Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Out, out red crayon!

The title is my mommy tribute to MacBeth.

**insert dramatic bowing here**

After a red crayon hid itself in my laundry and held it hostage last weekend, I thought we might need to change the color scheme in Emma's room to include red in order to tie in the red splotches all over her PBK (!) comforter and sheets.

But it turns out, there is a God. (And duh, I knew that. Don't think I didn't pray over the comforter, asking Him to remove all the stains. It's okay to pray for the little things too.)

I sure hope this doesn't happen to you, but in case it does, here's my advice: when you Google "how to get crayon out of laundry" and people rave about how they washed it all out in one fell swoop and everything came out and it was a miracle... don't believe them. They probably work for a detergent company and they're lying.

Instead, four washes later with various methods, I still have faint stains, but nothing I'm losing sleep over. In fact, I was so pleased when I went to take "after" pictures that I could barely find the stains!

So here's what worked for me - after four washes using different methods, I'm wondering if wash #4 is the secret:

Well, first I cleaned the dryer which was a mess. Soft Scrub washed down with water did the trick and it was a breeze. I made sure to wash/dry a load of towels first just to pick up any leftover crayon or soft scrub residue. Now on to the hard part... the laundry.

1. Pretreated all stains with Zout and worked in with a toothbrush, followed by washing with regular detergent and 1 cup OxiClean Stain Fighter (liquid) in HOT water. I soaked it in the hot water for an hour in the washer before moving on with the cycle. Result: barely faded stains.

2. Scrubbed each stain with... WD-40 or "Goof Off". I would get bored with one and switch. Then I washed in HOT water with regular detergent and a cup of OxiClean. Result: no difference, but STINKY laundry. Not the way to go unless you want to pass out. (Probably not good while pregnant!) So I rewashed it like a normal load to try to get the smell out, with no luck.

3. Mixed 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup of OxiClean Stain Fighter, 1 cup of Zout, 1 cup of laundry detergent, with a little goo gone on the spots and washed in HOT water. Result: a little more faded, but clearly visible. And the WD-40 smell was much better although still slightly there.

4. I like to call this method the close your eyes and point method. I was so discouraged by now that nothing would work, that I pulled out all the stops. And by "stops" I mean every cleaning product within reach. This is what my work area looked like by the time I was done:

I pretreated every spot with different things. Someday when I'm feeling ambitious (and clearly have nothing else to do AT ALL) I think I'll melt a crayon on some old t-shirts, label each spot with a Sharpie and figure out which of these products really is the most effective. I think the two that ended up taking out the spots the best were Scrubbing Bubbles (shower cleaner of all things!) and GOJO. I was about to give up all hope when I spied GOJO Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner (for heavy-duty cleaning, like after you've worked on cars. Well not ME, but you know...) on the shelf. I tried it as a joke, but it was working! I think next time I'd stay away from the pumice variety as it probably is not good for fabric, but I could see it working.

After using everything within reach (yes, even toothpaste), I washed in HOT water with regular detergent and another cup of OxiClean. And I threw in some baking soda for good measure. Once the washer was filled with hot water, I let it soak for an hour and then continued the cycle with an extra rinse. The result: I can barely see the spots! By now I was really only focused on the comforter, so the sheets still have pink spots on them, but it gives them character, right? RIGHT?!

Anyway, the result is that I can barely see the stains. Here's proof:


After: this is the same corner that's in the left side of the picture above. I should've tried situating them the same for the picture, but I'd seen enough of the comforter by the time I took these pictures!!! You can still see some faint red areas in the picture below, especially if you look along the edges, but they kind of blend in with the flowers on the fabric, so it's good enough for me. Oh, and that spot right below the leaves of that flower in the picture above? Totally gone!

There were sooo many red spots that it was long and tedious, but the work was well worth it in the end.

I'd say there's a moral to the story... but it would be something unrealistic like, "The moral of the story is, if you don't want to deal with crayon stains in your laundry, don't have kids!" because we all know this will happen again and again before my kids have outgrown crayons. And I'll take red crayon in my laundry any day before I'd give up my girls.

But I might throw out all the crayons. Just don't tell the girls.

Monday, April 28, 2008

And they ask how I'll handle a boy...

While helping Daddy paint the sandbox, my two prissy girls discovered a frog. His name is Hoppy. Emma kissed him goodbye when we let him go after dinner...

