Thursday, May 28, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Milestone Events

This past week or so has been terribly busy! Last week, Jessica had a high fever and rapid pulse, and we had to take her to ER! Her pulse was about 180 bpm!! Turns out she had a virus. Thankfully it only lasted a couple days, but it was a difficult couple days!! Her heat rash also got much worse while she had the high fever. Fortunately, she got better in time for us to go the Memphis for my brother's wedding!

Jessica did really well considering she rode in the car for 9 hours, went immediately to the rehearsal dinner, woke up the next morning and went for wedding pictures when she would usually be napping, and then did the wedding/reception! However, she did decide after the pictures that she was done wearing clothes!! During the wedding, we made life easy on ourselves and sat in the cry room so she could run around and play! The wedding was beautiful! My dad did the ceremony. He is a dentist, but has done at least 5 weddings in the last 5 of 6 years. So far, he has married all of his married children.

We had a wonderful time being in Memphis visiting with the family; however, this past week has had its share of struggles. We have been struggling all week with Jessica's heat rash. I think we are beginning to win that battle, finally! We have also been working with Jessica on toilet training, eating with a spoon, and picking up her toys. She is doing better with using a spoon and picking up her toys, but I think it will be a little while before she is toilet trained around the house!

That brings us to today. I finished up doing a massive amount of grocery shopping in preparation for a game I am playing. I am going to see how little I can spend this summer. Expect an update later! Today also happens to be my birthday (27), and Sunday is our anniversary (6)! May is a big month for me: Mother's Day, my birthday, and our anniversary! Tomorrow some friends of ours have volunteered to watch Jessica so we can go out! We are planning to see Star Trek and go to The Melting Pot, two things we have enjoyed doing together since we started dating! As you can see this week has been full of milestone events! As always, feel free to share what has been going on at your "Front porch" this week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Indoor Sidewalk Chalk!

Jessica loves to play with sidewalk chalk! Unfortunately, she typically decides that she wants to go outside and play with sidewalk chalk either when I am cooking dinner or it is raining! I had bought some chalkboard paint to make her a large board to draw on inside, but I had not gotten around to making it the other day when she wanted to play with sidewalk chalk and we could not go outside. That was when I had a brilliant idea!

She could play with sidewalk chalk on the tile floor!!!

And when she is done, I can wipe up the floor with a wet rag, and it is as good as new!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Treating Impossible Stains

Since Jessica was born, I seem to have more impossible stains in our laundry to deal with. After a lot of trial and error, I have concluded that there are two types of impossible stains with different treatment methods for each.

1) Colored stains that will not come out (coffee, spaghetti sauce, red juice, etc.)

For this type of stain I take a bucket and fill it with cold water. Then I add about 1/4 cup of bleach and mix. Then I let the item soak in the mixture until the stain is gone or mostly gone. You want to make sure that you can monitor it while it is soaking because if the item is left in the bucket for too long, it will fade. Also you do not want to have to do this too often on items with elastic because it will break down the elastic over time. While this diluted bleach mixture can be added to the washing machine, I do not do that anymore because it does not allow me as much control over how much bleach each item is getting.

2) Oil stains

Cooking with oil can be messy, particularly if you have other things going on at the same time! I tried several things to get these stains out of one of my favorite shirts. I was just about to relegate it to the rag bin when I found this solution: rub dawn (or similar dishwashing soap) into the stain and allow it to soak for 30 minutes in hot water before washing. Amazingly it works!!!!

The only kind of stain I have not been able to find a way to treat is the hard spots under the arms of my husband's shirts. I have heard some ideas for preventing them, but I have not found anything that will get rid of them once they are there. If anyone else has heard of a way to get rid of these hard spots, please let me know!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Parenting with Confidence?

My neighbor is from the Philippians and has commented more than once that Americans are too isolated. In the Philippians and also in the United States' recent past, it was common for people to spend time outside or on the front porch with people in the community. I have often heard older people talk about how their kids used to play all over the neighborhood, and they did not worry about them because they knew that all of their friends and neighbors would make sure they were not getting into trouble! There is a chorus from a country song that makes me think about the impact this kind of change can have.

If the World had a front porch, like we did back then
We'd still have our problems, but we'd all be friends
Treatin your neighbor like he's your next of kin
Wouldn't be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch, like we did back then

It makes me wonder how many problems we have today that were unheard of in the recent past (things like school shootings) are the result of not allowing people to truly know us or "spend time on our front porch." I think that while we are more interconnected that ever before with people around the world, we are possibly more isolated than ever before. Therefore, I have decided to initiate Front Porch Friday where I invite you to sit on our Cyber Front Porch and get a glimpse of what has really happened in our week!

This week:
1) We had to go to cloth diapers 24/7 because Jessica got a nasty heat rash after I put her in disposables to make it easier on me for 2 days (I felt like such a bad mommy!!!). We tried EVERYTHING!!!!! We did manage to find some disposable diapers (7th generation) I can order online and use periodically, but if I use them all of the time then she will still get a heat rash. They are also reasonably priced. We also discovered that the BumGenius cloth diapers

worked better at controlling her heat rash than the prefolds we had been using. (See my earlier post on Diapering on a Dime.) They are about $18 a piece so we will probably buy a couple here and there. I did experiment with sewing my own, but mine tended to leak more. Also, quite honestly, with all of the laundry, baby care, cooking, and dishes I don't have time to experiment with sewing diapers!! We did have one very exciting moment amid all of the stress of trying to alleviate her discomfort. I had to go to the bathroom so I took her to the bathroom with me and set her on the potty chair and read her a book. When she got up, we saw that she had pottied!!!!!! I got so excited that I clapped and gave her some chocolate and then called everyone I knew and posted it on facebook!!!! We are not trying to push her into potty training but at this point I am definitely trying to encourage it because even one less diaper a day cuts down on my laundry!

