Saturday, July 30, 2011

Homemade Mosquito Spray

Remember the sad face boy with his over swollen mosquito bites on his face and back? Well, I am happy to report that he is doing better, and although I have been giving him oral medication, I suspect that other than letting the bites run their course, this homemade mosquito spray that I use helped a lot as well.

In the summer, I too, get these oversensitive skin reactions. They are almost like heat rashes mostly on my legs and sometimes on my arms that become these angry red patches. They itch and hurt and are very sensitive to touch. I get them in the winter too, but not as much as the warmer months. I suspect it is some type of eczema, although I have not had the doctor look at them.

A lady at the farmer's market a couple of years ago had this mosquito spray that she was selling. She said it was a natural solution to keeping mosquitoes at bay, but that it also helped the itch and the sting of the bites should you get them. I asked if she thought it could help one of my angry red areas on my leg. She sprayed some on right then and it was instantly cooling and soothing. I bought some from her and then went back the next month to buy some more. Before, my spots would take weeks to resolve even though I tried every cream or ointment imagineable to make them better. After using the spray daily, my spot was all gone within two days.

I use the spray every time I get any type of itchy spot. My son likes to have it sprayed on his itchy spots as well. Since I use it all throughout the year, I was not able to go to the farmer's market to buy some more during the winter months. She had said the ingredients were just witch hazel, tea tree oil, and lavender oil, so I started making my own.

It is nothing scientific, but it works just the same. I simply fill the spray bottle almost to the top with witch hazel then I put in about 10 to 20 drops each of the tea tree and lavendar oils. I buy the witch hazel for a dollar or so a bottle at Target, and I bought the oils at Sunflower market, a local health food type store. They last a long time since not very much of them are needed each time I refill the spray bottle.

I love this stuff and use it almost every day. It has truly been a life saver.... or at least a scratch saver!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finding It

I recently finished Valerie Bertinelli's second book, Finding It. It is the follow up to her book, Losing It. I liked this second book quite a lot better than her first book. She talks a lot about how to maintain weight loss and even how to maintain that peacefulness in life. She does give detailed information about how she was able to get her body into the shape she wanted in order to appear in a bikini for one of her Jenny Craig commercials.

I am not sure I should have read this book when I did in life as I am finding myself at my heaviest weight ever not pregnant. I mean it is good information for someone like me who does want to get off some of the extra weight through exercise and eating right, but I also have an obsessive personality, so I find myself thinking about this almost all the time. I think I am driving my family a little crazy with my new obsession over weight when my body really does not look that bad. My legs are more shapely than they have been since high school, and I do not really feel that I appear to be all that chunky. I don't have a magazine cover ready body for sure, but I am an avearage person. I do have body image problems, which were not helped by the fact that I just went to Las Vegas with my best friend from high school, who still barely weighs 100 pounds and is about as thick as my pinky finger. (In her defense, her body is just built that way. She eats all the time and that is just her lucky lot in life to have that cute little body!) My sister tries to remind that anyone would feel chunky standing next to my best friend.  

I run almost every night on my treadmill. I try to eat right; although admittedly, I have a sweet tooth. I have found myself trying to be more aware of what I put in my mouth. I have cut way back on drinking soda pop and eating candy. It helped me to lose a couple of pounds in a week.

Bertinelli states in her book that she feels that her plan is doable for the average woman. The problem I have with that is that while she is a single, working mom similar to me, she is also not like me. Her job is to be a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. She doesn't have to work a regular work week, and she can afford to hire a personal trainer who kept her on track and pushed her to be able to fit into a bikini with a nice shapely body. He also fit her with a computer device called a Body Bug, which read her every movement and calculated how many calories she ate versus how many she burned. Again, something that I do not think I could afford to purchase. I do believe that the average woman could do a modified version of her plan and get her weight down to a manageable amount, however, I do not have time to go on a 45 minute run every morning nor do I have the financial resources to hire the top of the line trainer with all of his fancy gadgets. I think she means well, but it still comes across as not quite as accessible as she would think.

