September adoption update: Part 2

Onto Part 2...

I left off by telling you we'd rescheduled our appointment with the state social worker.

She arrived on time and was a very pleasant woman to work with. She wanted a tour of our home-- inside and out-- and our kids led her through the rooms, pointing out everything they thought she should know about: "Come see our bunk beds! We have chickens! Do you wanna see our chickens?" As she walked through she asked questions and made observations. Things like, "Where do you keep your prescription medications? Your cleaning supplies? Your knives? Any alcohol in the house?" ...etc.

Then we moved into the living room where she declined my offer of molasses cookies (which is unfortunate for her because they are *so* good!) She sat down with an "Inspection sheet" and went over each list item specified by the state as to what condition our home should be in . Anything that was not up to par went on a sheet entitled: Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction. (Sounds severe, doesn't it?) The sheet was a carbon copy, and the idea is that we then make a notation of our plan of correction, or: what we're going to do about it, including what date we will have it completed by.

Our list of deficiencies/corrections is as follows:

-We have a ladder leading up to the kids' playhouse that is deemed "unsafe" by the state.
CORRECTION: We need to write up a supervision plan stating that we will supervise children when they use the ladder.

-We do not have flashlights in our childrens' rooms.
CORRECTION: We'll place accessible flashlights in each child's room.

-Our bathroom floor is not sealed and "scrubbable". (Because we're in the process of refinishing that.)
CORRECTION: We're working on that. (Or, I should say, Mark is working on that.)

-We need to provide current insurance documentation. (We initially provided insurance documentation nearly a year ago; it has since been updated and we need current documentation for the state.)
CORRECTION: We'll photocopy that and supply it to the state.

-Check water temperature. Water temp. cannot exceed 120 degrees.
CORRECTION: Check temperature. (Did this already.)

-Bathtub does not have rail or non-skid pads.
CORRECTION: We'll get some. (Our tub now has these.)

-We have a fireplace.
CORRECTION: We will need to write up a statement indicating that our fireplace is not in use.

-Check smoke detectors.
CORRECTION: We'll check these and ensure they are operating properly.

-Fire escape plan.
CORRECTION: We will practice fire drills with our children. (And, um... we've never done this. It's been so long since I've even done a fire drill I am just not even sure how to go about this. What do our kids need to know? CUTZI...??? Anyone?)

-State needs our childrens' immunization records.
CORRECTION: We'll request these from their pediatrician, give to the state. (Done.)

-We have not been tested for TB.
CORRECTION: We'll be getting tested for TB. (Today.)

And that's it. There's our list. Not bad, huh?

We're working on the list, and when everything is completed we'll send our signed copy to our social worker who will then write up a report. She'll then send her completed report on to the powers-that-be (and I'm not sure who they are) who will then approve or disapprove us. Assuming we're approved, we will then receive our foster care license.

After that, we just continue waiting and praying for the child(ren) God is waiting to place in our home.

The "E" word

Ann V. begins with these words: "Expectations kill relationship."

She had me at that "E" word. If you, like me, struggle with expectations, go read the rest of Ann's post.

And may your day be *full* of surprises.

September adoption update: Part 1

Since I last updated you at the beginning of August, what we've been doing has involved a lot of waiting. (What we need at this point is a foster care license. Our adoption homestudy is complete, but we need the state to approve us to have foster children in our home. My understanding is that this involves two visits and our social worker will need to write up a report detailing what she learned in those visits. And once we're approved, we'll have a license. And as far as I know, that is the last thing we need before we are able to have children placed in our home.) So. What was I saying? Oh, yeah. What we've been doing is waiting.

I'd call our social worker, leave a message, and... wait.

And then I'd call the our social worker again, leave another message, and...

...wait some more.

Oh, but one time I emailed, and...

...WAITed for an email response. (But never got one.)

And a whole lot more of that same pattern.

Apparently our social worker is a very busy woman. Who doesn't listen to her messages. Or maybe she listens to them but then deletes them? At least that's what I suspected.

