I see you…

You’re over there, pushing the cutest little blond boy on the red swing. He’s smiling a sleepy, peaceful smile that gets bigger when you surprise him with a tickle up his legs.

I see you twist around anxiously to watch a ponytailed three-year-old hop up fearlessly to the top of the tall slide, the one you think she’s too small for, but can’t convince her otherwise. I can actually see you hold your breath as you let her have this independent moment and try to keep it cool for the giggling boy next to you.

I see you.

You’re glancing at the little boy’s almond eyes with such a mix of love, compassion, worry, fear, hope, I can almost feel the heaviness in your shoulders. My gosh, that love. The pride you have when he makes a statement third-person about “Zacky” wanting to swing or needing a drink. You love those muffled words, those little phrases that you understand better than anyone else and that have taken hours upon hours of therapies and practices.

You’ve scooped up Miss Ponytail, twirling her and brushing back the fine strands that never stay in place. Her laughter inspires your laughter and Big Brother travels over to join the fun.

I see you.

Your embarrassment over the tantrum that was much worse to you than anyone else.

The mix of fear and exhaustion when he runs away, not understanding danger. You understand it too well.

I can imagine you holding a dance party in your living room. Some CCR on Pandora and four little hands mimicking your shakes.

I see you when she jumps up in bed at 5:45a.m., full of energy and questions. Your mind hasn’t woken up yet so its all about pulling her in close and smelling her hair and squeezing her tight.

I can imagine the way you internally jump for joy when, instead of his usual “No Kiss-a Me,” he asks you to stay with him in bed at nighttime and you pet his hair and caress the freckle behind his right ear and sing his favorite song.

I see your hands. That push swings for contented boys and steady brave little girls. That wipe tears and create imaginary pixie dust in different colors to solve different problems. That pick up strewn toys and flatten PlayDoh.

The hips that have held infants then toddlers and now 40-pound kiddos. They handle bouncing camera bags and your treasured DSLR.

Eyes that pore over chromosome diagrams and research papers and photo editing. That attempt the stack of neglected magazines.

I see you. Doing your best and trying so hard. You do your best when you don’t even try at all, when you just let it be, let it happen.

I see you. Do you see yourself?

2015-07-14_0002

Advertisements

The night supper was late

Scott and I joke all the time how amazing it is that I haven’t given anyone food poisoning yet. I mean, barely a year ago, Scott was the primary chef and parent in the house and I was managing a 30-person team 65 hours a week.

And now, I manage to feed us somewhat-edible meals, clean, run two businesses and sometimes shower.

Last night, supper took longer than I thought it would, and so we found ourselves with this awkward not-part-of-our-routine half-hour when Scott got home from work.

And we lived a weekend’s worth of love and laughter in 30 minutes on a weeknight.

We had ourselves a little fake food party, all four of us, down on the hard dining room floor. I drank a teacup filled with an apple and a waffle and Scott had the most delicious slice of pizza, complete with olives, croissant and french fry.

We snuck in a ticklefest just as the oven timer started to ding.

I had barely finished my last bite of food when my son hopped down from his chair and held out a hand. Pointing with his right fingers at the TV, playing music, he bowed down.

“Dance, Momma?”

He looked like a little prince.

So I gladly accepted.

Dishes sat on the table and Addie and DaDa watched us like we were crazy, but my little Z-Man and I twirled and clapped and stomped together. A slower song came on and he reached those arms up, up, up, and we rocked back and forth together in a little circle in our living room.

After Addie and DaDa joined us for a crazy little dance party, we needed to start winding it down and get ready for bed.

But first, Zack, who had left the room, came running back in to where I was, tugged on my hand, and looked up at me with those smiling dark blue eyes.

“I wuv you, Momma.”

I’m so glad the supper was late.

Smells like apples in here…

… so I’ll be brief.

I created some thinly-sliced apples a bit of cinnamon sugar on top of them and it’s just about time to pull them out of the oven and hope that this delicious aroma never leaves the house.

untitled shoot-027-3

But I had to share a few things that I’m falling in love with this week.

Like the way he looks at everyone and everything with love. And how he hugged his TSS today when she came to the house. And how he never keeps both socks off on any given day.

untitled shoot-008-3 untitled shoot-009-3 untitled shoot-018-3

And the way she lines her crayons and her blocks up with such perfectionism and dedication. And how she is picking out ridiculous outfits every day now.

untitled shoot-001-4 untitled shoot-002-4 untitled shoot-021-3 untitled shoot-023-3

I even love the animals who have been camping out on my lap while I finish crocheting a blanket.

untitled shoot-010-3 untitled shoot-015-3

And I love the feeling of my camera in my hands.

