Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sick Day

A few weeks ago I started to feel a bit rundown, I needed a nap in the worst way. It was a rainy afternoon and I fired up the electric blanket, tucked the kids in bed with me, and started rubbing their backs. It worked like magic, soon we were all snoozing away. At the end of the nap, I grabbed my cameraphone to document this momentous occasion. I never got them to nap at the same time when they were babies... this was a miracle and a luxury.
Soon they started to stir and before long... they were back to life.
But at least I had enough energy to carry on.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off the deep end...

Mr. Boy has eczema, it's bad and it's not fun. We spend more money on skin care products for him, then the rest of the family combined. His body wash alone is $38 a bottle, and we use Aquaphor like it's going out of style. Be careful trying to catch Mr. Boy, because it's like chasing a greased pig with all the products we slather on him. We've been buying Tide Free for ages, but I just don't feel like the clothes get clean, plus the $13 price tag for 64 loads makes me grumble every time I buy it. Then I heard all about making your own laundry soap. The Duggars do it, but that just scared me. Next thing you know I'll have 19 children and I'll be driving a bus around town... and we will be eating Tater Tot Casserole from a big trough.

But then.. when I went to grab that giant bottle of Tide Free last week and flipped it around and noticed that they do not list the ingredients on it... So how do I know what kind of things are in it that are aggravating Mr. Boy's skin? That was the turning point and I threw open the window and said, "I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore!" Or maybe I wasn't quite that dramatic and I just put the Tide back on the shelf. I decided right then and there, no matter how weird it made me, I'd try making my own soap.

I had heard finding the ingredients West of the Missippi were a bit challenging. So I headed over to my new favorite website: It's like Alice the maid from the Brady Bunch, who I wished we had living with us when I grew up. The stuff on the website is reasonably priced and if you order 6 items it ships free. Plus their packaging is clever and eyecatching. The only thing they didn't have was the Fels-Naptha but I found that at the regular grocery store. I had heard that Dial soap works great too, so I decided to use the 1/2 the Hypo-Allergenic Bar of Dial Soap and 1/2 Fels Naptha. Total cost to make enough for at least 120 loads: $12. I still have tons of the Washing Soda & Borax leftover, probably enough for at least 15 more batches. Mr. Man walked in right at this moment, and said, "Is that soap in the Cuisinart? What is going on?" I told him about my new plan and he just said, "I think you've gone too far with this natural thing, I get the whole organic food thing, but really?" I know he's wondering if I'm going to start cooking our laundry in the backyard in a giant kettle. He's already told me if I bring home a cow to put in the back 40, it's a dealbreaker. (As luck would have it, we are not zoned for cows, so the marriage is safe.) Here's the recipe for the detergent.

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax

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

I tried it out on a load of whites, tossing in one of AK's chocolate stained shirts. Without using any stain treatment, it came out white! The clothes smell clean too.

So, now I'm off to buy a bus, and get me 17 more kids. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Perfect Pic for Over the Mantle

I found this little gem while scrolling through some old photos.... Just one minute earlier I had blasted them with my stun gun. It comes in handy on family outings.
*this photo was NOT staged... because you can't stage this kind of awesome.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fun with Playmobil

I often come across scenes around the house that make me laugh... such as this line of gentleman waiting to use the restroom. Or this scene where the lions have decided to have their way with one of an Egyptian grave robbers. Occupational Hazard I guess....
This one was put together by AK who earlier in the day had gotten a .0000001 milimeter gash on her knee. Obviously, she was trying to communicate that I underestimated the severity of the situation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cinnamon: The spice that's nice

One of the big perks of Chalet du Francais is the close proximity to Cinnamon (yes, her real name.) Actually, most of the folks on my blog get a fake name, except for Cinnamon, because you can't make that up. Everytime we go out and she introduces herself, everyone asks if that is her real name. Cinnamon is wild, irreverant, funny, and fearless. This gal rides a motorcycle, surfs, and you never know where she will end up calling you from. "Hey, I went to Vegas today, what's the name of that Thai place you like here?" Best thing, my kids love her, call her Auntie Cinnamanamonim, and she loves to hang out with them. And I love hanging out with her.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chalet Appreciation: Mudroom

