Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mom Down

It's been a long time since I've been sick. Or sick enough to be out of commission. This weekend I was feeling the allergies - the pollen was literally blowing through the air in visible gusts, and it's EVERYWHERE, even inside the house when you dust. But I was pushing through, as always. Then the Rangers games and impromptu party did me in. I haven't eaten much sugar/any sugar at all in a really long time (like, since early January). And on Saturday night, I had soda, a piece of cheesecake someone brought over, and candy. It was likely all a little much for my body to handle and pushed me over the edge!

I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever and was basically totally out of it all day Sunday. Brian dressed the kids and took them to church. Then out on a special Daddy date for Mexican after. He made them dinner (a salad & bread) and it was apparently the BEST meal they've EVER had. EVER. Ooookay then.

And I slept. I couldn't keep my eyes open at all!! As often as I was awake, I was using my oils - My sinuses and head and throat hurt, and my fever lasted off an on most of the day. I literally had no energy for anything but sleep. By Sunday night I was starting to feel better and my fever broke. I slept well that night, and woke up feeling ok - good enough to function semi-normally anyway.

Things I learned while I was sick.

1. I think that I already knew this, but maybe I'd forgot. Without my constant help (via encouragement, bossiness or doling out chores and responsibilities) my family is completely helpless.

2. I need to work on the whole clean up as you go thing - without a Mommy reminder

3. My husband does not know how to use our washer or dryer.
They had used every.single. plate, bowl and cup that we own. All the glass, all the plastic, everything. It took me 3 dishwasher loads to work through it all. Literally every room was just like this, or worse, HAHA. I'm so grateful everyone is alive, and well. But really. Moms are just super necessary:-)

Googling my symptoms, I think I overcame a sinus infection, or the start of one. The oils I used to pull me through and get me back to normal within 24 hrs for my Monday.

Thieves - on my throat, and in hot water with lemon and honey
Peppermint - on my feet to control and cut my fever
LLP (lemon, lavender, peppermint) - on my sinuses
RC - on my chest
Sacred Frank - on my neck and swollen glands
PanAway - on temples and back of neck for headache
Purification - on bridge of nose for suffiness
*I also started using Thieves diluted in olive oil on my neck/glands on Tuesday when they were still swollen. That really seemed to be the kicker!

I also took a really long hot bath with plenty of epsom salts and lavender.


Today, (Tues) my throat is still a little sore from post nasal drip, but my sinuses and head feel incredibly better/totally normal. I do have a bit of a runny nose now, and a few sneezes here and there, but on the whole, pretty good! My energy is back to normal and that is a very good thing, If I was sick any longer, we'd have had to burn down the house and start over!

Hopefully it's a LONG time before I'm down for the count again!

Inspiration

Inspiration comes from all kinds of places. For us, one of our main sources was, and still is, pop culture. Most run of the mill everyday moms and dads don't pick names as creative as those you can find in "popular places" why is that? The news of the newest Royal baby has me checking my internet every day - just in case:-) I am sure I will not find any names they choose to suit my tastes - but they get a pass, being Royalty and all.

This is where we found inspiration for our kids names:

David and Victoria Beckham had baby boy in 1999, named Brooklyn - after New York City's Brooklyn. I always thought it was cool. So did Brian. Though we never discussed it until about 2005 when pregnant with Kenna. We went with Brooklyn for our first son because Brian liked it best, so I let him "pick":-)
Brooklyn Beckham

Lleyton Hewitt is a tennis player and was quite good/popular in the late 90's early 00's. I'd always loved the sound of the name Lleyton, but didn't love Leighton - as I mentally always correct it to Lee-ton, and Layton was blah, lacking "something". The spelling of his name transfixed me, and it became my favourite. (I've already written about Greg House bringing us from Greyson to Gregory)
Lleyton Hewitt
And with Kenna, no inspiration was really needed, but we'll attribute some:-) Since Kennedy was my maiden name it was always my "gimme" girls name, and thankfully Brian never had any objections and really likes the name. We came up with Kenna as a cutesy 'little girl' nickname, and it suits her well. But now that she knows there was a President Kennedy who was murdered, well nothing compares to that. She believes she was definitely named after the President, and that in fact, we all were. I need to introduce her to the graceful beauty of the President's wife, someday. Hopefully she can draw inspiration from her style and manner.
Jackie Kennedy

Monday, April 13, 2015

Batter Up!

