Homemade Laundry Soap

Today was the day! I finally got off my butt and made my own laundry soap. I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law and 3 nephews and we shared the final product. I got my recipe here. (Read the comments for some extra recipes and cool tips/variations.)

Grating the soap…




Melting the soap…





Adding melted soap…


Adding hot water…


Lots of mixing…





Boom! 10 gallons of laundry soap for roughly $7. And the Fels Naptha bar smells really good!

We also used the fabric softener recipe, but I ended up putting my portion in an old plastic butter tub so that I would have a lid.


Stay tuned for my product review!

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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Better Living, DIY


Well Old Wives, Looks Like Mila’s Going to Make It.

My Nana, bless her heart, is chock full of those amazing old wives tales. Amongst my favorites are

“Lauren, you can’t use the stairs for at least 2 weeks after having that baby or your uterus will fall out.”


“No, I can’t go in the front door, I came out the back door,” I’m assuming she thinks this is bad luck.

I will admit though, there is one that sounds crazy, but I kind of fall for. I was visiting her one day and was telling her about my friend who recently experienced her baby rolling off the couch. “That’s wonderful! It means the baby will live past 5 years.” Cue my blank stare and head shaking while she nods matter-of-factly.

She later told me she knows that it doesn’t affect a baby’s lifespan, but they used to say this so new mothers wouldn’t feel so awful if it happened to them. Within 2 months of hearing this ol’ gem, Max had rolled himself off the bed and I actually found myself feeling relieved!

Since Mila’s my last, I happy to report that I no longer have to worry about my kids randomly dying before the age of 5. She toppled off the couch today, and after a cursory check of her well being, I smiled. You crazy old bats, you got this momma on one…

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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Mila, Milestones, Miscellaneous


What AP Looks Like For Us, Part 4: Babywearing

I just spent 5 minutes after writing the title of this post, staring at a blinking cursor, wondering how to begin to describe the way I feel about babywearing. I can tell you there is absolutely nothing negative running through my mind. But I can’t find a word to do it justice. It’s something that is so amazing on so many levels that I could probably write a series of posts on this topic alone! I’ll tell of my experience first, then maybe the words will come.

I used a Moby Wrap with Max, mostly. I did use a Baby Bjorn a few times when he was really little, before I got my Moby, but I felt like he wasn’t very comfy. He loved using the wrap until he could walk, and then he would only use it when he was upset, perhaps from teething or illness. I actually remember posting a Facebook status declaring it a miracle cure for teething fussiness. I look back on our babywearing experience fondly, but it wasn’t such a huge part of our lives. We were more apt to be rolling around a patch of grass…

I knew I would babywear more with Mila for convenience, but I never imagined it would be how we basically lived life. I started with the same blue Moby from Max’s babywearing days. I knew right away, she would be an “in arms” baby. So I also got a Seven Sling, which is like a tube top you wear over one shoulder without any adjustability, and I began asking ring sling users about those little pieces of heaven. The price tag on a ring sling is quite hefty, especially when I already had 2 carriers, so I found the sewing instructions on Maya Wrap’s website and went shopping for fabric. I found this great material for about $18 that I thought would solve the overheating issue I found when trying to use a Moby in warm weather. I ordered rings for about $4 and bought some upholstery thread. Then my mom sat down at her sewing machine and twenty minutes later, I was ring-slinging! The next day, she made some custom modifications, like a panel on the shoulder that hides the stitching and doubles as extra padding. This is, by far, the best piece of baby gear, EVER. I highly recommend it to all parents!

Miss Mila is the princess of babywearing. Slide her into the sling, and she is instantly content. It is her favorite place in the world and I count it a blessing to be giving her something she loves so much. We have done almost everything in our sling and she’s even started to want to sleep on that spot on my body at night, when we’re not even slinging! It’s how I put her to sleep most of the time for naps, and what she rides in when we’re out. (Our stroller has become obsolete.) And she looks absolutely precious, snuggled into her mommy’s chest, thigh chub hanging out over a cute pair of baby legs and then the smallest peek at her dainty toes. (Ahh…sigh!)

I love it so much, I have already started to get sad when I think that a day will come when she won’t want to be wrapped. And while I typically pass on everything I use to other parents, I think I’ll probably keep our ring sling…




Here’s me throwing Max in there for fun…

And my nephews wearing her!


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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Attachment Parenting


What AP Looks Like For Us, Part 3: Breastfeeding

I must say, I LOVE breastfeeding. Which would sound crazy to those who have known me the longest. Before I had kids I, sadly, was a direct product of society and thought it was gross. I was so very ignorant.