Then one happy day I called, spoke to a live person(!), who happened to BE our social worker and we made an appointment.

On the day of the appointment, a Friday afternoon, I cleaned the house, baked some goodies, prepped the kids ("Please be on your best behavior and make sure to look at her *and* speak to her when she asks you a question, okay?"), and...

...we waited.

For about 20 minutes, at which point I started asking Mark (who had taken time off work for this appointment) if he thought I should call to remind her of the appointment? We waited another 10 minutes and then I did call. And left another message.

And we waited.

And we just waited out that next hour because she never did show up. Or call.

Now if you think that I was crabby about this missed appointment, you would be perfectly wrong. (And no, I didn't mistype.) I was not.even.crabby! (Small miracle). I journaled that day: "As for the [insert name of social-worker here] no-show, I just refuse to be low about it. I feel sure that at the end of this curvy road is a baby, maybe two, for our family. I'm willing to wait. I praise You, God. I trust You. I love You. I am Yours, loved by You, cared for by You, held in Your hand. *Sure* of your lovingkindness."

And that was that. I just set my mind not to be cranky about it, and you know what? I really wasn't.

Okay, so I was maybe a teeny bit bothered by the fact that it took her until Monday at 4:00pm to *return* my call, but before I spoke with her I had decided I wouldn't be the least bit gruff or perturbed, because maybe this woman doesn't know Jesus, and presuming she's read our homestudy, she knows that we DO know and love Jesus, and so I wasn't about to put Him in a bad light.

She was apologetic about the scheduling mishap (she'd had us down for another day altogether). And we rescheduled the appointment.

I'll post Part 2 to fill you in on that.

Trip recap

I flew to Indiana on an overnight flight. I didn't have high expectations that I would sleep through the entire flight, but I had hoped I would sleep a bit. I was sorely disappointed, then, when my two fellow row-mates, not knowing each other upon seating, apparently found their soulmate in the other. I say this because they spent the ENTIRE flight talking (loudly) and laughing (annoyingly), while the rest of the entire plane had their lights off and slept. I just looked upon all sleeping passengers longingly and wondered when these two beside me might want to sleep. They didn't ever want to.

Bright and early Friday morning I (groggily) made it to the Indianapolis airport and got to hug my dear friend Michelle! It had been nearly a year since I'd seen her. We keep this friendship going through email and phone calls, so it is a delight to see this girl in person when we get the chance.

Michelle, being the thoughtful friend that she is, made an immediate stop at Starbucks to get some caffeine in my body, and then we headed to her house. Let me tell you something else: Michelle had also created a room for me in their office and in my room I was greeted with a bouquet of fresh flowers (aren't they beautiful?),

a Third Day CD, some Warm Vanilla Sugar goods, and a candle. (And those of you who read my Autumn post will recall that Warm Vanilla Sugar is my favorite fall scent.) Isn't Michelle the most thoughtful person EVER?

She'd also cooked up a yummy breakfast casserole and another yummy desserty-type dish (both delicious!) which we ate up when we got home. Michelle's friend Carrie stopped by, too, so we chatted over breakfast while I tried to make friends with Micah (nearly two, and just SO incredibly cute), and *very* shy when he first saw me. After he warmed up to me we played lots. And I had the distinct privilege of teaching that sweet boy "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", which we sang frequently over the next few days.

I got a tour of the new barn and was introduced to their horse, Sparkles, and saw the goats and the three black kittens that Ella would have gone ga-ga over. We ate some lunch, which were some yummy appetizer-y things with roma tomatoes and mozerella cheese. Later that day I took a brief nap. When Erica got home from school we played a game. Michelle's mom stopped by for a hug and a short visit, and we played some more with Micah.

