Archive for the ‘Life at the Inn’ Category

Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles

Monday, July 4th, 2016

2016-07-04-16.22.24.jpg.jpegHard water. The nemesis of all who have ever cleaned a bathroom in the history of ever. It’s awful. Combine that with the inherent dustiness of Colorado, and OH MY WORD I’M GOING TO DIE SCRUBBING.

I have tried every name brand bathroom cleaner I can find–not literally, of course, but enough that I became exasperated with how much elbow grease I had to put into the mildest of hard water stains. It was a lot, okay?

Lo and behold! I came across a version of this on a blog many moons ago, and have since adapted it to my own nefarious anti-hard water designs. This. Will. DESTROY hard water. With minimal work. It’s amazing. It’s safe. And it’s amazing. It’s my favorite homemade cleaner, hands down. Nothing is better. And it’s cheap.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 liter heavy duty spray bottle (HEAVY DUTY)
  • 1/4 c. regular Dawn dish soap
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • empty, clean parmesan/spice contanier with large holes in the lid for sprinkling

Pour the dish soap into the spray bottle, then top it off with white vinegar. Go slowly with the vinegar, to minimize suds. Gently swirl the bottle to mix, until the Dawn is evenly distributed and put the sprayer on. Place baking soda in the empty container.

Sprinkle your tub generously with the baking soda. Be sure to get it to stick to the sides of the tub if you can. You may need to moisten the surface a bit by wiping it with a damp sponge. Sprinkle some more.

Spray the Dawn/vinegar mixture generously over all that baking soda. Any areas that lack fizz need more baking soda and another spray of cleaner. Spray some more. You can’t use too much. Get a good fizz going. (I don’t recommend using this on tile, as vinegar can break down grout. Use it for the tub only.)

Set a timer for 20 minutes, and sit and read blogs. Oh — run the fan in the bathroom or open a window. Vinegar is a potent fragrance, y’all. Do NOT go into the bathroom for 20 minutes. Do NOT cut this time short. Ever. Visit Pinterest, read blogs, scroll through Facebook, read books, call your mom, clean something else. Just leave it alone for 20 minutes.

Put some HOT water in a bucket or bowl, grab a good scrub brush. (You may need a grubby toothbrush for hard to reach corners)That tub will be sparkling in about 5 minutes of scrubbing, probably less. Guaranteed. Rinse REALLY WELL. Turn the shower on and aim it all over the place.



You’re welcome.

PS: I’d share before and after pictures, but I forgot to take them. Seriously though. I don’t care how hard your water is. This cleaner will work. Really well.


She’s a Whole Hand!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

This is the first birthday in the family to fall on a Sunday in a long while. This matters greatly, you see, because of the way birthdays work here. Since Levi’s day off is Sunday, we tend to save their party, cake, and presents for Sunday afternoons. On the morning of the actual birthday, pancakes and perhaps one small gift are served up. Little Red got to have pancakes and cake in the same day! Lucky girl!

I seem to have a knack for getting a decent “blowing out the candles” shot. Not this time. Dangit. So, I jokingly asked Audrey to pretend really quick, and she obliged. Posed or not, she’s a cutie.

Her obsession with Hello Kitty continues. Especially very tiny Hello Kitty things. These are more pieces to a little town-themed play set.

AJ found a new favorite for her – a Hello Kitty that is purple! Purple being Audrey’s favorite color, this was quite the find, indeed! Bonus: she gets to color the dress!

Of course, there was also a pretty little outfit from Miss Sabrina – who always seems to pick something the girls would pick for themselves! It came with shiny purple shoes, but those are saved for “church time,” because they’re so fancy!

I can never seem to get over each birthday that comes along. Each one takes me farther and farther away from the baby stage. Further up and further into uncharted territory. Yes, I’ve had a five-year-old before, but not THIS five-year-old. I may be the best expert on my kiddos, but I’m certainly learning that they’re experts on me, too.

This journey we’re all on together is an interesting one, to say the least. There are challenges and delights around every corner, and signs at regular intervals that say in big, bold letters: “This too, shall pass!” I welcome these signs.

It’s the other signs, also placed at regular intervals that I tend to ignore. The ones that say “We’re growing up, Mom!” Yeah. I just ignore those most of the time. On birthdays, though, they cannot be ignored.

“I’m a whole hand today, Mom!” she told me excitedly, along with a very apt demonstration. I cried.

Happy birthday, my little Apple-cheeked Monkey Sunshine! You never fail to delight and exasperate me. Part of me wants to keep you pocket-size always. Part of me longs to know you as an upright woman of God. Part of me wants both at the same time. I love you so much, Little Red, and I always will.

