Monday, June 27, 2011

How Observant Are You?

The truly observant among my readers may have noticed I've been doing a little rearranging of buttons on my sidebar. For the most part it's boring stuff. I switched out last year's TOS Crew buttons for this year's and added a couple new affiliates: if you're purchasing anything from Vision Forum, I'd love it if you entered their site through the Jonathan Park button on my sidebar. You'll get the same prices, service as if you go directly to the site, but I get a small commission on your sale).  Likewise if you're purchasing anything from Mountain Rose Herbs, please consider entering through my button. If you have never checked out these two companies, I suggest you do, Mountain Rose Herbs is THE site for dried herbs and related supplies, whatever tea or medicinal infusion or whatever else you might need herbs for, chances are THEY have it!! Vision Forum has tons of Christian Homeschooling Resources including our beloved Jonathan Park Adventures and so much more!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - June 26

This was a week of  "recovering" from campmeeting LOL. We ran errands, did laundry, exciting stuff like that. . .

We DID go visit our neighbor, Miss Judy and the girls got to meet her new doggie, Millie. Millie (a yorkiepoo, I think) was rather overwhelmed by all the attention, but handled it relatively well, and of course we always enjoy visiting with Miss Judy.

When we were preparing for campmeeting, we got a firepit, in hopes of being able to use it while we were "camping" at campmeeting, but that didn't work out (the girls' busy schedule and the size of the campsites, both made it impractical). But, since I'd been wanting a firepit for here at home anyway, it wasn't a big deal. So we finally got to try out our firepit Friday night. We sent the girls out into the woods for wood, and got a nice fire going. The girls had a blast roasting hotdogs and marshmallows for supper. While collecting wood they also collected blackberries so we had them too. Not the healthiest supper in the world, but everyone had a good time, and it was yummy, so it's all good. We did determine that the retractable roasting forks from Target's $1 section are too flimsy to really work well, so will be investing in some better ones, which I suspected would be the case, but figured at $1 a piece they were worth a shot LOL.

One of the things the girls have been enjoying this summer has been their own version of making mud pies. They use dirt, and water from the creek - I need to get a picture of that, they each found a good sized stick (think "walking stick" size) and use 2 plastic buckets each, hung on each end of the stick, with the stick across the back of their necks, "just like they do in Africa" was their comment when I asked what they were doing.

So anyway, they're pretty proud of their creations. At first they decided they were opening a "store" but I finally convinced them to change it to a "mud creations museum" and let me just take pictures of them and their creations.

Yesterday we had a potluck picnic with other church members. The weather was PERFECT, not too hot, a lovely breeze, ahhhhhhh. . . we also had great fun watching a couple of squirrels who had figured out how to climb in & out of the trash cans (even though they have those flip lids), great entertainment. Sassy & MiniMe somehow coerced Mr. Tim into giving them piggy back rides and running races with them. Little Bit, not to be left out, ran back and forth with them, and then claimed Mr. Tim's back as her permanent piggy-back ride spot. At least she's abit lighter than her sisters LOL. Methinks Mr. Tim slept WELL last night after all that exercise, hee hee.

Our printer broke a couple months ago and we finally replaced it this week, woo-hoo!! I'm so excited to be able to start putting together my calendar/planner for 2011-2012, woo-hoo!! I had, and liked, a planner from this past year, but thanks to my handy dandy proclick binding machine, I decided to try making my own for this next year, we shall see . . . LOL.

You can see pictures from this summer, including campmeeting, here:
Summer 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: It's Not About Me by Max Lucado

I've loved Max Lucado's books for years, so when I got the chance to review the Kindle version of Max's new book It's Not About Me, I jumped at the chance.

In this book, Max Lucado refutes the common belief of today's culture, that I have to look out for myself, and make everything all about me. Instead, Max points out, God's will is that we make our lives "All About God". Even many Christians today view God as there just to grant their wishes, but the Bible makes it clear that God's plans are much bigger than any one person. Once we shift our thinking to realize that God is the center of the universe, not us, we have freed ourselves to live the happy, unburdened lives God plans for each of us.

