Thursday, November 12, 2009

Money Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about money lately. As a stay at home wife/mom, I don't generate money for the house, so it's my job to preserve my husband's income. I do my best to be frugal and smart about when to spend, and I think I'm pretty good at it. Of course, there's tons to learn, and I look forward to being a miserly mom. So why do I feel like I'm blowing through my husband's income?

I think my problem is that I'm not giving any money away. As a bread-winner, I loved knowing that some of my money was going to the various charities our family supports. Now, however, I don't actually have anything of mine going to them. That makes me feel horrible. I always had the "if I'm not doing anything for missions/charities, at least I'm giving them money" type mindset. But now, I don't even have that. I try to make up for it by volunteering here and there, especially at church, but I want to do so much more! It's kind of frustrating.

Thankfully, my husband, loving man that he is, has agreed with me about the need to do something. Now we're planning a December mission trip that we'll spend with some missionaries we support down there. I'm so psyched. My spirit is so lifted just by the prospect of going and getting the logistics of the trip set up. Amazing. Although it will take money to get there, I know I've definitely contributed to those savings because I stayed within (and sometimes even below!) the budget my husband and I dictated for ourselves.

So, while money is the root of all evil, it is also a very powerful enabler. In our family's case, it's an enabler for outreach. What does money enable you to do? Get higher education? Support your family? Support your habits/hobbies? Money is powerful. Let's make sure we're using it the right way!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Raleigh Rocks!

Raleigh is a great city. I love the museums, the parks, and the people. The kids and I went to the Museum of History yesterday for a Tot Time. Miss Two Year Old learned about Mountain Life: the people, the agriculture, and how mountains were formed. She decided she really liked sorghum molasses and wants me to plant corn. Amazing. Coming from South Texas, I'm not sure I knew what a mountain was as a two year old. Miss One Year Old spent the entire time chewing on her books. Nothing like devouring the written word! The best part was the price tag: FREE!

Just across the walkway from the Museum of History is the Museum of Natural Science. The girls love it because they can watch turtles and fish swim. I love it because it costs nothing, especially compared to the prices of aquariums nowadays. They also like the dinosaur exhibits. Why do kids like dinosaurs, anyway? They're big, intimidating looking creatures with lots of big, intimidating teeth. I remember being dinosaur crazy for years and enjoying playing with a pair of cousins who had plastic dinosaurs that went everywhere with them.

Other great things about this city are the free concerts in the shopping "villas". All summer, there were several on Thursday and Friday nights. Fabulous. The kids could run around in a relatively safe environment without really frustrating anyone while we got to listen to great music. Love it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ah, marketing professionals are so clever. Here's my "favorite" latest ad:

"At XXX, I can pull together outfits that tug at my heartstrings, not my purse strings."

Advertised is an outfit comprised of blouse, jeans, and purse for a total of $97.97. For nearly a $100, you don't even get the earrings, necklace, or shoes included. Now that's a real steal right there. No sarcasm. Really. I believe that.

Shop responsibly
! This means being thoughtful about what you buy, how much you buy (or how much is wasted), who you buy it from, and how much time and money you spend buying it.

InStyle "Deals and Steals"

The premise of this section of InStyle is to present "Irresistible ATM-friendly buys!" That means everything on the page is under $20. Not bad for a beauty magazine, right? Well, let's check and see how realistic some of the stuff is for a normal person.

The first thing that jumped out at me is the $14 lip balms. Lip balm. I thought I was spending a lot when I bought a Burt's Bees lip balm at $1.99. Geez. I'm sure your lips end up coated in diamond powder or something using that stuff, but I don't know anybody in my financial status who is willing to buy $14 lip balm. If they are, they really should not be!

Secondly is the $15 deodorant. There are tons of things at the drugstore, grocery store, and health food/natural store that do the job, even for hyper-sensitive skin and with organic products, for less than that! Sheesh.

Finally is the $11 eye liner. I think I'd understand if the liner was in liquid form or had some special blending ability, but it didn't. It was a pencil. A pencil. In teal and purple. How long do those colors stay trendy? A season? You can buy the $0.99 version in the bottom bin at Target and still look fabulous without wasting so much money.

Why do we let people who don't ever follow the conventions of fashion anyway dictate what we buy? And when we do, why do buy the expensive versions of stuff that's probably going to be useless in a season or doesn't deliver as promised? Craziness!

