Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Taking a Day Off

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.
~W. C. Fields

I soooooooooooooo needed this time off!

Tuesday mornings in the summer are our free movie times at the nearest theater, but this week the Princess and I agreed that Diary of a Wimpy Kid did not sound that appealing to us...maybe because she is homeschooled and it much of it seemed to be schoolyard situations. So, we had planned to go to another theater just a bit further to see a movie for just $1. I had the name of the movie, The Tale of Despereaux, and the place marked on my calendar, but I did not look at it as I should have, because if I had I would not have went to the nearest one. Then I could not remember how to get the one to which we needed to go and took the long way there. I amazed that we made it just at 10:00 AM but I was certain the theater would be too full to find a decent seat. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised this was not the case. We had no problem finding a seat and the movie started a few minutes late so we did not miss anything!

Now this is the part I found the most interesting of that entire morning, since feeding the rabbits in the morning and running behind time, I had been singing and humming parts of "It Is Well with My Soul" by Horatio G. Spafford. Now I have a personal expectation of myself to be not only prepared and organized but to arrive where I need to go on time or, in this case, well ahead of time. When I fail myself on this and start watching the clock, I get rather frazzled and bad tempered, but there was that song and somehow I realized it will just be what it will be, but I can just decide to enjoy it as it is or make myself and my daughter miserable trying to get there. I must have apologized to her five times thinking the theater would be too full to get in by the time we would arrive...but I held tightly to the peace in my heart.

After the movie, we went to a Goodwill store across the road. Sarah found a little book about letters from pets to God that her piano teacher had shown her months ago, I found a children's devotional we can use, and practically brand new, white, short heel shoes...very good shoes with supportive padding inside to make them quite comfortable! Not only that but they were half the normal price, so we left paying just over $5.

Then we went to eat out at Chik-fil-A, which I very rarely out at all, I mean. We split a sandwich, fries, and milkshake, as it is just enough for the two of us. Afterward we went to K-mart because I would like to get some denim capris having only one pair, not so decent, left. Instead I left with two pairs of plain jeans on clearance for $10 each and three gourmet lollipops: strawberry cheesecake, pina colada, and candy apple.

We stopped at the farmer's market on the way home, but the beekeepers were not there and honey was the only thing I really wanted to get. Most of the people there this time had items that we are getting from our own garden.

Speaking of my garden...our cucumbers love the climate and the place I have them very much, apparently. I was concerned they would not get enough sun, but the leaves are huge and dark green. I planted two pickle-sized and one regular, which are grabbing the wire supports as they grow. We have begun harvesting the small ones and had one in our salads for dinner. I do not particularly like cucumbers, but either these are tastier than the ones I have had or there is just something mentally different about growing our own. We also have grape tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce ready for our salad tomorrow night too. Some things did not take off as well as we hoped, so I need to experiment a bit, and I did not plant as much as I wanted, but we have a good start and are learning as we go.

This morning I did some heavy work cleaning the rabbitry. We needed to dump the manure out of the trash can we had been keeping it and start a compost pile, but my husband is again away. So, I do not have it where I would prefer to be, but I was not ready to clear that edge of the woods today. We can always take from the one and add to the other once we get the area prepared.

I am planning to rest today. Yes, I am! I decided to take two weeks off of homeschooling and planned to do so major cleaning, one room at a time from top to bottom. I did get the master bath done on Monday. I was hoping to do more but people actually called me, which is so rare that I think it might have been a sign from God, and when I called my aunt earlier she actually was not busy so she could talk awhile, again very rare! On that day I thought about my purpose; the whole reason I took two weeks off was to switch gears, change my routine, and do some things I cannot really do when we are homeschooling, which would include relaxing. Yes, I am giving myself permission to relax today. So, I am not pushing myself on this, but I do want to get every room in the house done. I have to say that washing down the woodwork and doors did make the bathroom look so much better, but what it really needs is painting. (Have you ever notice that the room you just cleaned is the one in which you want to spend the most time?) I may get to the guest bath later today or just the hallway although it would be really nice to get both done. I would like to get the bedroom done before my husband returns on Saturday night.

Tonight the church has a game night with finger food, but I have so much extra stuff to do in the evenings when my husband is away that I often can barely get the Princess to bed before 10:00 on a regular night, let alone a night of games and food, and tomorrow is our errand day. Sometimes it seems to take so much more effort to do something fun, I just may pass on this one.

~ My Lord, thank you for the peace you gave me when I normally would not have it. Thank you for helping to see that I need to allow myself to relax now and then. ~

Monday, June 27, 2011

Trying Some New Things

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

Sometimes a person needs to step back from a situation to gain a different perspective, so she can enthusiastically to move towards the same goal but also get out of the rut. That is my plan for the next two weeks. I will be cleaning so that I will feel better about my home, but that is not all....

Even though I believed I could not fit one more thing into my life—really it is quite full—I decided to try to squeeze in a few more, because―as I am sure you surmised from my last post―I am in need some changes, some time to go off the main highway in another direction if only for a change in scenery.

I signed up for BookSneeze®, from which I can get free books in print or e-book form to read and the only requirement is that I must review them on my blog and on a consumer site. The books are published by Thomas Nelson so they are Christian. The first one I chose is a fiction about the end times called The Seraph Seal, actually it is more sci-fi, which is very appealing to me. I almost did not get it because it was only available in e-book and I did not have an e-reader, but I found that Barnes and Noble have a free e-reader program for computers call Nook for PC and they also offer free Nook e-books. I downloaded the app and it is working quite well!

I also signed up for BzzAgent which allows me to try different products and services often for free or reduced prices. Again the requirement is to review whatever product it is. My first "campaign" is an online monitoring service to help protect children. My daughter is not allowed to do browser searches alone yet, but I will be setting it up on her computer and testing it out this week.

For today I am off to begin cleaning house one room at a time from top to bottom with the child! Wish us well in your prayers, please. Tomorrow is a free movie in the morning, if the Princess can maintain a positive mood today, and the farmer's market. Wednesday is game and finger food night at the church, although I fast that day. Thursday is errands and piano lesson. Friday its the horse barn. In between all that is time to clean, read, and enjoy other pursuits without any pressure, even from myself.

~ My Lord, I am thankful for this break in our routine, which has been not that routine of late it seems. Please help me to find peace and rest not only when I read but even while I do the house and garden work. ~

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Made the Screaming, Crazy Woman Run Down the Street

Hey guys, I just wanted you to know that, the reactors won't take it; the ship is breaking apart and all that... Just FYI. ~Fred Kwan in Galaxy Quest (1999)

You might be wondering who is the crazy woman...? That would be me.

This picture is not me, but it is how I feel.

I am trying to sort it all out.

I suppose I should start at the beginning...but I don't really know when it began.

I just know what brought it to the end.