That night Michelle and I headed out to dinner at THE MOST DELICIOUS place I had never heard of before: The Mongolian Grill. Anyone familiar with that place? Oh my goodness, YUM. Think all-you-can-eat meat and fresh veggies and yummy sauce, all grilled up in front of you. Delish. (I liked it so much I'd decided I should write somebody somewhere to get one here in our town until my mom informed me that we actually had one here in our town THAT CLOSED DOWN. How did I miss that? A travesty, I tell you, that I didn't ever even know that. Nor was I able to park myself there once a week. I plan to get online soon and find the nearest one and take Mark there ASAP.)

Anyway, over dinner we had discussed these books we want to make for our adopted sons, so we headed to the scrapbooking store for some vision. We spent time there getting inspired and also headed to Coldstone Creamery for some deliciously fattening ice cream. I had some peanut butter concoction that probably gifted me with another five unwanted pounds.

On Saturday morning I awoke bright and early after 5 hours of sleep and decided I'd better get some more sleep. After one wide-awake hour in which I emailed Mark and the kids, I crawled back into bed and read myself to sleep. And then I slept until 10:30. Yikes! I headed downstairs for more fun with Micah, more conversation with Michelle, a late breakfast, and then a trip back out to the barn, whereupon I rode their horse, Sparkles. I think maybe "rode" is a generous term for what I actually did, which was cling to the reins while urging Erica not to move one inch away from that horse, which she was leading, while fervantly practicing the "Whoa" command. Because, you know, the horse was barely moving, but I just felt like we ought to get that command down right off the bat before she decided to walk any faster. (Whatever that would be called. A trot?) Which she never did. But I feel like Sparkles and I established a good rapport with me saying "Whoa" several times while she walked slowly. (And I'll bet Michelle is cracking up right now at the memory of this.)

For lunch/snack (since I'd eaten such a late breakfast), we had chips and salsa. And shortly afterwards we headed out for the cow milking adventure, in which we saw these cuties

and I got to have one suck on my fingers (which is *just* what I used to do on my grandpa and grandma's farm). Michelle got to have that experience, too:

Then we headed into the barn, where these girls were waiting to be milked:

First, I got to hook one of the girls up to this milking apparatus:

and then I got to try it by hand:

(and if it weren't for that delay on the camera, you would actually see milk squirting in this picture. I promise)

And then we got to go see these little guys, and I got to do this:

We picked up some pizza for dinner, and on the way home I made the mistake of asking, "What's White Castle?" Michelle and Erica about had a cow that I'd never heard of that particular eating establishment. Michelle about got us all killed by doing a sudden U-turn so that I could eat whatever it was they had there. (I was hoping for ice cream. Dairy Queen, White Castle... Queens live in Castles... maybe they had ice cream there! Mmm!) But she wouldn't quite tell me what it was I would be eating, and if it would be a favorable thing to put in my mouth. I should have clued into it by the fact that she kept saying something about having to try it "for the experience" of it. I found out that White Castle is a fast-food place that sells mini hamburgers. With onions. And just so you know, if you ever happen to pass one, just go ahead and keep right on driving. No U-turns necessary. (Michelle informed me afterwards that people either love 'em or they hate 'em.) I hated them, but thankfully Micah was getting quite hungry in the back seat so he was happy to polish it off for me. (Cindy, Joni..? Anyone else who has ever eaten these? Go ahead and cast your votes now.)

After dinner (pizza and a tasty salad Michelle whipped up), Michelle's friends Carrie and Colleen came over for some chocolate fondue. We ate and talked and had a great time until it was late and time to go to bed. So they left (Carrie, did you ever remember that gallon of milk?) and Michelle and I stayed up later to talk more... (and she showed me all sorts of fun tricks on my laptop. She recently got an Apple, too, and has spent the better part of the last two months camped out at the Apple store, hobnobbing it with all the helpful Apple folks and learning all sorts of neat things).

On Sunday morning the rest of the fam headed to church while Michelle and I ate breakfast and got ready to head to the airport. We set up a makeshift tripod in the living room which included a stool, 3 plastic bins (carried from the other end of the house), a mixing bowl, a towel, and a cookbook. Or notebook. (What did we end up using, Michelle?) and took some pictures.

