Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recycling Paper

We recycled paper this past week.  Simply rip up newspaper, soak in water about half and half paper and water, put in blender until it is a fine mash and pour on a screen.  I had my dad make this frame and then we used a staple gun to add some screen to it but any screen will work.  Then let dry outside.  This allowed us to have a few large sheets of paper which we then painted.  Sorry I didn't take more pictures during the process!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Revolutionary reports

Recently the kids dressed up as famous Colonial Americans and read their reports on the famous people.  I went upstairs one day and Alex had on a pair of the girls tights.  He was so embarrassed he didn't put them on for the actual reports.  I just thought it was funny.  They did Betsy Ross, George Washington, John Adams, Martha Washington, and Abigail Adams.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bathtub Cleaning

I will add this post to show that I will let you into even the dirty parts of my house.  Homeschooling mom of 4 and 2 other not old enough to school yet does not leave much time for me to be homemaker extraordinaire.  I have daily chores for all the kids and extra chores they can earn extra money for.  I am not always good about enforcing some chores and I am not great about doing my own sometimes either.

One child offered to clean the tub which had gotten pretty bad with leaves from the plants around the tub and a pretty nice ring around it.  I gave him baking soda, a toothbrush, and dollar store scrub brush and he went to work.  It looked amazing when he was done and I paid him a quarter for this volunteer chore.

Two of the younger ones - the ones that always get into mischief - decided to help clean the upstairs bathroom.  They got baking soda and a scrub brush and it didn't quite look as nice after they were done, but nice effort though right? 

Friday, March 8, 2013

cloth diapering

We have been cloth diaper wanna bees for a long time.  Before we had our first child, we bought everything for cloth diapering Wal-Mart had to offer.  I guess I thought that if Wal Mart didn't have it, it didn't exist.  They had the old fashioned foldable cloths, the diaper covers, and the pins.  I didn't realize how low quality these were.  I just assumed they were similar to the ones I used to change my baby brother back when my mom cloth diapered all of us.  

They leaked and they were a big hassle.  We were split between home and day care at the time and we gave up.  Later, at a consignment sale, I saw some packages of diapers with Velcro.  I am not sure what kind of diapers they were but it was a padded all in one variety.  I tried again.  This time the velcro constantly rubbed babies legs and left red marks.  They only got worse the longer I left the diaper on and I quickly gave up again.

Attempt 3 came when we had our 5th child.  Our kids are very close together  (13 mo. apart, 13 mo. apart, 19 mo. apart, 16 mo. apart, and finally 3 years apart) so I was diapering no less than 2 and no more than 3 at a time my entire time as a mom.  This makes cloth diapering even more daunting.  Finally, when I just had 1 in diapers, I tried Sunbaby and Alva that someone had told me about.  It was so easy.  I couldn't believe how easy it was.  We saved a ton of money and my son, who was around 1 1/2 loved the cloth diapers better because he could pick which one to put on.  They were easier than what I had read.

I washed them twice when I first got them, and then after they got dirty, I put them in a little garbage pail on the dryer.  I wash with cold water and vinegar in the rinse cycle compartment and then wash again with regular clothes, now a couple years in, it is going well.  I haven't had to strip them yet or anything fancy.  I know some people wash with hot water but I read that the water in your washer is not hot enough to kill germs because it is the same temp. that hot water gets when you wash your hands in the sink- not hot enough to kill germs.  I read that in a few articles and unless the machine gets to 180 degrees, the germs are still there.  I hope the vinegar helps a little because I don't want to use bleach as the articles suggested.  I haven't had an issue yet but if anyone has suggestions, let me know.  I am not a pro!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Yogurt Making

I have recently attempted making my own yogurt.  I read many blogs on their attempts and there are many good methods.  The one that looked the easiest to me was the slow cooker method.  So I attempted that.

I poured between 1/2 and 1 gallon of whole milk in the slow cooker, this is not an exact science.  Then I let cook on low for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours or til the thermometer was at 180 degrees.  Then I turned it off and let it cool until it was cooler than 110 degrees (took around 3 hours).  I removed 2 cups or so of the liquid and mixed it with 1-1 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt then dumped it back in and whisked to mix.  I let it sit overnight wrapped in 2 large beach towels.

This worked pretty well but it was pretty runny - great for smoothies - not so great for a big bowl of yogurt.

On my next attempt, I added around a 1/2 cup of powdered milk (whisked into the milk) - I used nonfat store brand but I would like to find some whole fat - at the beginning before I turned on the heat.  Then after I wrapped the slow cooker in towels, I put it in the oven with the light on overnight.  These 2 additions made the yogurt thicker - still not super thick - but the first part I scooped out was very thick.  I used a canning funnel and jars to store.  I used the first couple jars for the kids yogurt, which they eat mixed with a little vanilla or fruit juice concentrate usually and then the second 2 runny yogurt in jars for my cherry smoothie.

Smoothie recipe:
1/2 - 1 c. frozen cherries
1-2 whole frozen bananas
1-2 c. milk
1 - 2 c. homemade (or store bought) plain yogurt or could use vanilla yogurt instead of ice cream
- a little ice cream or honey to sweeten - personally I like a scoop or 2 of ice cream and it makes enough for all of us to share.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Revolutionary Timeline

We were finishing up the Revolutionary War by doing this timeline.  I cut computer paper into fourths and then wrote important events including: the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the 1st Constitutional Convention, all the way to ratifying the Constitution.  Then I divided them up between the older 3 and even let the younger 2 draw a picture.  They had to write the date on it using books I checked out from the library and our old set of encyclopedias.  Then they drew a picture and added them to our timeline.  I got this large craft paper at the store and we have been using it for all kinds of things!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rosary Board

We have been saying a decade a day of the rosary since we started homeschooling.  I enjoy all the morning prayer, but the kids, not as much.  They "liked' the rosary for a while and then started complaining.  I didn't want to give it up so we started alternating with the Divine Mercy Chaplet to keep them interested and vary things a bit.  They were happier with that but I miss the meditation on Christ's life in the rosary.  I decided to make a rosary board.

I bought a large piece of thick poster board.  Then I added those sticky Velcro circles that I found in the sewing aisle of Wal Mart.  I attached them in the shape of a rosary adding a little more space between Our Fathers and Hail Marys.  My mom just happened to have tons of poker chips handy that they weren't using (not sure why) but she let me use them.   We just used what colors we had and put the matching piece of Velcro on them.

I also put 5 velcro circles for the prayer cards with the names of the decades.  I have the kids switch these out depending on which mystery we are doing.  Since taking the picture, I have also added a plastic cross for the kids to take off as we say the Apostles Creed.  I also added a "how to say the rosary" sheet in the blank space on the right.  The kids just take turns taking a poker chip off after each prayer.  The little ones especially love this as they had trouble staying in the right place on their rosaries.  We are going on 3 months of doing this now and the kids haven't lost interest yet.  They sometimes ask to say the whole thing.  I like the prayer cards too, because it focuses our prayer on the event we are meditating on.