Tuesday, August 26, 2008

QUICK chicken and dumplings

A recipe for my beautiful, wonderful sisters!!

All of us are struggling with these allergies/cold/that virus we have had since last October (I kid you not)/whatever this is. Whatever it is, it seems to be perfectly at home in our sinuses, ears, and lymph nodes...much to our dismay. It has been going on long enough that we have developed a family cope: whoever looks/feels the worst automatically gets the extra sympathies for that day. When it is one of the kids, they get extra naps, when it is me, I get to not have to make supper, when it is TWS he gets cooing from me and last night he got QUICK chicken and dumplings....(I was in town most of the day and we do not have much chicken in the freezer).

Now, for REAL and PROPER chicken and dumplings, you take whole pieces of meat, with bone AND skin, and boil them in seasoned water until the meat falls off, then you pull the skin and bone out. But this uses canned chicken, canned broth, and homemade dumplings.

Now, before we get farther, we need to have a chat ;). There are northern dumplings (which might also be eastern dumplings--there seem to be some similarities in those regions) which are fluffy biscuit type things that rise to the top of the bowl. THEN there are traditional southern dumplings which do not have leavening, and are thick and dissolve slightly in the broth, making it more of a VERY thick stew instead of a soup.

(You might say "How does SHE know which is northern and which is southern?!? My southern grandma always made them fluffy!" Actually I googled it because I was curious! If you are a GRITS who eats fluffy dumplings, I PROMISE that no one will take away your membership to the Daughters of the Confederacy :-). Likewise if you are a northerner who likes dense dumplings, no one will toss you, shotput-like, below the Mason Dixon! :-) ).

Either way, this is how I made them last night. It takes about 20-30 minutes to make, maybe 40 at the most.

Expedient Chicken and Dumplings for 2 (possibly 4 if the kids are small and do not eat a ton lol)

1 or 2 cans chicken (dark meat gets less stringy than white, but either is good)
1 box LOW SODIUM chicken broth (or no sodium)
about a cup of AP flour
about half a stick of butter
Soy sauce

Put the broth and the chicken (undrained) in a 2 quart pot and start to medium boil. Slice the COLD butter into very thin pats and put in the flour. Slide the butter in the flour between your fingers until you have broken it up some into dime sized pieces. Add milk to make a STIFF dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and quickly fold and turn about 5 times (you do not want the dough to fall apart too quickly). Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut squares around 1.5-2 inches (it is not necessary to measure, you just do not want them narrow). Put in the boiling water but do NOT shake the excess flour off.

Add a splash of soy sauce to give "depth" of flavor. This is probably a tablespoon or three. Do not add too much, it is salty, BUT because we did not boil the bones and skin, there are "flavor notes" missing that the soy sauce adds.

Pepper liberally also while the dumplings are boiling.

Much of the dumplings will start falling apart--that is fine! You want a very thick, stick-to-your-ribs sort of broth. Start testing the dumplings for YOUR desired doneness at probably 15 minutes and checking every 5 minutes thereafter. It does not take long for the dumplings to be done.

WATCH THE POT! This is not one of those "fix and forget" type dishes. Because part of the dumplings fall apart, the starch will stick to the bottom of the pot and BURN! And it happens quicker than you think! Burnt flavor goes all through the pot, so it makes good sense to stir it occasionally and keep it cooking at just above a simmer. (I like to do dishes while it is cooking).

There ya go. Make sure that there is enough pepper to give it some flavor, if you like pepper. Also make sure to go LIGHTLY on the soy--especially if you have used full sodium broth. You can always add more.

This is like chicken soup--the pepper helps clear the sinuses, the broth adds hydration, the salt soothes and disinfects the throat and helps you hold on to water that you are probably losing from runny noses or post nasal drip or fever, both chicken and dumplings are easy on the digestion, and the hot, soft food is good on a sore throat or when you just feel punk.

Of course if you have the time, make the proper chicken and dumplings from scratch--much more nutrients from the bone and fat, and frankly the flavor is better. However, this is a good quick meal.


Or "Welcome to the chaotic mess that *IS* my brain...."

You ever just do something stupid?

I awoke after a bad dream (still trying to figure out if the dream was significant or if it was just a dream). In the dark, eerie, timeless, half sleep, I realized that the furnace man was coming in the morning to check the furnace. I was SO thankful I had remembered, because I would have been tempted to sleep in! BOY! And to think that usually I forget appointments until Precious reminds me!!

I padded into the plant room at about 4 am and see that, yes, I have it written down that he is due at 930 am. I am a severely behind on my laundry, and the furnace is in the laundry room, so I decided I would get up early to do laundry. I had considered staying up, but frankly I was too tired, so I made sure my alarm was set and tried to go back to sleep.

So it is 630ish, and I awake before my alarm. I am obsessed with the thoughts of getting things done before the furnace guy comes. I am so tired that I keep falling asleep in my prayers. I wonder how much time I really need to wash 5 loads of laundry....scratch that, HIDE 5 loads of laundry. Thank the Lord that the house was presentable from our weekend company! I even remind TWS to make sure the furnace guy has a straight path in the garage to that furnace, and TWS assures me that he will make it happen BEFORE he has to go to work.

I get ready for the furnace guy to come, make sure the boy is awake and doing homeschool. I make myself presentable. 930 passes and he is not there. But he sometimes runs behind. I help little man with homeschool and realize it is 11 am and he still is not there. I go up and call him while he is on another job and say "I thought we had an appointment on the 27th at 930 am?". He says "Yes, on Wednesday." I pause for a moment before that sinking "No, sparrow, YOU are the idiot" realization hits the pit of my stomach. With the furnace guy sounding nice, but busy, I stammered what I hope was something reasonably coherent (though I cannot remember what it was) and hang up.

I realize that all day I have been thinking that it was BOTH Tuesday AND Wednesday! I KNEW it was Tuesday because the kids have art today. I KNEW it was Wednesday because I am positively brilliant at 4 in the morning (no, not really!) and because the furnace guy is supposed to come and because for once I did not forget it, so it HAD to be Wednesday.


WHY did my brain not connect the thoughts of "Tuesday art class" and "Wednesday furnace guy"?? Why did it become "Tuesdayfurnacewednesdayclassguyart"??

Apparently my brain is just mush, and now the furnace guy knows it too--up til now it had just been the secret of me and TWS (um, and my mom, SHAW, my daughter, my father, my wonderful grand-neighbor down the street....and everyone I had spoken to in the past 6 months).