I think overall the book was an enjoyable read, much more so than I found her first book. I think one needs to take the parts that work for you and put those into practice as much as you can while still living in your own reality. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sad Face

This sad little lovey has a swollen face. Under his left eye is swollen so that his eye is almost half closed, and his right cheek is swollen so that it looks like he has a jowl. Admittedly in the above picture, he is being a little on the dramatic side and is making his mouth sadder than it actually looks. He likes to pose!

He woke up the other morning with what looked like mosquito bites on his face and then his eye started swelling. I let it set for a day before I called the doctor. He thinks that it is the mosquito bites mixed with the fact that he is already congested due to a sinus infection. Since all his lymph nodes are already swollen and then he was bitten on his face, behind his ear, along his jaw line, and his neck, that it is a secondary reaction to the being bitten in such key places. He said to try Zyrtec or Claritin, since I had already been giving him Benadryl without much of a change.

When I went to the pharmacy, the pharmacist said that the Zyrtec or Claritin would probably not do much, but trying wouldn't hurt either. She said to try Benadryl. When I told her I already had, she just looked at me with that "oh" kind of expression. I said, "So what you are saying is that it basically has to run its course." She said, "Sorry."

I did give him the Claritin and the Benadryl along with his antibiotic when we arrived home. It did look a little better today, and he said was not as miserable feeling as yesterday.

Tonight we were outside, and he didn't have a shirt on because he wants to be like the Incredible Hulk. He came running up to me and said, "You gotta look at my back!" Upon his turning around, I saw four large welts about an inch long each from newly acquired mosquito bites. I first said that it was time to put his shirt back on, and it was time to be inside for the night.

I have put on the mosquito spray and we have sprayed the mosquitoes in the house with Listerine, which kills them and is non-toxic so we are not spraying bug spray on ourselves. But these mosquitoes are everywhere this year since we have had so much extra moisture. The mosquitoes are outside and inside. A friend asked, "How do they get inside?" I said, "They come in because the kids come in and out about a hundred times a day, and half the time they leave the door wide open." It is like fighting a losing battle all day long against these tiny nuisances!

We will continue to spray away, but I look forward to the time when the mosquitoes are done for the year. I cringe everytime I look at a new bite mark on one of the kids!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Moldy Shower Fix-It Tip

If you have a bit of the black mold in your shower along the grout lines, a quick tip to make it go away is to use one of the Clorox Bleach Pens. You can find them in the laundry aisle, and because it squirts out the bleach gel in a small, controlled amount, it is easy to apply to the grout lines.

This is my shower in my own home; I applied the bleach pen gel to the black areas before I left for the day. When I got home, it was just a matter of rinsing it out of the tub. You don't want to just leave the bleach in there unrinsed, especially if your kids bathe in the tub.

If I am cleaning at a house and use the bleach pen, I usually don't have hours to let it sit. If I am really with it, I will go in at the beginning of the cleaning job and apply the bleach gel, and it can sit while I do the other cleaning. Otherwise, I apply it at the beginning of the bathroom cleaning and let it sit for the few minutes it takes to clean the other appliances. It can be enough to get most of the black out. I am usually good at making a mental note to let it sit longer the next time I come to clean at that particular house.

It isn't the end-all/be-all fix to cleaning the mold from a shower, but it is an easy, quick fixer upper. I usually do it once every other month, so it lasts for a while. It is just a quick, little tip to pass on to my readers!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fabric Addict!

So it all started this past weekend when my sister turned me onto this website called Pinterest where it is like every cool catalog you could ever image and you create your own boards and pin on all the things you like. Then I made boards for home ideas, cool polka dot ideas, cool gingham ideas, cool style ideas using gingham and polka dots, cool vintage trailers that I am now convinced that I need one for my backyard that I can redecorate..... And yes, I need to take a breath!

Actually my fabric addiction probably started long before finding Pinterest and now wanting to make all kinds of cool things with the above fabric that I just purchased. (I will get to the above fabric in a minute.) I have always loved fabric. My mom used to sew some, as did my grandmother. My sister is a super sewer and teaches family and consumer studies at a local high school. I am nowhere near the seamstress that she is, but I pick up many great ideas and skills from her. I also love the way fabric feels. I remember once being in a store with my sister, and she looked over at me and told me I had better stop groping all of the different materials or someone was going to report me! I still have to feel a piece of clothing or fabric at a sewing store before I buy it. If it doesn't have a good feel, it doesn't come home with me.

