How to Clean up Spilled Milk in Twenty-two Steps

A Public Service Bulletin

When we accidentally spilled nearly an entire gallon of milk in the Suburban earlier this summer, I needed just one website or one person who could say with authority, “Do this. This works.” My frantic google searches produced only suggestions of a tentative nature, “Try this. If that doesn’t work, try this. Or you could sprinkle this on it…” It was as if people only hypothetically spill milk and never have more than theories for cleaning it.

The milk had run from behind and under the driver’s seat along the the edge of the door all the way to the gas pedal. It was… epic… Somehow, by the grace of God and a whole lot of work, I blundered on a process that really did work. Not a trace of sour milk smell wafted around our vehicle even on the hot days, and you can believe that we did a lot of suspicious sniffing.

  1. Whimper pathetically, “Oh. No. No, no, no, nooooo.”
  2. Panic and pour about a half gallon of vinegar on the spill site.
  3. Blot, blot, blot, blot, blot with towels.
  4. Scratch towels. Get ShopVac and start sucking up the milk.
  5. Look at amount of liquid in ShopVac and cry a little when you see that you may have 2 cups out of a gallon.
  6. Pull off all plastic molding pieces around spill site so you can vacuum the padding under the carpet and the floor under the padding.
  7. Notice that the vinegar has turned the milk into cottage cheesy blobs, effectively stopping it in it’s runny tracks. 
  8. Get a bucket of water and a rag and start cleaning up the cottage cheese, one blob at a time. 
  9. Pour a bottle of Peroxide on the spill.
  10. Take a break to clean up the kids for a supper invitation.
  11. Garner lots of sympathy from other people, as well as cautionary tales of carpets replaced, even vehicles replaced due to sour milk stench.
  12. Go home at bedtime, tuck the kids in bed and get out the ShopVac again.
  13. Vacuum that padding until it is frayed.
  14. Sprinkle a box of baking soda on top of the carpet and on both sides of the padding.
  15. Stuff plastic bottles under the carpet to lift it up and allow airflow. 
  16. Pray about the areas under the seat and up the console that couldn’t be reached effectively.
  17. Go to bed and forget your troubles.
  18. Have your dad pick up an oxy-based carpet cleaner at the auto store the next day. Spray it on liberally and scrub it in.
  19. Call it good enough: please, please, please, Lord, don’t let this car stink.
  20. Wait to remove the plastic bottle air spacers until the carpet is dry.
  21. Replace the plastic molding pieces around the door frames.
  22. Buy air fresheners and be astonished that you don’t even need them.

After doing a bit of research, I found that by using enzyme cleaners I neutralized the lactobacilli that would have caused the sour smell. It cost us about 10 dollars, vinegar, peroxide and baking soda included, versus a hundred dollars for detailing. I actually think the oxy carpet cleaner wasn’t necessary, but better safe than sorry. 

May this never happen to you, but if it does, here is hope in 22 steps!

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(Remember, these are your friends. Keep them on hand and you are home free! Almost.)

August Potpourri

I was dragging my tail at 2 o’clock this afternoon, so naturally I made myself a cup of coffee. Now, at 11 o’clock, I am still feeling it. I can’t handle caffeine, I know.

The last 2 weeks were stuffed full of fun and relatives on both sides of the family. We spent a few days up north with Gabe’s family in the middle of August. His folks hosted a reunion for the Peight family, no small matter when you consider that there were 14 boys and 2 girls in the original clan and most of them had substantial families as well. Gabe has more cousins than you could shake a stick at! The Peights are notorious for not getting together very much, but when they do, they have a great time, especially telling tales of the old days. I have often wished I could have met the mother of all those boys. (Or wait, was it 12 boys and 2 girls? Pretty sure it was 14, give or take a few.)

We were back home for a few days before two of my siblings and their families came for a visit. My parents have guest quarters in their basement, so we spent most of our visiting time at their house. With our limited space, it is easier for us to host a crowd if the weather is nice so that we can spill out onto the deck. However, it poured on the evening that we had the crew at our place for supper. Gabe grilled sausages with a  big umbrella over himself. Eight adults and twelve children in our living room felt nice and snug. 🙂 To top it off, I had roasted cauliflower in my oven. It tasted amazing but put off an awful stench that lingered the entire evening. Note to self: next time roast on the grill and let the zephyrs drift away.