Let's think before we buy. Evaluate. Wait a week before buying something fashionable and see if you still want it. If you buy it, save the receipt and don't wear it or use it for a week. That way, if you have the slightest regret, you can get your money back! Let's be smart about buying such superficial things.

-Domestic Goddess out.

The "Oxymoronic" World of Fashion

I got the 15 year anniversary edition of InStyle yesterday. First let me say that I only purchased the magazine to support one of my friend's kid's school fund raiser. I'm not really an InStyle type of girl, namely because I refuse to spend more than $10 on a white shirt. Anyhow, I like browsing and looking at things I can't afford and making fun of things that are just way too ugly to wear.

On page 187, there's a "designer profile" on Louis Vuitton in which Marc Jacobs was interviewed about the line. He had some very insightful things to say:
Q (paraphrased): Can you ignore the economic downturn?
MJ: That's impossible. But my biggest responsibility is to make sure that what you buy lasts. Louis Vuitton is a luxury brand and must remain exactly that. We shouldn't alter the materials or the execution.
Q: So if it lasts, why would you need more...
MJ: It's a bit oxymoronic, isn't it? To make something that will last, but then still create more so there's always something special to dream about. That really is the nature of fashion. If everything we bought satisfied us for our whole lives, we would just stop buying at some point. But, surprise! There is always going to be a new bag.

Okay, let's look at this. In response to the price of Louis Vuitton "stuff", Marc Jacobs freely admits that he expects people to pay top dollar for their products. Never mind that people can't afford it. It's Louis Vuitton, and you're going to pay what the company feels you owe them. They're luxury, for crying out loud! We don't care about you, we just care about people who can afford us. Which is very few people, mind you. Why, as an average American, spend $2,250 on the "Eclipse Speedy" bag when the company is just laughing at you for being foolish enough to buy something so ridiculously expensive?

Secondly, look at what Jacobs says about oxymorons. He basically calls everyone who's "into" fashion an idiot because they keep wanting more of the same. Truly, does a purse really make that much of a difference to a person's life? Sure, I understand the importance of and difference between having a business purse and a fun purse. But do you have to do it to the tune of $1,000 each? Even if the bag is well-made, is a bunch of leather, lining, stitching, and metal worth that much? Why not buy a just as classy and classic non-name brand bag that will serve just as well for just as long for less than $40? I refuse to buy bags above $25 and have managed quite well.

One last quote from Marc Jacobs: "I'm a real believer in wearing whatever you want, whenever you want. No one dictates fashion to the women I know!" Okay, if this is true, then why does that man hawk horrendously ugly clothes at Fashion Week and try to tell us that those clothes deformities are "it" this season, and you just can't live without it? If I can wear whatever I want whenever I want and be endorsed by the great Marc Jacobs, then what's the point of fashion magazines? Why have fashion shows? He's just full of oxymorons, Marc Jacobs is. Nice to know such a confused individual is leading scores of women into very "fancy" stores to buy very expensive and sometimes very ugly clothing.

-Domestic Goddess out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Giving God His Due

Today, our pastor talked about a convention he attended and some things he learned from Rick Warren, the guest speaker. Before writing The Purpose Driven Life, Rick and his wife had committed to tithing to God in a very uncommon way. Every year, they would take another percent of their income and add it to their tithe. Instead of giving 10%, they raised their tithes to 11, 12, 15%. I don't know how high they actually got before The Purpose Driven Life was published, but I imagine it must have been pretty high because it took a long while to get to the point in his life where God had prepared him to write the book.

Once The Purpose Driven Life was published, money came rolling in. That book is actually the #2 bestseller in the entire WORLD. It's second behind the Bible. :) Our pastor said Rick got to a point where he was excited about the prospects that money could bring him...until God reminded him otherwise. Rick become impressed with the fact that the money was God's and that he should remain in his "old" home and continue to use his "old" truck. He didn't need more than he already had, and if he did, God would provide. What a way to be kept humble!

What's more, the success of The Purpose Driven Life has allowed the Warrens to give 90% of their income to God's kingdom. How amazing! They live on the 10% normally allotted to God and give God the 90% allotted to them. Would that I could do the same! Thankfully, our family is debt-free, so we can give without worrying about where the money is going to come from.

But I have to wonder about people who are in debt. How hard it must be for them to give even the "minimum" 10% to God! It's hard to trust anyone with money, even God. The laws of mathematics say that 0-x=-x. But when we give to God, He breaks those laws (He can because He created them). 0-x=enough. He ALWAYS provides for those who are faithful and trust Him. I encourage you to give your tithe, even if you don't think you can afford it. Trust me, God math is incredible.

