Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What I'll Do For a Little Sleep

With this many kids in my house, I've got to be strong and try to be consistent. Most days I feel like I accomplish this goal. But kids, being kids, will figure out your weakness. Superman's is Kryptonite. Homer Simpson's is donuts. (Jill's is white mini donuts) Mine is sleep. And Crack Bars. And Starbucks. And Diet Coke. Okay, okay we'll stick with sleep in this post.

Since last spring when I was Mean Mommy and took away Emma's bottle, I've gotten spoiled with my 5-6 hours of consecutive sleep. Don't be messin' with my sleep people! So when children wake up in the middle of the night I take the path of least resistance. I put them in my bed.

I would like to insert here that I have also been known to not totally wake up when the older children have come into my room in the middle of the night and have said some pretty off the wall things, according to them. The rule is now that if you really need me you have to keep talking to me until I'm speaking coherently. I think that's a good rule for when I'm awake too. But that's another story.

In any case, you can't sleep? Get in my bed. Had a bad dream? Get in my bed? There's a thunder storm outside? Get in my bed. You're a young hot stud? Get... oh, never mind. I'm just plain lazy and I throw those kids in my bed. I've been known to have up to 3 kids in bed with me. (Four if you count our trip to China last summer.) I don't get much sleep but its better than none. I keep telling myself that anyway.

Last night as I was getting ready to go upstairs, I heard a small child beginning to cry. When this happens, I always hope that it's Ryan. Ryan's easy. Sometimes he's not even awake so I can pat his back, tell him Mommy's there and he'll stop crying and go back to sleep. Emma's not so easy, but seriously, who's surprised by this? Emma has to be rocked and rocked completely to sleep, otherwise she'll start to cry again. This often means at least 15 minutes of rocking. I will do this if I'm still awake, so last night, it was her crying and I rocked her, dozing as I rocked, and got her back in bed. But less than an hour later, when I was amazingly enough asleep, she began to cry again. There was no way I was going to rock her again so I brought her back to my bed.

No problem, right? Big king size bed, a small 24 pound 33 inch long child in my bed, plenty of room, right? Need I remind you? This is Emma. About 3 am I found myself completely plastered against the edge of my bed. I finally roused around enough to consider moving her. Did I move her and risk waking her up? Sleeping on the edge wasn't working.

This past weekend Julia was sick and came into my room in the middle of the night because she was coughing so much she couldn't sleep. Between her coughing and the TV, I ended up sleeping with Ryan. (Much to his complete surprise and delight the next morning.) This could have been an option with Emma but I was too out of it to think of it. I also could have moved to the other side of the bed, but didn't think of that either. Instead, I gently moved her and was thankful she was still asleep. Only to find myself plastered to the edge again about an hour later. Sure I slept, but not very well.

It occurs to me that my children could use this weakness to their advantage, exploiting my vulnerability for their own selfish whims. They could come into my room in the middle of the night, ask me for anything and I'd probably say yes. Get it on camera and it's iron clad. But it also occurs to me that I could use it to my own advantage as well. How did that hot young stud get in my bed? He must have asked me in the middle of the night.

Maybe this isn't a weakness after all.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blogging is a State of Mind

So where have I gone? And why do I feel like I'm always explaining myself?

All summer I felt like I was in overwhelm. It's better now since the kids are back in school but some days I feel like I start going from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed. Lots of other bloggers are busy. So what's my excuse?

The beauty of reaching, ahem, a certain age (over 40) is you begin to really become familiar with who you are. I think I've reached the point that I accept some of my flaws and realize that if I haven't changed by now it probably isn't going to happen.

I've learned that I'm terrible about returning things. I've run through my fair share of video rental stores. I've funded more then a couple of books in various public libraries across the lower 48 states with over due book fines. I used to beat myself up about this but I realized that there were worse flaws and to just accept this one. I don't borrow things from friends of neighbors. I rarely rent a movie other than Netflix. I try the library from time to time and then go back to allowing myself to buy a book at Costco every other week, it's what I would pay in late fees anyway.

But I have another flaw that probably needs some work. I'm a classic avoider. The more a situation gets out of hand, the more I avoid it. It's a terrible character trait, one I really do need to work on. Honesty has always been my policy on my blog so here's the honest truth: the longer I go without blogging, the harder it is to do it.

There's so many reasons for this. One is stated above. I don't blog and when I finally do I feel the need to explain myself. So here's the deal. I've confessed my flaw and I'm going to stop apologizing for absences because this is getting beyond ridiculous. Sometime I won't be here. Sometimes I'm going to just jump right in like I have. Hopefully the more I just do it and stop being intimidated (by my ownself, I might add) the sooner I'll get back to normal. Not that anyone could really call me normal.

