As promised, I asked Miss J for her synopses and reviews of the Lord of the Rings movies, which she and Dada watched this week while I was working my first week at the new job. These are all direct quotes.
First Movie – Fellowship of the Ring
Favourite Character – Can’t decide.
What happened – At the end the four Hobbits decided to take the ring to Mordor. That’s pretty much all that I can remember enough to explain.
How she liked it – I liked it a lot. It made me feel happy.
Second Movie – The Two Towers
Favourite Character – Treebeard, because he’s a tree that can walk
What happened – Gandalf met Saruman. When Frodo looked into the mirror that that girl made, and he saw bad things. There was a really big battle betwen the Orcs and the good people with the arrows.
How she liked it – Good. It made me feel super happy. The cave troll’s face up close was gross and annoying.
Third Movie – The Return of the King
Favourite Character – Can’t decide.
What happened – At the very end, Frodo was going away with Gandalf. Frodo and Sam got the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.
How she liked it – Awesome.
I’m pretty disappointed in what she’d actually give me to write down here, compared to the running commentary she was giving me earlier in the week after she watched each movie. I guess I should have taken notes sooner.
In other news, the first week of work went swimmingly. Getting adjusted to afternoons is going to be difficult, especially since training switches to days for this week and then goes back to afternoons. Miss J’s fun week with Dada seems to have convinced her that me being gone most evenings won’t be so very bad, after all. I’m just relieved to be working again and waiting impatiently for that first payday!
As I promised on Facebook, I recently decided to try out some homemade laundry detergent.
There are a couple reasons for this experiment. Firstly, small town living means limited access to the “green” products I want. Secondly, small town living means paying a premium for those items as well. I found a good locally handmade eco-friendly liquid detergent, at a cost of $15.99+tax for 30ish loads. Approximately $0.60 per load. That’s expensive! So I did my research, found a super-easy powdered detergent recipe that got rave reviews on multiple websites and blogs, and went shopping.
The recipe is as follows:
1 bar of soap
1 cup of borax
1 cup of baking soda
1 cup of washing soda
A container to hold the mixture
Here’s my cast of characters as I assembled them to begin:
I was able to find all the ingredients (washing soda took a bit of searching, but my local supermarket had it – even though the big W didn’t.) I forgot to purchase a plastic bucket at the bulk store, but found this 128 oz pickle jar that actually belonged to the hubby’s grandmother long ago.
The process is simple – shred or grate the soap and mix the ingredients. I chose to make a double batch because I didn’t want to have to do it again any time soon. The bar of soap I purchased was an all-natural laundry/stain bar I found at the bulk store, then I added a smaller bar of handmade Lovely Lavender castile soap for a nice scent.
I put everything into the jar
and then mixed it all with a wooden spoon. (I tried shaking the jar, but the lid wasn’t a tight fit – I later realized I’d grabbed the wrong one, so I was able to give it a good shake later on.)
The “dose” is 2 tablespoons per load (1 tablespoon per if HE machine.) I happen to have hoarded some scoops from old oxygen bleach tubs, and they are roughly 2 tablespoons, so I’m using one of those to scoop it. (And recycling the ones I don’t need. I’m learning to let go!) I definitely need a different container, though, because as much as I love the jar, as the level of detergent reduces I’m going to have to jam my hand into the jar to reach it.
I have done about 4 loads of laundry since I made the detergent. It dissolves well and the clothes come out of the washer smelling nice and fresh, despite my use of vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. The scent was basically gone after the dryer, but that’s fine by me. The clothes are nice and clean, and I prefer them not to have a strong scent. I came across another recipe that mentioned “grinding” the detergent in the food processor, and I may run the detergent through in small batches because the soap shreds are quite large and I feel like I’d be less concerned about it dissolving properly if the pieces were smaller.
I haven’t had to deal with any serious stains yet, but for general laundry use I am quite pleased with the detergent. The ingredients are simple and easy to identify, there is nothing that I feel guilty about using, and it’s cleaning our clothes up to my standards. I know that some green folk have qualms about Borax, but I read up a bit and found this article on Crunchy Betty which rounds up a good deal of research on Borax, and my take-away from the info is that Borax is safe.
