laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Siblings


I planned to write earlier this morning, but well… life. Actually, I planned to write this yesterday, but the fact that it was the last day of winter and  over 80 degrees, well, it begged to be appreciated. And with a yard full of oak trees (which means half fall in the autumn and the rest fall in the spring), the grass was also begging to be appreciated. So the kids played chalk, dinosaurs, and spent time on the swing set while I raked, and raked, and raked some more. The only things not appreciative of this day are my hands and their numerous blisters. (Note to self: Next time wear gloves. Or better yet, use the leaf blower.)

As I raked, I listened to my children playing together. Biggest is into the classic (or vintage) Spiderman, so they spent some time pretending that one was Spiderman, one was Iceman, and Miss was Firestar. Biggest would generously ask his siblings every half hour or so if they were thirsty, and then run in and get them glasses of water. It was very sweet. Until Littlest put 3 things of chalk inside his water glass, and then continued to drink it. His shirt is now a little bit tie-dyed. I’m choosing to continue viewing those moments through my-children-are-so-sweet-to-each-other glasses.

Growing up,  my brothers and I certainly had our share of disagreements, as all children do. But the majority of the time we just were playmates and friends. The same is true today. My brothers and I are very close. They are my best friends and the greatest babysitters. One of my brothers and I would get into trouble together, another only ever got in trouble when covering for the other one and I. When I’m hurt and crying, my brother is who I call. When I am excited and have news, my brother is who  I call. When I am lonely and need a friend, my brother is who I call. When my brother (who restores and refinishes vintage furniture) comes across an exciting find, he calls me. When my brother is sitting in an airport waiting for a flight (he is a missionary who travels out of the country frequently), he calls me. When my brothers are in need of assistance, they call me. When they are in need of nephews or a niece, they call me.

I can only hope that my children will continue to grow to be friends, supporters, encouragers, playmates, secret-sharers, and secret keepers for each other. That as they grow they will find the love and support of family along with the  fun and laughter of friends in their siblings.

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Here Comes The Tooth Doctor, Again


Ugh. I am one tired mama today. Littlest has his last teeth coming in. Can I just mention the fact that they’re big, huge molars? And my wouldn’t-ever-take-a-pacifier-if-his-life-depended-on-it baby has become obsessed with chewing on them. Since he never used them, we had 2, that MissE used with her dollies. Littlest has taken them over, and unfortunately, we are now down to one. But I know it’s just a phase and with his age, I’m hoping it passes before I lose the last one and am forced to break down and buy another one. And when you’re sleep deprived, or coffee deprived, it’s hard to clearly understand what all angry, fussing baby’s deal is.  I think I should just wear  his teething tablets around my neck. On the plus side, he didn’t wake up until 4am (and then slept/cuddled with me, until 8). Which is much better than midnight and 1am, and 2:30am, and 4am, and 6am… that it’s been for the past week.

Today is also take 2 on Biggest’s oral woes. It’s just heartbreaking. Part of it we could not have helped (his teeth have spots where there is no enamel, and the rest of them have very soft enamel) due to genetics and them developing that way in utero. We do, however, wish that we would have taken him in sooner and wonder about how different the results would’ve/could’ve been had we done so. We may have ended up here anyways, but you can’t help but be critical feel the mom guilt and wish for a different outcome, especially if it means less/no pain for your child. But we are neither here nor there. No, wait, we are here. So that’s what we’ve got. I’ve already got the jello cooking in the fridge. And by cooking, I mean chilling. If you didn’t understand that, there are bigger problems afoot.

But amidst of it all, there are things to be thankful for. I don’t know if you all are getting tired of my Thankful Fridays, but I have to tell you. I’m not. I mean, I am… it comes around and I feel like rolling my eyes and my heart’s not feeling very thankful. But I go through the motions. And in forcing myself to think of a list of things to be thankful for, I find myself truly feeling thankful. And I’m telling you, you should try it- especially if you don’t feel like it.

So here it is, here is my list, here is what’s in my heart today…

I am thankful that Biggest is still being very brave in the face of the bright lights of a dentist office. I am thankful the Dentists must be very gentle and nice, because he still says he really likes his teeth Doctors. I am thankful that hubbyman has taken it upon himself to take Biggest. Every. Single. Time. He has been gentle and thoughtful of his boy, and it sounds silly, maybe, but it has been a bonding thing for them. Did I mention he takes off of work to do this? That’s huge.

Ready!

Aim!

Fire! (Daddy took the day off after Biggest's first dental procedure and this is how they spent the afternoon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am thankful that Miss E is showing some signs from losing some of her shyness. Normally she freezes completely when people (other than immediate family) talk to her, but yesterday she was willing to stay with new friends versus going somewhere with mommy. It’s pretty huge for her.