In addition to Max Lucado being a favorite author, this book caught my attention because I find myself regularly reminding my children that "It's not all about you". As is typical of young children, born into a sinful world, they are selfish by nature, and want everything to be THEIR way. I thought this book would be a good reminder to myself, that, just as it's not all about [my child], it's also not all about me.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Max makes the points concisely and clearly. Perhaps my favorite chapter dealt with the lies of legalism. Pointing out that when we stray into the realm of legalism, we cease to trust God, and rather trust in our own actions to save us. This is a reminder that so many of us need.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Campmeeting Menu Planning

As I mentioned in my Campmeeting wrap-up post, one thing that I was thankful for was the easy menu I had planned that allowed for only cooking once a day. I thought in case it helped others, and also so I don't have to completely reinvent the wheel next year, I'd post what our menu was:

Breakfast cookies and fruit ended up being our main breakfast
I'd also made granola that Little Bit & I ate some days, but for some reason the big girls decided they didn't want granola.
The other breakfast that I planned/brought was Orange Julius. I made it ahead & froze it in jelly jars. The plan was to either let them thaw in the fridge overnight & run them through my miniature blender to get them back to normal constancy or to eat them straight from the freezer as a kind of "Italian ice" type thing. We tried thawing re-blending one day but for reasons that I didn't understand, the big girls didn't like that, I really have no idea why, they tasted just like fresh-made ones to me, but children can be weird. We ended up never trying it straight from the freezer because mornings were actually abit COLD so a frozen breakfast didn't appeal to us.

These were what I needed to be healthy, quick, and no-cook meals, and I'm soo glad I'd planned them that way!
Before we got there, I made Tabouli and my mom made pasta salad as our contributions to our church's potluck for Sabbath dinner. We then had the leftovers of those for lunch another day.
Taco salad - mom premade the dressing for me, and I mixed it all together at lunch time. We ended up having enough dressing (and other ingredients) a second day, at the girls' request.
Greek Salad
egg salad sandwiches

I did cook for these, but generally only needed one pot on the camp stove, so still low-cooking needs.
Potato Noodle Soup (we had this for supper the first night, so I pre-scrambled the eggs at home before we went), we ended up having enough to re-heat for a second meal
Haystacks (kind of build-your-own tostados with chips on the bottom instead of a tostado shell. I'd planned to use beans from the freezer, but when I pulled out the jar, it had cracked, not sure why I've frozen beans plenty of times in the past with no problem, so I just used canned beans. Heating them up was the only cooking involved. We also had dorito-type chips (the non-healthy part of the meal), shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced black olives, salsa)
Spinach Ricotta Pasta
I'd planned to pre-make Cheddar Ranch Burgers made with TVP and a couple eggs instead of the beef, and freeze them to re-heat on the griddle, but ran out of time, so instead we just got Morning Star Farm Grillers to have burgers one night.
We also went to taco bell a couple nights when I was too lazy busy to cook.

And finally snacks:
raw veggies and ranch dip
popcorn (the trust dept has free popcorn at campmeeting, on days that I managed to be around when they were popping it, I brought it back to the motorhome for a snack for the girls)
macadamia nut spread and crackers (we actually ate that once we got home,because the popcorn took priority while we were there!)

And that is the our campmeeting menu!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - Campmeeting Edition

Ahhhh . . . we are HOME!!! The children LOVE campmeeting. Mommy isn't quite so fond of it all LOL.

We had a busy week.  The big girls' schedules were full, in a nutshell, their days went like this:

Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast
Go to "Family Worship"
Go to morning meeting
Back to the motorhome for lunch
Go to afternoon activities
Back to the motorhome for a snack, some downtime or any errands/extras we wanted to do that day
Eat supper, wash dishes
Go to evening meeting
Back to the motorhome to brush teeth, read SS lesson, and fall into bed an hour or more later than their at-home bedtime

So, they stayed busy.  Little Bit and I had abit less hectic a schedule. Little Bit's only meeting was in the morning. So our schedule was the same as the big girls in the morning, but when they went to their afternoon activities, we laid down for naptime. And when they went to their evening meeting we hung out with Daddy at the motorhome.

Some highlights of the week:

  • Thankfully it wasn't too hot ,that was SUCH a blessing! And more than made up for the rain we had a few times!
  • I'd planned menus to only have to cook in the evening, that was SUCH a blessing. We had quick, easy, light salads for lunches, perfect for the time we had!
  • The girls chose crafts and archery for their afternoon activities. They love crafts, so that was a no brainer. They seem to have loved the archery too. MiniMe didn't hit the target till the last day, and Sassy never did, but they had fun with it.
  • At the end of the week, MiniMe commented that she really liked the pastor's talks at Family Worship. I'm thinking that's pretty high praise LOL.
  • Soo thankful that I thought to make bug spray before we went to campmeeting, there were SO MANY ticks up there! The one day I forgot to spray us all with bug spray, I killed 3 ticks just that day!
  • The twins were excited to win the giveaway at Family Worship one day. They won a "Make a Prayer" book.
  • The theme of family worship was "Heaven". One day the big girls were chosen to be some of the children to go up front and answer the question of "who would you like to meet in Heaven?" Predictably, MiniMe chose Ruth and Sassy chose Esther, their respective favorite Bible characters.
  • Little Bit's class had a forest theme all week. In addition to learning lots of fun songs, she learned a few good lessons, like "stay back" from skunks, and don't touch bird eggs. And she had alot of fun with it all. Now her Sabbath School teacher at our local church wants to do a forest theme for Sabbath School, so I need to work on pulling that together for her LOL.
  • Little Bit has never been the "sling baby" that her older sisters were, and even with all the walking of campmeeting, she did an amazing amount of it right along side us, but she did learn to enjoy "bouncing on mommy's back" as well. I must admit, I loved getting to pull out my beloved Storchenwieg. It was fun too, because she used the opportunity to chatter in my ear whenever she rode on my back, so cute.
  • One day as we walked over to meetings, both of the big girls somehow managed to bump into or trip over Little Bit, knocking her over each time. The next time we all started to walk together, she said emphatically "Sissies, no knock me over!" 
  • The evening meeting for the children (age 7-14) was Ben Roy, the Science Guy. The girls were soo excited about this. They love his segment on 3ABN's  Kids Time. He did not disappoint, the girls LOVED his programs!
And those are some highlights from our week of campmeeting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - June 12