**An update to the red crayon fiasco of 2008 is coming tomorrow. Stay tuned!**

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Control Z!"

How's this for a fun Friday night?

We went swimming tonight, and I thought I was so smart to think ahead and bring the girls' jammies to the pool. So we showered in the locker room, washed hair and bundled them up in their jammies so that we could tuck them straight into their beds when we got home. On our way through the laundry room back at home, I remembered that I had to grab Emma's sheets and comforter out of the dryer since I'd washed them earlier that day.

I was greeted with this:

And this:

Oh, and this and this:


I'm kind of geek though, and kept thinking in my head, "Control Z! Control Z!" Weird, unless you know that Control Z is the Windows keyboard shortcut for "undo." (Told you, I'm a geek.) I just couldn't help but wish that I could undo whatever catastrophe had caused our laundry to look like a crime scene. And imagine how I felt photographing the bedsheets stained with red; I felt like I was doing a guest spot on CSI: Denver.

Well, the culprit was none other than the infamous red crayon. Darn you, red crayon! And I think it's my own fault. Emma kept pleading with us to believe her that she didn't do it ("I didn't color on my sheets! How could I even do that?!"), and I'm pretty sure she's right. I betcha I just scooped up a red crayon from her bedroom floor when I scooped up the pile of sheets and her comforter. I could kick myself. Control Z!

And not just any comforter, but the Pottery Barn quilt that Granny Great bought for her! Argh! (And wouldn't you know it's the first time I've washed it, despite the two years it's been on her bed?! Go figure.)

So I did what any American in their right mind would do, and googled for my solution. Up popped up several concoctions that will supposedly get red crayon out of the sheets, comforter AND dryer. I'm too pooped to run out tonight to get the supplies, so this project will have to wait until tomorrow. So I thought I'd blog about it instead. I'll let you know what works - and what doesn't.

How's your weekend going so far?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Things

It's here! The calendar said it was here a month ago, but the days themselves finally agree. We've had warm days in the 70's, bright sunshine, the grass is turning greener, leaves are sprouting on every limb, flowers are showing their smiling faces, and the sprinklers have been turned on again.

It has even been warm enough in the last few days for the girls to play out in the hose. But then, they thought that was okay when it WASN'T warm enough. (My girls have some serious water addiction issues - don't get me started.) Hey look! My neighbor's lawn got a double dose of spring! My only regret this time of year is that I always forget to plant bulbs in the fall, so I miss out on the irises, crocuses and daffodils in my own yard.

Thank goodness for neighbors who remember! I haven't planted any flowers yet, but I do have a trusty little cluster of pansies who come up every year. They must've seeded themselves from the planter I have above them, because I've never planted them in the ground.

Spring also means birds, and I love birds. Except I don't so much love birds who decide to build nests in my front door bucket.

They're tiny little house finches (the males have bright red heads and are so cute) and they freak out every time we open the door.

Okay, I freak out too. I'm so afraid they're going to fly the wrong way and either invade my house (think Alfred Hitchcock) or peck my eyes out (again, think Alfred Hitchcock). So far, they just fly away to a nearby branch and spy on us while we do our business. I haven't seen them today, so I might relocate them while I have the chance.

Their nest looks so cozy, although it's hard to tell from the pictures. They found some soft, snuggly stuff for their little love nest! (Dryer lint compliments of yours truly. A little trick I learned from my mom.) The fun thing is that I can see them sitting in the nest when I look through the peephole!

Speaking of my mom, maybe the reason I'm a little jumpy at the thought of birds on my door is because when we were growing up, a robin laid its eggs in a nest above my mom's flowerbed. The mama robin was so territorial that she would dive bomb my mom when she came out to garden. Soon my mom started gardening while wearing a bike helmet. If I can dig up the pictures, I'll prove it to you!

Wait... so maybe I don't love birds after all.

Springtime has also inspired me to do spring crafts with my girls. I have several in my mind and we did the first one today. It did not go well. And that's putting a positive spin on it.

I didn't come up with this on my own, but you know that craft with the crayon pieces, wax paper and an iron? Yeah. I thought I'd try that. And my girls were SO excited. I even took pictures because I thought if it went well, surely the entire internet would want to know how we created such magnificent pieces of art. So now, I present these pictures to you so you can burn a few calories laughing at my expense.