Playing with her big brother at the children's museum

I am thankful that Littlest finally slept a little better, and seems to be in better spirits today. I haven’t ventured my hand into his mouth to see if they’ve finally broken through (his teeth), because, well, he has no qualms about biting the hand that feeds him.

Yes, I am very handsome.

I am thankful for my mama friends and their little ones! It’s good for me and it’s good for the kids!

I am thankful for Maple Syrup! (Yes, you heard me right.) My family makes maple syrup! It’s my favorite time of year and we’re heading there this weekend- I’m so excited! Hopefully I remember my camera and take lots of pictures!

May you find lots of things (or at least one thing) to be thankful for today.

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As Much As Humanly Possible


Last year at this time, I was working on completing the “Love Dare” out of the movie Fireproof. Not because my marriage was over. But because it was in need of maintenance. Mainly preventative. (All marriages, as all relationships, need continual maintenance.) Actually, I’d decided I would do it on my whole family. I’d decided to go through the study for Lent. I’d thought it would be a good thing to do yearly, but as Lent came around this year, I didn’t really feel it necessary. I think I just didn’t want to have to DO it. Last year, it took me longer than the 40 days to finish, because I made sure that my heart accompanied my eyes along with each page, and each lesson. Sometimes each day’s readings and challenges would take me numerous days to complete. The last week I have been overtired, and it’s leaving me overly emotional. By the end of the day I’m so tired that every time I feel a body jump on me, or arms grab my hands away from what I need to be doing to coerce them into doing what they want to do… it’s all I can do not to just run to the bathroom and lock the door. I’m sure it has a good deal to do with it being the end of winter, the time of year everyone’s chomping at the bit to enjoy some sunshine and warmth, while still being trapped indoors. I had a conversation with hubbyman the other day where he said mentioned he thinks he has grown to be more patient, as a husband and a father. And I agreed; he has. I replied with, I think I’ve gotten more impatient. And, sadly, he agreed.

And then my tablet, my e-reader, my device with my Love Dare on it has died. I haven’t officially started it again (I could just download a kindle to my computer and do it there), but I may do a summary. Or I may just put on my big girl panties and do it.

I’ve been rereading some of my first posts, from last year. And as I read through some of the ones I wrote during the time I first started The Love Dare, this one struck me the most. So instead of trying to find another way to say what I’ve already said, I’m just going to include some parts that I feel show the truth of my heart.

I have a confession… while in general, I love big, give freely, and have so much empathy that it’s almost a problem… sometimes I get spent. I forget to do things just for me, or to at least take a “time out” myself. And then I become…selfish. (*insert collective gasp here*) I know, right?! It’s awful and I’m not proud of it. It is, however, true. I start to feel taken for granted which leads to feelings of discontentment. And discontentment (for me) breeds anger. In the midst of my feelings I get so caught up in how things are affecting me that I fail to see the effect I’m having on my family. And lately I’ve been a bit caught up in this cycle. Because my daily life is so entirely about “the little things,” My days pretty much revolve around the dishes, the laundry, the meals…and I can very easily get caught up in the feelings of I do it all and nobody cares. Which if I were to be introspective at all, would leave me admitting that I’m really feeling inconsequential. Instead, I stick with anger. Like a long lost friend, there is some strange sort of comfort in being angry. It’s such a familial-feeling friend to fall in with. It whispers in your ear, “You deserve some appreciation, way more than you’re getting. Nobody else does what you want. You’re always doing what they want…” You know anger and anger knows you. This cycle has a lot to do with why I started the Love Dare to begin with. As old of a friend as anger is, I’d like to get reacquainted with some others, like the patience and kindness I’ve been saying I’m working on.

And so the dare continues and I read and I do what it says, but I’m not sure I’ve actually been working on my patience…or my kindness. Maybe on the surface, but not so much in the heart. In fact, I found myself growing MORE angry. And the more I read and the more the lessons said, “you may be feeling this way… try choosing to behave like this…” the more angry I felt. What if my anger is valid? (insert thought bubble: of course my anger is valid!) What if I had some major injustice done to me? (insert thought bubble: of course I’m justified in my feelings!) Surely this justifies some anger and discontent. Nonetheless, I kept reading and then came…maybe day 8? It talked about two rooms. One is where we put the praises of those we care for (spouse, children, friends, etc and the wonderful things they’ve done and said to/for/about us and our positive feelings about them) and the other is where we put the negatives (he said, “blah, blah, blah…” she said, “blah, blah, blah…” they did this to me, they said that to me…) And while compartmentalizing some things can be healthy…moving into a room of discontentment, of course, isn’t. The day’s pages were filled with things like, when you spend a lot of time in this room you may go there to pick your fights, to be reminded of why you’re mad, even to prepare yourself for battle. And I have to admit, I do this. I go over the list of transgressions that I’m so worked up over and prepare what I would say, or what I think I should say, or what I feel is deserved to be said… over and over. It can become compulsive, even. Yuck. And can I just say it’s a little bit maddening when the very thing (the day’s love dare lesson) that’s making me mad, totally has me pegged. Crap. But just to show it who’s boss I thought I’d wait a couple days before acknowledging that the words on the pages were real in my heart. Ridiculous, right?! Of course it is, but it’s honest.

