Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Clothes!

I honestly was not planning on writing a whole blog post about my children’s Christmas clothes. I just wanted to take a picture of them to put on facebook so the grandmas back in MN could see them. But the pictures turned out so funny I had to write about them

We got back from church a few Sundays back and I told the kids we would take pictures of their clothes to show Grandma.


We started out sitting down and everyone had a book to look at. But you couldn’t really see their clothes very well.


So I told them to stand up. But Faith’s book was too big and she kept dropping it and not standing up.


So I gave Faith a different book to hold that wasn’t so heavy. But that made Gideon mad. Check out his face in the corner:


I told the kids to say cheese and look at the face Faith gave me!! And Gideon is still mad.


I went to Kmart and lusted after all the cute Christmas dresses. But I just couldn’t get myself to spend $20 on a dress just for Christmas. So I went to the ARC thrift store and found a Baby Gap red dress for Faith. It is just beautiful on her! It has cute ruffles down the front and netting underneath. It’s the prettiest dress she has ever had. I paid less than $5 for it.


James shirt and vest also came from the ARC.


Gideon’s overalls I made for my little brother when he was a toddler, who is turning 13 soon so they are about 10 years old. I would have been in high school when I made them. They are still in great shape.Β  They are on the fourth little boy wearing them, Levi, Lincoln, James and now Gideon. (and Gideon is still mad)


Faith turns 1!

I really can’t believe I am writing about Faith’s first birthday. Where did this year go? She weighs about 23 pounds (we just figured out that our scale is broken, so we really don’t know what she weighs), loves pizza, pasta, and popcorn. She only has 6 teeth (!!!!!!) but is getting her molars right now. She does not sleep through the night. Happy Birthday Faith!!


She is such a big girl now. We keep calling her a baby, but considering she can walk and climbs on everything she really is a toddler now.


Faith has had a really happy year, vastly different from her brother’s first years. I didn’t know having a baby could be so enjoyable. Faith has been and continues to be so much fun. However for some reason she was really really grumpy for her party. I still am not sure what was so wrong. (at least James was in a good mood. He is always in a good mood when presents are involved)


She gave us all a smile when she rode on her rocking-snail.


And she momentarily stopped crying when she looked at her new books from Grandma Reynolds.

IMG_3697 IMG_3698

James and Gideon really liked their Christmas trees. Thanks Grandma!


She got the cutest little boots from Aunt Holly! I can’t wait for them to fit her!


Since it was only us I went really easy on Faith’s cake:


Daddy helped her blow out the candle. In the end though, I think James was the one that really did it. She was so grumpy she didn’t even eat any cake, but did try some ice cream. πŸ™‚


Happy Birthday Faith!

Teaching children to be giving at Christmas

I am always trying to find ways to bring more Christ into Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights, presents, and food. But when all that is said and done, I want my children to know it really is about Jesus. In a culture of Santa and the focus being on trying to get stuff it can be hard to find a way to teach this to children. Especially little children, since you can’t volunteer at soup kitchens and other things like that. Which is why I love Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes! It’s easy and you can involve younger children! We budget all year for Christmas which includes money for shoe boxes, but we had a difficult summer (both vehicles breaking down in the same week among other things) and ended up using Christmas money for other things. I was terribly disappointed that we weren’t going to do shoe boxes this year. How ever a miracle happened! Just before Thanksgiving we were given an envelop with $200 from someone in our church. We don’t know why or who it was. I know that they probably won’t read this message, but thank you from the bottom of our hearts! I instantly hopped on Operation Christmas child’s website to see if we were too late. We weren’t, we had a few days before pick up day! A few days later during donut time at church a lady walked up to me and said, “I love watching you and your children. I am sure there are things you need. I hope you will let me give this to you.” At home when I opened the card, there was $100! That night I sat my boys down (4 years and 2 1/2 years) and told them we were going to go to the store and buy things for other children. I had them watch a little video on Operation Christmas Child’s website that explains where the shoe boxes go. I think James understood. He told me, “I’m a little bit sad.” πŸ˜‰ I told him that giving isn’t sad, but happy. We will be making a little boy’s Christmas so happy. And off to Kmart we went.