We unwrapped all those tiny crayon pieces and I begin to grate them with my cheese grater. My poor technicolor cheese grater. It may never be the same. In the process, I grated a nail down to the quick. It was at this point that Emma declined her request to help with the grating.

So... did you know that crayon shavings are EXTREMELY static-y? Oh my heck. I cupped the top of one cup with my hand and they all became magnetic and shot up on to my hand. And the problem only worsened when I tried to brush them off. Crayon shavings e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

As the girls and I tried sprinkling the colors on the wax paper to make our design, crayon was going everywhere. I mean everywhere. It was on the floor, on the chairs, all over our hands, and even in Emma's hair. We did a few pictures and then Emma turned to Addie and said, "Let's go play in the sandbox." Addie said, "Yeah" and they were outta there.

So I cleaned up the whole mess and then they came back and asked if we were going to do more of our craft. I said no, that I thought they were done, and then Emma said, "I just thought you needed time to think about how to make it work." Well then!

At the conclusion of craft time, I was left with one colorful grater, crayon shavings everywhere, one cranky mama, two disappointed girls and an iron which I may have ruined. Someone better remind me to iron a few towels before the next time Gary preaches and I have to iron a white shirt. Or else he'd better be preaching about Joseph and his colorful coat to make a point.

And okay, I guess I was left with a few pretty window catchers. They didn't turn out how I pictured, but you know what? The girls think they're AWESOME. I guess that's what matters. And the mess? I need to get over it. In fact, Emma begs me daily to do crafts with her. I have to admit that I selfishly distract her from her pursuit of crafts because it can be messy. Isn't making the mess half the fun? And isn't cleaning it up the other half? (No.) So today, even though the craft did not go smoothly, my girls loved it and that's what counts.

But - if you know what I did wrong, I'd love to know! There has to be an easier way, right? Should I have not used my cheese grater? Oh, and it seemed like my wax paper was waxy on both sides - can that be? Do I need different paper? Or maybe... is this exactly the way they were supposed to turn out? (Maybe I have really high expectations! Afterall, I was just in the Met a month ago and didn't see any crayon-shaving-sun-catchers, so maybe these are as good as they get.)

Hmmm... maybe those birds would like some crayon shavings to add to their nest.

Yeah, that's it. Crayon shaving craft projects are for the birds. A long, round-about way to make my point.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tagged again!

I was tagged by Emma's Mommy for this meme over a week ago, but the Amazing Race had sort of put life on hold temporarily. So without further ado, here are the answers to this meme!

- - -

What I was doing 10 years ago:
1998... I think about this time ten years ago, I had broken up with a cruddy boyfriend for the final time. Yeah, the first three times didn't stick. I even made a list I could refer to as often as necessary of all the reasons why we broke up. Maybe it was the list, maybe it was all the friends praying that this time would stick... whatever the case, it was our final breakup. And praise God for that! (There is absolutely NO sarcasm in that, trust me.) I committed to staying single for six months, which was shocking to anyone who knew me because I was a dating machine. But, I did remain single for six wonderful months and it was an AWESOME time for me and the Lord. I really think it laid the ground work for me to be engaged a year later.

Five things on my to do list for today (I'm going with tomorrow since "today" is almost over):
1. Take Addie to the doctor - she's been complaining for months that her tummy hurts and I can't pass it off as hunger any longer.
2. Return a few things to Target
3. Go grocery shopping
4. Take pictures of the bird nest on my front door.
5. Write some thank-you notes to prize donors of the Amazing Race

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Give a ton of money away. A ton. Who needs that much money? Then I might upgrade our house and pay off debts for our family. And I'd really like a birdhouse for the backyard. And also maybe a pair of Mary Jane Crocs.

Three of my bad habits:
1. I'm always late and a huge procrastinator. I'm not proud of it, but it's true. It's amazing the girls were born before their due dates.
2. I pick at my cuticles until they bleed.
3. I stay up so late that I often fall asleep on the couch and get REALLY grumpy if Gary tries to wake me up. And then I get REALLY grumpy if Gary leaves me to sleep on the couch. Sorry, my love, you can't win.