Two, blogging is a state of mind. When you're full on blog mode everything in your life is potential blog fodder. Your view of life is skewed a bit and it's not entirely a bad thing. But when you get out of blogging mentality its harder to jump right back in.

I'll also confess here that I've considered giving up blogging but ultimately have decided not to stop. I really like to blog when my heart is in it and I really do miss it. I just need to jump back into the saddle again.

And while we're on the topic of blogging and the love of blogging I'll mention one other thing. You probably noticed (or not) that my BlogHer ads and blog roll are missing. I removed them. They used to pay me about $25 a month but after the first of the year I was lucky to get $10 a month and I had more page loads than when I was making more. BlogHer has rules and requirements and I decided I was tired of worrying about them. There was a time that I saw getting on the BlogHer network as a sign of "making it" in the blogging world. I guess my priorities have changed. That or I've grown up a bit, as improbable as that might seem.

So, I hereby promise to stop beating myself up for not blogging more and just blog. I promise to have more fun with blogging and I promise to just get over myself. This is supposed to be fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to My Little House on the Prairie

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. I devoured the books and read them several times each, well except for Farmer Boy. (Not only was it boring to me, it was about a boy.) I wanted to live 100 years in the past. I wanted to be Mary Ingalls. Forget Laura; I wanted to be a girly girl.

To the amazement of my children, we only had 4 tv stations when I was a girl. Oh the horror!!! No Disney channel, no Nickelodeon. What was kid to do? We played outside and used our imaginations. Our neighborhood was the land of make believe-- Lost in Space, Huckleberry Fin (which we had completely wrong), and Little House on the Prairie. All the others were prop-less but with Little House on the Prairie, I would wear one of my mom's old dresses and a baby dress on my head, the bodice cinched to make a sun bonnet. What can I say? I had a rich childhood.

When I decided to make my own laundry, memories of Little House came rushing back. Doesn't making soap seem like something Ma would do? So before I started my soap making endeavor, I had to have my props.

I was ready to make some soap but my girls were horrified. Maybe some things are better left in the past.

I assembled all my ingredients and prepared to start mixing. For those who might have missed my Money Saving Madness post about making your own detergents the recipe is:

1 box of Borax
1 box of Washing Soda
6 cups of Baking Soda
6 bars of Fels Naptha, shredded

Gathering the ingredients was actually a scavenger hunt. I had never bought Borax, but apparently it's everywhere. I bought my box at Target in the laundry detergent aisle, but I also saw it everywhere else I went. Borax is easy.

Washing Soda was found at my grocery store, HyVee. It was also in the laundry aid aisle. Interestingly enough, it wasn't at my Super WalMart. But the Fels Naptha was. Baking Soda, no explanation necessary.

I realized the toughest part was shredding SIX bars of Fels Naptha. Let's get this party started!

With a quick break to update my Facebook status.

Still shredding, and by the looks of things, I've got 4 more bars to go.

Trying to stay motivated.

By this point, Jenna was taking pictures and I was making all kinds of poses.

I freely admit that we watch too much America's Next Top Model in this house.

Julia thought that shredding soap looked fun and wanted to give it a go.

Her ANTP pose. She couldn't be out done by her mother.

Okay! The shredding is done, as you can tell by the smile on my face, and the mixing has begun.

Unlike Cynthia, I don't live close to a ginormous cheese factory where I can buy big tubs for $0.50. So I found this file box clearance priced at WalMart for $3.50. I poured the ingredients in layers and stirred it with a wooden spoon.

I wrote the recipe on the top of the box so I wouldn't have to look it up again. I completely stole this idea from my friend Heather at Five Bucks, who called me multiple times yesterday with questions about finding the ingredients. (That's okay, she tells everyone that she's my stalker.)

I used my old laundry detergent cup and marked the 1/8 cup line all the way around the cup.

And here it is in my washing machine dispenser tray. I've washed a load of towels and my kids tell me that they smell fabulous. I'm onto some bigger test cases later this morning (my kids clothes.)

Was this hard work worth it? I buy my laundry detergent at Costco for $13.59 and it washes 110 loads which equals $0.12 per load. The price for my homemade detergent:

Borax: $2.56 (Target)
Washing Soda: $2.69 (HyVee)
Fels Naptha: $5.82 (6 bars at $0.97 each, Super WalMart)
Baking Soda: $1.59 (used 6 cups of an 8 cup box, Super WalMart)
Total: $12.66 divided by 300 (approx loads per batch)
$0.04 per load vs $0.12 per load.

And who said I'd never use those math story problems???

