Tuesday, December 2, 2014

{Happy December!}

So today I get a call from a credit card company. A phone call they received seemed suspicious and please could I call them. OK, I can do that. But first - online to my account - yipes! Do people really order that much stuff from Grub Hub? Oh, and what is Grub Hub? So I call company X back - and my December starts off beautifully. I wrote a lot during the duration of the calls. Yes, several, because I had to call them back. Below, you'll find all my notes to myself while waiting on hold, being giving the run around, and trying to figure out how someone who seemed suspicious was able to change information. Sadly, I never got answers to those questions. I'm withholding the name of the card company.

~ XX cards - sucks

~ A phone call triggered a fraud yet you let someone set up a payment? Greedy much??

~ "Advisor Assisted" when all other payments show "internet"

~ Question their security - they get highly emotional. Run around. 2 hours on phone. Suddenly worried about calls dropping. Wish I could reach through the phone.

~ Frustration...Just answer my questions PLEASE...

~ New payoff plan. XX FIRST so we can cancel these stupid @ss cards and never have to deal with them again. EVER!!

~ Note to self - no matter how good the deal seems do not get another XX cc.

~ Someone is "playing a joke?" REALLY?

~ How 'bout you take some shred of responsibility for f*cking it up?

~ Between security (3X), payment department (2X), and "customer service" (4X) - still no answers. UGH and UGH some more.

~ I'm so done.

~ Now I have to pay a $25 stop payment at my bank?? For something I didn't do? More & more UGH!

Pretty easy to guess my December started out less than stellar. I guess it can only get better from here!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

{Laundry Soap}

I've tried homemade laundry soap before. The powdered version. Because I wash in cold I had lots of trouble with it working well. I've always wanted to try the liquid version, but I don't have a proper laundry room (read - no space to store 5 gallons of laundry soap) so I've been buying my 'free of scents' brand and thought I was doomed to pay high prices forever.

Then I found this article on Mommypotamus and it spoke to my newfound love of soap making. So I held onto this recipe for months, hunting for the perfect sized detergent recipe for a family of three. Finally I found one, so I got to start. I followed this laundry soap (1% superfat) recipe exactly - and my bars came out hard, white, and beautiful.

It looks good enough to eat.

My first time using my new loaf mold

Yeah, my cutting skills still need work
but aren't these pretty?



Then I found this recipe for a smaller batch of liquid laundry soap. I grated up a bar of beautiful white soap (it kind of made me sad)


And tried to follow the directions here as best I could. I was a little short on the liter of water (my pot wasn't quite big enough). But everything seemed to work out fine. I did divert in the fact that I didn't add more water when I put it in the containers. This wasn't a very good idea as now it's really thick. I mean really thick. I guess I can always add water now? But I'm going to try and keep it thick and goopy.

I've only used it one time so far, and everything seems clean. Smells pretty good (ok, it doesn't smell like anything really - I don't add scent). We'll have to see how I like it later on down the road. Also I didn't use 1/2 cup like the recipe says - I only used about 1/4 cup. Like I said, really thick. And not at all borax-y smelling like my powered stuff.

I'm hoping I hit on the perfect laundry solution.

{Craft Day (aka 'mom time'}

My homeschooling friends are pretty much in the same boat as me. We are all homeschooling boys, and at least one in each house is a teenager. I know we all love our boys very much, but I know we all need time with other moms, to talk about mom things. You've all been there - you get what I'm saying.

So, as an ode to my family's love of all things tie-dye, I planned a tie-dye party. Yep, all boys, all thinking "lame" and other assorted things. And dang it, I don't know if they had fun, but the moms had a blast chatting and enjoying one of our last perfect days here in SC.

Many colors were chosen.
Most of the 'girly' colors are left!

It was about 70* and not humid.
Perfect day.

Not looking very thrilled but playing
along anyway. What good boys!

He's enjoying himself at least!!

My completed shirt

The shirt I made for hubby

Zach's completed shirt
(our first attempt at a swirl)



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Learning to Relax

Today we had a good time doing school. I know I should be able to say that every day - but the fact is, that's not always the case. Recent events have made me try to be a little more fun and a little less witchy (with a b) during school though.

We've been lucky enough to have some beautiful weather lately so today we ventured out to do a science lab on predator and prey. I thought this was going to be super lame and almost skipped it - but Zach ended up enjoying it very much. The object: to catch as much (uncooked) pasta you could in 30 seconds using different tools as the predator. We used chopsticks, bamboo tongs, a fork, a knife, a spoon, tweezers, and a small cookie scoop. He didn't even mind writing his hypothesis and analysis. Always a plus for us. I can't get my pictures to upload though - so sorry. Too bad, my shadow was super skinny and looked pretty darn good!