Blast it, now I have to find a new furnace guy who does not know that I am an idiot. Which is a harder task than it sounds...there are not THAT many furnace guys in town. They are all eventually going to realize that my brain spends most of its time saying "Oooh!!! Butterflies!!!"

And to think I could have slept in!

Veteran's Stand Down

Good morning my beautiful sisters! Praise the Lord for His mercy and kindnesses!

This weekend I had the incredible opportunity to go to something called a Veteran's Stand Down. This is a large event where veterans can come to one place and get free lunch and breakfast, free gear (sleeping bags, cots, boots), information about services they are eligible for, legal advice, and medical care.

TWS told me about it a few weeks ago. At first I was eager to go, then some fears got to me (don't ask...they were too stupid for words), then TWS said that he thought they had plenty of people. But then a day or so later he said that ONE of us needed to go, so I went while he stayed home with the babies.

I thought I might volunteer to do vision screening or something of that sort, but when I got there the volunteer coordinator had me handing out bags of food. I will be honest, I wanted something more "Important" or something....maybe health care related. I even said a prayer to the Lord "I wanted to do something IMPORTANT!". But of course I was not going to decline, so I set to work.

Ladies, may I say that the Lord knew EXACTLY where to put me? I mean, I had THE BEST job of the WHOLE stand down!!!! Next year that is EXACTLY the position I want! I got to see everyone coming in and going out. I got to chat with TONS of vets. I got to hand out big safeway bags of food (something that this prepping southern woman just REALLY goes for!). I got to meet the NICEST people! I wore my headcovering and I had a ton of people asking me about it, all nice and respectful to me.

(BTW, that is one reason why I love to wear a headcovering--people will come up and ask and we can talk about faith....something they probably would not do if I was not wearing one)

There was a booth next to me with the most adorable student there. She is either going for her master's or PhD in psychology, I believe. Both she and her supervisor were kind and inquisitive and warm and open. They were a cup of cool water to me, I must say. We talked about our lives, our theories (though they probably did not get many words in edgewise--I tend to go on about things....lol). I probably would not have gotten the chance to talk to them if I had been anywhere else in the conference center.

There were a couple of other people of note. One was a wonderful woman across from me who saw that I was standing and brought a chair for me to sit on. She was smiling and kind and just one of those happy people. There was another woman who started working the booth with me when I sat down for a moment. She looked stern and unhappy, but she was WONDERFUL actually! She chatted and talked, rarely smiled, but every smile was like a precious jewel to me! She was just a REALLY neat person.

I met a woman who had been an army nurse. She was disabled, but her heart surely wasn't! She was energetic and probably the most encouraging person I have met in a long time. I ADORED talking to her, and was sad when it was time to leave.

There was one other person that I really want to mention. There was a vet...a sort of youngish man, maybe in his 30's or early 40's at the latest. Ladies, I BEG of you to please lift him in prayer. I have never seen a face that mirrored such torment in my life. He could barely lift his eyes to look at me or anyone. I gave him a bag, and he mumbled a "thank you ma'am" with the quickest of glances, then looked down at the ground again.

When I say that he looked like he was in agony, I do not think I can convey the depths of the pain on his face. I have NEVER seen the like, even on faces of people who have lost loved ones. He had bright blue eyes, and would have been fairly handsome, but the shame and the torment was all you could see.

Pain, agony, torment....I keep repeating those words because there is not another word in the English language that I can think of that fits him.

Please pray for that vet. I do not know if he is ashamed of something he has done. I do not know if he is kind hearted or hard hearted, good or evil. I do not know if he is in chronic physical pain or if the pain was all in his heart. I just know that I have never seen suffering etched into a face like that before. He looked like a beaten child.

Speaking of children, I would like to take a moment to mention something disturbing that I found out....there is a home run by the VFW for veteran's families. That is wonderful! But part of the clientele of the home is for children whose military parents leave them there. Sometimes it is because both parents deploy, sometimes they have a single mom who deploys and has nowhere to keep her children.

I know that I am probably going to get some serious hate mail for this, but we have GOT to be reasonable here! To me nothing illustrates our loss of any sense of reason that our country is facing than having mothers abandon their children to go fight in a foreign country. Our government needs to stop thinking of trying to treat women as men, and start treating them as WOMEN and MOTHERS!

Those mothers might be able to hide tears and do their work, but those babies NEED their mothers.

The Lord was VERY clear about where mothers need to be--at home raising their own babies. I have no idea how we are going to get out of this nonsense of mothers not being necessary to raising their babies, but we need to get a clue...and fast.

Thousands of children are being sacrificed on the altar of progress, finances, and career advancement, and nothing shows this more than mothers who are being deployed and having to leave their babies with strangers.

Mothering is not about just making sure the child is fed and does not hurt itself. Mothering is about RAISING your kids, nurturing their minds (educating them!), their souls (teaching them the Lord EVERY day), their hearts (being there for every hurt and triumph), their bodies. Mothering is NOT just babysitting without pay. Mothering is MOTHERING.

There are many hurdles, I know. Husbands who want their wives working outside of the home. Women who do not have a husband. Society and friends and relatives who think that being a mom is being lazy. It is hard when everyone around us only values what they can see in the checkbook or the driveway.

We need to work to the point where nuclear families stay together, where family groups stay together, where single moms have support that they need from extended family, where husbands and fathers (as well as wives amd mothers!) start valuing motherhood over finances. I am not saying that women should never work--many women in the Bible worked. But they worked where they could also take care of their babies. There were extended family groups that could help each other out in tough times. There was less industry, so there were more "home based" businesses, so to speak, where the mother could keep her children with her.

I know there are women reading this who might say "But I WANT to come home! My husband will not let me! (or "I am a single mom and have no one to turn to")". Please understand that I am not criticising you IN. THE. LEAST. I TOTALLY understand that. Unfortunately, our society is telling men as well that women should be away from their babies. I am not advocating disobeying your husband AT ALL. I am not saying that you are being a bad mother. We can pray that the Lord changes your husband's mind, and the Lord will work for you, leading your life in the path it needs to go.