The sounds of laughter from another room and the warmth in my heart when I stand in a doorway and they don’t know I’m there.

untitled shoot-011-3 untitled shoot-013-3

I hope your house smells like apples and pets keep you warm and laughter surrounds you.

StapleHead and some snippets

We’ve had a lot of sweet nicknames for our daughter throughout the past two-and-a-half years: Girly Girlz… Raddison/Baddison/Maddison/Saddison… AddieBugs… and now, StapleHead.

StapleHead is a recent addition to our quirky Addie nicknames. It all began Friday morning when Addie’s head may or may not have had an unfortunate run-in with the corner of trim in our living room doorway. A mother’s worst nightmare — you pick up your screaming daughter to console her and see the blood drops on the floor and feel your hand is wet from where you were petting your daughter’s hair.

Fast forward to Scott making it home in a record eight minutes and getting ourselves acquainted with the nearest Urgent Care and voila! — three staples and a little girl running around saying, “Doctor fix my hair” and “I had fun on my adventure!” and “Zack broke my head.”

She’s totally fine and I’m grateful Scott takes her for staple removal on Friday and not me.

I knew she’d be the one to give us an emergency room visit that involved blood first, but I was at least hoping she’d wait another few years. (Or that Scott would be with the kids and not me, haha!)

*Zack has learned how to open his bedroom door!
Hooray!
And end hooray! It’s getting really old already!

He opens it all the time. During nap time… Creeeaaaak! Middle of the night… Oh, just sneaking downstairs and eating some Cheez-Its on the couch in the dark. Early morning visits to Momma’s bed with shrieks of “schnack!”

* We have turned into Skype-aholics! Scott kicked it up a notch by somehow connecting our video streams to our 42-inch flat-screen TV. We tested it out with cousin Becky and her family and the kids got a kick out of seeing their cousins’ guinea pic on the wall! We’ve also recently Skype’d Gammaw and Pappy. Send us a Skype invite and I can promise you dancing stuffed animals and Addie asking you to come see her new room. Zack will most definitely dance, too!

* It’s the month of being thankful — and giving back, too!
We’ve donated some toys to local charities and just gave two boxes filled with non-perishable food items for a Thanksgiving food drive. There’s a thousand people in your community who probably don’t have loved ones to visit or a turkey to cook next week. Let’s help them out, right? And if you’re doing online shopping, see if you can help a charity while you shop, like Amazon’s Smile. (We support National Down Syndrome Society through them!)

I’m also focusing on starting traditions this year with the kids. Things that will become more important than any gift you can unwrap on Christmas morning. Making snowmen and tasting hot cocoa and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and making handmade treasures for those that love us.

We’re hosting Thanksgiving again this year and we are most looking forward to a large enough kitchen for cooking a large enough meal. No more cramped counter problems!

And in even snippier snippets:
– Addie’s record counting is 1 through 14. Her favorite color seems to have moved away from purple — perhaps green or yellow? (“Geen” and “Yeh-no”)
– Zack has started saying unsolicited “I love you”s to me. Happy = understatement. He also is starting to tell me a little bit about school after bus drop-off each day. Today, I caught “Joanie” (his teacher) and “play friends” and that works for me!
– Scott finally has more help at his store! Fingers crossed this means a near-future end to six-day work weeks and a good bulk of his stress!
– My photography biz is kicking butt! I have a mentoring session at the end of this month, have had some very successful recent sessions AND am getting a new camera and lens any day now!

Alright, duty calls! There is PB&J to be made and snuggles to give and laundry to fold and put away and crocheting to complete!

Have a great week!!!

Adventures in Housewifery — Homemade Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets

This is ridiculously easy. Honestly.

So, the natural progression from homemade laundry detergent (which I still love, love, love!) seemed to clearly be homemade fabric softener.

I love the great smell of store-bought fabric softener, and, hey, it makes clothes soft. It’s a must, right?

Meh, sort of.

The jury is out regarding store-bought fabric softeners. Apparently, they’re a nightmare for anyone with sensitive skin or allergies and some of the products contain pretty horrible chemical ingredients. No, thank you!

Plus, this housewife loves saving money.

 

Sit down, this one’s a doozy:

In a recycled fabric softener container (or a large vinegar bottle that I use), mix equal parts water and white vinegar. Add some drops of your preferred essential oil. I like to switch things up… I’ve tried orange and lavender so far and love them both!

Make sure you shake your bottle before each use and pour a smudge into your washer. Voila.

(I found this variation on several blogs and websites online)

 

No, seriously, that’s all I do. Cheap, safe, natural, does the job. My clothes are soft and smell nice.

