Thursday, September 30, 2010

making it

Sometimes my husband accuses me of having what he calls "Little House on the Prairie" syndrome, which is manifested by my desire to make as much as I can on my own. It's true, if I think I can make something, then I do. We've been making our own laundry soap for a while now, and even Matt agrees it's a fine thing. Affordable, easy, longlasting and it smells so good!

There are lots of recipes out there for different types of laundry soaps you can make on your own. Here's what works for us:

One bar castille soap (we like Dr. Bronner's lavender)
One cup Borax
One cup Washing Soda

Grate the bar soap.

Mix with dry ingredients and store in a closed jar.

One jar lasts our family about 6 weeks (and we do a lot of washing!) We use about 1/8cup per load. Give the jar a little shake before scooping to make sure the soap flakes are mixed evenly throughout.

And as for the work involved in making the detergent, it goes pretty quickly with little hands to help!

Friday, September 24, 2010


The Kelly Miller Circus came to town this week. The kids and I joined their Grandma in the morning to watch the set up. It was interesting to learn so many of the details that go into running such a large operation. The circus is on the road nine months of the year, appearing in different towns each day. The number of vehicles in their caravan, the miles of electricity cord they lay out to set up each day, the choreographed efforts of everyone involved in setting it up and taking it down - it was quite impressive.

watching the elephant put up the big top

the elephant at work

I must admit, I feel conflicted about the circus. It's easy to romanticize a travelling circus, especially one that seems so old-fashioned as this one does, but it's hard to let go of the concern for the animals and their well-being. The circus performers were quick to mention many positive things about the animals' treatment and how their relationships develop with the handlers, and it was good to see that all of the performing dogs were rescued from shelters.

And there was certainly no denying the kids' enjoyment when we returned that evening for the performance.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

for the birthday girl

A little something for my goddaughter/niece for her fifth birthday...

Since she lives in Florida now, I thought a dress like this would get lots of wear.

The pattern is The Two Summer Sun Dress found here on Ravelry. It was quick to knit and easy to put together. Just my kind of project!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

this week

This week:

~ we were serenaded by Daniel

~ took a 9 mile bike ride around town. What's a girl to do when she's so tuckered out? Find herself a shady spot, a blanket and a good book.

~ enjoyed cool evenings just right for a fire

Friday, September 10, 2010

at the zoo

It truly is amazing to see so many animals in one place and to have the opportunity to learn so much about them. I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by how unnatural it is for the animals to live in these enclosures, and while I know much has changed from the days when patrons could throw marshmallows at the bears for fun, there is still a sense that this may not be the best thing for these creatures. I do believe in the value of the research and educating that can take place here. One of my favorite quotes is posted in the family zoo. It says "we must teach children to love the earth before we ask them to save it."

On a lighter note, Daniel took over the camera for a while. Here's what he got:

attack of the mama

obligatory baby bum shot

and no fewer than 37 shots of this guy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The last carnival of the summer was here. I must admit, it makes me feel a bit old to be taking my kids to this festival, one I went to each year as a child. But it feels familiar and good, and so easy to have fun.

A fine end to the summer, indeed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

out and about

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is one of our most favorite museums in Chicago. It's small enough to feel manageable with little ones, with rotating exhibits to keep it interesting enough for frequent visits. The indoor butterfly garden is such a welcome place, especially once winter rolls around... it's so green and warm in there. As with most of the museums downtown, they offer suggested donation days to help keep the museum accessible. When we have an open day to play, it's one of the first places the kids ask to go.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

helping hands

Lately I've found myself thinking about how easy it is to become frustrated by the limitations inherent to having three small, dependent people as your daily companions (do the dogs count? let's make that five, then). It's something I hear in chorus from my sisters and friends with young children... there just aren't enough hours in the day. And it's true; few days find me accomplishing all I've set out to do, but it's usually welcome distractions that pull me away from my "to do" list.
I work to remind myself that this is what we've chosen, to spend our days with our children, offering them a chance to discover and learn alongside us. When the day feels like it is spinning away from my desired goals, I often find I can reset my course by including the children in my work. They are always eager to help, and I soon find that the things we need are getting done, and so much more is taking place.
That's how it felt today. We've been baking our own bread for a while now, and it's usually a pleasant task I look forward to. Today, it just wasn't working for me to get into that rhythm. So I didn't. Enter Daniel and his eagerness to help.

With a little help reading the recipe, he measured and mixed,

kneaded and worked the dough,

shaped the loaves,

and helped us accomplish a delicious success!

It felt good to check that one off our list, and he felt so proud and confident to have done all that work.