We got three plastic boxes and told James and Gideon to pick out things to put inside. James picking out some stickers for his box:


and toothbrushes/tooth paste


They got a little bit distracted by the Christmas tree dΓ©cor. I can’t imagine why.


James adding something to his box.


Believe me I was tempted not to take a 4 year old, 2 1/2 year old and a 11 month old Christmas shopping for someone else. I could have done it faster. Much faster. But that isn’t the point. The point was to teach my boys about giving. Giving a really fun box away to a little boy that wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise. I pray all the time that my children will grow up to have a giving heart. Hopefully through things like this they will learn to give, and to do it happily. πŸ™‚

Β I have to say I am very proud of my boys! They happily filled most of the box for their child then Titus and I finished it for them while they played in the toy aisle. Because of the generosity of our church people we were able to make 3 boxes this year. The most we have ever done!


I told Titus when we got married that I would like to do one for each child we have that year at Christmas. So as we have more children we would do more boxes. Sadly this has not happened every year. But this year we were able to give 3 boxes, 2 for boys and one for a girl representing our three children.


Shoe boxes are about $50 to fill. I told Titus if we end up with 10 children we will have to budget $500 just for shoe boxes every year! ha ha ha WOW!!!

Thanksgiving 2014

Ah Thanksgiving! A time of food and family. I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t have anyone over other than my little family. Thanksgiving seems more special if you have lots of friend or family to share it with. When I asked my hubby what he wanted me to make he said he wanted turkey and chocolate milk. Well……that wasn’t going to happen. I set out making food a few days early, because I knew it wouldn’t all get down on one day. πŸ™‚ I made cranberry muffins just like the ones I grew up eating on Thanksgiving. My boys helped cut the cranberries:


Can I just say that cooking a thanksgiving meal by yourself is A LOT OF WORK! I took a break for a bit on the couch. I missed my mom and sisters a lot. We would cook all day for Thanksgiving in my mom’s one-butt kitchen, but we sure had fun doing it!


But it did all get done! Turkey, potatoes, gravy, snicker salad, deviled eggs, muffins, buns, corn, carrots, and two kinds of pie. πŸ˜€


I made everything from scratch too. I was going to make the stuffing from a box until my almost 1 year old got into a bag of new bread. I couldn’t throw it away so I turned it into stuffing.


Check out my turkey! That my friends is what real butter will do to it! Considering it was still frozen the morning of Thanksgiving it sure turned out great! And we didn’t get sick either!! πŸ˜€


I cooked the turkey with a bunch of fresh herbs, but I couldn’t taste them at all. The weather was so nice that Titus moved the table outside so we could eat!


Our center piece! It is a pinterest craft that isn’t finished yet, so I put the pumpkins on top. It looks cute.


After cooking for at least two days, and planning the menu for almost a week no one was hungry by the time we all sat down. 😦 I don’t think James ate at all and Gideon only ate a few bits.I guess that is what happens with little kids.



I am so thankful for my little family.Β  I am also so thankful for this house we live in. It has been such a wonderful blessing for us! I am also so thankful I was taught how to cook!!

Homemade laundry soap….finally

When James was 2 and Gideon was a baby I read a blog about making your own homemade laundry detergent. And I wanted to do this so badly. It was supposed to save you money, smell great, and make you oh so happy. Just before Thanksgiving this year I finally FINALLY made it. It only took me two years to get done. πŸ™‚ After running out of regular laundry soap at the end of Oct I ended up using dish soap for the next 3 weeks while trying to get all the stuff together to make my own. Titus wanted to just buy more, but I put my foot down! I. was. going. to. make. it!! I read blogs, I researched, I looked at prices. And I got discouraged. For me the two main reasons to make homemade things or things from scratch is a. to save money and b. it should be healthier or more natural than the store bought kind. After reading countless blogs I was convinced that the some of the main ingredients that were in ALL the recipes I was looking at, weren’t all that healthy. But if you got “natural” soap to use it was going to drive the price up. At this point I may have just quite and went to Sams where I have found a pretty nice natural laundry soap that was pretty cheap. Except I had already bought some borax and figured I had to use it. (It wasn’t until later that I found out that borax can be used in many ways all over your house and I really didn’t need to make the laundry soap anyway).

