Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Easter!

I know it is a few weeks early, but I wanted to share a few of our sweet little Easter pictures.  A friend/client of mine had a sweet white bunny named "Ace" and she brought him to share with us for our photoshoot (right after her little cutie!).  She also picked up some baby chicks for us!  They were so adorable.  Apparently, Jaxon thought they were edible. :)

I loved the little chicks.  However, I did not realize how hard it was to keep them alive.  It makes me a little bit sad to look at these pictures now, since three of our sweet baby chickens are no longer with us. :(  I've been super paranoid since starting to "lose" chicks about kids holding them for photos.  So far it has worked okay to let them gently hold them or just "be" in the photos unheld.  I seriously feel like I have five children now...ha ha!  They are definitely spoiled little things!  They will be going to live on a farm really soon--since they are starting to get bigger and grow feathers.  They won't manage well in our neighborhood, even though they are having fun in the backyard today. :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday Jonas Andrew! 02/25/09 changed my life in the most wonderful way!  God gave me and Jon a bouncing, constantly in motion, hilarious, hard-headed, stubborn first-born {like his mama}, wonderful, perfect, crafty, super smart, but still not potty-trained all the way daddy's boy! :)

 Jonas isn't really much of a picture taker....it takes some prodding and bribing, but he did pretty good this day.  Maybe he really is growing up! :)  I always say it was God's sense of humor, giving a child who hates being photographed/refuses to give natural/normal looking smiles to a photographer mommy.  ;)
 Jonas is 42 inches tall and 47 lbs...as of his 3 year old checkup!  Right at the 100th percentile...maybe a little above. ;)  Very solid.  Strangers constantly say, "He's only three?", which is a little frustrating since he says he's four and sometimes we want him to eat free....ha ha! :)
 Holding tight to his balloons!  He loved them!
 It was very hot, so bless his little red faced heart....lol.  Jonathan and I were discussing how we always looked sweaty and red-faced in photos as a kid.  {add sweaty messed up bangs in my case}  I guess he got it honestly from both sides.  He is still a little stud though! :)  You can see his fingers still clinched around his balloons. 
I can't believe my first born son is already three years old!  Time sure does fly.  He wishes it would fly a little faster...he tells everyone he's four (almost to the point that I believe him!).  ;)


A soft answer...

I struggle with my response sometimes. Usually this is aimed toward my husband or Jonas. I'm not proud of it, but I realize there are others out there like me. That have a shorter fuse toward those we care for the most. Well, Jonas is much like I am in his personality. Strong natured first born. Sometimes loud and stubborn. I find more often than I'd like to admit that I am getting on to him. And not always in the kindest way possible. I've been specifically praying this week that God would help me respond to him in the right ways. Especially when he is being repeatedly disobedient (reminding me of the children of Israel). Well it has really been a burden. I don't want to "snap" or yell or nag or fuss. I want to have effective soft discipline. You know, those quiet, discreet moms you see that softly almost inaudibly tell their kids something and their kids obey? I want that. I want a peaceful demeanor. Especially in public. I don't want to be one of those ladies you hear screeching across Walmart uelling at their kids (or hubby) I don't want eyes of pity directed toward my kids because their mom embarrasses them in public. Unfortunately I am loud and gaudy and shorter fused than I'd like. So this is a huge prayer request.

Anyways. The reason I am sharing all this is because I seriously just started "praying the verse" about having a soft answer that turns away wrath. I didn't know the reference or anything. Then after I finished my John study for the day and prayed I decided to read the Proverbs for today (chapter 15). First verse, "A soft answer turners away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." How cool is that?!?!?

Who says God doesn't guide us in even the little things? Like showing us just what to turn to in our Bibles!

:) just thought I'd share one of my more personal struggles and how awesome my God is! Have a great "soft answer" kind of day!

The Wilds

Jon and I spent a refreshing time at a youth workers conference in Brevard, NC last week. There were lots of great sessions that gave us ideas and spiritual encouragement. We met some new friends and had some great time together. Might have had a twinge too much coffee. :)

Here I go being CHEAP again...Laundry Detergent

People do it all the time.

I was first introduced to it when I saw the Duggar's do it on TLC.

I planned on doing it for a long time.

What am I blogging about?  Making homemade laundry detergent!