And now for the real nitty-gritty. Is it cheaper? I purchased the ingredients at the following cost: $2.09 for the laundry bar (the lavender soap was in my stash,) borax $5.00 for 2kg (and it turned out I had enough in my old box, so I have plenty for the next batch of detergent,) washing soda $6.99 for 3kg, and baking soda $2.25 per kilogram at bulk store. Costs for this batch are:
Baking soda $1.12
Washing soda $1.17
Total $5.63 for the batch
Approximate number of loads = 50
Final cost per load = approximately $0.12 Twelve cents! That’s cheap.
All in all, I’m pleased with this process – especially with the cost! I feel good knowing that my girlie’s delicate skin isn’t coming into contact with weird chemicals I can’t pronounce, and that I’ve wiggled a little more room into the family budget.
Are you making any green changes? I’d love to hear your successes and suggestions.
I came to this realization recently (mentioned briefly in my discussion of my craft clutter) that my mind is stagnating due to denying myself creative outlet. I do lots of craft, projects and colouring with my Miss, but wasn’t doing anything for myself.
I have a lovely group of friends (‘Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.) that I have met on the ‘Net over the years, and many of them are knitters or crocheters – or, as I call them, yarners. I always felt vaguely envious of their various talents, because I always thought I just wasn’t cut out to be a yarner. Turns out, I’m not cut out to be a knitter. My poor Mom has taught me to knit probably three or four times throughout my life, and there’s always something about it that I just don’t “get.” Actually, the truth is, I can master the basic knit stitch, I just can’t cast on to save my life and can never get my head around any other stitches.
My friend C is working on Granny Square Sampler Afghan Project and I loved it so much I figured it was worth the ole college try! So I bought a hook and a skein of yarn and fired up the “learn to crochet” YouTube tutorials linked in the afghan project. And lookit!
I’m quite proud of how well I’m doing with this! I have acquired a small stash of yarn, and my Mom is sending me some she has that she doesn’t need any more. My plan is to make the colours really random so that it’s like a rainbow exploded on the finished afghan! I’m asking Miss J to pick colours if she happens to be around at the appropriate time (not often since I tend to work on it after she’s asleep.) I selected black as my “background” colour, so all the different colours will really stand out.
So, to my yarners, you win. I’m yarning and loving it. And Miss J thinks it’s just awesome that this will someday be a blanket we can cuddle up under.
And speaking of Miss J! We found our first loose tooth today! Where has the time gone?
The Dada is back! He returned last evening to big hugs from Miss J, and being woken up by me after falling asleep in the bathtub. All is right again.
While he was away, Miss J and I worked on some decluttering and organization issues in the house. I’ve seen Hoarders and realize that I do not have a full-on hoarding disorder, but what I do have is an unfortunate combination of sentimentalism and imagination. I look at things and the thoughts run the gamut from “This thing is mine!’ to “I remember when I got/used/found this thing!” to “Miss J was so cute when she wore this thing!” to “But we might someday NEED this thing!” (I inherited that last one from my Nanna. She saved tin foil and egg cartons, etc. and at least had the excuse of having lived through the Great Depression to sort of explain why she did it.)
I find myself involved in two major struggles when working on organization in the house (actually three, but my housemates are a story for another day!)
My first struggle is to disconnect the memories associated with the thing from the thing itself, aka the sentimentalism.) Miss J did indeed look adorable in that dress or playing with that toy, but I have pictures and my memories and I don’t NEED the thing to remind me of that. To this end, I am currently packing a large bag for FlipSize, a new website similar to the US-based ThredUp, where you earn points for sending in your gently-used children’s clothes, and your points can be cashed out for various rewards or used to make purchases from the site. Miss J’s smaller clothes were mostly donated before our big move, but in the year we’ve been here we’ve accumulated a new stash of outgrown things, and also stumbled across some older items that were mixed in here and there in our other belongings. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of return I get on the items I’m submitting, but realistically, anything I get is an improvement over these clothes hanging around and taking up space until I get myself motivated enough to have a yard sale or something.
