Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quiet Week

I've been quiet this week, and we haven't done much homeschooling either, not sure why . . . it's just a quiet week somehow . . .

A few odds & ends:

Did I already mention this? I don't think so, but too lazy to read back through to see . . . last week when I was driving somewhere the girls would. not. agree. on. anything! One wanted music on, the other didn't. One wanted to listen to a story on CD, the other didn't. One was hot & one was cold . . . URGH!!! It was at this point that we had the following conversation (and no, during exchanges like this I don't bother to remember which kid said what):

me: WHY can't you guys agree on ANYTHING?!?!?!
A or L: because we're twins
me: but if you're twins, doesn't that mean you should think the SAME?
A or L: no, we choose different things so people will know we're really different!

I was amused :)

The girls have fully and completely moved into their own bathroom, sniff sniff. Out of convenience we've always pretty much just used the master bathroom upstairs, it's bigger, it's just always seemed easier to have them take baths (after all who wouldn't prefer the garden tub to a regular bathtub LOL), brush their teeth, etc. in our bathroom. So, the hall bath has never really been used except when both kids needed to potty at the same time (and to hang things to dry in occasionally). Awhile back (couple months maybe?) L decided she wanted to potty & brush her teeth at bedtime in the "Mickey bathroom" (can you guess the decor theme of our hall bath?), more recently she decided she wanted to take her baths in the Mickey bathroom as well. And over the last week or two, A's moved her toothbrush & towel & bath toys into the Mickey bathroom as well. So all the "kid stuff" is officially out of the master bathroom. Sometimes I wish the people who "warned" me that letting my babies sleep in my bed would mean I'd "never get rid of them" had at least been a little bit right LOL.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Cleaning Cast Iron

A year or two ago, after reading about the dangers of teflon (and other non-stick brands), especially if scratched. I got rid of all my non-stick skillets, dug through the basement and found the cast iron skillet we used for camping, and hit a couple discount stores to get a couple smaller cast iron skillets (at the time I bought new because I was impatient & it wasn't yard sale season, I later realized that, as a vegetarian, I'd made the right choice. Cast iron is porous so if you cook meat (or use lard for seasoning) it gets into the pan, and comes out into food cooked later, not something I want).

So, I started using my cast iron skillets. For the most part I liked them, but with eggs they were HORRIBLE!! The eggs stuck to the pan SO bad! I figured out that if I let it sit for awhile and the egg dried off I could kind of scrape it away and then wash the rest out but still, it was frustrating, my solution was to cook eggs less often LOL.

And then someone told me the secret to cleaning cast iron!! Actually they told me 2 secrets. The first one is, because cast iron holds the heat so well, never cook w/ it at high temperatures. My normal method of starting with the burner on high & turning it down once the pan was hot doesn't work with cast iron because the pan keeps the higher temperature. Once I trained myself to never turn the burner past med. the eggs stuck a LOT less.

But here's the better secret. No matter what you're cooking, once you're done, pour some water into the skillet & turn it up to med-high heat. Wait for it to get close to boiling, then use a pancake turner or something (I use the little plastic scraper that came with my Pampered Chef stoneware) to gently (and it will take NO effort) scrape the food loose. Then just dump out the water, and rinse away any pieces off food that remain (you also don't want to use soap on cast iron, it can strip the seasoning). To dry, just set it back on the hot burner for a few minutes & the water will cook away. Add a light layer of oil to re-season, and you're good to go!

And that's what works for me! To read lots of other tips, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I think God's trying to tell me something . . .

Yesterday I spent awhile (probably longer than I should have) signing up for a bunch of the giveaways at Bloggy Giveaway. Somewhere along the line someone was giving away a plaque with a saying on it & asked people to look through the store & leave a comment saying which plaque they liked best. The one that caught my eye said

For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I think it caught my eye because we have alot of unknowns in our life right now, so the reminder that God knows, even if we don't, was a timely one.

But then as I continued through the giveaways, I saw this same verse posted on two other blogs. And keep in mind, I wasn't looking at these blogs very closely, just reading the one post, and leaving the comment, I'm not sure I noticed any of the other quotes/sayings on blogs, and many blogs have such things . . . yup, I think God's trying to get this message through my thick skull :)

Save Money, Save Your Health, Save the Earth

This one's going to be short. . . use your dishwasher instead of hand washing!!! While I shamelessly admit that if the results were reversed I wouldn't STOP using my dishwasher, since I like what this article says, I thought I'd share it. Now, one thing to consider, if you rinse every dish, running water the whole time, that will negate the water savings, and with most newer dishwashers is totally unnecessary, you can scrape any big pieces of food off the plates (into the compost bucket, of course) w/ some of the dirty silverware (or a sponge, I suppose, I tend to use the grab a dirty fork method). And the dishwasher will get the rest off with no problem.

It does help to learn your dishwasher, there are areas of mine that get a more direct spray or something so when I remember to put the dirtiest stuff in those "zones" it works better. And don't overload to the point that some dishes aren't getting any water.

Now, you're saving money with less water, and that's saving the earth too. BUT the phosphates & such in conventional dishwasher detergent isn't doing anything good for the earth. Unfortunately I can't give you a "tried & true" recipe for a homemade dishwasher detergent, it seems to vary depending on your dishwasher, how hard your water is, etc. The most recent suggestions I've seen (that I'll play around with when I use through my current "stash" (I tend to stock up during sales), borax & washing soda (both can be found in the laundry aisle, washing soda comes in what looks like a big baking soda box, but it's not exactly the same as baking soda) but play with the proportions to see what works best for your dishwasher/water. I've also seen the recommendation to add some salt to this mixture, so might try that next time. In the meantime I'll keep using my Ecover brand (which works REALLY well, but doesn't exactly fall into the "save money" category). Trader Joe's generic brand works well too. Seventh Generation I haven't had good luck with, but others swear by it, so again, I'm thinking it depends on the water & such.

Regardless, plain white vinegar makes a wonderfully cheap, ecological, and effective replacement for Jet Dry.

As far as saving your health, well . . . considering how much I struggle to stay on top of the dishes WITH a dishwasher, just think how grouchy I'd be if I had to wash all the dishes by hand :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway

Just thought some of you might want to know that there's a huge giveaway carnival (lots of blogs giving away FREE STUFF) at Bloggy Giveaways. Just a few of the fun things you could win include:

a flash drive

Christian games

Homeschool stuff

Home organization books

Kids book club package

Hands free speaker phone kit

Girls bonnet

More homeschool books
And so much more!

Menu Plan Monday

I'm having fun adding stuff I find on other sites LOL. Menu planning is something I've been doing awhile, it helps keep foods from going bad in the fridge (or at least lessens the food that goes bad in the fridge LOL) and makes it easier to make a grocery list. At the moment I'm mostly "shopping" in my freezer & pantry, but checking the weekly ad sheets in conjunction with menu planning works well too (plan meals around what's on sale each week).

I generally don't manage to follow my "plan" exactly . . . well, EVER! If dh works late I'll often do something quick & easy for the girls & I, or something he doesn't like. Randomly we'll have a night where dh makes mushroom soup for the girls & himself (I can't abide mushrooms and prefer to not even fix the soup, so it's a special Daddy/daughter thing LOL). . . . Weekends I don't even try to plan since I never know if we'll end up doing things w/ grandparents & such. IF we're home I figure out something to feed us LOL.