We've had a busy week.

Last weekend, Daddy and Little Bit were sick, and over the course of the week, both big girls were sick at various times too. Mostly, just "colds", but Sassy did mix things up abit by throwing up one night, conveniently adding 2 extra loads of laundry (she managed to get it on her duvet cover, duvet, sheet, mattress pad, pillow case AND pillow, sigh) to a day when I already had a load that HAD to get done. Thankfully, it was a hot, sunny day so everything dried quickly on the line! And thankfully, she was feeling fine by the next morning.

So, all the sickies slowed things down as far as what I planned to accomplish this week, but oh well . . .

Our main goal this week was getting ready to go to Campmeeting on Friday. While we didn't accomplish EVERYTHING we'd hoped, we got the essentials done. And a stop by BB's (an Amish Overstock Grocery Store) conveniently provided whole grain, organic crackers and cookies to replace the ones I didn't get made, whew!

To keep things interesting, I decided last minute, to make sponge balls with the big girls. They had great fun making them, now we'll see if it's warm enough during campmeeting to USE them. If not, I'm sure we'll get plenty of use out of them at home before the summer's over.

I also happened across a Betty Luken Felt Quiet Book that I got, and started putting together, when the twins were little, but they showed no interest in felts of any sort, so I never bothered to finish putting it together. So . . . I found it this week, Little Bit seems more interested in felts, and I thought it might be a good option to keep her entertained at campmeeting, so I spent some time this week finishing putting it together, now to see if she likes it LOL.

Speaking of things Little Bit likes, all 3 girls have spent HOURS building with blocks this week! We have a big basket of blocks in the living room that is a combination of tree blocks (that my dad made for the girls), alphabet blocks, plain old blocks, and some wooden animals that a friend made for us when we were using a Waldorf Preschool curriculum, that used them. The big girls have ignored said blocks (which, admittedly were in an upstairs toy closet until Little Bit started showing an interest in building, but still) for YEARS, but now that Little Bit is loving them, AND loving knocking down towers, the big girls attempt to build elaborate towers and expect her to NOT knock it down until they're ready . . . it's giving us some opportunities for them to learn unselfishness (and LET her knock them down) and some opportunities for her to learn to listen, obey, etc. .  .

So, we spent the week catching/keeping up on laundry, doing some extra cooking and grocery shopping, packing, etc. And yesterday during Little Bit's nap we headed out to meet my parents, and their motorhome, at campmeeting. We didn't know we'd have the motorhome until last minute, so had to take one of the spots that was still available, and it's a rather tight squeeze . . . we'd hoped to have the motorhome, a screen tent, a small dome tent for the big girls to sleep in, and enough room to use a fire pit. But we had to settle for the motorhome and screen tent. The only time we might "need" the dome tent is if my parents end up staying in the motorhome the same time I'm there. If we do that, then the 2 big girls will either have to share the slightly wider than twin, "table bed" OR one of them will have to sleep on the floor (making it challenging to get through if anyone needs to use the bathroom in the night). But we'll deal with that if it happens. Most of the time, if my parents are here, they'll either stay in a hotel (somehow the whole "real bed", "real bathroom", hot shower, thing appeals to them LOL), OR I'll take advantage of them being here to bring Little Bit home for the night so WE get a night in a real bed (and real bathroom, and hot shower . . . ), so it should work out ok. And as much fun as a fire pit would be (and we did get one, so we'll have it at home after campmeeting to still have fun with, I've been wanting one forEVER, so I'm excited LOL), I was thinking the girls' evening meetings got out around 8:00, but they actually get out sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 (the schedule says 9:00, but the girls were back to the motorhome, after walking back from meeting, Fri night before 9:00, so must have gotten out more in the 8:30 range?) so it's pretty late to roast marshmallows or hotdogs AFTER meeting, and not as much fun to do it at like 6pm, when it's still light out and potentially hot/muggy. So, disappointing to not get to use it, but probably wouldn't have used it real often anyway, and we CAN use it once we're all home again :) . . . So, small spot, but oh well. The girls are beyond excited to be at campmeeting. And even exciting about the "camping" thing . . . Friday for supper, they took over the making of soup on the camp stove, served it up for everybody, and wanted to wash dishes, but it was time for their meeting, so mom rinsed the dishes and left them for the girls to wash the next day.