 

Oh, and my “dryer sheets”?

So, your typical box of dryer sheets are expensive and could actually clog up your lil lint tray in the front of your dryer (AKA fire hazard!).

So, take a bowl or container or some sort. Pour a bit of your snazzy new homemade fabric softener in it. Add a handful of clean sponges. Throw one damp sponge in each of your laundry loads. I usually let the sponges go through a couple of rounds and then I wash them in a load of laundry and empty my bowl and refill it. Super easy, clothes are soft, house is not on fire. Win-win, if you ask me.

 

And that’s it. The easiest housewifery projects so far.

Got any thoughts?

Ideas for future projects?

 

Happy housewifery, y’all!

 

Adventures in Housewifery — Homemade Laundry Detergent

My friend Nicole is amazed that I am becoming a master of housewifery (yes, it’s a word and yes, it does sound like sorcery) and said I should start sharing some of my adventures, good and bad, as I experiment with new routines and rituals, ways to cut corners and ingredients to save money on basic supplies.

 

My first true foray into being one of THOSE moms — you know, the pseudo-hippie, cost-efficient, wise-and-beautiful-simultaneously mommas — was making my own homemade laundry detergent.

It started with a panicked moment after Addie (brace yourselves, ye of weak stomachs) smeared poop from her diaper across the bars on her crib, the wall behind the crib, in her hair, among all of her stuffed animals and oh yes, across every square inch of sheet and blanket.

The best part? We didn’t have a drop of laundry detergent in the house.

So I did what any freaked-out Mom would do — I Googled.

Page after page, blog after blog displayed many of the same similar ingredients and a super-easy process.

For my test run, I simply used:

ONE bar of ZOTE soap (found in the laundry aisle of most large grocery stores/Wal-Mart)

THREE cups of Arm&Hammer Washing Soda (Do NOT confuse this with Baking Soda!)

 

I shredded and grinded up the soap until it formed very tiny little strips (I used a food processor; you can also use a grater, etc)

I then mixed in the washing soda powder, put it in a labeled bucket with a lid and handle for easy transport. (Aren’t my labels cute?)

 

(Sorry about the photos — I wasn’t expecting much to happen with this and just snapped a few quick shots with my phone — I’ll do better)ImageImage

Image

 

 

Now, you can use Borax with these two ingredients, too, to add a little stain-fighting power, but I didn’t have it my first time around and, quite honestly, I thought my colors stayed bright and my stains came out great (even dirty bottom-of-toddler-socks marks!). It’s got a fresh scent to it, but the clothes don’t have much of a scent to it when they’re all done. (Some people swear against Borax and some swear you can’t do homemade detergent without it, so decide for yourself).

I’ve also ordered some essential oils (lemon, orange, lavender) to add a drop or two in every load for added grease removing powers (as suggested by several Mommy Bloggers) and for a little smell.

My next batch will be much larger (probably doubled or tripled) and I may try the Borax and definitely the essential oil.

 

To use, I let just less than 1/8 cup of the mixture dissolve in warm-hot water for a few seconds before I change it to cold water and add my clothes.

I then do my load of laundry as normal — fabric softener, etc.
ALTHOUGH… I have a recipe for fabric softener I’ll be trying shortly, too!

 

We do a LOT of laundry in our house. Between kids’ clothes, Scott’s work clothes and regular clothes, workout clothes and the occasional poop-a-polypse in cribs destroying half of a Bubble Guppies stuffed village, it’s not unusual for us to do five to eight loads a WEEK. Detergent is bought at LEAST once a month.

These are not EXACT prices, but on average, our detergent costs about $13-14 for a bottle that’s supposed to do at least 60 loads of laundry (doubtful, but sure). That works out to almost $.25/load.

With the Washing Soda ($3-4/box of 50-plus ounces) and Zote soap (about $2-$2.50/bar), and not needing to use as much as normal detergent for a load, I believe it costs us about… wait for it… $.03/load.

21 cents difference over five loads a week for four weeks a month = $4-5/savings a month, just for the low end of our laundry. I’m OK with saving $60-plus a year (probably closer to $100 for us). For us, it’s more about dropping that $14 -$28 purchase every month on our grocery trip and only needing $6 in soap and $3 in washing soda.

Now, the essential oils (about $3 each, but will last FOREVER) and Borax (still not sure if I’m even going to use this) will add to our per-load cost, of course, but still a good deal.

 

 

Upcoming homemade adventures:

Fabric softener

Coffee creamers

Febreze

Swiffer Wet sheets

Dryer sheets/balls

Various cleaners (all-purpose, furniture polish, etc)

Got any suggestions or ideas for me?