And then we prayed together. And then she drove me to the airport. And then we hugged and then I went through airport security where this mean Indiana security guy confiscated my toothpaste and the Warm Vanilla Sugar goods. (!) Just tossed them in the garbage. I actually think it must have been his own favorite scent and he wanted them for himself. I'm sure that as soon as I was out of sight he was digging through that "garbage can".

So that was my trip. And if you're still reading this you should win an award because I realize that was a super lengthy description.

If anyone has

...a good Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe,

I'd love for you to give it to me.

Pretty please?

I'd love to make one Wednesday night for the Poker guys. (On second thought, maybe two, so I can have some!)

Home sweet home

I came home last night to these things...

...a very happy family (lots of hugs, kisses, and lovingly-colored pictures)
...a clean living room (cleaned by Ella in anticipation of my arrival)
...a new kitchen faucet (put in by Mark while I was away) cozy bed, upon which my husband sleeps beside me (and boy did I miss him! :))
...two emails and a phone call from Michelle (so that's a relief that she still wants to be my friend even after spending 3 days with me! *grin*)

Today we're taking it easy. No school. On the agenda:

snuggles (done, but many more to come)
stories (done, but more to come!)
clean kitchen (done)
make menu plan
make grocery list
pay bills (done)
kids' chores (they've had a few days off, I see...) (done)

And for you, my friends, a recipe:

*Soft Molasses Cookies*
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400. Grease cookie sheets.
With mixer at medium speed, beat all ingredients until well mixed. Make dough into balls and roll in a bit of sugar.
Place onto cookie sheets and pat down a bit. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Take out when still soft. Do not overbake.

The most exciting thing ever

(Well, okay. Not EVER, but... very close.)

Just popping in quickly from Michelle's house to inform you that she is about the nicest friend in the *world*. Do you know what she did?

She arranged for me to go out to a farm today and....

(drum roll, please)


Oh my goodness. It was so much fun. And how sweet is Michelle to plan for me to do that? (I probably shouldn't mention the fact that she stood behind me and made fun of my method.) Maybe because my method wasn't really working properly at first. But then I figured it out. It was only for about two minutes but it made me very happy. :) I told their friends that if I lived there and needed a job I would want to work on their dairy farm. I was very serious.

Okay, I just thought I'd share that fun fact for ya'll. I'm having a wonderful time with Michelle and her family. Can't wait to tell you more about it.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Leavin' on a jet plane

All this Autumn talk about things like cozy slippers, and today I find myself packing my suitcase with shorts and flip flops.

This weekend I'm headed to Indiana to spend time with this dear friend! I am *so* excited.

Mark will be holding down the fort with the kids.

I'll return next week with details and photos.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



Yesterday morning, early. Ella (5) and I were on the couch.

Ella: "What's that noise?!"

Me: "Um...the dishwasher?"

Ella: "No, not that noise, the *other* noise!"

Me: "Okay, is it the fan in the bathroom?"

Ella: "NO, mommy. Not that. It's a different noise."

Me: (Listening for "different" noises, now.) "Oh! (excitedly) Honey, that's our HEATER coming on!!!!"

Ella, suddenly remembering what that meant, scurried over to the floor vent to situate herself on top of it. [One of her favorite spots in the house when the weather is cooler.]

The weather is indeed cooler. And I love it.