Our plans took a change, when my Grandma called Fri afternoon to tell Mom that Grandpa (turns 96 next week) had been working in the garden and fell and thought he had broken his leg. Grandma had called 911, and Mom called my brother to go be with Grandma at the hospital, and when it was all said and done, they determined that he had actually broken his hip, and was going into surgery to have it repaired on Sabbath. So, Mom and Dad went home first thing Sabbath morning.

We had some HUGE Thunder storms during the night Fri night. And I lay there dreading having to "wade" through heavy rain from the motorhome to Sabbath School the next morning, carrying Little Bit, and my "diaper-less bag" (don't have to carry diapers, but since it's abit of a hike from the campground area to the meetings area, I wanted to bring snacks and water for Little Bit, etc. Plus need a bag that can be carried while wearing Little Bit on my back, so pulled out my "babywearing bag" which is WAY bigger than I really need, but has the ability to be tied on over/around/under a baby carrier. It was still pouring when we woke up, which had it's advantages, the big girls woke up first and I could see they were talking, but couldn't hear them, so it didn't wake Little Bit up like often happens when they wake up before her. But by the time we finished breakfast, it had stopped raining, whew! We got ready, and hiked to Sabbath School, with a detour by our car (I didn't like the idea of parking my car in the very crowded woods where we're camping. It's hard to maneuver to turn around and get back out, you have to walk through weeds (including poison ivy in some areas) to get to/from the car if you park where the designated parking areas are, and I was nervous about getting stuck in the mud if it did rain. So, I opted to park in a paved lot abit farther from the motorhome. Longer walk, but easier driving in/out and getting in/out of the car and no chance of getting stuck in the mud.

So anyway, we went by the car to get umbrellas (there were some (my parents') in the motorhome, but I have a couple that fold down nice and small in my car, so for "chance of rain" having something small enough to throw in the diaper-less bag is nicer) and the Storchenwiege baby wrap (to carry Little Bit on my back. The picture of is MiniMe carrying baby Little Bit in a front carry in the same Storch), then headed to Sabbath School. The big girls had Sabbath School and Church in their tent, so I told them we'd see them at the picnic pavilion, where our church was having a potluck, after church.

Little Bit and I headed to her class. The program last year was fine, but not exciting enough for her to be worth disturbing her, at that time, nap schedule to go to meetings. But I think she's going to love the meetings this year, it's very similar to the Sabbath School programs I'm working with our church Cradle Roll leader to implement at our church, and I think once she's had a day or two to get used to the people and understand what to do when, she's going to absolutely LOVE it! We shall see . . . it will be a great "practice run" for the program we'll be starting after campmeeting at our church.

After Little Bit's class (only during "Sabbath School"), she and I headed back to meet Daddy at the motorhome (call me a wimp, but keeping a 2 yr old entertained and quiet in a huge un-airconditioned gymnasium full of people, while listening to a sermon just doesn't appeal . . . especially when I'm an extreme visual learner and struggle to listen/absorb/learn in a "public speaking" environment under the best of circumstances).  As we left Little Bit's class, the teacher's helper passed out bags to each child that contained a couple of coloring pages, small pack of crayons, and a ziplock bag of Cheerios. Little Bit was so excited about HER bag. When we got back to the motorhome, she happily sat at the table and colored her picture and ate her Cheerios (not my first choice, but a small bag's not gonna kill her, and she was so excited about it) while I finished up the salad I was making for potluck. She even stayed sitting happily while I went outside to get a couple things from the screen tent area.

We met the big girls at the Picnic Pavilion, waited for the adult church service to get out so everyone else was there and we could have our church potluck, but enjoyed visiting with friends and eating a yummy lunch.

After lunch, Little Bit and I headed home (it was already well past naptime, and I wanted her to sleep while I was driving home). And the big girls went to hang out in Daddy's meeting for a little while until it was time for their afternoon meeting. . . then more hanging out with Daddy until their evening meeting. And now (at almost 9pm) I'm hopeful that they're at least close to heading this way. Little Bit and I spent our afternoon hanging out, building with blocks and such, and the evening entertainment has involved laundry and making granola (now there's 2 pans full sitting in the turned-off oven, waiting for morning (love "overnight granola"!), when we'll put it in jars to take to campmeeting!