2) We had an incident at the pool where I freaked out another mother. I felt bad at first because I felt like I was not being a good mother. After swimming lessons I put Jessica in the baby pool, which is shallow enough she can sit down in and still be able to breathe. I went maybe 10 feet to get our towel, while watching her, and she face planted in the water. I waited just a second to see if she would get herself up. She didn't and did exactly what she does in swimming lessons: a dead man's float. A mother across the pool freaked and started running through the water to get her. I told her I had her and pulled her up. She sputtered a second and was fine. Later she did it a second time and I pulled her out again. Finally, she decided to walk around the pool, and I followed her because I thought she might trip and fall head first into the water. She didn't but she did faceplant on the concrete! She cried and I held her for a couple minutes and then she wanted to get down and walk again. All of this happened in 30 minutes time! We left shortly thereafter with me thinking "Great! Now someone is going to call Child and Family Services on me for being negligent!" After I had time to think about it, I realized it was fine and that mother was probably a little bit nervous while I am not since I used to be a lifeguard. (Her child was almost twice as big as Jessica and was wearing floaties in the baby pool!)

3) This week while I was walking with some moms in my neighborhood, one of them commented on how impressed they were that I grew my tomato plants from seed. I told her that I only did it because I did not know that they sold tomato plants!!! She thought that was hilarious because she had been thinking that I was a super, overachiever, earth momma, when in reality I am a cheap, curious, easily bored and distracted momma who doesn't really like shopping and doesn't realize all of the things you can buy instead of make these days!!!

Feel free to leave comments about what has been happening on your "Front Porch" this week!

Monday, May 4, 2009


We have recently changed several things about the way we do laundry. For starters, when we moved into our house, we noticed that it was taking several complete cycles to completely dry our clothes. My husband began doing some investigating and discovered that our dryer vents through the roof which makes any dryer incredibly inefficient. Unfortunately, that is not something we can change in the near future because it would involve fairly significant structural changes. Until then we have started trying to hang our laundry on a clothesline whenever possible (Sometimes we get so much rain that it is not really practical for a week!) It has worked out really well because it was taking the dryer so long to dry our clothes that sometimes they would start to smell so we are glad to not have to deal with that anymore!

I also decided recently to try making my own laundry detergent. First I heat 7 cups of water on the stove and melt .5 oz of grated soap in it. Then I pour the mixture into my container, add 4 Tablespoons of baking soda and 1 Tablespoon of borax, and shake well. So far so good!

I also made some other changes recently to the products that I keep in the laundry room. On the left is my bucket of clothespins for hanging laundry up to dry. Next I have a pink container that I use for my homemade laundry detergent. On the right I have two old gatorade containers of borax and baking soda. Both of these are ingredients in my homemade laundry detergent, but I frequently use them for other purposes. I usually put a couple tablespoons of borax in the bucket I soak cloth diapers in to act as a booster. I also will add a little baking soda to my wash cycle if the clothes are especially stinky. (or if they accidentally got left in the washer for too long!) In the front left is my mixture of 1 part fabric softener and 2 parts water with a sponge cut in half. I found this recipe online. It works pretty well when I can't hang the clothes out to dry due to inclemate weather. I squeeze excess liquid out of both and throw them in the dryer. Finally, there is the bottle of bleach. Bleach was not a standard laundry product for me until my daughter was born. I try to avoid using it because it breaks down elastic, but it is nice to be able to get the inevitable stains out of clothing so it can be worn again by later children! More on treating stains later!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Entertainment Upgrades

A while back I wrote about how we had lost most of our channels due to the switch to digital. Today it is time for an update! My husband had borrowed a digital antenna from a friend of ours but we were only able to get about 7 channels. Then we tried moving it to the top of the ceiling and it improved to about 20 channels (but it was kind of annoying having all of those wires running down the wall). Now, my husband is not satisfied with mediocrity so he kept researching until he figured out a way to get the maximum amount of channels for our area. The conclusion: he built his own antenna! We now get 25 channels from the antenna he built out of spare parts that we can leave outside below the fence! He ended up connecting it to the cable wire that we don't use. Final result: more channels, no obtrusive antenna in the house, easily reached antenna for adjustments, and we are $50-$100 richer because we did not have to buy an antenna!

We also recently made another upgrade to our TV watching experience: a new TV! My husband has been wanting a new TV for several years now, but we have been trying to pay off our student loans so we kept putting it off. We also hated to spend so much money on a TV when we do not watch a lot of TV; however, we recently realized that if we wanted to go out for dinner and a movie, it would cost us $50-$100. Although we do not watch a lot of TV, we do enjoy watching the occasional movie together. Recently, we have saved enough to pay off my student loan (which we will send in once his contract is renewed in September) so we decided it would be fun to do something to celebrate! We decided on a plasma TV as they were running some great sales on them. We also decided to hang it over the fireplace to give us more room for extra seating! We figure that we will really enjoy that as our family grows! I think the really fun part about it though is that I can run a slideshow of our daughter on it when we are not watching TV!