 Today we also talked a little about King Cyrus of Persia. When I said King Cyrus my son says "Like Miley Cyrus?" and I said "Yep - he twerked his way across Babylonia and beat everyone." Not what he was expecting. I lost him for a few minutes while he literally rolled around laughing. Nice to surprise the teenager every now and then! I can guarantee he will always remember who King Cyrus is though.

Last week he discovered this You Tube channel called ASAP Science. It's filled with very short (about 2 minute) blurbs about science with lots of white board action. He loved it, so we spent our science time one day watching a ton of those.

We also have some fun planned for next week. I'm trying my best to learn to relax and just enjoy the time we have together.

Friday, November 7, 2014

{I Still Love Cascade}

I've tried homemade dishwasher soap. Many variations. Many. I really wanted to love it (and make it, and save some money) but the reality is it's not going to happen.

No matter what combination I try, with or without borax, citric acid, baking or washing soda, I just can't get behind it. Every recipe has left my dishes cloudy and not very clean (and I always pre-rinse). *sigh*

So, when I'm in the store I beeline for the Cascade Platinum. I know - chemicals, bad, blah, blah - I get that. But I also get dishes that don't need to be run through the dishwasher twice. Or washed by hand after they come out of the dishwasher.

While I'm confessing chemical laden products I still use I may as well admit I'm still a Dawn user too. Nothing beats it - nothing.

I want to use more natural cleaning products. Sometimes I do. But they have to work or for me it's not worth the effort. Or the cost savings. Let's face it, washing dishes twice isn't saving me anything in the end.

I envy everyone who loves their "chemical free homemade products that save a ton of money." But for me it's hit or miss. Lately a lot of misses.

*I have not been contacted by the makers of Dawn or Cascade - I've not been paid to say "these products are great." I just think they are, and I tend to speak my mind!*

Saturday, October 25, 2014

{C-61}

Yep, it's become my job to taunt my friends with a Christmas Countdown this year. 61 days guys!! So close - how are y'all doing in preparing?

My husband & son are the decorators. I'm a scrooge - I wouldn't even put up a tree if given the choice. But I'm not, so I do.

What I do love is buying stuff for my boys and seeing them love what they've unwrapped. So far each boy has one present stashed away in the house (quit looking Erik - and no Zach doesn't know where it is either! Jeez - men!). I have several good ideas this year for each of them. Sometimes I'm not sneaky enough to pull them off. But I think I should be able to this year. Fingers crossed!!

They always say I'm too hard to buy for so I'm putting my list right here in black and white. A new coffee pot (one that makes a pot or a single cup), an apron (because when I cook I end up wearing what I'm making), and an iPhone 6 plus. See only three little things! =) Yep, my needs are small.

In three weeks I start my journey into the world of college (again) but this time my end goal is different. I'm nervous as heck!

Our Year So Far

We've been plugging along fairly well in our school year. Once we made the science change things have been going pretty smoothly.

We've chucked the Sonlight reading schedule. Not the books - just the order. I know it seems rather weird to be reading stuff out of order, but so far it's been working out just fine. Our current read is Operation Yes which is about a school of military kids (Air Force even!) who have parents that deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. A subject close to our hearts here. This actually ties to the history we're reading about (the Persian Empire). It's easy for him to see that even though the names of players change - things in that region of the world have been pretty much the same for thousands of years. So I'm good with letting him pick our reading schedule.

I'm pretty sure he's been playing me for a fool in math for a long time now. He lets little slips happen where I know he understands, then tries to back pedal. Um, the gigs up sucker (for both of us!). He likes having me around when he does his work, so I'll sit with him and read (or do productive things - like search the internet) and he's very fine.

His writing is getting better. Not his handwriting (still looks like hieroglyphics) but the whole putting stuff together. I've actually become hands off on that too. I think the Sonlight is helping with that too. We write at least a paragraph every week. Should he be writing more? Maybe. But he's doing the work alone. Another thing that's helped is I quit being a witch about it. Yes, I said it - when it comes to writing I can be super degrading and picky. Now when he's stumped I say things like "Dude, (yes, I actually call him dude) you are so freakin' smart - I know it's not your favorite subject (or thing to do), but I know you can do a great job. Just settle down and do it." I also remove myself from the room he's working in. He'll ask me about every.single.sentence. if I'm in the same room. He has to finish and then we proofread and edit when he's done. Now if we could make it legible we'd be sweet!

Now the end of 2014 is approaching and we have to start making High School decisions. This mama's not quite ready for that...

Monday, October 13, 2014

{October Already?}

This year has flown by. I can't believe it's already October. It's been an interesting last few weeks though.

Two weeks ago I had to have an emergency appendectomy. My very first surgery ever. Crazy that I've made it this long and still had all my parts! You know everyone wants one of these sexy hats =)



What struck me as weird was that the way they show it in the movies is how it really happens. You are counting down and the next thing you know you're awake and they are asking you your name, doctors name, date, etc. I always thought that crap was fake.

