Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Happenings

Ok, so I haven't blogged in a while again, but it's not like there wasn't other places to play while I wasn't entertaining you.
Since my last post, I very prayerfully considered some options, talked to friends to get their feedback, and then talked to Devildog. I decided to become an independent Thirty-One Gifts consultant. I approached it with a completely different manner than I did my last venture that ended badly. I made choices along the way that contributed to that end, and it was my fault for not cutting my losses sooner. I simply hooked up with bad leadership. I knew the other side of the problem, but hadn't owned up to my share of it. I know this now, after having read Dave Ramsey's book, EntreLeadership. I checked it out from the library, but one of my purchases will be a copy to keep around the house. At the time of this post, it's on his website for $10 as part of a Christmas sale. WELL WORTH that price and then some. I'm moving down my list of books faster than I can knit anything. And I can't read & knit or watch tv & knit, so knitting is hosed at the moment.

Thanksgiving was its usual, but smaller scale. Then Black Friday, I did no shopping, except to drive to the Publix a mile from the house, and buy a 10 pack of Ivory soap and a 3 pack of store brand soap. The latter for the Devildog, the former was for a project to keep the kids busy if they wanted to do the project. Prior to Thanksgiving, I'd stopped at my local yarn shop and bought some roving (too much roving to be honest). Roving is unspun-into-yarn wool.

So, what can one possibly do with soap and roving?

One would make felted soap.

Why would anyone do that?

It occupies kids inexpensively, and makes neat little gifts. And the felted soap is kind of like a washcloth/soap combo. This was a take-home project we did one night at the yarn shop a couple years ago, and I've always thought it was kinda cool.

Assembled are the roving, knee-high stockings, bar soap (your choice of brand), and random animal fiber yarns.

 I cut the bars of soap in half to accommodate the little hands that would be doing this project. It's not required to do this.

 Dunk the soap in warm water so the roving fibers stick to it.

Pull small bits of the roving off the pile and lay it over and around the soap till you get it covered.

Then, cut varying lengths of the other yarns to add to it. 

I untwisted the plies of yarn and laid the segments around the roving. You can leave the yarn strands intact if you decide to do that.

This is what you'll have at this point. It looks like you dropped a half-eaten piece of candy on the floor of a shearing station.

Here's a tricky spot. Bunch up the knee-high stocking like you're going to stick your toes into the closed end of it. You'll need to make sure any seams are on he outside, and that you gather the roving-covered soap into the finished end of the sock, otherwise the roving will felt to the seam.
 Ask me how I know this last fact.

Then you dunk it into the very warm water (as warm as you can tolerate) and start scrubbing, just like you would when you're washing your hands.
 This takes a few minutes, and I don't mean 2. It could be as fast as 3-5 or as long as 10. A lot depends on the fiber, some depends on the amount of agitation you put into it, some of it depends on the temperature of the water. A shift in temperature from hot to cold, or cold to hot can aid your felting, and of course any amount of agitation will too. I used a combination of all three. I alternated between one bowl of hot water, one bowl of cold water, and lots of agitation.

After your several minutes of scrubbing and dunking in hot/cold water, it'll start looking like this:

When you take it out of the stocking, set it somewhere to dry unless you really just want to throw the kids in the tub with it to get them out of your unsunny place. You can put it in front of a fan, in the sun, or even in front of the fridge exhaust (I do that with wet shoes) to dry the felt. Drying time depends on the environment it's in, and how thick the felted fiber is.
The day I did this with the 2 youngest, my kitchen floor was soaked at the sink so I kept a floor-worthy towel there to catch the drips my 3 year old caused. I then used that wet towel to quick mop my floor. By two days later, you couldn't tell it was "cleaned", but I also lack photographic evidence to prove that it ever was something less than grungy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Dave

After devouring a couple of his books, I've been listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts for weeks, in an effort to retrain my brain about how it thinks about money. It's slowly working. I'm trying to reach my husband, to plant seeds of new information in hopes of guiding him to thinking differently about our money. I keep praying for guidance, wisdom and the right words to do this. And then Dave shared this blog link on Twitter. Oh, I see she's met my husband. Except, I try not to go all "Dave Says" at every turn like some well meaning folks do. Devildog hasn't turned the same corner yet, like she did. I have hope he will. It's just a matter of when.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheers, Devildogs

It's a Marine thing, and unless you are one, you would never understand.

Happy Birthday to all my Devildogs. Born in Tun Tavern on 10 November 1775, and hard charging ever since, every Marine has 2 birthdays. There's the one that brought their physical presence to this earth, and then there's the one that made them who they are. And you can bet your beer that the latter is the one they'll cherish most. They throw the biggest best party for themselves, and make no apologies for it. (Besides, when have you ever known a Marine to need to apologize?) They hold their forebears in high regard for paving the way ahead of them. They can tell who is another Marine, almost on sight. They cover the six of any fellow Marine that needs it. They give 1000%, and they don't quit. They shoot first, then ask questions, but there are few questions given their marksmanship.

I know these things about them. But I'll never *know* these things. I love my Marine. And I have a love for all the other Marines. I am who I am today, in part because of my spousal connection to the Corps. I have grown and blossomed and become as feisty as I am, because I learned things I would have only learned as a Marine's wife. I am strong, capable, independent, and (marginally) adaptable, because I had to be those things at a young age. While most people my age were going to college and partying, I was married with 2 kids, living at Camp Lejeune, and supporting my husband's career. It's where I learned how to get in the wheelbarrow sometimes, and when I had to be the one pushing it. My father taught me to be able to handle little things like minor repairs, taking care of vehicles etc. Knowing those things helped my husband not worry about the house falling down around me because I was incapable of handling it. To this day, 20 years later, he still trusts me to be able to handle stuff. Sometimes, I'd like for him to not leave as much of that pesky stuff to my charge though.

To all you potential employers out there: Don't overlook the military spouse, or the spouses of veterans. Generally, these folks are highly employable for the latent skill sets that come from being a military spouse. They understand the concept of a work ethic and loyalty, are more willing to stretch themselves to achieve results, and are often adaptable. As Semper Fidelis is the Marine's motto, Semper Gumby is the motto of the Marine spouse.

So, Happy Birthday Devildogs. And thank you to all who shared them with the rest of us.

(Photo shamelessly snagged from Devildog Graphix)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude: indoor plumbing & awesome fixtures

Blur is three years old and not always cooperative in the attempts to get her to use the bathroom somewhere civilized, instead of in her pants, on the floor or even out in the yard. This comes as no surprise to me, since 2 of her 3 older siblings were equally intriguing to train. In an attempt to stretch the measly budget, and eke progress at using a toilet, some days I put her in panties or cloth diapers. I had to stop that nonsense for a while because cleaning the mess was not worth it. I put out a call on crackbook asking for a shower head with detachable hose sprayer for the purpose of washing her tush more efficiently.
My sister found one for me at a great price (FREE!) but it took a while for one of us (her) to end up on the other side of town with it. Devildog installed it a couple days ago, and it has come in handy a few times already. Indeed, cleaning up the mess is more efficient, and thorough.

So, today I am thankful for my helpful sister, indoor plumbing, and awesome bath fixtures, because without them, I'd be up Poop's Creek sans the paddle, with an uncooperative and stinky 3 year old in my canoe.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Changing names

Ok, so I have this boy who got dubbed as Beast after this post a few years ago. It never really totally suited him and I've always been looking for a new pseudonym for him. I have one now. Since he puts hot sauce on everything except dessert, I'm calling him Hot Sauce. He wanted me to call him Hot Stuff, but I can't be party to self-agrandisment when it involves my spawn. I just can't do it. I also talk about his friend, who falls under the category of one of my borrowed children. Today's crackbook post involved Hot Sauce and Borrowed Billy hacking a swatch of the back-back yard beyond the fence to help get it cleaned up after a tree carcass has been taking up that space for the better part of a year.

How is it this particular child gets dubbed something when the post involves his participation in yardwork?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Purpose has a point

In the recent days the word "purpose" has come up in conversation at my house on a few occasions.

Devildog and I were talking about being intentional, or doing things with a purpose, or doing things purposefully. That one stemmed from a conversation to iron out some wrinkles in a situation. We get lost in our electronics and fail to truly be attentive to things in a manner that we should be. I catch myself numerous times a day moving without purpose, or as the case may be NOT moving at all.
That's not to say we should be in constant motion, but when moving about things, it shouldn't be aimless or haphazard. (I'm guilty of any version of it all) I'm the type that needs balance or I am completely out of sorts.

So here I sit with a list of things on my to-do list, typing on my computer instead of getting off my duff and doing them. I'm enjoying the quiet of half my house sleeping as the dishwasher runs (I'd love a quieter model at some point), drinking my coffee, and sitting on the couch with Clone's Camp Crestridge blanket over me. 

That list will keep me focused later when I get up and start doing something around here. For now, I'm letting my exhausted husband sleep. Rest heals the body, and he's got a few tweaks that need healing. He ran the trail at the park the other day in 22 minutes. He hasn't run since 2005, and had to walk at times too. He's got a PFT (physical fitness test) to take soon as part of a hiring process, and he really wants this job. It's in the line of work he has dreamed of doing. I can tell you first hand that when my husband feels like he has purpose his whole demeanor and energy changes. He could be a walking zombie, but press onward because he knows he's not undervalued, a worthless drone in someone's machine. He has been sliding backwards toward the lethargic side the last many months, because his current job has sucked the life out of him from day one. His first day, he came home and said that it was the wrong place for him to be and that he didn't foresee a long career there. It's a Sisyphus situation where he is. And he loathes being Sisyphus. It doesn't meld at all with his value system, the way he was trained to operate, or his personality. It would if the leadership actually led. Devildog is a natural born leader, and fortunately, was trained to lead in such a way that subordinates want to work for him. At Home Despot, he would get moved to a different department, and no less than 15 people would ask the store manager if they can transfer to where ever he was going. He could've been in charge of shoveling poop, and people would have still wanted to work for him. Knowing he was valued and served a purpose, he busted his chops to do the job well. I look forward to Devildog finding a job that gives him purpose, because it will prompt other changes at home in general.

In turn, the purpose of our household as a whole will shift.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


So, I'll bite - maybe not *daily* but I'll make a point to post something with gratitude as often as possible. Lord knows I need the attitude adjustment.

So, since I started off my crackbook day with this post:

"One segment of the Today show that I absolutely loved: The story about Catherine Ferguson Academy for young mothers in Detroit. As a teen mom, I had infinitely more support around me than most teen moms ever get in an entire lifetime. It was challenging enough, I can't imagine doing it without those around me who supported me in a million ways. The principal won't let the girls graduate without acceptance into a college first. Her goal: that her students give themselves options in life by surmounting this challenge of young motherhood. I once told a horrified mother of a teen mom-to-be "The best thing you can do for your daughter is be there for her and help her however she needs it. The worst thing you can do is talk about her like you did to me, and criticize her every move. Her life is difficult enough without you making it harder on her." I said it to her in front of her friend, and lost her as a Tupperware customer, but I do not care. She was indirectly criticizing ME by badmouthing her daughter."

I am grateful and thankful from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head that I have been surrounded by generous people who gave of their time, talent and treasure to help us get where we are in this world today. Instead of turning their backs on us, our relatives and friends helped us where they were able, sometimes to their own discomfort or detriment (even though they never shared it, I could sense it). In turn, my gratitude for those gifts has prompted me to try to share with those who could use what we no longer needed. Blessing others blesses us too.