Category Archives: Crazy Miscellany

My Time is Coming Around Again

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This image pretty well sums up how I feel from late August until mid-May every year while my “homeschooled” kids are “in” school. I am decidedly not a super mom. In fact, far more often than I probably should, I feel like a super loser (insert head smack or hug, and the reminder ‘You are doing better than you think you are!’).

To my credit, I can multi-task, to a degree, and I probably do it at least as well as the average mom. I mean I can schedule dental, optical, and medical appointments for myself and three other people; worry incessantly about my children’s future, drive all over kingdom come for my kids and husband, volunteer for Meals on Wheels a few times a month, get the car serviced (sometimes), do or schedule needed house maintenance, go to a weekly scripture group, workout five times a week, make sure my kids are doing their class work (and help, when needed), do the grocery shopping, cook (ahem…), obsess over healthy eating and whether or not my kids have had an adequate number of fruits and vegetables each day, replace or repair worn clothes and shoes, consider writing a budget, clean enough cat hair off of my floors and furniture to make a horde of Tribbles every week, keep up with the news, be “outraged” at the current political climate, ponder life and spiritual things, do monthly service projects, and sleep.
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Additionally,  I even manage to do “enrichment” activities like read non-fiction, watch HGTV shows on Netflix, play Words with Friends, pop on and off of Facebook (as my sanity allows), date my husband, and get a massage once a month (to help deal with all the tension that the above happy list creates in my neck and shoulders).

What I have found I cannot do, however, is write and do family fun. It just doesn’t happen. I’m on the road way too much during the school year to write well…and I suck at using a laptop. It simply isn’t natural for me; a real keyboard is a must.

Oh, and I do kind of get an “F” in maintaining friendships. When my oldest came home for high school, for better or worse, my friendships got sent to the back of the bus.

Alas, we are not all wired to do it all anymore than it is actually possible for all of us to have it all- whatever “all “is. Alright?

Yes, I suppose it is. At least for me. And with that all said, I’m pleased to announce:

Schools-out-for-summer

Mostly.

It is already in the summer plans for me to be doing classes with my thirteen year old: French 1, Geography, a grammar refresher, and we’re starting pre-algebra over again, shoring up important skills before Algebra I comes around. In a change up from what has become our norm in recent years, I get to be the teacher again. Ah, such were the early days of our homeschooling adventure! And for the first time in three years, my seventeen year old will only be doing on-line college courses. All in all my, drive time will be dropping to nearly zero and our daily bouts of eating “elsewhere” will be greatly diminished. So, maybe  instead of “School’s Out!” what I really mean is:

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and

 

 

 

 

Yeah. That’s exactly what I mean. Almost all that my monkeys and I will have to do this summer can happen within a five mile radius of our house. Ahhhhh…..and I can do more than ponder life while careening down the fast lane; I can actually write about it, too. Which makes me feel a little bit like doing this:

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Yipee!!!!!

 

Tales From Times Past, pt. 2: Barbie’s Dream and Her House

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Second in my Facebook Recovery Posts (FRP). For the first, and an explanation of exactly what an FRP is, read here.

History is fascinating to me. I love the million, billion interesting and important stories of humanity’s past, to see where we were, what we’ve built, conquered, and accomplished- those are stories I could listen to all day long. However, in a recent Imprimus essay, “History, American Democracy, and the AP Test Controversy,” historian Dr.Wilford McClay laments the dismal state of historical studies today, citing, among other issues, the propensity for modern scholars to divide history into micro-oriented grievance groups and to look at everything of the past, no matter how noble, with a jaundiced eye. In other words, since (and because of) the 60’s we’re only allowed to look at the past and be angry, particularly if we happen to be a minority in any way, shape, or form. I am saddened that this is so, for I am angry. I am angry that I can’t simply “enjoy” our common history anymore because, now, everything is tainted by modern man’s need to Monday morning quarterback.

Case in point: We have amazing historical neighborhoods in Houston, thousands of beautiful lots with stunning homes from the 20’s and 30’s. Be they small craftsman and Tudor-style bungalows or massive mansions on finely manicured lots, these houses, many of which have been either well-maintained or meticulously restored, are quite simply lovely. The era in which they were built, an era that included      The_Public_Enemy_1931_Poster
trans-Atlantic flights, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Great Depression, Mae West, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Bonnie and Clyde, the Olympics of Jessie Owens, and the rise of Adolf Hitler, saw many old conventions fall away and opened the door to both miraculousp5436_p_v7_aa progresses and never before imagined horrors. To some degree, I look back and think of those years as, in Dicken’s words, the best of
times and the worst of times
. And the people who built and lived in those homes saw it all. How cool is that!?

Sadly, that was also the era when Jim Crow reigned, with no small thanks to that progressive demon Woodrow Wilson, mind you. In all likelihood those grand homes had “negro” nannies and servants, and every last one of them rode in the back of the bus, drank from separate water fountains, and sent their kids to “separate but equal” schools. More broadly, children died from diseases we nip in the bud so easily now, there were few social safety nets to help the poor and the destitute, women had little control over their own lives, abuses occurred without laws or law enforcers willing to support the victims of rape or incest, Indians languished on reservations, South Africans were brutally oppressed, Britain ruled India, and Belgium the Congo! Western imperialism was in its heyday!