So that was our week! Please pray for Grandpa's healing! He had surgery today to have a plate and screws put in his hip, and Dad said he did great, and they're talking about having him on his feet tomorrow, so hopefully things will continue to go smoothly.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Week (that's not really a week) of Skirts

Raising Arrows  has been doing a series on wearing skirts/dresses, called She Wears Skirts. This week she's hosting a link-up to showcase how the rest of us wear skirts and dresses. The idea is to wear all skirts/dresses for a week and take a picture each day. But I'm not that organized, and I'm not a big fan of pictures of myself, so I thought I'd mix things up a little and share some pictures of my girls wearing skirts and dresses.  So, in no particular order:

Showing team spirit for Daddy for the Super Bowl. We found Steelers shirts at Goodwill and all 3 girls wore them with denim a-line skirts.

Of course, dresses are great for drinking tea. I've found these little cotton dresses to be WONDERFUL for Little Bit! When she was in diapers they provided easy access for diaper changes, and now that she's potty trained, they're easy for her to pull up by herself. And they just look comfy! 

Outside at Mama and Papa's! Sassy tends to prefer the just past the knee, flared skirts. MiniMe likes mid-calf to ankle length skirts (like me, she's not called "MiniMe" for nothing . . .)

Wading at a friend's creek. Another cotton dress for Little Bit, and one of my favorite summer combos, a broomstick skirt (with a cotton slip under it) and t-shirt. It was especially helpful that day since we were wading, light enough to dry quickly (I brought changes of clothes for the girls)

And here's the big girls playing in the creek in their skirts/dresses. If we'd known ahead of time we would have brought their swimsuits, but we were visiting my parents' house and went over to a friends' house and ended up down at the creek.

Skirts work for riding bikes as long as they're full enough to allow leg movement.

 I love this picture, skirts definitely work fine for running through fields of dandelions!

 You can even pull nails out of the boards on an old deck in skirts and dresses.

And mix cement to set the posts for the new elevated playhouse.

And pretty much everything else we do. The girls do wear snowpants to play in the snow (I get sweatpants from Goodwill for them to wear under them), But that's about it. I wish I had a picture of the girls in their swimsuits. We've used "rash guard" type suits (shirts and knee-length or capri-length shorts) for several years, but last summer the girls asked if they could have skirts for swimming too (I have a swim skirt and shirt that I love, they wanted to be like me). Their current swim pants are black with pink & purple (respecitvely) waistbands, and come to just below the knee). My mom got some black swimsuit fabric and sewed simple skirts to their existing pants (attached it below the waistbands. They turned out great (although something happened on a trip (that I wasn't on) last fall that completely DESTROYED their swim shirts (thankfully the next size up fit by this spring) and turned their (at that time pretty much brand new) swim skirts from black to a light silver (I'm not sure if the chemicals were WAY off in one of the pool or if suits didn't get rinsed out or some combination of the 2). But they still work fine and are a neutral enough color to work with the swim shirts they have this year.

For Little Bit I'd gotten some swim shirts & figured for the baby/toddler stage she could wear the shirt with a swim diaper. But last fall on clearance at Walmart or Target, I found a skirt with attached panty in an "atheltic mesh" fabric, for like $2, it's worked great as a swim skirt for her now that she's potty trained.

And that's a peek into our life in skirts.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Little Green Project . . . Homemade Boogie Wipes

Apparently I'm doing a monthly post about "being green" . . . and technically this wasn't one of my "top 10" because I just came up with it today, but it's my blog, I don't have to follow my rules!

Awhile back I was sent some sample packs of Boogie Wipes. I kind of rolled my eyes at the idea . . . and tossed the individually wrapped wipes into my diaper bag. And at least one of them has managed to move through the various diaper bags, and now purses, ever since. But I'd never actually USED any of them.

So fast forward to this weekend. Little Bit had (has) a runny nose. I don't carry baby wipes (cloth or disposable) anymore since Little Bit is potty trained. This winter I had a small bag of cloth wipes that I kept with me because of runny noses and such, but now it's summer, so I took that out. . . And of course, didn't think to put it back in when Little Bit got sick. So, I got to church and realized that I had nothing to wipe her nose. No biggy, stop by the bathroom, grab a piece of toilet paper, keep it with me. Which worked great until it somehow slipped behind me on the pew, and suddenly she's in desperate need of a nose-wiping and I can't find my "tissue". So I remembered that boogie wipe in my bag (and because I transfer the essentials to a different bag (full of quiet toys) for church, I even knew where it was), grabbed it, unwrapped it, and used it instead of the piece of toilet paper for the rest of church.  And it was kind of nice.  . . other than the fake grape scent (ick! but there are other options). It was damp, and soft, and really big. Which was nice since I was using it throughout the rest of church, but seemed like a total waste if used as intended, to wipe a child's nose ONE TIME . . .  The other thing I didn't like was, while I like the individual wrapping as a way to carry one with me for "emergencies", it's not the most convenient way to grab one when you need one RIGHT NOW! . . .