A Sprinkling of Us

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Life has been so crazy the last few weeks. We seem to do a weird cycle every few months where there is always something on the calendar, and I long for rest. I think that’s why I’m so dead-set on Sundays being slow-down-and-do-nothing days. You may have noticed that I simply haven’t posted everyday lately. Part of that is due to the busyness of things lately, and partly due to my computer being commandeered in the late evenings by my sister. Her laptop’s wireless card broke, so that’s her only chance to get online and take care of some things.

Anyway, I thought I would take a break from the photo challenge to just share a few pieces of my life lately. Probably not in any particular order either.

Schel likes making new friends. Even if she has to tackle them to do it. Big Audrey definitely doesn’t mind, though.

These sillies joined little C in his “I’m-so-tired” rocking ritual. They added some serious decibels to it as well. (See video below.)

For Valentine’s Day, Levi took me to a local micro-brewery, where I had a glass of “Passed Stout” along with my smoked salmon enchildadas, which were amazing! Yet another new place to try, and I’d like to go back. Only this time, I want to take a group of people – this place has a marvelously laid-back “hanging out” feel to it.

Check out the beer menu:

That is some serious creativity, folks. They have a bumper sticker above their kitchen entrance that says “No crap on tap.”

I always thought I didn’t like beer. Turns out I am actually a beer snob, and I don’t actually know anything about beer. I can’t stand Coors or Bud or anything like that. I prefer darker “hoppy” beers. Whatever “hoppy” means. This amuses me.

I had my first public speaking engagement last night at our local Birth Network chapter meeting. I spoke on how changing positions can make your labor go faster (yes, it really can), and I loved it!

I was kind of nervous about my approach. I was confident in my ability to speak, and my knowledge of the subject, but a bit worried about the “fill-in-the-blank” handout I chose to use to help folks remember what they learned. I thought it might be a little cheesy, but the response was really positive!

A huge shout-out to my good friend and fellow doula, Carrie A, for the loan of her pelvis and baby, as well as being a kind moral supporter for me. I really was nervous, and her presence really helped me stay calm and confident. Her hubby was kind enough to get a couple of shots for me too, and here is one of them:

Other News of Note in the Faery Inn:

  • Dain is mastering the art of potty-ing with quicker success than I thought he would. I think the “Marshmallow-for-Everyone” approach is working well.
  • All four kiddos have come down with some sort of nasty fever/cough/puke bug. Thankfully, the puking seems to be finished, but the fevers are sticking around.
  • AJ and Schel are moving out this weekend. That is just weird. They’ll be moving into a friend’s basement temporarily, as this will be a mutual benefit. I think she’s planning on getting her really and truly own place by summertime, with the help of tax return funds.
  • I finally read “Mansfield Park” for the first time, thanks to Sabrina. And I loved it. A very different feel to this one than other Jane Austen books.
  • Schel is signing “Eat,” “More,” “All done,” and is waving “Hi” and “Bye” with much enthusiasm!
  • My Dad is off of his self-injections. Now we’re just keeping an eye on the brain tumors. His appetite is back, for the most part, though Mom still has to drive him around everywhere.
  • My mom is back on facebook, and I’ve really had a blast chatting with her when she’s on. I love my Mom. She’s sort of awesome and stuff.

I realize I haven’t done Thankful Thursday for a couple of weeks now. Honestly, it has simply slipped my mind. How about I promise to be back next week? Good.

How about you? What’s going on in your life?


Day 4: Where’s the Reset Button?

Friday, February 4th, 2011

According to my handy-dandy Topic List, this post is supposed to contain a picture of my night. However, since my day has been rather befuddled and piece-meal, this photo was taken in the late afternoon. It represents several things that were on my long list of things to do today.

1… The grocery list and menu I had to create. (Check)

2… The budget, which has been tweaked a lot today. (Check – pending approval/compromise from my other half.)

3… Laundry. (Nice try)

4… A bunch of phone calls. (Yeah right.)

5… Cleaning the office/school area. (Ha!)

6… Write a little. (Check)

7… More stuff I have certainly forgotten.

The elongated word “Fooooood” represents my state of mind. You see, though my menu & grocery list were written down, and the amount of cash we need for the month figured out, I was not able to go my merry way with the five kiddos to procure these things. Why? A confounding number of factors.