Before we were debt-free, we struggled to make the right money decisions. However, we never ever considered stopping our tithe. In fact, it was one of the things we agreed we'd always do despite our circumstances. Whatever we have, be it little or much, is from God. We owe him much, so why begrudge Him the 10% He asks us for? Such were our thoughts six years ago during marriage counseling, and five years into our marriage, we see the fruits of giving to God.

I urge you to examine your finances carefully. Decide to pay God before you pay yourself and definitely before you pay your bills. If you're in debt, make plans to get out of it. Christ calls us to give freely, but we can't do that until we get rid of our allegiances to our credit companies. God says the borrower is a slave to the master. Stop working to further someone's agenda and put your money to work for God's kingdom!

Finally, analyze whether you can give a little more generously to those on mission for God. You can give your money to your church, to missionaries, or to Christian non-profit organizations. Do a little research and give where your heart is. Stop being selfish with your money and give it to people who actually need it. Everything we do will be returned to us, not necessarily in the form of money, but in the form of blessings.

Domestic Goddess out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cloth Diaper Success

Okay, I didn't use the free pattern after all. I chickened out. I used Kwik-Sew's pattern for an All-in-One diaper, and it turned out great! My diapers work so much better than the ones I bought, which are already coming apart, unfortunately. I'm going to try to convert them from pocket diapers into all-in-ones. My diapers are kind of boring looking b/c I got a plain white outer material, but that's okay. Their sole job is to soak up/catch stuff, so they don't have to be pretty. In my opinion, anyway. :) Definitely give this diaper pattern a try!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Way or No Way: A Comparison Between Children & Americans

My two-year-old, bless her, is a study in yin and yang. One second, she's as ornery as can be, the next, she's giving me hugs and kisses and telling me she loves me. How do you discipline such wild swings in temperament? It's like the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead: when she's good, she's very, very good but when she's bad, she's (sort of) wicked. Actually, I have it quite easy, as parenting goes. I have no qualms counting to three and actually administering the threatened punishment. I refuse to raise my voice unless we're too far for normal speaking distances. These traits have developed (thankfully) a mostly obedient child. I just take it really badly when "instant obedience to orders" isn't fulfilled...

Which made me think of Americans and how we act with our government. When we want something, we whine and moan and gripe until we're given what we want. When we something gets taken away, we bellyache until the cows come home. It's not much different from how our two-year-olds try to manipulate us into doing what they want. How many people work to change their situations instead of making the government pay for their poor decisions? How many people work to help others instead of forcing the government to support them? May I remind everyone that all this "help" comes at our own expense?

Whatever happened to helping each other out and tackling problems on a local scale instead of at the national level? Why can't communities provide the primary help their needy folks require? Don't go thinking right away that I'm a stingy Rebulican who can't stand poor people. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like helping people in need, but I feel my definition of need is much different from the government's.

Case in point: A married couple buys a house in 2003 even though their incomes show that they really shouldn't. They decide to have kids even though they can barely support themselves. They whine about barely being able to pay bills while pulling out all the most up-to-date techie gear and watching their 700 channels of cable or while shopping (again). In 2009, one of their cars breaks down. There's no money to pay for repairs, so they decide to get a new one. They take out yet another loan to pay for something they can't afford. This drains all their savings, which means they are now below their state's poverty level. Now, they qualify for all sorts of government assistance like food stamps, WIC, reduced tax rates and other expense-reducing benefits. Why, why, WHY? They caused their own problems, quite happily, I may add.

Their very bad financial decisions put them below the poverty level, not some horrid accident. They still have 700 channels, fancy phones, and the highest cell phone plans. They still go out to eat and shop regularly. They don't employ any bill-reducing practices like turning lights off or running the A/C slightly higher so they pay a little less. In my mind, that's just wilfull stupidity reaping its own rewards. (Yes, several people tried to warn them about their spending...repeatedly).

Who qualifies for help in my mind? The single parent who is trying to go to school and work part time to support her family and get ahead. The person who got seriously injured on the job and can't work anymore. The refugees and immigrants who are trying to start a life in a new country. People who are working three jobs but still can't make ends meet. These people need some assistance, some encouragement.

If you need information on why you should get out of debt and how you can do it, check out Beating Debt. This non-profit organization offers excellent resources (for minimal prices) that will help you take a realistic look at your income and expenses and how they are used. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

-Domestic Goddess out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why Domestic Goddess?