But, here's the plan at least, for this week:

Monday: Broccoli stir fry over brown rice
Tuesday: Calzones (something I've been wanting to try, I have a pizza crust recipe we like, so just a matter of making it & folding it over w/ stuff inside instead of leaving it flat LOL)
Wednesday: Choplets & Green Beans
Thursday: Quesadillas, using homemade tortillas & whatever else catches our fancy.
Friday: Potato Soup (I found a mix in my pantry, gonna see what we think of it LOL)

Pop over to Org Junkie to check out other people's menu plans.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Turning a potential tantrum into a phonics lesson

Yesterday afternoon my parents & I took the girls to Rock Creek Park Nature Center we chose that one because one of the sites I looked on said they had an interactive display that let children experience life like the early settlers in this area lived which, since the girls have shown an interest in "the olden days", I thought they'd enjoy. We never found that aspect of it, if it exists, but the girls did enjoy th puzzles & books for a little while, an indoor sandbox with some animal footprint things to either hide in the sand & find or to use to make footprints in the sand, the turtles, the computer, etc. After we left there, since we were nearby we decided to go over to the National Zoo for a little while & check out some of the indoor animals on a day that it was likely to not be crowded (since it was COLD!!!!). We have a FONZ pass that gets us free parking, so stopping by for an hour or so works LOL. When Mom told the girls we were going to the zoo, they decided it was a "secret" and we weren't going to tell Mommy where we were going. So I played along, but then L accidentally said where we were going partway there, and despite my attempt to act like I hadn't heard (did you say we were going to play in goo?!?! That doesn't sound good!!), she decided she wanted to just tell me and A was upset about that and it was going downhill fast until mom came up with idea that the girls could SPELL the word zoo and then Mommy wouldn't be able to figure out what they were talking about. This led to a nice discussion about the oo sound, as I determined, after the kids spelled z-o-o that we must be going to the z-ah-ah once we got there & I acted appropriately surprised that we were at the zoo, we did abit of reinforcing of the concept by going over various other oo words, asking them what b-o-o, m-o-o, etc spelled.

The zoo trip itself was a huge success, not only did we get to see a sleeping armadillo again (which we've had surprisingly good luck with overall), but one was awake & running around in circle right near the glass. So we stood and watched that for a long time, and one of the volunteers had an armadillo shell (A can tell you what it's called, but I have no clue how to spell it . . . carapas?) that we got to touch (it feels kind of like finger nails if you wondered LOL). And then as we continued through the small mammal house L was fascinated by the naked mole rats although she insisted they were hamsters since they live in tubes that look kind of like the stuff people put in hamster cages.

We also spent quite awhile watching the hippos & elephants, before it was time to go.

Decluttering Challenge Check-In

This last week was a good week. Spending a good part of last Sunday (while the girls were at Grandmom's so wouldn't "discover" old toys that we SOOO don't need to keep LOL) sorting through stuff in the back corner of the basement is a good part of that LOL. Anyway, here's my list:

  • Bag of the girls' old clothes - gave to V
  • Bag of books - gave to mom
  • Bunch of gift bags, gift boxes, bows - gave to mom
  • Book & video- sold on
  • Old vacuum - freecycled
  • Freecycled some of SIL's stuff that was stored here (w/ her permission), so stuff out of my house, but not MY stuff LOL.
  • Told E to go ahead & pass on the feeding seat she borrowed a couple years ago (does that count, if it never came back to my house? LOL)
  • VCR - freecycled
  • Toddler sofa - freecycled
  • Ball pit & balls - freecycled
  • Box of old shoes - freecycled
  • 2 Bags of my old clothes - freecycled
  • Bag of decorative stuff - freecycled
  • 2 bags of toddler toys - freecycled
So how'd you do?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

This Week's Homeschool Wrap-Up

The girls were excited to get to paint again, not so excited to just do a graduated wash instead of free painting, but L thought it was pretty cool once she figured out that gradually adding water to the paint was gradually lightening the color.

I already gave my review of Charlier Parker Played Be Bop.

L finally finished her Adam & Eve lapbook this week. Just in time, this was our last week of the creation story for Sabbath School, now we're starting on Noah's Ark.

"The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" was still over their head, though they enjoyed using blocks to make the horse hoof sounds.

I'm a wimp, so we haven't done our night time nature walk while it's SOOOO cold out. We're waiting for (hopefully) slightly higher temperatures before the end of the unit LOL. Until then I at least want the relative warmth of the sun for our outside time LOL.

The girls continue to enjoy Kindermusik. This week they started learning to properly hold the mallets for their glockenspiel and brought the mallets home to practice this next week.

Friday, January 25, 2008

So much for that . . .

One of the girls' favorite books for bedtime stories right now is The Kim, Kari & Kevin Storybook and one of the stories they chose tonight was "The Empty Birthday Present" in a nutshell, the kids buy a box of candy to give Daddy on his birthday, but then sneak the candy, a piece at a time, until, by the time his birthday rolls around the box is empty & Mommy tells them they need to give Daddy the empty present and explain why it's empty. Obviously, the "lesson" here is, don't sneak things that aren't yours to take. However, that seems to be abit lost on my kids. Every time we read this story, they both mention that Daddy can just use the empty box for other things & how much THEY would like an empty box (I'm half tempted to wrap up an empty box for each of them for their birthdays LOL, they really WOULD be happy about it (as long as that wasn't ALL they got, I'm sure LOL) they're always stealing boxes from my "stash" (I save boxes to use to ship out candle & co-op orders)) and turning them into all kinds of things. So yeah, the "lesson" seems to be totally lost on them, they're much too resourceful for such things, hee hee.

Help Meet

A friend recently asked me about the use of the term "help meet" in the "About Me" section of the sidebar. So, I thought I'd give a bit of an explanation of what "Help Meet" means to me.

First, a quick thing it does NOT mean to me . . . it is NOT an endorsement of the book Created to be His Help Meet I haven't read the book, but I've read sufficient information about the book & it's authors to know that, while there may be "nuggets of wisdom" to be gleaned from it, I cannot, as a whole, endorse the book or the ministry behind it. I feel there are aspects of their teachings that aren't Biblical and have the potential for being dangerous!

So, with that disclaimer in place, here's what it means to me:

The term help meet comes from Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that hte mand should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

The NIV translates it "a helper suitable for him". So, in a nutshell, when I say I am my husband's "help meet" I am saying, that I am a helper suitable for him.

So, what is God's plan for a wife?

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

How can we, as Christians, think that God doesn't want us to submit to our husbands without claiming that the Bible isn't to be followed?

I Peter 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own hubands.

But here's where some people take it too far. God does not say, "women, submit to all men" He says women are to submit to their own husbands. The fact that Mr. Saint at church thinks I should do such & such, doesn't mean I have to do it if I feel I shouldn't. God says that I am to submit to my own husband.

So how does God want women to help their husbands?

1 Timothy 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Titus 2: 4-5 That they teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

God wants women to be "keepers at home" to me, that means, I'm "in charge" of getting healthy meals on the table, making sure my husband and children have clean clothes in the closet . . .and all the other little things that keep the house running. To another family the division of duties might be different.

But it's not a one way street. I like the way this article explains what the Man's role in a marriage is, so I'll just let you read it rather than trying to put it into my own words.

And my final thoughts.

Too many people (men AND women) get hung up in "what do *I* get out of it?!" Even on conservative Christian sites (that preach/believe in wifely submission) the focus is on what I "have to do" and "what I get out of it". So the men are focused on "she has to do what I want" and totally miss the "husbands love your wives" part of the equation (explained in great detail in the article linked above). And the women are either focused on "woe is me, I have to wait on my husband hand & foot, I don't like it, but this is what I have to do to go to Heaven . . ." OR they turn it around and focus on "yes, but my husband HAS to treat me right!" Some women/sites take it a step farther and counsel women on how to manipulate their husbands into THINKING they are "head of the house" while really they're just the wife's puppet. That, IMO is even less in keeping with God's will than the woman who "wears the pants in the family", because at least she's not being dishonest about it. But here's my thought. Stop focusing on ME. Stop worrying about HAVING to serve your husband, or gloating about your husband HAVING to honor you. And truly internalize this verse:

Ephesians 5:24, 25 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

So we are to use the church & Jesus as our model. Does Jesus "lord it over the church" that He is the head? No. Neither should men lord it over their wives. Jesus gave His all for the church, and men are instructed to love their wives like Jesus loved the church, so they are to give their all for their wives. We, as Christians (the church), should submit to Christ, not because we "have" to, but because we love Him and want to serve Him and please Him. Likewise, as wives, we should "serve" our husbands, not out of obligation, or because of what we'll get out of it, or even "because we have to" but because we love them and want to serve them and please them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The girls were watching Stanley (TV show that teaches lots of animal facts, in the form of a cartoon) this morning while I was fixing breakfast and all of a sudden they both turned to me with great distress in their voices and said "but I thought anemone helped HERMIT CRABS!!!" Huh? says mom who wasn't paying the least bit of attention to the tv. "We learned on Magic School Bus that hermit crabs need sea anemone, not clown fish!!" I assured them that anemone can help more than one creature, that there is plenty of sea anemone to go around, and that yes, both shows are "right".

