One Happy Family

Living life, military style!!

Homemade laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent!! January 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 4:28 pm

Through hours of pouring over boards and “pins” on Pinterest, I had found “recipes” for homemade detergents. I read the reviews and they seemed really good. I didn’t necessarily feel the need to make my own because of what is in them, rather because of the cost of them. A year of double house payments (OUCHIE!!) makes you reevaluate what you are spending your money on, and the reviews of these items told me that this is one place I could be saving us a little money. I don’t care what kind of dishwasher detergent I use, as long as it gets the crud off. But, I DO care about my laundry detergent … I’m a Tide girl, through and through. It’s always worked very well for me, and I like the smell. SO … would I like a different “homemade” detergent?

Here’s where I started:

Sew Much Ado – Homemade Laundry Detergent

(you can click on “Sew Much Ado…” above for the recipe and all of the reviews and comments)

Here’s what I used (per the recipe):

1 bar Fels-Naptha bar soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Baking Soda

I also added 1 cup of OxyClean per another blog I had read that had a much larger recipe, using the whole boxes. You grate the bar of laundry soap (NOT body soap!), I used the smallest shred on my cheese grater, but next time would also put it in the food chopper to make it finer still. Mix it all up and you are good to go. You use ONE OR TWO TABLESPOONS … that’s it!

I tested it out right away on a batch of towels that had been used on the dogs. Then, just after my mother in-law walked in the door, I put one of the still wet, just out of the wash, dog towels under her nose and asked if it smelled clean. It did!! YAY! SUCCESS!! It really did smell clean, not really perfumey, just clean smelling.

A note: If you wash in cold, the bar shreds will not dissolve. You have to start the water (I use hot water until the soap is all dissolved – and I really never wash in cold, I don’t feel like it gets your clothes clean, just my “thing”), add the detergent, and then add the clothes. Also, especially here in the humid south, your detergent may clump up or harden quickly. This is talked about a bit in the reviews. People say to save up the little silica packets that come in so many things and put them in with your detergent. Or use white rice inside some kind of mesh or cheesecloth, apparently that also absorbs the moisture.

Onto the next:

Being Creative to Keep my Sanity – Dishwasher detergent

Click on “Being Creative …” for link.

I did this one a bit differently, only in that I cut the “recipe” in 1/2. Luckily I had my super awesome math husband home, because weight is different than measuring cups.

Basically, what we ended up using was:

4 cups Borax

3 cups A&H Washing Soda

12 packages store brand unsweetened lemonade packets (it has to be lemonade, for the citric acid … you may also be able to find citric acid somewhere like where the canning stuff is)

1 1/2 cups epsom salts

And how much of this stuff? ONE TABLESPOON per load!! And it works really well! The blogger also recommends using LemiShine, by just sprinkling a tablespoon in the bottom of your dishwasher. The LemiShine costs about $3.66 for a container. The grand total for this recipe? $4.75 + tax (not including the LemiShine)! I bought everything at WalMart.

I am really glad that I tried these recipes, they work really well, and are super cheap to make. Let me know if you try them, and what you think. Happy Washing!! ~ Jackie


Homecoming project January 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 4:42 pm

I hope you are all having a great weekend! Of course we are, it’s always a great weekend when we have family in town πŸ™‚

First, a picture of Fergie that makes me laugh:

Such a sweet girl.

So, Brian likes to take on a project whenever he gets home from being deployed (or sometimes I like to task him with one). It started with the locker system that we built (mostly Brian built and I painted it … but I helped build a little), and then the Farm House table, then the pergola that Brian built and I sealed, and then Sophie’s nightstand. We had decided that we would no longer buy anything that we could make instead.

Brian’s latest project?

He calls it “cornhole”, I prefer to call it “bean bag toss”. Either way, it’s really fun and he built these boards AND painted them himself. Typically, he does not do the painting, I do. But, he is much more of a perfectionist (in a good way) and more artistic than I am. He did an awesome job!!

This evening, all the boys are going to Pensacola to watch some Ice Flyers hockey, and us girls are going to Cactus Flower for some AMAZING fish tacos … I can’t wait!!

Just a teaser for my next blog post … I made homemade laundry detergent AND dishwasher detergent, and they both work REALLY well and were SUPER CHEAP. I’ll fill you in next time.

Lots of love to you all!! ~ Jackie


Healthy Heart January 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 7:22 pm

What a great day! I have my in-laws here, the kids had their last round of Christmas presents this evening, but most of all: Emma had her routine cardiology appointment today.

