Tuesday, August 24, 2010

East Coast Bound

Well,  part of my family and I are boarding an airplane tomorrow bound for New Jersey.  I am currently up late getting Mike, Lucas and I all packed up to travel to see Gram and DooDad and the rest of the Galloway Crew.  Mike's Uncle James is getting married this coming Saturday evening in Central Park.  Hannah and Leah are sadly not coming with us this go round.  For two reasons:  1.) It is their second week of kindergarten and we don't want them to miss half of it.  2.) Mike's parents graciously used their Advantage miles to fly us up, and with Mike's current unemployment, we just couldn't justify spending another $600 or more on tickets for them.  Especially since this will be a quick trip (we'll be back Sunday).

It's a bittersweet trip because I always LOVE going to see Mike's family and I love getting to hang out in New York City.  But I will be very sad not to have my girls with me.  And we wish our job situation were a little different as well.  I guess there is more "sweet" than "bitter" in this trip, which is good though.  Please say a prayer for safe travel for us as we fly and for peace for the girls while Mom and Dad are away.  Oh and strength for my parents as they take on 24/7 Twin Mania!!! :) 

Thanks, Friends!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Laundry Detergent Experiment

Yesterday I decided to play chemist for the day and create our own laundry detergent from scratch.  Since we need to cut back on the amount of money going out of our house, this seemed like a logical way to save some cash (since we do a lot of laundry with five people!).  I have seen and heard about people doing this, but had just never taken the time to figure it out for myself.  I suppose it seemed complicated, but guess what...it's not.  Now that I have 7 hours a day without my two five year olds around, I used part of  my afternoon channeling my inner mad scientist.  Here's how it all went down:
First, I gathered all my supplies.  You will need a large bucket (with a lid), borax, washing soda, a bar of soap (we've used Dial since, well forever and to me its scent is the epitome of "squeaky clean" but you can use whatever kind you like!), a pot to cook the soap in, a cheese grater, and some measuring cups. That's it!
By the way, I found the borax and soap at Target, but had to go to three more grocery stores before I located the washing soda.  For you local folk, I got it at Crest, but I also hear that Homeland carries it as well.  Once you've gathered everything together, put four cups of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, use your cheese grater to grate the bar of soap into little bits.  I used Dial Gold soap, so it actually looks like cheese.  But again, you can use whatever kind of soap you want. 

Next drop your "soap cheese" bits into the pot of boiling water.  I did mine in little batches because I had read that was helpful.  I suppose you could just throw them all in at once though if you're in a hurry.  Once they are in, stir them occasionally until they are all melted.  This took about five minutes and I kept the water at a rolling boil.

It's all melted now.  Mmmmm....soap soup.

Next fill your bucket with three gallons of water.  Helpful hint:  16 cups = 1 gallon!

To the water add your "soap soup", 1 cup of washing soda, and 1/2 cup of borax.  Give it a good stir, put the lid on, and let it sit for 24 hours.

Here it is 24 hours later.  You can't tell from the photo, but it has a jelly-like consistency which is kind of gross.  Mike says it looks like a tub of lard and to be honest it really does.  But, that is ok!  It still washes your clothes just fine.  I did my first load this morning. 

The recipe I used for liquid laundry soap says to use 1 cup per load for top loading washing machines and 1/4 cup per load for High Efficiency front loading washers.  My washing machine and dryer are 10 years old and still alive and kicking.  I'm old school like that. Here I just used the lid to an old laundry detergent bottle to measure, but I think I'm just going to leave a 1 cup measuring scoop in the bucket. 

Here are some pajama pants fresh out of the wash.  They smell and look clean, but the scent is very subtle.  If you are looking for a strong Tide or Gain scent, it probably won't happen.  So that's it!  It was a fun adventure and one that I had been wanting to try. 

