Monday, January 26, 2015

Not in Kansas Anymore...

We've been back from Ireland for two and a half weeks {only? somehow it feels like ages ago}, but I've been fondly reminiscing of our time there.

Because the Irish culture is similar to American culture in many ways {English speaking, Western}, it was often easy to forget that I was in a foreign place. Every once in awhile, however, something would strike me with the realization that yes indeed, things are different on the other side of the Atlantic.

Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore...

Many signs were not just in English. Interestingly enough, some Irish people also speak Irish.

You order a medium soda and this is what you get. No super sizing on this side of the Atlantic!

Also, how about some curry sauce to dip your fries... er, chips... in? While pretty tasty, this yank still prefers ketchup.

Apparently the politically correct have not yet barred this tissue label. Man size tissues are pretty much bigger than your face. Awesome!

Paying to use a public restroom just about killed me. Freedom isn't free, folks.

And before we return from this quick tour, I can't help but share with you the moment when all of my stereotypical Irish dreams came true. Eat your heart out America:

That's right. Thatched roof cottage under a perfectly arced rainbow. My husband visibly cringed when he saw me pulling out the camera. "Just do what you have to do, and do it quickly. We shall never speak of it again."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Revisiting Homemade Laundry Detergent

About two and a half years ago, I made homemade laundry detergent for the first time. It was a liquid recipe that lasted forever. Nice on the wallet. unfortunately not so nice on the clothes. At the time my baby girl was still projectile vomiting three times a day {or more} on average, which made for some very stinky laundry. Worse, our clothes still smelled kind of pukey after being washed. Gross!

I thought I was forever done with making it myself when I saw a picture I couldn't resist last fall on Pinterest. This homemade laundry detergent was pink and purple. It was so pretty! The last recipe I had made was gloopy and kind of scary looking after separating.

I clicked on the link to read more. Lo and behold, the woman posting it shared her love of delicious smelling laundry! She said she is very picky about the smells of her clothing, but that this recipe met and exceeded every expectation. I was hooked.

I went to Wal-Mart the very next week and loaded up my cart with the ingredients. Yikes, I had a bit of a nasty surprise. Apparently to make pretty and nice smelling laundry detergent, you have to spend a little bundle. $30 isn't too bad {especially when you consider how long the stuff lasts... if you do 6 loads a week, it's supposed to get you through an entire year} I suppose, I just wasn't mentally prepared to spend that much.

I've been using this batch since September, still have a ton waiting in the storage bucket, and we love it! Our clothes smell yummy and look clean.

If you've had unpleasant experiences with homemade soap in the past, I'd love to hear from you if you give this recipe a go! I was so tickled by it.

It also helps that my daughter is no longer a chronic puker :).

Head on over to How Does She for the recipe!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Four Things to Remember When You'd Like to be Pregnant but Aren't

Right now it seems that almost all of my good friends {and a disproportionately large number of acquaintances} are pregnant. I love babies, and I love celebrating the bumps of friends... heck, even the bumps of strangers!

The kicker is that I thought our family would be welcoming number three next month. We won't be. And even though my miscarriage was six months ago, my body doesn't seem to be fully recovered or fertile again. Each month I find out that yet again I am still not expecting. And I'd like to be.

So I am waiting and wondering and trusting the Lord {most days}. While I don't feel quite anxious yet, it is sometimes a temptation. Here are the truths that I keep whispering in my heart as a reminder on the tougher days.

1. Childbearing is not a competition. So many of my friends are having their third and fourth babies... and sometimes it makes me feel behind. But adding to your family is not a race. God has a different plan for every family.

Having a smaller amount of children doesn't make me less of a mother. It's been said that comparison is the thief of joy, and I believe it. So I give myself a mental slap on the wrist and shout, "No comparing!"

2. God knows what I need. Maybe the Lord knows that I am just not ready for another pregnancy or baby. Maybe two is all that I can handle for now... or forever. Whatever I need, He knows it. He's promised that "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing" {Psalm 34:10}. If it was good for me to be pregnant right now, I would be. He knows what I need.

3. His timing is perfect. If I really believe that God is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, who does all things well and ordains everything exactly how He pleases, than I can rest in the fact that He will grow our family {if that is indeed His choice} in His timing. He is all-wise, and all-powerful, and all-good. I can really and truly trust His perfect timing. This brings so much peace.

4. Every blessing has its opportunity costs. This is a more trivial thought to be sure, because I would gladly deal with the exhaustion and illness and complications that can come with another pregnancy. Obviously the blessing gained is worth it.

Nevertheless, when the pregnancy test comes back negative I can choose to rejoice in better sleep, no nausea, and no high risk restrictions. It means that I have another month to exercise a bit more, get more zzz's, and get my house into better shape while I still have the energy. All little blessings to enjoy and cherish, because they won't be mine forever.

Fertility is such a tricky thing. Our culture would have us think that we are entirely in control of it... but the reality is that babies don't come on demand, and the creation of eternal souls really has so little to do with us. So we pray, and keep open hands, and anchor our souls in the Lord's goodness to His people in all things. Amen.

"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1

Monday, January 19, 2015

How To Teach the ABC's to Your Child {Without Curriculum!}

Do you want to raise an early reader? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the countless {and often expensive} curriculum options available? Have you desired to teach letters to your preschooler or toddler, but been unsure of where to start? Are you sick of flash cards?