I went to a quilting show with my sister and her team teacher a couple of months ago. There were so many great fabrics there, I came home with some really great patterns and did this cool fabric box project, which I will have to blog about soon. That really renewed my fabric love and desire to do some house refreshing projects because sometimes I need to change things up and fabric can be an inexpensive and easy way to do just that.

After a weekend of spending way too much time on Pinterest, I was at my sister's house on Monday. She said she had been at Wal-Mart and found that they had these precut fabrics and then proceeded to show me the cutest gingham, polka dot, and scroll patterns of fabric. I thought they were not even selling fabric at Wal-Mart anymore, but apparently they still are, only in precut amounts. These were all 2 yard cuts, and she said they were mostly all on clearance for $5.00 each; that's $2.50 a yard! The ones that weren't on clearance were only $8.00 for the 2 yard amounts, which is still a great price per yard.

Yesterday, I made it to Wal-Mart to see what I could find. When I saw all the great patterns and colors, I flipped! I bought 8 last night of the cotton polka dot and gingham patterns. I also bought a 2 yard cut of felt that was also on clearance for $5.00. I have this cape project I want to do with the felt; again another thing to blog about sometime in the near future! Then I got to thinking about all the projects I could do with this cool new fabric. I had planned to go back to Wal-Mart after cleaning today and buy a couple more. Then my sister called me while I was cleaning and said she was already there and did I want anymore. I told her the ones I wanted, and she picked them up for me. Then I found myself back there in the afternoon when the kids and I had a couple of errands to run. I bought two more of the polka dots and two more colors of the felt.

I know I am out of control! If you count the number of colors and patterns above, the total is 16 as my daughter counted them up so nicely for me and then did the math to find that is 32 yards of fabric! What, may you ask, am I going to do with 32 yards of fabric?? Well, I have a few things in mind: I hope to recover my dining room chairs, make a valance or two, use the fabric behind some pictures as some matting, maybe make a couple more of my fabric boxes, and I have an idea for a cool new quilt for my bed! If and when each of these comes to fruition, I promise to blog about them.

In my defense, I don't usually buy this much fabric all at once, but it does appear that Wal-Mart may not be stocking these fabrics anymore. In fact we have two Wal-Marts within a couple of miles of our house. One is a Super Center Wal-Mart, and I went to that one first last night. It had none of these cool fabrics. So I went over to the other non-Super Center Wal-Mart where my sister said she had gotten her fabrics. They did have quite a few there last night and seemed to have good stuff still when my sister was there this morning. However, when I went back this afternoon, almost everything was gone. I was able to get the last two polka dot ones that I wanted, but truly those were it, and I lucked out in that they still had the two colors I wanted. This non-Super Center Wal-Mart is under remodeling construction, and it looks like they are making it into a Super Center. I wonder if they will not be selling these pre-cut fabrics anymore. It is perfectly justifiable, then, that I should buy up what I want! Right?? (Recognition is the first step in admitting you have a problem, correct?)

I am feeling super motivated and excited to see what all of this fun fabric can turn into in my home. I will keep you all posted as to how it goes! In the meantime, if I do have an addiction to fabric problem, I suppose in the grand scheme of things, there are worse things to which I could be addicted!

P.S. I put a link to my Pinterest boards under my Favorite Websites tab on the right hand side of my blog page. If you want to start pinning on Pinterest, let me know, and I will send you an invitation. That way you can just start Pinteresting. Otherwise you have to ask Pinterest for an invitation and sometimes they don't get to people right away.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Teaching Friends

You know how some women have that group of friends with whom they share their souls? Well this is my group... most of them anyway.. a few couldn't make it this day, but we tried. Actually this is one of the biggest crowds we have had in several years.

When I had my first teaching job at Gorman Middle School in Colorado Springs, I was privileged enough to work with some of the best people in the world. In fact I don't think I have ever worked with anyone before or since with whom I have been closer.

Many of us were first year or only a couple of years into our teaching careers, but we had our sages too, who befriended and guided us. I worked at that school for four years with my teaching teammate, Jill, who is standing on the far left. It was a time of learning and growing and getting to know our craft as well as ourselves. Jill and I were a two-person team, for three of the four years we worked together; our first year together we taught with a man on a three person team. She taught the sixth grade math and science, while I taught the language arts and social studies. She has taken some years off from teaching and is just returning full time this year to teach second grade.