My husband gave me this name. In truth, I am a very poor homemaker. I hate cleaning, I hate picking up after people, and I hate the futility of it all. What's the point of tidying things up during naptime if my kids are just going to tear everything apart within an hour of waking up? They don't do these things on purpose. They just like to get into things and play. They do a haphazard job of cleaning up, which means things are put away somewhere, but that somewhere is probably not where I want it. Clearly, the title of "domestic goddess" is more of a motivational title to aspire to, not something I already am.

I take my domestic goddess responsibilities seriously. I do clean (over and over and over again), I wash, I cook, I play with my small children. I just do it all on my own time. Sometimes I get everything done in a day or two. Sometimes it takes the whole week. Nevertheless, nobody is going to get after me for not keeping to the timeline, because joy of joys, there isn't one! Nobody is going to inspect my work. Nobody is going to write me a performance evaluation or write me an award and need all the hair-splitting details of what I've done for the past three years.

All my husband really expects domestically is to know where his stuff is, to have some clean (not ironed-I refused to iron in the marriage contract) clothes, and eat at semi-regular intervals. God bless him. On the down side, that does mean he's messy and doesn't really notice when I get the cleaning/home arranging done. But that's okay. I've finally learned how to brag about my work. "Look, honey, I finished the whatever. What do you think? How does it look? I like it." Upon which he responds in a suitable, much needed manner. I absolutely adore, cherish, and love my husband!

Part of my domestic goddess responsibilities is making the house and our lifestyle greener. I recycle and fuss when good stuff gets thrown away. Then I take it out of the trash can, rinse it in the sink, and sort it properly in the recycling shed. I need to start a compost pile. I am trying to grow my own cantaloupes. I use coffee grounds as fertilizer. I keep the A/C on a higher temperature and only use fans to help cool rooms I'm using. I cook things at the same time, if possible, to reduce kitchen heating. Got any other ideas I can use? Let me know!

I am also using all the last of my store-bought, chemical-laden cleaners because it's better than dumping them down the drain. Once they're all gone, I'm going completely natural. I started with the toilets because I ran out of toilet cleaner first. I now use baking soda and vinegar to get a nice sparkle out of them. In fact, you can use baking soda and vinegar on almost anything to get it clean. Check out the following cleaning recipes and let me know how they work for you.