See how I dip5920_p_v7_aad that? Despite the fact that people talked to one another, neighbors knew and helped each other, movies were unrated, and children got to roam freely, to be children, though at a certain point it was expected that they would put away childish things, marry and start families of their own, because of inequalities everything was awful. Regardless of the fact that the nuclear family was the only norm, children of all colors, were largely born within the bonds of holy matrimony, divorce was uncommon, as was abortion, and people worshiped at church on Sundays, instead of at the mall. But according to those in charge of the academy, we’re not supposed to remember any of the good of those days gone by, only the bad.

As usual, I refuse to comply.


April, 21, 2014

Today, today, I am waxing poetic.

What a good morning I had. Brownie is taking a class at MFAH’s Junior Art School this week. So, everyday at 8 a.m. we’ll be heading to the Hermann Park area for a class that runs from 9-11. This
morning I took a long stroll around the neighborhood, reveling in childish fantasies for the better part of two hours. The ‘hood directly behind the building, which is off of Montrose, is rife with 30’s & 40’s era apartment buildings and quaint homes that have often been converted into apartments. Of course, there are also some newer, sleeker patio homes, with lots of frosted glass, metal trim, and art deco numbers affixed to their facades. The older places just scream “starving artists live here,” while the newer, pricier builds are more demonstrative of the choices common among the young urban singles with high paying jobs. BMWs and Range Rovers were not uncommon sights in those driveways.

Following the homes back a few blocks, the narrow, “mulit-family dwelling” lined streets gave way to a wide, tree-lined boulevard featuring a median divided in half by a long, broad walkway made from terracotta pavers laid in a herringbone pattern. Massive century old oaks sheltered what was Oaks North Blvdessentially a linear park in the middle of row of 1920’s mansions, sitting on lush, well-landscaped lots of four or five acres each (by my estimation). I felt like I had stepped back in time to the Golden Years of Hollywood. All that was needed to complete the image in my mind was a platinum blonde Greta Garbo look-alike outfitted in a designer red silk dress, dripping with furs and jewels being driven up one of the long drives in a silver Rolls Royce by a tuxedo clad chauffeur.

North Boulevard captured my heart & took me back to the days when my family would drive through the equally august Monticello and Westover Hills areas of Ft. Worth “just for fun” on Sundays. For a young girl living in a mobile home with orange shag carpet and vinyl couches out in the sticks, my mind would soar during those drives! Goodness, how I wanted to live in one of those special homes.

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Yours for a mere $3.8 million!

After the mansions, came the more “modest” homes on more “modest” lots. The next block or two had beautiful multi-story villas of Tudor, Spanish, and Craftsman design, and a few of those stylish contemporary homes, too—the ones where it was obvious the original home had been razed to make way for a twenty-first century variation on a theme: contemporary conveniences, sleeker styles, no rusty pipes, knob and tube wiring, or window units, but generally, with a few exceptions, enough charm to fit in with the original models. Yes, my fantasies did just fine there, too.

Further along, the lots got ever smaller, and the houses began to shuffle closer together, as if they were lining up to be photographed and had to squeeze into the camera frame. The appeal of these smaller bungalows did not diminish in relation to their size though. In fact, I loved them even more for their small yards, narrow drive ways, garage apartments, lush greenery, and brightly painted front doors. Not to mention the fact that I might someday actually be able to afford a mortgage on such a property. After

Event this small shack would run you about $600K

Event this small shack would run you about $600K

all, Fantasies are all well and good, but in the end, I’m a realist.

Eventually, I reached a block where the lots gave up on sidewalks, as the front doors were just a few feet from the street. At that point, sidewalks apparently became less important than a tenuous, but necessary finger hold on green space.Sadly, it was at that moment the outside world intruded into my day dreams, just as the street had intruded upon the front yards of these fanciful doll houses. As I glanced a little farther along my path, I recognized the familiar golden arches of Mc Donalds on Kirby; the noise and industry broke the spell the trees had cast upon me, and my imagination could go no further.

But wait! I remembered something very important at that moment: I still had to turn around and go back to get Brownie.

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As an aside, there was something I couldn’t help but laugh about on my walk, strike that, my stroll, today, and that was the sidewalks. They were simply hilarious to me. The few people 007I did encounter in the hour I was out were not walking on the sidewalks, but in the street! The roots on those massive old oak trees had pried up large sections of concrete with the ease, if not the speed, of a 50 ton bulldozer.
Every time I came to a curb cut, I smiled. Seriously, if the idea of a curb cut is to take away the need for one to step-up, or make it possible for a wheel chair bound individual to roll across a street and back onto the safety of the sidewalk, making them was a huge waste of tax payers money. Huge! No grandma or gandpa with any sense of joint preservation would dare attempt to walk anywhere BUT the street! LOL. I’m so grateful I get to walk this area every day this week. But, tomorrow I think I will check out South Boulevard instead.