Baseball season started a few weeks ago! Here are a few pics from the first game. We switched leagues this year to one that is located in a much better place to save us on driving so far away. They didn't have enough kids this year to do separate tee ball and coach pitch teams, so they combined them.

This works great for me, I have all three kids on the same team!! First time ever! The coaches try to pitch to everyone, but for the younger ones (like Grey) if you're not getting it after a few throws, they put the tee up for them.

Baseball Grey!
Kenna is doing much better this year, her skills/desire to play seem to have met in a happy place, and she does alright!

Brooks, naturally, is swinging for the fence every time, and is one of the better players on the team, if not the best. Because of this, he always gets to play the "peak positions" (generally, the only positions that see any action), so he tends to be rotated around catcher, pitcher, 1st and 2nd.

Grey is the athletic dark horse of the family. He got his first baseball glove at Christmas (he's a leftie). And used it for the first time on the first day of practice. And he's good! Compared to Brooks who basically did nothing else with his entire existence for the first 4 years of his life, other than throw a ball - Grey is not the "athletic one". He never plays sports for fun, and rarely ever talks about them. The words "wanna go play catch?" are just not in his vocabulary. Well, wouldn't you know, the kid has great natural flair. He can throw very accurately, gets the ball scooped up quickly, and has a great natural stance and swing. Go figure. He hit the very first coach pitch that was thrown to him in his very first game!!! This is where his lack of "sports-ing" catches up to him - he hit it pretty far, but the fielders had it well under control, so it was really only a single - and there were other children on the bases ahead of him. But he took off running for first and just kept on going, around all the bases. He has a really big head, and runs kind of "head forward" (and actually looks just like my Dad when running, for a mental picture). Note: His head is so large, that while most batting helmets fall off the other children, and they layer their caps underneath to minimize the bobble - there is only 1 helmet, of all the teams selection that fits his giant orb. Anyway, he got all the way around to third (passing the other base runners) before he was reined in and sent back to first:-) I guess no one ever clarified that you can only run one base at a time, generally! Last game, he played first, and caught all the balls (always grounders by the time they reached him), and tagged up to the base, and even got someone out. All the while blowing bubbles with his gum and adjusting the peak of his hat like a been-there-done-that-this-is-slightly-boring pro.
And Grey has his glove on the wrong hand for the after game picture. Haha!

My baseball babies! They are the Beach Rip Tides this year.

DIY Dryer Sheets

Well for about 6 months now, I have been on the hunt for "how to make your cat stop peeing on fabric". Several hundred similarly worded google searches later, and I really didn't have concrete information to go on. Basically, it's a struggle, and we all don't know what to do about it, according to tons of pet chatboards. (Huck, one of our cats, likes to pee on clothing or bedding).

We found a "bad cat spray" at the store, which kinda works - only the scent and spray only seem to deter for moments - until the spray evaporates or absorbs. But we tried it. Then I checked the ingredients on the bottle: Lemongrass and water. Idea Strikes.

Now my google searches were along the lines of "what scents do cats hate". My searches revealed that they dislike, passionately, citrus-y scents, and essential oils especially, as the scent is quite potent. Lemongrass is among the top of their dislikes, along with all other citrus scents.

So then I began scratching my head - how to get this scent "out there" in the house? I already knew the spray I bought was only temporarily effective. Setting out a dish of it (liquid) so the scent lingers longer would just be problematic in a house full of kids and pets, and if they spilled it on the items I was trying to protect (fabrics) it could damage them, potentially.