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Daddy Time

I had some free time (ok, time when I was avoiding the 101 things I SHOULD have been doing LOL) so was browsing other blogs & came across Rocks In My Dryer and liked her idea for works for me Wednesday. Basically every Wednesday she, and now lots of other people, post about something they've figured out that works for their family. So I thought I'd join in the fun . . .

One of the best "traditions" that we kind of stumbled into is "talk time". DH works LONG hours and even though the girls have a later than most bedtime, by the time he gets home there's not much time before they have to go to bed. I don't really remember how it started, I THINK it started with one of the girls, A, I think, being upset that she hadn't gotten to talk to Daddy at all that day so he told her they could talk for a few minutes before they went to sleep (the girls have always had one of us sit in their room while they're falling asleep, so it was just a slight extension of that time). So over time it's become just a part of the bedtime routine. The girls potty & brush teeth (and bath if it's a bath night), then we read stories, and their Sabbath School lesson, then I say goodnight & leave Daddy up with the girls for "talk time". It gives the 3 of them some nice time to connect with each other on a daily (or almost daily) basis. And talk time is generally the thing the girls comment on and are sad about on the nights that Daddy gets home too late & isn't there when they need to go to sleep. I'm not 100% sure what all they talk about, they generally ask Daddy about his day (how many tires did you sell today Daddy?) and he asks about theirs. From there I think it just kind of moves in whatever direction they take it. Depending on how tired they are it can be a couple minutes or half an hour.

Visit Works For Me Wednesday for other tips from other bloggers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Interesting article

Disclaimer A: Someone on a homeschool group I'm on posted this link, I know nothing about the site as a whole, I suspect from the "ads" on the side of the page, at least when I read it, those may change w/ each page load, that there would be aspects of this site that I was adamantly opposed to, but then, that's true of most sites I go to LOL. Anyway . . . not endorsing the site as a whole, just this article LOL

Disclaimer B: This article is "slanted" toward homeschoolers. If you feel that homeschooling is a horrible thing (well, for one thing, you probably shouldn't be reading this blog in general LOL), you very well might take offense as things in this article, consider yourself warned LOL.

Kid funny, and Cool book

First, before I forget, on our way to meet Mama & Papa at Taco Bell today A realized she'd forgotten to bring her doll's baby food. I asked her how old Sweetie (doll) is, and she told me she's 2, so I said "that's no problem, she's big enough she can just eat bites of your food" but then A was disturbed that she'd brought a spoon (for Sweetie) and had nothing to do with it, so I suggested that she could use the spoon to feed Sweetie some of the beans out of her burrito (yes, A's grasp of imagination & reality is such that I was confident she wouldn't feel the need to actually stick the doll spoon in her burrito & smear beans all over her doll's face LOL). To which A replied "there aren't beans in Taco Bell burritos!" I assured her there are, but that they're mushed up (she's comparing, I believe, to Baja Fresh burritos where the beans aren't refried, so still look like beans) to which she said "well, I've never tasted them" and L piped up with "that's because you eat too fast!" I about died. We've discussed before that A eats too fast, A assures me that she DOES taste her food, she just tastes it faster (her words). But she's definitely her daddy's daughter in that respect and pretty much always (except when it comes to ice cream) finishes her food before L does.

Today on our way to lunch we listened to Charlie Parker Played Be Bop on CD (gotta love the library). And I have to say, this is one that I definitely would recommend getting it with the CD!!! The book, by itself, I don't think would be very impressive (at least for kids my kids' age, maybe for younger kids more interested in the "rhythms" of reading than the plot), but having it read "in time" to jazz music, was very cool & the author then goes into a little history about Charlie Parker that I don't believe is in the book itself. Anyway, it was very cool!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Save Money, Save Your Health, Save the Earth

Warning, this is a post that most men will NOT want to read! If you're a man, I suggest you stop now, we're about to discuss "female things" and from my experience, men prefer to not hear such conversations.

And with that warning. . . I'm finally going to post about something I've been wanting to do ever since I started this series, but somehow I thought we needed to work up to it LOL. And that would be reusable menstrual products!!!

First the facts. Environmental impact is obvious, stop filling the landfills with disposable pads or sending tampons through to the water waste processing plants! Economic impact is also pretty straight forward, you make an initial purchase and then have little to no on-going expense. There are too many variables for me to try to put a per month price tag on disposable menstrual products, but figure it out for yourself, and see how quickly you'll re-coup the cost of reusable products and start saving money. The health benefits are probably the least obvious/well known, because we've all grown up using disposable products and it would never occur to us that they might not be healthy (despite that little TSS warning plastered all over the tampon box), and I'll admit I've never found anything "scientific" about this, but I've heard it from enough other women to know it's not just me. Using cloth pads or a menstrual cup is likely to give you a lighter period, less cramping, and a shorter period. Why? Because you're not laying something full of toxic chemicals (that are designed to "draw fluids" to the "lock-away core" (or whatever each brand calls it) right up against yourself. I'm totally convinced that those chemicals are messing w/ our periods, but nobody notices because the chemicals have been added gradually & pretty much across the board, so none of us currently menstruating have ever NOT had the chemicals unless/until we switch to re-usable products. Then many, many, many, MANY women have found they have less PMS, less cramping, lighter flow & sometimes a shorter period then when they were using the chemical laden disposable products. (if you just can't quite wrap your mind around the idea of reusable products but want the health benefits, there ARE a few brands of chemical free disposable products, Seventh Generation is one, I'm sure there are others, but they're pricey).

So now my story . . . I first came across the concept when I started researching cloth diapers (another great topic, though one that's not currently relevant to my life LOL) at that point, there were a variety of cloth pads available as well as the Keeper. But since there's a different size for pre & post childbirth, I figured I'd wait to get a keeper until after I'd had a baby. As I started buying cloth diapers I also bought a selection of cloth pads and began using them, just washing them with a load of towels. I found that I preferred all in ones and, about a month before I got pregnant (murphy's law being alive & well) finally found the brand I liked & ordered enough to use full time. I used them after the first week post-partum (first week the girls were in NICU and dealing w/ cloth pads while sitting in a hospital waiting room was more than I could tackle) and then they sat waiting until my period came back when the girls were toddlers. By then, the Diva cup was also an option & I liked the idea of silicone (Diva) vs. latex/rubber (Keeper). But, some reviews indicated that the Mooncup, available only in the UK, was a better shape/size than the Diva cup, so I held off for awhile. I also figured that this was something I'd prefer to learn w/o a 2 toddler audience and at that point privacy in the bathroom was pretty non-existent. Finally I found a sale on the Diva cup and went ahead & got it, privacy was still an issue so I got a slow start, then I found someone who was doing a bulk order of the UK Mooncup & having it shipped over here, so I went ahead & got one of them as well. Somewhere about the same time, I finally mastered the use of the Diva cup, and the girls were old enough that I could consistently slip off to the bathroom w/o an audience when needed, so I started using a menstrual cup predominantly, and the cloth pads only rarely. Having 2 menstrual cups, while not necessary, is nice, I can keep one in my bathroom & one in my purse (when not in use) so I have one handy wherever I am when my period starts. As far as which one is "better" it seems to vary from person to person here's a site w/ comparisons & such. I will say, while I haven't tried the Mooncup US (from the makers of the Keeper) I've seen one and the size/shape look to be exactly the same as the Mooncup UK. It's SOO nice to have to worry about packing pads or tampons when we go on vacation and such!! (if you'd like to get a Diva, Keeper, or Mooncup US, e-mail me and I can give you information for getting them at a lower price through a co-op I run).

Cloth pads don't have the learning curve of the cup (& can be used post partum). The brand I got is no longer available, I've tried some Amaz Padz and been happy with them, and I've also heard good review of Mom & Me Creation pads, which are hemp fleece (if I were buying pads now, they're what I would try because they're natural fibers instead of the polyester fleece that is on many brands (including the ones I have now)). My "washing routine" has evolved depending on the other laundry I do. If you use cloth diapers, you can just wash them with the cloth diapers, same routine and everything. When I first started using cloth pads pre-kids, I would rinse them out in the sink right away, and then throw them in the next load of towels (which I washed on hot, and didn't use fabric softener with anyway, so same basic "routine"). Now I wash them with the rags, towels, & wipes, and I do a soak cycle for that load same as I would for cloth diapers, so I don't bother rinsing them out prior to the soak cycle. If you buy pads, they'll come w/ washing instructions, though feel free to post here w/ specific questions & I'll answer if I can.

