Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Even Ninja's Need a Nap Sometimes

My two youngest warriors have been pretending to be Ninja's lately.  They dress-up in the hand-me-down karate uniforms they have. They have also been checking out every LEGO Ninjago book that the library has. (By dress-up I mean wear for 3 consecutive days in a row and to bed, until I pry it off their body to wash where they promptly retrieve it from the dryer and put it on again).
There has been a lot of wrestling, leaping, and kicking around here.

However, the other day one of my little Ninja's was extremely grumpy.
Let me just tell you, grumpy Ninja's are no fun.

I was running out of patience with my little guy, so I did what most sane mothers will do in an effort to keep their sanity, and keep their child alive to see his next birthday.
So, I sent him to bed. 
Come on, sometimes a mom's got to do what a mom's got to do.
After a bit, I noticed it was pretty quiet in the direction of his bedroom, so I went to go check on him. 
I found him all snuggled up with his blankie and animals, fast asleep. Let's face it Momma's, when you see your fearsome Ninja all snuggled up with his special buddies, it melts all your previous frustrations away.  
It's called the power of the power of the warm fuzzy.
I also realized, I haven't seen my little boy sleeping in the daylight in a long time.  Nap time is a thing of the past here in this house. 

-Pause for a moment of silence-

Yeah, anyway when my little Ninja woke up, his mood was considerably improved.  
He of course claimed that he hadn't really fallen asleep. 


The truth is, we could all benefit from a little nap (i.e. alone time), once in awhile.  However, like my son, we can't always make that call on our own.  Sometimes it's because we can't see our attitude the same way others can see it.  Sometimes it's because we think we're gonna miss something important.  And sometimes it's because we think we would be neglecting our responsibilities.  However, by removing ourselves from our normal routine for a short time, we can come back renewed, refreshed, and with a better attitude. 

Now that's something this Ninja Momma can benefit from.   

I realized recently that I was behaving a lot like my boy.  Grumpy, a bad listener, quick to lose my temper, and just generally not happy.
The fact is, I needed to be put on a time-out.
  So this week, we've been taking a break from our normal routine because Momma needs an attitude adjustment. Through my quiet time with the Lord each morning, I realized, I was setting the poor tone that was pervading my home.  Part of the reason my boys were frustrating me so much, is because I was so easily frustrated. 
So, I've been praying about my attitude, evaluating whether I really do need a night off, and trying to do a better job of  doing what's right when it comes to taking care of my family. 
Guess what?  Today, my little Ninja's played together better than they have in a long time.  Seems like when Momma has her attitude in check, everyone else is happier too. 
I'm glad that God showed me the truth about my attitude.  I'm glad that He is willing to help me change it.  I'm also glad that he loves my babies even more than I do and no matter what, He will help me be the exact Momma they need.
As long as I'm willing to take a time-out every once in awhile and listen to Him.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Home Made Laundry Soap on a Budget

Everyone likes to save a buck right? 
 Especially on things that aren't exactly 'fun' to buy.
Things like toilet paper and laundry soap definitely don't qualify as 'fun' purchases in my book.  
I haven't learned how to make my own toilet paper yet, but I have learned a really cost effective way to make laundry soap.

A good friend shared this recipe with me a couple of years ago. 
 I have made it in the powder and the liquid version.  Although I liked the powdered version, I've gotten a new washing machine since the last time I made it. (It's been a long time since I've made laundry detergent)  
I wanted to use a liquid this time and I wanted it thin enough to work well in my machine.  Like most new machines, mine is HE labeled.  This soap meets the HE standards. 
I already had all the ingredients in the laundry room.  Apparently they have a long shelf life. I was also running low on the store bought detergent I'd been using.  This offered me the perfect opportunity to make some more detergent.  It isn't hard, but it does take a little time, and some waiting.  The only unusual item you may not have on hand is a large bucket.  Oh, and enough storage containers to hold all your amazing soap!  You will have to plan ahead so you have enough of those.  You can use any recycled containers that you have on hand.
I know there are other tutorials out on the internet for this, but I thought I'd go ahead and share my method with you. This is very cost efficient.  It is also gentle on your skin. It should be safe enough for babies, but try it sparingly first. Plus, it cleans well.
You only need 4 ingredients if you count water.    
They are Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha bar soap. You should be able to get all these ingredients all totaled for around $6.00 at your local grocery or Wal-mart stores.  Plus, there will be enough Borax and Super Washing Soda to make many more batches of detergent.

This is what Fels-Naptha looks like.  
I love the smell of this stuff. 

I also love the look of the bar once you unwrap it.