So my quest remained and I didn't really have any brilliant ideas. Until I clicked on a pinterest link some one posted to facebook. How to make homemade "dryer sheets". I've seen similar before, but I checked out the link, and it was really about how to make homemade dryer balls out of a wool skein. It was quite detailed, and interesting, and as I was reading, it occurred to me that this would be perfect for my cat problem. At the end of the post the author included a ** saying - DO NOT try to make these at home. It was difficult, and the wool skeins are very pricey and only make about 2 balls, and at the end of the day, just not worth it. Buy already made ones on amazon.

SOLD! I sooooo appreciated the honesty of the woman, who's link I can no longer find. But really, how great to show people what you've done and then insist it was a waste of time and money, LOL. So I bought 6 wool balls on amazon for 11,99, and they arrived free shipping in two days. Yay.
Then I set out googling how to USE the dryer balls - not how to make them out of wool (tons of info out there!), but how to use them - online details were slim at best. I like specific lists for directions, and this wasn't giving me anything like that to go on. So I came up with my own system by trail and error.

It includes two glass jars - one for the "wet ones" and one for the dry ones. It was working great for me, except - the glass jars on the dryer were very jingly and noisy. The lids would vibrate and the two jars would clang together and it was just really annoying background noise!
Burlap is my "dry jar" regular glass is my "wet jar"
So I covered my "dry ones" jar with burlap I had on hand in my craft stuff. (Take THAT husband who always wonders why we have a 'closet full of "stuff" we never use' ;-)
I just cut and wrapped the burlap and hot glued it into place on the jar (there is a back seam), and then around the bottom edge, and top edge. I then tied a ribbon around the top to make it look prettier.
On to the nitty gritty of the "recipe" for the dryer sheet/ball. I use Lemongrass and Purification (a blend of oils known to neutralize mildew, cigarette smoke and more. It contains Cintronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Lavandin & Myrtle - it smells amazing, and has that underlying citrus smell that cats will avoid)

I decided to give the cat-pee deterrent a two fold approach. If our clothes smell subtly like these oils, from the dryer ball, the cat will be less prone to want to go near them - and yet they smell great to us! And then I also use the balls out in the house, which I will show later.

I normally don't use anything by way of dryer sheets, only because they are an added expense that my budget doesn't need. But I do love the "idea" of dryer sheets, and these are a re-useable, and very cheap way to add a great scent, and reduce static, and soften clothing while it dries.

In a container (like my glass jars or similar), place dry wool balls.
(Make sure the container is large enough so that more than 1 or 2 balls are touching the bottom/liquids added, so they can all soak up evenly)

Put 1 drop of lemongrass and 1 drop of Purification on each ball (these oils are $11 and $18 respectively for 15ml, and using 1 drop at a time will last a reeeeeeally long time. I use them for other things, health wise, so I'll go through them a little faster*, but for me, they are something I am already buying, so they are of no additional cost to my budget.)

I pour about 1/2 C white vinegar and 1/2 C water over the balls, and let them sit and absorb. I use white vinegar in each load of laundry as my water softener, so again, it's already in my laundry room, right there, and is really adding minimal/no expense to my normal routine.

When you are putting a load in the dryer, grab a dryer ball from the "wet" jar, (or two for extra large loads), and throw them in the dryer with the wet clothing.

When a load is finished, I throw the "dry" ones in my burlap covered container, and there they wait to be re-doused in the future, or used as cat deterrents. When I get down to about 1 left, I "make a new batch" of wet ones but this would depend on how much you do laundry in a week. They take probably at least 30 mins to soak up the vinegar & water, so I just make sure there are always some to grab in there.
Here they sit, soaking up their vinegar and water mixture.

To keep the lids from rattling I hot glued ribbon to the outer edge of the jars inner rim, if that makes sense. Now we have zero opportunity for glass to clang against glass, and a quiet clothes drying experience

And they kinda look pretty on the dryer, too, right?! I'm loving this!
Our clothes smell great! They are static free, and so I'm reaaaally glad I came across this idea online and morphed it into my own!

