Butterfly Craft

It’s craft time up in here!  I love craft time.  I try to use limited instructions and I love seeing what my kids create.  Today we made butterflies.

To make these you’ll need tissue paper, scissors, paints, brushes, markers, clothes pins, pipe cleaners and glue sticks.
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You can either paint the clothes pin:

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Or use markers:

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Next, cut your tissue paper in half:

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Then in half again:

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Then, fold the tissue paper squares in the middle of the square as you would  a fan:

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Now, stuff the middle of the tissue paper “fan” into the “mouth” of the clothes pin (this is where you could use a little glue to hold the wings in place):

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Then add the pipe cleaner and wrap it around for antenna:

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Make an entire kaleidoscope of butterflies!IMG_4957

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So fun to play with!

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Happy Spring crafting!!

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The Second Trimester

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About a week and half ago, we finished our first trimester of Oak Meadow.  I still really like this curriculum but I’ve decided we are going to supplement with Singapore Math and Easy Grammar (I feel math and grammar are the only weak spots in the curriculum).  I might also add a Latin program to the mix such as Prima Latina.  Another program I love (my mother used it with me as a child) is English from the Roots Up.  But I digress…  (I love books and learning and curriculum.  I could go on forever…)

As a reward (for all of us) in accomplishing the first trimester, we took a much needed Spring Break last week.  I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had planned (duh) during the school break but the kids had a good time and so did I.  And now, slightly more refreshed, we are beginning the second trimester.  This trimester I hope to put weekly lesson plans up on the blog and some information on how we are making this school year a success.

My goal and theme for this trimester is to stay positive.  To put a happy twist on each day.  Yesterday we welcomed the second trimester into our lives with happiness and excitement.  Children need to be guided in their days to feel a certain way about their tasks.  It is my job to set a precedent for each day so they know it is something special–a gift to be a part of this moment.  Here’s to a joyful week!

Happy Spring!

No ‘Poo

I’ve read several times about “no ‘poo” as it’s made it’s way around the interent.  “No ‘poo” (no shampoo) is the method of washing your hair with baking soda instead of traditional shampoos.  I was skeptical that it would work for me.  I have really course, wavy, dry hair and didn’t want to make it worse.  Over the years I have spent a lot of money on expensive hair products and was always looking for something better because nothing worked.  I also hate all the chemicals in regular shampoos, so I’ve been using more natural products but they weren’t treating my hair kindly either.  In an attempt to improve my hair and to become more crunchy, I finally took the plunge.

I got some squirt bottles, some baking soda and some vinegar.  Even after the first wash I could tell a positive difference in the condition of my hair. Now, three weeks later, I’m hooked.  I won’t go back.  Even my husband uses it and has been impressed.  Also, it costs pennies.  PENNIES, people!  The best thing I’ve found for my hair costs hardly anything. It’s natural, it’s cheap and it actually works!  My hair is shiny, less frizzy, has less split ends, doesn’t tangle, styles better and is so, so sof!    I’m in love.

There have been a couple times I’ve wanted to cleanse using some actual soap so I used Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Liquid Soap before using the baking soda and it worked beautifully.

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Here’s how you do it:

Get a couple condiment type squirt bottles. (I got mine from Target)

Fill one with about 4 Tbs of baking soda and then fill with water.  (This will take some adjustment for your hair type, length etc–you want it to feel “slimy” on your hair when you use it)

Fill the other with half apple cider vinegar and half water.  (You can also use the vinegar straight) The vinegar acts as a conditioner and is purely optional.  I have found the longer I use the baking soda the less I need vinegar with every wash.

When in the shower, wet hair, squirt the baking soda mixture all over your scalp and work it through your hair.

Rinse.

Pour the vinegar onto the ends of your hair and leave on for a few minutes (I found it smelled more if I put it on my scalp so I keep it on the ends but you can do either).

Rinse.

Dry hair (once it is dry you will not be able to smell the vinegar at all).

I use olive oil on my hair as a leave in treatment (just a few drops) and it works perfectly as a styling agent, de-frizzer and conditioner.

My hair has never been in such good shape–it’s amazing.

The Binky Bucket

Our third baby is an interesting little critter.  She is very sweet, very strong willed, and very awake.  She has not been a great sleeper and we are just now getting full nights sleep (10 months after she was born).  She relies on comfort items like a specific blanket, a special doll, a binky, mom or dad… But the binky is the most important.

The only binky she has ever liked is the one she got at the hospital–the little round Soothies where you can see the inside of their mouths through the nipple.  Yup, the alien binky.  They are funny looking things–almost as big as a newborn’s head.