Okay, your first step is to grate the bar of soap.  Now you can do it by hand like I did, or you can take your food processor and use that.  Whichever you prefer.

Then you take 4 cups of warm tap water and the grated soap and put them in a pan on the stove.


Make sure you keep stirring it as it cooks on medium heat on the stove.  Your goal is to melt the soap, you're not trying to boil it.
                                   Look! Almost done!

Once the soap flakes are all melted, you will pour the mixture into your five gallon bucket.

Now measure out 1 cup of Borax,

and 1 cup of Super Washing Soda.
I put mine in the same measuring cup at the same time.

                              Add them to the soap in the bucket.

Now, fill your bucket half full with more warm tap water.  You want it to be warm so that it dissolves the powders you just added.  Stir it up until you think that everything has turned into a liquid.

I suggest moving your bucket to where you are going to let it sit, before you fill it the rest of the way with warm water. A five gallon bucket full of liquid is pretty heavy and awkward to move.  You do not want to spill this bucket all over your floor in a moving disaster. Although, it would probably clean your floor nicely.

Find a lid to cover your bucket with.  Even a towel will work.  You just want to keep it from getting any schmutz in it as it sits.  
Now comes the hard part.  You need to let your bucket sit overnight and up to 24 hours.

When you take your lid off the next day. you will be able to see that things have changed.  It will really become apparent to you when you when you go to stir it.  It has changed from a thin liquid to a gelatinous glob. 
Don't you just love the word gelatinous?
I do.

You are now going to stir your gelatinous goo.  I used a long handled spoon.  It was not long enough. 
I still had to dig my hand into my soap. 

My spoon stirring did not break up the goo completely, so I got out my handy-dandy mixer to help me out.  I mixed with one hand and stirred with the other and eventually I broke up all that goo into a slightly curdled looking liquid.

Now is when you need all of those storage containers that you have collected.  I happened to have quite a few large mason jars.  These are about a 2 quart size. 

I filled 9 of them completely full with my soap mixture. Then I filled a one gallon glass jar half full with my soap and filled it the rest of the way with warm water.  This is the jar that I will be using first.  I even had enough soap to fill another 2 quart jar half full, top off with water, and give to a friend. 

I saw some cute labels on Pinterest for laundry soap, but I decided to make my own.  I'm a little obsessed with things having mustaches on them lately.  So I had to add a mustache to my labels.  Don't ask me what it has to do with laundry.  Except the fact that I wash a lot of clothes for little future mustache wearing men.

Then, because I didn't want to make labels again the next time I made soap, I got out my handy-dandy laminator.  I was really wishing for a punch the size of this circle I printed up.  
My perfectionist side was not happy with having to cut out these circles by hand. 
Did you know that it is impossible to cut out a perfectly even and smooth sided circle by hand.  
Well it is impossible for me.

I LOVE laminating things.  I remember helping my teacher with the huge laminators in grade school once.  It was love at first melt.

Before I put the lid on the jar of soap I would be using right away, I added a blend of essential oil drops to help it smell even yummier.  Remember though, essential oil smells will leach out when exposed to sunlight.  I plan to keep my soap hidden in a dark cupboard, so it's okay that I put it in a clear glass jar.

I added my label, and ta-da! A wonderful, inexpesive, yet hardworking jar of soap!

I sized the labels so they would fit under the ring of a wide mouth jar lid.  I figured I could put them either on top or taped to the side of the jar. 
I am not technologically gifted enough to figure out how to share these labels with you as a free printable, otherwise I would.
(Maybe one day I'll have one of my techie friends help me out with that.)

Here is all my soap - minus the gallon jar.  All these bottles are only half of what they will be.  When I take one off the shelf to use it, I will pour it in my gallon jar and double it with water.  
I can't even begin to calculate how many loads I've got sitting here! Or how cheap each load is!
But trust me, it's cheap! 

I will also wait to add essential oils until I open each one and use it. 

I guess the only problem with this soap recipe is having the space to store it all!  I think it's a fair trade for all the money I'm saving.

I put 1/2 cup for each load on my label, however there is no exact science to this.  Play with the measurement and see what works best in your machine.  I have a large capacity washer and I like to pack it FULL.  I read on a few other blogs that you can use as little as 1/4 cup in a front loading washing machine and up to 5/8 cup in a top loader.

I hope this inspires soap making in many of your households.  
Save your money for something fun.  

 Recipe Recap:
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Super Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax
4 cups water
a 5 gallon bucket
many storage containers

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: Next Generation Leader

I just finished reading Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley. 
I've been an Andy Stanley fan for awhile and this book didn't disappoint. 
Stanley gets the point across in a clear way that is insightful and easy to understand.
Next Generation Leader is a playbook for becoming a better and more effective leader.
He highlights 5 main points: Competence, Courage, Clarity, Coaching, and Character.
The book is broken into these five sections and each section ends with a summary and a challenge.