My first experience with breastfeeding was when a friend of mine had her baby and allowed me to be present for her first lactation consultation. (It was this particular baby girl that gave me the baby bug, and we began trying to conceive.) I supported her 100%, but just never thought it was for me, until one day about three months into my first pregnancy, I woke up and simply thought, why wouldn’t I breastfeed? My body is growing a baby, the next step is having the baby, and then I need to feed the baby. That’s why God gave me these awkward things! Looking back on that sudden change, I realize that it was the first step I took into the natural world of motherhood. And I thank God for it!

By the end of my pregnancy with Max, I had purchased some nursing attire, a nursing pillow, 3 bottles, and some breastmilk bags in my preparation for feeding Max. I was planning to purchase a pump sometime in the near future.

While in the hospital, I was not pleased with our breastfeeding start. I did latch within the first hour but wasn’t encourage to nurse often and couldn’t find my voice with some visitors to gain privacy to try again. Max never cried for the breast, but knowing what I know now, I should have offered it more. I wasn’t aware how important it was, that we needed to teach each other how to do this and I just wish we would have had a more involved start.

Nevertheless, nursing ended up being amazing for both of us. I pretty much nursed on demand, occasionally trying to find a schedule like my other friends were doing, but Max turned out to be very in favor of letting me know when he was hungry, and how hungry he was, so I basically followed his lead. (As for formula, I did give him a tiny syringe of some during our first day home on the advice of his pediatrician to “get him over the hump” until my milk came in, but other than that, formula never made another appearance in our home.) We used the bottles with breastmilk a couple times for Daddy and Mamaw to experience feeding.

Max nursed like a pro until 14 months old, upon which he started this awful pinched lip latch. I spent a month trying to correct it until I accepted the idea that he might be ready to wean. The next morning, I gave him a cup of milk, which he drank uneventfully. That afternoon, he pulled at my shirt, and I handed him another cup of milk and he never looked back. It was a sad week for me. But clearly time…I guess.

Nursing max was a top notch learning experience. When Mila came along, mastitis (treated with antibiotics,) thrush (treated with gentian violet,) engorgement (eased by pumping,) a constantly tucked bottom lip (manually flange,) and nipple soreness (Lansinoh, but not for longer than 2 weeks) stood no chance against my determination to feed my baby the way God intended. I have fed her completely on demand, from my breast and plan to do so until she’s ready to stop. And I love it. Truly love it. I have never held a doubt about what I’m doing by breastfeeding and my baby girl is perfectly healthy. In the hospital, I nursed, nursed, nursed, and was eating while nursing by dinner time. (She was born at 10am.) It is the most convenient thing I do parenting-wise, it’s perfectly formulated for Miss Mila, it’s the perfect temperature, it reduces my risk of some scary diseases, and it gives me these amazing moments amidst my hectic life to simply stare at the most beautiful little girl God ever made.

She’s currently 6 1/2 months old and nurses 5-15 times per day during her waking hours. She’ll nurse for just a couple minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes, especially if she falls asleep. At our mealtimes, she sits in a high chair, as a member of the family, and eats either some fruit, veggies, yogurt, or just a mum-mum. We introduced solids because of her cues and signs of readiness. And we were right, she was definitely ready.

If I had to give anyone advice about successful breastfeeding, I would say to accept that NOTHING will stand in your way. And just keep trying. Your body didn’t come this far in making, sustaining, and birthing the baby to give up on you now. Imagine what mothers had to do hundreds of years ago. They had their breasts, and the instruction from other mothers. I’ve heard the craziest excuses for not breastfeeding including, “my baby doesn’t like it.” I honestly couldn’t even comment on that one. (I am by no means doubting true breastfeeding issues, I’m speaking of situations in which I was fully aware that, sadly, no effort was made.)

One last tip would be to relax. The only time I’ve had troubles actually getting milk to her was when my milk-ejection reflex stopped ‘working.’ It happened with both babies and I totally freaked each time. But all it took was me calming down whatever was causing me an immense amount of stress at the time to fix everything. Stress has taken a huge role in attacking my breastfeeding efforts. (But I have claimed victory over this area of my life so get behind me, Satan!) So I encourage you to just relax, call someone who has breastfed before and try to remember that you were made to do this.

For professional help, I actually found the Similac feeding expert call center to be super helpful. 800-986-8800


Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Attachment Parenting


The World Can Certainly Get Me Down…

I just wanted to post an honest little thought that I got while surfing my own Facebook news feed…

I want to crawl into an AP only world just for a little bit. Anyone want to join?

If I knew of a place in this country that was like this, I swear I would relocate my family in a heartbeat.