My second big struggle is to reconcile my dreams with my reality. I am an avid crafter, and am passing my love of making on to Miss J, but I have to be more realistic regarding what I’m actually going to do. Over the last few days, we pulled out, sorted and organized all my craft bins. There were a lot! In fact, at one point I was putting some finished bins back in the basement and literally swore out loud as I turned around and was confronted with yet another container with crafting items in it! But we finished the task, with the exception of one scrapbooking bin that I didn’t finish organizing (but will soon, I found out this morning that I won a month of free classes at the local scrapbooking store, so I have to get my supplies together!) In the process of all this, we filled a good sized box with items that I’m never going to use. But I also came across no less than 5 unfinished projects, a couple of which are quite old. My dream is that I’ll have all the time, space and money in the world for crafting – my reality is that none of those things are in plenty right now. So I’m making a commitment to myself (and to my girlie, who should be learning more positive lesson from me) to work at my unfinished projects first instead of starting new and even more ambitious things.
And the really funny, yet really frustrating, part about all this is illustrated below in the photo I took yesterday as sorting wound down. Because I was so disorganized, because my things were spread out in bins and containers with no rhyme or reason, because I hadn’t properly unpacked the one creative outlet that I’ve really needed over the last little while, I could never find some glue when Miss J and I needed it. So I bought glue. And then we needed it again, and who even knows where that last bottle is right now. So I bought glue.
Yes, that right there is 9 bottles of glue and 3 glue sticks (make that 4, forgot the one hiding in the white glue bottle.) I expect that there are a couple more glue sticks in Miss J’s art cart. And probably both kinds in the office, if I look. This picture is my new inspiration to stay organized.
On a side note, Miss J couldn’t be happier. I gave her a scrapbook kit I’d gotten for her a while back, and she started her own scrapbook. It’s incredibly freeing to watch a 6 year old scrapbook, she’s random and passionate and doesn’t strive for perfection the way I do. I was trimming a photo for her and talked about cutting off parts we didn’t need – she really took that to heart and on later pages there are photos where she trimmed around people’s heads so there’s no background left, because “We don’t need all that extra stuff!” It was a good reminder for me to let go and have more fun with all this cool stuff I’ve accumulated.
Now, does anyone have anything that needs glueing?
(This is the part where I pretend it hasn’t been months since I blogged here and talk about something that happened today. Just roll with it.)
Today I had to have a vaguely uncomfortable conversation with Miss J (age 6 – holy smokes where has the time gone?) (Quick background – the Dada is away for a couple weeks on field exercise. Yes, I recognize the irony that in the following paragraphs I’m concerned about the girl telling people this. I figure that of the few people reading this, even fewer of you actually know how to find me – and if you do, please feel free to show up at my door!)
We were at our nearby convenience store renting a movie, and as we waited at the counter while the cashier set up the rental, Miss J piped up, apropos of nothing, “My Daddy’s in (location of field exercise)!” The clerk was obviously a military spouse herself, because she knew exactly what the girlie meant, and we joked about it for a moment, but it brought up an issue of safety that worries me. My girlie is clearly an extrovert, so gregarious and friendly, and I love that, but it also worries me. She’s prone to telling strangers, especially store cashiers, her whole life story if she’s not stopped, and while I feel pretty safe in this small military town, it’s not a good practice to go around telling strangers that Dada’s away and we’re home alone. So we had a little talk about safety rules, and what we should and shouldn’t say to strangers – no giving her name without my permission, no telling strangers where we live, no telling strangers if Dada is away.
But it was a difficult conversation for me. How do I warn her about stranger danger without scaring her? How do I protect her from “bad strangers” without making her fear all strangers?
Finding balance in parenting is difficult. There is so much to fear out there in the world, but I don’t want my child to grow up afraid. I don’t want her to look at people with suspicion, but with the open heart that comes so naturally to her. I’m struggling to instill caution without instilling fear in her. And, being a typical Mom, I worry that I’m not doing it “right.”
