Category Archives: Bethany

Laundry Schmaundry ~ Making Laundry Detergent

My series
Laundry Schmaundry
is turning out to be longer than I thought.
Who knew I’d have so much to say about
And, I never thought I’d be one of “those” women who make their own detergent. 
All those years we lived on a teacher’s salary, laundry soap was a luxury.
I shopped sales, used coupons, did rebates and used as little soap as possible.
Once my sweet hubby surprised me and with a gift ~
 a 25 pound box of name brand laundry detergent.
I was thrilled.
I was overjoyed.
I was speechless.
I could look forward to months of laundry without worrying about
the next sale,
the next coupon,
the next rebate.

Unfortunately, I was also allergic.

Days of itchy hives later, I figured  it out.
I hated to break the news to my hubby
that his love offering was ruining my life.
A sympathetic neighbor offered to trade
my box of  soap for her new box.
I’m still grateful for her kindness.
That would have been a good time in my life
 to know how to  make my own laundry soap,
but nobody talked about it,
 there was no Internet, and no way to find out this secret.
Now, I’m  at a time where I don’t have to pinch pennies
until boogers come out of Lincoln’s nose.
(yea, I made this up)
Now, we’re making our own laundry soap.
My daughters wanted to learn,
so I was the support team.
OK, so I’m not  really one of “those” women,
but my daughters are!
 I bought them a bucket.
That was the extent of my involvement.
But, it’s a really, really, really special bucket.

I didn’t want a traditional bucket with one a lid
 you can’t get off without biting your tongue so you don’t say a bad word.
I’ve lost some strength due to health issues,
and I didn’t want a lid I needed help to open.
I also didn’t want to break a  fingernail.
That’s a catastrophe, ya’ know!
As I hunted around our local hardware store, asking the teenage worker
a lot of questions, he finally offered this amazing solution.
High on the top of the shelf, they offer this cool lid for their 5 gallon bucket.
You pop the lid down into the can, but the inside piece unscrews easily.
The simple ingredients.
Grate one bar of soap and cook with water until melted.
You don’t have to measure the water, just use your biggest pot.
Mix in
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
Stir until dissolved.
Dump into empty 5 gallon pail.
Add hot water almost to top.
Let cool overnight.

See how easily the lid unscrews?
I love the lid.

One fresh batch of laundry soap, waiting to be used up.
You’re probably wondering what kinda’ spiritual analogy
 I’m going to bring up about soap.
While searching my Online Bible for a verse on soap,
I doubted I’d find one. I couldn’t think of one off the top of my head.
I was wrong.
Jeremiah 2:22
Though you wash yourself with lye,
and use much soap,
Yet your iniquity is marked before Me,”
says the Lord GOD.
Soap works for bathing and laundry,
not for removing our sins.
Iniquity is a sin committed on purpose,
therefore the consequences are greater
than for unintentional sin.
Trying to remove our sins by cleaning up our own act,
doesn’t work.
The Lord calls our “good deeds” filthy rags.
When I was in college, my little fellowship was active in campus ministry.
At the beginning of each year, we passed out thousands of Gospel tracts,
aiming to give each student at the University of North Dakota the good news.
We also had Bible studies, the young men did open air preaching,
and we all shared the Gospel on an individual basis.
I’d witnessed to John and he wasn’t interested in the Gospel.
However, the next Fall, he joined our group
and was frantically passing out tracts on a street corner.
I said, “John did you get saved?”
John looked confused, “What?”
Rewording my question, I asked, “Did you trust Christ as your Savior?”
He was still confused and didn’t answer.
Finally I asked, “Why are you passing out tracts with us?”
John’s answer broke my heart.
“Well, I did some really  @#$%#$ stuff this summer, oops,
 sorry, I mean some bad stuff, and I’m trying make up for it.”
No matter how I explained the Gospel, he refused to hear.
He felt passing out tracts would cleanse his soul from stains.
He was wrong.  He was using “much soap” instead of the blood of Jesus.
Go ahead, make your own laundry soap.
Just don’t try to cleanse yourself from sin,
go to the Savior.