One being that Little Red has dirtied every pair of bottoms she owns – pants AND skirts – over the last few days. Another being that I spent too much time on things lower on the priority list (or not even ON the list) than I should have. (Please, don’t worry – I’m not kicking myself. I can’t change today, but I can start fresh tomorrow.)

Yet another reason was the timing of Schel’s afternoon nap. That child slept during prime time, which is normal for her. How on earth do I forget that I need to plan shopping BEFORE the nap? It’s too late in the day for me to do anything afterwards. I’ll get it down eventually. By the time she awoke, the bank was closed, and it was past time for some dinner.

So, my brain is confounded. I know there are things I have forgotten to put on the grocery list, which I will NOT remember until I’ve finished at all three stores. All I know is that we need “Fooooood.” And lots of it. We are out of everything, which isn’t good, seeing as how my children are eating like the proverbial “horses” at the moment.

The sepia tone symbolizes the overall melancholy tone my life has had this week, due to being a girl. (No, not THAT, exactly, just the week preceding THAT.) I have gone back and forth between hormonal moodiness and optimism; unreasonable crankiness and playfulness; guiltily kicking my own shins and making excuses for everything.

Where’s the reset button?

I know I left it around here somewhere. One of the kids probably destroyed it.

And you know what? This is just the tip of a very annoying iceberg of a week. Re-focusing will just have to be a must.

Please tell me your week was better than mine!? I need to know that others can function just fine, whether I do or not.


Thankful Thursday

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Today, I am thankful just to have survived two days in a row with eight children under the age of seven in my home. The days were far from bad ones – just a little noisier and a lot more chaotic in general.

I’m thankful for the sweet burden of prayer one precious little boy has laid on my heart over the last couple of days. A genuine prayer, stemming from compassion and hope, for a prodigal to return.

I’m thankful for the innocence and bright-eyed joy that has filled my home.

I’m thankful for new little readers, and the confidence I see growing in them, one word at a time.

I am thankful for midwives, and the work they do.

I am thankful for the doulas I am getting to know more and more. Such incredible women.

I’m thankful for how easy homemade mac n’ cheese is to make in big batches.

I’m thankful for the gorgeous green of lightly steamed peas.

I’m thankful for my camera.

I’m thankful for all the snot, spit-up, dirt, and miscellaneous food on my shirt. It just means I’ve been loved on and needed by lots of little ones. Who cares if the house went to crap yesterday and today? I really did try to keep up. Not possible, though.

I’m thankful for the light praise station playing really calming, quiet music at this time of night, which encourages these three little sparrows to wait a little more patiently for their Daddy to come get them.

I’m thankful my calendar was clear, since their momma got stuck in New York while she was there on business. It means I get to be a blessing to a very dear friend, whose children are very special kiddos in my life.

I’m thankful for YOU, who keep coming back, despite my inconsistent writing habits. You are lovely folks. 🙂

Visit Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage if you would like to participate this month.

What are you thankful for this week?


School’s Not in Session Today (or, This Will Be Random)

Monday, January 24th, 2011

No Monday school this week, simply because we didn’t make it to church. A combination of waking up too late and realizing that all four of my kids seem to have caught Baby Schel’s cold. Nobody’s too far under the weather – just lots of snot and a mild cough.

You may (or may not) have noticed that I did not write anything on Saturday. I really don’t know why that is. It just didn’t happen.

Saturday was unusual for us. He traded days with a co-worker, working her Monday shift, and took Saturday off. Our church’s teens hosted a “Parent’s Day Out” fund-raiser, that I would have loved to take advantage of. However, I seriously did not remember that Levi would be off, making it worth it for us to do so. I feel so badly that we didn’t take advantage of their event for our date Saturday. Next time, I will!

Levi took me out for probably the best date we’ve had in months! We tried a place, new to us, downtown.

We were told it was the best Greek place in town, because, you know, it’s run by “Real Greeks!” So, their food is actually authentic. I had the Spanakopita, which is filled with all kinds of spinach-y deliciousness. Levi had a gyro, which was also good. I love good food. I loved the homey atmosphere.

After that, we had some time to kill, so walked down to a local coffee shop to enjoy a mocha and a game of Othello. I’d never played before (didn’t get a pic, dangit), and I won! I love beginner’s luck. It was so nice to walk around downtown and spot some restaurants we’ve never been to, and figure out which one’s we’d like to try. We both love trying new food, even if it doesn’t turn out to be that great. Conversation with an intelligent man, who is completely in love with me, over a plate of food, without the kids is such a novel experience, it would be hard for it to be ruined by bad food. Or that run-on sentence.

We made our way to the theater, where we indulged in a non-dollar movie: True Grit.