As for women who can stay home, PLEASE do so. Your babies need you. A nurse can bind their wounds, a teacher can teach them to read, a sunday school teacher can teach them to sing "Jesus loves me", but you can do all those things. AND no one AT ALL can replace you as a mother. No one can mother your children. They can teach them, kinda. They can heal some of their wounds, but no one can heal the heart as a mother can. No one can know the child deeply like a mom, so that we can see trouble coming BEFORE the principal calls home. We are kinda like a farmer vs a migrant picker....the farmer nurtures his crops, touching them and looking at them, fretting over them, praying for guidance, spending every day in thought of his tender seedlings, watching the "weather", and threats to his crops. Every day he toils in endless circles of plowing and weeding, watering and feeding. Round and round with seemingly no end in sight. But OH--days on end with the Lord as his guide, with his little ones growing strong around him! What great blessing in the mundane and repetitive tasks!

A picker just picks and plunks--picks the fruit and plunks it in a box, without a thought to the overall health of the field or the plants or the nutrients in the soil. Everyone else in the world is just a migrant worker for your children--filling a small square, but not able or willing to see the entire process from beginning to end. The Lord gave you that wonderful position and gave you YOUR children ON PURPOSE. Each child is a unique creature and each child needs a specific type of mothering, and you are the one that the Lord chose for that purpose. Please understand your worth in that!

And just like if a farmer fails in his work, society suffers with lack of nourishment; if a mother fails in her work, society suffers with a lack of godly men and women. The farmer and the mother...two of the most unsung heroes of our society. Unrecognized, toiling day and night, poorly paid and disregarded. But actually being in charge of society itself, for without either one of them, society would starve physically, mentally, emotionally.

If my words anger you, then pray. I will pray too, that I am giving counsel that the Lord would have me give.

If you want to reply, then do so. Just know that I am not "picking on anyone". I just grieve for the babies who so desperately want their mothers, and grieve for the mothers who have not learned or are not able to delight in their babies and their calling, I grieve for the mothers who DO delight in their babies, but cannot stay home, and grieve for society and the government who would sacrifice both babies and mothers and fathers and itself for unsound notions of "progress" and "pseudo-equality".

Please pray for that veteran and all of those veterans. Please pray for the babies whose mothers are sent away, and pray for the mothers who cannot come home due to military or husbands or circumstances, that the Lord would show them the way home and would open the path and that the women will go down that path WITHOUT FEAR, relying on the Lord. Pray that women would see their own true worth, the value in the Lord, and not look to what they themselves value (for most of us really want recognition and "fulfillment", if we are honest with ourselves), or what society values. Pray that mothers would learn how to take up their cross daily, sacrificing their own wants and desires, and relying on the Lord to give them what they need.

Pray for the husbands who do not understand their own role as provider and head of the household, that they will understand that role and embrace it with the wisdom the Lord gives. Pray that husband see their wives and children in new light, falling in love again with them and caring for them as they care for themselves. Likewise that wives fall in love again with their husbands and children.

Pray that husbands understand that their wives are wives and mothers first, and should be able to use their talents and gifts there--the Lord has made a way. Pray that each mother would be given what she needs. Pray that each husband and wife would learn to do more with less, to live simple lives, to value the Lord and health and family and sunshine, not boats and cars and expensive houses and expensive toys. Pray that each child grows in wisdom and love at home where they can be filled with the Lord and with the love of the parents for each other.

Pray for each other, and please pray for me, that I might only speak what the Lord wants me to speak, that any anger I stir is only the last clap of thunder before the healing rain of wisdom falls on someone's life. I know that I get irritated whenever I am shown something that I could fix in my life because my natural self has its own wants and needs, and that soon my life changes for the better if I relax and let the Lord work. But boy, that irritation gets strong at first!

Pray that mothers, single or married, who feel overwhelmed and over burdened do not take this post as an accusation--this is not meant to accuse but to encourage a mother's heart to home. If your heart is already at home, then there is only prayer for you that the Lord will allow your circumstances to change! If your are married, then it might be through your husband's changing heart. If you are single, it might be through other circumstances. No one is questioning your heart or love...we just want to pray for you to be where you want to be--at home with your babies. :-)

If your body is at home, but your heart isn't, or if you are at work and think that you would be too bored, would "go crazy", if you "had to spend all day at home with the kids", please pray. The Lord knows what He is doing. He will not let you go crazy, and He will provide EVERY need. It might not be the way you think, but trust Him. He will never let you down.

Have a beautiful blessed day, my beautiful blessed sisters!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Windows and the ways of men....

(Sisters, this is one of those posts that seems really preachy. It was not intended to be! Please do not accept this as delivered in the spirit of criticism--I promise I do not mean it that way. I just come across that way sometimes when I write, and frankly I am usually talking to myself OR an rebuking weaknesses and temptations that are common to most if not all humans, including myself. Pray over whatever you read here and see if it applies, see if the Lord has wisdom for you here. If not, then ignore it.)

My handsome men before their trip in the mountains.

My beautiful Sisters!!!

I am sorry for my absence recently, but have been deep in thought, prayer, and activity.
Little Man and TWS have both been under the weather, though Little Man seems to be done with it. I think I probably have it too, but it is nothing for me to complain about--mild and ignorable. (though if TWS was not feeling so bad, i probably would be looking for a little sympathy from him lolol).

We installed two new egress windows in the babies' rooms (babies--they are 12 and 9! lol). This is something that I have wanted to do since we moved in here. These new windows are triple paned, argon filled, and work like a dream! The Lord is so kind to us in many ways, including us getting these windows.

I helped TWS put these windows in, which is always fun. He is very patient and he is just so handy and capable! He makes me feel like I am actually ASSISTING, not just "being a good helper for daddy" lolol. He sometimes sent me to the garage with a board so I could use the chop saw (SOO much fun!) to cut it to size. Most of the day I just followed him around and wrote down measurements, but I still got to help :-).

I have to praise the Lord for the sweet man that TWS is....this weekend was one of those "warm in the sun, cold in the shade" weekends. We had to make many trips between the house and the garage. Many times when we would go to the front door, TWS would pause and let me just stand in the sun for a few minutes, being warm and relaxed. Then we would go in the house. All weekend he was encouraging me to go stand in the sun! I am so grateful to the Lord for his thoughtfulness!

Anyway, because the rooms are in the daylight basement, the previous windows were high, smaller, and the new windows were big enough that they needed to be below the dirt line. He did all the heavy digging, had to reframe in part of the windows, and even had to deal with the electrical wires and pipes in Precious' room. This is where the Lord blessed us AGAIN. TWS thought he might get partway through the project and either need to rip out giant areas of sheetrock and/or call an electrician. HOWEVER, thank the LORD, there was a ton of slack in an electrical line and we were able to just nudge it down farther into the hole it already was!

