Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy 200th Birthday Jefferson Davis

We homeschoolers do some unusual things every now and then. This qualifies I'm sure, but it was a whole lot of fun! Last Saturday, along with several other homeschool families we celebrated the 2ooth birthday of Jefferson Davis- the president of the Confederate States during the Civil War. What can I say... We do live in Virginia where the Capitol of the old Confederacy is located. We all dressed up in time period clothing and had a little shindig. The girls LOVE any event where they get to play dress up! Our friend Rob was our Davis impersonator and gave us a little history lesson. Then we learned to dance several dances including The Reel. Mr Bob who is a historian and expert at sewing time period costumes gave the lessons. He said the kiddos caught on much faster than us adults.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Webkinz World

I went in to wake up the girls yesterday morning and here is what I saw.  They have two beds as you can see, yet they choose to sleep in the bottom bunk together.  The webkinz are so numerous that they have taken over the top bunk.  Abbie and Gracie have made them each their own little beds and paired them up according to who is buddies with who.  It was just so cute that I could not resist taking a picture.  

Video Instructions

The video below is one that we saw at a church we visited when we first moved moved to Virginia. I think you will enjoy it. To watch it and be able to hear it, you will need to turn off the music player at the bottom of the blog. For those who are not sure how to do this: Scroll all the way down to the bottom and find the music player. Click on the little button on the top left corner that looks sort of like this ll. Then scroll back up and click on the video. Don't forgot to turn your music back on at the bottom (if you want to) when you are finished watching the video.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Gracie and Brenna

Caitlin's PopArt

Gracie and Brenna again using the comic book setting
We have new computers.  The girls love the nifty little webcam feature that is built into the monitor.  It will take crazy pictures that remind me of those mirrors at a carnival that distort everything making you look crazy.  Her are just a few samples of the fun they've had.
Things here are fairly normal.  The weather has been a bit nasty this past week with low temps, freezing rain a some snow flurries.  We have spent the week just trying to stay warm.  I have avoided venturing out as much as possible.  
We have a few picture worthy events coming up soon so I will be blogging more in the week to come.  
Next Tuesday Holly gets braces put on her teeth.  Poor thing, she got spacers put in earlier this week so her mouth has been sore.  
Keep her in your prayers if you will.  I know she will appreciate it.  

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Brag About Your Hubby Day

The occasional "man joke" is funny, I admit.  We women can be quite quirky and funny too sometimes.  What are we if we cannot laugh at ourselves every now and then? Here's the thing though, I recently received a man bashing  forward  via email that was just too much.  It was harsh in my opinion and made every guy out there sound like a bumbling idiot among other things I cannot mention on my G rated blog.  So today is the day I do a little bragging about my sweetheart, the man God gave me.  You should too, and while you are at it, let your man know you are proud of him and that you appreciate all that he does to take care of you and the kiddos (if you have any).  Remember too that he is what he is - not perfect, but you are the only wife he has and it's your job to edify him.  If you let him know you are grateful for him he will want to live up to that.  
PS I copied this little quiz off of a friends blog (thanks Deanna).  Feel free to copy it for yourself from here.

What is his name: Lee
How long have you been married: it will be 18 years in July
How long did you date: 3 months
How old is he: 38
How old are you: 37
Who eats more sweets:  that would be hard to say, we both have a pretty big sweet tooth
Whose parents do you see most: mine I think
Who said I love you first: he did
Who is taller: he is
Who can sing better: we sound great together
Who is smarter: him 
Who does the laundry: I wash and sometimes he helps fold but HE irons
Who does the dishes: mostly the girls but we both do them pretty often
Who pays the bills: me
His guilty pleasure: a weekly haircut and dark chocolate M&Ms
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed: I do
Who mows the lawn: He does unless he is away and then I do
Who has more friends: hard to say but I think he has more unless you count all of my online buddies
Besides you who is his best friend: Probably Chris and Craig
Who cooks dinner: me
Who is more stubborn: me
Who kissed who first: He kissed me
Who asked who out first: He asked me 
What was your first date: A concert and pizza after
Who proposed: He did
Who has more siblings: He does, I'm an only
What is your favorite thing about him: His faithfulness to me and our family.  He works hard everyday not only to make sure we are taken care of materially but emotionally as well.  He's my best friend and I feel like a large part of me is missing when his job forces him to be away. 

The Showdown

Wrigley faces off in a battle of wills with Spooky.  Can't you just hear the old west music in the background?  

Spooky 1 Wrigley 0

He is learning his place among the Brown family pets.  There have been a few tough lessons.