Yes, this endeavor was totally worth the effort. But that's not where my Little House adventures end. In the near future I'll post about my bread making experiences. Next thing you know, I'll be getting my own butter churn. But I'm stopping short of getting my kids a pigs bladder. A girl's gotta have her standards.

Edited Wednesday, Sept 16 afternoon: I have ran 6 loads through my washing machine using the homemade detergent and there isn't a single trace of detergent when I open the tray.

Also, I made a small batch of the homemade Dishwasher detergent (equal parts Baking Soda and Borax.) Cynthia suggested to get the dishes pretty clean before putting them in the machine but I wanted to really test out this recipe. So put dishes in with chocolate and peanut butter still on them. Not covered, but still present. Then I ran the load and when I opened it up and began to put the dishes away I was astounded. Not only were the dishes clean but they were more sparkley then I've ever seen them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Money Saving Madness-- Laundry and Dishwasher Soap

I ain't gonna lie: the first time I heard of people making their own soap I thought they had jumped off the deep end. Visions of Little House on the Prairie ran rampant through my head. But then I got serious about saving money and thought about all the laundry I wash with a house of 9 people and the 3 dishwasher loads I run a day. I figured it was worth a shot.


Hello everyone! This is Cynthia from Under the Misty Mountain with your guest blog today… ready to get clean for PENNIES??????

Earlier this year I had a change of heart about spending money. I started to resent any and every company getting one thin dime of ours, especially if I felt like it was something we could make at home for next-to-nothing. Baking soda and borax have become my best friends. Somewhere around here I even have an Idiot’s Guide to Cleaning and it was a tremendous help getting me going, but basically if you start with baking soda, you’re off to a good start!! And Costco sells the GIANT BAGS of baking soda for nearly nothing…so get mixing!!


My homemade laundry soap recipe came through a friend of mine on Facebook after I sent out a complaint, I mean, a status update… asking why we couldn’t make our own soaps for regular household cleaning. We were almost out of our regular laundry soap and I wasn’t looking forward to going to Costco and buying yet another giant plastic bottle of whatever detergent they had for sale this week.

This laundry soap is VERY simple, it has four ingredients:
1 box 20-Mule-Team Borax
1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda!)
6 cups of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (THIS is baking soda!)
6 bars Fels Naptha soap, grated with cheese grater

Use 1/8 of a cup for each load. Our giant bucket of soap, that cost around $15 to make will last (my friend reports) over 300 loads. This recipe works great in front-loading as well as top-loading machines, as the Fels Naptha soap makes little to no suds.

It took a bit of elbow grease to grate all of the Fels-Naptha, but it really wasn’t that bad. The soap isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, just slightly harder that an aged cheddar. And it smells AWESOME. Which means you will smell awesome when you are done grating all of that cheese. I mean, soap.

I used a giant tub to gently stir all of the ingredients together and then we keep it in a giant plastic tub with a tight-fitting lid. Keep in mind Borax is poisonous if you inhale or swallow too much of it, so I don’t advise inviting all the toddlers on the block on a windy day to help you stir your soap. I used a big tub with higher sides and a long whisk and had the kids unglue themselves from my legs for ten minutes while I gently stirred the soap.

After we started using this recipe for our laundry soap, we haven’t used dryer sheets AT ALL, which is REALLY excellent, since we were nearly out of those, too!! And it doesn’t matter if we put the clothes in the dryer or hang them on the line, they smell SO GOOD and are SO CLEAN, my husband was even amazed and we’re never going back to store-bought soap again.

The only things we don’t put out on the line are our bath and hand towels, because of the rough texture they come back in with. BUT – that was the case when we were using the other kind of laundry detergent anyway. Everything else comes back in super soft and smelling wonderful, so we think it has more to do with the fabric of our towels. So they are spoiled and dried in the dryer.

There are a million other combinations for laundry soap out there, and some will tell you how to make a liquid soap, so don’t be afraid to experiment! I like our powder. It’s easier to sweep up if it spills!


Okay… this is REALLY EASY. There is no excuse for anyone to be buying those giant tubs of little blue cakes with the pink pearls ever again.

Mix equal portions of baking soda and borax together (carefully – don’t want to breathe in a bunch of that dust – yuck!) and keep it in a tight-fitting lidded container. I started with 3 cups of each, and I put it right in the container that formerly held all of those little blue cakes with pink pearls. *snap*

Some websites say to use 2 teaspoons and others say 2 tablespoons, but what we do is fill the little spot up and close the little door, and that’s about 2 tablespoons. We put straight white vinegar in the spot where you would normally put your FUNKY BLUE LIQUID to keep your dishes streak-free, and so far, so good.