The Cost Breakdown
Bucket from Home Depot: $3.50
Washing Soda:  $2.79
Borax:  $2.99
3 Pack of Dial:  $1.77
Total:  $10.96

Each 3 gallon bucket should yield about 48 loads of laundry or more.  I hope this really saves us a little money in the long run.  If you are interested in making your own soap, feel free to follow my directions or just google "homemade laundry soap" and you'll get tons of different recipes.  You can also make a powder detergent as well.  If you try it, let me know how it goes! 
Lucas loves to "play" the bucket like a drum.  So it doubles as a child's toy as well. Score!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Big Day

Ready to go!!
Even Lucas wanted in on the picture taking.  He knew something big was happening.

Leah decided to cut bangs before school started and I think they look great!  And you can tell them apart more easily now too.  Also, Hannah is in to tilting her head in pictures lately.  She thinks it looks like a "fashion pose".
So happy!
Me and my three favorite little people!!
Let's go already!!
Inside the building.  I think this is probably picture number 130.  Thankfully, I've edited them down for you.
Hannah in her classroom.  She went right in and got down to the business of coloring. She is a serious colorer (I think I just made that word up).
Leah in her classroom.  She is handing her folder to her teacher.  

Mike and I stood at their doorways like crazy parents snapping photo after photo. Eventually we looked around and were some of the last few hanging around, so we took our cue, grabbed hands, and walked out of the building with proud hearts.  The girls did great.  And to celebrate their first day (and our first day too) we dropped Lucas off with Grandma and headed to a few antique stores.  We spent a rainy morning looking around, dreaming, planning, discussing the possibilities of this piece or that.  And when the girls came home eventually, they too were full of dreams and plans and excitement for the future.  It was a great first day for everyone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kindergarten Eve

These two girls of mine start Kindergarten tomorrow morning.  I cannot believe it.  Today was a bittersweet day.  I spent a lot of it reflecting on how fast these first five years have flown by.  I know they will grow a lot this year-- physically, emotionally, and academically.  I have cherished the time I've had them all to myself, but am exicted about partnering with their teachers to help guide them into the next chapter of their little lives.  I'm sure I'll tear up a little tomorrow.  I'm sure I will walk in their empty room a few times wishing I heard the sounds of their little voices playing together.  And I'm sure I will be anxiously waiting to hear about their very first day.  I promise to take lots of pictures!

On a different note, my sweet friend, Jemma, sent me an email this morning that just really hit home for me right now.  So I thought I'd share.

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything..." 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)
It seems you can hardly turn anywhere today without seeing reminders of economic hardships. During the past couple of years the unemployment rate in our country has been the highest we've seen in 60 years. Friends and family members are suffering due to the loss of jobs, investments gone bad, and cutbacks that seem to be everywhere.

I have a friend who has owned a thriving car dealership for over 30 years. This man and his family have been pillars in their community who are known for their generosity and kind Christian spirits.

This past year though, he declared bankruptcy and literally lost everything--including their cars.

If that isn't cruel irony, I don't know what is.

So, I've had to have some discussions with God about the absolute heartbreak of this situation. I know God is the great provider, so why isn't He providing for my friend? God is a miracle worker, so why isn't He working a miracle for my friend?

These are fair questions about what seems like a terribly unfair situation.

Whenever I face situations I am having a hard time understanding, I have to park my mind with what I know to be true. Keeping my mind saturated with truth, keeps Satan from being able to whisper dangerous assumptions, false accusations, and faith-eroding perspectives.

So, what is true in this situation? What is true no matter what situation we are facing?

God is a good provider.

This is true. This is where I must park my mind. This is the reality that must saturate my thou ghts. This truth rises above our troubling circumstances and calls us to see life from a perspective outside our screaming realities.

God richly provides us with everything we need. Therefore I must trust that God is providing for my friend. What is in front of my friend is God's provision. God hasn't stopped providing just because my friend is in financial turmoil. This situation hasn't caught God off guard. God hasn't run out of resources to help my friend.

Part of God's perfect provision for my friend is to walk through this. I may not like it. I may not understand it. But, because my friend knows and loves God, I have peace that he will make it through this.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 that if we think on what is true, the peace of God will be with us. And ultimately, isn't peace what we want? That's what I really want for my friend. I want this precious man and his family to have peace more than I want their dealership to be saved, their financ es restored, and their old life to suddenly come back and settle into place.