Because the windows were below the dirt line, we had to dig out the dirt and place something in there. TWS used treated lumber and made what looks like little decks outside each window. They were SO pretty that I told him that I could just see little planters of flowers on each side! Precious is excited to put seed out so she can do some bird watching right outside her window.

There were some ideas that I would like to share. One thing I want to encourage EVERY woman to do is to find something that she can do with her husband. If he likes cars, learn how to work a wrench. If he likes old tools, then have him teach you how to grade them for worth (TWS and I used to go through ebay and he would ask me "what would you rate this one" and I would go down the list of characteristics for each level of collectibility--I got to be ok at that, and it was fun!). I know he might have hobbies that you would not pick yourself, but you get to spend time with him, and it seems to be something that many men enjoy. Frankly, the men are probably not going to learn to sew or knit with you lolol. SO, it is generally up to us to learn to appreciate the things they appreciate. I know that TWS likes to brag sometimes on me because of that very thing (he thinks it is cool to tell the guys at work that he got us "his and hers" pistols for our anniversary one year, and that I actually liked that!).

(You can also use their talents for your benefit lolol. If they enjoy wood working, and you enjoy sewing, see if they will build you are beautiful sewing table or quilt rack or something. They get to do what they want to do, but for you, and you give them the praise that most men crave!)

So even if a hobby that they have is something that you could not care less about, see if your sweetie would be willing to get you started in learning about it. You will be broadening your mind in any case, and you might find out that you REALLY ARE a car chick, or have a knack for something. For example, TWS is into bow hunting and took me to try archery one time several years ago. I discovered that the Lord had given me great talent in that, and I was state champion the next year. I am probably the LEAST likely candidate for it, as I have only one good eye, and it is terribly nearsighted (therefore I have no depth perception). I also get super stressed when people watch me do some things, and getting the shakes when you are trying to hit a target the size of a dime at about 18 yards with something the diameter of a green bean is REALLY unhelpful. But the Lord blessed me with that talent. I like to think that it is BECAUSE I am so ridiculously unqualified to be a good shooter that He knows I cannot take pride in myself in this in any way. I chuckle at the thought of the Lord saying "Hey, let's let the blind girl shoot...". This way I cannot be proud of MYSELF because it so OBVIOUSLY is the Lord.

(My first, and right now only, Robin Hooded arrow. This was many years ago.)

I digress....Then you get to spend time with your sweetie in other ways than intimacy, "hey hon, here is supper" or (in an exasperated fashion when he steps through the door after work) "TAG, you are so INCREDIBLY it. Take the baby, and I am going to go take a bubble bath...". You can be your husband's FRIEND as well as his helpmeet and wife. :-)

Now your sweetie might want "guy time" too--and maybe working on cars or something is his way of bonding with his buds. That is fine! Or maybe he has to de-stress in the garage after a hard day at work, withdrawing to his "mancave". That is perfectly normal for men as well.

However, you can probably find times when he might be more open to teaching you a bit about whatever interest him. Verbally praise his knowledge and ability and ask him to teach you. Most guys REALLY like to be appreciated for the "manly" stuff they do, and pretty much all guys like to "peacock" in front of their mates, showing off their knowledge and ability. Tis a wise woman who recognizes that in her man and encourages him. He will come to look for praise from her instead of from other people (including other women), because he knows he can trust her and that she appreciates him.

This is also why we must never cut down our husbands ESPECIALLY to other people--EVER! Every husband has quirks and struggles (as does every wife--we are all human). However, those are private UNLESS it is something abusive or immoral.

Do not tease him in ways that undercut his masculinity, even in jest. In each man, there is still a little boy who wants to know that he can cut it. Just picture that when tempted to overlook your husband or to criticize him to someone or to tease him. You might have defenses or habits built up that makes you critize or tease unkindly--drop them NOW as they have no place in your mind or marriage. :-)

In fact, get rid of all bad talking about ANYONE. When someone is critical of others, even if they praise me to my face, I do not entirely trust them not to talk about me behind my back. There is a difference between getting counsel from a third party ("I do not know what to do....they did this. Should I let my children play with theirs?"), sharing hurt feelings ("She did this...how should I react?"), etc and bad mouthing people behind their back ("She is such a slob....he is such a jerk....").

I thought of the Proverbs 31 woman's husband who praised her but NOT by belittling other women. He said "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.". Notice how he did NOT say "Other women are useless shrews, but you are good". No, he built her up by recognizing other women's worth and then saying she surpasses even women who do noble things.

There are two lessons here: one is what I mentioned earlier--bad mouthing others is NOT the way to praise someone, because you set yourself up as untrustworthy with someone's dignity when you do that.

Secondly, people know that we are being false if we do not recognize the worth in others, but praise them. It actually gives MORE weight to a praise when someone says "Yes, other people are excellent woodworkers/homemakers/students, but your work surpasses theirs.". At that point they feel that we are honestly evaluating their work, not just saying that because we are their mom, wife, or friend. There is a song lyric WRITTEN BY A MAN (Rodney Crowell, sung by Keith Urban) that says "I want to stand out in a crowd for you...a man among men.". He did not want to stand out as a man among mice (weak, useless men), but, to her,as a great man among other REALLY good men. Men want a competition, not a gimme.

Now, we have to be careful not to "appreciate" people too much! I honestly cringe when married women go on and on about movie stars, etc. We have to be careful not to lust (yes, women can lust too!), AND to be careful not to accidentally give our husbands the idea that we are setting them up against "James Bond" or "Indiana Jones". Even if they do not get the idea that they are not our heroes, it is still unfeminine and unlady like and ungodly.

Just like it is not cute or endearing to hear a husband talk about the "front porch" of a swimsuit issue model, it is not cute or endearing to hear a wife praise the masculinity or patoot of another man. This, I think, is the fault of society....giving women the impression that it is funny, cute, or acceptable for a woman to drool or gush over men who are not their husbands (especially in lustful ways). In the Old Testament, there were two sisters, if I recall correctly, who drooled over the virility and handsomeness of men they saw in paintings. Needless to say, these two sisters were condemned for that action.

I think we do not even realize what we are doing! I think it is a societal thing, but one we Christian women must renounce. It might seem harmless, but it hurts the integrity of the family, the brotherhood of believers, and the soul.