And so I confessed some of the feelings of my heart to my husband. And instead of the dialogue I’d perfected in my head, back in that room, I found the opposite taking place. Instead of my anger spewing forth, my insecurities, my fears, and my real emotions came out in a way that was open, honest, and non-accusatory (maybe some of those lessons were sinking in after all!). And my husband…instead of the words my head had heard him responding with, well, he responded in…SHOCK. He had NO IDEA that I was feeling the way I was feeling. It turns out the anger I’d been carefully polishing and protecting, like a prized trophy, is hard to hold on to when someone is so surprised by the fact that you don’t think everything is wonderful, because THEY are really thinking things are (truly) wonderful, and that I knew how wonderful he thought it all was. I mean, it’s almost laughable. Here I was, stewing in the discontentment that I was sewing into my own life… and there was my husband, looking at me with eyes that spoke volumes of love, compassion, and concern…along with some confusion. And of course, the negativity began to fall away… and so here I am sitting in another room. A room with warm, compassionate, thankful words on the walls. Walls that show examples of my children having patience with me. Words that show my husband making an effort to let me know he appreciate all the little things he does. Words and memories of all the wonderful, thoughtful things my family and friends do and have done. Some, even on a regular basis. So while I’m fighting the urge to roll my eyes at the sappy, corniness of some of the things this room has to say… I am humbled and appreciative that I have all these things to say about those that are closest to my heart. And I’m reminded of a phrase I was often told growing up, and have often repeated, “You cannot change others, you can only change yourself.” And while any life is going to have ups and downs and cycles that are forever repeated, today I am CHOOSING to think positive thoughts about those around me along with myself. I work hard to keep everyone clean, clothed, fed, and happy. Hubbyman works hard to provide the means for all of that. And the kids work hard to be…kids! Learning and living, and really, trying to be good. And while it may not be true of everyone, today I am going to CHOSE to be motivated with kindness and patience towards everyone I come in contact with.

I cannot promise that I have already let go of all the emotions and moved myself back into that room (you know, the good one). I can tell you, that I am clinging to those truths, and that outlook. We all have things in our lives, whether big problems, or small children, that get the best of us. And in the end, it’s our decision how we move forward. Our decision. Our choice. Our life. When I stop and let all those things fall into their proper places, letting the lessons take hold, only then can I really see the bigger picture. The picture where someday I will look back at the trivialness of arguing over who did the dishes, and wish longingly for the chubby little hands I once held to encircle my neck once more. The picture were I have a life well lived, and a life well-loved. A life I hope to continue living with intention. Treating those I love in a way I would always intend to, at least as much as humanly possible.

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Snotty Mommy Brigades (Again)


I posted this last year, but I figured some of the sentiments bared repeating. (If you read the original then you know that yes, I’ve edited it a bit.)

Ok, so I’m going to say this thing that I’m probably not supposed to say, you know, because I am one, but… Some moms make me roll my eyes and think, No wonder some (of course, not all) women without children have a hard time with those that do. Yesterday marked the official opening of spring for me- we had our first trip to the playground of the season. And it was there I came face to face with the enemy. The Snotty Mommy Brigade. Ok, maybe they’re not the enemy, but they’re certainly not on my list of friends. The Snotty Mommies are women who have children, think that theirs are better, or yours are worse (or something like that). They give out calloused insults under the pretense of a compliment. (“I would never let my child go out in public wearing an outfit like that, my aren’t you brave.”) These women are harder to get in with than that uber expensive preschool in the city, with the 2 year long waiting list. And have a longer list of prerequisites than Harvard. I know you know the ones. They roll their eyes at the other moms trying to push their way through a door at the zoo, with a baby in one arm and a stroller in another, without bothering to help. But when the situation is reversed they order you to open the door for them. (I can’t help but roll my eyes and growl a little just thinking about it!) And it’s not just comprised of moms, there are some grandparents, some fathers, some with children/grandchildren, and some without. There are some women without children that have climbed aboard this bandwagon as well. Women who have forgotten to picture what life is like in someone else’s stilettos. Or flip flops.