I was trying to French braid the Princess' long, extra silky hair as she had asked and she was fidgeting again. Stray strands of hair were being pulled out of my fingers and not going where they needed to. Mind you, I was already frazzled from two major episodes earlier, one centered around fractions and another on reading aloud, so it was inevitable, I suppose, that I just could not get her hair to cooperate easily. I had to start over twice telling her to stop messing around both times and when it happened again for the third time, I simply said I was not going to braid her hair and I would not be going out to eat either.

My husband's flight from Boston was delayed last night and when he came in the door at 8:00 PM instead of 6:00 PM and asked if I was ready to go out to eat, he was stunned when I calmly said I was not going, but for him to take his daughter and go. He sat down and asked what was wrong...and I fell apart...with tears.

  • Maybe it is a mid-life crisis.
  • Maybe it is homeschooling a child, who has no appreciation for lessons.
  • Maybe it is her rude interruptions that she continues to do even after she has been warned over and over.
  • Maybe it is when I tell her to stop doing something, she does it one more time...EVERY TIME!
  • Maybe it is the sassy, snappy, and sometimes witty comebacks of hers that wear me down.
  • Maybe it is the state of affairs in the world, particularly with Israel, our national debt, and the upcoming presidential election.
  • Maybe it is that I feel alone too much of the time because my husband travels so much.
  • Maybe I feel I am just a complainer and that is where my daughter gets it too.
  • Maybe I ruining the child...all that she is doing is because I am failing as a mother.
  • Maybe I am just tired because I never sleep as well when my husband is away...even though I have done this for over three years now and he used to travel even more.
  • Maybe I am overwhelmed with the responsibilities as wife and mother let alone homemaker and homeschooling parent.
  • Maybe I need a two week vacation away, but obviously that is not going to happen so why even mention it.

My husband knows me. He knows when I am in meltdown and I am way too complicated to pin it on any one particular incident. He asked me why I did not tell him earlier, before things had gotten so bad for me.

Why, indeed? Do you ever get tired of hearing yourself talk? That is where I have been of late. I talk too much. The other question in my mind: Would anyone really miss my chatter if I just stopped? Maybe I have talked so much that I have bored people to death! Maybe I bore myself to death. Maybe I just should stop talking altogether...? Instead of fasting food, I could take a vow of silence for a few days, or partial silence for part of a day...?

Okay, let's get real here.

I said there is little he can do when he is away. He then said that he can still listen to me. Then I confessed him that when I tell him about the problems I am having with the Princess, I feel very foolish. When I boil it down, all I see is a fifty-year-old woman basically complaining that she cannot control and outwit her own a ten-year-old child. Surely, he remembers how many times over the years have we heard parents complain about their children, when we could easily see the solution was in the parents changing how they were doing things?

Although at first he felt it was rewarding her for bad behavior, my husband did take the Princess out to eat so that I could have time alone. I really did not want time alone, just distance between the Princess and me. I really wanted time with my husband alone and I do not get much of that having an only child with no family around. Anyway, I made the most of the time. I ate a wonderful salad just the way I like it at home and talked a bit with my Lord and watched a sci-fi show on Hulu.

When my love came home, we talked and talked and talked until well into the early morning, like we used to do long years ago when we were in the first years of our marriage. I said this was going to make for a rough morning. He mentioned sleeping in, but he knows that is not so easy for me to do...typically. I woke at 5:30 AM as I usually do, but decided not to get out of bed with just over three hours sleep. The next time I awakened, my daughter was crawling onto the bed in between us, so it must have been around 7:00 AM. I must have fallen asleep again, because when I awakened again it was just after 8:00 AM and the bedroom door was closed so no noises would disturb me. I came out to find them having breakfast, after having done the morning chores, and had some myself.

It has been kind of like having the day off, at least for this morning. I am feeling better and getting a better perspective on life again. My husband is kid-wrangling right now as they went for his hair cut and shopping so I will have a good portion of the afternoon to myself. I may even take a nap.

Actually, I have been hearing a small voice in me to take off the next two weeks from homeschooling, so the Princess and I can really clean the house and pursue our other interests. Maybe we both need it. I think that is what we will do.

~ My Lord, please help me to find the path You would have me take so that my heart can again be at peace. Let my words be of worth, not just to me, but to the people with whom I talk. Help me to be a better mother and wife to the ones I love the most. ~

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My $5 Day (or The Day I Spent Less Than the Princess)...Almost

Industry, perseverance, and frugality make fortune yield. ~Benjamin Franklin

Yesterday, the Princess and I went to see the free movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which we enjoyed so much! We took a snack instead of having a lunch with us because afterward we planned to go shopping at Kohl's, Michael's, and Target with coupons in hand and special deals.

Out first shopping stop was Kohl's. I had a $10 gift coupon from the last sale because my husband bought over $50 of polo and T-shirts he needed for work. I also printed another $10 gift coupon from an email offer from Kohl's. Another coupon was stuck onto our free newspaper which gives $10 off for spending at least $20. I looked around the store for some items I needed, but I was know that typical cannot find anything you really like at the right price, right size, etc. So I finally found two sweaters, one white on sale for $19.80 (which was pricy still but I was going to get it for free) and one black on clearance for $8.80. These were the only things I really needed as I seem to have lost my white one and have not had a black one for some years but could have used one for some funerals. I use these lighter sweaters so often in the summer because of air conditioning. The Princess found a package of six flavored lip balm on clearance sale for $2.40. Total cost was $31.00. Total cost to me $1.07. This with a savings of $87.00 according to my Kohl's receipt.

Next we went to Michael's, where my daughter planned to spend her 40% off register coupon on a Mad Libs pad, but we found out at the register that it was considered a book and exempt. She got it anyway. We went back to shop some more because I had forgotten my 40% coupon and now I could use hers, so I bought a pair of reading glasses, pink leopard print. My cost was $1.92 total. The Princess spent over $5.00.

At Target we were looking for an alarm clock for the Princess as hers was no longer ringing. She decided on a pink digital one for $9.99. I did not buy anything...$0.

Then we were tired and hungry. I had promised to get a milkshake at Steak 'n Shake during the Happy Hour between 2 and 4 because that is when shakes and drinks are half price. We order one key lime shake to share as we usually do, but large this time. My cost $2.13.


Okay, it was over $5.00.

...and to be perfectly honest, we stopped at a farmer's market on the way home, something completely spontaneous when the Princess read the sign and asked what is a farmer's market. I said that I suppose we need to stop so she can see it for herself. What an opportunity for an educational homeschool field trip!

We talked to the people. I found a source for raw goat milk and cheeses. I met a soapmaker, two beekeepers, and several small scale farmers, of course. I learned that "low risk" foods do not have to be processed in a commercial kitchen but there are some regulations from a breadmaker. (My daughter is always suggesting that I should sell bread. I am actually now thinking some things over about that.) I found a nursery that carries diatomaceous earth that I use in my gardens as a pesticide that is a bit cheaper for the place I was getting it. It was really nice to talk with the people and they also participate in another larger farmer's market nearby on Fridays as well.