Back to a hardened, critical spirit.....If your heart is hardened for some reason, picture your husband as a little boy standing there, desperately trying to see if he is good enough. Frankly I think just about every man, no matter how successful or independent, still has that little boy part in them. Every time he casually mentions getting a carbeuretor to work, or just happens to point out a new project in a magazine he is thinking of starting, or when he offhandedly remarks about something at work that he fixed or an argument that he won, he is probably looking for affirmation of his masculinity from you about it, just like how we want to be affirmed as desirable, pretty, noble, etc.

If your husband had a harsh or absent father who never gave praise, *OR* if he was overindulged to the point where he never HAD to "man up" (and therefore does not know if he can), he will be especially sensitive to the slightest whiff of derision or condescension or DOUBT from you. The more macho a man acts, GENERALLY the more insecure he feels (not always, some of it might be cultural or societal). A man who is not desperate to discover his worth is one who can find the worth in others as well, including you. A man who CANNOT accept any help at all is one who probably still has doubt in their own abilities--their pride prevents them from accepting even reasonable help.

Also, many men get feeling the years slip away and need more praise when they are starting to realize they are not young bucks anymore. It SEEMS that was going on with Mark Spitz, the retired swimmer, this week. Now, I did not read the whole article, and I am not sure how accurate the reporter was, but online it was reported that Mark Spitz was saying that he could have kept pace with Phelps' gold medal, world record swim if they were both swimming in their prime.

Let's take the report of him saying that with a grain of salt (as it might be a misquote or misconstrued) BUT let's explore why he might say that *IF* that what it seemed at face value. Mark Spitz was a great swimmer. WAS a great swimmer. I mean, I am sure the man could still swim circles around me, BUT he is not competing in the Olympics anymore. But at some point someone sought him out this week and asked him about it. I think that was probably not the most tactful thing to do, frankly, and we wives can take a lesson from that. As wives we should not remind our husbands of their "advancing age" or any other weaknesses--our men are not stupid, they know how old they are. They feel the aches and ebbing strength. Our job is not to remind them that they are over the hill, but to remind them that they are still *MAN* enough to climb it.

So back to Mark Spitz. *IF* he did say what he did, and mean it the way it sounds, it sounds like he is missing the hunt, the chase, the praise and the affirmation. Our husbands do too. If they are unappreciated at work, if they are unappreciated in society, they look for ways to find appreciation and to prove to themselves that they can still "cut it".

So give your husband the appreciation he is looking for. Make him your hero.

If he brings up a challenge he is considering that is dangerous, risky, physical, etc, then affirm his ability to handle that challenge. Assure him that you KNOW he is masculine enough to undertake it, as opposed to pointing out all the risks and how you are afraid he will not be able to do it (too old, bad knees, it is too dangerous, heart problems, gout, whatever). Build him up. It might never get out of the "I bet I could...." phase for him. In fact, he might not actually WANT to do it....he just might want to hear that he COULD if he wanted to. He might just want to know that he can, and he needs you to tell him that.

Now, we, in our fear and caution, might instantly start saying all the reasons why they should not even attempt such a thing. I do that sometimes. But we need to bite our tongue and/or find a way to build them up WHILE addressing legitimate concerns ("Hon, I know you are strong enough to hike up that mountain--that is not even a question. But there have been a great deal of bear attacks this summer....is now a good time for that sort of thing?").

Besides our fears are probably unfounded. The Colonel is definitely over 60, has aches and pains and such, but is right now hiking through Yellowstone backcountry with several men in a fishing expedition. He has had several of these hikes planned throughout the years, and most with men much younger than he. But he not only holds his own, but is built up by doing so. Colastie is wise in recognizing that the spirit in him is alive and well. We live so much longer now, but men (and women) age DECADES before their time when they act and are treated as aged instead of as vigorous. I have seen 45 year olds that were "older" than the Colonel. Is the Colonel 30 anymore? No. But he is still strong and capable because no one is telling him he isn't.

So ladies, praise your dh often and thoughtfully. You may start to notice subtle cues that he is looking for some praise from you, so give it to him. Do not act surprised ("wow, for a clumsy guy, you did a great job"lol) but rather like it is par for the course ("that car sounds great....of course that is not a surprise, you are always brilliant with making a car run, it is one of the things I love most about you..."). Praise their ability and provision.

Look for ways to build your sons up as well. Little Man is realizing that he is growing into a man, but is still a child. So he talks to me in his regular voice, but talks to "the men" in a VERY deep voice. It is adorable, but it would be wrong of me to point that out to him and make him feel foolish (he is not being foolish, he is developing into a man). He is trying to fit in with the men, is striving to be one. He has to do that by acting like a man, being businesslike when they are around, holding back tears if he is hurt, carrying his own weight, being involved in decisions. It is hard (he is my baby!), but I need to recognize that and praise that ("Wow, boy, you are getting SO strong...you are getting to be such a man").

(TWS and Little Man a couple of years ago doing manly whittling)

Do NOT be false with your praise, of course, but find ways of mentioning the traits that you want built up in your children and husband. People will do more of what they are praised FOR, instead of stopping what they are condemned about.

One more thing...your husband might need different types of praise at different times. Sometimes he might need EFFUSIVE praise, GUSHING praise "Oh honey, thank you SO MUCH for this present! You are entirely too kind to me!". Sometimes he might need "duh" praise that conveys to him that you expect excellence from him because he is excellent, and that if anyone doubted that for a second, they would be blind: "Well of course the deck looks beautiful--you are a master craftsman. You always do exceptional work.". This is excellent type praise when they feel insecure about something.

Sometimes praise things that have been done for a while "You know honey, I just keep thinking about how great the car runs now since you fixed it. Thank you so much.".

Now, again, do not be flip or ridiculously overabundant ("Wow, what a masculine way you brush your teeth! WOW, you turned that page with the most incredible display of brute strength!") with your praise.....he needs to know that you are not just being a cheerleader, but rather a thinking woman who can recognize worth when she sees it ("You know, I am thankful that God blessed me with a man who can keep an engine running. It makes me feel safe.").

Wow, I do go on so, don't I! :-) Well that is what happens when I do not post for a while...all of my thoughts just sort of explode onto the screen lolol. I only meant to do a quick post as to not let y'all think I was not going to blog anymore, then to talk about the windows, then I just sort of blabbed all over the place! Y'all are patient as can be if you have made it this far!

In any case, pray over what I have said and see if the Lord is leading you to praise your man specifically in some way. Pray that the Lord shows you what your husband and your children need from you. It is not your job to tear them down or remind them of their limitations or failings--the world does that every day. It is your job to be a cup of cool water for their souls, to show them the Lord's work in their lives and yours, to show them their worth in the Lord, and to enable them to develop their talents and abilities that the Lord gave them so that they can use those in His service.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Random thoughts for Tuesday....