They have no patience for children behaving like children, which let’s face it, even the best behaved, well-disciplined children, still behave like children. I know that no one wants to hear kids screaming and yelling and throwing a temper tantrum…ever. No mother does either. And father’s enjoy it even less. But just like I’m going to try and give you the benefit of the doubt when you roll your eyes at my kid (maybe it’s because you’d really like to be throwing a temper tantrum after the day you’ve had), please give me (and my child too) the same courtesy. Know that I try not to take them out when they’re at their hungriest, tiredest, crankiest… but sometimes it is just unavoidable. That’s the thing with the SMB (Snotty Mommy Brigade), they offer no support for a new mom, or even veteran mom, who’s running on little sleep and dealing with a child, or multiple children, who are hungry and tired. No support, only judgement. They are the Snotty Mommy Brigade. And sometimes it really does feel like they’re the enemy, raging war on us.

Then there is The Real Mommy Brigade. It is not comprised solely of moms helping out other moms. It is the babysitting grandma’s, the caring aunts, the attentive girlfriends, guy friends who happily become doting uncles, grandfathers, fathers, and (my kids’ favorites) uncles too! I am so thankful to say that our friends, (single, married, with kids and without) are so accepting of our parenthood (instead of holding it against us like some of our “friends” that are really a part of the Snotty Mommy Brigade), that they don’t mind our “adult night” being an evening of children’s entertainment, letting us get the kids in bed, and then being able to enjoy drinks and games while they sleep! (Did I mention, we love them?!) I do not believe that just because a couple, or a single, does not have children equates with them not liking children. Whether they decide to have children or not is inconsequential. Their participation is what matters. The one that runs errands with me (to help with the kids), the one that comes entertain the kids so I can clean up before visitors, the ones that I meet for a venting and a glass wine, the guys hubbyman meets for happy hour, and the friends that call up hubbyman for his help on a project (maybe it doesn’t sound like it, but for him, that is an outlet). The friends who would never invite us without including the children. The friends who’ve become family to our children. They are what get me through. They are what gets our family through.

The women at the park who told their children not to play with mine because they had “their real friends to play with,” they are not on my team. And I would never want someone like that on my team, taking swipes at me even from the sidelines. I am blessed and so thankful for my family, friends, and especially my Happy Hour Mistresses (because let’s face it, sometimes Mommy needs a time-out too!), who are on the front lines with me. And because I’m asking you to show a little grace, you little SMBrigader you, and because I’m still on that stinkin’ Love Dare (can you tell that I’m facing a challenging part right now?), I will show you grace as well. So even after you’ve instructed them not to play with my kids, I will give you directions when you’re having trouble telling another of your friends how to Community Center (that you can see from the playground). I will show my children what kindness looks like. I will show you what kindness looks like. Even when you tell your friend “This woman is telling me that I said the wrong street…No, of course I didn’t ask her…”  And when my daughter loudly says, Mom, I don’t like that lady. She is not a nice lady.” I refrain from telling her that I agree. (But oh, how I agree. And want to say -equally as loudly- No, she’s not nice and I don’t like her either.) Instead I look at her children, who are watching this brief exchange, and I offer this to my girl, “Sometimes people say things that don’t sound very nice, but they may not mean for it to sound that way. And it’s really not very nice for us to talk about someone else either. It might not sound very nice to them.

And then I walk off, with littlest E sleeping, wrapped to my chest, calling the big Es to follow me, on an adventure into “the jungle” (a path in the woods)… they come following hand-in-hand, but just before they’re out of the SMB’s hearing biggest E says, “Those kids might not think their mommy was nice.” And middle E responds with, “Yeah, not like our mommy. She is nice. She really is.” ♥ And just for a moment the not-so-nice-mommy and I meet eyes, and in that moment something passes between us, and we know which mommy won today’s Battle of the Brigades.

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Finding A Sense of Humor


With Monday being a holiday I keep thinking I’m a day behind. Well, I probably still am, but the week has continued without me! Which means that even though I keep thinking that today is Thursday… it is actually Friday! I’m not sure what to write today. Partly because I have about a million things that I could write about, partly because I have not been sleeping well lately (and am therefore completely exhausted), and partly because snuggling on the couch with my snugglers sounds a lot more appealing at the moment.  So I’ll keep this short and sweet. For your sake as well as mine. (As tired as I am, who knows where these mumblings could lead us?!)

  • I am thankful for a hubby who put all of the kids to bed last night. Next time, I’d suggest changing baby before sleep so that he doesn’t pee all over his mama in the middle of the night.
  • I am thankful for a baby/little man who peed in my bed at 4am. I’ve meant to wash the bedding all week. Now I have to.
  • I am thankful for a little man who now carries anything he can, everywhere, to use as a stool so that he can spend a ridiculous amount of time turning lights on and off. Just because he finally can. This is waaay cheaper than a babysitter. And just as effective. Maybe I’ll have enough time to put those sheets in the wash.
  • I am thankful for observant children. They noticed right away that daddy had tracked in dirt and snow that melts and turns into a mud puddle all throughout the kitchen.
  • I am thankful hubbyman remembered his lunch. My observant children have deducted from the footprints, that it happened while daddy was making his lunch.
  • I am thankful for a dog who chewed up one of biggest’s favorite dinosaurs. Leaving just a body. He needed a reminder of why we always have to pick up our toys. I wish it weren’t such a tearful one, but I’ll take what I can get.
  • I am thankful the dog choked on and then threw up the dinosaur parts. Maybe not he’ll stop attempting to eat them.
  • I am thankful that hubbyman surprised us by coming home for a quick lunch. I enjoy practicing patience, and maybe needed the practice. I’ve been given the opportunity, since now everything I say is countered with I want my daddy! Why did you make him go back to work?
  • I am thankful it’s still morning. It’d be a shame for a day like this to fly by.
  • I am thankful for a sense of humor.

