Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Exciting Week in The SchoolRoom

I love having a large family. Having many children means I get the pleasure of revisiting major milestones and amazing discoveries over and over again. This past week was no exception. Esther and Gabe began their lessons in Cursive Writing. To most of you, that may not sound like much of a big deal, but around here, it is Big Stuff! My girls, especially, think learning cursive is the 'ultimate'. For some reason, they are willing to work painstakingly over their manuscript pages (plain ol' printing) to improve enough to get the 'OK' from Mom. Their printed letters miraculously improve, once we begin working on the loops and swoops of cursive. It is an amazing transformation, and so much fun to see the beaming smiles as the produce letters and words that only a week before were a mystery.

We also hung our timeline once again. The kids and I are very excited! They enjoy seeing the years all lined up and posting the people and events in history that we are studying. Right now, we have figures representing the events of Genesis 1 (creation, the Garden and the Fall), the birth and crucifixion of Christ, and the Pilgrims/Early Settlers. We'll be adding more as we work through units studying Courage and the War for Independence as well as the Presidents.

Fun and interesting stuff coming up!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Laundry Detergent

This morning, Bekah and I made up a new batch of laundry detergent. Thought I'd share my recipe with you. There are several homemade versions floating around out there. I've tried a few, mainly the liquid/gel type. A friend from MOMYS shared this one with me and I really like it. It only takes a few minutes to prepare, and the total cost is about $2. I double the ingredients for a month's worth (that would be about 30 loads).

1 bar of fels naptha soap, finely ground (in food processor)
1 cup borax
1 cup super washing soda
1/8 - 1/4 cup oxyclean (optional)

Mix and use. 1-2 tbs. per load. Works best if you let the powder dissolve before adding clothing (I let tub fill at least halfway first)

- because I don't have a food processor, I grate the soap with an old cheese grater, then give it all a few zaps in my blender on the 'pulse' mode.
- I think any bar soap would do. Experiment with your favorite brands!

Here you see my personal assistant grating the soap:

And then we add the other ingredients:

And voila! There you have it! Ready to tackle the mountain rising in the laundry room!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Traditions Old and New

Well, the holiday season is come and gone, a new year is in full swing.

I was thinking the other day about the perfect order in which of some of our most special holidays occur. First Thanksgiving, thanking God for all the ways He's sustained and protected us throughout the year. . . and then Christmas, a time to reflect on and be thankful for the Perfect Gift from God - the birth of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. . . and then a New Year! A clean slate! This year my goal is to live with an 'attitude of gratitude', as they say. I'm thankful for a Lord and Savior, who came so that He could die as the perfect sacrifice, so that I could have a clean slate - I'm grateful that each new day brings a new start.

These holidays also bring about a time to reflect and remember. I love the time of memory-sharing around the Thanksgiving Dinner table. This past Thanksgiving was especially sweet, having all 3 of my sisters and my Dad with us.

Christmas time is full of traditions, and with 6 children still at home, they don't let me forget a one of them! One of my favorites is the trimming of the tree. Dad takes the kiddos out to a cut-your-own tree farm and they choose the best on the lot, then after hauling it home, Mom whips up the hot chocolate while they get it into the stand and align it just right. Mom and Luke get the lights on the tree, then we break out the ornaments. Each child has their own collection, and Mom & Dad have their own collection. First ornaments on the tree are always the first ornaments I made the first Christmas Mike and I were married -- he found out in early December that year he'd be laid off at end of year -- so a frugal Christmas it was that year! I made our stockings from scraps of fabric I had around. We cut a cedar tree from a friend's farm nearby, and I made ornaments from pipe cleaners. Some still have the twisty-ties I made into ornament hooks! After all these years, I still enjoy seeing them on our tree along side newer and shinier ornaments. The kids enjoy hearing the story of that long-ago Christmas, year after year after year.

Last year we began a new tradition - we participated in an ornament exchange with my MOMYS (Mothers of Many Young Siblings) friends. The ornaments were based on the idea of a Jesse Tree. This is a collection of 25 different ornaments, each representing a person or event in the family tree and/or prophesy of Christ. It has been great fun, and the foundation for our family devotions during the month of December. Each day we unwrap one and read through the scripture references that explain its significance. The ornaments are all handmade and as unique as all the friends that made them. Instead of displaying them on a tree, we hang a pine garland over the pantry door and display them there - everyone can see them and enjoy them, and helps bring the story of Christmas to our minds often.

I pray you all are having a wonderful start to a glorious new year!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

FOR TODAY - January 5, 2010 . . .

I am trying something new.

Outside my window...
Sunshine and Snow

I am thinking...
how the sunshine really brightens my mood!

I am thankful for...
my helpers, who have done a great job packing away all the Christmas paraphernalia

From the learning rooms...
Back to the books today! After a nice break, we are getting back to our school books

From the kitchen...
homemade mac and cheese for supper, just for Emily

I am wearing...
heather blue jumper, white turtleneck and a cardigan sweater
my favorite apron

I am creating...
mufflers for the little boys. I have enjoyed pulling out my knitting needles and crochet hook again this winter.

I am going...
nowhere! But a dear friend and her kids are coming for a visit later today.

I am reading...
a civil war history book by Clarence Carson
A Mom Just Like You by Vicky Farris
The Landing of the Pilgrim (out loud at lunch)

I am hoping...
to have the laundry folded and put away before the day is through

I am hearing...
the sounds of stirring after a long winter's nap.

Around the house...
hustle and bustle as we put things in order

One of my favorite things...
a steamy cup of coffee on a quiet winter's morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
company tonight, quick trip to town tomorrow to deliver my friend's children, getting the router hooked up for our wireless connection, a birthday party on Friday, but mostly back to normal, boring, regular routine

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

My Snow Maiden - after sledding head first into a snow drift

A BIG thank you to Peggy over at 'The Simple Woman's Day Book' for the inspiration of the blog post - you can visit her at:


I think I like this - maybe I'll share my daybook with you from time to time. I pray your day is a wonderful one!

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