Mild all-purpose cleaner
4 T baking soda
1 qt water
-Mix together in cleaning pail or quart bottle
-Spray and wipe surface with soft cloth or sponge
-Vinegar is a great degreaser and works especially well to remove soap scum. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 c. white vinegar and 1 qt water in spray bottle. Spray on surface. Wait 30 s. Wipe away. Rinse off with hot water if you're cleaning soap scum in tubs, showers, or sinks.
-Place 2 T of liquid hand soap or dishwashing detergent in a bottle, fill with 1 qt warm water, and shake. You can add some lemon for scent. Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe up countertops, floors, painted interior doors, and walls. For exteriors, use a scrub brush.
Minty fresh all-purpose cleaner
2 T peppermint liquid castile soap
1/4 c. baking soda
1/4 white vinegar
Water o fill quart spray bottle
-Mix all ingredients in bottle. Spray on cloth, mop, or directly on surface.
Tile and vinyle floor cleaner
1/4 c liquid castile soap
1/8 c white vinegar
1 gal water
-Mix all ingredients in bucket. Damp mop.
Linoleum floor cleaner
1/4 c white vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 c water
-Mix all ingredients in a qt spray bottle. Spray soft mop until just damp and mop.
Window, glass, and mirror cleaner
1/2 to 1 c white vinegar
1 qt cool water
-Combine all ingredients in spray bottle.
-Spritz solution on surface. Rub until dry to avoid spotting with newspaper.
-For heavy duty cleaner, combine 1/2-1 c. white vinegar, 1 T liquid dish soap or detergent, and 1 qt water in a spray bottle. Spray and rub until dry.
-To clean glass vases, fill them 3/4 full with room-temperature water and add 1 t baking soda. Cover and shake. Rinse with clear water and air dry.
Dust buster
2 c water
1 c white vinegar
2 drops lemon oil (for scent)
-Mix all ingredients in bowl or spray bottle. Dampen cloth with solution. Wipe down collectibles.
Hardwood floor cleaner
3 c. white vinegar
1 T castile soap
3 drops grapefrut essential oil
3 c water
-Mix all ingredients in a bucket of water.
-Barely wet rag or mop with the solution. Run over floors and let air-dry.
Wood furniture polish
1 pt linseed or oil oil
4 or 5 drops lemon essential oil (for scent)
-Mix all ingredients in an open container
-Dab cloth with mixture. Rub oil into furniture, using sparingly. Buff into wood.
Carpet spot remover
1/4 t clear, plant-based dishwashing liquid
1 c warm water
-Mix dishwashing liquid and water.
-Dab mixture on spill. Blot to dry.
Stainless-steel sink cleaner
3 T baking soda
1 drop essential oil (for scent)
1 1/2 c water
Water rinse
-Mix baking soda and water together.
-Add oil for scent if desired.
-Rinse with clear water.
-Dry with a cloth.
Toilet bowl cleaner
Baking soda
1/4 to 1/2 c white vinegar
-Sprinkle sides with baking soda and allow to stand for a few minutes.
-Pour in vinegar and let stand for 15 minutes.
-Scrub with toilet brush and flush.
Toilet brush cleaner
-1 T dishwashing liquid soap
1 T white vinegar
Hot water
-Mix solution in bucket or toilet brush holder
-Place the toilet brush in the solution and swish until clean. Follow with a rinse in clean water.
-Shake to dry and return to the holder or stand
Drain cleaner
1 c salt
1 c baking soda
1/4 c cream of tartar
-Mix ingredients and keep in a well-marked container.
-Pour 1/4 c of this mixture into the drain. Rinse with water. Repeat as necessary or save the rest for later.
Drain declogger
1/2 to 1 c baking soda
1/2 to 1 c white vinegar
1 gal boiling water
-Pour the baking soda down the drain. Follow with vinegar, pouring slowly.
-Listen for a fizzing sound. Cover the drain and let stand for 5 min.
-Pour boiling water into drain.
White clothing stain remover
1 T borax
6 T water
-Mix ingredients to make paste. Dab on stains. Follow with normal washing.
Old linen stain remover
2 squirts dishwashing liquid
1 qt water
-Mix water and soap in a bucket or sink
-Place linens in the solution. Soak for an hour or so.
-Follow with a light swishing by hand. Rinse with plain water. Line dry.
Presoak and fabric softener
2 T cream of tartar
1 gal hot water
-Mix solution in bucket and let cool. Let the fabrics sit in the mixture for 1/2 hr or until stain is released.
-Rinse with fresh water. Launder as normal.
Dry laundry detergent
1 c soap flakes or shredded homemade soap, or any store-bought type without lotion
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax
A few drops of essential oil (for scent)
-Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use 1/4-1 c detergent, depending on the size of the load and machine type.
-For sofe water, reduce washing soda to 1/4 c. For hard water, increase washing soda and borax to 1 c.
Liquid laundry detergent
1 c soap flakes or shredded homemade soap, or any store-bought type without lotion
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax
2 T glycerin
2 c water
-Mix soap, washing soda, and borax. Add glycerin and water, stirring until thoroughly combined.
-Use 1/4 to 3/4 c per load in cold or warm water.
Air freshener
1 t baking soda
1 t vinegar or lemon juice
2 c water
-Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle with fine spray
-Mix the air gently, particularly near the source of odors.
-Add 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks to 4 c boiling water. Simmer for an hour or so. Don't let all the water evaporate out of the pan.

These recipes were taken from
Green Cleaning for Dummies. All credit for them goes to the book's author.

Cloth Diapering

I jumped on the cloth diapering bandwagon without doing much research about it. Four cloth diapers and a couple of wet bedtimes later, I've just learned the trick of adding an extra liner in my pocket diapers to help absorb during nap times. That's okay. I've been scouring the net for *free* cloth diaper sewing patterns, and I think I finally found one that I'm brave enough to try. Check it out on Smart Mama's "Sew Diapers" page. As soon as I finish my current sewing project (a cute, going-out type shirt), I'm going to collect diapering materials and get ready to start sewing my own cloth diapers. We shall see how this endeavor goes. The good news, in case I make a mess of this attempt, is that Smart Mama also sells her patterns on eBay and gives all proceeds to charity. Nice!

As far as cloth diapering goes right now, I can honestly say I really enjoy it. I like all things green, and I find myself being able to survive off of the last few disposable diapers we have. I'm not doing any extra washing to keep them clean and on my baby. There's no stink because I put them into the washing machine (already staged with detergent) as soon as I take them off. They wash with the regular stuff and are great.