Since it's October it's also one of my favorite times of the year - Pumpkin Spice Time (yes, it's capitalized around here)! So I had to try my hand at some pumpkin spice soap. I used pumpkin ale (which we thought would taste good, but doesn't) instead of water in my newly developed recipe.

I had to let it sit out for a couple days to go flat first.



It always looks gross when your start.


The pumpkin ale made it a beautiful color though.

It came out kind of brown - and I didn't bang 
those Pringles cans hard enough when I put the soap in.
It looks sketchy but the smell is incredible! 


When the soaping bug hits though - it hits big time. I bought a sample pack of different melt and pour bases and they were calling my name. I'm still not sure how I feel about melt and pour - it's very easy, but it's not really fun watching it progress from weird globs of oil to something you made yourself. I digress though - I took some white base and some aloe base and decided I was going to do a swirl as I poured. It didn't quite turn out the way I had pictured it in my head but after scenting it with some Crisp Anjou Pear it smells great and hey, it cleans!


No Pringles cans for these
I actually have a mold that makes bars!

It kind of looks like a mountain in there.
Not a swirl, but still kind of cool.

Now, if the weather would just become more Fall-ish.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

{Hilton Head 2014}

We finally took a vacation! We spent about a week at our second favorite Disney location - Hilton Head Island, SC. We need to do that more often - it's only a few hours away. Sheesh - we don't think things through too much sometimes, now do we?

We arrived and settled in to our villa. They have updated them since the last time we went. Nice floors and calming sea colors on the walls.

Day 1 - Time for some tie dye t-shirt making. One of the things we must do when are there!






Never fear - you will see how the shirt came out - he's already worn it three times since we made it!

Day 2 - A break in the rain! We did make some Gyoataku shirts (all three of us!). Zach made two because he didn't like the way the first one came out. Oh my Mr. Perfection Man.









The worst part of this project was touching the dead fish. Yuck! Since we had a break in the rain we did swim for a few hours too.




This last picture is the outside of our villa from the pool area. Yes, we were right on the pool, which we thought would be cool, but was actually quite noisy. Didn't bother us too much though - I mean we could be there in 2 minutes, so it was worth some of the screaming kids.

Day 3 - Since it was sea turtle hatching season we opted not to hit the ocean this time. Where there are baby sea turtles there are apex predators waiting for them to make it into the water. We did visit the beach though.



We also found the 'picture hammock' (I take a picture of my boys on the same hammock every time we go here) and played some pool. Erik and Zach also enjoyed a game of corn hole.






Day 4 - More Mickey Tie-Dye this time for the whole family. Sadly, no pictures of that project. It's hard to snap pictures when you're covered in dye! Trust me, you will see those in the months to come too! But the final fun of our trip was our second 'can't miss' fun - Goofy Bingo! We love going and playing bingo with Disney Characters instead of numbers. I even won a piece of 'good candy' on a trivia question!



A very nice, relaxing vacation. Exactly what we all needed!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Define 'abroad'

The other day we were discussing a book we are reading that takes place in ancient Egypt. One of the questions posed was "Why didn't Egyptians travel abroad at night?"

Good question but 'abroad' is not a word we, in this house, use that often. Maybe we're not that cultured. Maybe we just say 'overseas' but usually we say where someone is actually going - Iceland, Iraq, Honduras, Afghanistan. Whatever. But I had to know if the Zachster knew what it meant.

Me - "Do you know what abroad means?"
Zach - "That's a lady, isn't it?"

Moving on...with face firmly planted in palm.


Monday, August 18, 2014

{Creatures Invade (and the Tale of Mothra)}


We've had many critters invading our space the last few weeks. First we had this gross frog -


You know, at least he was out in the yard.  Not attached to the window like this creeper -



But nothing freaked me out more than Mothra. I discovered Mothra last night, hanging out on the same window. Of course I had to get a picture without getting too close and I made sure I got one from the outside and one from the inside.




This morning, Mothra was still hanging out in the exact same spot. He didn't wander off to where the other creatures of the night go when daylight erupts. Weird. So, in my great insect knowledge I decide he must be dead. Right? I mean why else would you show your ugly face in the daytime when you are a supposed to be hiding from the blinding light of the sun?

Continuing to use my vast array of insect skills, I decided Mothra must go to the ground. I don't want the bazillions of ants (another pest problem that's been terrible this year) crawling up the house to feast on the dead carcass of this grand buffet.

So, I disengaged him from the screen (sans hands of course) and left him to do his part for the ecosystem. About an hour later I went out to see how the ants were doing on this feast I left them (and maybe to spray them with bug killer) and guess what?



Mothra is not dead. He is now on the side of the house. He did not flinch, nor even bat a wing when tossed him - yet here he is - alive and well. Or maybe he's a zombie moth now. I know this - he once again has not moved even a millimeter from where he came back to life.



Mothra? Zombie Moth? Who knows. All I know is the bugs and other critters have gotten big this year.