What AP Looks Like For Us Part 2: Bedsharing

Bedsharing is something that I was almost talked out of when Max was an infant. You see, I planned to parent the mainstream way until my precious son was born. Then my maternal instinct kicked in, I began to practice AP without knowing it and spent a lot of energy trying to hide it from all my mommy friends. When Max was about 5 months old, and Jeff was still sleeping on the couch, I decided that he was never going in that crib, something I was constantly pressured to do, and Jeff should just come to bed with us and learn to get comfortable with it. Up until that point he was just nervous, because he lovingly admitted that he had yet to bond deeply with Max. I think it was him entering the family bed that helped glue my two favorite boys together, and I’m happy to report a very solid bond today.

Today, with Miss Mila around, bedsharing looks like this…

Every night, I watch for Mila to look sleepy. This usually happens anywhere from 8pm to 930pm. We then get into bed and I nurse her and let her drift off when she’s ready. Normally the light is still on, because Max is nowhere near tired. I usually stay up and read, or play with my iPad. Max will run in and out, hang out in bed with me, or play with Jeff, in bed or sometimes downstairs. After Max’s bath, he and Jeff will join us in bed and we’ll read, play this super cute night night app, or watch a movie (The Jungle Book is a current favorite.) We’ll let Max fall asleep when he’s tired, and Jeff and I normally fall asleep with him. Mila sleeps tummy to tummy with me, either on our side or lately on my back with her on top of me. Max sleeps up Jeff’s butt, lol, and frequently turns sideways and uses Jeff for a footrest. We all typically wake up together in time for Jeff to go to work, but sometimes get an extra half hour. This is our routine, unless we are out late, in which we’ll take their jam-jams along and they’ll fall asleep on the way home and we’ll all climb into bed upon arrival.

As for the famous question I know you’re asking, no, my babies are not good at night. Mila wakes 1-5 times, normally without crying unless I happen to be a tad irritated, and we’ll nurse and go back to sleep. Max will wake once every couple of nights but is easily settled. With that being said, I think my babies are great at night. Perfect for their respective ages and sleeping/waking capabilities, and I love knowing that their nighttime needs are 100% respected and attended to by Jeff and I. We both frequently comment on how safe and secure they must feel, and how it is worth it for that factor alone. I refuse to comment on what it has done for our ‘adult’ life. But when you ponder it, you should conclude that it’s just fine and dandy. I mean, we did produce a second child…

When Mila was a newborn, we used a crib sidecar on our CA king bed. Which Mila never used, she wanted to be right next to me. I separated the children, and Jeff was Max’s ‘guardrail.’ We soon got rid of the sidecar, and pushed our bed into the corner for safety.

A noticeable benefit of this approach to my children’s sleep is Max’s attitude towards sleep. We’ve all heard the protests that most kids stage upon hearing the words sleep, bedtime, or nap. I have never heard it from the mouth of my son. My children can also fall asleep anywhere. All they need is a parent, sometimes even another family member, and some snuggles.

Here are some photos of them sleeping. Please note any picture of them together is of a situation where I am awake sitting with them. I wouldn’t put them in an unsafe sleeping situation.













Taking a nap on Uncky Joe

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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Attachment Parenting


What AP Looks Like For Us, Part 1: Introduction

I recently read Mayim Bialik’s book, Beyond the Sling, and LOVED it. And I realized why not long after singing its praises to my husband. When you practice attachment parenting, or AP, the absolute best way to quell doubts and get real help is to talk with or read about how other families go through the same things and make it out on the other end, in an AP way. I was part of a mommy group in our old town, but it was very hard to do anything but defend my parenting style, due to the fact that I was the only AP mom in the group. I sometimes felt like a freak. I was rarely able to express a need for help and receive something that would work for the way we choose to parent. It’s not a knock against those moms, I miss and love them dearly, but I need other AP moms to help with my AP problems.

Enter Mrs. Bialiks’s amazing book. She wrote it in a manner that was perfect for my need. I just needed to know that other AP parents feel the same way I do. And there’s a way to do it all, the AP way. There were aspects of her book that didn’t really apply to my family, like elimination communication, but that just brings to light a wonderful thing I’ve noticed about the AP community. Even though we are like-minded, we are not always exactly same, and that’s okay. In any other parenting community, this is where judgement would enter. And I’m thankful that I just haven’t seen that in any AP community.

The book has led me to write this series of posts to explain what AP looks like for us Clark’s. To help others who have the same issues know that they are not alone, to receive any support from someone having the issue and to offer any helpful support, like Mayim’s book did for me!

Of the many practices of AP our favorites are bedsharing, breastfeeding, and babywearing. (My auto-correct just corrected all those AP terms as two separate words when they are in fact one word terms in AP. Ha!) We also practice gentle discipline, which is becoming very challenging with Max as a 2 1/2 year old, we are responsive, and we believe in nurturing touch. I can’t wait to share us with you. Please come back for the first real look into out AP lives in Part 2: Bedsharing!

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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Attachment Parenting