As we were leaving, my daughter asked if I knew all those people, which was only about twelve booths. I said I had just met them. Then she expressed her surprised that I talked to them all and they all talked to me. I said I was genuinely interested in the same things for which they have a passion, so we had something in common about which to talk.

The spendy girl, with allowance money dwindling, bought a honey stick for a quarter.

I was not planning on buying anything.

I did not need anything.

If I had just stuck with that thought and left the market place then I could have lived up to the title of this post...but...

yes, I did buy something.

I could not resist: Citrus Smash (the Princess' pick), Coconut Milk & Lavender, and Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey. Three bars of homemade soap for...$10. I almost made it on just $5 for the day, but I just could not stop myself...sigh! They smell so lovely! I really need to start making my own soap. And the lady was even kind enough to give me some tips and encouraged me to do it!

~ Thank you, my Lord, for such a lovely day and that we were able to get things we needed for so little. I really appreciated meeting such passionate and helpful people at the farmer's market. ~

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hypocrisies Always Amaze Me

Because the worst of all worlds is when you pretend like you have an immigration policy, you make coming into the United States without our permission illegal, and then you actually don't enforce it. ~Tom Tancredo

I rarely write about political issues on my posts here, but I am quite interested in politics, a strong believer in the U.S. Constitution, and a conservative. I live in a state that is 7th in the number of illegal aliens. Understand that I do not fault these people for desperately wanting a better life for themselves and their children, but there are many complications and expenses on the U.S. citizen because of these people circumvented our laws. First of all, in most situations they do not pay any income taxes, yet are recipients of income tax dollars through a variety of programs meant for citizens. It is common they use stolen IDs, often children's Social Security numbers, to get credit, which happened with two children of a friend, because it is less common for children to check their credit.

They can easily skirt around our laws because they are not really here on paper and easily escape retribution because of the lack of legal documentation. For instance, a pick-up truck load of Hispanics ran into a family's car. All of the family died save one boy who is now crippled for life. The men involved...? Who knows as they ran out of the truck and scattered. The owner of the vehicle? Who knows because the tags were stolen. A trace of the VIN number was also a dead end as to finding the owner or driver.

Georgia recently passed a law that so that private employers in Georgia with eleven or more employees must use E-Verify for new hires to be sure that they are citizens of the United States. This has caused a few problems.

One is that many illegal aliens are leaving the state, some going back to their home countries, but others are probably just moving to other states. Now Georgia farmers are saying they do not have enough workers, so the governor suggested they hire people paroled and on probation who must have jobs, but have difficulty in getting hired because of their records. Some farmers are receptive and some are not so much.

Another problem is that there is lawsuit to challenge the constitutional validity of the law. I am completely receptive to laws being challenged for their compliance with our Constitution. Although it is a costly and time consuming process, I believe it is a necessary one to protect our rights. However, adding to this challenge, several countries have filed a brief in support of this new law's opponents. Yes, countries. They are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and more countries may join as well.

Here is one premise: Creating a patchwork of state laws damages U.S.-Mexico relations and makes it "nearly impossible for Mexican nationals to understands their rights," Mexico stated in its court brief in Georgia.

Hmmm. Well, having studied a bit of law, I have to first say that each state is sovereign, having rights to make its own laws, and state laws do not have any power outside of their own boundaries. As most homeschooling families well know, every state has very differing laws about homeschooling. Does that mean I, being in Georgia, can make a legal argument protesting Ohio and Florida and Texas homeschooling laws because I have family living there? I don't think so.... So why should the argument from these countries have any weight whatsoever with a state law?

This country is called the United States because each state has its own right to self-govern, but we collectively are to be protected by our federal government. It is the federal government who should be protecting the country's borders so that we do not have an illegal immigration problem that is bankrupting our states as well as the federal government. You see, we have laws in place that are well defined at the federal level, but not well enforced, which is why states are now devising their own laws on illegal immigration. However, if the federal government would enforce the laws already in place, the problem with each state making its own laws against illegal immigrants would not even be a factor.

Is it the responsibility for any state or even the federal government to conform its laws so that the citizens of another country can understand their rights when they have illegally entered our country? My husband has traveled to a few countries and in each one the responsibility not to break any of the laws in whose countries is his responsibility. No country is required to educate him on his rights when he legally enters it, and I would imagine that if someone would enter a country illegally, the person could not feign ignorance of the laws there either.

Now I believe we are all born with certain unalienable rights, but when a law is broken in our country, the person has chosen a path that is outside of the protect of the law. Citizens and those who are here legally have that protection. Those who are here illegally have willfully and knowingly broken our laws so they also are outside of that protection.

Ironically, the immigration laws of some of these countries are more penalizing than our own. Did you know that Mexico annually deports more illegal aliens than the United States does? It is a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico and immigrants who attempt to re-enter after previously being deported can be imprisoned up to ten years. In comparison, illegal immigration into the U.S. is a misdemeanor punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months and, if repeated, becomes punishable as a felony up to two years in prison with additional civil fines imposed at the discretion of immigration judges.

Now, think about this: some of the legal immigrants in the U.S. passed through Mexico illegally as well. According to information at Wikipedia:

In September 2007, Mexican President Calderón harshly criticized the United States government for the crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying it has led to the persecution of immigrant workers without visas. "I have said that Mexico does not stop at its border, that wherever there is a Mexican, there is Mexico", he said.

In October 2008, Mexico tightened its immigration rules and agreed to deport Cubans using the country as an entry point to the US. It also criticized U.S. policy that generally allows Cubans who reach U.S. territory to stay. Cuban Foreign Minister said the Cuban-Mexican agreement would lead to "the immense majority of Cubans being repatriated."

It seems the United States has been too enabling and it cannot please other countries no matter what it does about illegal immigration so why not just enforce our federal laws and tighten up guarding our borders to help foreigners come into our country legally so there is far less concern about our policies on an illegal immigration.

~ My Lord, it is difficult to know for what I should pray. My heart is torn for so many of the people affected, but they made a choice to purposely be here illegally and often break more laws, hurting innocent people by stealing their identities, to stay. Please help them make better choices for their families so they can be protected by the laws and help my government to enforce immigration laws so we no longer encourage the breaking of those laws. ~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finally a Fish!

There are two types of fisherman - those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish. ~Author Unknown

We have been going to Cave Spring, Georgia for years. During one visit some years ago we were told about the Kids Fishing Rodeo that was a new annual event the day before Father's Day so we have been going to that since 2006, although we did not make one year because my husband was away. Here is my post on it last year: Fishing Rodeo at Cave Spring.

