Far As the Curse is Found

I don't mean this trivially or flippantly when I say that the curse seems to extend to housekeeping. Sin affects all of life and the Lord's decree to Adam about toil and futility surely must apply to the domestic realm. On the other end, redemption, grace--common and special--have to extend to housekeeping as well (He comes to make his blessings known!). Perhaps I'm wrong, but every aid I have in housekeeping: running water, vinegar, soap, the vacuum(!) I feel must be a grace to us.

Yesterday, however, I felt more of the curse and futility than the blessings of it all. Hormones, sinfulness and weariness were running rampant in my heart and I spent so much of the day overwhelmed by it all: how one job just created another, how while I was accomplishing something in this room, the kids were annihilating another one, that vacuuming the stairs, however necessary, didn't seem to make a bit of difference in the grand scheme of life. And cooking!? I LOVE cooking, but when it makes me distracted and short-tempered with the kids, what kind of a blessing is that to anyone?

In short, I spent a lot of time crying over the laundry and being a grump. I also cried out to God--for help and forgiveness. Is there anything so convicting as hearing your son speaking to your daughter in the exact ugly tone you've been using the whole morning? I'm so thankful that God is gracious. By lunch, balm and grace poured down. A prayer request from a friend put things back in perspective. Tuan came home for lunch (another grown-up!). The house actually showed a bit of progress and I was able to "get away" for a doctor's appointment. A last-minute (and oh, so welcome) overnight guest spurred me on in housework and I had dinner alone with Tuan after the kids went to bed.

Today has been still and quiet. So different from the last! Good times with the kids and a slight reprieve from housework. My in-laws are spending the night and I get some time with other young wives and moms--so excited. What a comfort to know that God's blessings reach and are known far as the curse is found--whether in my heart or home! I'm so thankful for the ultimate blessing of Jesus, that no matter how far I fall or how miserable I feel, there is no sin He did not take and no emotion I have that can change truth.



Oh, I am trying to nest. It's kind of a forced thing. I don't think I've got the full fervor yet. There is so much I want to get done before Number 3 comes, along with normal stuff like keeping the house clean! Yet with toddlers and a bit of tiredness and regular housework, I feel like I am swimming in Jello!

I got the boy's room re-arranged today, cleaned and baby stuff put in drawers. I'm going to move (or have Tuan move) the porta-crib up this afternoon. We discovered the delights of a porta-crib when expecting A. It's a crib roughly the size of a pack-in-play, that folds up pretty flat and still looks like a piece of furniture. I ADORE our porta-crib. A slept in hers until she was one and a half. I think she could have gone longer, but J moved to a big-boy bed and my sister had her baby around that time and needed it more than me. It is great for when you have the baby sleeping in your room or when you have children close together and don't really want to have two humongous cribs. When A moves to her big-girl bed in a few months (years?) he can upgrade. It is also giving J more play space in his room.

So with number three I am praying that we go into labor naturally. We had incredible induction experiences with J and A, but I would so much rather it just "happen" this time. Most important, I just want a healthy baby at the end of it all! I think this one is going to be a fighter. He wiggles and squirms and kicks like nobody's business. Sometimes he startles me awake with his ferocity. Maybe we should name him Ursus or something gladiatorial?


A day in the life/Revised Expectations II

So today I caught up on our trip laundry and nearly had our laundry back on it's "routine." This involved each bedroom having a hamper along with one in the hallway for sheets/towels. I have resolved to only do one hamper at a time to make the sorting and putting away easier and the laundry more manageable. It's working really well and Johnny has learned how to put his clothes away (progress!).

With the trip laundry caught up, I decided it was time to tackle the couch slipcovers. They are off-white cotton duck and had gotten pretty dirty. I hadn't realized it until my mom came over and we were sitting in the living room in broad daylight. "Gross!" I thought, "this cannot continue!" I bought a container of Oxy Clean last night and decided to embark on a long-term soak and wash of the slipcovers. Meaning, soak each batch for at least three hours before washing in hopes of getting our slipcovers back to sparkling.