So I started thinking . . . and re-read abit about the concept . . . the whole, saline thing and such . . . and you know, it makes sense . . . except for them being huge, that still doesn't make sense to me. . . afterall, this past winter I became a "neti pot" convert, but can't very well do that for my two year old. . . and wiping with a saline wipe isn't going to do the same thing as nasal cleansing, but still . . .

And then yesterday I cleaned out the back of the minivan (you may remember, I cleaned the passenger compartment last week, but didn't have time to clean out the back). And one of the things that I brought in was a wet bag that I use for cloth wipes when I have a child in diapers. It happened to be one of these. Which, while they're not sold as a wipes bag, I found ideal because they're the right size, and have 2 compartments.  So anyway . . . I'd had it in my "emergency cloth diapering kit" I kept in the car, but obviously that's not needed any more.

So as  I was getting ready to go grocery shopping today, I actually DID remember that I needed something for Little Bit's still-runny nose. And I noticed that wet bag. And I thought about the Boogie Wipes. And I had a brilliant idea!! I grabbed a small stack of my cloth wipes, a cereal bowl, and sea salt.  Filled the bowl with hot water (because salt dissolves better in hot water, doesn't it? I don't know for sure. . . ), added some salt, stirred it around, and then tossed the pile of wipes in the bowl, squeezed out the excess water, and slipped them in one side of my wet bag. It worked GREAT! I had a soft, soothing, cleansing, cloth on hand whenever Little Bit needed her nose wiped (and then just tossed the used ones in the other side of the wet bag), and no waste, or money spent (except a few cents worth of salt and water).

So, assuming you don't already have the whole cloth diapering set-up (which is another awesome way to go green, and save some green, but there's tons of information out there on that, I'll leave that to the "experts" to write about). Here are things that work well for cloth baby wipes, and cloth "kleenex":

  • cut an old t-shirt into squares (if you don't care about looks, no need to hem. I cut up a t-shirt when we were all sick probably 5 years ago, and other than some of them now being so thin they're almost see-thru (it was an OLD t-shirt to begin with), they work fine)
  • cut up some flannel or a thin flannel receiving blanket
  • Or get cheap baby washcloths from the dollar store, just make sure they're cotton, not a poly-blend)
If you don't have a handy-dandy wet bag like mine, and don't want to spend the money to get one. Two ziplocks would work too. One for the clean, wet cloths and one for the used ones. When you get home just throw the used ones in the laundry and rinse out that ziplock.

And there's my easy, cheap, homemade version of Boogie Wipes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker

Booksneeze sent me the Kindle version of Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker to review.

In this book, Lorilee Craker, who comes from a Mennonite background, explores how the Amish live frugally and what the rest of us can learn from them. Each chapter ends with a suggestion/challenge to implement a "baby step" version of the tips addressed in that chapter.

I was excited about this book. We can all use new ideas for frugal living, and I love learning more about the Amish. However, these tips all seemed VERY common sense to me. Who doesn't know that buying used, and not going into debt are ways to live more frugally? I also found it very unbelievable that, if she was raised Mennonite, she didn't already know all these things. If she had said "I'd forgotten this" or "I drifted away from these practices", fine, but if she was raised Mennonite, how did she not know these things, whether she followed them or not? All in all, if you are looking for some very basic tips about frugal living, with enjoyable tidbits and stories about the Amish thrown in, this would be a great book. If you already try to live within your means, and are looking for ways to further economize, I'd skip this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - June

We've had a good week. Started off HOT, we caved and turned on the AC for the week. But YAY! By Thursday it had cooled back down (highs around 80), so our windows are open again and I'm loving our extended spring!!!

We had a bit of "life cycle" learning this week. When I went to get some things out of our storage shed I heard kittens in the outer room (that has a window completely out, big enough opening for a cat to come & go with no problem). I determined the general area where they were, but didn't dig to find them. But later that day Rodney took the girls up to see them and they DID move things around to find them. Apparently they did more moving around than they should have, because when we checked on them a day or two later, they were dead :( The girls thought there were 3 originally, and there were only 2 when we went back, so it's possible that the mama cat (a stray who lived in the chicken coop near our house over the winter, and the girls named "Sneakers" (to keep with the footwear theme of Moccasin and Socks), took one kitten and abandoned the others? We were abit concerned that something had happened to Sneakers, but we saw her a couple times yesterday, so apparently not. Sad, but a part of life . . . and the girls handled it well.