The Princess has not caught even one fish since we have been going although she has won a prize in the draw every year except last year; this year she won a mess kit for camping. As to the fishing, one year some people netted the pond against the posted warning and the sponsors had to restock it in a hurry for the rodeo, but hardly anyone caught any fish and they were not as large as what had been there. Last year there were so many people and the fish were not biting much then so it was disappointing for everyone. However, this year there was less of a crowd and plenty of large, hungry trout. Many kids most with the help of a parent, caught their limit of five for the day out of the pond, but they could fish in the creek for more.

Although the Princess caught only one...well, she caught one and it made a nice Father's Day meal with my cole slaw (made last night) and sourdough knotted rolls along with some leftovers. Later this evening, since there is no church service, we will have this apple pie I made this morning before leaving for church. Oh, and the Princess played "This is My Father's World" for the offertory during morning service, which she prepared in just one week.

Do you think my man might be happy this Father's Day?

~ Thank you, my Lord, for hearing my prayers asking that my daughter would catch at least one fish this year. It really meant so much to her and was a nice Father's Day gift for her father, too. ~

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I Learned from an Aging Dog

The longer I live the less confidence I have in drugs and the greater is my confidence in the regulation and administration of diet and regimen.
~John Redman Coxe, 1800

I mentioned in my last post that I had learned about alternative health from a former dog we had. This is a reprint of an article I wrote over ten years ago:

When I first met my husband, I also met Suziebelle, his Brittany Spaniel. Suzie had a few health problems. She had a congenital heart condition that caused fluid to build around the heart and lungs periodically. She had to take a daily hormone because she was incontinent after the surgery to spay. She also had a harmless fatty tumor about the size of a nickel in diameter on her breast bone.

This picture is Suzie at the age of four. You can see she is pretty healthy at this point. Like most responsible pet owners, we fed her a higher quality commercial dog food and she received yearly shots, that is, until she was 13 years old. At that time, Suzie had many other problems. She had lost some of her hearing and her bark sounded more like a cough. She was coughing more often due to fluids building in the lungs and some nights she could barely lie down to sleep. The fatty tumor had tripled in size in just a few months and warts were appearing everywhere, even on her eye lids. She had cataracts so bad that she was beginning to walk into furniture. The incontinent problem was no longer controlled by the hormone and the hormone, unknown to us at the time, had robbed her body of calcium; not only was she losing teeth but she was in great pain with arthritis. Because she was in so much pain she began to get snappy and mean.

When it came time for her shots, my husband and I discussed the subject. We had observed in the more recent years of how sick the shots made Suzie and how she never recovered to her previous energy level afterward. We feared that she would become sicker or even die. Having agreed on that point, we decided against the yearly shots and took her to a holistic veterinarian to see what could be done for her in alternative medicine.

This was our very first experience with alternative therapies; we did not know what to expect. What we learned nearly made us cry. The food and shots were suspected to be the main culprits in Suzie's illnesses. It was explained to us that the yearly shots have two types of ingredients, a weakened or dead virus that the body was to supposedly overcome resulting in immunity, and chemicals, used as fillers and preservatives. What is basically unknown is that these substances build up in the body. From her general health condition and the warts, it was obvious to the vet that Suzie was no longer able to contain nor rid herself of the toxins and viruses to which she had been exposed through the shots.

The vet explained that she was so weak he did not know if Suzie would make it through a detoxification program but if we were willing to give her the extra attention she would need, he was willing to work with us. He prescribed homeopathic remedies and supplements. We changed her hard food to Hund-N-Flocken, a Solid Gold product. It was mixed with a homemade soft food including organic rice and other grains, organic vegetables, ground free-range turkey and fresh garlic.

During Suzie's detox, we were expected to give weekly reports to the vet. It was frightening to see how low her energy would get. After a few days, she could barely walk or lift her head but I think Suzie's love for my husband made her fight for her life. To detox her, we would give her the homeopathic for one day of one week and then she would rest another week. Each time she recuperated from the detoxing effects, she seemed to get stronger. The main part of this process took about ten weeks.

During the detox we began to notice changes in Suzie so this report of her condition after beginning the detox program did not happen instantly, but considering how long it took her to get in the unhealthy state she was in, it seemed like nearly overnight. Suzie's cataracts had improved by 50% and she was no longer walking into furniture. She could hear noises that she had ignored before and her bark was strong. The fatty tumor reduced to its original size. She had a tooth that was very loose at the beginning of the program that we were sure she would lose but it tightened up and stayed put. ALL the warts disappeared! Suzie began running around like a puppy with no apparent arthritis. Her temperament improved to her sweet old self -- I should say, new young self. She no longer coughed and the fluids were at normal levels around the heart and lungs. We had stopped administering the hormone and she also was no longer spotting! What's more, Suzie's coat was the thickest we had ever seen it. Her fur was shining and we even had to begin trimming her "feathers" for the sake of hygiene.

We were so surprised at how much she improved! We vowed then to never give any animal or child shots and would provide the best diet we could afford. Suzie lived three more happy healthy years! Most people mistook her for a puppy; a real example that you are never too old to learn to be healthy and have energy.

At nearly seventeen, Suzie had about ten days when her health plummeted sharply. She could not lie to sleep and coughed all night the last two nights. The holistic vet had educated us about the signs of healthy animals nearly the end of their life span, when the body just could not support their lives much longer. Healthy animals die in a relatively short time and do not suffer with chronic problems for long periods as Suzie had done years before. Evaluating the situation of her immediate bad health continuing downward regardless of efforts, her age and previous care, we felt that her time was near. My husband decided to put her down rather than to have her suffer. To do that we went back to the original vet who had cared for her all the years before the last three.

We will never forget what the vet said to us that day. First, he looked at her file and asked if Suzie was really nearly seventeen years old. Then he said he was surprised that she lived that long as he has never seen any dogs of her breed live pass thirteen years in all the years he had been in practice. Alan and I looked at each other and smiled. We honestly were convinced that Suzie would have died at thirteen years if we had continued conventional care and had not tried an alternative way to improve her health. It is a difficult thing to say good-bye to a loyal loving pet but when we remembered that we had given her three additional years of good health, it eased our minds.

This picture was taken when Suzie was 8 years old. At this point she was only four years older than the previous picture, but the white on her face and the general look of the eyes shows that her health had been to deteriorating and she was in some pain then also. Although her health declined during the next five years before the detox at 13 years of age, this was generally how she looked 8 years after this picture. It was almost as if she had reversed the aging effects! The only noticeable difference she showed at 16 years of age in comparison to this picture was that her hair was much thicker and she was a little more white around the eyes, which sparkled with energy and youthfulness.

~ My Lord, thank you for Your guidance, even through a dog, to help me learn about alternatives in health. ~

Monday, June 13, 2011

Who Let the Dog Out?

Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend.
~Corey Ford

A loved one asked me this in a recent email:

I have a question, you have a German Shepherd, right? I thought I saw a dog in one of your pictures. Well, if you do, I wanted to know how often you bathe the dog and with what type of shampoo. I have one, he's a boy and his name is Max. I wasn't wanting a dog but [my husband] brought it home around Valentine's Day. I notice when I wash him he has dry skin, especially where his tail is.

The reason I am posting my answer is because I have been asked such things by many people over the years and a couple of sentences would not be the complete answer, especially since it goes completely against conventional thinking as to how to keep a dog healthy.

First of all, yes, we do have a German Shepherd (GSD). Hanah is our second GSD. She was originally from Czechoslovakia and brought by a breeder/trainer in Ohio. There she was Schultzhund trained to work for the Border Patrol in Texas, but was retired while she was in her prime because she had ulcers and clouding on the cornea of her eyes that they believed would cause blindness. She was sent back to the breeder due to this defect. Her training made her worth thousands of dollars, but the eye problem brought her value down to that of an untrained GDS.

When we were in Ohio to visit family just over two years ago months after we had lost our first GSD, my aunt saw a younger dog that looked so much like him, mostly black with a rough coat, that she asked where the man had acquired him and we stopped at the breeder's on the way home. We were looking for a puppy as we enjoy training, but so much was going on that we decided an adult trained dog might be better when we saw Hanah, another rough coat GSD, at just about the same price.

Now you might be wondering why would we were actually quite excited to get a dog that was going blind with ulcerations, scaring, and cloudiness in her eyes. It is because I spent years studying natural and even some rather strange alternative health treatments. I knew that her eye problems were not genetic as the vet had told the breeder and I knew I had seen similar problems clear up before in humans and animals. I was pretty sure Hanah's problem was a combination of the shots and her diet and maybe other treatments they would use like those for fleas and heartworm, so all she needed was a better diet and some detoxing with homeopathic remedies.

Within a week the ulcerations were improving and about a month later they were completely gone. The general cloudiness also was nearly gone and even the white scarring had diminished noticeably although she has a bit of it left even now. Once she relaxed into her retirement, as she was a bit of a hyper dog, always ready to work, she has been a very good house dog, but she still checks new places and people for drugs and weapons as she was trained to do.

Now as to the second question about bathing: Here is the part you might think is unbelievable, but we have only given her a complete bath twice since we got her over two years ago. The first time was when we brought her home just to remove any treatments that may be on her hair and skin, and another time when she got muddy. We have had four dogs and after we learned about feeding them a truly proper diet and not giving them shots, we very rarely had to bathe them, except for one who began having some skin issues when he was very ill towards the last months of his life. Our dogs do not smell. They do not have skin problems, unless there is another health issue that we have not addressed. Our dogs do not even get fleas usually.

When we bathe a dog, we use a product called Critter Oil made by woman I met when we lived in Florida, who also sold Solid Gold, an all-natural dog food suggested by our holistic vet when we were detoxing Suzibelle, our first dog. Critter Oil is very good treatment to kill off a flea infestation and provide relief of mange and other skin problems. I would also use food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) for a house and yard flea and tick treatment if we had an infestation. You can even put DE on the dog's hair for pests and in the dog's food to kill of parasites in the intestinal tract. I have never had to do this actually, because usually a very healthy dog with a proper diet has a natural immunity to parasites and just a bit a garlic can do wonders as well. We used to take in stool samples regularly, but after five years of no worms at all we decided to save the cost and just not do that anymore.

Now for the question I was not asked, but would logically follow: What do we feed our dog? We have tried a variety of organic dog foods, which we have liked. Much of what we decide to get is based on availability and pricing of course. Right now I have been getting Newman's Own and you can read about what they have in the food and what they do not and why not here. (Whatever you decide about commercial dog food, just adding cold pressed Omega fatty acids as a supplement to the food may be enough to help Max's particular skin problem.)

All carnivores would even do better on the BARF diet, which originally stood for Bones and Raw Food but now is called Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. I would like to give all our meat eaters this diet alone and we have done that during detoxing or due to a temporary digestion problem, however it is a more expensive diet. I often buy natural (no antibiotics or hormones) chicken wings or thighs in bulk to give one raw to Hanah and the inside cat as part of their meals. Now that we have the rabbits, the dog and cats are given hearts and livers and meaty bones from that source as well. I have noticed over the years that outside cats can hunt for their own fresh meat and usually have great looking teeth in comparison to inside cats. One thing that needs to be stressed is that this not a diet of table scraps; the bones must NOT be cooked as these can splinter and cause damage, but raw bones are great for them and natural teeth cleaners. Oh, and I also get raw milk so all our pets have a bit of that each morning too.

If you are interested in detoxing your dog, it is best to use the homeopathic remedy Thuja 30x to detox the shots and any viral infections. Sulfur can be use to detox a variety of other things. I used Sulfur alone to clear up Hanah's eyes. I have also added food grade hydrogen peroxide or colloidal silver to the water for our animals at times when they are fighting an infection or have diarrhea--actually, our rabbits, since we are using them as a food source, get one teaspoon of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to one gallon of purified water all the time. (I drink it myself from time to time, especially when I am feeling drained or coming down with something.)

Lastly, this is a choice that most people would believe is not being responsible but we do not give our dogs regular shots or treatments as we feel they make pets unhealthy. We pay attention to all our pets and work with improving their health and immunity so they do not need them. There are alternatives. For instance, the rabies nosode, which is an acceptable preventative treatment in other countries but the United States is not one of them. The downside of not having an up-to-date shot record is that we cannot board our pets at a kennel and so they all have to go with us everywhere, stay at a friend's, or we hire a house sitter.

This is a lifestyle choice that complicates things but also makes for very healthy pets. It is more expensive in one way and less in another, but I would rather pay more maintaining a healthier pet than to pay vet bills trying to get my pet healthy from being over treated. Actually, that is our complete philosophy about health for all of us.

I will look up and also post an old article about on how our first dog, Suziebelle, helped us learn about homeopathic remedies and detoxing, which made us believers about natural and alternative health methods.

~ My Lord, You know that I often wonder if we cause more illnesses in trying to prevent illness. Please bless us with knowledge to maintain the health of the animals in our care. ~

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Living Without TV

If you came and you found a strange man... teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you'd kick him right out of the house, but here you are; you come in and the TV is on, and you don't think twice about it. ~Jerome Singer

Long ago, before the Princess was born, my husband thought it would be nice to have a TV in our bedroom. He thought I would like it..."Not unless you are planning to sleep with it alone," said I. One TV in the home was enough I felt, even during football season, which holds far more interest for my husband than for me. We have been in agreement about this ever since. Although we do have an excellent surround sound system, we also still have a twenty or so year old TV set. No sleek, flat, wide screen. No HD. Let's not even talk about Blu-Ray! Not that I would not like to have these things, I just know they are not really necessary.