Have you read the Pioneer Woman? She is a city girl who married a cowboy and now lives in the country. She talks constantly about the amount of mud-caked laundry country life gives her. I always thought she embellished the quantity, now I believe her. Chalet du Francais, the mountain house in the big city, is surrounded by muddy hills and filled with workmen and children who drag all that mud into the house. As soon as I saw the Laundry Room, I knew it would be the perfect mudroom. I have ALWAYS wanted a mudroom, but in California most houses don't have them. I don't have a true before picture of the laundry /mudroom, but here it was when we moved in and before Mr. Man did some magic. Since this is the side entry to the house, right next to the driveway it easily becomes a dumping ground for everything. Before we moved in, I told Mr. Man how I envisioned this room. I couldn't believe it when he said, "Let's do it right away." So we bought a new front loading dryer to match our other one, which means both dogs can now watch the laundry spin, no more fighting!My original plan was to put a countertop over the washer and dryer, but it got to be way expensive due to the depth of the counters. So Mr. Man just slapped some plywood on top until we have a better idea. I stained it to try and make it look less plywood-like. The counter makes all the difference, I can fold laundry, do projects there, pile up junk, sort stuff.. the list goes on!Mr. Man installed cabinets and a shelf, and now there is tons of storage. The cabinets are just prefab cabinets from the Hardware store. (and notice they still have the labels on them, I finally just took them off!)
Now, when the kids walk in the door, they each have a basket to stash backpacks and school stuff. There is a bathroom right there, which is handy for muddy hands. Believe me there is lots of muddy hands, muddy paws, and muddy shoes. It's the simple things in life... for me it's the mudroom!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Toasty.. from a few weeks ago

It was one of those nights, cold and dreary. The mood around the house had been somber for days. Mr. Man had been grieving the sudden loss of a colleague and friend who passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 43. Mr. Man was at the funeral, while I was stuck at home with two kids who were constantly bickering. I just felt like we all needed a little indulging in life's simple pleasures. Something to lift the mood... I built a fire in the fireplace, using my mediocre girl scout skills. It took several attempts, but I finally got it going long enough to roast marshmallows and make smores.
The fire seemed to melt away the sadness, the bickering, and helped lift the mood. Have you ever noticed that people are more prone to open up and talk in front of a fire? The kids were asking deep philosphical questions intermixed with goofy ones. Why do people die at different ages? Why do frogs start out as tadpoles? Are donkeys and horses cousins? We made two smores for Mr. Man and kept them warm in the oven for when he arrived home. There's something about sticky fingers and mouths ringed with chocolate that lifts the mood and heals the spirit.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Resistance is Futile

I love the bowl cut on little boys. Even better, I love running my hands through those golden locks at night during bedtime stories. The bowl cut served us well, Mr. Boy was born with a very pronounced stork bite* and the bowl covered up his storkbites.I always said, we'd lose the bowl when Mr. Boy started Kindergarten, but the bites were still there, so we let it stay. Mr. Boy is a bit stubborn and resistant to change (he gets it from his father.... not from me.. no way... I'm flexible and FUN!) The last few haircuts we've tried to talk him into different hairstyles and he just wouldn't do it. Enter Aunt Cinnamon (yes, that's her real name), she can get him to do ANYTHING. She brought over her friend Linda to cut his hair, after telling him... "oooo how fun would spikey hair be!"This picture of his hair in clips is just for blackmail purposes when he is 16 and thinks he is hot stuff. The best thing about his new haircut is the versatility.
Spikey! The handsome man
Cross between Eddie Munster and The Fonz. (he always ask to have his hair styled like this after a bath. He says it makes him look "sleek".)
His personal fave appears to be the Faux-hawk.

Thanks Linda!
*Stork bite =in layman's terms, a birthmark that fades over the first few years. Name comes from the idea of the stork delivering the babies, and giving the baby a kiss in the form of a little love bite.
Flashback: When Mr. Boy was born, the doctor told us that he would be born sometime between 6-9pm, based on the way labor was progressing, probably closer to 6pm. Mr. Boy was born at 9:01pm, as though to prove a point, that he comes into the world on his own terms, and on his own schedule. His stork bites were very pronounced, and he has several. When he was wheeled into the NICU, the nurse admitting him said, "Oh baby boy... you were either very naughty, or that stork just loved you so much, she didn't want to let you go, because you got NAILED by that Stork. She really did a number on you!"

Monday, February 01, 2010

Back to School Take 2

*cue yellow school bus*Things got a little bit complicated when it came to putting Mr. Boy in school. No big deal, it worked out for the best. We got Mr. Boy into our 1st choice school, and he got a very extended Winter Break while we waited for a spot. Mr. Boy was getting nervous about starting a new school, so we did a back to school feast again. Mr. Boy picked Pizza & Pancakes for dinner and reminded us all that our motto was "Be Nice." We had prepped Mr. Boy, and reminded him that in September he was nervous to start a new school but it turned out fine, so it will be fine this time. He seemed to be in good spiritsalthough that smile looks a little tense. When I left the classroom, he had turned a paste-y white. Two hours later my phone rang, another mom called to let me know when she was at the school volunteering Mr. Boy was doing great. I felt a weight off my shoulder and when I picked him up... he had a great day! Phew! It's terrifying when you send one of your most prized posessions out into the scary big world. Hooray for good days!