After her surgery in June of ’09, she had to be seen every six months. After her last appointment, her doctor opted to see her at 9 months, and she is now going to be seen yearly. Her repair looks great and a couple other small issues haven’t changed, so things look great. I will admit that her appointments are the one thing that actually give me anxiety. I was so completely caught off guard by her heart condition in the first place, that I can’t help but feel nervous before every appointment. She never had any symptoms, so had we not had the pediatrician we had in Albuquerque, who knows when we would have actually found out. So thankful … so thankful for the care we’ve received and even more thankful for Emma’s good health (and the good health of my whole family, really).

The kids are super happy with their presents from “Granny” and “Papa”. Tyler got $$, he is saving (and saving really well) for a laptop. The girls got totes filled with all kinds of art stuff: paper, colored pencils, paint, glue sticks, scissors, etc. They will spend hours at the kitchen table drawing and cutting and painting … I’m sure they’ll have tore through this great gift in no time!

Our time with Brian home every day is quickly winding down. He has to go back to work on Monday, and we will officially be back to our “normal” routine. I guess that means that I’ll have to start making dinner again, boo.

I hope you are all doing well!! I better get the girls to bed and get some card playing in πŸ™‚ ~ Jackie


Best stove top cleaner EVER!! January 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 6:07 pm

As Brian was heading home, I was getting busy doing all kinds of cleaning that I knew he really wouldn’t even notice. Like vacuuming the tops of the ledges in our house, the tops of door frames, the sections of our paneled doors, the inside and top of the fridge, the inside and top of the stove … all of this REALLY needed to be done. Especially after tiling most of the house on his last deployment, well, that has nothing to do with the inside of the fridge and the stove though.

Anywho, I took a few pictures to show the process of cleaning the stove top.

I’ll spare you the endless pictures of all of the burner covers and stove top … but seriously, I should be ashamed of myself. The little black spots on the edges of the center caps are scratches. I found this little gem of a tip online somewhere:

AMMONIA! You seal your burner covers (or whatever other removable parts of your stove top) in a large ziplock bag with a small dish of ammonia. Leave them in there overnight and the fumes magically soften and lift the burnt gunk from the parts. You just take them out and rinse them off, maybe a little easy scrubbing. The center caps took me about 30 seconds total to clean off. Best tip ever!! And it’s super cheap, a little over a $1 for a jug of it.

We’ve been enjoying our time with Brian at home. We’ve been going to the gym (at the same time anyway, I do a class and he goes and runs), he walks Sophie to the bus stop, drives Emma to school, and he’s been busy building us a bean bag toss (aka CORNHOLE) set. He also replaced the light fixture in the kitchen that I broke. And, completely not typical on his return … all of his gear is washed and put away already. This guy is seriously on the ball. I need to step up my game.

Ok, I better sign off. We are all watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins tonight. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!Β  ~ Jackie

PS: Brian did notice the stove AND the fridge being spotless πŸ™‚


One Happy Family January 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 6:13 pm

I can’t even tell you all how happy I am to have us all back together again today! Having done this 4 times now, I can tell you that it doesn’t necessarily get easier. You do it, and you do fine, but you don’t miss them less. You are just as excited, and probably more so, each time they come home. And while it really stinks hearing daily how much your kids miss their Daddy, the surprise and joy on their faces when they seem him again, almost erase the tears and sadness while he was gone (again, almost).

For anyone that hasn’t seen our quick little homecoming video yet:

Daddy’s home!

(You can click on “Daddy’s home!” to see the video.)

Everyone was super excited to get Daddy home and have a nice dinner and then … CHRISTMAS (as if getting Dad back wasn’t present enough)!! Brian brought the girls handmade dresses he got at a bazaar:

Emma is also being a super big reader and was really excited about a new Mittens book. Sophie is loving her new karaoke microphone that you plug an ipod into and sing along. Tyler was super surprised with his new tv. I bought a blank puzzle and put the pieces in a bunch of different boxes. I don’t think he had any idea what was going on with the puzzle:

He was super excitedΒ  to get a new tv!

And then it was bedtime. We were all very tired, as the kids and I had been up since 5 (I was up earlier … who can sleep when their husband is supposed to be home in a couple hours?!). We originally were supposed to pick Brian up at 6:30 am, then 5:30 am, that was then moved to 9 am because of fog and not being able to land. Then they couldn’t land AGAIN because of the fog. We finally got him back around 5:30 last night. Complete joy!!

Ok … we gotta figure out dinner here.