Happy Friday everyone! Remember- there’s always something to drive you to drinking be thankful for!

*An hour after posting this, I went to put Littlest down for a nap. I came back to find something amazing. So I have two more thankful entries for you:

  • I’m thankful for children giving each other hair cuts. They needed ones and now I don’t have to do it.
  • I am thankful I didn’t have to give or attend MissE’s first hair cut. I’d probably be emotional about it. Big E just did me a favor.
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Winds of Change


Things are starting to get a little bit shaken up over here at the household full of E’s. (Seriously, I’m the only one in my house -other than the animals- that isn’t an E, did I ever mention that? My children think I feel left out, or that I should feel left out… I think it just makes me that much more special. Right?) Anyways, our house itself, is not in upheaval or anything. Ok, that’s a blatant lie. My house is pretty much always in a state of upheaval. Unless the children have gone to Grandma’s. What I’m really meaning is that things are changing over here.

Biggest is 5, and will be kindergarten age for this fall’s school session. We have decided (for numerous reasons) to homeschool. At least for kindergarten. We’ll take this year to feel our way out and see how we both feel about it. So we have been scouring the internet, fielding phone calls, and taking in numerous pamphlets via the good ‘ol USPS. It’s a little intimidating and a lot overwhelming. We think we’re settled. Now we just have to get our “school area” prepped and ready. Which means I need some more shelving. Which I’m hoping means a trip to The Container Store. (I love that place. Hubbyman took me there for Valentine’s Day last year- and I declared it the best Valentine’s Day ever. This is a true story.) So we’ve got that going on.

And… we’ve got the whole converting everything to homemade/non-chemical. I left some messages with some lovely etsy ladies yesterday on doing some reviews of their natural/homemade/chemical free home cleaning and personal products and in less than 24 hours I already have 2 in the works! This is SO exciting! Letjoy, of My Big Cloth Adventure, has been encouraging me to reach out to some retailers and start doing reviews. And I finally did it! So be on the lookout the next couple of weeks for a review and maybe a giveaway or two!

And… I’m going to be doing daycare for some very dear friends. They’re due in the fall. We just told them yesterday. They’re excited. I’m excited. We’ve been asked about doing daycare for a few other people. While I was always willing, it turned out, I didn’t always want to. And hubbyman has always been very adamant that my time at home be devoted to our children. He didn’t want them left out. And then there’s the deal of not being able to go places during the week. The thought of that always stressed me out when it was just the older 2. Now that there’s three. I really don’t do a whole lot of outings during the week. And I’m totally ok with that. I mean, we go to the park, we go to the farmer’s market, we go for walks, we play outside. We play inside. We do things, we just don’t drive places. And all the places I would feel I was “missing out” on (like walking to the farmer’s market, the park, or even the grocery store) are all walk-able. Even with an addition. And while, obviously, it won’t be the same as having my own brand new little baby. I am so happy to help with theirs. They are one of my favorite couples and I am so thoroughly excited for them. This was the first time where hubbyman and I were immediately like- we want to do this! And I’m excited to have a little baby I’ll get to snuggle on a daily basis! So while it will obviously mean some changes here, I am looking forward to it. Just as I am the rest of the changes goin’ on.  So bear with me as I’m trying to figure everything out and how to schedule it all out… and hold your breath until tomorrow. (Ok, don’t really, but it’s gonna be good.) I am going to share my super delicious ice cream cake that I made for hubbyman’s birthday a few weeks ago. And I may or may not have for lunch. (I got a piece out to have for lunch yesterday, and somehow ended up eating a salad. I’m not sure how that happened, but I promise not to let it happen again!)

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My Toothpaste Is Salty


Well, the long weekend is over. Boo. Hoo. Wah! And we currently have more snow in our yard than we have at any other point this winter (I think). It probably won’t happen, but I’m crossing my fingers that hubbyman decides to come home a little early to fulfill his biggest boy’s winter dream of finally going sledding down the hill in the backyard.