If you sew at ALL, pads would be easy to make, one site with directions is this one though there are others.

I realize the "eww factor" when you first hear all of this, but trust me, its SOOOO worth it! Give it a try!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Decluttering Challenge Check-In

Another week has passed, how's everyone doing? Here's what I got rid of this week (would've been more but murphy's law was bound & determined to NOT let Kim & I get together this week, so my whole pile of stuff for her gets to count toward next week LOL.

Anyway, here's what left my house this past week:

  • 2 phones - gave to dad
  • tree skirt & Christmas wreath- gave to mom
  • bag & box of tupperware & rubbermaid - gave to mom
  • Bag of misc food stuff - freecycled
  • Bag of otc medicine - freecycled
  • 2 bags of toys - freecycled
  • Box of misc kitchen stuff - freecycled
  • bag of hangers - freecycled

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Week's Homeschool Wrap-up

We didn't get to go to the Kinder Konzert on Thursday because of the snow.

A finished her lapbook early in the week, and was very enthusiastic about doing more, guess I should start looking for a Noah's ark one LOL. L decided to do the last mini-book "the next day" and never wanted to do it. We'll see if she finishes it this week LOL.

Since we couldn't go to the Kinder Konzert, we listened to Peter and the Wolf instead (more detail on that in the last post). And we used instruments to play along.

We've been adding to our winter nature table, all week and will continue adding to it over the course of the unit, beginning to move toward spring as the weather changes.

We also took a listening walk through the snow, listening to the snow fall, the water from the stream, our boots crunching in the snow . . .

Kindermusik went well this week as well. They're starting to learn to read music, though they may not realize it yet LOL. A was very proud of herself that she "was a train, all by myself" when some of the kids were choosing not to participate, and L was playing the glochenspeil (sp?) as the train whistle.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I was too lazy to hunt down the camera, but it's been snowing since about 10:00 this morning. Based on the weather reports (& winter weather advisory) we opted to not drive over the mountains (yes, east coast mountains, but they still tend to be icy w/ ANY snow) to the Kinder Konzert today.

So instead we stayed home and listed to the Peter & the Wolf CD (& book) I'd gotten from the library. I think the one I got was this one (cover's different though, so I can't swear to it). And then also a picture book of Peter & the Wolf. The CD did a good job of narrating between each part so that the kids could "follow" the story. And they seemed to enjoy it. The each chose an instrument (flute & drum, since those are instruments we have) to "play along" as well.

Then once it had been snowing long enough for it to be fun (& for me to need to shovel) we went outside for awhile. Not great sledding, but it packed well so they had fun making a "snow farm" (I was a bad mom & didn't inspect their handiwork) and I helped A make a small snowman, but the neighbor's 2 yr old knocked it down.

Then we went on our listening walk, which of course was rather snow themed. and the main thing we could hear was the snowpants & boots as we walked. We also tried to feed the ducks that were all nicely congregated near the bridge when we first walked over there, but by the time we came back w/ the stale bread I'd been wanting to get rid of, they'd moved upstream. The girls didn't seem to care that there weren't any ducks right there though, so we went ahead & threw some of it into the water for them to find later. L also gave me quite the lesson on ducks (A hadn't joined us yet) apparently she'd just watched an episode of Stanley that was about ducks, so she could tell me that the "bright" ones were the males (they were mallards) and that they had web feet so they could swim and such.

The girls also somehow think that throwing snowballs at mommy is great fun, sigh . . . at least they're not very good shots yet & it's mostly just handfuls of snow, not hard snowballs.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Save Money, Save Your Health, Save the Earth

I'm losing track of what I've already suggested, so there's a chance I've included this, or at least reference to it, in another post, but I'm thinking people don't necessarily go back & read everything I've ever written, so I'll risk repeating myself LOL.

This is mostly about saving money and the environment, though if I wracked my brain I could probably come up with some way this is healthier, but I'm feeling lazy. Anyway . . . stop using paper towels!!! Seriously. Just STOP!

I originally did this to save money. When the girls started eating solids I wasn't about to go through countless paper towels every meal cleaning up baby food smeared ear to ear & I didn't like the idea of using a dish rag that had been used to wipe off the counter & such on my babies' faces. So, I went to Walmart & grabbed a big pack (18?) of plain white washcloths and put them in a basket next to the paper towels to use for cleaning up the kids and surrounding area after feeding them. Over time I just reached for those cloths instead of paper towels more & more. They've gotten stained over time, but who cares. If I DID care, laying them out in the sun would probably bleach out the stains but I don't care that much (did I mention I'm lazy)? I do still have paper towels in my house because I make candles and wax shouldn't be put down the drain so if I have to clean up wax I use paper towels. Along the same lines, I've seen discussions online about what to use for draining bacon if you don't use paper towels and honestly I didn't bother figuring out what solution people had come up with since we don't eat bacon. But that might be a valid use for paper towels, I don't know. BUT for the vast majority of things we use paper towels for, plain old washcloths work just fine. I run approximately one load of laundry per week that includes these cloths, plus cleaning rags, towels, etc.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Decluttering Challenge Check-In

So, how did people do this week? Here's what I got rid of this week:
  • 3 bags of baby stuff (sippy cups, etc) - freecycled
  • bag of toddler toys - freecycled
  • 2 bags of baby/toddler shoes - freecycled
  • bag of beanie baby birds - donated to the church
  • Box of misc kitchen stuff - freecycled
  • Bag of girls' outgrown clothes - gave to V
  • Bag of costume jewelry - freecycled
  • 2 bags full of gift bags - gave to mom

Starting a New Unit - Sound

We're finally ready to start our second winter unit. We've started our winter nature table by putting the big white silkscape on the nature table. I had a set of wood arctic animals that I'd planned to give the girls for Christmas and decided to wait, so I'm "secretly" adding one to the nature table every few days. Despite "revealing" that Tiptoes the fairy was mommy at the end of the last unit, the girls are excited that "Tiptoes is back" LOL.

The circle emphasis for January is winter, and for February it is Love.

Religion, we'll continue reading through the Read & Learn Bible. I'm thinking when we finish it, we'll just start over, they're at an age where they put the pieces together a little more each time, so I think they'll enjoy the repetition. If, when we finish the Adam & Eve Lapbook, they say they enjoyed it and want to do more of them, I may try to continue finding lapbooks that go with the main SS lesson theme for each month, and we'll do one a month. (Because some smaller churches combine Beginners (age 0-4) and Kindergarten (age 4-6), the lessons are designed such that (usually) all of the Kindergarten lessons for a month are parts of the same general story that is that month's Beginners lesson. So, for example, this month's Beginners lesson is creation. For K, 2 weeks ago our lesson was the 6 days of creation (not including Adam), last week was Adam & Eve, this week is the 7th day Sabbath, and next week is Eve eating the fruit.)
The art in this unit uses watercolor pencils and some watercolors, I think the girls will be happy to art that is painting and drawing instead of the textile arts of the last couple units.

The nature emphasis for this unit is on creating a sanctuary garden. While I love the theory & someday WILL use the book as a guide and create my own sanctuary garden, now isn't the time. We're not planning to stay in this house long enough to justify putting any real money into something like this, it seems illogical to me to try to create a garden in the coldest part of the year, and I feel the girls are still abit young to fully appreciate this type of a garden. So I'll probably be pulling nature activities from other sources, or I might go back and pull some of the ideas from last winter's unit, which, if I remember right (need to go check) focused more on making bird feeders and such.

The handwork emphasis, in keeping with the overall sound theme, is to make a variety of instruments out of gourds. I've reserved the recommended book from the library but it hasn't come in yet, I'll have to see how involved the projects are and whether I can find affordable gourds, I'm thinking we might look through the book and choose the instruments we'd like to make, then grow the needed gourds this next summer (or ask grandpa to LOL) and actually make the instruments NEXT winter, when Papa (who is retiring this summer) might have more time to help with any more complicated construction elements of it. But we'll see once I can actually look through the book.