I'll post some feedback once I get this project done. I'm becoming increasingly single-minded on this issue. Maybe I can get some nice organic cotton or bamboo fleece at the fabric store...

Domestic Goddess out.

Vegetarian Week

I'm trying to make my husband a healthier eater, so I declared this week would host only vegetarian lunches. He wasn't too excited about it. However, on day two of this experiment, he's starting to come around. At least he didn't subconsciously wrinkle his nose at the Zucchini Rissoto (from Rachael Ray's vegetarian cookbook) I made him. Seriously, though, I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday morning and picked up all the necessities for only $5. Sure, I had quite a few items on-hand, like spinach, rice, pasta, and crushed tomatoes, but still. I'm sure it all totals about $15 for a week's worth of meals. Not bad, not bad at all. Plus, I've really enjoyed cooking new things.

I love the NC State Farmer's Market here in Raleigh. I'm really going to miss it when we have to move next year. It's got everything: freshly baked German sweets, fruit, veggies, grass-fed/non-hormone meat, and wines. It's great to support local farmers and to eat fresh. My kids snack on all the watermelon, cantaloupe, berry, and tomato samples, making the shopping experience much more pleasant.

While cleaning yesterday, I was thinking about race and the issues associated with it here in the US. Does it make any sense for anyone to be racial in these times? Seriously. Sure, some generalizations will hold true for people groups, i.e., Hispanics eat a lot of rice and beans or Japanese eat lots of seafood. But to characterize entire people groups based on what the media (news, music, and movies) shoves in our faces all the time is just silly. Make your own generalizations based on your neighbors, co-workers, and friends. I'm sure a majority of them rise far above what the mainstream would have you believe. I sure hope I represent my race (too mixed-if I decided to hate any one people group, I'd hate myself) positively. Wasn't America supposed to be all about acceptance and judgement based on merit? Just tired of hearing black, white, and Hispanic references being tossed around the news like we're all a bunch of ignorant imbeciles.

Domestic Goddess out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Messy, Messy Monday

Ah, the bliss of two children who nap at the same time in the afternoon. Three glorious hours to myself, which usually includes a nap, exercise, and a book. Such was this afternoon. I was tripping on endorphins when I went upstairs to fetch my children and smelled something strange. The strange smell grew as I approached my two-year-old's room. I opened the door and...there was poo everywhere. All over the bed, all over two of the walls, all over the floor, all over my child, who was trying to hide under her soiled pillow. UGH.

I hate nasty messes. They smell really bad (especially to those who have sensitive noses) and take a long, long time to clean up. Instead of beating my little girl (as instinct tried to make me do), I scooped her up gingerly and ran an unenvironmentally friendly amount of water, soap, and Clorox over her. No, not the Clorox. After she was cleaned up, she helped clean up a bit of the mess as I repeatedly explained that poo goes in the toilet, not on/in her room. She did her stint in the corner with lots of crying and calling for daddy (who was at school, mercifully for him), she sucked it up and took good care of her sister, pointing out birds (they were standing on her now-cleaned/sterilized bed and looking out the window) and trees. I certainly earned my two glasses of wine tonight!!! :)

Lessons Learned:
1. Old military uniform undershirts are wonderful rags.
2. Poo dries really hard. Use a good cleaner and scuzz brush.
3. Turn on the radio, turn on the fan, and open the window. Otherwise, you'll get high.
4. Get out of Dodge for a couple of hours to burn up energy/frustration at the park.
5. For the love of all that's clean and good for the environment, don't let your child/ren eat as many blueberries and blackberries as they want. My two kids each produced four BMs today after downing tons of farmer's market berries yesterday. After talking to my sister-in-law (and mother of four children), she informed me that was my critical error. But she did think the whole episode was hilarious. My lack of patience is legendary in my family...shall I say more?
6. A good, locally produced white wine helped it all seem funny to me too.

Incidentally, I am being converted to the locovore beliefs. I've never had better fruit and vegetables in my life. Yes, I've tried growing my own and failed every time. Instead of being a plant killer/money waster, I admit my faults and purchase from the locals who have ultra-green thumbs and organic minds. Seriously, if you have the opportunity to buy local, do it. Your waist, palate, and wallet will thank you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Welcome to July!

