How to Get Rid of Hard Water Build-Up

I love Pintrest. One (meaning my husband) might say I am addicted. It is OK though because I actually use many of the things I pin. I try recipes and crafts, but mostly I use the homeschool pins. 

There is one pin that makes its rounds quite frequently in my Pintrest “newsfeed.” It is “cleaning a shower head with vinegar.” A quick search on Pintrest brings up this. There are several versions of the method. Some use only vinegar. Others add baking soda or dish soap. I have been eyeing this method for awhile and I finally decided I needed to try it. I really try not to use chemicals in my home. We use “green” cleaners and so vinegar is a staple. 

When I finally decided to try this I opted for the easiest method. Plain vinegar. I also decided to try it on my kitchen sink sprayer since it wasn’t spraying well. I filled a glass with vinegar, plopped the sprayer in, and walked away. It was soaking for about 3 hours while the kids and I were doing school work.
When we were done with school I took an old toothbrush and gently scrubbed the surface. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. 
If you have hard water and mineral deposit build-up use a vinegar soak and it will virtually melt-away! 
Here are the pictures of my experience. 
faucet_before
faucet_during

faucet_after

Advertisements

Road Trip to New York

At the beginning of August Mark and I packed up the 5 kids and dog and took the nearly 24 hour trip to upstate New York. In order to avoid hotel costs Mark and I drove straight through. He definitely drove more than I did, but that is because he is just simply amazing 🙂

NY_Driving

Our first stop once we hit east of the Mississippi River was Dunkin Donuts. Oh my word, how I love their jelly doughnuts. I may or may not have eaten 2 😉
I have not been to any doughnut place that does their jelly doughnuts like DD. They cover them in a very fine granulated sugar. Most places use powdered sugar or glaze. I have even encountered frosted ones (blech). A few have kept them plain. None hold a candle to how DD does them though. Excuse me while I think about their yummy goodness for a minute.
OK, enough about my love affair with jelly doughnuts.

The second place we stopped was Wegmans. Ah Wegmans. How do we love thee? Sigh. I have never found a grocery store that compares to Wegmans. If you have never been then head east and go to one. Trust me. You won’t regret it. I love them and I splurged on their Greek Bar. I didn’t get stuffed grape leaves (what is wrong with me??) but I did get stuffed olives. Mmmmmm. Feta stuffed and almond stuffed to be exact. OK, now I am hungry. I need to move on.

NY_Wegmans

Our third stop was our friends’ house. They have 3 kids whom match up age-wise with 3 of our kids. We hadn’t seen them since we left New York 6 years ago. It was wonderful to catch up and finally meet their baby, who is just a bit older than Zen. I am so glad we stopped there and I pray we get to see them again soon. My only regret is we didn’t take pictures of us together! What the heck is wrong with us?!?!

The next day we took a 10 minute drive to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I have been wanting to see them for awhile now. My aunt is the sister I never had and I spent a lot of time visiting her when I lived in New York. My uncle is fighting cancer so I wanted to see him before his next treatment round. I got to see my cousin and her sons, one whom I hadn’t met yet. I also got to meet my other cousin’s girlfriend. Unfortunately he was at work so I didn’t see him.
They all got to meet Princess and Zen. Last time they had seen me I was pregnant with Princess and my cousin’s youngest was just a twinkle in her eye (meaning not conceived yet).
It was a gorgeous day and we spent it outside. The kids had a blast in my aunt’s amazing garden. They picked carrots and raspberries and broccoli and cucumbers. They washed them with the garden hose and ate them. They were in heaven. My kids love being outside and they love gardens. Overall, it was a lovely visit and i wish we could have stayed longer.

NY_Garden_Boys

That evening we loaded up and drove the 2 hours it would take to get to Mark’s parents’ house. They had never met Princess or Zen so this was an exciting trip.
Once we got there the kids ate snack and I dried all the clothes since they got soaked. They were in the roof carrier and it poured. Not just rain, but torrential downpour. Nothing was spared. Thank goodness we only had clothes up there! It was well past bedtime by the time the kids got tucked in.

The next day was my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary! We spent the day hanging out and then they went to dinner to celebrate alone. While they dined Mark and I brought the kids to the local YMCA to swim. When we returned Mark’s brother and sister and her family were there. His brother came up from Florida. We have seen him recently since Florida is closer for us to visit than New York, but it was still great to see him again. Mark’s sister lives close by to his parents’ house so we hadn’t seen her in 5 years. The kids were thrilled to catch up with their cousins.
It was great to see everyone again. The cousins all played together while the adults chatted.