Competence is figuring out what you are gifted at and maximizing your time doing it.  Stanley says "The less you do the more you will accomplish". Delegate those duties that you are not gifted at and allow someone else to shine in that area.
"Only do what only you can do"

Courage is a defining factor in leadership. A good leader knows when to move forward.  Moving forward can be scary, especially when others are looking up to you or relying on you.  It takes courage to move forward through the fear of the unknown.  Without courage you can't lead.

Clarity is defined by Stanley as "an art that involves giving explicit and precise direction in spite of limited information and unpredictable outcomes."  in other words, a leader needs to be able to confidently make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Coaching involves seeing the value in and finding someone else who can evaluate you as a leader.  Stanley says that "a good coach will evaluate your performance against your potential." A coach is someone whom you can learn from and trust to give you Godly advice.

Character is a crucial element for any leader who also wants to be respected by the people who are following them. "The values you preach to your organization must be in alignment with the the values you live out in every facet of your life."

Andy Stanley delivers great tips for anyone who is currently in leadership or for the person who would like to become a leader.  He explains what a successful leader should do and how they should go about becoming a more effective and better leader. He also includes biblical examples of leadership do's and don'ts.  
As a stay at home mom, even I was able to evaluate my leadership qualities. I found the principles in this book to be helpful and challenging, even in my life. If this book is beneficial to me, then I can't imagine what it can do for someone who is leading an organization or company.

Overall, this book is a good read and I would easily recommend it.

You can find Next Generation Leader at

To read the first chapter, follow this link:

If you would like to learn more about Andy Stanley check out:

Let me know if you read it and what you think.

*Disclaimer:  I recieved this book for free from WaterBrook Multonmah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. Pin It

Free Carhartt?!?!

I want to give a shout out to a good company.  
Because I believe in spreading the word about companies that do it right.
Many of you have heard of Carhartt before.  Some of your husbands, son or daughters may even wear it.
Shoot, I even know some women who claim this as their favorite brand. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Carhartt is known for the nearly indestructible quality of their
Well, one of my favorite deal websites, Zulily, was selling Carhartt for kids this fall.
They happened to have jackets in the boys sizes for a really good price.
So I got them each one.
When you live on 12 acres of woods and blackberry bushes and you heat your house with wood, you need something a little tougher than your average jacket to send your kids outside in.
Hauling wood does a number on a coat.  Have you ever tried to get pine pitch out of fleece?
I did.
It did not go well.
I'm pretty sure even Martha doesn't have a solution for that.

Anyway, we got our coats in the mail and the boys started wearing them outside to play. 
The older boys coats have zippers on them, but the coat that came in Wyat's size only had snaps to fasten it.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the snaps on Wyat's coat had come off.
Super major bummer.

I don't know how to fix snaps.  So I thought I'd have to do some calling around trying to find someone who could fix it for me.
That idea didn't appeal to me.
Hunky Hubby suggested that I call the Carhartt company.
I didn't think they would care because I bought the coat off of an unofficial Carhartt website.
But, I listened to the hubs and called them anyway.
A very nice woman answered my call and listened to what the problem was. She told me that she had to send my information to the children's department and I would hear back from them in a few days.  Well, a few days went by and then a week and I still hadn't heard from Carhartt. 
I was starting to feel a little disgruntled because I didn't want to call back and have to explain myself all over again in order to find out what happened.
A few nights ago Hunky Hubby came home before me and found a package on our door step.
Guess who it was from? 

Can you guess what was inside?
That's right!  A brand new coat!
They didn't call me, instead they sent me a complete replacement! Now that's what I call customer service!
It's also an excellent example of just what kind of a company Carhartt is.

We bought a Carhartt because of it's reputation.  We thought it would be durable and stand up to pretty much anything our boys could throw at it.  We didn't anticipate having any problems with it.  So when there was a malfunction, we were surprised.  We had no reason to think that anything would go wrong with the jacket. 

If you look at the details of the jacket you'll notice quality workmanship. The zippers are heavy duty and it's lined with a super cozy Berber fleece. It's also got double stitching and the canvas material is really heavy duty.

Turns out, Carhartt didn't expect us to have problems with their product either.  And, I am really impressed with the way Carhartt sticks behind their brand. 
I will definitely be buying more Carhartt products in the future.
Thanks Carhartt!  We appreciate your integrity.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Do You Do Once You Know?