This is my third-favorite month. (December and May take the first two spots.) I just love celebrating the 4th of July. It's such a wonderful thing to sit back and think about how far this country has come from its beginning. We have such a colorful past. Sometimes we were the underdog while at others, we have been the superpower. We have done reprehensible things and yet fought against them for others as well. We are rich and poor at the same time...Yes, America is a land to cherish, but it is also a land to improve. I'm doing my best to teach my kids to take care of the nation by caring for those within it and by cleaning up (aka recycling). What are you doing?

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Fighter" Got Me Through Sewing Class

Okay, so I spent every Thursday in June stressing through a sewing class. I thought I'd signed up so I could learn how to sew. Turns out God made me do it to teach me some patience. What a sense of humor He's got. My instructor, an 80 y/o lady who's been sewing since she was 10, wasn't exactly the best adult instructor. Her preferred method was the "figure it out yourself" approach. When asked questions, she made me feel like a complete imbecile. How could I possibly be unaware of what "easing it in" meant. you really want me to tell you what I thought easing it in meant? No. Turns out it just means to squish material together gently so you can cover your bad job of cutting the pattern, but you have to do it in a way so the material doesn't look squished. Go figure. Why wouldn't I have known what that meant? Honestly. My instructor even told me my ironing capabilities were lacking. Hello? I went to a military school? I was in the military for a few years...I know how to iron. I can take creases out and put them in. I rarely iron my "regular" clothes, but if I have to do it, I do it well! Hmph. I just about walked out of the class on that one. can imagine my surprise when I actually learned and finished a dress. I was even more surprised when it fit and didn't look completely junky. Even better, I already started a new project and have all my pieces cut out. I'm so impressed by my own motivation. I think it hails back to a former boss who liked to nit pick on all the things I did wrong...I just listened to Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" over and over and over again. Yes, I like Christina. She has questionable morals in her songs, but the woman can sing!

Monday, June 8, 2009

In God We Trust

Our family went to The Journey church (NE location) in Raleigh, NC yesterday. The pastor spoke right to my husband and me with his sermon on waiting for the Lord. We are going through a time of testing, and we're getting antsy about things. We are used to evaluating problems and putting the best solutions into action ASAP. So waiting on God's timing is hard for us sometimes, especially when we're waiting for financial answers.

The pastor reminded us that our decisions have major impacts not just on us in the here and now but on everyone around us in the future. He also reminded us that God is our loving Father who has plans for us. Just because we can't see the plan doesn't mean He doesn't have one. So...we're praying harder, studying the Word a little more closely, and doing our very best to trust and obey.

My husband and I had a conversation about what hearing God is like. It's hard to distinguish between His still small voice and those sneaky solutions that we come up with that lurk in the background. It's also hard when we don't feel connected. Our minds know what's going on, but our hearts just can't get into it. Being a Christian is all about trust! Sometimes, trusting God is hard because we can't have a visible one-on-one conversation with Him and just hash out details. But that's where grace and faith come in, right? :)

Truthfully, it's been easier to trust God since I became a parent. When I think of how much I love my kids, I realize how much more God loves us. It's amazing. There's so much I would do for my kids, and yet there is so much more He would do for us! Thanks, God!

-Many thanks to the mounds of laundry to fold that gave me time to muse on this.

Domestic Goddess out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sewing Class

I signed up for some escapist time in the form of a sewing class. From 6-9 pm for the next month's worth of Thursdays, I'm meeting with my inner Martha. Actually, after I figured out that basting did not involve poultry, I was pretty good to go. We made some 70s-type aprons. They're crazy looking. Instead of a skirt-like covering, this apron has pant leg coverings. They're wild. I came home and showed them to my husband, who asked me why my class taught me how to make chaps. Very feminine, flower-patterned chaps. Oh well. At least I got to choose the pattern for next week. It's a nice dress that I've chosen a green linen fabric for. Hope it turns out.

In random thoughts today, I find "savings" at stores remarkable. For example, I spent $45 at Kohl's today. According to my receipt, I saved $65. Has anyone ever actually bought anything at full price? There, at least? I can't recall ever seeing anyone picking up a full priced item in that store. In fact, it's hard to find a full priced item in Kohl's. There's about one rack of regular-priced stuff and 50 of the reduced priced stuff. Do we really save as much as we think we do? I doubt it. But still, it's smart to be as frugal as possible. Even eBay isn't as much of a deal as it used to be. Hmph.