Books for this unit include:
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin
Ty's One Man Band
Owl Moon
Three Billy Goats Gruff
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
The Dragons are Singing Tonight
If You Listen
The Singing Snake
Mousekin's Close Call
Peter and the Wolf
The Cat's Purr
Plink Plink Plink
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

January Circle Theme: Ollie's Ski Trip
February Circle Theme:
Love is a Special Way of Feeling
The Power of Love
All I See is Part of Me
The Rainbabies

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-up

We still have a little bit to finish up on the Adam & Eve lapbook. Last minute the girls' Kindermusik teacher (also a friend from church) asked me to watch her dd for a couple hours after class, so the girls got to play with their friend, A on Friday afternoon instead of the last bit of the lapbook. I think they've enjoyed it, when we finish it up I'm going to ask what they thought and if they'd like to do more of them, so we shall see . . .

The weather this week was SO nice, we spent lots of time outside this week too, as mentioned in an earlier post.

The girls enjoy pretending to be a doctor, with Daddy as the patient. One night this week after A fashioned a sling for Daddy's arm out of a playsilk, she wrote him a "note" all by herself. The only part or it she showed me was where she wrote "ADOR" and translated for me that she'd written "A doctor", she asked if she'd spelled doctor right, and I told her not exactly but that I was very proud of her for working on sounding out words for herself and that that was a good first step toward writing, she absolutely beamed at that, it will be interesting to see if the next "book" she makes, she'll do the writing herself. . .

Saturday, January 12, 2008


While we were at mom & dad's today I uploaded the pictures from Christmas till now from Dad's camera. So, there are now additional pictures (all mixed in with the ones I'd taken) in the following albums:

Christmas 2007
November & December
January 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pondering this week's SS lesson

The Sabbath School lesson for this week is about God making Adam & Eve. A couple nights ago L apparently really listened to the story for the first time, and was very intrigued by it all. First, she thought it was hillarious that "I'm made out of mud!!" then we continued the story and read about God taking Adam's rib to make Eve. This of course had them both stopping to ask questions like "didn't that hurt Adam?" and "what's a rib?". But once they'd processed all that L said "so I'm not made out of mud, I'm made out of a rib?" (I really wish I could get the voice inflections recorded here, she was so . . . disgusted, I guess is the best word, at this information). She decided she wished she was a boy so she could be made out of mud instead of a rib.

Tonight she told me "God's lucky, He got to play in the mud" and A declared it "disgusting" to "breath on mud" but L decided she wanted to try it and see if would work for her. When I pointed out that she's not God she said, "I can still try. It never hurts to try, Mommy"

A also noticed, as I read the story tonight, that the words of the memory verse are IN the story. This may be the first time they've really made the "connection" between the memory verse & the actual lesson story.

Oh and one day this week during circle time when we were practicing the memory verse, L was being silly and saying the text wrong (changed 26 to 21, I think) and I told her "you need to learn it correctly, those numbers will help you be able to find the text in the Bible once you can read" and she immediately started practicing the correct text, and has been saying it correctly ever since.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writing books, following in her uncle's footsteps, etc . . .

A's new "thing" is "making books" awhile ago (around Thanksgiving) each of the girls made a book by drawing a pictures on pieces of papers, then having me write the story they dictated onto the pages, and then we stapled them together. In the pre-Christmas cleaning, A "found" hers, and has been having us read it as one of her bedtime stories semi-regularly since then. So then a few days ago she made another one and the last couple times Daddy has read either of them (or both of them) at bedtime he's commented on A being an "author & illustrator" so today A made yet another book (this one is about armadillos) and told me, as I was writing down the story for her, "Daddy says I'm an illustrator, so I guess I have to make lots of books now"

One of the stories we read for our devotion time this morning was the story of Mary & Martha. The girls were very concerned about Martha needing more help, and who was going to fix the food if Jesus said Martha shouldn't and why didn't he just HELP HER! So then this evening out of the blue, A started talking about it AGAIN, and decided that Martha should have made a "special treat" by finding all the fruit she had and cutting it up and mixing it in a bowl, and putting it the microwave to see what happens. I pointed out that they didn't have microwaves back then so A decided she could have just cooked it over the fire. Then she told me she thought WE should try that sometime. . . I tried to talk her out of the microwave step, but she insisted that was what made it "new" . . . sigh . . . I'm suddenly having flashbacks to some of the culinary "creations" my brother treated us to when he was a kid . . .

L's taking her play "cooking" to a new level (for them), where she wants it to be more realistic. So she asks how to make something and then goes through the steps of making it, using her toy food & dishes. Tonight she made scrambled eggs, vegetable soup and then, when A informed her that she doesn't like vegetable soup, L decided she needed to make mushroom soup, so we found the toy mushrooms & put them in one of the canisters to create the "can of mushroom soup" and then she poured "milk" and the "can of soup" into a pan & stirred it while it cooked.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Anyone up for a decluttering challenge?

I'm being bombarded with people talking about decluttering LOL. Between a forum I visit off & on, where after so many people talked about needing to declutter someone posted step by step instructions LOL. To another (small-ish) group I'm on where I swear half the group has mentioned their desire/need to declutter & simplify, to this post on another blog I read. So . . . I thought I'd issue a challenge of my own. It's actually revisiting a challenge I started on another site a year or more ago, but then it kind of fizzled & I got side tracked and . . . now I'm decluttering again, but not doing anything "formal" at the moment.

So here's the challenge:

You're mission, should you choose to accept it, is to declutter at least 7 things a week (yes, that equals 1 thing a day similar to Fairy Mum's). And if anyone takes me up on this challenge, I will post each Sunday or Monday asking everyone to tell us how they did for the previous week. Decluttering = physically leaving the house, you can give it away, ebay it, or throw it in the trash (but please be kind to the earth, if it's something someone else could use, or recyclable, please do so). Freecycle is a wonderful thing, you just post what you have that you want to get rid of & people reply asking for it, and then come and take it away. I generally ask them to give me a time that they'll come pick it up & then, whether I'm home or not, I put it on the porch. That way it doesn't disrupt my day, they don't know if I'm home or not, etc. The downside, if you itemize on your taxes, is that you don't get donation credit for it, so from that standpoint you might prefer to give it to Goodwill or another recognized charity. Craigslist is another good option, it's kind of a localized online yardsale type thing, where you post stuff for sale and people buy it & come pick it up (or arrange to get it one way or another). You can decide how you want to count "things" I don't let it "limit" how much I go through, so in a week when I'm going through alot of stuff I might count a whole bag of clothes as 1 item, whereas if all I got rid of all week was the 1 bag of clothes, I might say, hey there were more than 7 pieces of clothes in the bag, so it counts. It's up to you.

So, if you'd like to join my challenge, leave a comment on this thread so I know y'all are out there.

"I Saved the World!"

That's what Lexie just told me, hee hee. We're playing outside (ok, more accurately, they're playing outside, I'm playing on my laptop outside LOL), and there was a plastic bag blowing around in the cul de sac, L asked me if she could pick it up & I said yes, so she got it and put it in the trash, then came and told me "I Saved the world! GodandJesus are proud of me!" it was too cute!! And yes, both girls rather than using God & Jesus interchangeably or always saying God or Jesus, almost always say God & Jesus and run them together so that it's almost one long word.

This weather is AMAZING!!!! It is close to 70 degrees and sunny!!!! I turned the heat off (not that it was running) & opened almost every window in the house. I figured we can use all the fresh air we can get since this "heat wave" can't last long LOL.

Weird January Weather

Yesterday was SOOO warm!!! I didn't look to see the offiical temperature, but I went outside (to go to the playground w/ the kids) in a fleece pullover & turned right around & left the pullover in the house, just went in a l-s tee. The girls asked to ride their bikes to the playground (last summer we talked about riding their bikes to the one that's farther away, but they weren't sure enough of themselves riding on sidewalks (as opposed to the street, since we live on a small cul de sac so they learned to ride in the cul de sac) so we never did it) so they did. They were in the mood to pose for the camera at the playground so I took quite afew pictures, mostly of them jumping off the ladder.