Over this past weekend we also did some last minute socializing with Gabe’s SD brother and his family, sharing our popcorn and ice cream with them on Sunday night before they packed up to leave Monday morning. I would venture to say that we value time spent with them more now that they live 20 hours away than we did when their house was just a mile down the road! 

We keep putting in about 3 days a week on school, in between all the mingling. For those who wonder about the social aspect of homeschooling…. It’s not a problem, truly. I was so worn out yesterday that I just feebly lay on the recliner with a book and let the children scatter Legos all over the living room. Eventually I bethought myself of the hampers flowing over onto the floors and we did laundry. That was all. Just that and a bucket full of green beans. Well, we cleaned some floors too, and mowed the lawn, but I had the troops busy and let me tell you, that is a huge asset! 

Every year I like to adopt a motto when school starts up again. When I was a teacher I used to have a weekly pep saying or verse for myself in my plan book, but homeschool is a little different. I just need one to hang onto all year since I really don’t have time to rethink every week. :p I have been reading Hebrews and seeing a continual pattern of faith, of course. I had never noticed before how many times it is coupled with endurance, patience, and just general “do the next thing-ness”. As soon as I have time I want to paint myself a little sign for this year’s motto: FAITH and PATIENCE

It comes from Hebrews 6:11,12 in the ESV.

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” 

And again in Hebrews 10:36 this idea is repeated.

 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

I don’t know about you, but I really, really need endurance and so do my children. None of us are thrilled with hard stuff day after day. I explained to my boys how doing difficult assignments opens more neural pathways in their brains so that they can think better and do even harder stuff. “It’s like a mole tunneling new ways and making more connections for thinking to happen in your brain. If you never do anything that is hard work, your brain stays mushy.” They want the expanded tunnels but aren’t so sure about long division and summary writing to get them.

All the while I was explaining this to the boys, I was telling myself, “So quit trying to constantly make your life easier. Embrace the season and the mess and the hardness! Don’t complain about how everybody always needs you. Just wash the floor already instead of sighing at the remnants of fruit jello smeared under the table. Take the time to address that bad attitude instead of hoping it will go away while you sip your tea. Let it all expand your capacities…” 

Oh, but Lord, it is hard sometimes…

And it is funny sometimes. We had a sign up sheet for a 24 hour prayer chain at church. Just a fifteen minute slot- that was all I signed for. Yesterday I made sure everyone was fed and happily employed before my 15 minutes. Predictably, there were calls for help in the bathroom, which I serenely ignored until my big boy came racing up the steps calling that there was water dripping from the basement ceiling. Out of the entire day, that was the time for my tot to clog the toilet with paper and flush repeatedly. And that is why there were 15 towels on my clothesline today.

Faith and patience.

Stage Whispers

Parents with small children cringe at the blurting statements of those who have not figured out the skill of whispering without making any noise, but if they step back and look at the situation outside of the embarrassment, the hilarity needs to be shared with those who are fortunate enough to sit somewhere less entertaining distracting. I give you some quotes verbatim from my small fry in church.

What do you stink like? (This is accompanied by loud sniffing.)

Why is he talking so loudly?

Can you look into my nose and see if there are any big boogies?

Is church about done?

The Smartie Man is here!

I am starving!

Are we going to have dessert? May I have dessert today? (Dessert is the reward for good behavior in public assemblies.)

Is church about done?

There is Doddy! May I go sit with him?

Am I being good?

I have to go potty! ( Shh… Just wait a few minutes then church will be over.)

But I have to go now! I will pee myself!

“Amen,” says the preacher.

Amen.  That means we are done!

Was I good? Do I get dessert? 

I remind myself that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, particularly weak when it takes more than 2 hours of sitting still to earn a piece of cake. I myself am afflicted with a terrific urge to giggle at solemn times such as at my aunt’s funeral or during ponderous prayers where God is being informed of events He already knows quite well. It isn’t exactly irreverence, but more the incongruity of a matter that sets me off. I suppose there are times when I shouldn’t have dessert after church either.