All was well and I was on the second of what appeared to be three batches of laundry when we heard cries from upstairs. Johnny had crashed in the bed with me this afternoon and had taken a long, long nap. In. Big. Boy. Pants. It was foolish of me and as my readers may have guessed the cries were a result of waking up in a small pond of pee.

Did I mention that we have a featherbed and down comforter on our bed? This has happened before and you can read about it here. But I have a feeling the next 36 hours are going to be a monotony of featherbed drying. At least the "laundry" is caught up!



Getting "Crunchy"

So . . . I've been experimenting. The more I read about natural living and whatnot, the more I think, "that's nice, but I'll never go that far . . . " then I take another step. I'm sure there will come a wall where I can go no further. (Taco Bell, yes, I don't think I'll ever give that up--just being real, here). However, back in the fall I stopped using conditioner.

There's an enormity to that statement.

I LOVE conditioner and have always, always been so picky about it. Pantene, Infusium and Thicker, Fuller Hair were the only conditioners I would use with my hair--I especially LOVE Pantene. However, around the time of my in-laws wedding I started reading about people who are going "no-poo" and washing their hair with baking soda and occasionally rinsing with vinegar. At the same time, we were low on funds and I ran out of conditioner. Since groceries trumped conditioner, I went without and was surprised to discover that after a week or two I could not only live without it, but my hair was doing great! It took on a slightly coarser texture that I love and I only have to wash my hair perhaps twice a week now--it really gets less oily than it did when I was regularly conditioning. I was washing my hair with off-brand Head and Shoulders, but switched to some T-gel we had. It doesn't really foam up, but seems to clean perfectly well. I purchased the cider vinegar and baking soda, but haven't gotten around to dispensing it. When this shampoo runs out, I'm going to take that next step. I'm especially curious about the summer's heat and humidity. It seems that the baking soda rinse may work well for that! Plus, it's such a money saver.

The second experiment has been the Oil Cleansing Method. I read about this on Gracie's Sister's blog (modobject@home) and initially the thought of washing my face with OIL(?!?!) seemed so incredibly counterintuitive and wrong. But isn't it so that many things in life are counterintuitive?

I had flawless skin in high school. I honestly never had and was never sure what a pimple was until I hit late college and marriage. Then, I learned about all of that wonderful, nasty affliction. Until then my pores were tiny, complexion clear and I NEVER washed my face unless I randomly thought about it. Occasionally I would smear vaseline all over it and wipe it off--my grandmother did that. In recent years, though, what with pregnancy, hormones and who knows what else, I have had breakouts and such an annoying time figuring out what to do with my skin. The Clinique bar would work for a while, then stop, then I'd try Cetaphil--because it seemed every one else did and it just seemed so earnest and simple and right. Cetaphil never worked for me, however. And I could/would never moisturize my face because it seemed to make it more oily and dirty feeling.

So, enter the OCM (oil cleansing method). Since the Thanksgiving holidays no soap has touched my face. I started with baby oil (that's what I had and I wasn't patient enough to read up on it) but some point after Christmas, I read some more and began the "proper" regimen.

I've been using approximately 25% Castor Oil and 75% Olive Oil. I keep it in a travel size detergent bottle. You can read more about it here. I may go more 30-70 next time. Anyway, I've been thrilled with the results! It's fun to take the time in the tub or shower to rub the mixture in and steam my skin. I thought my skin would feel oily afterwards, but it's quite the opposite! If anything I've had drier skin than before. That's why I'm going to adjust the ratio a wee bit. I've had only one or two pimples and the rest of my skin has stayed clear! I've started moisturizing a bit more in the morning--I LOVE Burt's-Bees-Can't-Remember-What-It's-Called.

So, I highly recommend it if you've thought about it but haven't taken the plunge. I found Aubrey in the bathroom with my precious bottle today. She had squirted all of the contents into the toilet--grr. I have to say that when I first began, my baths smelled like focaccia bread dipped in olive oil. That was cool with me. And Kroger has Castor Oil if you don't want the awkward ness of asking around for it.


Not my love language . . .