Tales From Times Past, pt. 1: The Importance of Three Simple Words

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So, earlier this week I fired up my old primary Facebook account again. But, unlike my previous breaks from social media, this restart will be short lived, serving only as a precursor to a complete shut down before the weekend is over. Since suspending that account on May 18th, I’ve thought long and hard about the posts that have accumulated under the name of Darling Sam since 2008, and while it would be ideal to just delete every.single.posting from the past seven years and wipe the slate clean, there were a few that sprang to mind that I didn’t want to lose forever. They were important, or sentimental, or something, but most of all they mattered to me. I’m sure there are many more that deserve preservation than I can recall. Alas, I’ve slept since 2008…

With that in mind, I’ll be transferring the selected Facebook Recovery Posts here under the title “Tales From Times Past.” Mostly, I’ll simply post them in their original form with a little background info, but occasionally they’ll get a light polish for the form. Here are my first fruits…

From March 18, 2015: The Car Wreck

My oldest learned a difficult lesson today about staying up late when one has to be up at 5:30 a.m. Trying

My big girl had a rough morning

My big girl had a rough morning

to get this girl to go to bed at night, regardless of the coming day’s events is like pulling teeth. Unfortunately, today her sleep debt came due…and the Buick is no more. Totalled on Gosling Road some where near Rayford. She had driven to and from Seminary this morning with no problem, but the hour between our arrival home and our next trip out for her 9 a.m. Lonestar class allowed her adrenaline to drop & she didn’t tell me she was too drowsy to drive.

 

April 3, 2015: The Day Before Knee Surgery

Ok, time for another nap, but a quick story first.

Blondie went from being a very emotional, exhausting, high energy child to a calmer, more introspective, less emotional kid in what seems like the blink of an eye. Because of this massive shift, it is often hard to read her. She so hates to display emotions or lead on as to how she is feeling, particularly if said feelings seem to display a vulnerability or demonstrate a lack of self confidence. Even in expressing her fears, she refers to talking to me or her dad as making her feelings “public,” like we’re both just part of the ugly masses. Getting to the quick with her in regards to the wreck has been very hard- on her and us. She feels regret and remorse, but she has yet to go through through the “public” sobbing and wearing of sack cloth that hubby and I would have…appreciated or expected. Her “I’m sorries” have felt very forced.

Well, last night, as I was trying to get in the tub to relax before bed, she had several tasks she need me to do for her. She and two of her BFFs have been planning to go to Matsuri, which is like a Comic Con, but it is centered around Anime, and of course they must dress up, I mean Cos Play. Little Miss was trying to pull the rest of her mess together between 10 & 11 last night…at the same time I was trying to rest & hubby & I were having a little “Come to Jesus” meeting with our youngest.

By the time the meeting had broken up, Blondie wanted her turn. So, I helped, though it hurt. As she was leaving my bedroom, she turned back around and said, ” You deserve a hug.” I asked if that was just permission for me to hug her, or if she was actually doing the hugging (never happens). She assured me, she was hugging. I almost fell over. To top it all off, as she was leaving I said, ‘I love you,’ just as TJ and I do nightly. In reply, she actually said, ” I love you, too!” When I asked her to repeat that into a voice recorder, she laughed and walked away.

In all seriousness, as I don’t think she has told me she loves me in over four years (maybe five), that moment with her was the best present I’ve had in a long while. Sniff…

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Did I mention it has been a rough year for my knee?

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Last August I had knee surgery, a trim that took a third of my right knee’s medial meniscus…and about 10% of my ACL…and smoothed out some of the feathery articular cartilage under the knee cap. The tear was probably caused by poor racewalking form. Yes, racewalking. Yes, there is a correct form. Yes, it 9e31aa0ca2097f85e4fed683b3667e97looks weird anyway, but still, if you do it right you’ve got a lower incidence of injury than runners. Sadly, I can’t run…much. Never have been able to. My lemon knees started manifesting in high school whilst I was “running” the one and two mile (slower than almost everyone else). This attempt at running happened when I was a freshman, and my knees have told me every since, “Um, no. You cannot run. I will hurt you if you do.” And true to form, they have. Every time. Seems my patellar tendons aren’t attached in the correct place, which means my knee cap tracks “off” when I run, causing pain.

Over the years, I have taught aerobics, rock climbed, weight trained, and walked.  Now, I can’t even stroll without some pain. Holy FREAKING cow! I did some church work the other day, work which required me to stand up and sit down a few times more than usual, and what I had hoped would be an hour or two of service work turned into about forty-five minutes. I threw in the towels didn’t even attempt to take the stairs down one flight to the front door. Ugh!

You can go back and look at other posts about my knee, but my most recent issues have been caused by an air bag impact in March, which tore that same meniscus. Based on my fitness level, good health, low weight, and I’m sure the expectation that I would be compliant with physical therapy, my genius surgeon took a risk and tried to repair the torn meniscus, a procedure with a 40% failure rate which is not helped by my “advanced” years (I’m 44!). Well, I was pretty certain the repair had failed early on (ripping, searing, tearing pain while trying to flex my knee on the evening of the first day of physical therapy just didn’t seem O.K.), and the MRI I had last Thursday confirmed it. Four months later and I’m almost back to square one. Yippee. What does this mean for my poor knee? A third surgery; the third on the same knee, for the same meniscus, just two weeks shy of one year since my first surgery.