The hard truth is, it may not matter what I do. The dangers of our world are numerous and unpredictable. I could warn her and train her about every imaginable danger, and something unimaginable could happen. Or, and this is so much more likely, we will live our safe little lives out, never touched by any of the things I lay awake at night worrying about.
In the end, I simply said to her “I don’t want you to be afraid. I just want you to remember that not all the people in the world are nice, and because we can’t tell the difference by looking at them, we use our safety rules to protect ourselves.” She agreed with me, and the conversation moved on to something frivolous. I don’t know what she took from our conversation. I guess I’ll get an idea of that the next time we go shopping.
How do you find balance in your parenting?
A few weeks ago, the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre celebrated their 10th anniversary with an Open House, which Miss J and I attended.
OVWRC is a comprehensive waste recovery facility processing container, paper, organic and inorganic waste. While visiting we were able to take a tour of the facility and see the area where the container waste is sorted. It’s an amazing, fully-manual process where the human sorters pull individual types of plastic and metal for processing, as well as removing any trash or organic waste mixed in. We also saw the compost area, where the organic waste is sorted (although mostly by machine in this area – who’d want to touch it?!) and processed. We learned that OVWRC is one of very few facilities which can offer full organic waste composting, including meat and dairy products, due to their specialized process for composting. Our tour guide asked the group what they thought was the most common contaminant found in the organic waste, and Momma made the correct guess – silverware!
The OVWRC staff also offered a crafting station for the kidlets, using recycled materials such as empty pop bottles (made into music shakers) and the metal ends from juice tins (made into jewellery.)
Following the tour and our craft break, we were treated to an awesome performance by Junkyard Symphony – a group of musician/entertainers who perform using instruments and props made entirely of recycled materials. Junkyard Jonny chose Miss J to be his special helper through the performance! She held a large CHEER laundry soap jug, and when Jonny wanted applause from the audience he pointed to Miss J and she held up the jug so the crowd would know to … CHEER! It took her a few tries to get the hang of it, but then she got really into it, and her enthusiasm got as many cheers as the performance. As her reward for helping, Junkyard Jonny presented Miss J with a copy of the Junkyard Symphony CD, which she loves and was using as her bedtime music for some time afterwards. I’m still singing “Blue Recycle Box” to myself now and then!
And of course, I took pictures! (Click the thumbnails for a gallery of larger versions.)
We both had a great time at the Recycling Centre, and really enjoyed learning about where our trash goes when it leaves our house. Ever since, Miss J is even more interested in recycling and is so eager to help me out with the recyclables and compost. We were already very committed to our municipal recycling and compost programs, but we left with a new respect for the work done there, and a renewed commitment to ensuring that we make their job as easy as possible by being careful with our sorting at home.
Have you ever been to a recycling centre? What did you learn there?
My sister, that’s who. (Trick question, we both do!)
Seeing as how I was unemployed around the time of my sister’s birthday, I was really struggling to think of something to give her. Both of us are striving to simplify and declutter our lives a bit, so I didn’t want to just give her something that would take up space in her life/home without purpose. I had a few ideas for something to make her, but I kept putting it off (until past her birthday, darned procrastinating genes) because nothing seemed right.
Then, one night, she pinned the cutest little BFF type Tardis necklace to our shared Pinterest board “Everything Doctor Who.” You see, she was converted to Whovianism a while ago, and back in the summer when we stayed at her place on our vacation, she introduced J and I to the show. Now we sit at our computers and TVs on Saturday nights (or we will in DECEMBER whan that evil man Moffat deigns to dish us some new episodes!) and talk about the episodes on Facebook as we watch. It’s kind of a cool bonding thing for us, since it’s so hard to be apart. The shared Pinterest board is where I pin cool Doctor Who stuff for her to look at. (We also have “The Sisters Board” for all the random, “I have to show her this” crap.)
So there I was, staring at this pretty adorable necklace that she obviously liked, and although it wasn’t all that expensive, I just couldn’t do it under current circumstances. And then I realized – I CAN DO THIS.