To use the oils as a cat-pee deterrent, I just take a dry ball, and put a drop of essential oil on it, and place it where I want the cat to avoid. It smells forever (I've had some out for over a week, and they still smell strongly to the human nose), and it's safe for kids etc etc. Nothing to get damaged or spill etc. This would work well as a cat scratching deterrent too, if they are going for something they shouldn't, place a ball there, and they'll not go near!
The oils are a little yellow in colour, so they "dye" the white wool - it' doesn't affect functionality at all

So now, when "leaving clothing out" to fold later, I just place a ball on top, to keep the cat away! Works like a charm! I've left stuff out for days, just as an attempt to bait him and test the system, and he won't go near it! (When grabbing a "dry" ball, I give it a good smell, sometimes the smell - leftover from it's dryer experience - is still pretty strong, and doesn't need another drop of oil added)
And just because I had the craft supplies out - Our flosser "container" was a re purposed kitchen counter container that says "Tea" on it (you can see the metal sign from the inside of the container still). These flossers seem to be essential to not only the kids dental health, but mine. I've had lots of cavities, so I need to be careful with my teeth ongoing, and flossing is just one of those "things" I just always don't do. Until I starting using these things, now it's easy and convenient and I floss alllll the time! 

So I covered it in burlap, and now it matches the bathroom a little better, don't you think?

*I use lemongrass, applied neat, to a cluster of veins on my legs that is "burst" giving a bruise appearance. Dr says ablation procedure is the only way to get rid of the vein cluster, but many people have seen visible vein reduction (spider veins etc) by applying lemongrass, so I am trying it - It can't hurt and will only help, so why not?:-) We use Purification for seasonal allergies and stuffy noses. Brian and Kenna swear by it (along with their Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint mixture - they are our worst allergy sufferers).

So, even if you don't have a cat problem to solve, these dryer "sheet" alternatives can be used effectively and affordably, and aren't adding any extra chemicals into your life!

NOTE: You can use only water if you choose, vinegar adds an added 'softening' agent, but using only water will still reduce static and give a great smell to clothing if using with oils. Or another option would be to just use vinegar and water, with no oils - this would give soft and static free clothing, but it wouldn't have any smell to it, for people that are sensitive to smells. The odor from the oils left on clothing is, in my opinion, light and fresh - not as potent as a normal dryer sheet - and better smelling. The oils are absorbed into the wool balls and will not get "oil spots" on your clothing. I suggest using Young Living Therapeutic grade oils.

Wool dryer ball aficionados out there also insist that using them cuts down drying time by up to 25%, thereby saving money on your energy bill. I think I've noticed this to be true too, although I'll need to pay closer attention to the clock!

Let me know if you have any questions about this! Happy Laundry Day(s) :-)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tea Party!

Finally, we had a chance to re-do Kenna's birthday tea party - that we had to cancel because she got the stomach flu. We did an abbreviated version - tea party only, and only with the "girls" from the family we had initially invited over. So, 2 girls and their mom:-)

Kenna/Grace "look alike" cookies

Little strawberry shortcakes

Salted Caramel ice cream in a chocolate bowl

Happy tea party! We served three kinds of tea - Bengal Spice (a decaf Chai), a flowering tea that was Peach Jasmine, and then Sleepytime Vanilla (a "regular" flavour that I thought they'd all like - I was right, though, they tried them all!)
 A good time was had by all! The kids loved participating in something so real, and fancy.
Kenna got enough money in March to buy Grace Thomas, American Girl of the Year! Brian and I paid the extra money for the dolls ear piercing and the novel of Grace's story for Kenna's birthday gift.


She loves that doll

Putting a flower in Grace's hair
For the tea party, I got down the heirloom pieces that I have for us to use. Actually the first time we'd used them since we've been married. The first time Kenna had ever seen everything (I keep it packed away in remote cupboards so it doesn't get broken), and she was very impressed at all our pretty things.

