Crunchy cleaning fail

I bought Tide today. Not only did I buy Tide, I bought Tide with Bleach. I feel more diminished by this than I should.

To properly explain, let me give a little history. When Letty was born I decided to use cloth diapers. While researching my decision I discovered washing cloth diapers was no joking matter. Most commercial detergents were a big no-no when it came to cloth diapers. See, these detergents contained very little of what they needed to clean (soap) and quite a bit of what they didn’t need to clean (fragrance and optical brighteners).

In the end, I purchased a product called Charlie’s Soap, and went on my way. For almost two years, Charlie’s was our laundry soap of choice.

One could say Charlie’s Soap was my gateway drug to natural cleaning products. Biokleen, Mrs. Meyers: these brands all made the appearance in our home over the next few years.

As I continued to research and experiment I got interested in creating my own cleaning products. Pinterest had made it much easier to share blogs and recipes for ways to clean your home without chemicals. I created my own laundry soap using Fels Naptha, washing soda, and borax. I still think it does a fine job cleaning our clothes.

I also replaced all the soap in our house with Dr Bronner’s castile soap. And for our bodies in the shower, I think it’s a good choice. For countertops and dishes, though, probably not so effective.

All those sites I was finding on pinterest recommended replacing dish soap with a mixture of castile, white vinegar, and washing soda. I also cleaned my counters and dining table with the same mixture.

While the dirt was clearly gone after such cleaning, I’m not sure the germs were.

And that is the piece missing from anything I have read about natural cleaning. Does it in fact kill germs?

Over the past eight months, two of my kids have had strep throat six times EACH. The other kid has had it three times. Two of the kids and myself have had walking pneumonia. Letty got a MRSA infection in May, and that was pretty scary. MRSA is a staph infection of the skin that is resistant to many antibiotics. Last week she was diagnosed with a second MRSA infection, and Jett has one now too. The pediatrician gave us a lovely packet of information called Living with MRSA.

We now have to shower with Hibiclens (an antibiotic soap), use bleach water to clean everything, and wash all washable fabric with hot water and bleach. I’m even washing our couch covers.

I joked to someone a few days ago that my kids are walking bio hazards – hahaha. But bless them, while that’s true, have I created a bio hazard environment in our home? By using cleansers that don’t kill germs, have I inadvertently made my kids sick?

I don’t know – but I do know my children’s health outweighs my concern for the environment. So I’m reserving the castile soap for the bath, and switching back to the big guns: Dawn dish soap, Clorox bleach, Tide laundry soap.

The hippie inside me is dying a little, but the mom inside me feels good (if a bit grim) about the decision.

Let’s hope it works.

Posted in Crunchy Stuff | 2 Comments

Phineas and Ferb should move in here

I’ll admit, we are late coming to the Phineas and Ferb craze. The kids just discovered it a few weeks ago after watching almost everything else on Netflix.

Today, I really heard the words to the theme song for the first time.

There’s 104 days of summer vacation
And school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it

Like maybe…
Building a rocket
Or fighting a mummy
Or climbing up the Eiffel Tower…

These kids are fantastic. Their goal for summer vacation is to fit in every adventure before school starts again in the fall. Now, I realize most kids, and parents, say that, but do we really mean it? My idea of adventure this summer is going to the pool every afternoon, and my kids idea of adventure is squeezing in as many video game hours as they can.

Our summer is roughly half way over, and we are bored. Swim team is over. No camps on the horizon. Mom is a terrible planner, and it’s too hot to just wander down to the greenbelt for some hiking.

Now compare us to ole Phineas and Ferb, who every morning wake up to new experiences. Build a rocket ship? Check. Build a coliseum for granny roller derby? Check. Theme park? Check.

The only screens they are interested in are the ones they build themselves.

Then there is Phineas & Ferb’s mom. Blissfully unaware of her kids high-jinks, one episode found her at a neighbors house. During the day. Without her kids. Playing cards.


 The best part of it all? At the end of the day, all signs of any enterprises are wiped off the earth. Period. No mess, no bother.

So, Phineas and Ferb, come on over here. My kids are creative and daring, and with the right leadership would be excellent companions to your summer adventures. Plus, we have a garage full of tools. I’m sure you would be happy here.