Hello my beautiful, wonderful sisters!!!

Just a few musings....

Anyone wake up every night at about 3 am? I do. Lately it has been pretty frequent. I had mentioned that this was happening in my post about focusing on the Lord, but the past two days I am still waking at this hour. THANK THE GOOD LORD that I am not waking in fear, or from a nightmare. I wake, feeling pretty much fully rested, and stay awake until about 4-5 am, then fall back asleep.

I have read several theories as to this, but there are some that make more sense:

1) Depression. TBH I am not the LEAST bit inclined to depression. Anxiety, yes (in fact the Lord had to lead me out of crippling anxiety). Depression, not in the least. If I am down for more than two days in a row SHAW is about ready to have an intervention with TWS.

2) Falling levels of cortisol due to the low point of the circadian rhythm....or something like that. This does make sense. Asthmatics will sometimes have problems at this time of night. Your body will rouse yourself to start producing more of the chemicals that it is lacking

3) Bimodal sleep patterns. This makes the most sense of all. Apparently some researcher took over a dozen volunteers and set them to what light would be occuring during winter in a latitude around Washington DC. After the first night (where the participants slept 11 hours making up sleep debt), they settled into a routine that is markedly different from our norm. They went through periods of "quiet rest" where they were awake, alternating with plunges into REM sleep. The article is here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DE6D71630F936A35752C0A961958260&sec=health&pagewanted=9

This intrigues me. I think that might be it. Our season is changing RAPIDLY into fall and there is a marked decrease in light levels. Or it could be the circadian rhythm thing.

In either case, that leaves me with a bit of a dilemma--I LIKE rising early! I enjoy getting up around 6 am after a complete night's sleep. I find that I am rising instead around 8 am. So either I find quiet, yet productive, activities at 3 am (unfortunately, most of what I like to do would probably wake others--like sew, etc), or I try to find a way to stop this pattern.

What I think I might try is a "reset". On the VERY off chance that this is a symptom of mild depression (though I am eating the same, not crying, very interested in activities, etc), OR if I just need a "reset", I am going to try to pick a night to stay up all night. This works with some people to stop a period of depression, and it might reset my circadian rhythm.

Or....I need to find some of y'all who have yahoo instant messenger who might be up at untenable hours to chat with! lolol

Another note: wanted to send my very best wished to the most wonderful art teacher (and friend!) we could have. I hope you feel better soon sweetie! (though I have to admit that it bugs the mess out of me that you were feeling SOOO under the weather and yet still looked so blasted beautiful! :-) When I am sick, as the Col would put it, I look "like I been et by a wolf and pottied over a cliff"!).

OH and another note! I am excited to try my version of frozen pizza this evening! I made it last week and it is cooking in the oven now. We will see how it goes!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


My beautiful sisters....

It is hard to read other blogs sometimes when everyone seems to have everything together. I want this blog to be uplifting, encouraging, etc. So I have wondered "Do I let my readers know that I struggle with things? Or do I just post happy, calm, "everything is under control" posts?".

Well, I am going to post about a struggle today....hopefully it will be encouraging in the "everyone has issues" way. I chuckle at the quote "It might very well be that the purpose of your life is just to serve as a warning to others". Maybe not my whole life, but definitely last night. Last night was the culmination of the Lord breaking down my tendency to draw close to Him, then stray when things are going well. I told TWS a few days ago that I am like a toddler who runs off in the mall--as long as I can see mom, I am embolded to wander. When I am obedient, listening to her, I cling to her

Same with the Lord: as long as I could touch base with the Lord, have one moment of closeness with Him a day, I would spend the rest of the day wandering in my thoughts and actions. But that is not acceptable! Just like a toddler in the mall, it is not sufficient that I just pop in and say "hi" to the Lord, or make sure I can see Him as I stray!

When I am obedient and placing Him first, the confusions of life, the pains, the fears LITERALLY melt away in an instant. I am not exaggerating! When I am at His feet and focused on Him, there is "peace which passes all understanding" guarding my heart and mind. I can literally feel broken and weepy one second, and then feel peace and joy the very next second, simply by where my focus is.

But as I said, I get complacent, emboldened. I start to wander, thinking myself totally secure. Then the Lord has to bring me back to Him with a lesson. I mentioned this in my blog a month or so ago, and it has happened again, much the same way! I got my focus on ME instead of Him, and found that the world is cold, dark, dangerous, sorrowful, hurtful, uninteresting, unbeautiful, and lonely.

This is how it happened:

I posted yesterday about the doldrums...the grey sky days that have been plaguing me (I honestly do not remember the last time I saw the sun!). When I posted, I still had some humor about the situation.

But my humor turned into frump which turned into a snit which turned into a conniption which turned into a melt down. It was coming, I should have seen the signs and made it my PRIORITY to turn my attention back to the Lord. But at that time, I was so involved in "me", that I did not know what to do. I was like my cat that I mentioned yesterday--ankle deep in cold water and nowhere to turn that was safe. I had bolted out the door of the temple of the Lord and found myself wishing I hadn't!

I will spare you the details of how bad it was BEFORE I went to bed. TWS and I got into a discussion that I should not have entered (I was not capable of much reason at that point), I spent all evening counting all of my frustrations and fears and such.

Suffice it to say that I knew I was in trouble when I started crying each time I lost a "bubble" computer game. Yeah, I was pretty much a mess.

But at this point I still was standing in the water, so to speak, not knowing where to turn.

So we go to sleep and I try to do everything I can to not have to wake up in the middle of the night. But I ended up having a dreadful, horrible dream. Not frightening, just ....ugh. So again, around 2:30-3 am, I am awake, my brain is filled with horrible images from my dream, and I cannot be logical at all. Every sound is something bad, the dark (which honestly does not bother me) is terrifying. My brain alters between images of that dream and fears of losing my family and a million other depressing and horrible things. I cannot decide if I should go check on the babies, go watch tv, stay in bed. Will I wake TWS? He told me to if I had a bad dream, but he is so tired! Do I go check the babies? What if I do and that wakes up TWS and what if I don't and there is something terrible happening? What was that sound?