Sigh.

Despite expecting to hear that news today, it didn’t help keep the flow of tears at bay. I had my cry in the car after leaving the surgeon’s office, then went straight to the gym. I WAS a good, compliant therapy patient. I never intentionally over did it, though the fact that there is still some nerve damage in my knee and my hip has been all jammed up, has served as a constant reminder “take it easy.” At the gym, I do all I can to rebuilt my leg muscles, regain some cardiovascular endurance (bike and elliptical-zzzz…) and strengthen the knee joint. Alas, the odds were just not in my favor.

On the bright side, and I really truly do mean that, this is my silver lining: I have one more month to continue doing the above. Going into surgery on Good Friday, 2015, I was two weeks post car wreck. There was still significant swelling, bruising, and tenderness in the leg. A portion of my difficulty in rehab has to be attributed to some collateral damages from the trauma. Now, most of that has resolved. Swelling is still present, but minimal, and I’d like to think those silly nerves are almost ready to regenerate completely so I can get all of the feeling back in my knee. So, I’ll be even stronger in a month’s time, which will make rehab easier. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back on the road looking stupid again by Columbus Day!

Absolutely how I feel:

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DIY in the Kitchen (and playing with “grains”)

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About three weeks after my knee surgery this spring, which was two weeks after the car accident with daughter no. 1, I lost it in a really.bad.way. I’m normally a very active person, but at that point I’d been on my butt for the better part of five weeks and was going just a bit stir crazy. People had been having to step in to drive dear daughter to her college classes thirty minutes away, three days a week. Dear hubby had had to take off two days a week during that period in order to get her to her furthest classes, fifty minutes away21063_261319_0815691001416237591…or two hours when coming home in rush hour traffic. Friends from church had taken me to appointments, brought me my daily fix of a medium Coke/ Coke Zero split from Sonic, brought in food, etc. Everyone had been wonderful, but I was done! It was enough.

So, despite the swelling; despite the difficulty of crutching about and having everything be so HARD(!), I got back into the kitchen (this was also spurred on my youngest asking around dinner time one day, “So, who’s bring in our free-food tonight?” Oh.no.you.didn’t. I will not raise a welfare queen (or a Democrat!)). It wasn’t fun, it was the antithesis of easy, but I planted my unstable tuckus on a stool in front of the stove and began the arduous process of DOING SOMETHING!

Besides cooking on that fateful day, I also began to explore making different DIY health/ beauty/ drink items. In years past, I have been known to go off on “organic tangents,” but eventually the grocery bill increases get to me. I also start pondering the fact that billions of people live without organic products and foods (largely because they are too bloody poor to afford them!) and they do just fine, living to healthy, ripe old ages. Besides these factors, when I start things from scratch, time constraints seem to eventually harpoon my good intentions. In all likelihood, all of the above will eventually happen this go around, too. But, for now, I’m enjoying myself (as long as I can keep the costs down) and will ride this ride as long as it lasts!

The first experiment I started began with Water Kefir grains. I discovered Kevita, a water kefir product, at Sprout’s last year, but DANG! That stuff is pricey! As in days past, Katie at Wellness Mama proved to be a fount of information for my new project. Since ordering some grains from Poseymom a month and a half ago, I’ve had some good batches and some bad ones, but what I like about water kefir is that it is so cheap and easy to make (mostly) that if one batch is bad or I screw up the flavoring, I can try again immediately. And, unlike kombucha, kefir grains aren’t too persnickety, nor do they look like some alien life form on my kitchen counter that my kids are constantly complaining about.

The only drawback to making water kefir? The grains have expanded so much that I feel rather like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice! Seriously, if you want some, I’ll ship them to you- just send me a buck or two for postage! My scant quarter cup of dried grains has expanded into over four cups of happy, active kefir love—and I’ve given away several cups already!

After I got kefir bubbling, I moved on to lotion bars. A year or so ago, I bought raw cocoa butter thinking I was going to be whipping up my own chocolate, but that never happened. So, when I stumbled upon Katie’s Lotion Bar recipe, I thought, “Bingo!” I ordered some beeswaxdeodorant containers, and silicone molds off of Amazon, grabbed some NOW Shea Butter at Sprouts, and got to work! I love this stuff! It is so simple, so easy, and one recipe goes quite far. The deodorant containers are brilliant, by the way. I bought a lotion bar years ago at our local Renaissance Festival. Unfortunately, it was pretty quickly covered with lint and hair from sitting in the bathroom. Those simple containers eliminate that problem! One note: cocoa butter has a strong odor of its own. If you want to change the scent of your mix, don’t be too stingy with the essential oils.

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What my family thinks I do in the kitchen

Whipped body butter is also pretty wonderful, but don’t chill it, then let it get warm, then repeat. When I first mixed it according to instructions, it absorbed beautifully. But when I decided to share the fruits of my labor with friends, my batch went through the chill/ warm process several times and got less willing to absorb. Instead, it began sitting on my skin more like pure coconut oil does. Blech.