Reading Jodi's post yesterday got my mind to whirring about all the reasons this is my favorite season. So here is my own list of some of the things I love about Fall:

eggnog lattes (and i could *almost* stop right there i love these so much)
homemade chex mix
pumpkin bread
scented candles glowing around the house
our feather bed
hot cocoa with marshmallows on chilly mornings
grandma slippers (lovingly knit by Mark's 91-year old grandma)
hot bubble baths
the changing colors of leaves on the trees
spiced cider
"treasure" walks- collecting acorns, chestnuts, and an assortment of leaves
butternut squash
Bath & Body Works' Warm Vanilla Sugar scent
watching leaves drift into our back yard from the neighbor's tall trees
soft molasses cookies
the heat kicking on in the early morning hours
rubber-boot clad children
SmartWool socks
grandma's knit stocking caps
adding onto our Thanksgiving journal
pumpkin pie with a dollup of whipped cream
easy meals of hearty soup and homemade bread
making giant piles of leaves at our favorite park
a hot rice bag tucked under the covers to warm my feet
decorating for fall
the pumpkin patch
the giant maple tree at the end of our street

I asked the kids, too, for their favorite things about Fall.
Here's Ella's list:
"The leafs turn colors."
"...and because the leafs fall."
"...and because it's just so cold."
"...and when we get to pick up different leafs and go on nature walks."
(And yes, later sometime I'll remember to talk with her about the plural form of "leaf".)

And Isaac's list:
"When we went in the fall place with grandma" (upon further questioning, I deciphered that the "fall place" meant the farmer's market, which is where we were last Saturday morning.)
"...and because I saw one pumpkin with another pumpkin sitting on top of his head." (grinning)

I'd ask Isaias, too, but he's sleeping at the moment. And he doesn't really know what Fall is, so it would actually be Ella answering for him, and you've already heard hers.

Last night I asked Mark. And here's his list.


To be truthful, he *did* say something about "brisk mornings" and "seeing your breath in the air". But both of those list items were just a segway into more on football (ie: "The brisk morning air. This cool weather just makes me want to get to the park for a game of football.") So I think I'm safe saying football, as a whole, is what Mark most likes about this season.

What about you? What would make your list?


Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

JB Phillips' translation is: "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!"

A couple of weeks ago our church began a study of the book of James. Because James happens to be one of my favorite books in the Bible, it's probably one of the books I have spent the most time in. Yet upon each reading, I am newly challenged.

What struck me this time was this: for those of us in Christ, the trials we face are *redemptive*. God desires us to be mature and complete. And He uses trials to refine us and build character in us.

This made me ponder some of the trials I am currently facing. (I am a bit hesitant here, to be talking about trials in my life, because with the knowledge of the trials that some of you are currently facing or have faced, my own truly pale in comparison. I have not known the heart-wrenching pain that some of you have carried.)

One of the things our pastor challenged us to ask when faced with a trial, is this: "What are You trying to teach me, here, God?"

The following day I sat down, pen in hand, and listed the trials I am facing. And then I asked God, "What *are* you trying to teach me through these? What are You building in me through these trials? How are you growing me toward maturity through these things?"

I began to jot down some possibilites of what God might be teaching me, next to each trial I'd listed. My list grew to include the following: perseverance, persistant prayer, patience, love, unity in spite of differences, submission, humility, holding my tongue, love, patience, trust, humility, submission, waiting on the Lord, self control, kindness, a soft heart.

I noticed right away that there were some repeats. And what was sort of an epiphany to me was this: those repeats? Patience, love, and humility are things I pray for in my life nearly EVERY day. Practically every page of my journal reveals a prayer for more patience, more love, and more humility. Those are the big ones. In essence, these trials are the means to which God is answering my own prayers. That gave a whole new meaning to the idea of welcoming these trials as friends. I was able, that day, to genuinely thank God for the trials I'm facing, knowing that He is maturing me. Not to mention answering my prayers. :)

I encourage you to make your own list. Jot down your trials sometime and list what you think God may be trying to teach you. See what you come up with. And then welcome the lessons God is weaving into your life through trials.

Blessings to you today!

A little chaos

Yesterday morning I gave the boys haircuts and all of the kids baths. It was a bit chaotic, since all of this happened in our bathroom which is about 3 feet wide. (Also, the floor in that bathroom is in re-finishing mode because some previous owner decided to lay linoleum on top of hardwood. Which is more than annoying, but I won't go into it here, other than to say they did it to the kitchen floor as well.)

But that's beside the point. Our small bathroom with everyone in it has the tendancy to make me a bit crazy sometimes. Isaias was in the tub, I was cleaning up his just-cut hair from the floor (which is a complete OTHER problem. Isaias' hair is permanently placed when it falls anywhere.) Ella was just out of the tub and was supposed to be getting dressed but didn't want to because her hair was wet and she wanted me to dry it first so she was getting herself positioned near the hair dryer, and I was trying to pry Isaac from the book he was reading (as he sat in the doorway, which happened to be smack dab next to the hair dryer. Which was where Ella was trying to manuever herself. But Isaac was there. But he wasn't supposed to be there because I was telling him to come for his haircut.) Oh, and I was trying to keep my eye on Isaias so that he wouldn't drown. And he happened to be yelling, over and over again: "Wook at me, mommy! I being fishy!" Which is actually really handy, the yelling. Because when they're yelling they can't be drowning so I didn't have to be watching as much as listening.

Anyway, I finally sat myself in front of Ella's hair and saw a tangled mess. Anyone with long-haired girls knows this look. It was a sight. So I hoisted myself up, reached across the hall to where our little bathroom cupboard is sitting while we refinish the floor, and grabbed the detangler spritzer bottle from atop the cupboard. I sprayed a few generous squirts on Ella's hair as I reached for the comb, then settled in for the task ahead. And immediately realized my error.

This is what I'd grabbed from atop the cupboard:

Yes, that would be sunscreen.


Sprayed liberally on my daughter's hair.

Right after her BATH.

Does anyone feel sorry for me in that moment?

It wouldn't be so bad if this type of thing didn't happen to me so regularly, but it just DOES.

But in my defense, both bottles *are* pink. And very near the same heighth (and just so you know, I've stared at that word, "heighth", now for approximately 3 full minutes. Re-typing, re-spelling, staring. It looks so very wrong. Or maybe it's not heighth at ALL but is simply height? I have NO idea. Help me out, here, people.)

So anyway: same color, same tall-ness, same locale. (Although we may be changing the location of the sunscreen bottle. Especially since we only have need to use it about twice a year. No sense having these types of mishaps for twice a year-usage, in my opinion.)

The happy report is that sunscreen comes out a WHOLE lot easier than vaseline does.

By the way, I am now fully convinced (upon further staring) that "heighth" is not a word. Or at least, that's not the proper spelling of the word. If it is a word. But I need to go now so I don't have time to look it up. Someone must know these things.

What I did last night

Every other week Mark has a couple of his brothers and a few friends over to play poker. I try to make them some food and then disappear for the evening.

Last night I made these for the poker guys. And let me just say, this recipe is a keeper. Click on that link if you haven't already. Do you even SEE those ingredients? YUM. If you end up making these, promise me this: that you will take a dollup of that batter and eat it before you bake these. It might possibly be one of the best tastes I've EVER had in my mouth. And the final product is very good, too. (Except that I only baked them for about 12 minutes, which is 8 minutes less than that recipe says.)

After I made those treats, I made a giant bowl of popcorn for the guys. But then I filled a small bowl for myself and headed in to watch a girl movie. (The kind of movie Mark *would* watch with me, but one he would probably prefer not to.) No matter. I happily took my bowl of popcorn and the margarita Mark had made me and watched this. And cried sad *and* happy tears, which makes it the best kind of movie in my book. So very Little House on the Prairie-ish. ~contented sigh~

It was so nice.

So that makes me wonder... if *you* had to spend an evening alone, what would you do with it? What would be your idea of a "perfect" evening? And you can't say: "sleep". Well, okay, you can say "sleep" if you really need to but then at least give me a runner-up. :) And make sure to include your choice of a snack, too!

Habits and routines

I have learned that when you're trying to add new things to the schedule, it is easier to add on to what is *already* working for you. For instance, if the kids already go down for naps/quiet times at 1:00 and we're wanting to add in an afternoon clean up time, I've found that the likelihood of achieving that new habit will be far greater if we tag it on to our existing routine (say, at 12:40), rather than deciding to do a clean up at some random time of 4:00 or something.