Thank the Lord my glasses fell off the nightstand and that woke TWS. He was his usual, blessing-from-God, self, calming and sweet. An hour or so passed, and gradually my fears and frustrations diminished to the point where I could understand what was going on. I realized that my sleep problems, my emotions were all my own doing--I had gotten complacent with the Lord's grace, lazy with His mercy. When that happens, I think the Lord has to bring me to a point of sleeplessness for days, because my will and strength and self sufficiency has to be broken down with lack of sleep. I turned my focus back on Him and there was rest.

Sisters, please allow me to encourage you who have no peace to focus on Him. Now, you might say "I pray to Him all the time! I love Him!". Of course you do! I do too! But think about it this way....you know when you love your husband or children, you chat through them about this and that through the day, right? BUT that is DIFFERENT than when you are having those "bared soul" times, where you are paying close attention to them, listening to every word, you measure your response, you are not distracted. You are not multitasking, you are PAYING ATTENTION. THAT is the difference, at least for me. I tend to get to where I am talking AT God, not TO Him. I pray often, but they are more "fly by" prayers, or my mind starts wandering. I start building walls, hardening my heart. I focus on what *I* want, what *I* fear. I snatch back my broken toys and not let Him fix them. I get irritated with why won't He let us move....yesterday I was irritated with Him that He would not let the sun shine.....

Ok, I am going to stop for a moment. I was typing the last few words about letting the sun shine, and I looked over and it IS! I am not exaggerating! AT this very moment, the sky is bright, the leaves are shining and there are actual shadows! Praise the Lord for His mercy!!

WOW, that was neat! He is so kind to us. He is kind to us when we are obedient, and kind to us in His discipline. I praise the Lord for His grace and mercy, our ever present help in time of need....

OH! That reminds me of another something I was messing up. My dear sisters, I am ASHAMED of this. But the other day I was in a bit of a funk (it has been building). Well, almost every day at lunch, I read a Bible verse to the children. One of them was about Him being our ever present help in time of need. Now, I KNOW that He meant that for me. I KNOW that the Holy Spirit was saying "Child, listen! This verse is for you, to encourage you! This verse is given to you right now.". and.....i ignored it. :-(. I knew that it was for me, but I did not want spiritual encouragement, i wanted TWS to come home and say we were moving!!!! I wanted sun!!! I wanted....well I wanted what I wanted, not what God's plan was. And if I did not get what I wanted, I did not want anything else.

UGH, isn't that AWFUL?!? I am ashamed, but maybe this will keep y'all from making the same stupid mistakes that I make. I mean, the Creator of the Universe is giving me assurance and reassurance through His Word and then confirmation through His Spirit, and I stomped my feet. xsighx

Ok, I feel stupid.

Anyway, back to focusing on Him. Pray that He will show you how to focus on Him so that the blessings that He promises to you can be fulfilled. His promises are valid, if we do not have them, then that is because of US, not HIM. It does Him no good for us not to listen to Him. We are not doing any good at all to lead the lost, encourage the brotherhood of believers, or to give Him His due praise and glory if we do not have His promises taking place in our lives.

He will show you what walls you have up. He will insist that you stop relying on yourself. He will insist that you stop nursing your fears and grudges and grievances. He will insist that you abandon your anxieties and restlessnesses. He will gently admonish you to give up every little bit of "But I WANT this to happen" and to actually and honestly say "THY will be done.". Not "Thy will be done, BUT...." or "Please let Thy will be the same as my will..." but "If You, Sovereign Lord, in Your wisdom choose to take away from me my hearts desire, to prevent my dreams from happening, to move my life in ways that are different from my plans, I trust You. I accept this. I love You. THY will be done.".

He will show you what is blocking you from receiving the peace that passes all understanding. He will show you what is blocking your joy. I am telling you that it will all be you, not anything happening in your life. Joy does not come from every good thing happening to you. Joy is a gift from the Lord, no matter what is happening to you. Peace is not the cessation of the storm, but being with Him in the midst of it.

You might find, like me, that the peace and joy might be fleeting, maybe only an hour or a minute. Then it will seem to slip from your fingers as if you are trying to touch a rainbow. But do not lose heart! This just means that your focus has slipped. Now that you know, you can refocus on Him. If you are obedient, the peace will be steady and the joy continuous. If you are hardheaded like I am, He will have to bring you back to obedience, which is not pleasant but produces a harvest of righteousness. You will actually have peace in your painful situations, your fears will be foreign to you because He has given you the peace that passes all understanding.

I pray that you stop right now and go to Him. Right now ask Him to teach you (and then listen when He does!). Sisters, let my time of discipline serve as a warning for you to do much MUCH better than I.

Praise the Lord. Amen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Putting some by!!!

My sisters, loved by God!

Our ancestors knew the wisdom of "putting some by". It is wise to gather in times of plenty, so that there will be provision in times of leanness. For example, I have a friend who stored many dried goods, canned goods, toiletries. That became invaluable when her husband lost his job and was out of work for almost a year! Having food on hand means you can save a GREAT deal of money. Plus, I just love the feeling of having TWS say "Are we out of xyz?" and being able to go to the pantry and grab another box or bottle! If we get sick (you know how the flu will go around a household with children!), I do not have to try to drag out, infecting everyone in the store, to get tylenol or tissues. If an unforeseen expense comes up (for example, a tire blowing or an appliance breaking), we can use my grocery money for that without batting an eye. It is also wonderful to have extra during times when you know things will be more expensive, such as during Christmas, or vacations.

Plus, we can see how, if we had bought extra flour, for example, last winter, we would be able to avoid the high prices right now!!

Let's use the summer to store food for the winter. Buying in season is more healthful, cheaper, and frankly the food tastes better!

We do have wild blueberries up here, but the summer has been a bad one for berries. I bought blueberries that had come out of Canada, and the strawberries were my own.

This picture is of the berries after I have washed them, put them on saran wrap on cookie sheets and frozen them. The white on the strawberries is ice :-).

These are the bagged, frozen fruit ready to be vacumm sealed, baked into goodies, dehydrated, or canned at a later time (frankly, they will probably just be put on pancakes or in muffins!). If I am diligent about gathering produce in the summer, and frugal with its use in the winter, it generally lasts me until the next summer. I have done this with everything from collards to watermelon (the watermelon is PHENOMENAL!).

Please consider "going to the ant" and taking the time now to can, dehydrate, freeze, or juice the wonderful, fresh, local produce you can get. We trust in the Lord to take care of us, but part of that care is being diligent in the provisions as they come (something I mess up sometimes, unfortunately!).

If you have any questions, please ask! :-)

Have a blessed day!

Random thoughts...

My beautiful Sisters in Christ!