This liquid hand soap recipe is easy, but I like to add a few teaspoons of vegetable glycerin to the finished product to make it a little more gel-like (and a little less likely to shoot from the pump at rocket velocity!). Actually, because of that problem, I truly prefer the Foaming Hand Soap. The only real issue I’ve noted with the foaming stuff is that it takes some time to get used to the “feel” of the added oil on your skin. It does leave a bit of a residue…to the point my picky-butt oldest daughter refuses to use any of my DIY soap. Brat!

As far as a Body Wash recipe goes, I had to search a bit more for one of those. The basis of sooooooo many such recipes is Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap.  I don’t know why, but Dr. Bronner’s, even the baby formula, even well diluted, doesn’t get along with my…nether regions. So, using either of the above soap recipes in the shower got tossed out the window- quickly! The formula I settled upon still uses Dr. B’s as a constituent, it still irritates if I’m not careful, but I really like feel of this terrific Coconut Milk and Honey blend. Kudos to Kristin at Live Simply. She also has a nearly perfect facial cleanser. I tried for a moment to love oil cleansing, but quickly went back to my old cleanser. In fact, after two days, my feelings about oil cleansing quickly became: ain-amp-039-t-nobody-got-time-for-that_o_1582005

In search of a simple hand and body cream that absorbed in quickly (and wouldn’t it be great if I could use a pump!?), I found Simple Nourishing Hand and Body Cream at Whole New Mom. I will note this is an odd little recipe. I prepared it according to instructions, filling two 4 oz. jars, but one took a good while to start solidifying (as in a week!), the other is still fairly liquid. According to Adrienne, this has something to do with the shea butter. I’m OK with that though. The one that is more solid, I love to use as a face moisturizer. The other…ummm, I’ll probably stick in the fridge eventually. Yeah…maybe even tonight. Another one I want to try is this Homemade Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion (without coconut oil). I agree with you, Kristin, I’m a bit sick of coconut oil, too!

Toothpaste! Who’d a thunk you could make such an excellent product? I seriously think this is my favorite DIY. I have sensitive chompers. Could be the 16 fillings in my adult teeth! Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t the tooth Nazi I am, and growing up, we were allowed to drink Coke and eat candy with wild abandon. It is a good thing I had a fast metabolism as a kid or I probably would have looked something like Augustus Gloop rather than Violet Beauregarde!    Due to this “parental oversight,” I spent a LOT of time in the dentist’s chair from the time I was five until about fourteen, when I finally took responsibility for my own dental hygiene. (Thanks to the multitude of experiences I had at the hands of the evil pediatric dentist Dr. Kouri, my kids have been spared even a single cavity!) Nevertheless, no conventional toothpaste, even Sensodyne and its ilk, have helped my tooth sensitivity.

About eight years ago I discovered Evan’s Garden, a mom and pop company in Florida. Well, they have a most wonderful “toothpaste” that I found did away with my brushing sensitivities in short order! It was pretty amazing; I used it for about a year, and then I got distracted and forgot to order before I ran out. So, then decided to try to find something local. I tried a few brands from Whole Foods, but nothing inspired loyalty. And then I found Trader Joe’s Anti-plaque Toothpaste. It worked and works great. It is definitely my commercial paste of choice, but it’s not like there’s a TJ’s on every corner, and ec4409cd24c39f97489d4eb4db70b643sometimes life gets too busy to make a special trip. Unfortunately, I have discovered going back to conventional toothpaste for any length of time is a non-no. The sensitivity, which is worse around my period (and was one of my first pregnancy indicators with both girls. Gotta love hormones!), comes back quickly.

I first tried this recipe from Kristin, but I was uncomfortable with the large amount of coconut oil going down my sink and leaving a gross residue in my sink. In composition it was a little…solid, and in practice it was wearing a sore spot on my gums. I think maybe substituting the liquid bentonite clay I already had on hand, as opposed to ordering the powder form she linked on the recipe, may have kept the mix from being softer; and in all likelihood the quarter cup of baking soda was the culprit working on my gum line.  Alas, my search continued.

Katie’s Remineralizing Toothpaste came across my desktop last year, but I blew off the idea of making it at that time- too much trouble. And where does one get Calcium Carbonate anyway? Oh, yeah. Amazon. That’s also where I sucked it up and ordered the bentonite clay. Hmm, how do I feel about this recipe? I LOVE THIS STUFF! At first I stored it in a small Zip-Loc bag with a small snip in a corner (how fun is it to “cake decorate” your toothbrush in the morning? Lots!), but today I remembered I had something similar to a Go Toob in a kitchen drawer! So I squeezed the bag o’ paste into the silicone tube and voila!

My latest grain play, has me attempting to make Milk Kefir. It’s been an interesting process and I’m finding the grains are a little more picky than water kefir, but I have hope milk kefir will eventually be something to enjoy- particularly when I try it with coconut milk.