After we'd been there a little while a neighbor came with her triplets (that are a couple months older than our girls). Her son wasn't feeling well, so she asked if I could keep an eye on the 2 girls while she took him home and then came back (I'm going to assume there was another adult at home to stay with him LOL). I was amazed at how easily her girls stayed at the playground with essentially a total stranger. When the kids were all MUCH younger she brought them over to play in our cul de sac some (because they live along the busier road) but I'd say it's been over a year since we've seen them, and would be very surprised if the girls remembered me at all. I think she called me "the neighbor" when she told the girls she was leaving (she's deaf, though the kids aren't, so she talks some (I have a hard time understanding her but the kids seem to) but also uses sign language with her kids, so she may have given them more details than I heard) and they were fine with it. After she left I asked them what their names were (didn't remember the names, much less who was who), they are D & V and told them my name. And then the 4 girls, and eventually 2 other girls that were also there, all started playing together.
D was the more outgoing of the two, and I had to laugh she used some of the same phrases & expressions that L uses (ones that I've never figured out where L got, so maybe it's just a "4 thing" LOL). Once the mom came back and we were talking, she said that D is the "bossy one" whereas V is very laid back, and the boy is in the middle. But all the kids played together quite well considering how bossy my two can be.

Monday, January 7, 2008

This Weekend

I'm running a couple days behind LOL. Sabbath afternoon my parents took the girls & I, and my grandma, to Brookside Gardens and then to visit my second cousin to "meet" their new baby. It took the girls, especially Ashlyn, a little while to "warm up" to Brookside, but once she got into it, she was totally loving the trains and such. Then L was smelling flowers & smelled one that had a bunch of yellow pollen that got all over her nose. She thought that was hilarious and then A had to join in on it, so L took her to smell the same flowers (the picture on the left is them getting more pollen on their noses). Later we went over to S&R's house to meet their baby. The girls told us on the way there that babies are boring & they didn't even want to see the baby (when I pointed out that if they don't like babies, maybe we shouldn't have any more (they've been campaigning for another baby for the last year or so), A told me "I only like babies that are my brother or sister!") but they warmed up to him pretty quickly once we got there. Especially since he was smiling at them hee hee. The highlight of the evening, however was when R brought out one of the dogs. S&R have 3 huge dogs, but had them in the back room since they get too excited with company, but at the end of the evening R did bring out Kiki. She's a Great Dane and seriously taller than the girls. She's very well trained, so the girls got to pet her, and R let L "tell her to sit" (Kiki is trained to respond to hand signals, so while L said "Kiki sit!" R made the hand signal for sit, so she sat), L was SOOO excited. The girls also got to give her some food. They were very excited to tell Daddy about the big dog they got to help with.

Sunday dh stayed home, and let the girls help him make pancakes for breakfast. They have been talking about making pancakes with Daddy for MONTHS, it used to be a Sunday tradition but lately he's been working every Sunday morning, so it's been a LONG time since they've been able to make pancakes with Daddy. They were SOO excited! :)

ETA: The rest of the pictures from Brookside, and others from this month, are here.

Save Money, Save Your Health, Save the Earth

The Laundry Edition:

Landry is an area where I've made alot of changes in the past five years, I started changing how I did laundry when the girls were born & I used cloth diapers (another wonderful way to save money, save your baby's health, and save the earth, but that's another post for another day) washing cloth diapers isn't difficult but it requires a person to begin to understand a little better what the various things they sell on the laundry aisle (and elsewhere LOL) really do & don't do to our clothes and to our skin. . .

So, in a nutshell, conventional laundry detergent isn't good for our skin (it's an irritant, some people are more sensitive than others, but even if you don't break out in a rash from it, it's not GOOD for your skin), or our clothes (the clothes will wear out faster (so it's costing you money on two levels, the cost of the detergent AND the cost of replacing your clothes more often) or the environment (we're adding toxic chemicals to our water supply. So what's the solution?

First, stain remover: Know your stains, one of the things that frustrates me the most about laundry is when the girls come back from Grandmom's and dh can't tell me WHAT they got all over their clothes. When you know what the stain is, it's easier to treat it. Fruit juice washes out effortlessly if you run boiling water through it (do this carefully though). Blood stains come right out with a little hydrogen peroxide, vinegar is a great stain remover for many things but will "set" other stains . . . the book Clean House, Clean Planet gives a great list of what vinegar works for and also a "recipe" for another stain remover that uses dish soap & glycerin, and what types of stains it works for. Unfortunately I loaned my copy out awhile back & haven't gotten back, and have been lazy lately & just been purchasing an environmentally friendly, "natural" stain remover through the co-ops I run. (I use Ecover brand & have been happy with it, but it is more expensive than conventional stain removers).

Next, laundry soap. My advice, is to make your own. Here is the recipe I use for powdered soap. If you prefer liquid, there's a recipe here, I've made a similar one, and it worked well, I just find the powder easier to make & store. In the picture above, my laundry soap is in the canning jar. The big yellow bag is baking soda, I'll add a little of that as well if the load needs some extra whitening, but mostly use it for my towels/wipes/rag load which is another post for another day. I do have some Ecover laundry detergent there as well, that I use for the towels/wipes/rags load.

Now, fabric softener. I used to use the dryer sheets in every load except towels, then I started cloth diapering & you do NOT want to use fabric softener on diapers, same as towels, because it will coat them and they won't be absorbent (and not absorbent diapers are rather counter productive), so the recommendation to keep diapers soft (because soft is nice against sensitive baby skin) was to put plain white vinegar in the rinse water. So I figured hey, if it works for diapers, why not use it for all the laundry, it's cheaper than dryer sheets & I didn't want the chemical fragrances on the babies' skin, and didn't want to bother w/keeping their laundry separate from ours. And now, you could not PAY ME to go back to fabric softener. I hate it when the girls get hand-me-downs that have been washed w/ fabric softener (don't get me wrong, I love, and appreciate the hand-me-downs, I just hate the sticky feel of the fabric softener on the clothes)! So, simple as can be, if your washer has a built in fabric softener dispenser, just fill that with vinegar instead of fabric softener (if I'm washing a load that's got anything stinky in it, like rags that got left sitting in a wet pile or something) I'll also add a drop or two of tea tree oil to the fabric softener dispenser, as well as a few drops in with the clothes. If you don't have a fabric softener dispenser, you can use a "downey ball". No, your clothes will NOT smell like vinegar! Though your laundry room might LOL. They might smell like TTO (if you use it) when you pull them out of the washer, but if you run them through the dryer, it gets hot enough to get rid of that scent as well.

So, that's taken care of all the chemicals.

Now the dryer. This doesn't affect your health much, but it costs money to run (electricity or gas) I wasn't paying the bills, dh was, when I switched from using the dryer to hanging our clothes, so I don't know how dramatically it affected our electric bill, but I've heard lots of other people say they saw a noticeable drop in their electric bill when they stopped using their dryer, or used it less. Additionally, running clothes through the dryer will wear them out faster than hanging them dry, so again, you're saving money on 2 levels (and of course, reducing electric/gas use is helpful to the environment). Our HOA won't allow us to have a clothes line, and honestly the way our house/yard is designed, unless we had a deck, which we've never gotten around to building, it would be less than convenient to take the clothes outside to hang anyway, so, I hang my clothes inside. It took a little getting used to, but once I got into the habit, it's just part of the routine. It kind of "forces" me to keep up with laundry since I only have room to hang one load at a time, AND when I used the dryer, I always had laundry baskets of clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away, now we hang all our clothes (except socks & underwear, and the girls' pjs) and we have to put the dry clothes away in order to have a place to hang the wet clothes. In the picture at the beginning of the post you can see how we hang the socks & uw, I have a second, smaller, one of those that hangs over the washer, for whatever reason it hangs higher, so I generally use it for bigger things (like grown-up uw & the girls' tights). Then all the clothes are hung on their hangers (I have a plastic bin on the floor of the laundry room (along w/ my big bottle of vinegar) where the girls toss their empty hangers when they get dressed, and when I hang up dh's & my clothes I collect any empty hangers from either of our closets). I put the clothes on the hangers & the girls hang them up. Our laundry room is right at the top of our stairs, so we use the baby gate, that we never bothered to take down, to hang the girls' clothes on & I have a folding rack for dh's & my clothes (and the girls' dresses).