On the other side of me to the right are ToniRae and Tina. They were both eighth grade teachers. ToniRae mostly taught on a two-person team, teaching the same subjects as me: language arts and social studies. Tina taught social studies on a four-person. ToniRae still teaches eighth grade history, but in a different town. Tina is still in our district but is a principal.

Sue is the second in from the right. She was our library media specialist. She still has the same job only now at a high school in a different district.

Libby rounds out the day's group on the far right. She taught sixth grade math and language arts right next door to me. She was on a two-person team for a while, but then was on a three-person team and job-shared with one of our missing members. Libby teaches fifth grade now at an elementary school in another district and town.

Missing from our gathering were Andrea, one of Libby's team on the three-person, who taught sixth grade language arts and social studies; Lisa B., who was the third on that team and she taught the science, Michele, who taught sixth grade language arts and social studies and was a roommate of mine in college; Lori, who was our PTA president and served with us on many committees; and Collyn, who was a seventh grade math and science teacher and then one of our assistant principals. All of these great ladies are still in education in some way or fashion, some in the same district, others have moved on to different towns and/or districts. Except Lori, whose daughters were our students and since they are both grown now, she doesn't have to be so intricately involved in the schools. I am sure her presence is missed!

I served on committees with all of these ladies in some way or another... social studies steering committee, a special program where we received a grant to help boost student achievement, school planning and management team, sixth grade team, and so on. It was always my privilege to work with them.

However, the truest indicator of our friendship, and to really show how special these ladies are to me, happened when I had just separated from my ex-husband. It was one of my darkest times. I had just had my son about a month and a half earlier, I had a four-year old daughter that had lots of questions, and my marriage was in self-destruct mode. Sue called me up to see how I was doing. I was living in a different city than we had all taught in. In fact, many of us had moved away, and we were kind of spread up and down the Front Range of Colorado. She asked me what I needed. I had no clue. She asked what needed to be done at the house. I just blurted out that my garden needed to be weeded. She said she would call everyone and see what time would work for most. About a week or two later, Sue, Jill, Libby, Andrea, and Lisa B. showed up at my house, and we all weeded my garden for a day. I still cannot even tell that story or write it down without welling up with tears. The fact that they loved and cared for me so much that they would sacrifice a day to come and weed my garden is still something that I cannot recount without tears. Tears of gratitude, tears of love, tears that show how deeply touched my soul was by their kind and simple act!

I am truly blessed to be part of such a fantastic group of ladies. I would do anything for them as they have shown they would do for me. I hope you have a group on which you could call to do those simple things like lift your spirit whenever you hear their voices or get to spend a fun day chatting and catching up as we did this past Friday. Thanks girls! I will plan something again for next summer!

Some of the younger children of the group from our most recent gathering.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Loveys are Home!

Asleep in their beds now, they are looking so serene. I am finally breathing freely; the first time since Saturday morning. I knew this last visit before their dad returned to South Africa was going to be a long one. I had offered a little extra time since it was their last visit together this trip. He added an extra day, so instead of the 4 to 5 days they had been doing, this one was 6 days long. It doesn't seem that adding only one extra day would be so bad, but it was torture! I think most of the torture was because of the unsupervised pool incident that occured on Friday, and I found out about on Saturday morning. I have just been holding my breath until they returned to my care.

When I talked to my little man this morning, he said he was just ready to come home. I told him that I would be picking them up later today. He asked what day was it, and I said, "Wednesday." "Wednesday," he exclaimed, "What happened to Tuesday?" I had been picking them up on Tuesday, so that was what he was used to. I told him that there had been one extra day added. "Oh," he said. I asked if he could make it to 5:00, or did he need me to arrange for an earlier pick up? He said that he thought he could make it to 5:00 but that he missed me and loved me. I assured him I missed him and loved him too!

After I had waited at our regular half way meeting spot for about 15 minutes, their dad called to say they had been rear-ended and my little girl was having some neck pain. I ended up meeting them at the ER. She is fine other than some cervical strain. It was just a minor hiccup in bringing them home, but bring them home I finally did!