So I dug around in my supplies, did a little internet research, and got to it. I got it finished in time for our visit back home for Thanksgiving, and presented it to my delighted sister, better late than never. Now when December rolls around, we’ll be just a little bit more connected as we sit down to watch our show “together.”
Without further ado, I present the “TARDIS BSF Necklace.” (That’s Best Sisters Forever!)
Photo #1 – Supplies (including what we later established were 25+ year old Shrinky Dinks. I failed to include the jump rings and cords, mainly because I took the supplies pic last.)
Photo #2 – Completed TARDIS – I traced over a picture of the TARDIS and coloured it in using the various Sharpies. Also used a white coloured pencil in behind the signage to ensure that it would be opaque once shrunk.
Photo #3 – closeup of finished piece, showing the 4 shades of blue I used to try to match the colour. I traced the black outlines on the shiny side of the Shrinky Dinks, then coloured the back or rough side, and finally retraced the black lines on the rough side to ensure they’d look crisp.
Photo #4 – Another view, with the little hearts. I might be rather inordinately proud of the thing.
Photo #5 – Cut to make the two halves. Honestly, cutting the thing was the hardest part, after I’d put in an hour or more doing the tracing/colouring and was so proud of how it turned out.
Photo #6 – ready to go into the oven.
Photo #7 – all shrunk down and (thankfully!) flattened. I was freaking out as it shrunk, just hoping it wouldn’t end up all curled up.
Photo #8 – the finished product, hearts attached and strung on cords, ready to give to my darling Sister.
I’m very pleased with how this project turned out, and so proud to have given my sister something I made with my own hands that has a special meaning for us. Happy Birthday, Sister!
This post is the story I don’t want to tell. The story of Biskit. The story of a baby, MY baby, that I will never hold.
Back in June, I was feeling kind of under the weather for a few days, and then all of a sudden, I just knew. We weren’t planning for a baby, but there was no other reason for how I was feeling, and two tests confirmed the happy news. We were in shock, honestly. We struggled a bit to have Miss J and weren’t expecting an “accidental” pregnancy. Miss J was distraught at the news, at first, but she soon warmed up to the idea and was as excited as I was. We decided to call the baby Biscuit (because we’d jokingly named a friend’s baby Cupcake until she’d reveal the name) but it became Biskit when Miss J spelled it phonetically.
I was lucky enough to be accepted by a midwives’ practice. I felt so comforted by the idea that these two women would be with me through it all, especially since Miss J was delivered just an hour after the hospital shift change, by a doctor who literally walked in, introduced himself and delivered my child. I had my first appointment with a midwife and was scheduled for a dating ultrasound, as we couldn’t be sure how far along I was.
And that’s where it started to go wrong. Despite the fact that I believed I was 8 or 12 weeks along, the fetus was too small for the tech to reliably date. A second ultrasound indicated that there was no change, and that was a problem. A third ultrasound confirmed the “fetal demise” – but I knew before those results came, because the miscarriage I’d been hoping against hope wouldn’t happen, had. My midwives were both wonderful, breaking bad news to me so kindly and offering me alternatives in my care the whole way through. I’m so very glad that I chose them rather than a conventional OB/GYN, as I was able to go through the whole process my way. And J was by my side through it all, bewildered at times, but loving me, supporting me, and letting me make the choices I needed to make for my body, even when he didn’t understand them. The poor man had barely gotten over his surprise about the baby when it was taken away. He suffered a lot of tear-stained shoulders this past July, and never once did he let go of me when I needed him.
Miss J was away visiting her grandparents while most of this happened, so she missed my two weeks of agonizing insecurity as I waited for something to change. But I had to tell her what had happened. I thought she understood, until she asked me several weeks later if the baby would come back.
For six weeks my baby grew inside me. For more than three weeks more I carried the body of my dead baby inside me.
And I was afraid to tell anyone about it. And every time I screwed up my courage and told a friend, I got nothing but loving support, and a whole lot of “Me, too”s. More than you’d ever imagine.