Even though it was a long weekend, it felt… short. Or maybe just compacted? No, it just felt short. Maybe because it was compacted? Whatever. Friday night we ran errands trying to get everything we needed to make our homemade cleaning products and personal care products. We didn’t find everything we needed at the local health food store or a local regular store. The next morning the Big 2 had Tae Kwon Do. Actually, they don’t normally have it on Saturday, but today was test day, and they got a new colored stripe on their belts. It was their first big test, and Biggest boy did so good- I was so proud! I’m normally banned (by hubbyman) from their lessons, because I’m “distracting.” (They’ll run off the mat to give me a hug or a kiss… every 2.3 seconds or so. I guess I can understand.). Anyhow, my boy did fantastic! My girl did… well, she did it. But their last test was in a small room with just Master Lee, so to be in a room full of other kids and their families, and extended families… it was a bit overwhelming. When he called her name, she immediately burst into tears and cried, I don’t want to go in front of everybody! (I don’t blame her- I felt self conscious up there in front of everyone, and I was just there for her moral support.) Anyhow, afterwards we went downtown St. Paul to a bigger healthfood store. And the rest of the ingredients we ordered online. Which is probably what we should have done to start with, because it was way cheaper. Way cheaper.

Hubbyman was so excited about the process, that he began to make some of the things that we did have all the ingredients for. We have shampoo, toothpaste for us, and toothpaste for the kids. He also shampooed the carpet with our homemade version (but we’ve been using that for a while). While I love the homemade carpet shampoo… that’s about where my love ends, so far. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I love the way the shampoo smells, and I love how clean my teeth feel after using the toothpaste. Seriously, the only clean that compares is right after the dentist. So we obviously have some work to do before any recipes are released. But I may just be feeling a little grinchy, because he also vinegar washed my coffee maker.  Now, that really is a good thing. And far be in from me to criticize a man doing some househelp. But I will admit that having to do all the flushes to get the vinegar out this morning, before I could have my cup of coffee, kinda squelched those feel-good, thanks-for-helping feelings.

I have found my Green Book! It’s not really called that, but to me, that’s what it is. What it really is:  Homemade! How to make everyday products fast, fresh, and more naturally.  702 ways to save money and the earth. It is pretty awesome. Everything from how to make things you love, but don’t want to spend the money on (hello, starbucks frappuccino) to things you want to make healthy instead of toxic. You can duplicate cough syrup, deodorant, aftershave, I even have a “recipe” for Oil of Olay’s all-day moisturizer (and wrinkle cream). And that’s without all the icky stuff that you don’t want in it or on you! The food recipes seem a little silly to me, except for the ones that are how to make this famous thing at home (like said frappuccino, or condiments- you know, things you wouldn’t find in your every day cookbook). But that may be just because I have to have some cookbooks I keep in storage, because I have that many. I love cookbooks. Seriously. And, it’s a collection that my husband actually approves of. More cookbooks = more cooking = satisfied hungryman, I mean, hubbyman.

Anyways, so long story still long… good weekend, filled weekend. Homemade stuff was not a total bust, but not a total success. But we will be working on it. And next batch of toothpaste will be minty instead of citrus-y. I think that’s my problem with the toothpaste. Minty freshness just feels cleaner. If you are wanting to start in on some homemade household things, I  HIGHLY recommend you check out the book. Lots of from scratch, lots of almost from scratch.    So even if you’re not going to be making your own toothpaste, or shampoo, there are lots of things you can do. Whether it’s your own cleaning products (imagine, safe to have around and you get to pick out the scent!) to homemade skillet meals (want the ease of the throw the frozen bag in the bowl meals, without all the gross additives and for a fraction of the price?).

And now I am off to fight the raging war on the evils of clutter… either that or I’ll just eat a piece of hubbyman’s birthday ice cream cake (which was also homemade, GF, and delicious!).

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Does This Go Together?


Now I may have missed the actual time line to join in with all the bloggers that followed along with the 100 Way to be Kind To Your Children (from Toddler Approved!– who also happens to have totally awesome pinterest boards!). But does that mean it’s too late for me to work on being kind to my children? Absolutely. Not! Just in going through the list, I’ve found that not only will it be beneficial for my children, but it will be healthy for me too. It’s letting go of some of the pressure, some of the ideals… and just holding onto the fact that some days survival is good enough.

This weekend we will be creating like crazy! We are going completely organic (and homemade) in the cleaning products. I’ve made dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent before. (I liked the former but wasn’t impressed with the latter.) We use a homemade solution in our carpet cleaner. But as we continue on in our lives, trying to live with as much intention as we can… we came to the realization, did we really intend to put lots of chemicals on (and therefore into) our bodies, let alone our children’s? I think we all know the answer to that! So this weekend we will be traveling deeper down that path. Hubbyman made shampoo last weekend. He seems to like it. I’ll admit it does smell good. Hopefully I remember to charge up the camera so we can really document the process, as well as the outcome. An added benefit to making these things ourselves (other than the obvious health benefits)? Money. Pennies on the dollar, folks. Another benefit, you get to choose how they smell! Which for me and my smelly sensitivities is fantastic. My choices (of essential oils) lemon and tangerine. Together = heaven. Or pretty close to.