On the happy side of today, the Dow finished higher than expected today. In fact, it was positive for the first time this year. The media will surely proclaim today as an historic day...they can all get over it. They get excited about everything. They're worse than kids...small, cranky kids who don't like being told they're wrong.

Domestic Goddess out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Two Year Olds

I was doing some rush cleaning yesterday for a meeting my husband was hosting in the evening. As I whirled through the main floor of our three-level house, I kept tripping over my 9 month old (who hates vacuum cleaners) and my 2-year-old (who can't get enough of them and loves showing them to her sister). I thought as many happy thoughts as I could, but I ran out of them pretty quickly, so I started analyzing my oldest daughter.

She is a study in Jekyll and Hyde. Seriously. We'll be happily scrubbing the bathroom down together singing some Mary Poppins tune at the top of our lungs one minute. The next, she's lying face down in my bed with all my covers over her, crying at the top of her lungs. She won't speak to me or even look at me. If she says something, it's all gibberish. The only way I've successfully distracted her from these tantrums is by talking about waffles. She has the same penchant for waffles as I do. :)

For the record, she does a REALLY good job of scrubbing the toilet. The key is to take the brush away from her before she gets bored. Otherwise, she decides it's time to make mashed toilet paper in there, and you can imagine what that looks like in the toilet and on the floor.

I love her, I really do, but sometimes she drives me nuts. I'll ask her to do something, and she'll take her happy time doing it. I think the military was bad for me when it comes to that whole "instant obedience to orders" thing. That doesn't go over too well with two-year-old kids, I guess. I think it's my fault she dilly dallies, though. Sometimes she'll ask me for something very nicely (that is, she says "please"), and I'll get up to get it for her and get side railed by a few small things that leads to my own dilly dallying. I've got to work on that!!!

Something that fascinates me is how well she understands Spanish. I very rarely speak to her in Spanish. In fact, I only do it when I am frustrated with her and want her to do something now. So imagine my surprise when she seemingly understood everything at the bilingual story time at the library this morning: colors, shapes, alphabet, simple movements, etc. Amazing.

...There were a couple of other interesting points about my two-year-old, but I can't remember them now.

What is interesting is this whole czar business in the government. Last time I checked, we were a democratic republic who fought a civil war for states' rights. WHY is the government getting into everything? Has nobody noticed that the higher up authority goes, the more red tape is used to fasten everything? Why isn't there an outcry on this?

I am not particularly fond of our leadership right now...not because of their political party or their color or even their past decisions. I'm frustrated about their decision making processes. Does anyone really think that bailing out companies who have been dying since the 70s is a good idea? If so, why? Capitalism=survival of the fittest. It's a great system because it forces companies to create products that are worth buying. There's a preference for foreign-made items because of their quality.

Can you imagine how much greener the US would be (regarding money and the environment) if GM, Ford, and the other American vehicle companies had been left on their own to develop good cars???

That's about as far as my musings took me before it was time to start making dinner. I know I could rant more effectively if I had my husband here to conduct a same-sided debate with! Hope your musings get you through your rough spots in the day!

Domestic Goddess out.

Monday, June 1, 2009


So, I used to be in the military. I used to work long, long hours. The kids were in daycare for 12+ hours a day, on average. I hated it. Not the military. Just being away from my babies. So when my contract ended, I didn't renew it. Now, I am a different woman.

I'm a housewife and full-time mom. I hate cleaning, but I love being around the kids. End result: sort of messy house with pretty happy kids. Much happier me and husband. Life is good!

The point of this blog is to share my random thoughts while cleaning. I think like spaghetti, a whole mess of thoughts connected and mixed up into a random whole. These things keep me entertained while I get through the not-so-fun parts of the day.

First example: Why, oh why, do cleaners have to be so toxic? Honestly. I lost lots of nose hair and brain cells in my first month of cleaning on a regular basis (instead of only the weekend). If "they" can make bleach smell like flowers and lemons, why not the shower cleaner too? Has anyone else ever nearly asphyxiated in the shower? I thought I was going to pass out the first time. It was horrible.

However, I've been readying a lot of "green cleaning" books lately, and the problem will be solved as soon as I run out of the toxic stuff. I'd rather just use it instead of dumping it to poison other stuff or go through the hassle of finding a hazmat dumping station. Check out "Green Cleaning for Dummies" and "Go Green, $ave Green". Great tips, and they don't make you feel like a jerk for not being greener than Kermit.

Okay, have to cut my husband's hair now.

Domestic Goddess out.