The World is Still Spinning Here

I have been absent for nearly 2 weeks, so this morning when I saw that some of you still stopped by the pocket, I felt quite humbled. I fully intended to do a travel post after our trip to the mountains of NC in July, but when we got back the green beans were producing and they just wouldn’t stop! We finally pulled them out this week, just because. There is a later crop coming and the boys are already so excited about picking them every other day. Not.

Also when we got home, we dove into school. The first week we cleaned and organized and bought our supplies. This is the first year ever that we were ready to go before the Back to School sales hit! Some of our eagerness was due to having finished early in May and the children were actually bored with swimming and picking beans and making stuff. Or maybe it was me who was tired of keeping the flock reasonably occupied and the house decently ordered. I was ready for more of a schedule, especially since we plan to take time off this fall. I have purposed in my heart that I will never again attempt to do school and peaches or school and tomato sauce or school and pumpkins on the same day. That is just ignorant. But I am also not ready to throw in the towel on home-preserved foods, therefore we are tucking in some extra school days now.

Well… here we are again, 4 days later. I need to do this post and move on. Summer time is not optimal blogging time. There are just so many flowers to pick and raspberries to eat and porches to sit on whenever all the other stuff has been attended to. The last thing that happens is writing. But I do have some photos to share from July.

I am not good at capturing the moments, like my scrapbooking friends who take pictures purposefully with an album layout in mind. For me it goes like this: “Oh, I should take a picture! Where is the camera? Hey, everybody, hold that right there while I run to the vehicle to scrounge for the camera in the bowels of my purse.” Usually by the time I get back on scene the spontaneity has gone and my boys have evaporated. They really, really dislike posing. So does my husband. 😀

Here we have cousin fun. All these girls are my girl’s cousins and did she have fun. There are four NC girl cousins more that are not even in the photo.


This is my little brother giving the children thrills on July 4. There was a constant scream of hilarity wafting out of that little cart.




And my big brother holding the wee-est baby girl. Aren’t they cute?

Like I mentioned, my photos are quite inadequate to detail the great time we spent with siblings in NC, and I completely forgot to fish my camera out of my purse when we stopped for an afternoon and a night at P.D. and Leeny’s place enroute to the the coast. I guess I was too busy catching up and watching our children become acquainted, not to mention eating so much fabulous produce from their garden.

We crossed the 13 mile (or more) Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the Eastern Shore peninsula and meandered through the countryside to Chincoteague. All of my life I have loved the story of the Phantom and Misty, and here we were in wild pony beach territory. (So were a few other people. 🙂  )

The days were hazy, but the water was great. We had a lot of fun fishing for crabs with chicken necks for bait. I may have warned them a time or three about being careless about the edge of the walkways.



Out of all the takers, only 2 crabs were big enough to keep. We steamed them with Old Bay Seasoning in our motel room and extracted the minuscule bits of meat for tastes all around.



The little girls were in hunter-gatherer heaven, picking up bucketfuls of little crabs and shell bits while the boys were happy jumping the waves. I wished they would have found Gabe’s prescription sunglasses washed ashore, but no such luck. We had walked pretty far up the beach, way past the crowded areas to a spot where we were mostly on our own. To our astonishment, friends from home who live only 4 miles from us came walking along in the sand looking for a spot of their own. 🙂 Small world.

The ponies are smart and elusive, staying out in the marshes, far away from the roads. Just before we left for home I convinced Gabe that it is some sort of crime to leave without at least going to look at the rescued ponies in a paddock where they are quite tame from being fed handfuls of corn from a vending machine. It was a bit of a let down, but the children thought it was neat.


I gathered the troops for a group photo on the morning we started home. I thought it would be such a happy feeling, you know, all lovey and “we had such a good time”.  Snicker. Here is what we came away with. In their defense, the sun was a little bright and they hadn’t had much breakfast and it was time to go home and wash the sand out of all the crevices.


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I will treasure these pictures always.