I let her use "her" teacup for the party - the one she will specifically inherit, from her Great Great Grandma, Ruby Haas. This teacup is one I was given, after her death on August 1, 1990. Great Grandma's birthday was March 31, 1912. Things were randomly assigned/given by my Grandma, and, now that I have a daughter with a March birthday too, well, it's just too perfect!
Pictured: Kenna's Great Great Grandma, Ruby Haas' teacup and autograph books. 

The teacup is displayed on some hardanger lace, made by Ruby's daughter, my Grandma, Clarene Shantz. Also, in the background is a picture of my favourite flowers, painted by my Grandma Shantz.

Kenna's very first heirloom piece from her Great Great Grandmother

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter - Recipe

Easter was a little crazy this year! It started out normal enough - we had 2 different families, and 1 teen from church join us for dinner. I served both turkey and ham. When menu planning, I asked Brian what he wanted for dinner, other than the meat, of course, and he requested creamed peas and carrots.

And on Sunday, he said they were the best he's ever had. Such high praise does not come easy from that guy, so I thought I better get the recipe down so I can repeat it. You know how you google search something (which is what I did) but then next time can't find it at all?! That happens to me too much:-)

So see below for the BEST EVER creamed peas and carrots recipe. But first - so Easter, our friends brought their puppy Fenway with them. He's an Old English Bulldog and about 5 month old, and 40+ lbs. After dinner, the guys went outside to unload some firewood and pallets to burn (we love hanging out around a big fire, of course!), and the dog was on the porch. When Josh (dogs owner) was coming from the yard to the house (through the porch), he scared the dog, who started jumping and barking at the door, to get into the house, while looking behind him to keep an eye on the porch "intruder" that he apparently didn't recognize in the moment.

In all his jumping and panic - he broke his leg. Commence dog-screeching and human panicking (and yes, a few tears). The biggest thing was getting ahold of the beast and getting him still. And then it was off to the emergency vet for all the guys. And then a swap late at night so Brian could get home to bed. So the evening was unfortunately ended before it really got going! We'd finished the main meal, but hadn't yet had dessert, or games, or bonfire...so we'll have to have a re-do! Poor Fenway was at the vet until almost 2am Sunday night, and then had surgery in Richmond on Tuesday. He came through very well, and should be ok in about 6-8 weeks.

Comforting Peas and Carrots Recipe

*my adaptations/changes in ( )

1 16 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots (I used fresh baby carrot sticks, along with frozen peas)
1 t sugar
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t white pepper (I used black pepper)
1 1/2 C milk (I used 2%)
2 T minced fresh dill OR 2 t dried dill (I used dried)


Prepare frozen vegetables per package directions, adding sugar,

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then add flour, salt and pepper to form a roux. Gradually whisk in milk over medium heat and bring to boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add dill and cook until thick and bubbly.

When peas and carrots are cooked, drain them and place in serving bowl. Pour cream sauce over vegetables and stir to combine. Serve.

(I left the vegetable plain, and had the cream sauce in a gravy boat for people to "cream on their plate" as some people coming to dinner liked the veggies plain, without the sauce)

Spring

Spring has arrived full force!! Time for seeding the lawn, and lawnmower repairs, and allergies...:-(

Here are some pretty pictures from around our yard
It's my Lois Mary Exquisite! I transplanted it here, from Ontario, last summer, and it looks like it worked! I am an epically bad gardener, so I was surprised it made the long journey and survived being planted here! This Day Lily was created and named for my Auntie Lois, who passed away from cancer.

This tree is really pretty, but kinda stinky






Don't know what these are, but they are cool looking!


Two buddies, "hunting" in the lake


While us girls were out exploring nature, the boys were happily creating


Then we got the exciting news (via hysterical shouting). Kenna and May found a "SEA TURTLE" in the lake. Oh happy day
May decided she would catch it with the Lacrosse stick.
Probably due to all the shouting and poking in the water, the "sea turtle" disappeared. May said "Oh well, the sea turtle just got eaten by a shark!" Cue my constant reminders that is is not the ocean :-)