Touch is not my love language. For sure, from Tuan I enjoy cuddles and kisses, and even from my children--most of the time. But I struggle with too much touch and stimulation and busyness surrounding me. This is not good for a mother of two busy toddlers and another on the way. My little boy has been smack up against me for the last twenty minutes and the constant rubbing and brushing is hard to put up with. I want to use "this is not my love language!" as an excuse, but what I really need is to re-align my own sinfulness and learn to deal with and, yes, appreciate the physical business all around me. Too soon the day will come when my little ones are far away and then all the stillness and space I could ask for will be mine.


And Aubrey Makes Four . . . .

Oh, I spoke too soon. Just when we'd placed our weary heads on our marvelously soft pillows did Aubrey begin to wail. Poor girl. I would wail too if I woke up in such a mess as she. However, once she realized that a late-night bath (all alone, no less!) was the result of such sickness, our girl promptly began to giggle and grin and splash. A solo bath, full of bubble and full use of the tub toys? A blissful restitution, indeed.

She is an amazing child. When the second round of the bug hit--while in the tub--Aubrey looked at us and said, "what happened to me?" This is a common phrase our children utter--sometimes when they really want to know what has just happened and sometimes they use it as a deterrent. Later, we bundled our shivering girl into our bed (now protected with towels) and turned on Milo and Otis. She just giggled and laughed. It was like, "hey! It's a party with Mom and Dad!" As the night wore on and we went through several rounds of towels, she never complained or fussed--even when she was hurting. I have to say, once more, that she is an amazing child.

So now we've all survived the nasty bug of 2010. I had an OB appointment today and returned home fully motivated. There's nothing like recovery energy combined with nesting. The house is restored to cleanliness, laundry is put away and there is one bathroom left to clean and the upstairs to vacuum. I may not be able to move tomorrow, but it will be with a clear conscience!


Remember the One Where . . .

All of the Ingalls family got sick? I think it was On The Banks of Plum Creek. I remember Laura crawling out of the bed and filling the dipper and taking it to wet her family's parched lips. If Ma couldn't move, they must have been really sick.

That's pretty much how our family, minus Aubrey, was yesterday. The stomach flu hit us in diverse ways in the wee hours. Aubrey escaped and slept through the worst. When the sun rose, Tuan, Johnny and I were all sprawled on our bedroom floor and didn't stir until after nine. Somehow we never made it back into beds. Mercifully, Aubrey decided to sleep late, too. Every now and then, Johnny would call for me and I felt as helpless as Ma was in that story.

This was the first real sickness we've had where there were no female family members to call on. Every mom and grandmother was either sick or caring for someone else who was sick.

I took it the hardest, and by God's grace, Tuan was somewhat able to function. Johnny improved as the day went on and by the evening he and Aubrey were both fantastic. Poor Aubrey has been on a stomach flu diet with us. But what toddler wouldn't be thrilled at the idea of eating all the saltines she could handle (in Mommy and Daddy's bed, no less) and drinking Pedialyte like there's no tomorrow? Not to mention having nearly free run of the downstairs and constant videos streaming on the computer?

We woke up this morning feeling like new people! Then we got out of the bed and realized we were only partially new people. Still, God has been so good to us. The kids were marvelously chirpy all day, fatigue was the only real lingering symptom and most of the laundry has been tackled. There is still the issue of the demolished kitchen, crumbs all over the floor, and toys everywhere, but that will wait until tomorrow. I'm off to put fresh sheets on our bed and shake all of the cracker crumbs out of the duvet.

I must also say that it was a real moment of providence that we made a late night "fun-run" to Wal-mart Monday evening for a new kid's movie and some saltines. The multi-episode Berenstain Bears has certainly come in handy!


Grocery Confessional

Gracie has inspired me to share and evaluate my grocery receipts! It makes one so vulnerable, doesn't it? I feel like I spend too much at the grocery, but at the same time, I am really trying to prioritize on better foods, so I guess there's a "tension" as Clint Wilcke used to say!

I've realized, too, that when I do have plenty of things to cook there's less temptation to eat out. Living at camp, the temptation to eat out is huge--it gives you a change of scenery (work and home are one and it's good to get away), a thirty-minute drive into town means that any errands or appointments will probably mean travel during mealtime or arriving home just before naps. For us, there's a value to eating out that transcends the mere value of staying home to eat a sandwich, However, we do need to improve, still.