I did it once before, and failed...here's that quick story:
     The first time I decided to make my own detergent, I was looking for a cloth diaper friendly version.  I got the recipe from diaperswappers.com.  It was basically the same recipe I used this time, only I had been convinced that I needed lye soap (so I paid a fortune for some off etsy, it does smell nice and came already grated = score!).  So that was one downer...the $$$ I spend on homemade, natural, organic, lye soap.  Second downer - someone incorrectly told me that I could use baking soda interchangeably with washing soda.  Since I couldn't find washing soda, I used the baking counterpart.  So I had a huge batch of lye soap + borax + baking soda.  Never worked right, nor dissolved right, so it sits on my laundry shelf.  I have since found a recipe that adds a few other ingredients to that mixture (though I don't know what exact measurements I used...) that I might try to add and fix that wasted product.

But enough with the failure!  I did it...I finally did it...I made liquid laundry detergent--enough for TEN WHOPPING GALLONS of detergent!





Here's the low down scoop -
One bar Fels Naptha
One Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
Water

I watched a YouTube video of the mom over at www.themorristribe.com make it before I did.  She had a lot of quick pointers and  tidbits.  There are tons of recipes out there, but this one was quick, inexpensive, and it worked for that mom of ten kids, so I figured it could work for me too.  I wanted to do the liquid version since the powder had a hard time dissolving in cold water, and I wash 98% of my laundry on cold.




Here's what you're supposed to do:
1.  Grate your soap (Fels Napth, Dr. Bronners, Zote, Castle).  You can do this by hand or with a food processor.  {Mrs. Morris always had separate things for use with detergent--a reserved pot, spoon, grater, etc. I used my food processor and dishwashed, then hand washed it, so I think it would be fine to use things for more than one purpose...at least I hope it is.  I did reserve a spoon and grater just because I had extras and I hated cleaning the grater.)










2.  Cover the soap with water (recipe says 4 cups, but who cares??) and melt the soap.  Stir pretty much constantly and just watch it until it is melted.




3.  Pour into a 5 gallon bucket, and add some water.


4.  Mix powders.  ***Be careful not to inhale this.  I had a headache the rest of the day after making this.  Pretty caustic.  I will probably do my mixing outside next time.  Just FYI.
5.  Pour half your mixture into another 5 gallon bucket and then fill both buckets to the top and stir.
6.  Let sit overnight.  Will gell up, just whisk.  Pour into jugs or store with lid in bucket.

Use 3/4 cup per load for top loader (that is for very large, dirty loads.  I use that much all the time.  This is not a sudsing/bubbly detergent.  Apparently that is an additive that producers of detergent add so you think it cleans better)




What my final product looked like: {pre-overnight gel stage)  After this was done, I set it in the garage overnight.  It got gelled and lumpy.   I just put 1/2 water, 1/2 detergent in my bottles everytime I run out. :)


Some adaptations I made and some questions maybe you can answer:
1.  Instead of dividing into two 5 gal buckets to make 10 gallons, I just filled up one 5 gal bucket and decided as I used it, I would then dilute it 1/2 detergent 1/2 water.  Same difference, only a thicker detergent in bucket.  Anyone know a reason why this should be a problem?
2.  Like I wrote above, I will probably do the mixing outside next time.
3.  I have heard some people say that you should use distilled water so that no mildew or bacteria grows.  I am thinking soap is naturally cleansing/antibacterialish so why would that grow?  It doesn't grow in my other cleaners.
4.  Question for you detergent making mommas:  Why even dilute my mixture?  Why not make my 5 gallon bucket and instead of diluting it every time I refill my bottle at my washer, would it not work to treat it as a "concentrate" and just use 1/2 the amount?  The washer will fill with water, so why dilute it?  Does that help for some reason?  I was thinking if I use 3/4 a cup for a load diluted, I could just leave it undiluted and use 1/2 as much.  Thoughts?
5.  Is 3/4 cup too much?  I don't see how a few tablespoons is enough in a front loader and I need so much.  But it is cheap so if this is okay, I'm fine with it.  I would love to hear some thoughts. :)


Okay, so results?  I am completely pleased.  My clothes come out not overly scented but smelling clean and fresh.  I think it cleans just as well as store bought.  If I want heavy smell I just use fabric softener or dryer sheets for scent.  I think it was a total success.  I still have a few questions about technique but overall I am pleased...and even though I keep saying I'm going to buy one more bottle of store bought so I have a nice big recycled jug to use for my homemade detergent, I can't bring myself to spend the money when this great homemade detergent costs just pennies per load!  WOW!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Creating Fossils...

I saw a post on pinterest that led me to another site with kid ideas...she has TONS of great ideas, and I love how she embraces messy ideas for kids.  Inspired me to let Jonas do more crafty things!!