Me too, to all of the above!

By employing this handful of methods regularly into our daily routine, I have seen significant progress in my three year old daughter's ability to identify the names and phonetic sounds of most of her letters. She hasn't fully arrived, but she is improving daily and having a blast with the alphabet.

It doesn't take rocket science. You don't have to be a professional educator to teach your child their pre-reading skills.

Read an alphabet book a day. Each day we select one ABC book to read. I point at the letters and repeat them, along with the sound they make, several times. Now that we've been doing this for awhile, I often point at the letter and have my daughter identify it. If I tell her she is teaching the letters to her little brother or the dolly she is holding, she is usually all the more eager!

Some of our favorite children's alphabet books include: Peter Rabbit's ABC,123, D is for Duck Calls, Animalia, The Artful Alphabet, Eating the Alphabet, and Alphabet Trucks. Of course you could always go with an alphabet book from one of your favorite, classic children's authors- like Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle. And Melissa and Doug have an alphabet puzzle book that I am drooling over :). I try to check out at least one new alphabet book each week from our library, just to keep things fresh and interesting.

Point out letters as you see them each day. Anytime you walk by a sign, wear a shirt with text, glance at the cover of a coloring book, or flip through a magazine, you have a prime letter learning opportunity. Be intentional about seizing it! Name the letters for your child, and tell her what sounds they make. Just like a lion says "roar," B says "Buh."

Read a lot of books together. Obviously one of the fundamental building blocks for reading is to be read too- as frequently and long as possible. On the days that I struggle to get dressed and do housework, I try to at least be reading to my kids on the couch instead of surfing my phone, so that all is not in vain. Point out and sound out letters as you go.

Play with alphabet toys. Alphabet blocks, magnets, foam bath letters, and other toys abound. They don't have to be expensive either! I've purchased magnets from the dollar store, as well as Target's dollar section. Make sure they are included in your child's daily toy rotation. When it's time to clean up, ask them specifically to look for an A or F or H to put away. Make it a game!

Sound out words throughout the day. As I push my kids in the stroller I spell and sound out the sights we pass. "What does puh-puh-pond start with, S?" She jubilantly replies, "P!" Success! We work our way through short words, sounding out one letter at a time. If you are just starting this with your child, simply work on the first letter of the word. In time they will learn that rock starts with r, sidewalk with s, and grass with g.

That is all that I've done with S- no flash cards, no curriculum, no daily angst or nagging to get through a lesson plan. She can identify {almost} her entire alphabet, and knows the sounds that most letters make. Occasionally she will spontaneously sound out a word and tell me what it starts with, which makes me one proud mama.

Take a deep breath and relax, mom. The ABC's can be as simple as that!

There are affiliate links in this post. That means that if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks for your support of The Purposeful Wife! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Great Books for the New Year {On Getting Organized}

This week I'm sharing recommended reading to kick start your New Year. Each day will have a theme, and cover two excellent titles on the topic. Nothing like the turning of the calendar to motivate lifestyle changes, and nothing like a great book to inform and sustain changes. Happy reading!

Ah, organizing. It is never as if we will ever arrive, is it? I don't know anyone who is so perfectly organized that their entire life runs smoothly and never needs revamping. Just when we organize our schedule and obligations, we turn around to see that the closets we organized 6 months ago are in desperate need of a redo. Or the pantry. Or the fridge. Or our purse. Or the bookshelves are just too crammed and you find that you have a precarious stack of books on the floor and you really need to clear some shelf space {or is that just me?}. 

Especially with children, I am constantly shuffling clothing- getting rid of what we don't need, packing away too small items for future siblings, pulling out a new tub of the next size up, and acquiring more and more hand me downs from generous friends. I am so thankful for all of the free clothing our kids have been given, so very very thankful, but yikes- it certainly keeps me on my organizational toes! 

I first read Tsh Oxenreider's Organized Simplicity three years ago. It's one of the best home organization manuals I've ever read, and I think I might be due for a reread in 2015. It is very helpful for finding your purpose for your home, being intentional and thoughtful about what you keep in your home, and cutting back to live fuller. 

I also love Tsh's ebook One Bite at a Time. She covers one habit or life change to make for each week of the year. While all the changes might not be of interest to you, and you might only make one change a month, the content is informative, condensed, and solid. Super practical! 

Some of the topics include getting your finances in order, planning for weekly date nights with your spouse, switching to non-toxic cleaning supplies, switching to non-toxic toiletries, meal planning, and getting your photos organized. All stuff that we know we probably should do, but aren't sure how to go about doing them. The perfect read for a fresh, new year!

Want to know how I fund my book habit? One word for you: Swagbucks! Swagbucks is a rewards program that gives you points for searching the internet, watching videos, and shopping {among many other things!}. I like to cash my  Swagbucks in for Amazon gift cards, and then use them to buy books on my wish list. Right now Swagbucks is offering 70 bonus bucks to Purposeful Wife readers who sign up for the first time. The code is Purposeful1, and is good through January 16th. You can sign up by clicking here.                                                                                               

The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that when you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products that I have personally approved. Thanks for your support!