One of the things I got out of the storage building were our boxes of board games that seemed SOO advanced for our girls when we moved here. Now, not so much . . . we sorted through, packed up some games and puzzles that are "between" the girls' ages right now, and kept out Battleship (the girls are loving it), monopoly (they'd outgrown the "Junior Monopoly" they've had for several years, so were ready to move on to the real thing), Jenga (which they played at a friend's house awhile back and liked, I don't think they've noticed that I added it to OUR game shelf yet though), and an old smurf game that was mine when I was their age. They haven't been much for games lately, so this is a nice way to re-excite them about games. And bonus, they're old enough now to play games together without me, so games don't have to be confined to Little Bit's naptime.  Having a few games to take with us to campmeeting next week will be nice too.

Speaking of games. Little Bit pointed to Candy Land today and wanted to play it (it's Dora Candy Land, she loves ANYTHING Dora right now). I wasn't sure if she'd understand the concept yet, but decided to try it. She completely "got it" right away. It's a tad too long for her, she burned out just as she was winning, and that was WITH getting a shortcut that shortened her game time quite abit. So it looks like for now I'll need to do what I did with the big girls when we first started playing, and "stack the deck" to make sure the game doesn't last too long.

In other news this week we stayed busy with school, cooking, and other "same old same old" stuff.

Little Bit's vocabulary continues to explode. She was singing "Wake up Mommy" and succeeded in waking MiniMe as well. MiniMe came in grumbling about having to wake up (it was time for them to be awake anyway), so when Little Bit said "Me wake up Sassy", MiniMe said "yeah, go sing your obnoxious song to Sassy" to which Little Bit promptly replied "me go. Sing noxious song Sassy" It was SOO funny!

This week we ended up with 2 date nights since the big girls were gone all last week. So Wed night Sassy had her date night (that should have been last week). She chose to go to Chipotles and Starbucks with Daddy. Rodney said she talked the WHOLE time . . . it's good for her to have Daddy's undivided attention once in awhile :)

And Thurs night Rodney & I had our date night. We went to Outback. The girls were excited to have Miss Starla come babysit.

Friday was GORGEOUS weather, and I desperately wanted to get the car cleaned out before campmeeting (next week). I'd hoped to do it Monday (Memorial Day) since Rodney was home, so I figured I could go out during Little Bit's nap and he'd be inside to hear her if she woke up. But it was SOO hot that day that I decided I'd just make it work some other time. So Friday was that time. I decided that, with all the windows open, if Little Bit TRULY needed me, we'd hear her (the big girls were playing outside, but near the house). I just wouldn't get there at the first little call of "Mommy, come get me" like I usually can. So went out during her nap anyway. I did the most thorough cleaning of the "passenger part" of the car that I've done in a LONG time (going through the junk that gets shoved in the seat pockets and such, and re-arranging the space by the driver's seat. Those are the 2 areas that I usually leave till last, and then it doesn't happen). So, 3 bags, and a bin of random stuff to put away in the house, and 3/4 of the outside trash can full of trash later, the girls can actually WALK to/from their seats in the car (they are now booster-seat-less too. They're still on the short side, based on the recommended height, but the practical requirements (legs bend at edge of seat, shoulder belt doesn't cut across their face) work, and they're old enough, and really wanted to ditch them, so we went with it. So that makes the seating space feel bigger too). The one area I didn't tackle was the very back, which is still very much on my "to do list". But after doing all that I did, I was nervous that it was too close to the end of Little Bit's nap to start another section with nobody in the house to hear her, so I left it for another day (was hoping on that day being today, but Rodney's sick, and Little Bit napped on the way home from the Farmer's Mkt, so that didn't work out. Will just have to make it work some day this week, either during her nap like I did on Fri, or set the big girls to playing with her outside.

We also started preparing food ahead for campmeeting. The girls made a double batch of Breakfast Cookies, that we had for breakfast one morning and froze the rest (easy breakfasts at campmeeting, woo-hoo!). And I made a batch of Overnight Granola (noticing a theme . . .easy breakfasts . . .).  Still lots of food prep-ahead I'm hoping to accomplish this week, but at least it's a start. Rodney will be staying at home, but coming up most evenings for a little while, so I'm hoping to "group" food in bags in the freezer (and middle of the kitchen floor for non-perishables) marked as to waht day I need them, and not have to try to have all the food there all week. We shall see . . .