And since we’re on the topic, you might want to go ahead and read the 5 Grossest Things You’re Eating from the Supermarket. Or even better, The 15 Grossest Things You Eat. Might make you think twice. Or lots more. If you read those 2 alone, even without doing any further research, I don’t think you’ll ever question why we buy our beef from a family farm. Or why we buy organic milk. Or why we make just about everything from scratch. And why I like to can my foods myself.

On another note- I woke up thinking today was Thursday. So imagine my surprise (and delight) that today is, in fact, FRIDAY! (*insert a big WOHOO! here*)  And so… I’m going to start with my kindness, get my butt off of here, and make my kids clean their rooms! Hey, teaching them the importance of proper organization is showing them kindness, right? I like to think so!

*I am thankful for people I have never met, or have only met briefly. At least in person. I’m part of a MN Cloth Diapering Mamas group and they are so sweet (and just about the only group of mamas I have ever seen remain mama drama free. It’s refreshing!). And not only that, they have been willing to make donations to my brother & his expecting wife’s cloth diaper stash! Woohoo! It may not seem that exciting, but trust me when I tell you it is! And one of my absolute favorite diaper makers, Softbums (go ahead, like their facebook page too- tell them I sent you!), has offered to make a donation (in diapers)! This is incredibly amazing- and when I called my sister-in-law she definitely shared my excitment. (Plus, the softbum diaper style is her favorite. And out of the 2 diapers I got her for Christmas. One was a locally made by LetJoy Diapers (like her page while you’re at it too!), and the other was of course the adorable giraffe style Softbum. (I tried adding a picture, but for some reason, wordpress is not cooperating at the moment. Hopefully later I can add it in, because it is so cute that I really wanted to keep it for Littlest. Even though he has several softbum diapers himself, it’s the only print one that we don’t have!)

*I am thankful for girlfriends. With kids. Without kids. Girlfriends can be big lifesavers. And an evening with them can be so refreshing. Even without wine (last night it was *homemade* specialty lattes!). But let’s not kid ourselves, an evening with girlfriends and wine, well, only coffee can compete with that.

*I am thankful for children who love their mama. Possibly more than any other person in the world. (I say possibly, soley on the off chance hubbyman is reading this. I give them pretty  much all of my time and attention. And while Daddy is still their hero and the funnest of the fun, Mommy is the favorite.)

*I am thankful for children who are very independent. You know, for the most part. (And sometimes this backfires, like the other day when I caught Biggest teaching Miss who was teaching Littlest how to fly and be super heroes. Which, in reality, meant that they were wearing their hooded towels as capes while jumping off the top of the bunkbed to fly.) Remember this, closed doors = children up to no good.

*I am thankful that I enjoy cooking. Seriously, life would be a lot harder for this foodie family if that was not the case. Plus, my coffee wouldn’t have been quite as good without the homemade (yes, that’s right- you may now bow at my feet.), delicious donuts that I added a swipe of cream cheese frosting too. Yum.

*I am thankful to be married to a man who sees the big picture, even when I just want to focus on surviving the next ten minutes.

*I am thankful for any and every person who stops by, says hello, or just reads a line or two. I’m always surprised, humbled, and blessed by the people who (both in person and on-line) tell me they read what I write. And occasionally, they enjoy themselves. You are the people that keep me sane. (See, now I hooked you in- you can’t stop reading, or else I will lose my sanity. And then you’ll feel the guilt. Gotcha. I’m kidding. Mostly.)

Happy Day of Friday to You and Yours from Me and Mine!

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A New Kind of Love Day


Ok, so I intended to write a post for yesterday… but instead of writing about how much I love my husband, and my children- I spent time loving them. The kids and I spent the morning coloring and filling out and mailing Valentine’s (obviously we should have done this before the day, but what can you do?! Better late than never, right? I’m pretty sure the Grandma’s and Great Grandma’s will overlook the date when they open up the cards and coloring that are signed in the little one’s own hands.). We got a visit from my mom, enjoyed lunch with her, a quick stop in at my grandma’s and we were still able to beat Daddy home! (This was a major concern of the Biggest Boy- who loooves Valentine’s Day. In fact, this morning he asked Can today still be Valentine’s Day, puuhleeease? He will make some Hallmark Day loving girl very happy someday.) I was able to get the pizza dough made, the first round of personal (heart shaped) pizza dough cookin’ in the oven, and half of the chocolate-covered strawberries done before hubbyman walked in the door!   He helped top the pizzas (and by helped I mean he did all the topping stuff) while I dipped the strawberries, and then Miss E covered them in pink sprinkles. Big E covered them in blue. Our Valentine’s Day is all about getting along and loving each other, so we make blue a part of our Valentine’s. And hubbyman had brought home a free Valentine’s Day redbox movie (thank you facebook friends for sending me that!) for the kiddos to watch while we snuggled up on the couch with a glass of wine.