If you can hang your clothes outside, the sun will help to bleach most organic (food & such) stains as well. I use the dryer for sheets (because I don't have anywhere to hang something that big inside) and about once a week I do a load of towels, wipes & rags, I use the dryer for that load because I want the heat to kill off any germs that might live through the soap & vinegar, if I could hang outside I'd rely on the sun to kill off those last few germs, but since I can't, I use the highest temp in the dryer, I hang everything else.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


We're going to try something new this week. Over time I've collected various (free to download) lapbook "kits" and am intrigued with the concept. I had good intentions of doing one for Christmas, but between the girls being on more of a free-play instead of school kick, and everything else we had going on, it didn't happen. So, after they enjoyed the felting this past week, I was trying to decide what small thing we could at least have available for this coming week if they decided they wanted to do something. And it occurred to me that a relatively "open" week, was the perfect time to try out a lapbook, so I went hunting for one that was age appropriate (I've got some saved on very interesting topics for grades 3-6 and such. Now I just have to keep track of them for another 5 years or so LOL) and something the girls were interested in and such . . . and I came across one about Adam & Eve. Well, as you might be able to guess by the new memory verse, this week's SS lesson is about Adam & Eve. It's simple stuff, tracing letters & such, not real big, so I'm thinking it's a great "introduction" to the concept & we can see what the girls think of it. I'm thinking they'll at least like that it involves scissors & glue LOL. If L's in the right mood, she'll enjoy coloring the picture too. A would much rather draw her own pictures than color a pre-drawn picture, so I'll probably give her the choice of coloring them in nicely or leaving them uncolored (she tends to prefer drawing her own pictures to coloring pre-drawn pictures).

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-up

Felt flowers were already mentioned, that was the only "structured" thing really.

For some reason the girls re-discovered the watches they got for their last birthday and have been wearing them pretty much all week and every so often will tell me at 1 minute intervals what time it is. They tell me by just reading the numbers (so 12:05 is read one two zero five, or possibly five, zero, two, one) and have a hard time keeping track of the 2 vs the 5 (made more difficult by the fact that they put the watch on upside down half the time), but it's a start. And to continue with the time-keeping theme, A found some "telling time" flashcards in the school stuff, and was playing with them today. They have a clock face on one side & the "digital readout" of the time on the other side. I sorted them out & only gave her the ones that were on the hour (so 12:00 but not 12:10) and showed her what the first one "said" and she went through them all & could say what they all said. Then she put them in order (& as annoyed to find that all the numbers weren't there LOL), by then she was bored and didn't want to move on to adding in the 1/2 hr ones) but for spending 10 min one day, she's got a good start.

They've also re-discovered and have been playing on it each day, so still moving forward with the reading. I looked some more at "A Time to Play" and really don't feel like it's the direction I want to go at this point. It's just too structured and not easily adaptable to keeping them moving at their own level, and . . . deals alot, at least at the beginning, with stuff where they need to remember that the girls with brown hair is named Nan & the Hispanic girl is named Rosa which wouldn't be a big deal at all in a classroom setting, but in our current setting I don't want us to "have" to do "reading homework" every day, and even at the end of "In the Beginning" L had trouble with the last page because we hadn't done much with it over Christmas and she didn't remember that Lad was the dog, and such . . .there's benefit to reviewing actual "reading pre-skills" (like letter sounds & such) when we take a break and come back, but to have to constantly be re-learning something that has no usefulness except in that "class" is too "school at home" for my style, especially for 4 yr olds.

I may have already mentioned this, and for that matter, it might have been the previous week, not this past week, but quite frequently for bedtime stories the girls choose to "read" the books themselves, quoting the books they've memorized &/or making it up as they go. One night recently when A was reading a book that she has memorized, I noticed that for the first few pages she actually was looking at the words, and getting confused if she remembered the "idea" but not the exact words (so what she was saying didn't correspond to the first letter of the next word on the page). So she's working on it too, just in her own way . . . I'm still expecting her to just suddenly start reading.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Felt flowers

A bit of background . . . the preschool curriculum we're doing started about this time last year and runs through this spring. As you've probably noticed, we use this curriculum very much as a guide to give us things to do when the girls are in the mood. I started the curriculum because they were desperate to "do school" and this was a great non-academic way to let them feel they were doing school. I love that it has brought "circle time" into our day, it gives us a time to talk about what needs to be done that day, have our morning devotion time, etc. Perhaps the downside of this approach is, I get the supplies to do the various art & handwork projects but then if we're busy with other things, or the kids are too busy with their free play, they don't get used. So, since I'm waiting to start our sound unit until the Kinder Konzert week, when the girls asked for "art" this week I dug out a handwork project that we didn't get around to last spring or summer. And I'm SO glad we waited!! We did a few other felting projects last spring & this summer, and while they enjoyed the toys that resulted from it, they generally spent about 20 seconds 'helping" and then went off & played. NOW they're actually willing to put the effort in to do felting! So . . . we split it into 2 days, and by the end the ball was getting too big for their hands to work, which I think is why the outer layer never felted up as well, despite all my efforts to "salvage" it. But here's our felt flower project:

Felting the wool (L's in the pink hat)

Once they'd felted all the layers onto the ball, I cut them all apart into flowers (each layer was wrapped in plastic wrap as we went to keep them from felting to each other), did a final rinse (in the case of the green, tried to felt them abit more, but not sure I accomplished anything), and . . .

Laid them all out on the coffee table to dry.

And once they were all dry, here's the finished product (we have 2 of these, I just took a picture of one):

This can now be used as a "stacking toy" for younger kids, as a decoration as is, or I suspect it will spend alot of it's time taken apart to have a variety of different color/sizes of flowers for various imaginative games the girls play. The directions also suggested that it would make a nice pin cushion so if they survive the next couple years in tact, we may move them to the sewing baskets as the girls get old enough to learn to sew. We made these from kits we got from this site and overall, I'd say the directions were good, one complaint, I wish there'd been more felt for the last couple colors, those "petals" end up being pretty thin because the ball was so big by then and the amount of wool was about the same as it had been for the earlier layers, I really noticed it in cutting them out.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pictures from last weekend

I finally got around to downloading pictures from our trip to the greenhouse last weekend. We spent quite awhile waiting for Papa to find a parking spot & walk back, so the girls enjoyed playing with the camera while we waited, I deleted a few not so great shots, but overall, for 4 yr olds playing w/ a camera that can be tricky to hold onto w/o getting fingers in the picture and certainly isn't designed for kids, I'd say they did pretty good :) Anyway, the pictures are at the end of this album.

The pink dress

When SIL & BIL were here for Christmas, BIL somehow jokingly told the girls that he had a pink dress he would wear to their birthday. They are totally obsessed with this, I have heard about it many times. When we saw SIL & BIL again this past week, the girls again asked him about his pink dress & insisted that he must wear it to their birthday party. L has also drawn a picture of "Uncle D's pink dress" (picture included in this post) and any hint from me that Uncle D was just teasing and doesn't actually have one is met with adamant denial, he DOES have a pink dress and he WILL wear it to our pink dress, he told us so!!! I'm thinking Uncle D had better start dress shopping.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Save Money, Save Your Health, Save the Earth

I know, I usually do these on Monday, and it's now Thursday, but these holidays totally mess with my sense of time . . . I spent last week totally confused about what day it was since Monday felt like Friday (getting the house all cleaned up, prep work for a meal, dh home early, etc) and Tuesday felt like Sabbath (since that's generally the only day dh is home, plus it's normally the day we have all the family over for meals & such) and so then the rest of the week I was just totally confused. Then THIS week, Sunday felt like Monday (dh worked ALL day, normally he works a shorter day on Sunday), Monday felt like Sunday (dh worked, but met us at the party later, which was more similar to a Sunday work schedule and . . . I don't know . . .) so then Tuesday felt like Monday . . . so again, I've been confused all week, and that's my long drawn out excuse as to why my weekly "Save" post didn't happen until now . . .

And it's going to be a short one after all that too. . .

When you're going to be using beans in a recipe, cook dry beans instead of using canned beans. Cheaper is obvious (compare the price of dry beans to canned beans . . . incidentally, shop around for the dry beans, I've found they vary significantly in price from store to store. In our town Bottom Dollar (a year or two ago all of the Food Lions in our town turned into either Bottom Dollar or Bloom, I've never been in a Bloom (and only recently went into Bottom Dollar because they had something on sale that I wanted) but Bottom Dollar carries Food Lion generics so apparently they're still affiliated) has the cheapest price for dried beans.). Better for the environment in that there's alot less to throw away. And healthier, I suspect less nutrients are lost, but I don't know that for sure. And there has been reports recently about the lining of some cans leaching carcinogens into the foods they are in. Based on what I read (& I'm horrible at keeping links for such things, so I can't point you to them) I decided that for us, since we don't use much canned stuff anyway (we use mostly frozen fruits & veggies, I was already making beans from scratch, etc) it wasn't something that I was going to stress about, but it IS a health argument for cooking beans from scratch.