Praise God, His peace is but an utterance of truth away. So, sweet sister, park your mind with His truth today. And watch God's perfect provision of peace flood whatever dry and lacking ache you are experiencing right now.

Dear Lord, thank You for being my provider each day. Help me not to fear these times of hardship. Rather, help me to trust in You and Your ways more each day. My desire is to focus on what is true and believe that You will make the rough places smooth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend Trip To Big D

After a whirlwind trip to Dallas this weekend, the kids and I are finally home!  My dear friend Nikki and I packed up our six children in her minivan and hit the road Friday morning to make the four hour drive south.  Our close friend, Angie and her husband Brian, live there with their two adorable children, Silas and Madison.  We met Angie and Brian eight years ago and have kept up a close friendship even though they have moved out of state.  In fact, you might recognize them from some of our past Lake Tenkiller trips.  And please check out Angie's blog.  She is open and honest and one of the funniest writers I know!

Nikki and I loaded up and ready to go

Five hours later, sitting in Dallas traffic, ready to let these kids stretch their legs!

An example of what we did for the next 2.5 days

My girls have become little fish who love to swim

This little guy was happy in the pool with me or swinging away in the shade

We had picnics and cookouts.

We painted with chocolate, and....

got really, really messy!


And I even fulfilled a lifelong dream of having my picture taken with Cookie Monster!

But more importantly, I got to spend the weekend with good friends who really feel more like family.  Late nights and long days of talking, laughing and doing life together....I am really grateful!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Not In Control

Friday night sunset
I'm not in control.  I mean, I believe in free will and that I can make choices about my life, but ultimately, I am not in control.  I don't see the big picture.  I don't understand how the things happening today will benefit me six months from now.  I can't work together my past, my present, and my future into one beautiful picture.  I am at a loss as a human in this area.

Today, Mike was laid off from his job.  It was nothing personal.  The company he has worked for these last four years has been experiencing some financial difficulty (as many places are in this fragile economy), and they decided to stop all movie production and focus solely on marketing the films they already have.  Mike and four other "creatives" on the production team were let go as a result.  We have had an inkling that things were not good for awhile now, but today it became official. 

You know what is funny, though?  We are OK!  We both have a deep inner peace about the whole situation, and would even go so far as to say that we are excited about it.  Because we believe in a God who works ALL things together for good (Romans 8:28).  Looking back over our eleven year marriage, He has provided for us every step of the way-- even when we thought there was no way.  Each time He provided for us has served as a spiritual marker to help us keep the faith on our present journey.  Why would He abandon us now? 

Instead, we feel like we are about to embark on a new chapter in our lives.  We might be stretched along the way, but we are excited about where we are going and what is around the corner for us.  I am so thankful for a husband who is a hard worker. I'm thankful for our three healthy children.  I'm thankful that we have enough for right now.  And I trust God with all of our tomorrows. 

Just looking at this sky is so calming to me. We are going to be alright!

And now this Old Lady can take a break as Mike's work transportation.  I can hear her breathing a sigh of relief right now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CSI: Barbie

It has been awhile since I found any Barbies for my CSI series.  But last week, we had a major incident.  On Friday around 4:00, I filled up our small, plastic baby pool, put the kids in their bathing suits and headed outside.  The kids brought a few toys out to play with as I spread out a quilt and relaxed for awhile.  Thankfully, by this time in the afternoon, our backyard is mostly shaded, so instead of 106 degrees, it's more of a balmy 95.  Anyway, we splashed in the pool, played "red light, green light", kicked a ball around, chased Lucas, looked for shapes in the clouds, and then eventually came in to start dinner preparations. 

Later that night, I went outside to do some clean-up and this is what I found:

Four Barbies perished in the muddy water.  Even though three of the four are mermaids, their fins seem to be missing which may have led to their dreadful fate. 