Last week when we began homeschooling, one of the first things I was thankful for were those pre-established habits of ours. Specifically, our morning routine of memory work, the reading of a Psalm, and our chores. Tagging homeschooling on to our existing routine just became one new habit in a chain of things that were already working for us. It has just made the transition that much easier.

Our old chore chart has been updated with new chores and a new look, but the kids were already in the habit of doing chores, so this has been a smooth transition, too.

Some habits are in need of changing, though... and we're still trying to iron out those things.

I have been diligent in getting up early and showering before the kids are up, and that has been a HUGE help. *And* I'm back to exercising-- as of last week (do ya'll know that it takes SIX weeks for a broken toe to heal?!?!?! Sheesh! Up until last week, the only shoes I could wear were flip-flops and crocs. So if you're going to break a toe, make sure to do it in the summertime when you're wearing those kind of shoes anyway. Somehow I can't quite imagine wearing flip-flops to church in the dead of winter.) Anyway, what I was saying was that me showering earlier has changed our routine a bit. When I used to shower a bit later in the morning, the kids spent that time watching a video. And since the video was a half-hour long and it only takes me about 10 minutes to shower and dress, I then had a whole 20 minutes to check email and/or read blogs. The first two mornings of school I tried to squeeze in the video anyway, but we were getting a late start on school so I've dropped it. So far no complaints, so that is good. And yet.. I still would like to have a bit of computer time so I'll have to figure that out.

Our habit of doing all of our laundry on Mondays and Tuesdays is going to have to change, also, and I haven't quite decided what that will look like. All I know is that it's Wednesday, and the laundry is about halfway done, with very little folded and put away. And that happened last week, too. What I did like was combining our read-aloud time with folding laundry, (the kids folding, mommy reading), which is what we did on Monday. (Thank you, Dana, for that tip!) Maybe we should fold a little bit everyday and build *that* into our read-aloud routine.

And there's one other thing we're still trying to figure out. Mark's day off is a rotating one, so if he has Monday off one week, he has Tuesday off the following week (and so on). We haven't decided yet if we should do school with daddy on his day off, or if we should skip school on his day off and school on a Saturday instead. We might just vary it from week to week. Last week we took it off entirely but this week (tomorrow), we plan to do school with daddy here and see how that goes. If anyone else has a similar schedule (with daddy home mid-week), I'd love to hear what you do! (Or even if you don't have that issue but want to put your two cents in, that's okay, too!)

You're the best!

Can I just say how much I love all of you readers?


I headed over to A Mother's Musings this morning to check in on Mrs. M, and those of you who headed over there from here left such encouraging and thoughtful comments. I would just like to give you each a big (((hug)))! It makes me so thankful that you are my blogging friends. You are *so* the type of friends I would have in real life. Won't you all come over for coffee and dessert? What should we have? Something chocolatey?

I really do think someday some planner-type person should organize a big 'ole bloggers retreat. Can you imagine? Then we could meet each other face to face. I'd love it, girls. You're the best!


Prayer for another

Dear readers,

I have asked you to pray along with me for Beka and Elise. And now, will you join me in prayer for my friend over at A Mother's Musings?

Another baby, safe in the arms of Jesus.

And a mother remains, grieving this loss while resting in the goodness of God. She's written a beautiful post that will bring you to tears.

(I am unable to add a link right now, but you'll find Mrs. M's blog listed in my sidebar if you'd like to head over to let her know you are praying...)

Laundry soap

**UPDATED** Scroll to the bottom if you're interested.

A couple of months ago I made my first batch of laundry soap. I wasn't going to blog about it then because I wasn't sure if the idea of making my own laundry soap would "stick", but now I'm hooked. I can't remember where I first read about this idea, but I was intrigued. Then when my friend tried it, my interest was piqued even more, and I thought I might try it. Then I read more about it here. Only after reading that was I sold on making a batch. Just follow that second link and scroll down to the "Calculations" section and you'll see what sold me. And now that I've tried it for a couple of months, I will keep on making it.