For some fun tips and recipes for scented soaps,
visit my friend Kimmie’s blog,
She delightfully describes herself as
“Mama to 8 children, one homemade and 7 adopted,
married to my handsome Knight and daily following hard after Jesus.”

If you still want more recipes try Tipnut.
 You can even make it in powder form.


Hubby and I have asked ourselves this many times over the years.
You buy an awesome Christmas present,
the kid plays with the box.
You order an awesome birthday present,
the kid plays with the bubble wrap.
You splurge on cool outside toys,
they play with
Sticks and Rocks and Mud.
When they get tired of sticks and rocks and mud,
they entertain themselves.
However, if we wrapped up
Sticks and Rocks and Mud
in rolls of bubble wrap and
taped it up in a big box
to give a kid for  Christmas or a birthday,
they wouldn’t be happy.
They would want a cool toy.
Still, for two and a half decades of parenting,
hubby and I have asked ourselves,
Case in point.

We go to a cool beach on the Puget Sound for a family picnic.
I pack a large basket full of very exciting outdoor toys for the big kids.
They get ignored.

Instead, the kids creatively make up their own fun.
Bethany spearheads the “Balancing Act” game.
In case you didn’t know, a log is an overgrown stick.

Grace attempts balancing on an extra long log.
Is it cheating if you use a stick to balance on a log?
Hey, Moms, notice they don’t outgrow the
“Adopt A Stick” game?

Beka takes on the challenge.

Jon joined the game, but spent most of his time
leaping instead of balancing.

Grace changes the game to
“See Who Can Find the Best Marshmallow Roasting Stick.”
Can’t  ya’ hear her triumphant cry,
“I Win, Oh, Yea!”
to the tune of
“Squid Launcher, Oh Yea!”

Jon participated in a boy’s favorite pastime,

“Throwing Rocks.”

Beka played,

“Let’s See how Long I can Walk in 58degree Water.”

Not very long.

She loved digging her toes in the mud along the edges.

See what I mean?
Sticks and Rocks and Mud
keep them happy.
While they waded, balanced and threw,
Daddy rested.
After roasting dinner, they tired of
Sticks and Rocks and Mud

so they invented a new game.

“Leap Over Your Sister In a Single Bound.”
Little Sister joined the game,
but didn’t quite master the leap OVER part.
Big Sister added a new dimension to the game.
It became
 “Leap Over Your Sister In a Single Bound While Catching the Aerobie.”
Yea, they finally touched a toy.

Then they started playing with the picnic tables.

“Let’s See If We Can Jump From Table to Table
Without Touching the Ground.”

Made it!

Can’t you just hear them double-dog daring each other?

While they jumped over, around, into,  and on top of things,
Daddy rested.

So back to that original question,
Because I, that’s me, wave to the shadow,
like buying them toys.
I like to give my children good things.
As we begin the annual countdown to Christmas,
yea, don’t panic, but it’s three months away,
I plan on buying toys.
I will wrap them with bubble wrap and place them in boxes.
The kids will play with the bubble wrap and boxes,
but I will be happy I bought them toys.
Because I like toys.
I like giving good things.
Even if they don’t like a present I pick out,
I keep buying them presents.
Even if they don’t use a present I pick out,
I keep buying them presents.
Even if they don’t keep a present I pick out,
I keep buying them presents.
You’re like that, too?
Do ya’ know who we take after?
Our Father.
Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father who is in heaven
 give good things to those who ask Him!
Yea, that’s where I get my example.
We may be like Him in the desire to give good things,
but our jesting desire to wrap up
Sticks and Rocks and Mud
doesn’t come from Him.
The verse just prior tells us
 Matthew 7:9
Or what man is there among you who,
if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Even if we’re content to play with life’s
Sticks and Rocks and Mud,
He’s still determined to give us good things.
Isn’t He an amazing Heavenly Father?