The next day was the big day; the reason for the timing of our trip. My amazing sister-in-law had planned a dinner celebration for Mark’s parents but they had no clue that out-of-state relatives had come to help celebrate their anniversary!
We got to the restaurant where we had a private room. My sister-in-law had planned the menu and provided a cake. Mark’s parents were thrilled to see everyone. I got to meet people for the first time (crazy since Mark and I have been married over 15 years). The food was amazing and the restaurant was very patient and understanding about our food allergies. My in-laws had a great time. My sister-in-law did an amazing job making this memory.

NY-Park_Dee
Once we were all done we headed to a park across the street. My sister-in-law brought fresh fruit and water for everyone, the kids played, and we got pictures taken. Overall, it was an amazing time. Again, hats off to my sister-in-law. This never would have happened if she hadn’t been planning it!

What a joy to celebrate 50 years of marriage! Not everyone makes it to this amazing milestone. My in-laws are an inspiration. They have endured a lot through life. The road wasn’t easy and yet they stuck together and walked hand-in-hand. Their story is beautiful and I am so glad my children got to help celebrate with them.

The next day we piled the kids and dog back into the van. We stopped in Rochester, NY to have lunch with a very close family friend and then headed back to MO. Yes, it was a fast trip. We didn’t get to see many people whom we love. We also didn’t get to see any sites. We missed my favorite Rochester places like the Seneca Park Zoo, Strong Museum of Play, the Science Center, and Lake Ontario just to name a few. Although Mark and I and the 3 oldest kids have been to Niagara Falls it was a long time ago. We drove by the exit and I sighed sadly. Perhaps we will be able to go back soon. We shall see….

We are cozy in our home and settling in nicely. I am scrambling to get ready for the new school year. The kids are swimming nearly every day and I am slowly catching up with friends.

The trip east was too short, but I am so glad we saw who we could. Maybe next time I won’t let 6 years pass by before I see people!

Peace and love,
Andrea

**I am careful to post pictures that do not show people’s faces unless I have their specific permission. I opted not to post my in-laws, despite the fact the trip was for them, because I have not asked them if I can post their beautiful faces 🙂

Paradiso; A Step Back Into my Past

I found a poem I wrote in college. It was part assignment and part what I was feeling, seeing, and experiencing with some friends. I read it now and part of me thinks “This is great.” The other part of me wants to tear it apart and re-write it. Always a critic 😉

I decided to share it because it reminds me of who I was and who I am now. I was a young girl who loved writing, was trying to fit in, and struggling to discover my own identity. I am now a woman who still loves writing, realizes that fitting in is over-rated, and has a changing identity moment by moment; wife, mom, friend….

I also wanted to put this out there for my kids. I am more than a mom. I am more than a housekeeper. I am more than a teacher. I am a person. I have strengths and weaknesses. I want them to embrace that about themselves. They have strengths and weaknesses and that is OK because that is human.

Paradiso (July 27, 1997)

A dim, yellow glow illuminates this small, smoke-filled abyss.
The atmosphere is dark and heavy, yet tantalizing to the soul.
It cries out to the naive in a moaning sort of way.
Deceivingly, the sweet smell of virgin innocence beckons one to enter.

In the depths of my body awakens a new sense–a demon from within.
The sensuous call from the sinful spirit wets my appetite for the night ahead,
Drowning in a sea of intoxication, I find this damning abyss quite appealing                         to the hunger that rampages throughout my body and soul.

This dark confinement is devoid of all purity, yet it still allures one to enter,                            appeals to the senses, and causes sin to become guilt-free.                                                 The agonizing weight of the iron chains, that weighs down each prisoner,                            seems to go unnoticed as the disillusionment slowly kills one at a time.

Dizziness sweeps over my small frame as the titillating rendezvous kidnaps my heart.       The agonizing meeting is not the first, nor is it the last.                                                           The hour on the clock is insidious as the sly serpent seeks out a new victim and the           sleeping virgin falls seamlessly further into the abyss.

2014-08-23 11.46.40

For those interested I got an A- on this poem. I had to read it aloud and she marked me down for talking too fast.

Grocery Store Positives and Parenting Mistakes

10583946_10204610749294076_2534484130858803416_n

Here is a new picture of me and my guy. Picture by Zachary Maricle Photography

Earlier today (at the time of publishing it was actually last week) I was at the grocery store shopping and a woman stopped me to tell me I am “stunning.” She was talking to a friend and interrupted her conversation to tell me this. She wanted to make sure I understood just how beautiful she thinks I am. The conversation was only about a minute, but she said a lot in a few words and it impacted me.

Today I am not wearing make up and my hair is simply back in the same bun at the nap of my neck that I put it in every single day. I have only my wedding ring on for jewelry. I am wearing a simple black maxi skirt and a black tank top and flip flops. I blend in. I am completely average, yet she noticed me and felt I needed to hear that I am beautiful.