I even volunteer to go over to the neighbor’s house to play cards.

Posted in Mothering | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Get around town

I drive a minivan older than my oldest child. In dog years, my van is 622. And, to be fair, it has been a darn fine vehicle. It has carried us faithfully on many a road trip, both local and our 3000 mile odyssey to Disney World last fall.

Like all of us as we age it is due a few malfunctions, both major and minor.

So when the transmission fell out, I shouldn’t have been surprised. And I wasn’t. But I was displeased.

And then began the age-old debate between my husband and I: to replace or repair? I firmly came down on one side of the issue, images of upgrades dancing in my head. In-car DVD systems, fancy speakers, cup holders that don’t have crud growing in them. Paint with nary a scratch.

Unfortunately, my husband, the wiser of us two, was just as firm on the repair side of the debate.

And now I drive a 622 1/2-year-old van (in dog years) with a gold-plated transmission. I’m sure that is what they used to replace it, given it’s cost.

And now, as we plan our next major road trip I’m grateful for those cruddy cup holders and that chipped up paint. It means we can focus on our journey and not keeping the car spotless.

In my mind, that’s the better deal, all around.

Posted in Small Moments | Leave a comment

Adventures of an advanced beginner

My blogging journey began as an outpost to my Facebook account. Some of the funny things that happened in my life as a mom required more words than the average status update. And this blog was born.

Shortly thereafter, Jett was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and this blog quickly morphed into my journal of sorts as I processed what that meant in our lives and to me personally.

However, over the last year I have focused less on his disability, and more on my own journey on our planet. He settled into his childhood with its ups and downs while my inner dialogue shifted to include my growth as a human.

My children are not babies anymore. My youngest, Letty, will be four in just a few months. She has most of her teeth, and can use the toilet by herself, successfully, 90% of the time. My job as a mother is different. All three children went to school this past year. I got a part time job. For the first time in 9 years I regularly to go an office on a set schedule every week.

I started sewing with a passion and creativity I’ve never shown another hobby.

We have lived in our new home for a year now. It no longer feels new, and the neighborhood is starting to feel like home with friends nearby.

I’ve even gotten into a fine routine with the no-poo, something I wasn’t sure was ever going to happen!

And as it turns out, I still have words to write. They won’t be focused on any one topic in particular, but will encompass my life as it is. A life where I find myself an advanced beginner on a few topics.

So stay tuned, if you wish. My musings may not be on something you find yourself called to do, but I do promise this: I will write with honesty, integrity, and a bit of humor where I can find it.

After all, life changes, why can’t blogs?

Posted in Grown People | 3 Comments

Turning 40!

I will be 40 this year. As I approach this milestone birthday a million bad jokes float through my mind. A million ideas on how to celebrate also float through my mind. Mostly, though, turning 40, for me, is becoming a fantastic excuse to think about who I want to be going forward.

First, I’ve been thinking about my outsides. I’ve been spending time exercising and reevaluating my skin care routine. I’ve been thinking about my mommy scars… those bits and blobs you get from caring for children. Yes, my body took a toll with pregnancy and nursing. The worst damage, though, came from constantly carrying an extra 20-40 pounds on one hip for, let’s see… almost 9 years now with no signs of letting up. Oh, and the sleepless nights.

Then I watched the Superbowl. More accurately, I watched Madonna perform at half time of the Superbowl.

Madonna was born in 1958, which makes her 54 this year. Incredible. Watching her I was struck by how young she looks, and how rested. She can move her body in ways I couldn’t at 18, and her face… oh it’s just so pretty. True, she lives and works in a community that prizes youth over almost everything, thank goodness that isn’t as true for me. But it is a little bit true. When I start thinking about my aging, I start thinking about how to fool the clock – make myself look younger and younger.

That’s not who I want to be, though. I don’t want to want to wear the same size jeans I wore in high school (good thing, too, since that won’t ever be the case.)

After all, when I think about the women I truly admire, Madonna (all her talent aside) is not my role model. The women I choose to emulate – my big girl* friends as my friend JP puts it, are the women who have already traveled the parts of the journey I am now on. They, almost without exception, don’t have washboard abs. They, almost without exception, have wrinkles. As for the rest of their looks, well, I am too busy looking in their eyes and listening to their humor and wisdom, to really notice much else of their physicality. I do know, however, without exception, they are all beautiful.