Of course not every DIY try is a success. I’ve had a few here and there that just didn’t work for whatever reason. The most hideous “epic fail” of my recent experiments was this Natural, Non-Greasy Hand and Body Lotion from DIY Natural. Sorry, Betsy. I tried twice. It was a horrific mess, and it will take many moons before I attempt to emulsify anything again. In this case, store-bought stuff will just have to do.

I also trirascalafricansanddoged Katie’s Natural Shampoo. It was great going on, but gross coming out— unless I used her recommended 50/50 water and apple cider rinse. But then I smelled like apple cider vinegar…noticeably. I don’t think so. In fact, the last time I went through a big “organics” cycle the only shampoo I tried that worked in every way and didn’t make my scalp start itching after a week was from Evan’s Garden. In recent months I’ve been using Ology brand products from Walgreens, and you know, I think I’ll just stick with them. Really, I have colored (for 13 years), do color, and will continue to color my hair every 4 weeks with Miss Clairol for at least another six years (when I turn fifty)(don’t even talk to me about henna or Naturtint. I tried them both, and both fried my hair!), natural shampoo is the least of my concerns! Thanks for the pre-mature grey genes, mom and what’s-his-name. Yeah, setting color aside isn’t even part of the discussion at the moment. So, why both worrying about natural hair care?

You have any tried and true recipes you love? Post them, please!

My Wonderful Summer Experiment (meant to torture my children, improve reaction times, and increase family togetherness)

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Oh, what joy abounded in my household a few weeks ago when I figured out how to go in and change our Wi-Fi access code. Of course by ‘joy abounding’ I mean my twelve year old daughter looked like she was going to have a seizure, carrying on as she was. There was some serious wailing and gnashing of teeth echoing through the house! You would have thought I’d taken away her birthday. Gratefully, since my second born waswifi-password “fitting” enough for three or four kids, my sixteen year old took it in stride (more or less). According to the youngest, I’d just ruined her entire life and made “relaxing” a nearly impossible task. Right. Sure. You run with that. Oh, mom…

I was born a bit of an old soul, but that didn’t keep me from being an idiot during my second decade of life, a ‘the-universe-revolves-around-me’ teenager. As a parent of sixteen years now, I don’t think my oldest was fully out of diapers, precocious as she was, before I understood the phrase uttered by mothers and fathers for more than five millennia now: Just you wait. In fact, I’d bet good money it has always been said with a shaking head, twitching eye and pursed lips, and was preceded by a long sigh.

Yup, when I finally got “it,” got what my mom meant by all of those angry, frustrated sentiments uttered under her breath about me getting mine one day, it hit like a lightning bolt. My immediate reaction was, “Oh. I’m sooooooo sorry, mom.” Unfortunately, my mom passed away when my oldest was two and a half and I was just barely pregnant with daughter number two.

Trying to get kids to do their “fair share” around the house, to learn that at a certain point they can absolutely learn to fix their own lunches, wash their own clothes, and, yes, wipe their own butts, is the eternal struggle of all good parents. Slacker parents, parents who think it is just easier to let Pumpkin sit and play video games or hang out with friends rather than teaching them (and expecting them) to clean the kitchen are doing themselves and their kid’s future room mates, spouse, or employers a huge disservice. Work is good. Hard work is even better. I fear I was a slacker for a few years too long. I should have expected and required more from my kids at an earlier age. Getting them moving in the last couple of years had been like trying to get the Tin Man moving after a period of rust-induced torpor! But I’ve kept up the good fight, even on those really, terrible, horrible, horrific days when I almost threw in the towel and did “it” myself.

However, nothing has worked so well, been proven to be as powerful an incentive to work as destroying their internet access. Behold, my joy is full. Interestingly enough, when the distractions of instant access were removed, my girls found ways to connect with each other, and me. Best decision ever.

 

Just Some Random Thoughts…

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One of the perks of being off of social media is that I’ve stopped feeling the need to post twenty times a day whenever something “striking” happens to me. Still, I feel the need to journal about some of these things, as a few are dilbert_randomtruly important. Hence, this blog post: a bunch of little things all wrapped up in one little blog bow, not twenty or twenty thousand individual posts. So, here it goes…

  • My husband started a new job at the beginning of the month. He’s in federal law enforcement, and will be for another three years or so. I’m hoping and praying this new agency jump will be his last (and best). In our 23 years together, he’s worked for four different agencies, with a 13 year stint at the FBI being his longest; his time at the Bureau would best be described by Charles Dickens’ opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”My dear hubby wanted to be an FBI agent from the time he was a little boy. Leaving the Bureau was the death of a dream for him, but after September 11, and after Director Mueller got a hold of the reins, it was a dream that needed to die.  He’s been searching for a new “home” every since, a legitimate agency (as opposed to many which have no business even existing!) where he can serve the tax payer by busting the bad guys and serve his better angels by solving the puzzles that the criminals create for my white-collar guy. He’s very, very good at what he does, and he takes seriously his role as a protector of tax payer funds. If only the government itself cared for our funds as much as he does, government spending would be half of what it is now!
  •  My oldest monkey was supposed to take her driving test last week, but alas, we didn’t have all of the paperwork we needed, nor did we have a signature from my husband, her “official” parent-teacher.
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    This magnet is actually on my car

    ..who is out of town until month’s end! Alas, now, it will be mid-July before another appointment at our local DPS is available (unless I can squeeze her in at one 50 miles away in the sticks!). Grrrr!! I am so ready for this child to be driving herself around. Despite my dear daughter’s recent accident and other harrowing experiences teaching her to drive this past year, I can’t fathom parents (or kids) that aren’t chomping at the bit for their sixteen year old to take that leap. Sadly, that seems to be the new norm though…right up there with children living in their parents’ basements until their mid-30s and being on their insurance until the “child” is TWENTY SIX!! Not in my house! 