Now we should be able to return to our regularly scheduled programming....  And I am breathing a huge sigh of relief!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Losing It

I just finished reading Losing It by Valerie Bertinelli. It was an interesting read. I usually find it interesting to hear about the more glamorous lives of others. I am a little conflicted about how she presented some things, especially her obsession with her weight. I understand that she is four inches shorter than me and that weight standards are different in Hollywood than in the real world, but I just had a hard time identifying with her when she felt fat at 123 pounds. Even when she was up in the 140's and 150's, I could not empathize with her. In the end, she does say that she understands that some people are not fat at 150 or 160, but it felt fat to her and she had trouble getting jobs at a heavier weight. It didn't make me feel better about my weight which sits there between 150 and 160, mostly I just felt like a fatty, fatty after hearing her story. I did some extra sits up and exercising tonight!

It was interesting to hear her story of her relationship with Eddie Van Halen. I could really identify with her feeling like it had been a mistake to get married in the first place, but trying everything to make it work. In the end, though, the only person she could help or take care of was herself.

I liked the parts where she talked about being a mom. I think that she is a great mom. She seemed to always think of the best interests of her son over everything else.

I would recommend this book to others. I liked it. It isn't one that I loved, but it was not bad.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July

My little man enjoying some backyard fireworks last year.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

I have been trying hard all weekend to feel the holiday spirit, but my kids are on their last visit with their dad while he has been here for the last month from South Africa. I am mostly focusing on house projects. I have seen a couple of movies and been out to dinners and lunches with family and friends. I did a bunch of yardwork yesterday and plan to get the house cleaned over the next few days. Today I am going to work and then go to my sister's in-law's annual 4th of July party. But mostly I just miss my kids!

Saturday I almost lost my mind when I found out that my ex had left them alone at a swimming pool for a substantial amount of time. I am trying very hard to just let him have his time during his brief stay without interference from me because the kids do not get to see him but once or twice a year, but this incident is a final straw that broke this camel's back! Then my ex in his true fashion would not even speak to me about it, hung up on me, and made it as if I was making a big deal about nothing. It would be super if for once he would take a teensy bit of responsibility for his actions. Before resorting to calling the police for a welfare check on the police, I was able to work out some things with my ex-father-in-law, bless his soul!

Mostly I just want my babies home! I have been in constant communication with God to continue to watch over them. I have thanked him and whomever he has assigned as guardian angels over my children for keeping them safe. Those would have been some fireworks nobody would want to see this weekend if something more than my kids were scared would have happened at that pool on Friday!

So I am hoping that everyone has a safe, happy, and fully supervised Fourth of July today!

My sweet girl enjoying being patriotic last year.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sometimes You've Gotta Scream!

This is a pretty sweet face! You would never guess from this picture that she can be quite the surly little girl at times! Now there is usually a reason for the surly rather than just the temper tantrums of the toddler years.

My kids' dad chose to move out of the country almost two years ago. He has been back for only his fourth visit in the two years for a little over the last month. My daughter had a good relationship with him before he left us, so these visits are ones of confusion for her.

They have been on five visits with their dad. After the fourth visit ended earlier this week, she came home in quite the mood. First she was mad because her brother had counted to 100 for me right before I had dropped them off for that fourth visit. In doing so, he earned a small Obi Wan Kenobi action figure. I was supposed to have brought it with me, but had forgotten and promised him that he would get it first thing when we got home. She wanted to know what I had gotten her. When my answer was really that nothing was at home for her other than some new states activity books that I had gotten in the mail, she stomped to the car yelling, "Those are just books!" She continued to be angry in the car until I mentioned that if she was really that unappreciative of all the things she already has, all of that stuff could just go away.

 Then we went to pick up my handicapped sister, she was angry that I was going to have her sit next to her aunt rather than rearranging the car to make the third row of seats come up. I calmly mentioned that is not how we behave in families, and that the car ride between grammie's and our house is only a three minute drive.

Once home she continued to try to engage me in all kinds of arguments and was just angry in general. Finally she wanted me to come outside with her RIGHT NOW! I was trying to pay bills and told her it would still be a couple of minutes. She took the sliding glass door and slammed it shut. It didn't break the glass, but it made a sound like it was broken in some way (it was only off track, which was easy enough for me to fix later). I said, "Well, now it is just time for you to have some good bedroom time; see you when you're sweet."