The thing she did next is what got me. She turned to my daughters and said “Your Momma is beautiful and you look just like her. You are beautiful children.”

Their faces glowed with pride. They smiled so beautifully at this stranger. They went from average children shopping with their Momma to beautiful angels in the matter of seconds.

Elf is dressed in her low-maintenance shorts and t-shirt with a simply pony tail. Princess is wearing a simple sundress that cost me a whole $1. Her hair is down and disheveled (the look she sports by mid day). They are clean, but they certainly aren’t “at their best.” They look like average children.

There are times I look at their freshly washed hair and their nicer clothes and I think “Gosh they are gorgeous.” Rarely do I think this when they are at the normal appearance. This isn’t because I do not think they are beautiful; they are. They are incredibly gorgeous. They have thick dark eyelashes and eyes that twinkle so prettily. Their smiles beam joy. When they are at their average I just don’t really fully appreciate these things.

Worse is I never, ever think I am beautiful. There are times I think “OK, I look well enough.” I never think I look great though. In fact, I am downright critical of my appearance. Some days I just do not care, but other days it bugs me. My hair is frizzy, I have wrinkles forming, I need to color my hair, I need to lose this blasted baby weight.

I know this self-criticism annoys my husband, but I can’t seem to stop it. I could go into details of my childhood and teen years, but that isn’t necessary to know I have self-image issues.

Today was a bit of an eye-opener. When this stranger complemented me and then turned to my girls and made sure they saw my beauty in them I realized I kind of stink at making sure my girls don’t grow up with self-image issues. I never, ever refer to them in a negative way…well, except when they have morning breathe. Gah, that is awful stuff. However, they see me and hear me criticize myself. This has GOT to be impacting them.

Sigh, I thought I was doing so good. I tell them they are smart and funny and creative. I dropped the ball at showing them how to love themselves by loving myself.

They never hear me embrace my strengths. I am not just talking about physical appearances. It is hard for me to even think about what my talents and strengths are. Do they even know what I am good at besides wiping snotty noses? Do they know I used to have a fully functioning brain, as opposed to the auto-pilot I seem to currently function on.

Not only is all of this impacting my girls, it is impacting my sons. I want them to marry strong people. I want the people they marry to have confidence. I want them to be successful in whatever they chose to do. However, they spend all their time with me and I am not showing them these qualities why would they look for them in their partner? I need to make some changes before it is too late.

Who was this woman? How did she know that I needed to hear these words when I didn’t even know I needed to hear them. I wasn’t feeling badly about myself at all. I was feeling average. Just a mom out shopping with 3 of her kids. Nothing spectacular and nothing really worth noticing, but she did notice. She noticed and made sure I knew and for that I am thankful.

Maybe we all need to start noticing those around us more. We don’t know what their struggles are. We don’t know their self-doubts. They could be having a perfectly fine day, but does that meant they aren’t deserving of a little extra positive also?

I learned three things:
1) Stop being self-critical, especially in front of the children. Instead embrace the qualities that matter and focus on that.
2) Notice people around me more and let them know they matter.
3) Apparently the grocery store is where life changing events happen for me. Maybe I need to start hanging out there 😉

200,000 Miles

My van hit 200,000 miles this summer. I knew it was coming and one day I looked down and it had passed. I had missed it. Nothing spectacular happened. No fireworks. No cheering. Thank the stars there was no disastrous breaking down. It was quite anticlimactic.

It made me think about when we bought this vehicle. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it wasn’t really that long ago in the grand scheme of life. A lot has happened since we bought this van so I decided to write about my life in 200,000 miles.

It all started in 2007 when I bought the van……

In 200,000 miles I was working in lactation for an inner city WIC office and doing hospital rounds. Mark was working at a very small account for his (now former) company.
In 200,000 miles I had 3 children.
In 200,000 miles my eldest was trekking through kindergarten and my baby daughter was allowed to go to work with me as a living example of how to breastfeed.
In 200,000 miles Mark took a transfer to a new state; moving our family halfway across the country.
In 200,000 miles I crossed the Mississippi River for the first time ever.

In 200,000 miles we made our home in the Midwest.
In 200,000 miles my eldest son started first grade.
In 200,000 the school nurse called to tell me my son’s head got cut open on the playground; he had to be stapled shut. This was our first “tragic” accident as parents.
In 200,000 miles I made it through my first tornado.

In 200,000 miles I discovered I was pregnant with baby #4!
In 200,000 miles I loaded up 3 kids and my very pregnant self and traveled to Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and then New York again for a summer-long trip to see family and friends (some whom I hadn’t seen since graduating high school!) and watch my beautiful cousin get married while Mark worked.