Five places I have lived:
1. Erie, CO
2. Superior, CO
3. Boulder, CO
4. Highlands Ranch, CO
5. Englewood, CO
*These are all within an hour of each other. How exciting am I?! I did live in British Columbia for 3 months for a mission trip... does that count?

Five jobs I have had:
1. Church secretary/graphic design stuff. I was actually Gary's secretary for a good portion of my time there, and he used to love telling people (usually people we didn't know) that he sleeps with his secretary. Now he loves telling people he got his secretary pregnant and she quit. Neat.
2. Intern for the college program at a church
3. A/V technician in lecture halls during college - sounds lame, but I scored one of the best jobs on campus!
4. Bank teller (loved that job)
5. Target cashier (I love, love, love the Target lady on SNL. Love her.)

Okay... I'm supposed to tag five people, but I can't bear the thought of rejection should you not choose to do it. I'm insecure like that. BUT! If you read this, and feel inspired by how extremely fascinating I clearly am, and you want to do it yourself, let me know! And I know that some of you out there (Amy and Abby) are often just looking for things to blog about, so here you go.

Thanks, Emma's Mommy, for tagging me! While I cringe at tagging others, I like to be tagged. I've always been a sucker for games.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No cow parts were used in this event

...much to my dismay. Because, don't even think I wasn't scouring the town for some Rocky Mountain Oysters. And no, local grocery stores, you don't need to refer me to the seafood department, thankyouverymuch.

This weekend was so. much. fun. I hope all the participants had as much fun as Gary and I did, because there were a few moments during the race when I thought I might have several fewer friends than when I started.

To recap, Gary and I planned last Saturday's MOPS & POPS event, which is an activity where the moms in my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group bring their hubbys for a night (or day!) of fun with other couples. Last year we planned the first ever MOPS Amazing Race and were recruited to plan it again this year. We learned a few things from last year, so after a few tweaks here and there, this year's race was longer (but maybe too long) and more challenging (but maybe too challenging). But at least this year no one had to wax any body parts.

So here's the low-down. This could get lengthy, so grab a Rocky Mountain Oyster and get comfy.

We had about 20 couples participating, and split them into 8 teams. We met at our Mentor Mom's house and after I explained the rules and stressed the "no cheating" rule for certain competitors (Chip and Mike), the game began!

1 - Each team was assigned a color and all but one team member was blindfolded. Each team stood on the perimeter of a 20-30 foot wide circle, inside which 6 stakes of each color were scattered. When I shouted "go," callers had to direct his/her teammates to all of their colored stakes. The trick was that all 8 teams were shouting directions and picking up stakes all at once. When all stakes were picked up, they could get their first clue.

2 - The first clue sent them to the University of Colorado football stadium. Here's where we encountered a minor problem. The clue sent them to a specific seat in the stadium, where we counted on the (free) spring game to just be concluding, thus there would be no problem getting into the stadium. However, the game ended earlier than we hoped, and by the time teams got there, they were locking the doors! So, Gary had to scramble to find teams as they arrived to give them the next clue. It all worked out, but this part didn't go as smoothly as we hoped!

3 - Teams received this clue:
It sent them to a place on the CU campus where I was set up with the food challenge portion of the game. Each team had to solve ONE SIDE of a Rubik's cube. The color they solved corresponded with what food they had to eat: 1/2 sleeve of saltine crackers, about 20-30 Rolos, 1 can of "potted meat" (I had requests not to repeat last year's Spam so I didn't... don't they just WISH it had only been Spam!), 3 "extreme hot" chili peppers, 2 sardines, or 1 pickled pig's foot. To my delight, each of these food delicacies had takers. What a wonderful day. After the food was eaten, they received their next clue.

Here's Mike, the brave, pig's foot eating soul (Nancye, did you kiss him after that?):

4 - The next clue sent them to Chautauqua (a local park/hiking area) where they had to hike part way up a trail to the first trail marker. There they found rocks with letters in many colors. They had to find the rocks in their team color - seven total - and unscramble them to come up with their next destination: THE SINK. (The Sink is a local restaurant, so those unfamiliar with the area might have been at a disadvantage. One team deciphered it - "HIKE N. ST." and they would've been hiking a looong time had they not gotten a little help.)

5 - At The Sink, they were asked a trivia question based on the graffiti inside the entrance of the restaurant. The restaurant is partially known for the graffiti that covers the walls and ceiling of every room.

