Aquapac for my camera

A few weeks ago I was at Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) and saw these waterproof, submersible camera and phone cases. Although our current digital camera is both waterproof and shock resistant (Canon Powershot D20 – waterproof 10m or 33ft and shockproof 1.5m or 5ft; both requirements in our household!) I was intrigued. You see we are going to the ocean this summer and although water and shock may not be a problem, sand may.

Aquapac Case

So I took a closer look. The case was about $15. So I decided that if it saved my lens from sand scratching this summer then it was money well spent.

Today I used the new case and took it to the pool. The case is AMAZING! It has a string that I put around my neck and was able to have the camera handy, but not constantly in my hands.

Kianna Underwater

The pictures it took were awesome! You definitely cannot tell the camera is inside a plastic case. I HIGHLY recommend this cheap case. It also comes with a 5 year warranty! How can you go wrong!

Aquapac with Camera

Coming from the mom who has consistently gone through a digital camera every 18-24 months from either dropping too many times or juice or bottles in the diaper bag leaking on it too much! This cheap case would have saved me hundreds of dollars and several digital cameras!

Keilan and Katarina with Soccer Ball

Just a note, you cannot use your flash with this case as it reflects off the plastic case, but if you’re using the case then you’re probably outside in the water anyway. So it’s not really a big deal!

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Swimming

I have been taking my children swimming since my oldest was a mere 2 weeks old. I have been tied to one child or another now for 14 years. For 14 years I have been unable to swim without being in “arms reach” of one child or another.

Keilan Swimming

I had a baby aqua carrier that I bought when my 3rd child was born. You see I had a baby to hold and 2 preschoolers to keep within “arms reach”. Since I usually took the kids swimming by myself I simply didn’t have enough arms to deal with all 3. So the aqua carrier was PERFECT! It allowed me to have 2 arms free for my older kids and have my baby close and safe at the same time.

Karyssa Underwater

Then we had our 4th child. Our oldest was now a month shy of 7. The great thing now was as soon as he was 7 he could swim alone. But still I had 3 in “arms reach”. By the time our 5th child came along I had 2 that were 7 or older, so still I had 3 in “arms reach”. Finally over the past 4 years I have had 2 more turn 7.

Karyssa Katarina Jumping

Today I took the youngest 4 swimming. They are ages 11, 9, 7, 4 (almost 5). It was SO much FUN! Although my last 2 aren’t strong swimmers, they are confident enough now with their noodles that I actually had my hands free for most of the day. When our youngest put on his life jacket then I was totally hands free. Granted I was still with them and within “arms reach”, but my arms were free!

Kianna on Noodle

Although it has been 14 years in coming, swimming is actually beginning to be fun for ME too, and not just the kids! Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed swimming with the kids and the memories we’ve made, but I’m ready to swim alone. I’m ready to not be holding a child in the pool. It’s WAY more fun to chase them and play with them when I don’t have one attached to my hip!

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Laundry Soap

Today is laundry soap making day.

I begin by pouring the last of the old laundry soap into a 2 quart (1.9L) canning jar. This is because it takes 24 hrs for the laundry soap to set, before I can use it. With 5 children I never go a day without doing laundry (at least I shouldn’t!), so I need that soap for washing later today!

Soap Ingredients

Next I pull out my largest regular everyday pot. I fill it with water and pour my bag of pre-grated soap into it (2 small bars of the yellow sunlight laundry soap). This is simply to melt the soap flakes into the water.

Pot with Soap Ingredients

When ALL the soap is fully melted then you go to the next step. Making sure to stir the soap-water mixture frequently, mostly so it doesn’t boil over. :). I use a large spoon with holes so I can easily see when all the soap flakes are melted.

Stirring Soap

Now you take your bag of pre-measured borax and washing soda (I use 1 cup Borax and 2 cups Washing Soda – both can be found in the laundry detergent aisle at your grocery store or big box store) and pour into the melted soap water and stir.

Once stirred pour the whole pot into the 5 gallon pail. I then fill the pot with water and pour that into the pail, stirring it as I go, until the contents reach the top of the pail. Now I put the lid on it, and carry it to the basement. In 24 hours Jason will use the paint stirring attachment for his drill to stir the soap.

Pouring Soap

The soap does tend to gel up so it needs to be stirred now and again. I use this in my LG High Efficiency Front Load Washer. I use the same amount as the measuring cup in the machine says to. However, I have used as little as the quarter cup as recommended by another website. However, I load my washer to capacity so feel I should use a bit more soap. The 5 gallons of laundry soap lasts me 6 weeks. I do approximately 15 – 20 loads a week. The hard cost of the soap is approximately $5, but I add a jug of oxi clean (got on clearance for $2.50 a jug) for extra stain fighting. So it costs me $7.50 for 5 gallons of laundry soap.

We used this for our dishwasher as some people recommended, but found it left a residue on the dishes. So we stopped.

It cleans really well, but if you have a bad stain or oil or grease or butter you will need to pretreat these stains. I use Resolve from Costco and it works well. It even removes some old stains.

Total time to make the laundry soap is maybe 10 minutes, if you have everything already prepared.

I prepare my “kits” ahead. I measure 1 cup Borax and 2 cups Washing Soda into a sandwich zipper bag. It JUST fits. I then pull out my kitchen-aid mixer and put on the grater attachment. The last time I did this (January) I made 14 “kits” and shredded 28 bars of sunlight. Every two bars of soap I switch catcher bowls, and bag the soap.