In 200,000 miles we drove to Iowa in the August heat, went to the famous Iowa State Fair, and watched one of our favorite people get married to his gorgeous bride.

In 200,000 miles my eldest son had surgery. This was a very hard time for me, yet he took it in stride. Bless him.
In 200,000 miles my second son developed a golf ball sized lump in his neck and we waited in scared horror for the results.
In 200,000 miles we learned that we were lucky and our son didn’t have cancer but rather a spectacular infection that would stick with him for quite some time.

In 200,000 miles I made the extremely difficult and personal decision to homeschool my children.
In 200,000 miles I taught 2 children to read.
In 200,000 miles I learned things I never knew as I taught them to my children.

In 200,000 miles we made an autumn family trip to Indiana to see another beautiful cousin get married.
In 200,000 miles I suffered from extreme hypotension and had to be induced and after a very scary birth of a blue baby (cord wrapped 3X around the neck) we welcomed another beautiful baby girl into our family.

In 200,000 miles we heard the gut wrenching scream of a child falling and breaking their arm.
In 200,000 miles my eldest endured a second surgery for the same issue as previous and my mom flew to Missouri to be with us.
In 200,000 miles we drove to Florida and saw family and went to Sea World; our first real family vacation.
In 200,000 miles we traveled to Florida a second time in order to visit with my grandmother who was staying with her daughter for a spell; a trip I am so glad I made because it was the last time I would see her healthy.
In 200,000 miles I made weekly phone calls to my grandmother and learned so much about her I never knew beforehand.

In 200,000 miles Mark’s baby sister celebrated love and got married.
In 200,000 miles we made several trips to AL to visit my parents.
In 200,000 miles we sat helplessly watching difficult times hit friends and family and we prayed.
In 200,000 miles we rejoiced over the good things happening to friends and family and we praised God.

In 200,000 miles we said good bye to Mark’s grandmother, my Great Uncle L (who I thought would live forever), and many others whom we loved.
In 200,000 miles we watched friends and family joyously welcome new life into the world.
In 200,000 miles we walked beside and prayed for friends who took the journey of fostering. We have learned so much through this and them.

In 200,000 miles our parents (all 4 of them!) had various surgeries as we stood helplessly hundreds of miles away and simply prayed for the best for all of them.
In 200,000 miles we learned just how grateful we are for siblings.
In 200,000 miles our second son had surgery on his tongue and we praised God the lump wan’t cancer (what is it with him and weird lumps?).

In 200,000 miles I learned baby #5 was coming. This was an enormous shock.
In 200,000 miles my eldest daughter went to kindergarten at the public school but after 2 months dropped out because we moved to a different district (that was awful).
In 200,000 miles I homeschooled 3 kids.

In 200,000 miles I went through a deep depression and learned who my real friends and family are as I was surrounded by loving support.
In 200,000 miles I made new friends.
In 200,000 miles I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in a pool of water; a birth that was able to heal the trauma of my daughter’s not-so-smooth birth and the surprise of an unplanned pregnancy.

In 200,000 miles we learned the account Mark was at had to close its doors and we were going to be transferred to Indiana.
In 200,000 miles our eldest earned an academic scholarship to attend Space Camp!
In 200,000 miles we moved and were shocked to discover our east-coast hearts were actually in Missouri and that we wanted to go back.

In 200,000 miles Mark came home from work carrying a box….

In 200,000 miles Mark was unemployed for the first time ever.
In 200,000 miles we learned what poverty really is, that no one is immune, and that there are people who are selfless and help those in need.
In 200,000 miles we learned humility.
in 200,000 miles we learned judgement.

In 200,000 miles, with some help, I was able to fly to MA and make good on a promise to my grandmother. She met baby Zen and I said goodbye to the woman who had more influence in my life than I think she ever realized.

In 200,000 miles I drove to Ohio with 5 children and a dog to visit family.

In 200,000 miles both older boys broke a foot each.
In 200,000 miles my eldest called me while I was out and said, “I cut myself really badly.”
In 200,000 miles he got stitches (a first for our family).

In 200,000 miles we made the decision to move back to Missouri.
In 200,000 miles Mark found the job that would allow us to move home.
In 200,000 miles we learned that being homeless sucks but that we are lucky that we have friends and family to take us in while we transition.

In 200,000 miles we cried, we laughed, we loved, we were scared, we were optimistic, we were sick, healthy, tired, full of energy….
In 200,000 miles my love for my husband only grew and my respect for him deepened.
In 200,000 miles we lived life and made memories.

2014-08-10 09.01.08

Here is to another 200,000 miles.