Oh, and they bounce.

And once they have bounced, they roll long ways in unintuitive directions.

And vanish.

Mostly when you need them with urgency.

Which is usually in the middle of the night when you can’t see and are stumbling in the dark trying to get to the whimpering baby as fast as you can.  You’ve got to get that binky back to her before she wakes all the way up.

But where is it?!

It has fallen out of the crib bars and bounced and rolled into unseen places.

The other day hubby and I went to the store and bought six extra binkies.  For a total of nine.  We cleaned them and put them in a bowl.  On our dresser.  Where we can find them.

Every.

Single.

Night.

Introducing The Binky Bucket:

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It’s the simple things that make life easier.

Lenten Weekly Menu

This week is the beginning of Lent (for us Orthodox Christian peeps).  We are doing things a little differently this year since I am still breastfeeding my youngest.  I’ve had a low milk supply and don’t want to mess with supplements or the nutritional complications of going vegan so we are just going vegetarian.  As a side goal, I’m going to be cooking more gluten free as well.    And since nursing or pregnant women are usually exempt from the Lenten fast, my family is as well since I don’t want to cook multiple meals.  So until May 5th, the menu will be strictly vegetarian, mostly gluten free, and some dairy here and there.

I love to cook interesting buttery meaty meals so coming up with a menu this week has been a little un-motivating.  But for the rest of the week our menu looks like this:

Wednesday:   Tofu Stir Fry

Thursday:   Lentil Soup with gluten free bread

Friday:   Bean Enchilada Casserole 

Saturday:   Polenta Pizza

Sunday:   Tempe Salad

 

Debt Repayment and Lifestyle Sacrifice Part I

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I’m going to stray from my typical posts for a minute and talk about debt repayment.

My wonderful husband and I got married 4 years ago.  We were still in college (I was finishing up my Bachelors degree and he was finishing up his Masters degree) and when we graduated we had a pile of student loans.  We were both glad to have gotten higher education but the loans weighed heavily on both of us.

Hubby got a well paying job directly out of grad school (such a blessing) and we immediately  started making payments on the loans. Of course, when you have one child and another on the way, food expenses, rent in an expensive city, clothing, diapers, medical bills etc., you are only paying on interest.  We were financially stressed knowing we would be paying these loans off for the next 30-40 years.  We were also trying to buy a house (which didn’t work out).  It was an incredibly stressful situation for a newly married couple.

I have always sworn to never be that person that stresses over money. Never be that mom that can’t make a purchase without freaking out about the budget.   I watched my parents fight about finances almost my entire life and I swore that would not be my path.  But as soon as we joined bank accounts after getting married, and I stopped adding any money to the pile, I freaked.  I did not know how to handle spending “my husband’s money.”  I felt like an intruder and the student debt stress multiplied that by about 100.  Every cent I spent at the grocery store “could have gone to student loans,” I’d tell myself constantly.

So finally, we decided not to worry about it.  We could make minimum payments until we felt we could do more.  I needed to be able to cook for the family and clothe the children without feeling guilty about the looming debt.  We left the city a few months later (our new four month old and our 5 year old in tow) and moved into a remote little house in the mountains.

The debt still loomed but our rent was slightly cheaper. I was able to budget more strictly since I had to plan my grocery trips  in advance of the 45 minute drive to the super market and we were less concerned about nice clothes.    Halfway through our stay on the mountain top, we acquired a huge amount of medical debt due to a fraudulent health insurance company.  This crushed us even further and the weight of our debt was now drowning us.  We did not know how we would get out of it.

After a long string of events, our mountain paradise turned out to be too isolating for us and a painful commute for my husband.  This is when we decided to try and buy a house again.  Our rational was that we were so far into debt, it didn’t matter if we added a house to the pile.  We needed stability (after moving 3 times in the last 3 years.) We needed convenience to work, school,  and shopping.  We were ready to settle down.

We put down money on a new build and broke ground on a house in the suburbs.  As our current lease got closer to ending, we found out our new house would be finished about three months later than we had thought it would be.  Oh, and I was 7 months pregnant with our third child.  So we decided to move in with our in-laws for a couple months after our lease ended, and prior to our new house being built.  I would have the baby in their small town and hubby would work remotely.  Then, when the baby was just a couple weeks old, we would move into our new palace.  It was an exciting time full of hope as well as acceptance of our pile of endless debt.  We were living the American dream (debt and all).

More to come….