Here's the recipe:

Liquid Laundry Detergent
6 cups of water
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer)
1/2 cup Borax
enough hot water to fill a 2 gallon bucket
[optional: you can add 1/2 to 1 oz of essential or fragrance oil.]

Mix grated soap in a saucepan with 6 cups of water. Heat on low until dissolved. Add washing soda and Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 4 cups of water to a 2 gallon bucket. Add the soap mixture and mix well.
Fill the bucket with hot water (at least another gallon ( or 16 cups) and then some) and stir well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens somewhat.
*Use 1/2 cup per load*

Here's what the Fels Naptha bar looks like.
I found it in the laundry detergent section of our grocery store, right smack dab next to the washing soda which was next to the Borax.

Here are the three ingredients, after I'd grated the bar of soap.

And here's a fresh batch of soap that still needs to sit for 24 hours.

And here's my full 2-gallon bucket.

To answer a couple of questions I've already received from friends and family:

Does it actually clean your clothes?
-Yes. For loads that are extra dirty I've added a bit more soap (3/4 cup) or washed them in warm water, but it cleans them great!
Is it easy to make?
-Yes. I figure it takes me about as long to make a 2-gallon batch as it would to stand in front of the various brands of detergent at the store and try to figure out which is the cheapest.
Have you used fragrance or essential oil?
-I haven't. And you don't need to. I actually really like the smell of the finished soap. It's very clean smelling. But I do love citrus-y scents so I may pick up some oil and fragrance it at some point in the future, just for fun.

A couple of other things. I realize this isn't going to sound like a fun idea to everyone. The primary reason I'm doing this is because I'm it's cheap.
Secondly, I'm a little old-fashioned in that I really enjoy learning and doing things myself if I'm able to. It makes me feel a bit like Ma on Little House on the Prairie or something. And since I would sincerely love to live in a little house on the prairie, or live in an Amish community anytime anywhere anyday (and yes, I am serious), this is one little way I get to live that out. Kinda. If that makes any sense.

A few more notes on laundry soap:
1. A reader commented that she had added the essential oil but did not stir the soap each time before use. Thus, the oil gathered together and actually ruined some of her husband's clothes! *MAKE SURE TO STIR YOUR SOAP!!!* I do this anyway, but I forgot to mention that the first time I posted this. It can sort of congeal a bit between uses, so you'll want to stir it briefly (or, if you transfer it to some sort of a bottle, shake it) before you use it.

2. The consistency of the laundry soap is a little different than store-bought soap. Someone described it as looking like egg-noodle soup. It does kind of resemble that.

3. The soap does is not sudsy. But it doesn't need to be to get your clothes clean, so don't worry about it! :)


UPDATED TO ADD: Well, then. Neveryoumind about this post. Those folks at Apple do their job very well, I must say. My computer is here already and I am back online.

I'm going to be scarce around here for a few days. Our computer is very, very sick and very, very slow. So much so that we're getting a new (and improved) one. But until that one is here, I won't be doing much on the computer.

As soon as that's set up, I'll come around to all of your blogs and leave those comments I have been wanting to write. And I'll answer my emails, too.

Take good care!

And if these aren't just the cutest kids EVER...

I mean, besides your own, of course...

Here are Amy's children with mine, at our playdate last week. Amy has been my dearest friend for as long as I can even remember, and it has been such a joy for us to watch our children become best buddies as well. We love growing up alongside this family!


Isaac (3): What do you want to be?

Isaias (2): A boy.

Isaac (3): Nooo. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Isaias (2): A bad guy.

Mama: No you don't. You don't want to be a bad guy.

Isaac (3): You can be a rocket ship or a swimmer. What do you want to be?

Isaias (2): A lion.


That settles it, then.