My daughter, Bethany, is the best beggar in the family. 
She knows how to smile and beg all at the same time with the perfectly, resonating voice. 
It’s not so whiny  it’s annoying, not so sweet I think she doesn’t deserve what she’s asking for,
It’s just enough pleading to make me actually smile before I say NO.
The epilogue to every ask in her life is usually,
 “But, M0-UH-UM,”
(doncha’ love how kids can make a one syllable word three?)
“I really, really NEEEEEEEEEEEEEED it!”
I’m hoping she outgrows this stage soon.
She turns 21 this fall.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about something I really, really need.
I need a cape.
Ya’ know, as in SuperMommaMindy kinda’ cape.
I might have to resort to begging, like Bethany, because
I really, really, NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED a cape.

I’ve been thinking about all the cool things I could do if I had a cape.
Edna,  from the Incredibles,  doesn’t believe in capes.

Edna didn’t have six kids.

1.  I could wrap up in my cape and keep warm during these months of sunless, rainy days when we turn the heat UP to 64 degrees to save money.  Not this this happens much in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m pretty sure if the sun ever dared to shine, a cape would made a good sun shade.

2. I could use my cape to wipe sweat off my brow when I’m working really, really hard cleaning up after my six children, one husband, one SIL and two and a half grandkids. On the days I felt like cleaning, that is.

3.  A cape would be useful in covering up my pj’s when company comes to door unexpectedly.

4.  Since the weather guys are never right,  my cape could double as a weather forecaster.
     If the cape is wet, it’s raining.
     If the cape is dry, it’s not raining.
     If the cape looks like I have dandruff, it’s snowing.
     If the cape has iciles hanging on the edge, it’s freezing rain.

5.  Speaking of weather, my cape could also act as a weather vane.  One of those roosters wouldn’t look too good on my head, but a cape could be styling some serious homeschoolin’ momma’ ‘tude.
     If the cape isn’t moving -wind is less than 11 mph.
     If the cape flaps once in awhile in a sporadic pattern – 12 to 18 mph.
     If the whole length of the cape is flapping – 19 to 24 mph.
     If the cape flaps quickly and is partially extended – 25 to 31 mph.
     If the cape is fully extended – 32 to 37 mph.
6.  I could shove part of the cape into my ears to  muffle the sounds of kids whining, fussing, fighting, crying or asking for money.  It would clean out my ears, too, so actually this would be a 2-fer-1 kinda’ deal.

7.  A cape would  cover my hair when it’s raining or when I didn’t have time to comb it. Or when the kids “borrowed” my hairbrush and didn’t return it, for the umpteenth time.

8.  A cape might entice the kids to wipe their bodily fluids on the cape instead of my sleeve, shoulder, etc.My kids are a little past this stage, but I actually think wearing a booger or a baby spit-up wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to look at it.  It could fly behind you, unnoticed, on a cape.
9.   I could  sew  my money into lining  of a cape so the  kids wouldn’t know I had any.  Robbers wouldn’t know about my money either, but a mom loses more money to kids than to robbers, so it’s all good.

10.   A cape would allow me to turn invisible. With all the stuff on the floor of my home, I could crouch on the floor, fling my cape over me in a wrinkled fashion, and nobody would know I was there. I’d be invisible.

So, I’ve decided.
This SuperMommaMindy needs a cape.
I really, really NEEEEEEEEEEEEED a cape.

Not’cher MinnesOtan Fud

When we moved from the upper midwest to the PNW seven years ago,
I thought I had moved to another country. 
The people were different, the accents were different,
the traffic was different, the clothing was different.
The food was different – really, really different.
At times the differences were so overwhelming, it would drive me to tears. 
I kept telling myself that if the early pioneer women could make it,
I could make it.
The first time we had a team from work over, we’d lived here only a year. 
We still cooked MinnesOtan. 
I prepared the best I knew,
Velveeta Cheese chili dip, barbecued Little Smokies and spicy meatballs.
I also had a veggie and fruit tray, rolled-out sugar cookies,
fudge and a few other favorites. 
I was pretty proud of myself, until I noticed the guests hardly ate anything.
Recently, we had my husband’s new team over to kick off the new year.  
My amazing kids helped me update our company menu
to see if people would actually eat our food.   
Grace, my neat freak, helped with cleaning. 
Bethany did the cooking and Jon did the dishes.  
Beka traipsed around helping everyone with her cheerful attitude.
We didn’t burn anything.
We didn’t break anything.
We didn’t drop anything.
We didn’t melt anything.
We didn’t get our hair caught in anything.
We had a wonderful day working together.
Stuffed mini Portabella mushrooms

Sockeye Salmon Dip, Kalamata olives, Manzanilla olives

Dill Havarti, Brie, Gouda, Smoked Gouda and French Abbaye Cheeses
It looked amazing with the fresh, lush clusters of grapes, 
but I forgot to take a picture.
We served the tradtional fruit and vegetable trays.
We didn’t buy the standard Wheat Thins and Triscuits,we bought those fancy crackers.
 I know, right? 
Compared to the generic crackers I bought in early marriage,
 Wheat Thins and Triscuits are upscale.
(Wanna’ know a secret?
We still buy them when we don’t have company.)
For desert we had chocolate truffles, dark chocolate covered acai berries,
and Grace’s white-chocolate dipped strawberries.
The best part of the evening?
The guests ate the food.
We enjoyed animated conversation and people would often pop up
to refill their plates.
I suddenly realized why my Gramma loved to see people eat –
there’s such a satisfying feeling of knowing company is enjoying your food.
Or, in my case, my daughter’s food.
The food  we served was definitely
not’cher Minnesotan fud.
What’s your favorite food items to serve guests?
Have you had any failures like mine?
I’d love to hear your stories.

Anything You Say and Do…

This is a reprint, slightly edited, from the very first blog I posted.

I have another new form of punishment and torture for my children – the Internet. Now that I blog, they are under constant scrutiny to provide the next fodder for my cyber-soliloquy. I even carry a small notebook in my purse, and doodle random actions and exclamations, and keep a running OneNote document on each child.

For years I have attempted to journal the comical things they say and do on my daily calendar, or in small notebooks for each child. But, who can keep two decades of calendars? The notebooks were read and re-read so many times the pages fell out. So, now I have the means of chronicling their lives and not only broadcasting it to a much wider audience, I can have it preserved forever

*as long as my hard-drive doesn’t crash (again)
*as long as I remember to backup my computer
*as long as someone doesn’t spill milk on my computer (again)
*as long as I remember yet another password

Now, when I hear bickering, I pull out my notebook, not always so discretely, and begin writing. If I don’t have a notebook, I grab a napkin or a scrap piece of paper. When they notice the writing, they sometimes begin to elevate their diction to a level of acceptability.

Sometimes, I may just casually ask, “What did you just say? I’m not sure I got that right?” with hands posed industriously with pen or keyboard, and they give me THE LOOK.

We all know THE LOOK. All kids use THE LOOK on their parents. It is when their eyebrows and lips morph into the expression that quietly shouts both “What are you thinking?” and “Are you really my parent?”

Then I give them the PARENT LOOK back.

We all know the PARENT LOOK. All children have seen the PARENT LOOK after they have dared question the superior wisdom and authority of their parental unit. It is the look when the eyebrows raise and the lips barely smirk, and we are quietly and victoriously shouting back,

“Yes, I AM thinking” and
“Yes, I AM your parent” but it adds,

“And if you don’t behave better, I am going to wear leopard stretch pants or a sweater with beads, mirrors and sequins sewed all over it the next time I take you out in public…and THEN I am going to blog you. Because, remember,

Anything you say and do, can be blogged against you.
 You were warned, Grace Face.
 So were you, Rebekah.
Bethany should be leading by example.
Even our Fearless Father learned to mind his P’s and Q’s.
(What are P’s and Q’s, anyway?)
Jon learned that present and past actions are up for scrutiny.
The grandkids were warned, too.
Well, I guess they will be when they are old enough to understand.
Just reminding anyone in my world,
for the 499th time,
Anything you say and do,
can be blogged against you. 

Arrows are for Shooting…

My husband and I have always loved these verses:
Psalm 127:3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
 We hadn’t even been married five years,
and were thrice blessed.
We were so thankful to be filling the quiver.
I think we look 18, but were 26.
I loved matchy, matchy back then and the kids were too young to complain.
The beautiful plaid material, 60 inch width, for $1.50 a yard,
so I spent less than $5 for the material and sewed the clothes.
On a private Christian school teacher’s salary,
it seemed like a huge splurge at the time.
I was so determined to wear the outfits for all holiday events,
the first time I wore my jumper, it was still unhemmed.
Nobody noticed the slightly frayed fabric swinging around my ankles,
but the first person I saw, a bachelor, asked if I was pregnant.
He was gracious enough to be mortified when he found out I wasn’t.
He just assumed –
jumper = pregnant
But, at this time, everyone wore jumpers.
As I meditated on the verses above just now,
I realized something for the first time –
 arrows are not meant to be
 in the quiver.
They aren’t decor,
they’re tools. 
These three children have been shot into the world,
and our quiver is no longer as full.
We were blessed with three more children,
but most likely all six will never live under the same roof again.
The oldest, Jana, is happily married to her best friend
and is expecting her third child.
Daniel works in the computer industry in another state,
but  is in Bolivia on a mission visit.
Bethany is working in cosmetology, living at home.
We never would have guessed, 20 years ago, 
the path the Lord would lead us along,
with joys and sorrows multiplied together.
If another 20 years passes,
and the Lord hasn’t returned,
I know that we’ll still be rejoicing
about His blessings to undeserving sinners.
And we’ll be wondering where the time went,
and how our quiver emptied

The 48 Hour Attack on Thanksgiving

This year my daughter, Bethany, volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner.
Her forte is 
 procrastinated organization.
She didn’t do anything until 48 hours prior to the holiday.
On Tuesday she wrote out her menu plan and shopping list, shopped,
and made three pies, two pumpkin, one sweet potato.
Wednesday evening she prepared the side dishes, roasted potatoes,
green bean casserole,dill carrots, and sweet potatoes,
and put them in disposable aluminum foil pans with lids in the fridge.
She rolled out previously frozen homemade bread dough,
 and put in little balls in a circular foil pan and put in the fridge.
Thursday morning while she drank Holiday Roast coffee,
she pulled out the bread to raise, started the turkey in electric roasting pan,
and put the prime rib roast in the crock pot, leaving the oven free
for everything else later in the morning.
I set the table, greatly enjoying the fact that I was able to spend
a lot of time on frivolous details like rolling my napkins perfectly,
 tucking a little  floral spray into each napkin ring,
and lighting every candle in the house.
I planned for months for my end, sewing, decorating and crafting,
and she planned for two days.
She was calm, peaceful, cheerful and very efficient.
It was amazing to watch her in action.
The tables were turned, I was learning from her.
Over the years, I realized you don’t have to  master a skill
before you teach it to your children, you just give them opportunities
 to learn, grow and succeed.

She pulled together the final preparations,
heating up the side dishes,making relish trays, setting out the butter dishes,
 and finding serving dishes and spoons.
Her younger sister, Grace, started at the sink
utilizing the Clean As You Go (CAYG) method we love.
Minutes away from serving…
…Dad carving the turkey, of course.
It was truly an amazing meal, both in the orchestration from the maestro,
Bethany, to the variety of flavors, and the perfect timing of all the foods.
I realized it wasn’t really procrastination,
she didn’t need to make lists upon lists for months upon months.
She has confidence and the ability to pull together a big meal in 48 hours.
There wasn’t a better compliment than the one my MIL
frequently said, “Everything was just perfect.”
Psalms 69:30
I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify Him with thanksgiving…
for our wonderful Thanksgiving.

Cheap Can Be Elegant

I love to decorate for birthdays,
and make the day feel special for my children,
but am a little miserly about spending money on
things I am just going to throw away.
Each package of plates, cups, napkins, silverware
and party favors can cost $3-$4 at a party store.
They come in stingy little packages of 8,
so sometimes one is not enough for our celebrations.
It’s like throwing away money.
I was feeling bad that I didn’t have time to run to the dollar store,
my favorite place for party supplies,
in time to decorate for Bethany’s 20th birthday.
She was celebrating a step closer to adulthood,
and I was celebrating the fact that I will
have three teenagers living in my house
at the same time.
Then again, I just reminded myself that I have
three children over 20. 
Now I feel old.
Then I remembered the treasures I’ve been buying for Thanksgiving.
I blogged about this meal 216 days ahead of time.
(Yea, I have been planning for the past nine months.
My MIL is coming for the first Thanksgiving in 24 years of marriage.)
I had a vision of making the table beautiful and elegant,
like my daughter, with my newfound  treasures.
I pulled out the gold chargers from a thrift store
in Helena, MT this summer for $.25 each.
They were topped with the gold trimmed china plates I found
10 for $7 in Fargo, North Dakota this summer.
The gold goblets, about $.50 each, were added.
Thrift store goblets cost less than a package
of paper colored cups from the party store.
Gold napkins were gently bound with a simple piece of lace,
clasped together with vintage earrings.
There wasn’t enough time to fuss more,
but I dreamed about using more vintage jewelry
and putting bows on the chairs.
Maybe for Thanksgiving.
Afterall, this was a trial run.
I have 59 days left until my MIL comes.
But, who’s counting?
I am counting
on a lot more beautiful family dinners,
without counting out any more dollars for decorating.
And I am counting
on Bethany having a wonderful year,
growing in grace in the Lord Jesus.

Bethany Loves Her Daddy

   To Dad from Bethany

The love that a father has towards his children is one of the most precious things that can be portrayed. In the Bible we have pictures of Abraham and his son Isaac, Jacob and his son Joseph, and many others. But the most beautiful ones we see is the Heavenly Father and his Son, The Lord Jesus Christ. Those are some pretty incredible examples of a Father’s love. A couple of verses that were brought to my mind were in Romans 8:14-17.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God. For they have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit itself shall bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if Children, and joint heirs with Christ; it so be that we suffer with him, that we may be glorified together.”

How beautiful it is that those of us who have trusted to Lord as Savior to be our Redeemer have the privilege to call The Heavenly Father Our Heavenly Father. I am so thankful and privileged to have an earthly father who loves the Lord with all his heart. It is because of his godly influence in my life that I can have a closer walk with my Father who is in heaven.

The guidance of a father is a beautiful thing.
It is even more beautiful when that guidance is given
through thoughtful prayer and communion with the Father above.
I love you, Daddy
Happy Father’s Day

What’s That Smell?

kIdS   iN   tHe   KiTcHeN
One of my goals in life,
 is to make sure all of my kids
know how to cook
when they leave my home.
Another goal is to make sure
 I still have a home to cook in
when my kids leave home.

I learned early in parenting,
that for about
every 15 minutes of kids in the kitchen,
I’m going to have roughly one hour of cleanup.
If you allow more than one in the kitchen at a time,
that ratio is multiplied with great amounts of exasperation.
(Little Gracie, about 3 years old)

But, this little mess maker
 turned into my Thanksgiving dinner baker.
There is always hope!
I am thinking of writing a cookbook with our family’s favorite recipes,
but I think I’ll have to include “fire extinguisher”
 in the list of items needed for each recipe.
I learned long ago that I can never have too many potholders,
because they traditionally get burned up.
It is the first initiation into cooking with mom,
a tradition followed haphazardly by all my kids.
They have also started dishtowels on fire,
because when they can’t find a potholder,
they like to grab the towels hanging on the oven.
But, they always dangle on the element and start on fire,
of course.
This week I smelled something I haven’t smelled
since I burned the entire bottom out
of my Tupperware sugar cannister.
I guess making jelly, talking on the phone,
and having five little kids around was just
multitasking for me.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Somebody also turned on the wrong burner.
It took days to get all the plastic removed.
Remember my clean stove with
the brand-new drip pans?
Wanna knows who has guilty hands
with bright blue fingernail polish?

Yeah.  OOPS!
I assured her that the cookbook I got for my wedding,
had an identical burn pattern on it.
Apples are falling from both sides
of the family tree.
Lemme show you my husband’s secret ingredient for
our Southwest Roast…
Should I be wondering why having
kids in the kitchen is such a disaster?
They come by it honestly.
From both sides of the family.
Anybody want to come for dinner this week?
I double-dog dare ya’.