Almost every recipe for laundry detergent will have the following ingredients. Some recipes will add things like oxyclean or essential oils but these are the basic 4 things you need:

  • 1 (4 lb) Box of Borax- Found in the detergent aisle
  • 1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- Found in the detergent aisle
  • 2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap- Found in the detergent aisle (You can also use Fels Naptha)
  • 1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda- Found in the cooking aisle.

However I CAN NOT FINDΒ  super washing soda ANYWHERE! I looked at Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart, even at grocery stores. I asked employees of stores who blinked their eyes and said, “What are you looking for again?” I swear all you people are just lying about using it. After looking for weeks (remember I am washing all my clothes with dish soap these weeks) I finally had had enough. Below is my own recipe for all you people that can’t find washing soda! You are welcome!


Borax is easy to find, I used one 4 lb box.

Zote soap is also easy to find. I used two bars

Baking soda, well yes that is also easy to find. I used 4 lbs of baking soda (4 1 pound boxes)

I needed something to replace the washing soda, so I picked up a bag of blanca nieves detergent. This is actually detergent that can be used by its self. I picked it because a. it was close to the 4 lb size of washing soda (it was just a little bit bigger), b. it was very cheap, and c. I like Mexico and mexican products, so why not! ha ha

First I cut the bar soap and put it in the blender to get small pieces. This soap is pretty soft, I cut it with one hand while holding a baby with the other. One blog I read said that if you put some baking soda in the blender with the bar soap it cuts up the soap better. This is ABSOLUTELY true! I tried it both ways. But you need to put the baking soda in first and the soap on top. Putting in the soap and then the soda doesn’t do anything. I was very excited at the pretty color of the soap! πŸ˜€


Cutting and blending the soap is the most time consuming part of this whole project. After you are done dump everything into a big container and mix. I started off with a big bucket, but that is not the way to do it. You need to mix it in a wide container, not a deep narrow container. Believe me, your arms will thank you.


The blanca nieves detergent ended up having pink flakes of soap in it so the pink bar soap I used looked so great! It’s the little things people.


So the question is, does it get clothes clean? One of the first things I washed was my daughter’s dress that had a several day old spaghetti (or pizza?? can’t remember) stain.


It did not get out the stain. However, because this was so many days old I wasn’t surprised, and honestly would any detergent have gotten it out? I did take some of the pink flakes of soap out of the detergent I had just made and rubbed that on the stain and soaked it with some other stain remover and low and behold the stain came out! Now that made me happy!

I really wish I would have taken a before and after picture of my son’s p.j. because wow oh wow did they turn white! I’ve never been one that had a desire to get my whites really white, and let’s be honest we don’t have a lot of white clothes around here (and if you need a reason for that then you don’t have little kids). But WOW are they white! Not sure if it was the blanca nieves detergent that did that, but I did something right!

I didn’t know how much to use, so the first load I think I used about 3/4 cup. Then I looked up what everyone else was using and I guess that was a bit much. But check out the suds!!


After reading that everyone else was using 1 T or 2 T at the very most, I tried that. I wasn’t very impressed.


So I have settled on about 3 to 4 T. That seems to get the clothes clean without using excess.

Now everyone probably wants to know if it was cheaper. I really REALLY wanted to answer that for you, and I really did keep the receipts for a long time. But I’ve looked everywhere and can only find one.

Borax – $3.99 (I have this receipt so I know that one is right)

Baking soda – 4 boxes at .79 (It was on sale and I am pretty sure that was what I paid)

Blanca Nieves Detergent – $4.00 (I know it was under $4)

Zote soap – This is the one I really can’t remember, but I think they were just under $2 a bar. So maybe about $4 total.

This totals to $15.15. Even if I am off a few dollars this is still drastically cheaper then buying the store stuff. I will update you on how long it lasts when I run out, but I have tons of it so it might be awhile!

While this isn’t as natural as I would like (the Zote soap and blanca nieves are mostly what I am concerned about) I have to say I am really really happy with how this turned out. I may or may not try to substitute in more natural soaps next time around. But for now I am happy. πŸ˜€