Check her out here:  http://www.playcreateexplore.com/2010/09/make-your-own-dinosaur-egg-or-treasure.html, you can click the post title as well to get there!!  Awesome resource for moms and teachers!

The basic directions included used coffee grounds, salt, sand, flour and water.

What you Need:
She mentioned doing this recipe x4, so that is what I did.  Here's what my "mudpies" looked like:
 The pan ready for baking...I was rushing it a bit...too excited! :)
 The mini dinos that I put inside the fossils...
 What they looked like post baked...I let them dry the rest of the week in the air, so they ended up all the lighter gray/brown color.  Not wet in the center.  :)  My brother asked if they were cookies (gross!), I on the other hand thought they resembled dark rocks, or maybe cow patties...lol.  Who'd want to eat that? 

For a smaller batch, use:
    •1 cup flour
    •1 cup used coffee grinds (got mine from starbucks!)
•1/2 cup salt
•1/4 cup sand
•3/4 cup water
•mixing bowl
•small plastic toy dinosaurs or other treasures
She suggested letting the coffee grounds dry out.  That might make it work better, or smell less like coffee, but I did not do this.  I figured if you're adding water to the mix, why set it out to dry?  So I didn't. In fact, my sand was from our sandbox, that was wet from the lid not being replaced, so wet coffee grounds + wet sand = I didn't add much water...
Directions:
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
2. Slowly add the water and knead with your hands until the mixture is like bread dough.
(I did not dry anything out, so I just mixed it all and added more water slowly.)

3. Once you have moldable dough, press it around your dinosaur or whatever treasure you are putting inside.  I used mini dinosaurs. 

4. You can air dry these for several days OR bake them on a cookie sheet at 150 degrees for about 15-20 or until you poke them and they arent soft anymore.
(My dino eggs were fairly large, so I baked them for about 45 minutes, AND my oven did not go as low as her directions said, so I baked them at 170, the lowest setting I had.  I think mine baked for over an hour.  Surprisingly the toys were fine.  I worried they'd melt.)
 I pretty much just put these down the center of my tables where people ate.  Once the games started, the kids were able to open a few and keep their prizes.  It was a hit! :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Life Cycle of a Pinata

For Jonas's third birthday, he requested a "Dinosaur Party".  He talked about it for weeks...maybe months.  Upon searching for birthday supplies, I found that I was not crazy about what I could find.  Not a big fan of the "scary looking" dinosaurs.  Most plates had big t-rex's with huge gnarling teeth flashing.  Not very 3 year old friendly. 

So, I decided one thing I could make myself is a pinata.
This is how I started...a "punching" balloon (you know, the kind with the rubber band hooked to it so you can make it go --bam bam bam bam bam!).  I covered the "Belly button" where the rubber band was with a styrofoam cup...the beginning of the tail skeleton.

Next, I cut our spikes out of cereal box cardboard and taped them on.  Next time, I will use duct tape.

Then I used a paper towel roll and more cardboard to make feet.  I wasn't thrilled with the feet in the end.  They needed to be "beefier" but this was my first try... :)

I added a smaller balloon for a head, and used more cardboard to attach it and make a "neck".  I then used newspaper and wrapped them around the cup and twisted them into the end of the tail and secured with tape.  I don't have a picture of all that though. :(

One thing I learned is that, if your skeleton is fragile, the end resulting pinata will be fragile.  I ended up stapling with a staple gun the tail back on pre-party because it fell off.  So I will use more duct tape.  I also popped on balloon and had to transfer the tail and spikes over to a new balloon.  I was trying to recycle a plastic container for the neck.  I was cutting it to make a better curve, and the sharp plastic edge popped him.  So no plastic...and more duct tape. :)

After I did the paper mache (One part flour to five parts water...the first time I "cooked" it like I read online, after talking to some friends, I just used flour and water, and it worked fine.)

My box of strips...

My paste:  The non-cooked kind.  The cooked kind was much thicker, and worked too. :)

Here's what the final skeleton looked like:
  Pretty cute, huh?

I was going to paint him, but decided to use a tissue paper technique instead...layer upon layer of fringed tissue.  Here's the final product...

 As you can see I added construction paper polka dots and some paper eyes.  All in all I was happy.  He was a little more "lizard-like" than I wanted, but he was a friendly dinosaur.  :)  Jonas loved him.  And he thought it was great breaking him open with a stick...I could have cried after the hours it took to make him, but as long as Jonas had fun, it was worth it.  Oh, and it cost me about $5 to make, so that is awesome!! :)  Store bought ones are way smaller and more expensive. 

More dino details to come!

Then on to planning my Jaxon's owl party!!