And while we're talking about beans, I'll also add that beans are a great source of protein that is certainly cheaper than meat, we're vegetarian, but I've seen many frugal tips suggest using beans to extend the meat in soups, spaghetti sauce, mexican food etc. And, since raising animals for meat takes up more natural resources than growing crops AND the methane from animal waste is a major player in the damage to the ozone layer, eating vegetarian, or reducing your meat consumption is better for the earth as well. (And IMO healthier, but there are many different theories about that so you'll have to draw your own conclusions there . . . LOL).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cute Kids' book about adoption

Don't know if this is relevant to anyone who reads this blog or not, but when we went to the library earlier this week the book that L chose as her "book on tape" (they each choose one book w/ a tape or cd each time we go & then they listen to those in the car when we're running errands or whatever), was I Love You Like Crazy Cakes. I have to say, I'm glad she chose this one as a book on tape, I was tearing up just listening to it, no way I'd have been able to make it through READING it (and that leads to 1001 questions from 2 four year olds about "are you crying mommy? . . . why? . . . what's wrong? . . ." for 10 minutes straight (ask me how I know LOL)). It's a very sweet book written kind of like a letter from a mom to her child telling about adopting the child from China. Very sweet, gives the basics of adoption without going into the nitty gritty . . . it was just a really sweet little book. So, if any of you have adopted or are planning to adopt, especially an overseas adoption, or know someone who is, this might be a nice book to get, or at least borrow from the library.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A new years resolution

I'm not a fan of new years resolutions, I make "resolutions" when I find something in my life that needs changing, but I don't generally bother to sit & come up with some, that I'm likely not to keep, at the beginning of the new year. However, this is something I desperately need to work on, so I'm going to publicly state it as a resolution. I am GOING to drink more water!!!

This is one area where I was most definitely healthier pre-kids. When I worked in an office and sat at a desk all day, I found it easy to keep a large water bottle on my desk and drink it throughout the day. If I emptied it, I re-filled it. I drank alot of water consistently, so other then the initial "getting used to it" period, I wasn't running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.

I read somewhere that, rather than "just" 8 glasses of water a day (which, assuming an 8 oz glass is 64 oz), a person should drink a half an oz of water per day for every pound of body weight. So the 8 glasses recommendation would be fine for a person who weighs 128lbs but ummm . . . I weigh more then that (and that's as specific as I'm gonna get LOL).

But I also believe in "baby steps", so for the time being, here's what I'm going to do. I think our regular glasses are approx 16oz, but just to be safe, since I have pint jars in my cupboard for storing leftovers & such in anyway, I'm going to use a pint jar. I am going to drink 1 before breakfast, 1 before lunch, 1 before supper, and 1 at bedtime. Additionally, if I'm thirsty throughout the day, I will make a point of drinking to thirst. I'm also going to try to keep a filled Klean Kanteen in the car & drink it when we're out & about, once I'm consistently drinking the 64 oz I committed to above, I'll add additional "jar-fuls" at other intervals to get me up to the amount of water I actually SHOULD be drinking per day (and no, I'm not gonna get specific about that either LOL).

My Household Organization/Notebook System

Since I alluded to it in my calendar post, and Ann mentioned she's also struggling to figure out what works best for her, I thought I'd share my system. There are many blogs & forums on the internet that refer to household notebooks. For those not familiar with them, here's an example. I tried this about a year ago, I set up my whole binder, and then rather quickly found that I found it cumbersome to have to go to the kitchen anytime I wanted to know what the schedule was, etc. Carrying a 3 ring binder around gets annoying fast, and yet, to start out, when I wanted reminders of the "morning routine" I'd come up with, it meant either running downstairs in the morning, only to go back upstairs, or to have to carry it upstairs w/ me the night before.

Additionally, I like "checking things off" and again, there were times when I preferred to not have to go back to the same place in the house (kitchen or otherwise) to check each thing off. So it all kind of fell by the wayside. After various "false starts" here's what I figured out , for me . . . I need multiple "notebooks" in various forms, for various "sections" of the "Household notebook". Having a homeschool section in a notebook that 'lives" in the kitchen, is illogical to me, since a large part of our homeschooling takes place in the family room. We have a "magazine rack" type basket in the family room that holds the books we're currently using for homeschool. In that basket I also have a slim notebook (actually a Kitchen Folio that I got through a co-op last summer, but found I didn't like as my "household notebook" because you can't add things to each "section" w/o having left empty sleeves & such) in that basket that has the current unit notes, and any current "holiday" supplementary information, in the front section and then in the back I have one sleeve for each month of the year and if I run across an idea that I think the girls might enjoy for say . . . 4th of July, I can slip it into the appropriate sleeve. I can also make notes of what worked this year & what I'd do different next year. So, that's my homeschool notebook. I DO have my original notebook (3 ring binder) that lives in the kitchen, the section I use the most in that one is the recipes, recipes I've tried & we all like, I keep in page protectors by category (cookies, breakfast, bread . . . etc) that way I can either pull that page out of the notebook, or just leave the binder open to that page while I make the recipe. The page protector means it's no biggie if I spill a few things. I also have the print out of my zone cleaning, a few articles & such that I've collected about "emergency quick cleans" and such . . . menu planning information . . . etc. Stuff that it's nice to know where is, but that I don't necessarily look at daily.

And finally, I have a MomAgenda planner (this one) that I pretty much carry everywhere with me. I do menu planning, one week at a time in it, I (obviously) keep track of appointments, there's a daily "to do list" section that I use, lately I've been keeping track of our monthly grocery spending, so I jot that down, the bottom half (roughly) of each page is labeled "Kids" and is intended to be used to write down the kids' schedules/appointments that don't necessarily affect the whole family (so if someone had extra curriculuar stuff after school or whatever), since at this point we do everything together (even Kindermusik affects my schedule just as much as theirs), I don't need it for that, but I use it each evening (or most evenings anyway) to jot down something cute/funny/whatever about the girls (& dh) from that day. Kind of a "gratitude journal" of sorts. There are also pages in the back of the planner for vacation planning, party planning, gift planning, etc. . .

And then, I created this weekly schedule that's small enough to slip into my planner on that day's page and I mark it off all week as I go through the week.

Obviously everything evolves & gets tweaked over time, but I've been using this basic system for awhile now & I've been happy with it. I'm still working on figuring out a system that works well for the girls . . . so far we keep falling back on the magnetic board white board w/ magnets that have pictures of the things we normally do, and the occasional written in thing for things I don't bother to make magnets for.

Happy New Year!

The girls actually were awake to ring the new year in last night (and only slept in an extra hour, if that, this morning . . . yawn!!!) Some friends of ours threw a New Years Eve party & we went, fully expecting, especially when L refused to nap yesterday afternoon. She was quiet for the required time period but never went to sleep, the girls would be tired/fussy enough by 9pm or so that we'd go home. We parked accordingly, so we'd be able to get out (P&A do nothing in a small way, when I got there yesterday afternoon & asked what the final expected guest count was, she told me, she was expecting over 60, and wouldn't be surprised if it was over 70 . . . no idea how many people were actually there. So we anticipated parking being an issue). But anytime we suggested leaving, they insisted they wanted to stay, the one time when I thought dh was ready to go home & started working toward that point (with warnings to the kids) I realized that in the time it took me to track the kids down for a "first warning", dh had joined a card game, so figured eh, he's busy, kids want to play, why bother.

In theory we're taking the Christmas decorations down today. In reality we're meeting Daddy, Mama & Papa, and I'm guessing Aunt L (since she'll be helping Daddy at the shop today) for lunch today, and then (hopefully) going up to get milk (but I forgot to e-mail & reserve the milk until I was at the party last night, so I didn't get a chance to e-mail until this morning. I'm guessing it'll be fine, because I highly doubt they milk truck will be picking milk up today (the only time it's been a problem was when she didn't get my e-mail until after the truck had come that morning, which meant we had to wait until the afternoon milking to get our milk), but if not, when I told Kim last night that I'd forgotten to reserve our milk, she said if I couldn't get it today she could probably get it later this week. . . so we shall see if the tree actually makes it down. And tomorrow we're helping Kim re-do the Sabbath School room, so it might be Thurs before it actually comes down, we shall see . . .