She stomped off to her room and it was fairly quiet up there for a while. Then all of a sudden I heard open/slam, open/slam, open/slam, open/slam, open/slam, then a big scream, and a final open/slam of her bedroom door. Then quiet again.

A few minutes later, she came downstairs again, crawled into my lap, and began to sob. We discussed her feelings, and I just tried to make sure she hears each time that it is not about her. There is nothing she has done that has made her dad decide to live out of the country. I know she does not believe me yet, but hopefully someday she will internalize it for herself.

When I told my mom later about the slamming/screaming incident, she said, "It's just like that time that we all screamed after having grandma in the car." I kind of looked at her strangely, so she said, "Don't you remember the time that we took grandma up to Fargo and back from Sioux Falls, and she kept hacking up phlegm and blowing her nose into those paper towels and it wall all mucousy and phlemgy for all those hours in the car together. We dropped off grandma at her house, and my aunt started to pull away. She said, 'now everybody just scream and get it all out'," My mom, my aunt, my cousin, my sister, and I all just started screaming in the car all together! I remembered it after she told me about it. It felt good to just scream it out and be done with it.

My daughter had a really great day with us the next day. It was the only full day I got to have them. We went to the museum, and she was super helpful with my sister's neighbor girl. She pushed the stroller for the neighbor girl the whole time without complaint and without faltering. The day after that was the start of another visit, and we had a little more anger than normal. I think we will have more scream sessions to come, unfortunately. I told her the story of us all screaming out the yuck of the phlegm ride. She said she was only trying to make her door shut all the way. I just gave her one of my mom smiles! The only thing I can do is love them through it all! AND sometimes we may just have to SCREAM!

Bob's Shower

Add caption

I clean for this great couple every other Thursday. They live a little, old house in which they have done lots of remodeling. They have one of the cutest dogs you have ever seen; he is so full of personality! In one of their two bathrooms, they installed all black fixtures and clear glass shower doors. It is a nice concept, but over time both the black and the clear can end up looking dirty. I use the Method cleaners that I have talked about previously to get these items clean.

With the black fixtures, it is best to avoid using any type of abrasive cleaner, including the liquid-based abrasives, such as Soft Scrub. It is not the scratching you need to worry about, but the residue when you are finished can be quite bad. It looks dusty with the dried abrasive residue all over; not really the look you want when cleaning is finished!

Bob's shower gets pretty scummy looking after two weeks. It wasn't as bad when I went to clean it as it has been sometimes in the past. When you keep up with cleaning, it makes it so much easier over time. The clear glass doors do really look cloudy and the white residue in the tub can be a little thick.

When I first enter the bathroom, I spray everything down with the Method Daily Shower to let it start to do its job before I even start scrubbing. I have used the Method Tub-n-Tile in this shower with similar results, but again, the Daily Shower works just as well and with the refill, it is just a lot less expensive.

I clean the mirror and the toilet and the sink before I start on the tub. That way the Daily Shower has had a chance to run and soak in, and the scrubbing is minimal. Then I actually climb into the tub and scrub around, making sure I get the Daily Shower on all the surfaces to remove the soap scum. I do wipe down the doors in the same fashion. It looks streaky and still a little cloudy at this time. Then I rinse the tub out with water.

** I can stand inside the shower with the doors closed and the Method cleaner everywhere, and I do not cough, sneeze, wheeze, or feel like I am choking on chemicals!

When the tub is rinsed, I spray the shower doors with the Method Best in Glass (or the new name is Glass and Surface). I use the Method microfiber cleaning cloth to make sure it looks as unstreaky as possible. These microfiber cloths are great for cleaning glass and even granite counter tops to make things look nice and shiny. Method has one that is a little bigger and thicker than other brands, but I have used ones from Scotch and even store brands. They all work equally well.

After the Best in Glass step is finished inside the tub, I do it to the glass on the outside of the tub and wipe down the front of the tub with it as well. It takes about five minutes to make it look this way, nice and easy! And voila! Here you have it, clean and clear and shiny!