Average Number of TVs per U.S. Household: 2.5
Percentage of Americans with 4 or more TVs: 31%

There have been a few times we had no TV. Just before we bought this last TV set, when the one before gave out, we were without a working TV set for months. Another few months without TV service, when we first moved here about fifteen years ago. I have been without a TV set or service several times for long periods before I met my husband and did not watch much of it as a teenager even when it was available.

About a year ago, we made the decision to turn off our TV service temporarily: Taking a Break from the Regular Scheduled Programming. I planned to bring it back on sometime in autumn, but finances were at a greater crunch due to the double tithe commitment we made then. Because the service will only allow suspension for six months in a twelve month period, it came back on the week before Christmas and I thought that would be nice to watch Christmas specials and movies especially since it was dark so early and the weather so cold outside.

Instead I found that there was so much, so very much, that shocked my senses and much of it was the commercials. My husband and I decided we did not need it at all: This is Not a Test. Within a month, I called to have it turned off permanently, while the representative offered all sorts of very enticing deals and I have to say I was so tempted. I finally told him that they were very good deals and I was very happy with the service itself, but that I was not going to another competitor, just turning off the TV altogether because we did not like what was on it.

It is said that the best way to know whether or not you really need something is to put it away for a few weeks and see if you go looking for it during that time. Yes, there have been times I wanted to sit down on the couch, just turn on the remote, and browse the list of available shows and pick, not necessarily what I want to see, but whatever seemed the most interesting out of whatever is available. Often it was just so much wasted time on deciding on and watching the least of evils.

Hours per year
the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
the average American youth watches television: 1500 hours

I really do not think we realize how much is on TV that our children (and ourselves) do not really need to see, actually would not be exposed to at all as we go about our days and yet we invite this assault right into our homes. We become desensitized by these things when the tube is on so much of the time. Even at the most innocent level, there was all the ads about the latest and greatest toys and gadgets that my daughter did not really need but then wanted just because she saw them. Advertising works and when you think about the irony of it, here we are often paying for TV service, so that we will want to buy more things.

TV not only gives a false sense of reality, but it influences our reality. It makes us desire to be entertained more and more. I believe that desire to be entertained has shaped the way church services are done these days as well! Not that it is a bad thing to have an enjoyable service, but I am not so sure that so much effort needs to go into the staging of a service...and I might be saying this in part as the wife of the media/sound man of my church, because I miss him sitting with my daughter and me.

We think we decide what we will watch when we sit down in front of the TV, but how many times did we leave it on after the show we wanted to watch ended so that we end up watching something else we did not really plan on and we should have been doing something productive? How many times have we seen things that would embarrass us to be watching if Jesus was sitting next to us? How many times have I heard conversations among Christians about certain shows or movies and I thought that maybe they were not such good ones? (And yet the reason I knew about them is because I had actually seen some of them myself!)

Average number of hours the TV set is on during the day:
7 hours and 12 minutes.

We suspended the TV service a year ago because we just had too much to do and would not be watching it much during the summer and had plenty of DVDs and VHS movies and seasons of shows like the Waltons (my daughter's current favorite), Little House on the Prairie, and the Andy Griffith Show. I thought I was busy enough last summer, but since then we have added the rabbitry and food gardens! I rarely sit on my cozy couch these days, but when I do, it is not just something out of habit that I do every day. I have purpose in sitting there. I choose to watch either a DVD or VHS tape...or read a book or play a game or just pray or blog with my laptop. With it being summer, my living room has become more of a parlor because we have so much to do outside.

I wanted to begin exercising regularly and I am doing just that. Most days I go to bed tired because I have been doing more physical stuff all day. Actually, doing all kinds exercises just cleaning up gardens and the yard. I have been using my body to work in all kinds of ways I did not think I would ever be able to do because of my former back problems and I am also stronger than I was so that I can, thankfully.

56% of American children between 8 and 16 have a television in their bedroom.

Plenty of time to watch TV and all those reruns of the shows I missed, if I want to watch them, when I am quite old sitting in a favorite chair and unable to get around. If the Lord takes me before I get to that point, I would count it as no lost. I like my life much better this way. I love the creative things my daughter thinks up to entertain herself and me because she is not wasting her mind away being entertained on the couch. Even though many of her friends have TVs in their bedrooms, my Princess was not one to watch much TV anyway, naturally preferring creative pursuits, and I am glad that we have made the decision to just do without it completely. It has freed up time to spend on more worthy interests, skills, thoughts, and prayers!

I think a TV fast now and then could be a good thing for any family. We sit watching people act out scripted lives on a screen and do not think about how we live our own lives in front of it. I mean, how interesting would it be to watch someone zoned out on a couch watching TV? You know, that just may be the very reason you do not see shows and movies with people watching TV.

Just a thought....

~ My Lord, thank you for giving us a life full for worthy pursuits and understanding that TV was not a necessity in our lives. ~

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Training My Dragon

We are all fallen creatures and all very hard to live with.
~C.S. Lewis

I suppose the plus side of not having TV service and not going out to see movies is that when the nearby theater offers free G-rated movies, it is a really special treat for the Princess and we have not seen them before. Yesterday we met a friend with her grandson to see "How to Train Your Dragon." The Princess and I both really enjoyed the movie!

The theater was packed, and I do mean packed, even though there were several theater rooms showing the same movie. Hundreds of families and busloads of daycare children all converge like ants going into an ant hill. I do not like crowds, but I appreciate that I do not have to be there at all and it is free, so I try not to complain, but....

During the movie a few people had their cell phones on and I don't mean that their cell phone rang and they talked, I mean that the panel was lit. In a dark movie theater, those lit panels are like flashlights and I found them quite disturbing. I ask one girl three seats down to turn hers off and later someone in front of me turned hers on. For the most part, though, I enjoyed the movie without distraction, evaluating the experience as one that I could tolerate nearly every Tuesday for the summer for the love of my Princess. You see, I think there is always a price to be paid for something free in one way or another and unfortunately that is more often right than not.

Saying good bye to our friends, the Princess and I went off to get our own dragon, our mini-van Dragon Heart, to go back home. A church van was parked beside Dragon Heart with teenagers just standing around it. Doors were open but they were not getting in, just hanging around as teens do without direction. It was not necessary as vehicles where shaded by the shadow of the building and not hot. As I got around the back of their van to view my own, I saw one teenage boy, taller than I, holding the front door open of their van while leaning his entire body on Dragon Heart.

I said "excuse me" politely, but loud enough to be heard to the number of girls and the boy standing between the vans, so that I could get to the driver side door. There was plenty of room between the vans and the girls moved over easily so I could get by. As I approached the door, I said "excuse me" twice more and a bit more sternly each time before the boy got his body off the side of my van. A woman came around and said that I did not have to say it that way. I said that the boy was leaning on my van. She again said that I did not have to say it that way and that he did not mean to. A number of things went through my mind, because it was so very obvious that the boy was quite comfortable and quite purposely leaning on my van, and I said again that he was leaning on my van and this was not the best witness for their church. I was rather surprised that latter part came out of my mouth, as it is not like me to say such a thing, so I decided that I should just not say anything more at all and I did not.