A dear friend, one who’s been here and done this, offered me so many words that lightened the load on my heart. And she told me about her annual Honour Roll of pregnancy and infant loss “angels.” So here is my Honour Roll.
- Blue, Honeydew and the three unnamed angels
- Gordon and the unnamed angel
Mamas to Angels
- dear friends and family – H, R, L, S, J, G
- H – especially for being my straight-talking, no holds barred, been there done that, go-to woman to talk to!
It’s important for me to acknowledge my own loss and the fact that I still struggle with it daily. Life goes on, the pain lessens, but every day I look at my beloved girlie and wonder who Biskit would have been. I hope that someday there will be another baby and Miss J will experience the joy of being a big sister, but until then, we mourn the loss of our baby Biskit and offer love and support to all of our friends and family who have dealt with this too.
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Sharing our losses lightens the burden and helps break the taboo. Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change that you want to see in the world,” so this is me standing up to say “I am a mother of two” so that every other mama of an angel can do the same with pride and the knowledge that she is supported and loved.
Miss J and I have started a new tradition this summer – I’ve been taking her to the monthly Kids’ Workshop at our local Home Depot. We went to our first in June, and the organizer, Nancy, was kind enough to give us an extra of the May project that she had. Then for the July workshop, my parents were visiting and Julia had the awesome experience of having Grampa take her to the workshop. We missed the August workshop while we were on vacation, but the wonderful Nancy came through again and saved us a kit, which we got at the Spetember workshop.
Miss J has really enjoyed the workshops. She’s learning some useful skills, like following instructions and hammering nails. She’s also learning about the sense of accomplishment that comes from making something useful and then actually using it! And most of all, we’re having a wonderful time together!
The September project was the little toolbox. Miss J completed the project at Home Depot, but made a few later alterations at home. We had a free Sunday a couple weeks later, so we worked on the two kits we had brought home from the missed workshops.
I really appreciate the fact that Home Depot provides these workshops free of charge, including the adorable orange apron. It’s so nice to have a nice activity to look forward to once a month that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Thank you, Home Depot!
Have you been to a Home Depot workshop? What other free or cheap activities have you found in your community?
A couple days ago, I ran across a post on a blogger’s Facebook wall that absolutely horrified me. She had posted an adorable picture of Moms and babies, with a caption to celebrate that even though we all parent differently, we all love our kids. It somehow turned into a hate-fest, as women who object to circumcision began to vilify and name-call at other parents who have circumcised children. I don’t know why this stuff still surprises me, but I was just astounded at the vitriol and hatred these women were spilling out onto something that was intended to bring mothers together.
10 Reasons Why I’m a Crappy Mom
- At dinner, I make her clean her plate before I’ll give her seconds of any of it
- Sometimes the Ponies get their hair brushed, but I forget Miss J’s
- Miss J gets consequences (we don’t call them punishments) for misbehaving, and we stick to them even when she CRIES
- Sometimes I tell her I don’t want to play with her, then give in because I can’t resist her cute little face
- I let her watch The Big Bang Theory (and sometimes lie when she asks about something I’m not ready to talk with her about yet – ie. S-E-X)
- I let her dress herself, and only make her change if there are weather considerations – even when she looks looney (yeah, that’s a backward t-shirt, leggings, and a bike helmet)
- I make her set the dinner table, properly, and then don’t let her leave it until she’s swallowed whatever she’s chewing
- I close my eyes and grit my teeth so she and Dada can have their little games (the pretend piledriver, the upside down swing-around, the now-defunct “toss in the air” – she’s about 10lbs too heavy for this one now!)
- I tiptoe into her room at night just to look at her sleeping and peaceful, especially when we’ve had a rough day
and number 10: I’m doing the best I can, and sometimes that’s not good enough. BUT – I’m learning to be OK with that! And that’s why I was so astounded to see a group of Moms calling other Moms names over their personal decisions. Nobody’s perfect, and to attack someone who made a choice you disagree with is ridiculous to me!
(Note: this is a tongue-in-cheek list. I know I’m not a crappy Mom. And if someone else does think that, they can keep it to themselves until they’re perfect themselves.)