It. Was. Amazing. The dialogue was a riot, Matt Damon made a wonderful nincompoop, and Jeff Bridges? Well, he’s Jeff Bridges. He was wonderful. However, it was Hailee Steinfeld who stole the show. Go see it. Worth every dime.

Cold Stone topped off our evening, thanks to a half-price gift certificate, after which we stopped by a RedBox and rented The Social Network. (Two movies in one night – we are such wild things!) A powerful movie about how easy it is to let anger and jealousy undermine any relationships worth having. I was really, really impressed.

That’s all I really wanted to say about that.

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what school looks like most days now:

And Schel showing her interest in wooden puzzles, and how they work:

Told you it was going to be random. It’s all I’ve got today.

How was your weekend?


If Today Goes as Planned…

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

…we will have had our first full week of school since Thanksgiving week. Talk about a “Holiday Break!” Eesh. I think that’s the one plus about homeschooling: that we can take breaks whenever we darn well please. I’m thinking school won’t end until the very last week of June this year. Oh well. It’s not like we’re going anywhere anyway.

For Christmas, I bought the kids some dinosaur excavation kits from Usborne books, and we’ll be cracking those open today. The girls will do a stegosaurus, the boys a T-Rex. We just did a very short unit on archeology and how it helps us learn about world history, and the kids became extremely interested. Durin now wants to be an archeologist when he grows up! I have to admit that visions of my boy in desert garb, sweating over a delicate fossil in the hot sun in a faraway land danced through my head. I liked that picture very much! So, I want to give them a small taste of what it’s like to excavate something, and put it together.

They’re a little young, but they’ll have me to help and guide. I’m hoping Daddy will want to participate too, since he has a long weekend this week, and the kits will take several days to complete.

I have been getting tired of just reading to the kids about things – and while they enjoy the pictures and information, they were getting burned out just listening too. Being newish to homeschooling, I wasn’t really sure where to look for hands-on things. A lapbook didn’t appeal to me at this moment. I wanted something in three dimensions. Then, I was invited to my friend’s Usborne show. I’d forgotten about this wonderful company that makes educational books and kits for kids of all ages – up through high school! I’d been introduced to the company through another friend before, but hadn’t really thought about it until the recent book party.

Needless to say, I have found yet another great source for hands-on reinforcement of what my kids are supposed to be learning. Lydia has been complaining that she has a hard time remembering what we learned “last week,” and I am hoping this helps.

I’ll take pictures of the kids using their learning tools from Usborne soon, so you can see what we’re doing. Also – I have to be honest, I’ll be hosting my own show on the 20th, in the hopes of earning some more tools for the kids, and I’ll be sharing the link to my e-show here on the ol’ blog, just in case you want to help me out by trying some of their books out on your own young’uns! 🙂

As for homeschooling, we really are having fun learning together, and most days are going more smoothly than before. I still enjoy just sitting at the table with the kids and doing our lessons together.

Oh! Before I forget! Audrey informed me during Christmas week that she is ready to learn how to read. So, she had her first phonics lesson two days ago. We’re going to take it slow, but she is quick to remind me that she needs her reading lesson! She’s very eager, and I’m sure she’ll pick up on it quickly. I have to say that teaching my kids to read is my very favorite part of this whole thing, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing it “click” inside their little heads, and seeing their confidence grow. There is nothing quite like it.

Pray for me as we keep walking this path. It’s a harder one than I thought it would be. It’s a good thing it’s also more rewarding than I thought it would be, or I would have given up long ago.

So, how was your week? Good, bad, ugly?

I’ll see you all for Monday School, right? Go into church tomorrow morning with an open mind and heart, and ask God what He wants you to learn. You might be surprised! Then, come back and share it. Write a post, or just let me know in the comments Monday morning. I’d love to learn from you, too.

Thankful Thursday: Snow Day!

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

This week, I am thankful for the simple fact that it finally snowed here! Starting last Thursday, I might add! The kids (and the grown-ups) were all so excited to see big, fluffy white flakes coming down hard and fast. It snowed all afternoon, through the night, and into the next morning. We got about four inches or so at our house, I think. I don’t really know for sure.

Immediately, the kids were just itching to get outside and go sledding or build a snowman. However, since the temperatures were still well below freezing, Mommy just wasn’t willing to let them go out. Fortunately, Daddy’s day off came on the first day it began to warm up enough that the snow would be nice and sticky, but not so much that it melted off in one day. There wasn’t enough left to go sledding, but there was plenty for a snowman!

