Our relationship is difficult. Aren’t they all? She eludes me. Her sisters were simple, easy to know, easy to pour into, easy to love, easy to understand. Leilani however, she is different. From early on, I struggled with her. She isn’t unlovable, but she is harder to figure out how she feels loved. So I have struggled with how to pour into her and to build a strong foundation.
We recently put her into therapy and it has helped her and I more than I could imagine. She has what is called SPD (sensory processing disorder), and learning about it and relating her sensory issues to her behavior has helped me understand her better. It feels like God has given me a key to unlock and decipher the code. Not only have I been able to connect with her in healthier ways, but I have been able to handle her behavior better.
I have been learning how to protect my relationship with her. Being a Mommy is hard and sometimes at the end of a hard day, its difficult to feel satisfied with my relationship with her. She drains me like no one else is able to. She pushes my buttons, and she drives me up the wall sometimes. But I have to fight harder to love her and to protect my love for her. I have to choose to see beyond the dramatic, emotionally frenzied day we had together, and choose to rather see the precious gift she is and the honor it is to be her Mommy. I have to choose to see the joy, not the strife.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8, NIV
She has an unquenchable thirst for my attention, and I have to choose to give her the security that I am here for her and that I am not annoyed by her, but rather delighted in her. Forging relationships can be hard, even between parent and child. And while my love is undeniably deep for her, my actions and my flesh need to overcome the difficulties and the struggle with raising Leilani and handling her SPD.
When Leilani was born, I remember telling her how thankful I was for her. And today I am thankful still for all that I have learned from her. I have had to learn how to see the world around me differently. I have had to learn to pay attention to details, to notice things that I would otherwise not even be privy to. To see how the world around her is connecting to her emotions, her curiosity, and her senses. And for that I am thankful. She is worth protecting. My love for her is worth protecting. Her and I are worth fighting for.
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.” Galatians 6:9, The Message
A year ago this week, I decided to try this recipe of homemade laundry detergent. I stuck to her exact recommendations… but then decided I needed to add another bar of soap, so I added a grated bar of pink Zote soap. Over the year, I have made 3 batches, so one whole batch lasts our family about 4 months. We do a lot of laundry. Brandon washes his filthy, grease-covered, cow manure caked work clothes every single night. Then on top of that, I probably do about 3 loads of our family’s regular clothes each week, and then one or two household laundry loads each week. That is about a dozen loads of laundry in any given week. Did I mention we do a lot of laundry?
I have decided to share my own recipe based off the original. I have since tweaked it to fit our family’s needs, experimenting with how much of what helps improve our washes, and is more efficient for us.
Here it is…
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe:
- 1 4lb 1oz box of Borax
- 1 3lb 7oz box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1 3lb box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- 2 3lb containers of Oxyclean
- 2 bars of pink Zote soap
- 2 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
- 1 container of scent cystals of your choice & amount (I used Purex Crystals, lavender scented)
- Use a kitchen trash bag (or other large bag/container) to mix together all the powdered ingredients.
- Grate the four bars of soap, and add the shavings to the mixture.
- Mix thoroughly, and put into any container you wish. Mine is the same glass jar used in the original recipe.
- To use, scoop 2tbsp and put in the wash basin before adding your laundry. Wash as usual. Sometimes I’ll add 2 scoops (4tbsp) if my load is particularly dirty.
I have increased the amount of bar soap to help cut the grease better on Brandon’s work clothes, and in turn it seems to help keep the wash basin cleaner from grime leftover after his loads. We can’t have contamination of those filthy work clothes and the women of the house’s clothing. 🙂 I also have increased the amount of Oxyclean too. I realized that with the girls clothing, stains such as berries and diaper blowouts, benefit from a little extra Oxyclean, even with pretreating. You’ll notice I put a cheesecloth with rice into the bottom of my jar, which helps absorb moisture and prevent the detergent from clumping and hardening. I also grabbed the extra container of scent crystals… I can’t make up my mind which brand I prefer. So I figured I would use the extra container to add into loads that I want some extra ‘oomph’ of scent.
Overall, I am in love with the recipe. Our clothes are always clean, fresh smelling, bright, and we are saving money also. Who doesn’t want to save money! I spend just under $40.00 to make one batch. Considering I used to spend $40 each month on laundry soap, I am saving well over $300 a year. I am sure another person who doesn’t do a dozen loads of laundry each week, would be able to make one batch last 6 months or longer. Now that is a good price for great detergent!
Our girls have always shared a room… always. For Christmas this past year, we surprised the girls with a new room “makeover”. It was very fun, and practically helped solve some of our room-sharing problems.