  • Another milestone for my oldest: she’s got her first job! She’ll be working at a newly remodeled Chick-fil-A near our home. She’s cute in her work uniform and chunky black slip-resistant Skechers. “It’s my pleasure to serve you” is her new mantra. However, her feet are feeling the pain of being on them for six hours at a time. Smart as she is though, she’s decided $8 plus bucks an hour towards greater financial independence is worth a little pain. Kudos to my big kid!
  • I have been having a hard time getting back to normal walking post knee surgery. I was on crutches with zero weight bearing on my right leg for six weeks. Since weaning off of them, beginning on May 18, I’ve had an incessant problem with knots/ trigger points in all the muscles that originate on or around the hip joint. Add to that the difficulty of breaking through the scar tissue around my
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    It feels like it some days

    knee caused by both the surgery and the direct impact of an air bag, and regaining full flexion and extension hasn’t been a cake walk by any stretch.Physical therapy has helped with rebuilding some of my strength and balance, and being in the pool for most of my therapy has been a blessing, but nothing has done for as much for my pain and the issues which I feel are hindering my progress as the massage I had a few weeks ago. My therapist beat the snot out of the knots and scar tissue! Parts of it hurt like mad, at one moment I even came off the table! But in the end I got off the table feeling better than I’ve felt since the wreck on March 18th that started all of this mess! I am proclaiming a miraculous healing. Ok, maybe not, but I’m happy to be able to see some light at the end of this tunnel which has felt kind of dark and endless at times. God bless those that are in truly horrific accidents, military or otherwise, who must completely rebuild themselves. You are my heroes.

  • Being the mom of teen-aged girls, even homeschooled teen-aged girls is so hard. My mom raised three girls and two boys, and I have no doubt the girls were the hardest. Like my girls today, I was a “good kid.” I didn’t smoke, drink, party, carouse, do drugs, sleep around, or engage in various and sundry stupid teen behaviours (though I was a bit of a crazy driver (still am)), but I was difficult.I was mouthy, self-centered, mean, emotional, angry, and most of all: lonely. Due largely to a few divorces, sudden remarriages to unpleasant peeople (all of which I had zero say in), and other family issues, my teen years were not fun. Still, my mom tried. At forty-four with two girls of my own and a very stable marriage, I know that now. Hind-sight is an amazing thing.My mom passed away suddenly the day after some pretty routine surgery thirteen years ago, threw a blood clot. I never got to say good-bye. For the most part, we had a strained relationship. I loved her and she loved me, but we were both quite crummy at demonstrating that love in meaningful ways, meaningful to the other, that is. As a protective measure, I have closed the doors on relationships with several family members, and am fully at peace with those decisions (even if some family members take issue with my decisions). The only regret I have, however, is that mom and I couldn’t have had more time to work things out. I wish now, now that I’ve got two teen girls driving me to the highest highs and the lowest lows on alternating days of the week (minutes of the day), I would love to talk to her again, to commiserate, to tell her I’m sorry for…being a self-centered monster of a teen girl, and to thank her for not taking me out of this world just about every other day for driving her crazy and adding to her problems!
  • Speaking of girl issues, I was taken aback by the activity my twelve year old’s class did this past Wednesday at church. Unbeknownst to me, this activity, which was centered around a discussion on real beauty, internal beauty, the beauty that matters, was to culminate in a make-application lesson. No, not just skin care, or “wash-your-face-so-you-don’t-get-zits-or-look-like-you’ve-rubbed-bacon-grease-on-your-face.” No, it was an actual make-up how-to. Granted, it was of the “How not to look like a tramp” variety, but it still hit me like I’d just been told the leaders were teaching a sex-ed lesson with a banana!
    Walking past the room in which the event was occurring, I was struck dumb seeing my precious, beastly little twelve year old, with whom, thanks in part to a big sister who could care less about looking girly, I’ve yet to discuss when she gets to wear make-up, being made up. I was not a happy mama. I was shocked, and saddened, truthfully. Our girls are innocent for such a small moment of time, pure, precious, and unadulterated. The world is constantly pushing them to grow up younger and younger. Girls in my own conservative faith are not immune to that influence. Plenty of the female children in my congregation have

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    Yeah….NO.