I am thankful that the father of my children is playful.

I am thankful for the love on his face – his heart is so tender toward his kids. Dain was throwing a very tiny snowball at him, and Daddy obligingly let himself be “gotten.”

I am thankful for these kiddos, and the unbounded joy they bring me, without even trying.

I am thankful for bundled-up babies experiencing snow for the first time. Oddly enough, she’s not screaming about the snow – she HATES the snow suit, because it doesn’t allow her to move like she wants to!

Such a lovely day they had, and came inside to enjoy hot chocolate with marshmallows. The big ol’ pile of wet snow gear on my carpet (of course), and the muddy snow tracked across my kitchen floor went largely unnoticed by me.

Days and moments like these slip too easily away, like pearls from a string. Having kids has taught me how to catch those pearls, and cherish each one as a treasure. I am thankful for these simple lessons, simple moments, and the ability to share them with YOU. Thank you, ever so much, for visiting my little corner of the internet today. Have a blessed and joyful day today!


To join Thankful Thursday, click on the button at the top of this post, and go from there. If you would like to read more of this week’s Thankful posts, visit our host for the month: Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

What are you thankful for this week?

Smiling Comes Easy Here

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

This month is going to be a hectic one. On the agenda, we have everything from homeschooling starting back up (for which I am only minimally prepared), to Girl Scout cookie sales, to my teaching at the pregnancy center again, with lots in between! I really dislike being a busy person, but with four kids, it’s not possible to avoid busyness. However, it is possible to be busy only with things that really matter.

Things that tug the corners of my mouth upward.

Things like…

…Levi deciding to use the NBA tickets Papa sent to take Durin to a game, instead of me. I cannot go, since I’ll be teaching that night. I could see it on Levi’s face when I suggested he take Durin, that he couldn’t think of anyone else he’d rather go with!

…Levi telling me he’d rather get a refund on the NBA tickets than go without me, before Durin’s name came up. A wife loves to be her husband’s first choice. (Guys – take note – If you want to go fishing, ask your wife to go first, and if she’s willing, leave the guys behind. Not every time of course, but make her feel like she counts as your very best buddy.)

…A little red-headed snippet of a girl laying her head in my lap on the couch, settling down, and informing me that it’s okay for me to tickle her now.

…My pretty little kindergarten girl all buttoned up in her red, hand-me-down pea coat.

…A little long-lashed, brown-eyed, bed-headed boy holding out his unmarked, but sore, finger and telling me he needs a “band-and-aid.”

…Sipping hot coffee and writing while kiddos play just down the hall.

…Crossing things off of my to-do list, even if it’s only a few things out of what feels like a million.

…Seeing any of my kids conquer a new puzzle for the first time.

…Sitting at our school table, learning together.

…Teaching. Any kind of teaching. Whether I’m teaching pregnant pairs or my own children, I love facilitating discussion and learning.

…Bible verses that just reach out and grab me when I’m reading, just at the right moment. Whether I need conviction, encouragement, or to learn some Truth more fully, the Bible never fails to be that “two-edged sword.”

…The smell of dead fir wafting through the house from all the Christmas Tree needles the day we take it down. I’m always reluctant to vacuum, I love the smell so much.

…My friends gathering around me in a network of support, advice, and encouragement, no matter what.

…These same friends’ willingness to gently rebuke me when I’m in the wrong, but can’t see it. Iron sharpening iron, in the best possible way.

…Quotes of all kinds, from all kinds of people. Like little, tangible drops of wisdom in the ocean of history.

…Clear, sunny, snowy days. Well-sprinkled with cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

…Babies. I’m a sucker for babies.

…Pregnant bellies waddling through stores. I know I’ve gotten funny looks from people because I can’t help but grin in awe and affection at every pregnant woman I see!

…Getting real mail. Nothing like a scribbled note or Christmas card from a far-off loved one to put a smile on my face.

Smiling really does come easy here. In fact, it really can’t be helped, and I am so glad there are so many things to smile about in my little corner of the world. Sometimes, all it takes to help me perk up on a blah day is a smile at something small.

What about you? What things in your life make you smile?

This was today’s Post A Day Topic for the WordPress Challenge. Would you like to join? Sign up for the Post a Day/Week HERE.

I’m So Excited!!!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

But I have to hide it…so I’ll just tell the entire internet. Since Cuteness can’t read and all.

She’ll be four tomorrow. And she wants a “strawberry cake”. So. I’m going to make her this. And we’re going to buy her this.

I’m positively giddy with anticipation! I’ll post pictures tomorrow night, I promise!