January 11th was national Human Trafficking Awareness day.  
I thought that it would be a good day to finally wrap up my trip to Las Vegas.
And it would have been.
But I didn't.
I was thinking about it, and I am simply having a hard time finding the words to sum up the trip.
I know many of you are waiting for me to write about "the thing".  You want to know what I took away from this trip, You want to know what God revealed to me through my experiences, you want to know what I think the core of the trip was about, you want to know what I think I am going to do now.
I do to.
In truth I am struggling with trying to figure out what the purpose of me going on this trip really was. 
I am struggling to figure out what I do now.
Sometimes I'm just struggling with all this knowledge I now have.

I mentioned before that I didn't go looking for this trip.  It was brought to me. 
I didn't go looking for this cause.  It was brought to me.
I didn't want to know what I know now.  
But I do.
So I am struggling to know what God's plan for me and this cause is.
What does he want a rural house wife and home schooling mom to do with people involved in human trafficking?
I have been praying, and was praying the entire time that I was away about this.  I feel like this isn't supposed to be a one time thing.  Once you know, once you've seen the faces of trafficking victims, you can't, you shouldn't, just walk away and pretend it doesn't happen.
You cannot sit at the same table and talk to a mother who has lost a daughter to this predator, and see the pain in her eyes,  and just walk away.  
You can't  break bread with women who have come out of the life and hear their stories of redemption and restoration and just forget.
You can't know that all around the world, possibly probably even in your own town, there are girls who are being forced to service 'johns' into the darkest hours of the night while you sleep safely in the comfort of your own bed, and just walk away.

That would be wrong.
So very wrong.

That would be unjust.
But it is an impossible problem.  
There is no way to stop it.
I mean, if there was no demand for illicit sex, then we could stop it.  If there was no sexual sin in the world then we could put an end to it. 
But that isn't going to happen on this side of heaven.
So here is what I know.  
Here is one thing that I think I have figured out through all of this.
This is what I think I should try and do:
The only way to truly save a life, is to prevent a child/woman/man from becoming a victim of sex trafficking.
Because once a person has been sexually abused, even if they are rescued from the situation, their life has been altered.  They will have painful issues to work through.  There will be   memories to forget and emotions to heal.  They will need to come to the place where they can forgive their abuser.  
They won't be the same as they would have been. 
Even with the gift of God's amazing, wonderful, powerful love, if they choose to accept it, they will have to work through the consequences of their abuse.
Without God's love, I am not sure that there is even much hope of a true healing.
With God's love I know that much is possible.  God is the great physician not just of bodies but of hearts.  I have looked in the eyes of women who have suffered much, who have been battered and abused, both by their own hands and the hands of others.  I have seen in them what God can do with a life that was tattered and torn, wrecked and bleeding, ruined beyond what they thought could be repaired.  
I have seen his redemption in their eyes and it is so sweet.  It is so amazing!  Even thinking of it now brings tears to my eyes!  Oh what God can do with a person who chooses to surrender to his love!
But I would choose, if I could, to spare them the pain they went through.  I feel we owe it to our children to try and keep them safe.  To attempt to protect them from the kind of pain that evil people can inflict on their lives.  
Because that's the truth.  People who traffic and abuse others,  are evil.
So here is what I can do, and you too:  
Get educated.
Spread the word.
Save a life.

It sounds simple and maybe it is.  But it isn't easy.  I haven't enjoyed gaining this knowledge.  Many people will avoid this topic because of the sensitive content or vulgar truth.  Let's face it, there is nothing nice or pretty about trafficking.  It's ugly! But it is time for all of us to stop turning a blind eye to the evil that is happening all around us.  
It's time to stand up for the truth.

Here are a few simple things:
*Don't act like it wouldn't happen in your town.  It does and is.
*Don't think that all women choose to be prostitutes or porn stars. Many of them didn't. 
*Don't think that the women are in it for the money and they like to do what they are doing - most of them don't.  
Most women are being mentally manipulated by an evil pimp.  
Most women who are prostitutes have been sexually abused as children.  The emotional ramifications of that abuse has made them easier to prey upon as young women. 
*Don't buy sex - not magazines, not movies,not the phone, not the Internet, and not women
*Don't give your kids unlimited access to the Internet
   (the average age of a boys first exposure to pornography is         age 11)
*Don't avoid the hard topics at home.  Talk to your kids. 
*Don't forget to teach your kids how valuable they are in God's eyes.  Teach them how much he loves them!
*Don't forget to tell your kids every day that you love them. Show it with your actions too. 
*Don't think it couldn't happen to your kid/family.  It can happen to anyone.
*Don't avoid being educated on this topic, it is to your benefit to be aware.
*Don't forget to be compassionate to women who are in the sex industry.  They are someones daughter, mother, friend, or sister.  
*Don't forget that God loves them as much as he loves you.  Share his love with them.
*Don't be afraid to share your knowledge with others.  You might just save a life.