Oh, do not worry that Borax is poisonous and you are using it to wash your dishes. ANYTHING YOU BUY MADE FOR DISHWASHERS IS POISONOUS… just in case you missed that… ANYTHING YOU BUY MADE FOR DISHWASHERS IS POISONOUS. That’s why they all have those pesky “harmful if swallowed” warnings on them. Don’t worry about it.

Now, this has not been a perfect process for us, but I still prefer using this recipe over relying on the store-bought processed cakes for two reasons – I always have borax and baking soda on hand and therefore will never run out of dishwasher soap, and it makes me pay more attention to what I’m expecting my dishwasher to do.

Our dishwasher is 11 years old…that being said, it’s obvious it’s not a top-of-the-line machine like the Bosch we stuck in our last kitchen (the one we remodeled from the floor joists up and recovered none of the costs when we sold the house? Yeah…THAT kitchen has the GOOD dishwasher…), so I make sure I give the dishes a swipe before putting them in the dishwasher. I check for dried-on cheese and other things that may still be there when the cycle is finished. I also am careful and I don’t overload the dishwasher, because if things are too tight, then *stuff* could be left behind. But it’s still better.


Another thing I got tired of buying every time I turned around (or so it felt like it) was hand dishwashing soap. I was already buying the happy-happy-green alternative from Bio-Kleen at $6 a pop, but I felt I was going through it too fast.

Now…I love knowing I am Saving the Earth by buying green, but Saving the Earth loses when I am choosing between buying chicken at 79 cents a pound and happy-happy-green soap alternatives. I have to feed my family first.

So I looked to Costco again and they happened to have that week a GIANT bottle of something that sort of looked environmentally friendly, and it was less than $10. Sold. I smelled it in the store, because I hate soap that smells like chemicals, and it passed the sniff test, so we brought it home. It is a concentrated formula, so I add maybe ¼ of a cup to an old dishwashing soap bottle and fill it up with water. Now when I do dishes by hand, I am using a fraction of the amount of soap I used to use and still have bubbles and still have clean dishes. What more could I ask for?? (Maybe some rubber gloves that last longer than a week?)


My final “homemade” soap solution is Mrs. Meyer’s lavender soap. I tried to find a picture, since I am out and actually need to pick some up, but the website is below for you to check out. The lavender soap is an all-purpose soap, and I dilute a small amount in a spray bottle with water. I use this to clean the countertops, the table, the stove, and the floor for spot cleaning. I am a stay-at-home mom with three kids, which means I am cleaning the counters and the table 2-3 times a day, and the floor about once a day in certain areas and for spills. This soap solution leaves behind a FABULOUS lavender scent that makes me WANT to clean (CAN YOU IMAGINE???).

Just keep in mind that this is just soap…it was not made with Killing Germs in mind. When I have a situation such as raw meat juices or raw egg on the counters or in the sink, I reach for my 409. I like to know some things are dead and in the trash. That is also the only time I use paper towels for spills. Otherwise, I have an army of dishcloths and I use about two or three of those a day chasing around our messes.


I keep a small tub of baking soda by the sink because a little of that in the sink and some scrubbing gets it sparkling clean. I used an old cinnamon shaker bottle (one of the big ones from Costco) and filled it with baking soda and we use that in the bathroom to add a shake to the cat pans every day. I also shake baking soda all over the carpets once every two weeks, let it sit for about 15 or 20 minutes and then let the kids vacuum. They can tell where they still need to vacuum and they keep going until all the white powder is gone! *SWEET*




20 Mule Team Borax USES FOR:

http://www.dialcorp.com/documents/borax.pdf (has a picture)

They have all the answers for what baking soda can do:
Here is a link to their washing soda (not on A&H website??):

Now…. Get crackin’ and have fun!!

Cynthia Moyer
mother: www.underthemistymountain.com
author: www.clmoyer.com


Denise: Where do you get Borax and Fels Naptha? Oh and Washing soda too?

Cynthia: You can find anything online, but I actually found all of these products RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER at our Fred Meyer store. The borax you can usually find at Safeway or WalMart or whatever, but the Fels Naptha is a little trickier.
I am not sure why our WalMart didn't have it, but Fred Meyer did??? People will just have to look, and they can always ask the store to stock it if their big box store doesn't have it.

Denise: You say that you use this in your front loading washer, but the detergent is a powder. Do you put the detergent in the tray or do you add it directly to your wash?

Cynthia: I use it in the tray and it hasn't caused any problems yet, and I've been using it for months!!

Thank you Cynthia for these great ideas! Now I'm off to make some detergent.