We all have times in our lives where time seems to be creeping at a snail's pace, the sky is grey, the routine is blah....what do you do when that happens?

There are times where life is not bad at all, it is just very....plain. Which is DEFINITELY good in many ways! But sometimes we just get that feeling like after we have taken a nap too late in the afternoon--kinda groggy.

I must admit, I am having one of those days :-). The week has been a rather stressful in some ways, but has been a blessing in others. TWS has been working dreadful hours, but I am grateful that he is working! Our fuel oil and gas are unutterably expensive, but our legislature just passed an emergency fuel bill that will give each person who is eligible for the PFD a check for $1200!!! What a mercy from God!

It is just sort of a slow day, and I feel a bit like I am waiting for a bus after traveling for many days--kinda weary, kinda restless. :-)

I have been following the Russia/Georgia mess online. I am amazed, and sorrowed, that the affair of a political person takes precedence over a potentially explosive situation. I wonder what our society is THINKING. On foxnews.com, their top story is a group of peafowl (peacocks) that are bugging an affluent Florida neighborhood. I just must wonder why this is such a big news topic as opposed to the conflict that might spill over into something bigger.

Ah, let's think of something else for a bit! I made homemade pasta today. I used flour, powdered eggs, salt, and water. I have a pasta rolling machine, but to be honest I have never really been able to make that work. The other day, however, I found a simple little pasta cutter with about 6 cutting blades set close together. I just roll out the dough and then roll that cutter through it. I READ that some Italian mothers placed a clean sheet on the bedspread and spread the pasta on there to dry.....I just used a wire rack. I am not sure how I would explain raw pasta on the bed.

I have been training the cat....this one

He is such a goof ball. He likes to be on his back more than any cat I have ever seen!!! He will go to sleep if you cradle him like a baby! And he gets grouchy if you try to actually click the mouse instead of petting him to sleep with BOTH hands...what a maroon! :-)

This is Little Man holding the cat...he likes to be held on his back and then SSTTTTRREEEETT CCHHHH. I cannot imagine how good that must feel! He does this almost every time we pick him up.

Anyway, this cat has one REALLY bad habit (well besides his ambush attacks on bare ankles, and his occasion "Kitty from above!" jump to tag your shoulder)...he likes to bolt outside of the door. He is an indoor kitty--it is really too cold here for him to be an outdoor kitty, plus I like having an indoor cat. He is getting bolder in his runs out the door--he used to stop right on the porch, but now he is tearing around under the deck. (though last time he escaped, it was during the recent rain. He is not fond of water, and ran right into a puddle that was up to his ankles! He just stood there immoble, probably thinking "Oh NO! What do I do now, everything is WET!". lol)

He is VERY hard to catch when he does that, so I knew it was time to train him like I trained the other cats we have had. I would give them wet cat food when I say "Heeeerrreee kittykittykittykitTEE". They learned to come IMMEDIATELY when called, which has saved us from many a lost cat, and has made it so I do not have to try to fish them out from behind some piece of furniture. Last night I started his training and he picked up QUICK! So now maybe he will not run off if he gets out. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who has a cat or a dog--a special call that they think means the very best of treats. (frankly *I* would come running if someone waved a donut and called "HEEEERRREE SparrowsparrowsparrOOOH!!")

Anyway, back to our original thoughts...what do you do when you are having a grey day? Nothing is wrong, blessings are abounding, but you just feel a bit restless and unmotivated at the same time? :-)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Homemade Powdered Laundry detergent

Hello my Beautiful Sisters in Christ!

I hope your day is going well!

I wanted to show you my homemade laundry detergent. I have been using this for a couple of months now and am VERY pleased with it. It is much less expensive than other laundry soap.

I decided to try it after realizing how expensive things were getting, and because I wanted to reduce some of the chemicals we use. I am not one that thinks "everything natural is good, everything synthetic is bad" (botulism is natural...but it is not good for you!), but I also want to reduce what I can, in price, waste, and exposure to unnecessary "junk".

I know that some people use this in liquid/gel form, but dry works better for me.

First we need 1 cup of grated soap (that is what is in the baggie). I have used fels naptha, but that is more expensive and harder to find. I find that I like a white dial bar better (I think it is mountain spring?). I use a regular box grater to grate the soap (it IS just soap after all! BUT rinse the grater off well before putting it into the dishwasher....you can get a LOT of foam oozing out of the washer if you have items with too much soap on them. BTDT!). Letting the soap dry out a bit is good, but I have made laundry soap with fresh grated soap too.

I have found that I can get two cups grated out of one bar soap (if it is not precise, do not fret, it is just laundry!)

Then I take 1/2 cup Borax and 1/2 cup washing soda. NOT NOT NOT baking soda. Washing soda can be more difficult to find. You can call the Arm and Hammer people and tell them your zip code and they can give you stores that carry it in your area. HOWEVER, do not be discouraged if they tell you that there are not any. They told me that there were none, but I found it at my Fred Meyer....they probably do not count EVERY Fred Meyer individually in their system, but rather the main stores or something.

If you cannot get the washing soda, you can get the same chemical (sodium carbonate) in the pool chemical aisle (it is a MUCH more expensive there, though) or order it online. I was originally going to use the pool chemical from Fred Meyer which was about $7 if I remember correctly. Then we went to the laundry aisle and found the washing soda, which was about $3.50 for a much greater amount!!

I put all the ingredients in this bale jar and shake them until they are blended.

I have a coffee scoop in there which is about a tablespoon. I use one tablespoon for lightly soiled clothing and two for heavily soiled clothing. I have a front loading machine, so you might need to use a bit more.

I also use vinegar in the rinse water for a fabric softener. I will be honest, it is not as "softening" as a bounce sheet (though it is more softening than nothing). However, it is much less expensive and has fewer chemicals. I put a few drops of lavender oil in the vinegar too. It does not make the clothing smell very much, but I enjoy the scent as I am doing laundry :-). I am considering putting a few drops of lavender oil on a cloth and throwing that in the dryer to scent the clothing itself, especially the sheets and towels.

Some people have had trouble with their whites getting dingy. I have not noticed that so far. I have noticed that, either because of the soap or the vinegar/lavender in the rinse cycle, that the clothing does not sour as quickly if I forget to take it out that evening. I cannot tell you how many loads I have had to redo because the clothing soured when using regular laundry soap.

As always, keep the ingredients, and the laundry soap, out of the reach of children and pets!

I hope this is helpful to you! Let me know how it turns out if you try it!