I know there is a lot to think about here.
I know that this is an unpleasant subject.
But I believe that together, we can make a difference.
We can save a life.

No, I don't know what God wants me to do - exactly - with all the information I have.  I don't know where he wants me to get involved here at home.  I don't know what it is supposed to look like.
I am going to continue to pray and see what God wants.    
I will look for the opportunities as they come.  
I will do what I can.  
I won't forget.
And God will continue to do his work all throughout the world using people like me.  
Using people like you.  
People who are willing to take up the cross and share the gospel of Christ by loving one person at a time in the name of Jesus. Pin It

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas Goodies

Here's a question I'd like to hear a few more people's opinions on:
What's your take on all the sweets and treats made throughout the holidays?
Are you crazy for them or do they make you crazy?

They make me crazy.  The holidays already feel so full and rushed.  I like to bake, but everywhere you go, there are cookies!
How are you supposed to keep from gaining 10 pounds in the month of December when there is chocolate and sugar everywhere! 

I'm fairly certain that if I didn't have children, I wouldn't make any treats for the holidays. Why go through all that work when you know you'll end up with a pile of goodies you didn't have to make by the end of the season?
I do it for the boys you know, all the nostalgic memories they will have when they are grown and think on Christmas' past?
I know the holidays are about traditions and stuff.  Making cookies is a part of that.  I even made it so our Advent calendar instructed us that we had to do it.  That way I wouldn't be allowed to skip out on the treat baking.

  So we did our cookie baking.
And this year, I even let the boys help.
(I know, Awesome Mom points for me)
Then I even let them eat some!
(That helps me score major Awesome Mom points)

This is how the pretzels look when I dip them . . .
We only made 2 kinds this year.
We have some other favorites, but I only wanted to invest the time, energy and resources into two.
So we chose dipped pretzels (one of my favorites, and more addicting than crack-cocaine. At least I think so. I wouldn't know from experience)

These are a sticky, gooey, mess with kids, but very simple with little to no instruction needed. I like the white almond bark the best, but the boys like the milk chocolate.
All you have to do is melt the chocolate in the microwave and let the kids dip away.  I did cover my cookie sheets in wax paper to make my life easier though. Incredibly, I'm getting a little smarter, the older I get. :)

This is what happens when the boys get to put on the sprinkles!
Oh, don't forget the sprinkles. They add festivity.  Plus it's the boys favorite part. This part does have to be strictly monitored however.  Otherwise you get a pretzel that is so completely coated in sprinkles, you aren't even convinced there is a pretzel underneath.

Our second treat was ginger bread cutout cookies.  The boys love to do cut outs, and Hunky Hubby loves ginger bread.  I however, do not.  Consequently I am not tempted to eat these cookies, thereby saving me from ingesting extra calories. 
Or it just saves some room for more pretzels. 
If only I wasn't so weak.
I do like to decorate the cookies and the boys do too.  This year they all managed to hang in long enough to decorate at least 3.7 cookies each.  Leaving the other 49 cookies for H.H. and I to do.
Surprisingly to you, because you don't know him as well as I do, H.H. is a pretty darn good cookie decorator.  He displays creativity and 'outside the box' ideas. As fun as it is, I'm really happy when they are all done.
We used a new recipe for the cookies that I found on the internet. H.H. said they tasted really good and weren't as hard as last years.  (he just doesn't realize how hard it is to perfectly bake an already brown cookie!) I'm not a fan of the frosting we used though and we won't be making that kind again.  I like to pipe on the frosting because it's neater and prettier. The frosting kept getting runnier and runnier as we used it! Our warm hands were melting the butter it was made out of I guess.
Fortunately it still tasted good. 
Or so I've been told.

As I suspected, two kinds of cookies were more than enough.  Somehow, there is a phenomenon with Christmas goodies.  They seem to multiply magically overnight.  For some reason, you just never run out.  I thought we only had  a large plate and a large ziploc full of treats, but I looked at my counter top the other day and there were 3 plates of cookies, one huge tupperware full of Cap'n Crunch candy, one bag of cookies and a box of chocolates. 
Plus, I bought peanut M & M's on clearance the other day.  
I just couldn't help myself.
We'll be eating gingerbread men well into the new year.
But, the pretzels are all gone.
Hey don't look at me!
I didn't eat them all! Pin It