Lots of love to you all, and thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes through the past months. We so appreciate it!! ~ Jackie



Almost … January 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 1:42 pm

So, I’ve been a cleaning machine, getting ready for Brian to get home. It’s not like he cares, he knows very well that I’m not a great housekeeper (he didn’t marry me for my domestic skills). But, I would imagine after months on end of sharing a very small room, with another guy, community showers and portajohns, dining halls, that the clean comforts of home are very much looked forward to. It’s the least I can do, to welcome my man home. And honestly, it just REALLY all needed to be done anyway. Mostly though, I probably just need to shave my legs since it’s been over 3 months. I kid, really, I kid!!

The kids all talked to Brian a couple nights ago. They know he’s headed home, but have no idea exactly how long it will take.

The last deployment phone call!!

WHAT?! On your way?!

Tyler is not as willing to be my subject, and would be super unhappy to know that I put his picture on the internet, so just know that he talked to his Dad and could not be more excited to have him home. I think he’s a bit bummed though too, because he has finals next week and lots of studying to do … and really just wants to hang out with his Dad. He’ll get lots of time after those finals are knocked out.

Ok, I better get back to my list of “to do’s”. But one day, real soon, you all won’t have to hear me whine about missing my husband anymore!!

Love to you all! ~ Jackie


A new day, a new week, a new month, AND a new year! January 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theluces @ 2:57 pm

How often does that happen all at once (actually about every 5 or 6 years … so not really uncommon)?! Anyway, it’s still pretty cool πŸ™‚

2011 was a good year for us. A recap, shall we?

We started the year off with Brian just having deployed to Iraq. Sophie was busy with kindergarten, Tyler was busy finishing up jr. high, and Emma was busy with preschool. I was busy taking them to gymnastics and track and soccer, while getting used to Irene’s new sister, Fergie.

February was pretty uneventful, which is good. March also flew by, and in April Brian got back home in the wee hours of the morning as the best birthday present ever for Emma’s 4th birthday!!

On to May and school’s out.

And then June already?! June was a great month, with Brian organizing an 8k in which the proceeds were donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation … over $5000!! And then we flew to ND for a few weeks.

Some snuggle time with Great Grandma Vivian

Birthday cake with Great Grandpa Harvey and Auntie Lynn

Tractor rides with Grandpa Steve

And LOTS of mowing lawn to help out Grandpa and Grandma

July brought us to San Francisco for my sister’s wedding and we got to stay with the most hospitable friends ever, Heather and Joe.

Tyler LOVES hiking … and a captured moment of them getting along is priceless!!

August was back to school and Sophie started first grade, Emma VPK (a state funded preK for all 4 year olds in FL), and Tyler is now in HIGH SCHOOL!!

We tried out YOLO boards for the first time and we will definitely use them more next summer.

September meant time to send Brian off again.

(Just my favorite picture from September)

October flew by with Tyler busy in cross country. Tyler and I also attended an Air Commando Association Banquet, which was an honor.

November also flew by, staying busy.

Busy with things like broken arms 😦

Thanksgiving dinner

And BOOM! It’s December!

Man, did that go fast! Now we are officially beginning 2012 and I could not be happier. What are my wishes for the new year? Hmmm … I wish for more than 166 days of my husband being in the country this year. I say “in the country” because while he was deployed for 199 days of 2011, that doesn’t mean he was actually HOME for all 166 of the remaining days (they go on TDYs for a week or two here and there also) … but he was in the same country as me, so I’ll take it πŸ™‚

I wish for the continued good health of my family. Emma has her cardiologist appointment coming up this month, and while I know she’s ok, it always makes me nervous as I was COMPLETELY blindsided by her condition in the first place.

Resolutions? Nah, I don’t really do resolutions, but I do intend to keep up the working out and running that I have been really good about for the last couple months. I would really like to do a Warrior Dash at the end of March and a Tough Mudder in the beginning of December (who’s with me?!). I also want to work on my patience … which I know I’m going to need with Tyler getting his permit REALLY soon … AGH!!! What else, I also want to be a better housekeeper this year. I’m definitely starting the year off right with my long list of things I want to have done by time Brian gets home, that I’ve already been working on.

Last, I appreciate all of the calls and messages from friends and family. And we are SO thankful for all of the family that came and visited us throughout the year (Brian’s dad made a trip and we put him right to work finishing the tile that I didn’t get to, and Brian’s mom and stepdad come multiple times every year … we are so thankful for that!!). While we love this military life we have, it is still hard being so far away from friends and family all over the states. Your calls, and emails, and visits mean the absolute world to us.

So, enough of my year in review. I’ll let you all back to enjoying your first day of 2012. Sending you all lots of New Year love!! ~ Jackie