Then I take the bag of shredded soap and the bag of borax and washing soda and put them in a large Ziploc bag. My kit is complete. My feelings are if I have to wash the kitchen-aid shredder then I’d rather do it only once! I then store the “kits” in the drawer of the washing machine stand. As well when I found the oxi clean on clearance I bought every single bottle. All 14 of them. So I have “kits” for a year and a half!

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Hairbrushes

Here comes another soapbox…

I have 3 girls, and all 4 of us have varying lengths of long hair. This means we all need a decent hairbrush, several times a day. As a mother I have done my job and purchased each girl a number of different hair brushes over the years; small ones, travel size, princess ones, large paddle ones, hard plastic ones for wet hair, soft bristles, hard bristles, oval, rectangle, must I continue???

Hairbrushes

You get the idea. At one point around Christmas I located as many hair brushes as I could and counted them … Over 2 dozen.

If we have over 2 dozen hair brushes how come every single morning I hear the same thing over and over? “Where’s a hair brush?” And “Has anyone seen a hair brush?”.

I have tried hiding a brush of my own, but somehow they can always find that one, but not their own! It is VERY frustrating! Jason has claimed “his brush” and it stays on his dresser. If a person wants to borrow it they mustn’t leave our bedroom with it and must return it to his dresser. Somehow they mostly follow his decrees, but when I put similar ones out about “MY” hairbrush they are ignored!

So I do the only thing I can…when I see decent hair brushes for a buck or two I buy 3. My hope is that one day we will have so many that I’ll actually be able to find mine where I left it!

However, for now 2 dozen hair brushes just isn’t enough in my home!

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Alberta Flood 2013

Well the rain has stopped (for now) so maybe we can all begin to dry out from what will be forever known in history as Alberta Flood 2013. We are heartbroken for the people who have literally lost everything! Homes washed away by the river, homes that were bought far from the flood plains now completely ruined – under numerous feet of water! I feel terrible for the 100,000 people who have been evacuated and don’t even know what they will come home to or when they can go home!

Our home wasn’t flooded by the rivers, we experienced a small amount of flooding due to the volume of rain. However, we were expecting this, so we are totally alright.

The city of Calgary river pathways, Princess Island Park, numerous schools, our entire downtown, Stampede Park, all the communities along the Elbow River and Bow Rivers, and so much more are decimated! We’ve never seen anything this destructive before! We don’t even yet know the structural damage that the volume of water has caused much less the damage that everything it carried away in it’s sheer force caused!

The mere thought of it all is overwhelming! Yesterday I wanted my family to do something, and although I REALLY wanted to go down to Crescent Heights (it’s only 3 miles away from our home) and have a look myself at the downtown, I didn’t because I knew that was the last thing that would ACTUALLY be helpful. Around 11:15am I got an email from our community association that they were collecting sweaters, hoodies, fruit, blankets, and more for the drop-in shelter that had finally been evacuated.

What made me angry was that the shelter had purchased this hotel in my neighbourhood for transitional housing quite some time ago, but the community didn’t want them to be able to use it as they were afraid of the people who would live there; that the crime would go up and property values down if they did live there. That attitude angers me! If you’ve actually stopped and talked to any homeless people you’ll realize they are really not much different than you or me, just had some really tough breaks in life and then a good number turned to drugs or alcohol for some relief and now have addictions too.

I am angry we didn’t evacuate them sooner using the reason where would we put several hundred homeless. Well how about their hotel???? They did buy it!!! The Drop-in shelter is literally 2 blocks from the river they should have been evacuated much sooner! At 7am when I chatted with a friend of mine who is also a bus driver and was on call for the evacuation he didn’t even know how we’d get a bus to them, the rivers were practically licking the bridges into the downtown!

So when I saw the email looking for donations of jackets, sweaters,blankets, etc. I called Jason and asked him if I could go through his closet. Of course he said yes. I found several sweaters, a hoodie, numerous t-shirts. Then I did the same in mine and found even more. Finally I moved onto our bulging coat closet. I must have found a dozen various jackets we don’t even wear. Then I told my son to bag it and take it to the van.

My 14 year old, bless his heart, said “Mama, couldn’t we give them all our old sheets and towels. They need them now don’t they? I think they need them more than we do.”

We had bought the kids 2 new sets of sheets each just last weekend. Costco had some microfibre ones for $16.99 a set. We hadn’t bought any new sheets for their beds in 9 years, so we decided it was time. We had planned to give the other ones away, but hadn’t quite gotten around to it. As well for Christmas we were blessed with a dozen new towels, and I was too cheap to get rid of any of the old ones. I am ashamed to say I didn’t think of this generosity, my son did.

So we went through the sheets and towels and added to our mountain. Finally we tackled the blankets. When we were through we had 10 garbage bags and we took them over right away.

The best part was when my 14 year old said to me “Doesn’t it feel good to actually help someone?”. His words echoed my thoughts exactly! I love it when I see the character traits I’ve been working to build in my children come into fruition.

Our family may not have lost our home this week, but our hearts have been opened up by the flood waters! We as a family will volunteer when the cleanup of the parks and paths begins. We will put our hands where our hearts are, will you?

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