I was never really big into Valentine’s Day to begin with, and I think our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple is the only one we’ve ever done anything for. Usually we just make a nice dinner or something and then snuggle up. And by nice dinner, I mean homemade, heart-shaped pizzas. And I am totally ok with that. And holidays change as you have kids. Now it’s all about them and helping them find the joys in the little things. I love that my kids think Valentine’s Day is fun. We spent time making things for those we love, so they know they’re loved. Because let’s face it, it’s easy to lose sight of that from time to time. So it’s fun to give someone a reminder. And I believe that is the important lesson for the kids to learn. That we show our love to those we care about, that we show love to those we feel ambivalent about, that we show love to those we meet. Because we don’t know who they really are or what their lives are really like.

So maybe I didn’t get roses, and I didn’t get chocolates. But in all fairness, I requested he not spend the ridiculous amount on flowers this week, and he got me flowers twice in the last two weeks, just because he knew I was feeling sad. And, I don’t like chocolate. So he’s kind of off the hook on that one too. But I did have a terrific Valentine’s Day, celebrating the love that has turned two individuals into a family of five. And I hope you did too, no matter how you spent it.

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Embracing My Inner Foodie


So, the hubbyman and I have been talking. About living healthier, mainly, but that’s not just food, it’s a lifestyle. In fact, last night, he whipped up a batch of homemade shampoo. And has plans for soaps, lotions, and a plethora of other household essentials. Because just as we believe the foods we eat and put into our bodies are very important, we also believe that the things we put on our body are equally as important.  We’ve long been using cleaning products that are more organic, more environmentally friendly (both the earth’s environment and my children’s). But now we’re going the extra steps. My kids (unfortunately for them) come from grandparents (and me) on both sides that have a long list of allergies and sensitives, both for foods and products you use in the house or on your body. So that gives us the extra incentive to go as natural as possible. Plus, it’s pennies on the dollar when you make it from home. Who doesn’t like when an added bonus is less money?! So we’re jumping in!

We’re also planning a weekend on helping some friends with their cooking. I’m not sure if they’re hoping to go GF or just homemade, but I can help with both! This was prompted when I ran into our natural food store this weekend. I went in to grab some easy GF things to send with the big kids who were doing an overnight with their Aunt and Uncle (and their newborn baby goat). Turns out they were having an anniversary sale, and you could hardly walk through the aisles. It was a good sale and I grabbed a few things (like GF noodles for over 50% off! Yes, thank you!). As I was looking through the noodles, and grabbing a variety of them. A lady next to me was looking over all the boxes and bags and seemed a little lost. I must’ve been audibly excited when the vegetable noodles (you know, the colored spirals of red-tomatoes-, green-spinach, and plain- rice). Because she turned to me with big, help-me-I’m-lost eyes and asked, do your kids like those? I smiled and told her, yes, they really do. And they like the colors. And this is a really good deal on them. She nodded and looked back at all the noodles. Then she said, people told me that diet, and wheat really could make a difference in my son. I didn’t believe them, and just fed him what I wanted. And then I paid attention. And I could see the visible difference in his behavior when he ate wheat. And now I just feel so guilty that I didn’t make those changes earlier, and I have no idea where to start. She let a couple of tears escape and I just wanted to hug her! I told her my daughter has Celiac and we struggled for a year trying to find out what it was that she was intolerant of. (The longer she ate things with wheat- the more things she became intolerant of. Since going GF, we’ve been able to add the other things back in, without reactions.) She asked questions like, What can you make with the noodles? I laughed, even though I completely understood her feelings -and was there myself not so long ago-, but because I make everything we used to eat. Just a little different. And in quite a few cases, even better than it was before. I gave her some ideas, things I do for my kids that they like (and are quick and easy). And I told her that in times of babysitters, or when you just don’t have the time, they do have some things that are premade. So there are options. She heaved a big sigh and said, I came here to get noodles and things, I just didn’t know how lost I would be. Thank you so much. And it reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. To share. To help. At the time I started it, I was getting lots of requests for GF meals and ideas, and how to go gluten free, and how to go more homemade. And how to do it all on a real-life, family-friendly budget.

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten away from that side of this blog. But I am hoping to pick up the slack, at least a bit. I’m by no means an expert and nothing near a GF Martha Stewart. But I am a mom, who’s in the throws of it all. So maybe we can commiserate. Maybe I’ll have some ideas for you. Maybe you’ll have some ideas for me! So if you have questions or ideas, please- pass them my way! Don’t worry, you’ll still be getting regular doses of my wonderful personality and thoughts, I’ll just be throwing in some foodie posts along the way!

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