    parents markedly less concerned than I am with letting their young ladies look “older.” Whoopee. Good for them. Matters not a whit to me. As one who wears cosmetics sparingly (Seriously, my daily routine entails curling my straight eyelashes and brushing on a bit of mineral powder to counter appearances of skin damage. On really big days (or for the week after I get my hair trimmed shortly), I’ll run a line of grey eyeliner over my top lids. If it’s a really big deal, I’ll wear some mascara, too.), my immediate reaction was to calmly tell my dear child afterwards, “You can wash that stuff off at home.”Unfortunately, the explanation I gave for my opinion of her newly made up face did little to assuage her hurt feelings. She’d had fun. She’d wanted me to tell her she was beautiful and I’d ruined it! Tears ensued. Epic fail, mom. To be sure, I could have handled things better. But still… my opinion stands. Make-up will be discussed closer to fourteen, and don’t even ask about wearing heels until you’re staring down the barrel of junior prom! You’ll be “older” soon enough, dear child. And don’t even try the “But So & So’s mom lets her” argument. Society and culture have always had various “Rites of Passage.” Certainly, playing in the make-up is one of those rites. I just strongly object to having the timing of those rites get pushed further and further back with each generation, or having that timing altered by someone else. In other words, “As for me and my house, we will not cross that line before it’s time!”

    P.S. For all the crying and squalling that occurred at home Wednesday evening, I’m grateful that not a word about make-up has been breathed since!

    Thoughts? Feel free to post!

A Day in the Life of my Knee

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Today I met with my knee surgeon: my six weeks post-op appointment. Two months ago today, I was minding my own business, eyes closed, letting my fifteen year old drive us to the local junior college where she takes a few classes, when…BOOM! CRUNCH! BAM! Breathlessness and pain rocked my world, as did the acrid odor of angry engine and airbag propellant. Dear daughter was not fit to operate heavy machinery; she was drowsy, but failed to tell me, even after I asked her directly at one point, “Are you okay to drive?!”

Yeah, about five minutes after that question left my lips, she crossed over the center line on a local two lane road, colliding with another car. Gratefully, the other driver was fine, considering a Buick LeSabre had just invaded her space, pushing her car’s tail into a ditch and requiring the driver’s door to be cut from its moorings in order to extricate her from the black Honda Accord. My daughter was largely uninjured, too. Nothing that wouldn’t heal quickly, anyway. I, unfortunately, had my knees bent, feet on the dash when our airbags deployed. I took a direct airbag blow to both knees, though the right one got the hardest impact, and my left made a beeline for my sternum. Two weeks later I was having surgery on the same meniscus I’d just had trimmed seven months before. Happy day.

I haven’t walked on two feet since the surgery, so I was incredibly anxious to talk my surgeon, to see if it was “time.” But as the minutes ebbed on in the the grocery store freezer case my surgeon’s group calls their waiting room, I got bit paranoid. I’d waited four plus weeks for this appointment and felt like this was going to turn into one of those days where the staff would keep all of his patients waiting two hours before finally fessing up the the fact that Dr. J was never coming in! It was bad enough that I hadn’t eaten anything but a Power Crunch protein bar at 6 a.m. and I had a free Egg McMuffin coupon burning a hole in my car door, a hole almost as big as the one being gnawed in my stomach by Hunger!

Thankfully, I did get a reprieve, though well after McDonald’s stopped serving breakfast! It was only fifty minutes after signing in that I heard my name called, then another twenty before his bald pate entered my room.

Our little chit-chat went well. I told him I had little faith that the repair he’d done to the medial meniscus in my right knee was healing properly. I described the “burning, tearing, searing” sensations I’d felt after the first day of physical therapy, and to a much lesser degree at points thereafter. He shrugged and casually told me, “Scar tissue.” (WHAT??)

However, Dr. J did alert me to a few things I didn’t know before today, which I greatly appreciated: 1) the tear I sustained was right at the outer margin, which is a very, very good thing. Outer margin = blood flow = oxygen = better shot at healing; and 2) he never would have attempted the repair if he didn’t feel I was a good candidate/ the tear was in just right place for a repair to work. There is a pretty good risk that I’ll be under the knife again in 5-6 months if the thing doesn’t heal; the odds are only 60/40 that it will, even in youngsters). Okay, well, I do feel a bit better now.

The last thing he said, waving his right hand towards my crutches, those accursed things that have made ambulation possible, but wreaked havoc on my ability to juggle for the last six weeks, was, “Get rid of those. You’re done with them. You can start walking again as of today.”

Gee, doc, I didn’t realize you were quite as good as Jesus Christ. As much as I was hoping to hear words similar to those today, I expected they might be tempered just a bit more! Seriously, If you don;t mind, think I’ll continue to go to physical therapy for the next four to six weeks and learn how to do that whole ‘walk’ thing again. But thanks for the vote of confidence!

So, what I have I done since returning home? Messed around with that walking thing, of course. Grasping on to furniture, counter tops, walls and door frames, I actually managed to vacuum my living room and kitchen for the first time in two months! You have no idea how good that felt! And the knee did okay, too!

Maybe in a few more weeks I won’t look more like a new born colt than I do a grown woman who had just completed a half marathon just weeks before an airbag took my breath away!