6 - After the right answer was given, they were sent to the Boulder Public Library where they were faced with 3 locked boxes containing their next clue. They had to sort through 3,000 keys to find one that would unlock the box so that they could move on. (Edited on 4/22/08 to add that I learned today that there were cheaters at this point in the game too. Tsk, tsk!)

e note: I had this idea a few weeks ago and went to a local hardware store to get any extra keys they might have from key duplicating. I was thrilled when they gave me about 30. Before I could go to my next store to collect more keys, Gary mocked me and told me he had about 3,000 if I wanted to use them. Whatever. I would've gotten that many.

7 - The clue found in the locked box sent them to Pearl Street Mall (an outdoor mall at least 3 blocks long) where they had to count the number of park benches on the mall and report the right answer to a certain bystander to get the next clue.

8 - That clue sent them to the intersection of 17th and Boulder Creek. Here, they were faced with a "DETOUR."

According to the TV show "The Amazing Race", a detour is when teams are faced with the choice of two challenges. In our game, they chose between "Clean" or "Collect." In "Clean," teams had to fill a trash bag with trash from the banks of the Boulder Creek. I suppose if I do it again, I'll have to specify that taking trash FROM TRASH CANS is cheating. You know who you are, you big cheaters! In "Collect," teams had to go door-to-door and collect 5 pairs of tennis shoes which we'll donate to Nike's recycling program in which they use old shoes to make new playground surfaces. Once these tasks were completed, they received their next clue.

9 - Their next clue sent them across the street to Boulder High School where they had to dig in the volleyball pit sand for their color-coded clue. It's 1,000% likely that we'll scrap this task in the future. This is where I began losing friends. It wasn't just one court, it was two. And the clues were all spread out. And there were people playing volleyball. Basically, it wasn't pretty, and half of the teams gave up and used their one freebie call to find out where they should go next. So, it wasn't a good challenge, but I have to admit that I got a good laugh out of it. Sorry, friends!

10 - The next destination was a coffee shop. They had to ask the counter for their clue (some went to the wrong coffee shop at first because the clue didn't tell you directly where to go) and in their envelope they found money to buy drinks and a word search puzzle. The word search was filled with (mostly) Boulder related words, and the leftover letters told them their next destination: THE APPLE STORE.

11 - Teams scurried to The Apple Store (or one team went to "The Apples to REI", apparently they got a faulty puzzle and this clue made sense to them... but we won't go there). My sister was waiting in front of the Apple store where they were instructed to go inside and visit: I'm laughing as I type this, because the game took a hilarious turn at this point. Well, hilarious to me, maybe not to those wandering around the 29th Street mall. I won't totally give the clue away (where they had to find him is ON THAT PAGE, I promise. Look hard), but they had to find that guy...

12 - ...and he was in Borders. Once they found him, they were sent to the church where they had to either launch an egg with a balloon launcher past a certain point and catch it without it breaking or toss 4 (was it 4?) eggs a considerable distance and have team members catch them without them breaking. Two words: Mes-sy.

13 - After completing that task, they were given their next clue which led them to Scott Carpenter Park where they had to climb a very narrow rocket to the very top to retrieve their next clue. I wish I could've seen them do it, because all I know is that this usually-thin-but-now-pregnant-girl had a rough time getting up there.

14 - That clue sent them to a Park-n-Ride garage with 5 (?) floors. They were told to find license plate 302-DIT for their next clue. I received several calls asking if the car had left since they couldn't find it, but no, the license plate was never ON a car. I had it leaning against a wall with the clues tucked behind it. Good times.

15 - So that was the final clue, instructing them to get back to our original meeting spot, where we concluded with meatball sandwiches and an awards ceremony. It was SO FUN. The food was great and the prizes were awesome! Thanks, local sponsors! Every team walked away with a prize/certificate worth at least $10-$100.

The winning team:

A really nice couple posing with some cheaters:

(As an extra way to shave minutes off of the final time even if team's didn't arrive first, there was a list of challenges they could do to earn time. So that explains some of the random pictures.)

Thanks for hanging in there this long if you're still reading! We've already had requests for the 3rd Amazing Race, so I know it was a success. Thanks to all who participated.

Next year... Rocky Mountain Oysters, baby.


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