest of my day, and by fixing my morning, I could fix my day. However, that post will have to wait because I have come to a crisis point - I just cannot take this mess and disorganization for one minute longer. Then I read about having an SOS Day*, which stands for Salvage Our Sanity. This is similar to a Home Economics Day or a Staff Development Day. Fortunately, we are coming up to our 1 week off of our "4 weeks of school then 1 week off" plan. So, make that a SOS Week.

No matter what name you call the day, the basic idea is to take off school to clean up the mess that has been accumulating while you have been homeschooling your children or just life happening in general. Have you been picking your clothes out of piles laundered clothes that never got put into your dresser? Have you misplaced bills or other important papers under stacks of clutter? Or even worse - are there piles of clutter that have no place to call home?

Not really quite sure if it was my husband's strokes or the arrival of number 3, or both happening simultaneously, but I have been fumbling my organizational skills ever since. Now that my husband is doing so well, and the baby is really no longer a baby(he is 3), I have begun to dig out of the chaos. However, when homeschooling, home life tends to spins out of control into a messy chaos because of the high level of work demanded of the homeschooling mom. My stubborn nature will not accept the "let it go, you are homeschooling, your home is just going to be messy" mentality. While it does not have to be picture perfect, home does need to be a functional place, a sanctuary for all members of the household - not a place of stressful mess.

But how is my home going to become organized? How am I going to get from here to there? The clutter and mess will be chipped away at with SOS Weeks, SOS Days, SOS Hours, and SOS Minutes. It is amazing what a string of 15 minutes cleaning raids can accomplish. It may be a reclaimed kitchen drawer or an extra piece of floor recovered by removing clutter. We have made a lot of improvements in the past year, but now it is time to take all I have learned from FlyLady** and the Duggars**, and put it in high gear. God has giving me patience all along, but I feel like He is saying now is the time to make some major headway. Now is the time to focus on the disorganized mess and DO IT. I do not need to read another organizing book, I just need to do it.

As a postscript, I would just like to say that I will schedule regular SOS blocks of time. This will not be my last SOS Week, I guarantee it. Life does not work that way. We all get behind, we all need margin. Hopefully by improving my habits, I would not have to always take a whole week to regain sanity. This week I will clean up as much clutter as I can, while I come up with a plan to fix my mornings - my first stop on my organizing mission.

* Homeschooling at the Speed of Life by Marilyn Rockett

**Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley(aka FlyLady)
The Duggars: 20 and Counting! by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar
Both are excellent books and I have learned a great deal from them, I highly recommend them.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Family Devotion Time

Okay, here is my first post. Keep in mind, I really love my church and have been going there for 13 yrs. Scenario: church sets up a six-week series on the most important thing there is-- the gospel. Sounds like a good idea. We are hearing about it on Sunday, but does everyone really get it? This will make sure of that. Now what could be the problem? Well, our week already consists of life group (weekly Bible study), high impact (my husband and I are youth leaders), not to mention soccer- Tues. & Fri. evenings. So, may I ask, where is there room for family devotion time? Is it really that important? Can't it just wait until our lives aren't as hectic? If that were the case, I don't think it would ever happen. It is easy for me to have my personal devotion time and go about my day, forgetting that my four-year-old needs time with the Lord, too, and she can't read on her own right now, neither does she really have the ambition since she is not a believer. This is why family devotion time is so important. While I can do a morning devotion with her and use a Christian-based curriculum to school my daughters, there is something to say for the whole family gathered around singing praises to the Lord and reading the Word together. Sure, we could go out to gospel night and be edified, but what about my daughters? They are too young to join us (they are 4 yrs. and 21 mo.), so they would wind up in nursery watching a video most likely. Yes, the gospel is important. Like I said in the beginning, it is the MOST important thing. This is why my husband and I would rather be home sharing the gospel with our children.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Z Factor

We are on week three of our homeschooling year, and I can see my big challenge this year will be Mr. Z. He just does not want to do school. Like an otter, he wants to play all day. All during school he asks for his computer time, which he gets after school as a reward and as a way to have some uninterrupted school time with my 3rd grader. Mr. Z goofs around most of the time, making it take twice as long to complete school.

Now I really regret not doing a daily, scheduled preschool time with Mr. Z. He does not have the disciple of school time built into his day. It is easier to teach the disciple of school work before teaching them to read, doing both at the same time is too hard. In China and Japan, they spend a good portion of 1st grade just learning how to do school before tacking the scholastic subjects. I had thought a more relaxed approach to preschool would retain his love for books and learning. In fact, the problem lies in his work ethic, or lack there of.

The reasons for our school trouble could be developmental delays or too much school work. However, I think it is just plain disobedience because he goofs through tasks I know he can do well and I am using a fun curriculum with a reasonable amount of work. His is five and a boy, so obviously there are maturity issues too. I must be very careful not to make the work too easy, nor too hard. I must find a way to motivate him, while correcting his heart issue of laziness. Plus, I must do this all with retaining his love for books and learning. If he loves to learn about the human body and wants to be a doctor, he must learn to read and do math too, which in turns means work.

This is my battle plan for tomorrow. For every tasks he does obediently, he will get a chip representing a slice of computer time. First, I must explain to Mr. Z what "obediently" means. To obey during school means to listen, do the task right away, the right way (not necessarily correct, but best effort) and with a happy heart. Also, I must pray for Mr. Z and myself. Of course, as always, I will look for ways to make our work into a game.

Does anyone else have the same problem? What did you do that worked?