So that was our week. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice week all around.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Home Keeper's Journal - Summer

This week the Journal is about Summer …………
During summer, my kitchen …… is the main source of added heat in our house, wish I could find some way around that . . . people way back when totally had the right idea with a separate summer kitchen!
One of my favorite things about summer is …when it's not too hot, and we can love being outside! And hearing the children having fun playing in the sprinkler!
One of the summer things I could do without  …. humidity! HATE it!!!!
A planned summer or take it as it comes?   ….. it's pretty "take it as it comes" this year. We have campmeeting coming up in about a week, but for the most part, we're playing things by ear.
Summer meals consist of …… in season vegetables, I love pasta salads and potato salads and such in the summer. Grilling whenever Rodney's home. . . smoothies and fresh fruit for breakfast, yum!
The last thing on my mind during summer is …… hmm, it must be so far from my mind, that I can't think of it LOL, nothing comes to mind!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weeky Wrap-Up - May 29 (on June 1)

I know, I know, it's already WEDNESDAY!!! (and the way this week is going, it could well be Thursday before I get this post finished & posted)

No excuse, I've just been busy with odds and ends of life . . .

So, this post is about LAST week . . . we were at my parents' house for basically the whole week. Any time we weren't busy running around, the big girls were busy helping Papa build the playhouse.

Monday we went to see the live butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens. The first year we went to this exhibit Sassy & Minimi were only a couple months old. They probably didn't get a whole lot out of that year's trip, but the rest of us enjoyed it. We haven't made it every year since then (though we might have made it every year until we moved away?) but every year we've gone, they've loved it.  As we went in, the volunteer letting us in, commented that Little Bit would "probably enjoy it more next year". Ummm . . . WHAT.EV.AR! Sure, she'll enjoy it just as much, and in different ways, next year, but this year we got the WONDER of it all!! We couldn't have chosen a better day (weather-wise. And going during the week, we usually go on Sabbath, but weren't there on Sabbath this trip, meant very few people, which was nice), it was warm enough that the butterflies were SUPER active, but not so hot that walking into the greenhouse was like walking into an oven. It did get warm after awhile, and we were ready to get out into teh cooler out-of-doors by the time we left, but if it's too hot of a day, walking into the greenhouse just hits you with this oppressive wall of heat that's almost unbearable.  Little Bit LOVED LOVED LOVED it! She kept saying "butterfies ebbyhare!!!" and "ooooooh coooot"

The big girls enjoyed it as well. One of the volunteers took a bunch of time to answer their questions and show them things. They learned to tell the difference between butterflies and moths, and other fun facts.

After we left the butterfly exhibit we walked through the gardens, visited the children's garden area briefly (it was getting pretty warm out), stopped to get a picture with the frog . . . fun stuff like that ,before heading to Baja Fresh for lunch.

Tuesday my friend Vicki and her girls came over to visit. Always great to spend time with them.  We usually go to their house, so her girls had fun with the climbing wall and spring horse and such at my parents' house.

Wednesday we went to the Baltimore Train Museum.  Little Bit had great fun with that too. And the big girls continue to find new levels of "learning" to keep them interested every time we go.

The big girls could also spend hours "playing house" in the caboose, and pretending to drive the big locomotives that they're allowed to go up inside and touch things. They invent some scenario where they're driving a train and they're happy for as long as we let them stay.

We about "lost" Little Bit in a train car that had a plexiglass "wall" to keep you off the military bunks. The plexiglass didn't go all the way to the floor and I just barely caught her before she crawled UNDER the "wall".

She also had great fun climbing the ladder to the observation seats in the caboose. And there's a new little kid area with Duplos/Megablocks, wood train tables, etc. So when she got tired of looking at trains, we took her there and she was happy as a clam. Oh yeah, and there's a little train you can ride. I wasn't sure how Little Bit would do in a seat all by herself, we did at least send the big girls so she wasn't alone on the ride. But she  LOVED it. The picture didn't quite manage to capture the big GRIN she had most of the time. And she kept saying  "choo choo".

Thursday morning Little Bit and I headed home but the big girls stayed for an extra day and went down into D.C. with Mama & Papa.

Friday afternoon Rodney & I dropped Little Bit off at our neighbor's house, where she spent her evening being doted on by Miss Judy and Miss Sara. Miss Judy had found a Dora doll at a yard sale, so she had that for Little Bit to play with.  Meanwhile, Rodney & I met Mama & Papa, and the big girls, at the Sight & Sound Theater to see Joseph. It was as amazing as the other shows we've seen there, the girls LOVED it!

Sabbath, the girls told the Children's story for church. They came up with the story all on their own, about one time when Socks, the cat, was missing and they prayed and he came home.

So, obviously we had a BUSY week. But it was fun.

Not much "regular" school stuff going on . . . we did try to stick with our Spanish vocab, but that was about it. They were busy learning math and engineering while helping on the deck/playhouse, science/nature while learning about butterflies, history at the train museum . . . yup, I'd say they did plenty of learning this week despite the lack of "school" LOL.

Comparatively this week has been positively boring, but I'll tell you about that in a few days, hee hee.

If you want to see more pictures from last week, you can go here.