It's funny how peaceful they all look.  And a little creepy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Martin Nature Center

Happy Monday morning!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  It was HOT here.  The heat index on Sunday made it feel like 110 degrees.  I prefer warm weather, but that is just about unbearable.  So we mostly stayed inside, but by late Saturday afternoon we just needed to get out and move.  I tried to think of a nice shaded place to play, and of course I thought of Martin Nature Center!  It's one of my favorite places to go in any season and it is exactly 3.5 miles from my house.  Perfect fit!  We put Lucas down for an afternoon nap and Mike volunteered to stay home with him.  We didn't think a one year old should be out in such heat anyway.  But my mom, dad, Hannah and Leah and I all doused ourselves in sunscreen and headed outdoors for the afternoon. 
Ready to start

Leah brought a magnifying glass so she could look for bugs.

Papa and his girls

We cooled off inside the nature center for awhile.

We put on a little puppet show,

and saw plenty of animals like this cute, fat toad.  This guy reminded me of the toad in the book Tuck Everlasting which is one of my all time favorite young adult reads.

We eventually ended up here at the creek.  It is our favorite spot.  I let the girls wear their bathing suits since it was blazing hot outside.  They loved it!

Leah checking things out.

We stayed here for a long time as they played and played and explored and played....

Eventually they found a deeper spot to dive on in with full abandon.  Now that's one way to cool off.

My parents and I sat in the shade, chatted, and listened to the light breeze gently shake the leaves above us.  Even though we were all dripping in sweat, I still loved spending an afternoon outside in nature.

Friday, August 6, 2010

First Birthday Cake Pictures

Mike just sent me these photos of Lucas eating his birthday cake during his first birthday party a few weekends ago.  I love the story they tell!  In the first picture you can see that there was happiness and excited anticipation.  He was thinking, "I don't know why everyone is singing to me, but I like it!" Then there were the moments of him actually tasting the cake.  He loved it!  And he proceeded to make the traditional "first birthday cake mess" that all babies must do.  But as he was enjoying this first slice of cake, the crowd of excited children pushed in closer around him.  In his sugar-high state, I'm sure their facial expressions and loud voices made him a wee bit nervous.  In addition there were camera flashes going off like a crowd of paparazzi all around him.  And it was 7:30 which is definitely bedtime for this little birthday boy.  So....we then proceed to pictures number three and four:  crying and reaching out for Mommy.  

Even with cake smeared all over his scrunched up, tear streaked face, he is still the cutest little one year old boy I know.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

Old Lady Update, My Camera Declaration, and Midnight Snacks

Well, our Old Lady (aka our 2000 Ford Focus) has made a turnaround and has decided to survive!  Turns out the cables that connect the battery to.....to....well, whatever the battery connects to, were corroded and just needed to be replaced.  A mere $39.99 and she lives to die another day.  She now sits in her usual spot in the driveway only to drive Mike to and from work.  Mike and I have decided that other than transporting him to work and back, she is only to be driven if there is some crazy life or death situation where we need to drive it somewhere.  As in if there is ever a zombie outbreak, and our other car has been set on fire, so the Ford is our last means of escape.  Even then, I'm not sure she could outrun a mob of zombies which is sad to say.

In other news, I am also at a crossroads with my camera situation.  I am feeling fed up with my old digital camera (which takes not so great photos), but I still don't feel comfortable with my newer, nicer camera.  I need someone with some camera experience (i.e. Buffy, Tanda....if either of you are reading this!) to give me a tutorial on how to use my Rebel. Seriously.  Maybe then I can have wonderful photos (like my friend Maria and my sister-in-law Rachel who both always take great pictures).  I'm declaring that in August of 2010 I will figure our how to use my camera and put it into practice so that I can better document my life!  There, I said it.  Now it's out there for you all to hold me accountable.

It's getting late here, and before I go to bed I am going to have my traditional "midnight snack" of cereal.  I go through phases where only certain cereals can satisfy my cravings-- Cocoa Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Special K Red Berries, Oh's, Kix, Raisin Bran Extra! (weird, I know), and currently it's Golden Grahams.  They are too sweet for me to eat in the morning, but somehow their graham- crackery goodness fits the bill for a late night snack.  What cereal are you currently craving?  If you're into cereal, that is.

Hope you all enjoyed my random, late-night post! :)