So, here's last Monday's Grocery expenditures! This should cover two weeks, except for some milk and produce pick-ups.

Bread Outlet
3.00 for two loaves of high-fiber, hfcs free multigrain bread

3.12 Corn Tortillas (big bag)
3.98 White Mushrooms
6.98 Due North Nut Clusters
3.88 Five Avocados
12.07 Top Sirloin (4 steaks)

Total: 37.46

Pantry/Stock Ups

2.59 Whole Wheat Flour
2.29 White Sugar (for tea--guilty!)
1.16 Large Can Diced Tomatoes
2.50 Two Cans Jumbo Black Olives
.65 French Dressing Mix
1.59 Yellow Mustard
3.45 Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1.75 Rice
2.39 Yeast
3.39 Cocoa
1.25 Black Beans

2.00 Two pkg Cream Cheese
14.97 Six Pounds of Cheese (Mozz/Cheddar/Colby Jack
5.58 Organic Milk
2.00 Sour Cream (32 oz)
5.07 Grain Fed Eggs
1.59 Organic Half-n-Half

Frozen Foods
3.19 Frozen Ravioli
1.00 Frozen Snap Peas

2.99 Italian Sausage
5.90 Bag of Leg Quarters

1.69 Spinach
1.80 4.5 Pounds Overripe Bananas
2.50 5 Pounds Grapefruit
.34 1 Lime
1.03 Garlic
1.19 Cilantro
1.49 Carrots
.79 Red Onions
1.79 White Onions
1.54 Cabbage
1.00 Cucumbers

Kroger Total 88.87 (14.78 Savings on "Plus Card")

Total on groceries for roughly two weeks: 129.33

I had a menu planned out when I left and ditched it once I started shopping--go figure! Pantry stock ups are a pain because they do add to the bill but are so necessary--and why is yeast so expensive? Anyone know?

Here is what we ate last week:
Monday Night: Bacon, Eggs, Cheese Grits

Tuesday Breakfast: PBJS, my leftovers from Monday lunch

Tuesday Lunch: Soaked Crust Pizza with: Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, Bell Pepper, Onions, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, and Mozzarella. Grapefruit on the side

Tuesday Supper:Kids ate cereal and Banana bread. Tuan and I had a post-bedtime "date": steak, blue cheese, onion rings and mushrooms cooked in butter. (Butter + Mushrooms = bliss)

Wednesday Breakfast: Banana Bread in the car (on the way to Bible Study)

Wednesday Lunch: We nearly always drive-through somewhere after Bible Study.

Wednesday Night: We went to Sam's to buy a Mattress and had supper with Warner and Becky afterwards

Thursday Breakfast: Banana Bread, scrambled eggs

Thursday Lunch: Soaked Pizza again, with tomato sauce, mushrooms, onions, olives, italian sausage and cheese

Thursday Supper: Chili from the freezer, made into a casserole: Cream cheese, green chiles, chili, cheese and olives. Served with homemade tortilla chips, raw veggies (cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots) and homemade ranch dip.

Friday Breakfast: PBJS, banana, scrambled eggs, toast

Friday Lunch: Leftover Chili casserole

Friday Supper: Camp

Saturday Breakfast: PBJS and bananas

Saturday Lunch: camp

Saturday Supper: company! We did a Tex-Mex-make-your-own buffet type thing: Cilantro Lime Rice, Stewed Black Beans, Marinated Steak, homemade Pico De Gallo, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, chips, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, tortillas and a "Rust Chocolate Tart" for dessert.

Sunday Lunch: Leftover Mexican

Sunday Supper: This was Aubrey's Birthday party and we had Soaked Crust Pepperoni and Cheese Pizzas

Monday Breakfast: Leftover Pizza (we all slept in, so it was second breakfast)

Monday Lunch: Taco salad (used up the leftovers, plus some ground beef in the freezer)

And the rest of the story? I need to figure out supper right now! Hopefully Tuan will go for a breakfast supper tonight.
For the rest of the week, I am planning to make a chicken/sausage tomato soup with ravioli and spinach. I have no recipe, so we'll see how it goes! I think some egg salad, more banana bread and Salmon with coleslaw and hushpuppies may be in the works.

That's my grocery bill!