Monthly Archives: April 2010

My Little Man Turns 7

Justus is celebrating his 7th birthday today.  Happy Birthday, buddy.

For my own benefit, since my blog helps my memory, ūüôā¬†I am going to write out some of the things he’s doing at this stage and a little bit about his personality. ¬†It may not interest anybody else in the world but I think it will be a great place to record it.

Justus was born 7 years ago today.  He had 3 brothers and 1 sister waiting on him when he arrived.

Justus¬†can be¬†shy.¬† He is also my most sensitive child – not that his feelings get hurt easily but that he feels sad when he hears an unhappy¬†story. ¬†For this reason, I’m especially careful of his seeing or hearing things that might bother him later. ¬†Of course, that is probably a good policy to have for all the children, right?

He enjoys being in the kitchen on occasion.  Here he is at 4 years old with an almond cake he made with almost no help from me (besides telling him what he needed to do).

He likes being a cowboy like most other boys his age.

He’s teaching himself to read with some help from his phonics. ¬†I told him that he needed to slow down because I wasn’t even done with his phonics book and he’s trying to read everything. ¬†He’s the first one of my children to do this. ¬†

Here he is wearing some glasses he picked out of the Treasure Chest for finishing a step in phonics.  We use Sing, Spell, Read & Write which I love.

He looks up to his brothers and wants to do the things they do. ¬†For example, they are on a strength building program of doing so many push-ups a day, etc. ¬†So Justus has been doing push-ups, too. ¬†It’s very impressive. ¬†He did 24 of them the other day. ¬†For someone like myself that has never even done 1, I’m impressed. ¬†Really impressed! ¬†I didn’t think those little matchstick arms of his could have such strength. ¬†What a man he is! ūüôā

On the trip home from Denver, Colorado a few weeks ago, Zachary sat in the back seat with him and explained the workings of the world to him.  He sat there and listened attentively, his eyes having a distant expression as he absorbed what was being said.  

Something was said at this point that really clicked with him and he became quite excited.

He’s very good at playing by himself but he also plays with Audrey sometimes. ¬†Yesterday, they had a grand time pretending they were swimming and fishing, so they donned life jackets and swim suits. ¬†This swim suit is for beginning swimmers with built-in flotation. ¬†He looked quite hilarious in this too-small outfit.

We asked him to remove it for this picture. ¬†The combination of swimsuits and a construction apron with tools (which was his birthday present) just didn’t seem fitting. ūüôā

The tool set came from L*owe’s and sold for $20. ¬†All of the tools are real, not plastic. ¬†It also came with a tape measure. ¬†He wanted one of these so he could help his dad. ¬†His cousin, Lincoln (hi, Lincoln ūüôā ) had a real belt with tools that Justus saw a few years ago and he’s wanted one ever since. ¬†I thought the tools was a better choice for him than some of the other things he had written down on his birthday wish list like — hearing aids!¬†¬†“What?” you say. ¬†You read it right. ¬†He wanted hearing aids! ¬†I have no idea why. ¬†Maybe he thinks they look like fun since he’s heard them make noises when someone’s adjusting them.

Who can know all the things that run through little boys minds but I love them anyways. (xoxo) 

Even when they’re dirty…

or being silly…

They’re little men in the making.


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Homemade Laundry Detergent Results

I’ve now washed several loads of laundry using the batch of homemade detergent I made. ¬†(If you would like to see the recipe, go here.)

Results are in!¬† (Drumroll, please!) ūüôā

It’s worked great for coloreds and did fairly well on some very dirty jeans, but when I did a load of whites it didn’t work so well. ¬†I picked the dirtiest sock I could find. ¬†Now this sock is not representative of how they always look – sometimes they’re worse!

What I did for this load of whites was to use 1/2 cup of homemade detergent and 1/2 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Before the wash.

AFTER the 1st wash Рnot so good.  The dirt is still there.

For the 2nd wash I used 1/2 cup of my homemade detergent and regular bleach.  Much better results.

I read that if you have a real dirty load to throw in a scoop of Oxy-Clean. ¬†That appears to be a very good suggestion based upon my findings. ¬†I am also curious if my whites will get dingy over time using the homemade detergent. ¬†I’ll need to keep an eye on that. ¬†My next test should be to¬†soak my whites in 3% hydrogen peroxide before they are washed and see what results I get.