My big girl friends all know the value of being healthy and strong. That is the goal I’m setting for myself. I don’t need to look like a magazine cover, I just want to be healthy. And maybe well-rested. If that isn’t too much to ask.

* Big girl friends doesn’t refer to anyone’s size. Rather I’m referring to those girls in school a year or two older than us. Remember those girls? Gosh, they were cool. Now I am lucky enough to live in a community with women older than me who are just as cool as those girls I knew in school.

Posted in Small Moments | Tagged , | 2 Comments


Sometimes I am jealous of my husband, J. When he has free time he knows exactly what he wants to do. A talented musician and photographer, he is never lacking in projects. What he lacks is time… the sob story of parents around the world!

My own hobbies are more nebulous in nature…  I do love to sew and knit, but I also go long periods of time without doing either.

Someone asked me recently what I would do with myself if money and time were not a factor. I had a hard time answering the question.

I love to make lists. At one point in my life I had a notebook of lists. Books to read, places I wanted to eat, tasks to do. I loved making the lists and marking them off as I completed them. The week before J and I got married we hung a giant poster board on the back of our front door with a list of things to do for each day. It was very gratifying to see our progress each day and fun, too, to mark the passage of time until our wedding by listing the errands we still needed to do.

I don’t make lists anymore. My iPhone with its notes feature and electronic calendar have replaced my notebook. I miss my lists, though.

I want to keep thinking about my passions and what makes me happiest (besides my family and friends of course).

Maybe I’ll grab a notebook and start making a list. I know lists aren’t really a hobby. But maybe they can be the tool I need to discover more about myself!

Posted in Small Moments | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Wicked and my child

I saw Wicked over the weekend with some good girlfriends. I was a theater major in college (the first time around) and it had been an embarrassingly long time since I had seen a live show of any kind. Musical theater is one of my first loves, and Wicked didn’t disappoint.

I was unclear of the storyline heading into the theater. I had a fuzzy idea it was something to do with the Wizard of Oz, and I knew they had sung a few of the songs on Glee, but that was my only knowledge.

So when, in the first few minutes, the lead character is ridiculed and shunned for being different, I cried.

It’s such a universal story, isn’t it? The ugly duckling story. Who of us hasn’t had a moment (or several) of feeling unloved, like you don’t belong? I’ve always been sensitive to the excluded, because I have spent much of my life feeling like I didn’t belong.

This time, when I heard the story, I cried not only for my own pain, but for the pain of my child.

Jett has a disease/condition/syndrome/whatever you want to call it that is characterized by not fitting in. Not belonging.

The ugly duckling in me aches for the ugly duckling in him. That pain is the reason I ask every day “who did you eat lunch with?” “who did you play with at recess?”. That pain is the reason I rejoice when he has a happy answer. And it’s the reason I hurt when he replies “nobody”.

My child doesn’t literally have green skin. And thankfully, no one experiences him as wicked. But like Elphaba, friends are few for my son.

Jett, too, will have his swan moments. Those precious times when all is right, and you belong so completely to the minute you are living. I wonder, though, how does his Asperger brain experience it? Are the hurts the same for him as they are for me? Am I making my own ugly duckling thoughts his?

He had a field trip on Friday, and I asked him who he sat with on the bus. “Nobody” was his reply. My stomach ached. I went one step further…”So who was your buddy?” “I didn’t have one.” The pit grew deeper. I tried once more, quietly. “So how was the field trip, then, honey?”

“Great! It was one of the best field trips I’ve ever been on!”

In his mind the awesome-ness of seeing a blacksmith make not one, but two, kinds of knives more than made up for any company, or lack thereof, on the bus.

Maybe he experiences his green skin differently than I do. Actually, I’m sure he does. And maybe, just maybe, watching him learn to navigate his differences, his ugly duckling moments, will help me learn how to navigate mine.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you


Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

“For Good” Wicked, Original Broadway lyrics




Posted in Autism / Asperger Syndrome, Mothering | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments