Moving Right Along

pond dock

The pond and deck! The pond needs some work, but that is a project I am so excited to tackle!

This whole process has been so surreal for me. We weren’t even looking for a house, but now it seems we might just have a new house for Christmas.

We made an offer on an amazing 2 acre property in the most amazing location. It’s five minutes from our church and cuts Josh’s commute in half! On top of that, there’s a pond, the most amazing front yard to accommodate the Thanksgiving-family-football-game of my dreams, tons of mature trees, over 1000 more square feet than we currently have…I could go on and on. The “pros” of this house sounds like a detailed list of my dream home. The only catch is that it has a galley kitchen, it’s outdated, and it only has only three bedrooms – but those were all small considerations when compared to everything the property has to offer.

The seller countered our offer, but her counter offer was amazingly reasonable. When we heard her counteroffer, both Josh and I planned to agree. However, our agent suggested we accept all the terms the seller added, while dropping the price $5,000. We were nervous; we didn’t want to push our luck. But our agent is amazing, so we decided to trust him. We submitted our counteroffer and the seller accepted it!

The only condition we had in our contract was that our offer was contingent on the results of the home inspection. We had our home inspection earlier this week, and there was nothing overly alarming. We’re moving forward!

I can’t believe how easy all of this has been.

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The Accidental House Hunt

Josh and I had a plan. A good plan. A plan we both fell confident about. A plan that didn’t involve buying another house for 2-3 years.

And then my girlfriend emailed me this…

Oh my gosh Mary!! A house with trees on an acre in Keller for $XXX,000! That’s crazy. An acre with no house goes for $XXX,000 ($30,000 less) in Keller. AND it’s three minutes from the church- if that! You’d have some work to do to update, but you’d have immediate equity to draw on at that price.

Just sayin’

Me - taking pictures to contemplate the updating to be done in the first house.

See me in the mirror? I’m taking pictures to contemplate the updating I want to do.

I looked up the property and my girlfriend was so right. It was such a great find! It was too good to pass up. Josh and I chatted and decided to veer from the plan.

We went to see the house. It needed A LOT of love to get in ready for us to live in, including some foundation work and an addition to make it big enough to fit our growing family. We ran the numbers, and the house was such a great deal that, even with the money we would put into it, we couldn’t let it go.

We put a contract on the house!

Benjamin posing in the first house.

Benjamin posing while we looked at the house.

A short while later we heard there were multiple offers. We responded with our best offer and waited. Waited for FIVE DAYS. Five long days, praying all the while that God’s Will be done. We certainly can’t see the future, so, even though this seemed like a great opportunity for us, we begged that God take it away if it wasn’t what was best for our family.

And He did. We didn’t get the house. We were outbid.

We had mixed emotions, but there was definitely relief mixed in with all of the other emotions. We just had a massive, multi-year project taken off our plate. We decided to stick with our previous plan. The good plan. The plan that we were both comfortable with. The plan that didn’t involve buying a house for a few more years.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

A few days later, I looked up the property again. I don’t know why. I guess for closure or something. While I was on realtor.com, I stumbled across a different property. It was listed for significantly more than the first property, but it was on 2 acres and in MUCH better condition than the first house. So I fired off this email:

SOOOO…..

I know this is waaay more than we were planning on spending. And maybe it’s way more than we could ever justify spending…

But take a look at this property. It’s got EVERYTHING: land, location, space, pond… It’s crazy!

It needs to be updated, and, obviously, we wouldn’t have the money to do it right away, but it’s just dated, so we could take our time.

What do you think??

Josh responded quickly and, next thing we knew, we had a showing lined up. While we were there, one of our realtors suggested that we check out one other property that matched what we are looking for…

SOooo, low and behold, here we are – in the middle of an accidental house hunt.

Our Homeschool: What We’re Using This Year

Josh & Andy watching Jack work on his Spanish lessons.

Josh & Andy watching Jack work on his Spanish lessons.

I saw another mom write a post about what curriculum she was using this year for each of her kids. Her post was a sponsored post so she was getting a little something from at least some of the companies she mentioned. I thought it be fun to write a similar post, both for the sake of my weak memory and just in case you’re curious what we do during our class time. No sponsorship or endorsements here – just the products I chose to use after lots of research and weighing what I know about how my children learn best and how I teach best. I’d love to say I’ll write a post about why I chose each of these products, but we all know how well I follow through on promises like that. So, for now, here are the products and curriculum we are currently using:

ANDY (3rd grade):

Teacher Lead Courses:

Spelling: All About Spelling

Latin: Prima Latina: Intro to Christian Latin

Memory Work: CCM – a classical memory work program that covers 8 subject areas: Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography, and Great Words.

Andy holding Soph while he puts his vocab words in ABC order. He likes to hold her to break up the monotony of tedious activities.

Andy holding Soph while he puts his vocab words in ABC order. He likes to hold her to break up the monotony of tedious activities.

Workbooks:

English: English 3, Seton Press

Vocabulary: Vocabulary 3, Seton Press

Reading Comprehension: Reading 3, Seton Press

Reading: Faith and Freedom Readers and anything that piques his interest. We read a lot during the day. We also have family story time before bed, during which Josh reads from a chapter book to the family. Currently, we’re reading the Narnia series. We’re almost finished – we’re about halfway through the Voyage of the Dawn Treader – so it’s about time to start thinking about what we will read next.

Maps, Charts, Graphs Level C

Handwriting: Catholic Heritage Handwriting: Level 3

Manners & Health

Computer lessons/programs:

Spanish: Rosetta Stone, Homeschool Edition

Math: Teaching Textbooks

Catechism: Faith and Life, Online Edition


Jack (2nd grade):

Teacher Lead Courses:

Spelling: All About Spelling

Latin: Prima Latina: Intro to Christian Latin

Memory Work: CCM – a classical memory work program that covers 8 subject areas: Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography, and Great Words.

Jack showing off a picture he drew.

Jack showing off a picture he drew.

Sacrament Preparation: First Communion Catechism, New Catholic Picture Bible

Building Good Character: God Made Me to be Part of a Family

Workbooks: 

Math: Math 2, Seton Press

English: English 2, Seton Press

Reading: Faith and Freedom Readers and anything that piques his interest. We read a lot during the day. We also have family story time before bed, during which Josh reads from a chapter book to the family. Currently, we’re reading the Narnia series. We’re almost finished – we’re about halfway through the Voyage of the Dawn Treader – so it’s about time to start thinking about what we will read next.

Maps, Charts, Graphs Level B

Handwriting: Catholic Heritage Handwriting: Level 3

Catechism: Religion 2, Seton Press

Computer lessons/programs:

Spanish: Rosetta Stone, Homeschool Edition


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Ben playing with the magnet set.

Ben: (pre-k)

Miscellaneous letter and number coloring sheets printed from the internet.

Any story he wants to hear.

ABCmouse.com

Preschool Prep DVDs

The Real Mother Goose

God’s Rules for Me

Lots of puzzles, manipulatives, and other educational toys of the “Melissa & Doug” variety.


We’re also participating in two co-ops this year. The primary co-op uses the CCM material. Each week at co-op, the kids get a good introduction to the memory work for all 8 subjects, then we practice the memory work at home all week. They’ll also take an extra science class and an art class there.

Our second co-op is much more casual. Our primary purpose is allowing our kiddos to form faith-based friendships from a young age. The kiddos learn about virtues, memorize prayers, and have a lesson pertinent to where we are in the liturgical year. Then, they have lunch and play. I don’t know if the founder would appreciate this simplistic description, but it’s kind of like youth group for elementary kids.


So there you have it – a glimpse at our formal lessons for the year. It’s not uncommon that we’ll put everything on hold and wander off on some tangent, sometimes for a morning or sometimes for several weeks, but that’s the beauty of schooling year round. We have ample time to tackle all of the formal lessons listed above, but without feeling so much pressure that we can’t follow a whim to dig into a subject that we weren’t planning on covering. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, I LOVE homeschooling!

 

SST # 5: Thank You, Grazie, Merci BEAUCOUP!!

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330On March 1 we welcomed our precious daughter into the world. It goes without saying that it was an incredibly joyous day and the days since have been full of moments of perfect beauty. There’s something about looking into the face of a newborn, especially one sleeping on your chest, happily drunk from having consumed her fill of milk…I don’t know the words for it. It’s almost as if you catch a glimpse of eternity. She embodies peace and happiness. Total dependency, yet complete autonomy. Immortality encapsulated in a fragile human body. All of time and the meaning of existence shines forth from that innocent little person. It’s incredible!

Because of the gift of new life in our house, I feel like every moment is a great big success. Granted, some moments are sleep deprived and some moments are a juggling act as I adjust to being a mommy of 5, but, overall, holding that precious gift that we named Sophie eclipses any of the struggles that come with being a new parent. Since I’m floating on cloud nine, I thought I’d dedicate this entry to all the people for whom I’m incredibly grateful. I won’t be detailing any of my own small successes, rather I want to thank and acknowledge all the people who have been such a gift as we have transitioned into life as a family of 7. (Brace yourself, this entry is a little long.)

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Sophie. 1 day old.

1. My husband, my fabulous labor & delivery nurse, Wendi & Kevin O’Brien, the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, and St. Colette. Sophie’s birth day was simply beautiful thanks to this incredible team of people. After 5 deliveries, 2 of which were all natural, I feel like I have some good notes for comparison about what to expect on “D-Day.” This was, without a doubt, my best delivery ever, despite it being my second longest. Wendi and Kevin are great instructors and prepared me, and, most importantly, my husband well for the big day. Despite this being baby number 5, there is a lot to learn if you want to have a successful peaceful natural birth, especially in a hospital setting. I keep meaning to write a whole post about all the reasons why I am in love with Dr. Bradley and so very grateful for his books and our fabulous instructors, but today is not that day. Suffice it to say, I am so very grateful for them! My L&D nurse, who was also incredible in so many ways and so very supportive of our desire to birth naturally, said that she had never witnessed a natural birth go as smoothly as mine  in her 19 years of delivering babies. That is completely thanks to the Bradley Method and my husband’s fidelity to assuming his role as coach. He did a phenomenal job, and I truly could not have gotten through without him! My husband is THE reason that I was calm, cool, and collected throughout my entire labor, but especially during the hours we spent laboring at the hospital.

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Josh and Soph, 2 hours old

Above all, I have to credit St. Colette, my sweet daughter’s patroness (Colette is her middle name) and the patroness of expectant mommies. After our last less-than-stellar birth experience, I was quite nervous about this one. I spent a lot of time begging her to help me out on D-DAY. And she did. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I fully credit her with our awesome nurse (Who was called in on her day off because L&D was swamped. And who sacrificed her daughter’s volleyball game to answer that call and come in to work. And who was weirdly connected to us in a strange 6 degrees of separation type way.) and with the fact that we got THE LAST L&D room (had we arrived any later, we would have been laboring and delivering in a busy triage room) and with the fact that a new mommy room just happened to open up for us, despite the fact that we weren’t supposed to get one because they were all full. Thank you, St. Colette, for interceding on my behalf!           

2. My husband. (yes, I already thanked him, but this is for a different reason.) Josh works for an incredible company. One of their many benefits is that fathers get a two week paternity leave after the birth or adoption of a new baby. This leave is granted ON TOP of any existing vacation. While I think our growing family may make them question this lovely policy, we are so grateful it exists. Josh was home with me for the last two weeks and he did a stellar job keeping the house running. I was blown away! He even kept up with the kids’ school work, so we weren’t behind at all when he went back to work. He cooked and cleaned and cared for all 4 of the other kiddos. All I had to do those first two weeks was sleep, eat, and snuggle my sweet Sophie. It was amazing!

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One of the beautiful meals we received.

3. Kate and all the people who signed up on the Care Calendar. My sweet friend Kate made a Care Calendar  for people to sign up to bring us meals. It started on Tuesday when Josh went back to work and is still filling up with our incredibly generous friends and acquaintances from Church and our homeschooling coop. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am not to have to worry about dinner. These first few days alone with the kiddos have been challenging, so it is such a gift to just have to open the door and say thank you before having a beautiful, home-cooked meal on the table. And let me tell you, these women can cook. Everything has been so delicious! On top of being generous enough to make us dinner, these women have even been kind enough to adhere to our new dietary standards. These women have their own large families and struggles and pregnancies and whatever else to deal with, yet they took the time from their hectic lives to make us dinner. I am so grateful to them all for their incredible generosity!

Kate also took my older boys to coop last week which was a gift for them, Josh, and me. They were bummed about the prospect of missing coop, but, thanks to her, they didn’t have to. Josh had been wrangling the four older kiddos by himself for several days at that point, so I’m sure he was grateful to have his duties cut in half. And I was super grateful for how quite the house was while they were gone. Thanks again to my dear friend! You are such an amazing gift!

So that’s it for me. I’d apologize for this post being so long, except for even this doesn’t fully express my gratitude to these individuals. What about you? What are your successes this week? Link up over at Catholicmom.com

SST # 2: The Organization Edition

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330I am so, so excited about all we have accomplished this week! You may argue that these feats aren’t small successes, but I don’t see any reason not to rejoice in them simply because of that. I know that it’s always easier to enjoy the big successes and overlook the small, daily successes, but these projects are such a big deal to me that I literally get butterflies in my stomach each time I open a door and see them in all of their neat, orderly glory. (Yes, that really is what it’s like to experience life from the perspective of a neat-freak who gets hard core nesting impulses [which go above and beyond those impulses driven by my normal perfectionist tendencies] all throughout pregnancy.) As such, they have made a tremendous impact on my week in so many more ways than just the mere fact that the task was accomplished. So, without further ado, I give you this week’s “small” successes.

2014-02-07 14.17.201. Garage Organized. I have been trying to get our garage organized since we moved into this house almost 4 years ago. Every time we came or went or opened the garage to let the kiddos ride their bikes, the chaos in that garage induced anxiety, guilt, and frustration. Not to mention the sheer embarrassment of knowing the neighbors were able to see that pigsty. (Again, yes, this is really what happens in my brain. I don’t pretend to be normal. I’m just me.) Anyway, as of Monday, my garage is immaculate! It is certainly still full of garage type things. And there’s still only room for one car in there. (Although, I suspect, that if we really tried, we could get them both in now. I just don’t have any interest in really trying.) But, now, it’s organized and neat and lovely.

Last night, Josh got home from work and the garage was standing open, something which he’s never witnessed before. It was the first thing he commented on when he walked through the door. It was actually a very charming moment, as it gave me the opportunity to express, and him the opportunity to understand, just how grateful I was for all the hard work he put in to help me get that garage in order. If garage organization is too big to qualify for a small success, that moment 2014-02-07 16.46.11between us certainly was not. It was somewhat fleeting, but it was ever so lovely to see him really experience my gratitude. How funny is it that the simple act of leaving the garage door open (an act which I didn’t think through in advance) was all it took for him to get how truly grateful I am for the massive change that has taken place out there.

2. Toy closet organized. While the tools were out and things were being organized, Josh also tackled the toy closet. We have this fabulous closet in our foyer, which makes it ever so easy to have toys accessible for playing in the living room, but stored completely out of sight. It’s a fairly large closet, which makes it all the more fabulous. I really wish I would have taken a proper “before” picture, so you could understand just how awful the closet was. All the practicality of having the toys so easily accessible had been lost in the chaos that hid behind that door. There was no way the kids could ever find anything in there. Everything was just thrown in. We cleaned it out regularly, but, because there wasn’t any real organization in place, just numerous buckets stacked on top of each other on the floor, the clean never lasted very long. It was usually only a matter of days before everything was dumped back out into one massive sea of toys. Once that happened, it was only a matter of time before the kids would start complaining that they had “nothing 2014-02-13 14.43.39to do,” mostly because they didn’t know where anything was. Anyway, all we did was hang the bottom two selves. No big deal at all. But it’s made a world of difference in the way that closet functions. It still looks as good as it did on the day we organized it, and the kids know where all their stuff is. Despite the simplicity of the project, it is such a major success for the smooth functioning of our household.

3. Girls’ closet organized. Our little one is moving in soon, but I wasn’t sure what to do about her clothes. We looked at dressers, but it just seemed silly to buy a dresser that was going to have to live in the closet due to lack of space in the bedroom. In our room Josh is currently using a hand-me-down chest of drawers that gets the job done, but definitely isn’t my taste. Since we’re in the very slow process of redecorating the master bedroom one small piece at a time, it seemed wiser to buy Josh a new dresser and move his current chest into the girls closet. I like that plan, but I never found anything that was the right mix of price and style. As such, I came up with this much simpler and oh-so-easy solution. I just grabbed a few stacking shelves from Lowes, cleaned out the mess that was previously living in Leila’s closet, and, now, it’s ever so functional for both my little girls. The tall shelf on the right is our little one’s dresser for the time being. I think it cost a whopping $12 and it is so easily accessible for all the infant wardrobe changes that have to take place during the day. I couldn’t be happier with this budget-friendly solution!

2014-02-11 09.01.414. Stuff to Community Storehouse. In the process of all this closet and garage cleaning, we were able to put together a pretty big pile of stuff to send the the Community Storehouse, which is one of my favorite local charities. Among other things, they run a resale shop, so we sent some of our gently used, space hogging items off with them to find a new home. It makes all of this organizational success even better to know that someone besides me may benefit from the new-found neatness hiding behind the closet doors in my home!

(Super exciting side note: That’s our double stroller in the bottom right corner. With two little girls 16 months apart, we’re obviously still going to need a double stroller. We’ve had the one pictured since 2006 and I’ve always hated it. [That’s probably why it’s still in such good condition!] I could hardly push it in a straight line, but you can forget about me turning it. If Josh wasn’t available to push the stroller, I didn’t use it. BUT, it turns out Josh hates that stroller too. While we were putting together the pile for Community Storehouse, Josh suggested we put the stroller in the pile, which means….WE’RE GETTING A NEW STROLLER!! Woo hoo! What a very exciting baby gift for me! I can’t wait!)

So what about you? What were your small (or not so small) successes this week? Join the link up at CatholicMom.com!

Four Little Changes

The first time Josh used the juicer. 12/26/13

The first time Josh used the juicer. 12/26/13

Since my last two posts were about food, I thought I’d keep up the trend for one more post to tell you about some major food-related changes that have taken place at our house. These have probably been brewing in the background for quite some time, as Josh and I love to watch food/nutrition documentaries, but November and December collided together in the perfect storm to effect real change in our household. I’ll spare you the details, but Josh has really spearheaded this change within our family. He has struggled with some health issues since college, and, after a trip to the emergency room, followed by a recommended physical, he decided that it was really time for things to change.

To gear up for our big change, we revisited some of our favorite documentaries. (My favorites are Food Matters and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.) Next, we looked at the recommendations offered by Josh’s doctor, did a some internet research and discussed our nutritional goals for our family. We were able to come up with some new nutritional guidelines for our family pretty quickly. It was a smooth process because we found ourselves agreeing on what was important and what stood out to us the most. We’ve been implementing and tweaking our new guidelines over the last couple of months, and here is where we’ve landed. We’re both pretty pleased with what we’re currently doing, but that’s not to say our nutritional habits won’t continue to evolve and mature.

  1. We’ve started juicing. We were really lucky to be able to “purchase” an amazing juicer for free through the “perk points” program at my husband’s company. Basically, he earns points for meeting various goals at work, and we get to “spend” the points on awesome stuff. Without the upfront cost of investing in a juicer, we were able to implement this immediately. We aren’t juicing as a cleanse or a meal replacement, rather as a means of acquiring much needed nutrients. Every morning before work Josh makes a green juice. He consumes a full juice, usually around 30 ounces, but he makes me a slightly smaller juice, around 20 ounces or so. Most mornings, it’s Joe Cross’ Mean Green juice, but other mornings, we just juice whatever fruits and veggies we have lying around. Sometimes we get creative, and sometimes we find inspiration on juicerecipes.com. Some days we juice more than once, but we always do it in the mornings.
  2.  We’ve eliminated most grains from our diet. For us, this means no bread, pasta, or rice. In the interest of full discloser, I’ll admit that I still have a canister of white flour on my counter, although it only gets used for thickening soups and whatnot. We also chose not to eliminate oatmeal or granola. That being said, we’ve cut out a huge chunk of the grains we were consuming. It’s taken a bit of effort on my part to adjust to this, as we relied very heavily on grains at meal time. Nearly every lunch and dinner contained rice or pasta and often bread too. Breakfast was very bread heavy: muffins, biscuits, pancakes, etc. Learning how to cook without such a heavy reliance on those grains has been a bit tricky for me, but I’m finally getting the hang of it.
  3. We’ve eliminated all processed food. I’ve been working on this one for a while now. I had already implemented a “5 ingredient rule.” That being, if the label had more than 5 ingredients, it was too processed and we wouldn’t buy it. There were also a few no-no ingredients that automatically disqualified a food, such as high fructose corn syrup or chemical sweeteners. However, I often let this rule slide when it was convenient for me. For example, we still leaned heavily on frozen waffles, breakfast cereals, and frozen pizzas. Convenience was often a trump card here. Now the trump card has been thrown out the window. We’re not eating any processed food. When we go to the grocery store, we only shop on the perimeter of the store. Pretty much everything down the aisles is off limits.
  4. No fast food. This is another one that has been slowly evolving. We had already eliminated most fast food chains, but there were a couple (okay, one in particular) that I truly loved and wouldn’t cut out. I rationalized that their ingredients were much more legit than other places, but, after reading their actual ingredient lists, I realized I was so very wrong. The chicken may actually be real chicken, but it’s so chemical laden that it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, we were eating at my beloved fast food establishment at least once a week, but no more. It has finally been banned for good, along with all other fast food places.
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This is what the kids chose for lunch one day recently. SO much better than frozen pizza!

These four little changes have made a huge impact on our health in the very short time we’ve been faithful to them. Josh has lost 30 lbs, is sleeping better at night (probably because he’s no longer snoring), and has more energy than I’ve seen him have in years. We’re very much looking forward to his next doctor appointment to see what his blood work has to say about all of this.

I haven’t lost any weight (which was never my goal. I’m not trying to diet, just get healthy.) but I also haven’t gained any weight since the end of November. Considering I’m in my third trimester, that’s rather remarkable. At this point, I should be gaining weight, and somewhat rapidly. The baby is measuring great and is strong and healthy. This means that the reason my weight isn’t changing is because I’m loosing fat on my body while my baby continues to grow and be nourished. This is the only conclusion that makes sense to me, since I no longer have those pesky love handles that make it so difficult to look good in anything, pregnant or not. Also, people who see me all the time keep telling me that I’m “glowing.” I know this is something people supposedly say to pregnant women, but this is my 5th pregnancy, and no one has ever told me that I’m “glowing” before. All I can figure is the increased nutrients I’m consuming must be having a positive effect on my skin and complexion. I also feel better than I’ve ever felt this far along in a pregnancy. While I am obviously tired and achy, it is much less pronounced than it has ever been before.

Just to be clear, neither of us are “dieting” or restricting our food intake in any way. We both eat whenever we are hungry and we consume all we desire to fill ourselves up. The only restrictions we have imposed are the 4 little rules above. Despite that, we both feel great and are loosing weight in the process. Imagine what will happen with a little exercise or strength training added!

We are both so very pleased with the results of these changes that these guidelines have truly become lifestyle changes, despite the short time we’ve been following them. There is no reason that we would ever go back to the stuff that we were consuming before. If anything, we may continue to evolve and mature to eliminate even more (such as the oats and granola, or maybe even some dairy!) as we fall more in love with the benefits of living in a properly nourished body.

My Cleaning Dilemma

These aren't my cleaners but this is what my setup looked like.

These aren’t my cleaners but this is what my setup looked like.

After nearly a year of making my own orange vinegar cleaner and using it to clean the kitchen and bathrooms and anything else that needs cleaning, I’m calling it quits.

It all started when a well-meaning friend came to visit. She walked in the door and the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh. I can smell you use bleach to clean your house.” The words were dripping in disgust. “I quit using bleach years ago. I just can’t expose my family to that.”After she left I did a little internet research to see what all the fuss was about. She was right; bleach is scary stuff.

Around the same time I saw something on facebook about how to make your own orange vinegar cleaner. This was good because Josh hates the smell of vinegar. Truthfully, so do I. Just about the only thing I like about cleaning is the fresh, clean smell afterwards. Vinegar just doesn’t do it for me. It’s incredibly useful in more ways than I ever imagined, but it just doesn’t smell good. The orange vinegar cleaner promised a fresh citrus scent.

Sadly, it didn’t deliver. I tried several different methods, each with varying success, but never really achieved the fresh citrusy scent I longed for. Terrified to return to my good friend bleach, I tried to convince myself I’d learn to love it. But I didn’t. Yesterday, while I was scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing the shower (vinegar takes more elbow grease than bleach), I literally threw in the towel. I hated the smell; I hated the extra work; I just don’t like this approach to cleaning.

I dug through the cleaning cabinet, desperately hoping there was some chemical I accidentally left behind when I rid our house of all the toxic cleaning agents I was so very attached to. Success! In the very back there was a can of Scrubbing Bubbles. I sprayed the shower down and mere minutes later I had a lemony fresh, sparkling clean shower stall. “That’s it,” I said, “I’m through with green cleaning. I’m too busy for it and not satisfied by it.” I went and threw out all the jars of orange vinegar cleaner that were marinating in my pantry. (Perhaps that was a tad dramatic, but what’s done is done.) I told Josh about my reversion. He laughed and said something along the lines of, “I told you so.”

I was liberated! I was relieved! I was going to write a blog about how you can still be a good mom and clean with bleach! (And Pine-Sol, which is my very favorite cleaner in the whole world!) Then I made the mistake of linking the harmful effects of bleach to the beginning of this article.

no toxic cleanersI really don’t want that in my house. (Even though I already had Josh bring home a bottle and have used it several times in the few hours it’s been in my house.)

What’s a busy mom to do? I’m riddled with guilt either way. I don’t want to be slowly poisoning my family. But I also don’t want my family living in filth, which tends to happen when I take the naturally cleaning approach. Because it takes extra work and doesn’t leave me with the victorious smell of clean, I just put it off. And then things get nasty. Yesterday, there was pink mold growing on the edge of the shower when I started cleaning! I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere that that’s toxic too.

I clearly don’t have the answers on this one. Maybe I’ll go back to my baking powder pastes and vinegar sprays. Maybe I’ll give hydrogen peroxide a try. Maybe I’ll just use the cleaners I like, but leave the windows open those days. Maybe I’ll just use the cleaners and try really hard to forget what I’ve read about them. I just don’t know…

Who knew cleaning could be so problematic?