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

A few years ago I tried making my own dishwasher detergent. ¬†It was a dismal failure but apparently I was using a wrong ingredient. ¬†The recipe called for soda and so I used baking soda.¬† That was very wrong.¬† I needed¬†Washing Soda. ¬†I have not tried it again but this week, after talking with a friend who makes her own and after the topic came up on the soap forum I belong to, I did get inspired to make my own laundry detergent. I really do dislike all the perfumes in regular detergent; they are just too strong smelling making my nose twitch. ūüôā

I used Fels-Naptha in my laundry detergent this time but I would like to try using my own homemade soap. ¬†Fels-Naptha has some “unnatural” ingredients as well as yellow dye that I would like to avoid. ¬†Fels-Naptha looks like a bar of soap and it is used for the pre-treatment of stains.

Here is the recipe I followed this time.

The ingredients are few:  water, Fels-Naptha soap, Washing Soda, Borax.

Step 1.  Grate 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha.

3.  Add it to 3 pints of water and dissolve over low heat.

4.  Add 1/2 cup Washing soda & 1/2 cup Borax.

5. ¬†Stir until thickened. (I never saw a major difference in thickening after I added the soda and Borax. ¬†I have read that, if that’s the case, add more Fels-Naptha next time.)

6.  Add 1 quart hot water to 2 gallon bucket.

7.  Add soap mixture and mix well.

8.  Fill bucket with cold water and mix well.

9.  Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens.  (This is what it looks like after setting 10 hours.)

10.  Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

Here is the recipe once again, taken from the soap forum I belong to.

Liquid Laundry Detergent
3 pints water
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha or Castille soap (once again I use my own soap)
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
2 Gallon Bucket
1 Quart hot water
Cold Water
Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil to preference (use only oils that are safe for skin)

Dissolve grated soap bar in 3 pints of water over low heat. Add washing soda & Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket with cold water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.
I have marked lines on the container I use to mark the water levels so I don’t have to measure each time.

Washing Soda & Fels-Naptha can both be found at A*ce Hardware.  I actually found the Fels-Naptha to be cheaper at A*ce than at the groery store. 

I will be trying this homemade detergent¬†out in the next few days as I am almost out of my store detergent. ¬†I’ll post the results after I use it.

Also, I have read that you can use 3% Hydrogen Peroxide in place of bleach.  Has anyone tried this and what have been your results?


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EXPO 2010 Update

Snow, rain and cold have marked the last few days.¬† EXPO 2010 was not one of the better years for weather. ūüė¶¬† Here’s what we had 2 days ago.

Fortunately, our club was able to stay a little more warm and dry because every year we bring our wall tent and set it up for meals.  Inside is filled with tables and chairs and breakfast, lunch and supper are served there by different families in our club.

We have a¬†lot of great kids in our club this year.¬† Isn’t this 1st year 4-H’er adorable?¬† His dad manages a cattle ranch but they’ve never had pigs until this year.¬† They had so much fun with it, the dad bought another for them to raise and then butcher.¬† I can’t say my feelings of pigs match up with this families. LOL

Justus has been having such a great time here at EXPO.¬† He’s been getting up every morning at 6:30 with the boys to go feed and water their animals.¬† Here he’s following Zachary carrying the clippers.¬† You must have your lambs sheared before you arrive at EXPO but you are allowed to do some finishing touches once you are here.¬† That’s what Zachary was doing.¬† You also clip your pigs which Wesley did the night before his show.

Up at indoor exhibits are displayed educational posters like this one.  Have you ever heard of a rabbit going through an agility course like a dog does?  I never had.  Quite hilarious, I think.

This is quilling, which our 4-H leader taught.  This was actually done by a girl from our church.

By another girl from our church.

This quilling project won overall.

Check out some of the cake decorating talent the kids have.¬† The girl who made this pig cake is a pig breeder.¬† She made a cupcake for every year she’s been in 4-H.¬†

Isn’t this a gorgeous cake?

Leaving the indoor exhibits and back at the show ring…¬† I love the beautiful beef animals.¬† (I never know if I should call them cows, steers or what.¬† I’m a learnin’.)

So what do you do when you’re all finished showing your lamb?¬† He looks slightly out of control.¬† I think I’d better watch out.

Intense concentration… and whew! he made it past me.

Wesley placed 3rd in his class for confirmation and in showmanship¬† (which is shown here) he made the first cut but ended up not placing.¬† Wesley and the other 2 girls are all in the same club.¬† Wesley used to give the girl¬†on the far left some stiff competition in showmanship but the last few years he’s been slipping.¬†¬† The girl on the far left won Reserve Grand Champion Confirmation and Reserve Grand Champion Showman.¬† She also breeds pigs which is where Wesley purchased his.

Update on Zachary and Serenity.¬† Serenity’s lamb, not being at its optimum weight did not do well in confirmation.¬† She also did not place in showmanship.¬†Last year she had Grand Champion Lamb and Reserve Grand Champion Showman.¬†¬†What a change from last year.¬† It helps keep a person humble, right? ūüôā

¬†Zachary’s lamb placed 1st in its class and overall was 3rd.¬† He was in the final drive for showmanship but ultimately did not place.¬†

Today is the auction.¬† I hope Serenity is able to make a decent profit.¬† Typically, lambs bring the lowest and since her lamb didn’t weigh as much as it should (113 lbs) she’ll need to make more per¬†pound than Zachary will with his lamb.

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Moo, Baa, Maa and Oink

For the next few days, I’ll be surrounded by all the sounds that make up a farm.¬†¬†No, I have not moved out to our barn but I am¬†camped out at¬†the 4-H, 2010 EXPO where the kids show and sale their animals¬†that they have been raising for the last several months.

The last few days have been hectic as the children sheared their animals, got poster boards ready and packed to come to EXPO.  

It’s amazing how much wool a lamb carries around.¬† It’s at least 2″ thick.

There’s all kinds of interesting ways to do a job, right?¬† ūüôā

Wesley’s pig, Bacon.

Justus – looking forward to the day when he can raise an animal.


Zachary & Serenity’s lambs saying “Hi” through the fence.

I thought this lamb looked so cute.  It had its eyes closed, resting, while it chewed its cud.

Today the lambs are showing.¬† The kids show them twice, once for confirmation and the second time for showmanship.¬† Fun, fun, fun!¬† I’ll update tomorrow (hopefully) on how the kids placed.

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50,000 Books Anyone?

We bought 50,000 books last week (gasp!) РbutРnot for our home library.   We sell used books online and we were informed about a couple of ladies getting out of the business and selling their books, so we purchased them.  Off to Colorado we went on Monday afternoon.  Russell had only got about a 1 1/2 hours of rest because of staying up all night to get taxes done so he started the 13 hour drive tired.  Travelling through Flagstaff we saw a highway sign stating that I-17 was closed further ahead for a few hours because of dust storms.  So our first stop became a place of rest, fellowship and vittles for the body.

Thank you dear friends!

After travelling all night (Russell driving in one vehicle and my nephew and son driving in the other truck) we arrived safe and sound but weary and frumpy in body. ¬†Hmmm, what a great way to start the work day. ūüôā ¬†But, I ask you, how could one not start feeling better when they are surrounded by a ton (literally) of books? ¬†I felt better immediately, thank you very much!

What a great team we were. ¬†Everyone had a job and everyone did it well… except for the times we were distracted when we saw an interesting book. LOL

Research being done

Yoohoo down there. ¬†You’re not getting distracted and reading a book are you? LOL

How do you keep the little ones happy for long days of work.  SNACKS(!) and lots of them!

With 50,000 books there are going to be many, many books that we do not want. ¬†Books that may be popular but are selling for less than a few dollars. ¬†No library would want to have this many “donated” books so they end up going to the salvage yard where they are recycled.

Unbelievable isn’t it? ¬†We had a total of 21 gaylords that went to the recycler.