When Shiloh was born, she shared a room with us. Then Capri and Shiloh shared a room. But adding a third to the mix was somewhat challenging. Not impossible by any means. And now we have transitioned Leilani out of her crib, and moved the girls into a new sleeping arrangement. All without using a bunk bed! This was the “before”:
After scrapping the bunk bed plans. We decided to keep Leilani in a toddler sized bed, and trundle hers underneath her sisters’ bed. This allowed the big girls to keep their sleeping arrangement the same, and keep Leilani closer to the floor to avoid the inevitable ‘falling out of bed in the middle of the night’ scenario safer.
She has slept successfully on her new trundle bed for almost a month, and I think having her be right next to her sisters makes her feel much more a part of our bedtime routine. She runs to her little bed and urges us to pull it out for her, then crawls right up onto it and puts herself to bed. Its adorable.
My favorite part of the trundled bed, is that in the morning, Shiloh or I push it back underneath, and then the girls have their room back to play, and its saved us a lot of floor space. The trundle itself is very sturdy and the casters we chose to use allow it to be pulled straight out but not be swiveled much. It locks in place since its on a carpeted floor, but if we had hardwood floors in their room, we would have to have installed locking casters or another locking device. So far only Shiloh or us are able to push or pull it.
In our makeover of their room, we wanted to start with a empty canvas so to speak. So we painted the walls a great neutral grey color. Then we removed most of their decor and aimed for a simpler look. I printed out a fun pic I took with my phone back in the fall of the three of them laughing and sitting together. They LOVE having a picture in their room of them altogether. I also printed out a homemade map print for them to have. Shiloh and Capri are obsessed with globes and maps, so I figured it would be a fun addition to their room if they had one that they could read the names of the continents.
Recently I watched an investigative news report about the hidden dangers of corded blinds, and because of what I saw, I decided we would take them down and throw them out. So when we were in their room painting and rehanging curtains, we uninstalled the mini blinds. If we ever decided to instal new blinds, we’ll be choosing a cordless style. It felt good to get rid of that danger and not worry anymore.
Another thing we re-did was give our little play kitchen a facelift. Over the past 3 years, its been played with so much that all the little handles and knobs had been take off or broken. So we decided to reattach them with some permanent lock-tite adhesive, and then why not give it a fresh coat of paint? The girls hadn’t really played with it for a couple of months, but after Christmas morning, they now play with it almost every day.
My favorite part of their room is the new reading teepee. By removing Leilani’s crib, we had a lot more free space, and I have been wanting to put a reading nook for them ever since Shiloh started reading on her own. So the teepee became the perfect, fun solution. It was so easy! Poles, rope, drop cloth, and a few screws and viola! Done. The girls now sit in there daily and read. We even moved the pallet book shelves that Brandon made years back to a lower spot nearby. Now both Capri and Shiloh can reach their books.
Over all, I LOVE LOVE their room now. Its quite the update. Simple, and much better suited for their needs at this point.
I have been trudging through lots of self reflection as the year came to a close. And looking ahead… for the sake of all things ‘new year’, a new word to use as a reminder of where my heart is leading me. And my word is “authentic”. Authentic
In listening to my children these last few weeks, they have been telling me a lot of random facts that they have learned from friends, school, family, shows, movies, and books, and after each fact, they’ll usually say, “its the truth”. They take whatever is in front of them as truth. Whatever they are told, is true in their minds. I could tell them that the sun was cold and the clouds tasted like sugar, and they would probably at some point believe it as truth. Little sponges. Its a beautiful thing for them. Its an innocence that I will guard and keep safe as long as I possibly can. But its also caused me to examine my own heart, my own words… are they truthful, are they authentic
Brandon would tell you that I am sometimes too authentic… haha, see too much of anything can be bad.
But honestly, I have a lot of areas I could grow in regarding authenticity. I want my love to be authentic. God’s is. Jesus’s love for the world was so authentic it was nailed to a cross. Fearsomely authentic. I could use some of that practically infused into my day. Into the way I speak to my children when they are driving me up the wall, into the way I tell my daughter for the 10th time to do something, into the way I communicate with Brandon. Why do I fear Jesus’s love in those moments? Because really, His love is what will renew me when I need it the most. We all are drawn to authentic love, but perhaps its our pride, my own pride getting in the way. Pride is not authentic. Its the least authentic. Its very un
authentic. You get the drift.
I also what to live an authentic life. I desire to look into the roots of why I behave a certain way, and start uprooting those things. Replacing them, with God’s truth. The last thing this world needs is another person who claims to be a Christian, yet fails to carry out the truth of Christ. I can say lots of things, but if my words were truly authentic, then my life will show proof of it. I can only imagine all the rocky roads that lie ahead for me. But I always did like a challenge. God has really just been convicting me of so many things, and also putting a lot of strong desires in my heart. He has been bringing me to scriptures that are equipping me, and to ones that are making it harder and harder to ignore this whole ‘authentic’ ideal. I desire to live an authentic life, have an authentic marriage, be an authentic woman, speak authentic words, and pursue Jesus with an authentic heart.