What a cutie

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bella and Devin

One of the highlights of our trip to Georgia was getting to see Bella and Devin.  Great niece and nephew to us, cousins to the girls.  They were only there for one evening and it was non stop activity the whole time.
It's pretty difficult to get Devin to be still enough to get a good picture.  I tried my best but I guess I am just not quick enough.  It's been a while since I have chased a toddler.

Bella likes Jones strawberry  kiwi soda!  At first her mama was trying to help her drink out of the bottle.  She proved to us pretty quickly that she could handle things on her own.

Gotta love those strawberry soda lips.

Abbie and Devin kicked back.   This picture is deceiving.  It looks like he's being still, I assure he was not.  I just happened to click the picture during a dull moment in the tickle fest.  More pictures are in the Picasa Web Album.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Disney With Family

Ever try to take 23 people to Disney and stay together?  It's not impossible, you just have to remember that a crowd of that size does not move quickly.  It was a very fun day and a great time to catch up with family that we have not seen in a long time.  Thanks to Mimi and Papa's hard work last year we each got a free ticket into the park.  

Pawpaw and the girls waiting outside the hotel in Orlando.  I make my group wear the same color shirts when we go to large public places.  Makes them easier to keep up with.  

The whole gang

All of my girls have been initiated onto Roller Coasters via Space Mountain at Disney.  Gracie was no exception and rode her first coaster like a pro.  She even rode Thunder Mountain later in the day.  I'm afraid she's been bitten by the roller coaster bug.   Now she cannot wait until Six Flags opens in the Spring here in VA. One of the perks of having four kids who all ride roller coasters- everyone has a riding buddy.

Here we are waiting to get in to see the Philharmagic show.  Very cool multisensory show done in Disney fashion.  I think we look a little like we are on some sort of Sci-Fi expedition.  The camera was set to take photos in the dark which sometimes gives the photo an eerie look.

Our crew managed to cram into one boat to float through Small World.  Poor papa, he hates this ride and we drag him onto it EVERY time we go.

The Pirate Crew. Disney has tried to revamp the Pirates of the Caribbean ride by adding Captain Jack and a few touches from the movie.  WE used to be able to walk onto this ride with very little wait.  Now with Captain Jack added we had to wait about 30 minutes.  That's ok- I guess it wouldn't be a true Disney experience without the waits.

The end of the day and we are pooped.  It was a great day and we are looking forward to doing it all again next year.  I suggest Universal's Islands of Adventure. Any takers?  All of our Disney pics can be seen in the Picasa web album. Enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The New Baby In The House

Here he is!  I know I have been saying all along that his name is Fluffernut but all of that changed on the first day we had him.  Fluffernut was just too difficult to say.  We were all messing it up and Gracie never could remember what to call him.  His name has been changed to Wrigley.  Like the gum, or as Lee says, like the baseball field.  This picture was taken after about an hour of hard play time.  The little guy was worn out.  We took him to Petsmart yesterday and bought him some toys. He especially likes his tennis ball that is about the size of a ping pong ball.  It's so cute.  He is not very fond of his crate and keeps Holly from getting much sleep, but we are working on that situation.  For those who are wondering, Wrigley is a Yorkie/Maltese.  We aren't sure if that would be a Malkie or a Yorktese.  He sure is a sweetie!  We will be sending more pictures as he grows. 

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our Trip To Visit Family

This is what happens when siblings spend too much time in the car together.

We began our visit down in sunny, warm Florida. Mimi and Papa have bought a new home and they are giving it a little bit of a face lift. We got to help for a day or two with a few demolition projects. There is just something gratifying about wielding a hammer to tear something up. We took out a whole cabinet set and a breakfast bar that had seen better days. Gracie helped Mimi install all new cabinet knobs on the kitchen cabinets. In the yard of their new house is a grapefruit tree. Gracie was thrilled at being able to go pick a grapefruit and eat it right then. I was pretty excited about that myself. We brought home a large bag full which we are still enjoying. Gotta love living in Florida!
It was not all work and no play. We spent one afternoon in Orlando shopping at the enormous Florida Mall where we ate dinner at Buca di Beppo. Buca is a fabulous Italian restaurant where you can make reservations to eat in the kitchen at the "kitchen table". You get to watch all the inner workings of the kitchen and you get a little special treatment. You also get to sample more than you ordered if you make friends with the chef. We left stuffed!!! From there it was over to Orlando Int. to pick up Lee. The next day we were off to Disney! Read all about our day at Disney in another post.
All of our Florida, Georgia and Disney pics can be viewed in our Picasa web album.

The cabinet after the doors were taken off

Almost disassembled

Caitlin the cabinet destroyer!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Homemade Laundry Soap

Several folks have asked me about my homemade laundry soap so I thought I would post the recipe and my reasons behind making it. I cannot take credit for this recipe, evidently it has been around for years. When we moved from Guam we bought a new washer and dryer set. We thought we would be energy smart and buy an HE set that uses less water and less electricity thereby saving a little money each month. What I did not consider is that the washing machine uses a special HE detergent which in my opinion is astronomically priced. All the money we were saving in energy was more than being spent on detergent! Thus my search for an alternative. My online buddies hooked me up with this recipe and made claims that it worked like nothing they had ever tried before. I was skeptical but gave it a shot. After 2 months of using this stuff I cannot say enough great things about it. It's low sudsing, so it will not harm my HE machine. It gets stains out that Tide could not even touch. It smells very clean yet rinses so thoroughly out of the clothes that there is no aroma at all left in the laundry. I use dryer sheets in the dryer to get that freshly washed smell. Plus it is extremely economical which I will talk more about below. It takes about 30 minutes to make it and about half a day for it to set up. While I cook up my little brew I feel a bit like Broomhilda.

Besides the ingredients listed below you will also need:
*3 gallon or larger bucket
* a large pot that you do not care too much about
* a long wooden spoon
* a cheese grater is helpful
* 3 empty, clean gallon sized milk jugs or used liquid laundry soap bottles
* a funnel

20 Mule Team Borax sold in most supermarkets in the laundry section. I have heard that this product is useful for many other household chores.

Fels Naptha is an old fashioned bar of laundry soap which can be difficult to find. I have learned that MOST Kroger supermarkets carry this in the laundry section. It has a strong clean smell and an amazing stain lifting ability. If Fels cannot be found or the smell is too strong a bar of Ivory bath soap can be substituted.  There is also a laundry soap similar to Fels called Octagon. It has a much milder aroma but has all of the stain removing qualities.

NOT Baking Soda but made by Arm and Hammer. It is Super Washing Soda also sold at Kroger in the laundry section.

All three of these products put together should cost you no more than 5 dollars. Which is great because you only use a little bit of each product for a batch. 1 batch makes 2 1/2 gallons of detergent. I averaged it out and realized that I am spending less than a nickel on detergent for each load. Compare that with the average of 33 cents per load using Tide HE.With my family of 6 we have ALOT of laundry which adds up to big savings!


1/2 Bar Fels Naptha grated (use the cheese grater or chop it up small)
1 C of 20 Mule Team Borax
1 C of Super Washing Soda
6 C water
lavender scent (optional)
**** In a large sauce pot heat 6 cups of water over medium heat. In the water dissolve the Fels and stir till a little thickened. This will take about 15 minutes. At that point pour in both the Borax and the Soda and continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture is thickened a little more.
Put 1 gallon of warm water in your bucket then add your mixture from the pot into the bucket and stir. Slowly fill the bucket with more water up to the 2 and 1/2 gallon mark. Stir and let sit for about 12 hours. It is helpful to come along and give it a stir every now and then. It will thicken up to a soupy gel. To pour it into the gallon jugs you will need a good sized funnel. I do not fill each jug completely, I leave a little air at the top. When I go to do a load of laundry I give the jug a good shake to get the gel a bit more pourable.
Finally- I use about 1/2 to 2/3 C per load depending on how dirty the clothes are.

I hope you all enjoy this and give it a try. If you have any questions let me know. Also if you need me to send you a bar of Fels or Super Washing Soda I can do that too, just let me know.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


No, we have not disappeared off the planet. We have spent the past week in Florida and Georgia visiting with family. We are trying to take advantage of a little down time for Lee before his ship schedule gets very busy. He will be spending many, many days at sea over the next 12 months with workups leading up to a 6+ month deployment. We have seen Mimi and Papa's new home down in Florida and got to help with a few demolition projects there. We also got to spend the day at Disney World with Pawpaw and Theresa and all the cousins. There were 23 of us all total and it was a blast.
Here in Georgia we have been able to catch up with family over lots of yummy meals. We have also gotten to meet the new preacher at Lee's home church. It has been a nice time of relaxing and visiting. We have quite a few new pictures of Bella and Devin (niece and nephew) to share so stay tuned. On our way home we will be stopping in Jax, NC to pick up our new little puppy Fluffernut. We are so excited about getting this new little guy but I am not sure how Snickers and the kitty cats will take to this new invasion. When we get back to Virginia I will post pictures and catch all of you up on our trip. Behave yourselves until then!