After voicing a few more words defending the boy and beginning to scold me again, the woman stopped and told me to just go, which is exactly what I wanted to do so I got in my van and made sure that all the teens were out of the way while a huge man came around the back of their van to the side and, although there was a good space between the vans, he was a very big man who just stood there making it difficult for me to turn backing up, so I could go toward the closest exit. I decided to back up turning the other way.

Now, my husband and I were youth group leaders for a few years, in your younger days, and I know teens are not always as courteous as we would like them to be, so this could have happened on any one of our outings. I also have to say that I do have a pet peeve about people not respecting other people's property and just because my van is parked next to another vehicle does not give people the right to smack their car door into it, which happen two days ago while I was still in it, or to lean on it when I am not there.

I thought about all this as I was driving away trying to figure out why I was so disturbed by how it was handled (and why I would ever say what I did) and it came to me that they did not meet my expectation. You see, I believe that expectations are always the root of people being upset or hurt and when I take that perspective, I can step away from my emotional responses and see the root of my feelings as well as the feelings of others.

I realized that had the situation been the other way around, I would have been the woman coming over to apologize for the teen and expecting him to apologize also. I suppose part of me expected them to do the same. I accept that teens can to be inconsiderate at times, but for a Christian adult in charge of a teen church group to defend a boy when he is in the wrong...what is that teaching him? I was so not getting that one. I may have been stern, but only after I was disregarded.

Now, I am not one to talk in terms of skin color usually. People, to me, are just people. There are different cultures and I think that makes people interesting, but I do not make judgements on color. I have, at times, been on the opposite side of that where my color was a factor and this could have been one of those times. I could not help but notice that all the people associated with the van were black and I wondered if I had also been black would they have treated me the same way because then I might be the right skin color to be invited to their church. Then I asked myself if I would have treated them the same way if they were any other color. Yes, I know I would have because it was all about what they did. Would it have happened differently if my husband was there? Probably the boy would have moved right away, just because my husband is a big guy and people tend to pay attention to him more. I, on the other hand, being on the more petite side and in a long denim skirt can be ignored more easily it seems. I did not feel threatened, just insignificant.

I told my husband about it right afterward because he had called me while we were watching the movie. He had a flat tire and the jack broke, but by the time I had gotten back to him, he had it resolved and was getting two new tires. We knew we needed them soon anyway.

Later in the day, he and I both talked to other Christian friends about it. I talked to a friend of mine who is white and married to a black man. My husband talked to a black man he thinks of highly and used to work with. Surprising us, they both said the same thing. They said that attitude is common with "all black" churches. Although I have listened to speeches of activist black pastors talk about whites as if we are an enemy, I really believed racial tension was uncommon these days, perhaps because I have never been to a church that makes distinctions between skin colors.

Why was it acceptable for the teen to lean on my car at all, not move when he could clearly see I was the owner, a chaperone to scold me for rudeness but say nothing to the boy, and a large man to try to intimidate me as I was trying to leave? Was it because my skin color did not match theirs? That thought really saddens me, but not as much as the thought that I needed to train my own dragon, my tongue, because I did not like that one thing I said.

~ My Lord, I wish I had handled the situation differently. Perhaps I could have just stood back and waited for them to acknowledge me before I tried to get into my van. That would have been the less confrontational way to handle it. Better yet, I could have prayed first...why didn't I pray first? My Lord, help me to be a better witness for You and train my dragon tongue. ~

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Earlier Works of the Princess

A poem begins with a lump in the throat. ~Robert Frost

Some of those lumps may be in the mama's throat, I think. My Princess has gone through many phases over the years. She gets craft ideas and makes things on her own like this "Spring" collage. About the same time she made this, two years ago, she began a poem phase. I have come to realize it was not just phase, but rather a developing skill that she works on in spurts (she is so much like me). These are some of her first works at rhyming. Clearly rhyming had priority over reasoning, but I found them quite cute...and I can do that because I am her mama with the lump in my throat.

I dropped my thoughts in my soup,
and put them in a chicken coop.

Grab a pickle,
then get an ickle,
and you'll feel a tickle!

Let dog in,
Let dog out.
Oh, so much scampering about!

Take a bath if you're muddy,
After that you'll be so cuddly.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for the gift of creativity and the delight in seeing my daughter's talents develop. ~

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Master Gardener

I always think of my sins when I weed. They grow apace in the same way and are harder still to get rid of. ~Helena Rutherfurd Ely, A Woman's Hardy Garden, 1903

I know that most of my problems are ones that I allowed to be problems. For instance, the poison ivy growing absolutely wild entwined with my lovely patch of English ivy, my back yard of moss and weeds instead of grass, my one garden bed of filled with dandelions, and all those sprouts of a diseased tree determined to resurrect itself on roots that should have died months ago after we cut it down and treated the stump.

In our backyard we have a kind of sink hole. The kind that is caused when the builder clears the land and buries all the wood debris. Eventually, it rots away and the ground sinks. Plus, we have exposed wires that were meant to be buried, because they just buried them by placing sod over them and now, because of the drought killing off the grass and soil erosion when it does rain, some wires can be seen on top of the ground. We have such huge areas that need our attention and lots of hard, hard work.

I have worked hard in small areas taking one garden bed or more often a portion of a garden bed at a time. Although the ones I have done look nice, to keep them nice takes work and then there is another one to tackle. The poison ivy entwined with my lovely patch of English ivy...well, we might just have to give up on cutting and treating it a bit at a time, because the stuff is so resilient with such a strong defense against human intervention, and just kill off everything in the area, saving some English ivy to start over.

I have been hand watering the food and herb gardens with rain water caught in our barrels, but it really needs to rain again. The grass is thinning and browning among growing bare dirt patches in the front yard. Yesterday the wind kicked up and we hoped, but no rain fell.

A few days ago, I found myself sitting down on the shaded landing of our back stairway to rest and cool off in the quiet of nature. My husband did such a lovely job on the deck and I really do like that landing he added, but that deck will need to be varnished again soon too. Everything we have requires work to maintain, get into shape, or just to keep from falling apart. And, even when you do all those things, something will break, or a weed will grow where you do not want it, or things will rot. It is neverending!

There I was crying softly all alone, feeling sorry for myself, and thinking everything was dust in the wind. What will it matter if we clean up all the yards and gardens, my Lord? Weeds will encroach again. Bugs will eat the plants. It may take years to clear the wooded area of the poison ivy, if we ever can. It is all futile. It has no lasting value at all.

I feel God has been telling me to do with what we have and I have been trying to do just that and be content with the work I must do, but I allowed myself to explore the depths of my heart to reveal what has value to me right now. Not much of anything...well, there are some things. Maybe I was just...tired. I looked over to my herb garden, now looking so well cared for, and thought about how the things that make me happiest are things I work to produce. While they are not everlasting, they are pleasing for a time. I can now, at least for this time, enjoy the appearance of my herb garden. God must feel the same about us at times...perhaps those times are too short-lived for Him as well.

He works on us, has His angels help us, and for a time we might meet His expectations of us. He may even sit back and enjoy watching us as we grow for a time, but just like my garden, He must attend to us repeatedly because some are not as resistant to the pests that steal away from our spiritual vitality, weeds crowd in, and we wilt without His Light and Water of Life. He does not give up, but must continually be the Master Gardener.

So, I continue watering, weeding, and working my gardens....

~ My Lord, thank you for never giving up on me and thank you for this encouraging thought gift that I will keep close to my heart while I work in my gardens. ~

Friday, June 3, 2011

Soap Math

There's something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she's only measured water in it. ~Erma Bombeck

I could begin washing clothes the really old fashion way! I mean I am an old fashion girl at heart...but also very practical and so very thankful for washing machines. Now, if something is worth the extra effort to do, I will do it, but I must be convinced it is worth the effort because there are usually modern alternatives that are more convenient. My daughter often thinks, because she does not like learning math, that she does not need it and yet her father and I point out when she is using math...which is nearly every day (just like we told her). She is learning that math comes in very handy when we need to determine the balance between savings and effort.

The Recipe
I made my homemade laundry soap and now I will figure out if it is a savings or not. First I had to buy the items in these quantities.

$1.29 - Fels Naptha Washing Soap per bar (I got three.)
$2.79 - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz.
$3.99 - 20 Mule Team Borax 76 oz.

I also had to decide which of the formulas I would make because opinions vary and some do better depending on the hardness of the water. Here the water is pretty soft so I was not too concerned in that respect. I did a test load with black clothing first with a 1:1:1 ratio adding 2 tablespoons to the wash just to see if it would dissolve well because I had never used any dry detergent in my front loader before. (In fact, I have not used powder detergent since I can remember and I have pretty good memory.)

I decided to make one of the powder formulas mostly because it takes up less space and is less fuss as the liquid gels somewhat that must be stirred or shaken before use. Instead of the 1:1:1 ratio I used for my trial, I decided on a cheaper formula which is one bar of Fels Naptha and 2 cups of each the washing soda and borax.

$1.29 - One bar of washing soap very finely grated is about 1¼ cup
$ .93 - 2 cups of washing soda is roughly ⅓ of a box
$1.00 - 2 cups of borax is roughly ¼ of a box

Now I have 5¼ cup of powder detergent. I found that many people suggested just using 2 tablespoons while others recommended using 1 tablespoon for regular loads and 2 tablespoons for heavily soiled loads. Let's say that I have just regular loads for my cost comparison.

Comparing Costs
There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, 5.25 (or 5¼) x 16 = 84, so I have 84 tablespoons of detergent. Now dividing the cost by the number of tablespoons: $3.22 ÷ 84 = .0383 or just under 4¢ per load.

How does that compare to my regular detergent? I use Era HE, one of the few that do not leave an overwhelming scent nor bothers my skin and cleans very well which I purchase at Sam's Club for $10.98. It does 110 regular loads. That is about 10¢ per load. It appears to be a real savings there, however I rarely use the full recommended amount for the regular detergent. Actually, I use ½ to ¾ of the recommended amount depending on the load, making my cost 5¢ to 8¢ per load, perhaps 7¢ on average.

Another way to look at this, for my big picture friends who get lost with detailed math facts, is that I purchased enough to make three batches. The cost of the three soap bars, one box of washing soda, and one box of borax (disregarding the 2 cups left over, about $1 worth) is $10.65. That is 252 loads at one tablespoon compared to the Era at $10.98 for 110 loads or something closer to 180 loads for me. I would estimate that would be between 25% to 30% of a savings even so. It is not as much as I hoped for, but it is significant.

Other Considerations
So, it is a bit of a savings in the long run for us, probably much more for large families, but it is not much of a savings if the homemade formula does not clean as well and that will take some time to tell. I have both read websites and heard from a friend that the clothes can look a bit dingy over time. Then it is suggested to either add a booster like Oxiclean now and then or wash a number of loads in regular detergent to get them back to that brighter look. This caused me to wonder if two tablespoons would be better or if the newer detergents have certain ingredients lacking in the homemade formula, so this happens no matter how much is used.

Now there are a few of other factors. Some assume it is better for the environment because these are natural ingredients. Well, I am not so sure about that and it would take extensive research to determine. As I just mentioned in a previous post, I found a weed killer that is very safe for people and animals, but the salt in particular can do terrible damage to all plants even though it is "natural."

The homemade formula may be less irritating for sensitive skin types, but I found Era does that for me already and I was happy with it. The only reasons I decided to do this was the thrift factor and to teach my daughter that we can make such things and decide if they are worth doing. Just because the cost is less does not mean it is worth the effort and time.

Liquid Compared to Powder
There is one more thing I would address on this subject. I have found several websites that claim the cost of just a penny or two or even up to three per load. Yes, some are older sites and the price of the items were cheaper, but some were not. Most of them referred to the liquid formula, which requires the soap bar to be grated and melted in some hot water. The other ingredients are added with more water and it all semi gels in a few hours. Here again formulas vary but I will use the same portions for my comparison.

1 one grated bar soap
1 quart of hot water for melting
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 gallons of water

With about 9 quarts of the gel detergent and the recommended to use ¼ cup per regular load, it formula works out to be 144 regular loads.

Since this has the same amount of the dry ingredients as my powder detergent for which I would get 84 loads, this formula is using even less that one tablespoon of the dry formula—even under 2 teaspoons of the dry ingredients actually! That is why it is just about 2¢ per load.

All that extra work of melting the washing bar soap and mixing before use to save a few more pennies can simply be done by using a slightly rounded 1½ teaspoon of the dry formula, which takes less space. The only advantage of making the liquid may be in that the ingredients are mixed more evenly than in the powder form, assuming the gel was stirred or shaken properly prior to use.

My Conclusion
Well, it is not much effort really, but I am not convinced the savings is worth it unless it does clean well at a lower amount of detergent per load. I will give this a serious trial and will try using under a tablespoon on my regular wash and more for the more soiled. I will probably still pre-treat but I will try to do that with Fels-Naptha or a small amount of the detergent with a bit of water directly on the stain. That should save me some also.

~ My Lord, thank you for the conveniences I have and that I have so many choices. Please guide me to choose wisely between cost and effort in all aspects of my life, particularly my homemaking and homeschooling. ~