1 John 1:6 (from the Message) ‘If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth– we’re not living what we claim.’
And I guess if you know me personally, I should apologize now, because I am sure you’ll see me stumbling along like a drunkard, messily sloshing through life as I press on through this next year. Isn’t that the truth? We get all excited and feel like we have a clear vision… but the reality of what it looks like is messy and far from perfect.
(remainder of the above passage from the Message) ‘But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared like with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.’
As a family, we have so much. So many things to be thankful for, so many blessings, so much love. We have trekked through over 6 years of marriage, up and down, around and through. We have triumphed, conquered, and won a lot of battles, and we have also faltered, crashed and burned, and failed in much more. We have welcomed three incredible tiny humans into our family, and made a mess of parenting, learning as we go. Lately, our hearts have seen a need in our family. Its not easy to define. The same way a smell is hard to describe. But Brandon and I have seen it, and we both are working to meet the need. Our little ladies feel like they are at a turning point where a lot of what their character and behavior will end up looking like, is being shaped right now. Silly you may think, but we see the need for them to be urged along in the right direction.
So with the season of Christmas upon us, we are taking every opportunity to teach them. And we have seen how Christmas ends up teaching them back. Sometimes it hasn’t been great things. Last year they surged through an all day marathon of Christmas on Christmas day, and then for the next two weeks, they kept thinking every time we saw family, there would be gifts for them. It was crazy. We had taught them all about giving, and they learned to love giving, but Christmas also taught them about getting… and my little girls sure love getting. Haha, and in last years case, they loved it a little too
So this year as we approach Christmas day, along with teaching them about Christ, about giving, about celebration, merriment, hope, and love, we are also teaching them about limits. We are gently showing them how limits work. “Yes you may have some yummy reindeer chow, but no you can not have a whole bowlful.” Seriously, I have to teach that to them. My second born would eat the entire kitchen full of reindeer chow if we let her. She needs rules. She needs those limits. So this year we are limiting the day. We aren’t going to do an all day long marathon. They can’t do it. We laugh about it because for the last 3 years we have said at the end of the day that ‘next year we can’t do this the same way’ and then we end up putting ourselves in the same situation, haha, you all know you have done the same thing once or twice. Am I right? Now that we have 3 kids in the mix, we are finally limiting the day. We are hoping by having a calmer evening at home, with only one big morning, our kids will be able to soak in the day and we’ll have time for them, for their needs. To get on the floor and play with each of them as they enjoy their new “whatevers”. To let the little ones nap and rest. And the whole day won’t fly by without us pausing to enjoy it.
Another new thing we are doing this year is a toy-free Christmas. Call me crazy. I don’t mind, sometimes I sure feel like I am. But as soon as the words slipped out of our mouths, we both knew that a toy-free Christmas is what we wanted. The way we have toys set up in our house makes it easy to do this. We already have lots of great toys that fill up their imagination for hours. The girls don’t really have any ‘wants’ for certain toys. And we feel like by doing a toy-free year, we might end up stumbling upon some fun new gift that becomes a sort of tradition. I definitely don’t think it would be something every family would enjoy doing, want to do, or need to do. But for us, it works, or at least, we are hoping it’ll work. We found great books for the girls, and some fun clothing items that they would enjoy and also need, and then we are also re-decorating their room for them as a surprise gift. When you have 3 kids sharing 1 room, its a challenge to fit everything in there, so we are hoping to get their sleeping situation improved, and then put a fun place for reading books and story time. Our stocking stuffers are all fun things they love like stickers, dried fruit, cookie mixes, coloring books, crafty items, hair accessories, and some of their favorite foods that we don’t always buy. I am hoping that their Christmas experience this year will be a turn for the better. That they won’t be as exhausted and instead be able to soak up lots of fun and love. And they’ll be able to enjoy more than just ‘getting’ this year. We are infusing their days leading up to it will lots of little lessons, giving times, and fun family activities.
If I look back, I can remember the Christmas when I was 5. It is just about the first Christmas I actually remember. So this year might be the first one that Shiloh remembers for the rest of her life. And I want her to remember great things, and to feel cherished, to remember being a part of it all. I can’t wait for the many years to come when these little ladies will join in more with cooking, baking, and all the things that make Christmas magical for me. Or maybe they’ll be like their Daddy and get in the season by finding a Christmas tree… or being outside in the snow. Or both. But we are finally taking the time to think more about them, and about being intentional with them for Christmastime.