It took us 5 days to finish the job and at the end the children, even though feeling triumphant over finishing,…

were so tired and took a well earned rest while waiting for their daddy to come back from an errand…

I don’t know what kind of husband you all have but mine is a “Conquer the road!” kind of guy. ¬†So that’s exactly what we did. ¬†We left the warehouse at 7p.m., had some supper and started the 13 hour drive. ¬†Straight through. ¬†Again. ¬†This time, however, the road almost conquered him. ¬†It was the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere and when I say nowhere, I mean nowhere when the low fuel light came on. ¬†Our truck doesn’t get good gas mileage anyways and pulling a trailer full of books it was much worse, so we drove slowly to help conserve what fuel we had. ¬†Nothing was around. ¬†Highway patrol was called and they said the nearest diesel would be 50 miles away.¬†¬†

I’m happy to report that the story does have a good ending for we saw a sign for diesel fuel on a freeway exit. ¬†We took that road and followed it for 6 miles until we came to the little town of Pecos, New Mexico.¬† What we found was a closed gas station with only 2 gas pumps. ¬†Would this little place have 24 hour gas? ¬†Yes, they did! ¬†Big sigh of relief.

Russell was so tired and there were no lights on at the station so the first time he put his credit card in wrong. ¬†So he came and got his head lamp because he didn’t want to mess up his one chance.

As an aside, let me tell you this was the 2nd time on this trip that we were close to running out of fuel. ¬†It seems that this happens to us at least once per trip we’re on. ¬†You’ve heard people say, if you’re a painter, everyone else’s house will get painted but not your own. ¬†If you’re a mechanic, everyone else’s car will get fixed but not your own. ¬†Well my husband and his dad used to have an Exxon gas station and Russell says there were many times that he (Russell) would run out of gas shortly before he got to his own station and there he’d be walking up the street, carrying a gas can wearing his Exxon uniform.¬† Everyone else’s car had gas but not his own.

So, there you have it – the scoop on clearing out 50,000 books and as an extra bonus, my life with a former gas attendant. ūüôā

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A Beautiful Event

I feel like an official caterer after this past weekends event!  My sister planned a reception for her son, (who was married in Florida this past February) here in Arizona.  What a beautiful occasion it was.  

We prepared for 250 people.  My sister had never planned an event on this scale before (who really has :)??).  Three days before the reception, work commenced.

Things like rolling the silverware in a napkin…

Everyone was a help.  We were able to accomplish so much with all the helping hands.  It was so special to work on everything as a family.  A memory I will cherish.

I bought these wonderful stainless steel bowls that hold 30¬†quarts¬†(they’re huge!) for $21 at the restaurant supply. ¬†They were indispensible. ¬†After preparing the food, we then transferred it to a food-grade 5-gallon bucket to store. ¬†This worked excellently.


My lovely niece, Chloe.  My nieces could write cookbooks; they are some of the best cooks I know.

Martha, my new niece, sewing her dress for the reception. ¬†You’ll be seeing the finished product later.

My hard-working, good-hearted mom.

Loading up all the food to haul to the site of the reception.

It felt like we moved the whole kitchen.

The event was held at a park in a separate section with its own private facilities.  There was a wall enclosing the area with a playground for the children, bathrooms, an amphitheater where we had the evening program and a gazebo under which we placed the serving tables.  There were lights all around, too.  It was a wonderful spot and the cost, because it was owned by the city, was extremely reasonable.

My brother-in-law getting the grill ready for some mesquite smoked BBQ chicken. ¬†We had 2 of these…

and one of these.  This is my very handy, dandy dad who was the master griller that evening overseeing all the chicken and steak.

Setting up the tables and chairs and unloading all those ice chests!  We even brought a small freezer filled with ice cream for the strawberry shortcake dessert.

My brother-in-law’s family is very creative, original and artistic. ¬†Here is my brother-in-law’s sister with all the wildflowers she picked (perfectly legal, by the way) for the occasion. ¬†Doesn’t it look just like a flower market? ¬†Beautiful!

The event began and Lilianna, who stood at the guest book at the wedding in Florida, now stood at this one as well.

Here are the newlyweds and the finished dress I promised you would get to see.

Lots of grilling was going on while the happy couple above was totally oblivious to the harried and rushed ladies (not to mention my dad) that were putting everything together behind the scenes.

An evening shot after some of the chairs had been moved to the amphitheater where we had a little program that was at times sweet and other times quite humorous.

My dad and his three daughters. ¬†My sister from Pennsylvania flew in for the event and to help (far right). ¬†She’s very talented in preparing and serving food to a large group. ¬†She¬†was also¬†the decorator for the guest and gift tables.

I love my family and am so thankful that we could come together and help make a memorable evening for my sister’s son.


¬†I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich. – Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford


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