Thursday, July 30, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent - It's Chic!

Seriously...everywhere I turn I'm hearing about people making their own laundry detergent now. I'm not usually one to follow the crowd, but I have to admit I've been a bit intrigued.

So when I was sitting in our Sunday school class the other day and overheard two friends mention they were planning to get together and try their hand at making a homemade laundry detergent recipe, I completely interrupted to announce, "I want to, TOO!"

So the next day three families all gathered for homemade pizza. After dinner, the dads took all the kids across the street to a local playground and we three moms headed outside to make our homemade laundry detergent.

We decided on a powder recipe as it was less work than the much more popular liquid recipes. And it was very easy to make.

Here's what you need:

A large sealable container
A cheese grater
1 bar of Fels Naptha soap (you can also use other strong bar soap like Ivory)
1 1/2 c. of washing soda
1 1/2 c. of borax

We got everything at a local grocery store.

All you do is grate your bar soap and mix everything together in your container. Very simple. We made 5 batches in less than 15 minutes and split it up equally.

Here's what it looks like:

The Fels Naptha soap has a nice, clean smell and the aroma fills up my laundry room while its washing, but it doesn't leave a smell at all on the clothes once they've been dried. You only need to add 2 Tbs. of the laundry detergent to each load of clothes. I add it in first and get the water going before I put in my clothes.

It's worked really great for me. I washed one of H4's blankets the other day...she calls it "softie" and carries it everywhere. It's a solid white, fuzzy blanket and had gathered many dirty stains from all the "love" it had received. It came out the wash stain-free except for two small pink spots of fingernail's not a miracle worker, afterall. But I was quite pleased!

We figured the cost at about $3.30 a batch and figured that one batch would last for about 96 loads. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Our plan is to try the liquid version next to see which one we like best. I'll keep in you in the know!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Well, we had fun making it..."

So I came across this blog, Filth Wizardry, a couple weeks ago. It's chock full of fun and crafty ideas to do with your kids.

After reading her post "Hotdog and Spaghetti culinary terror" , I simply had to try it out.

I gathered the kids around the table and handed them a plate of chopped up, un-boiled hotdogs and a handful of uncooked spaghetti. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd type.
And then the skewering began.

The kids were really very serious about their creations.

Finally, a mess of hotdogs were skewered and ready to be boiled.

Aren't they funny looking...yeah, I didn't eat any.

The kids however were ready to gobble them up...that is until they discovered that the spaghetti inside the hotdogs still had a little crunch to them. Then they all opted for leftover sub sandwhiches from the day before.

G8 tried to console me with, "Well, Mom, we did have fun making it..."

I think the biggest problem was that I cut the hodogs too big. They should of been bite-sized pieces. They probably could've used some shredded cheese or sauce to make them a little more appetizing as well. The post at Filth Wizardry also shows a healthier option of skewering chunks of turkey and carrots.

We might try these 'blooming snacks' for our next culinary experiment. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Science Fun - Betelgeuse

We have been studying a little about space and stars recently in our science studies for My Father's World. The other day we learned about the superstar Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetle Juice). Ever heard of it? I hadn't.

My Father's World explained that it is the largest star that we can see with the naked eye. I wasn't able to confirm that online, but I did find several sites that confirmed that the size of Betelgeuse is about 650 times bigger than the sun.

...Which is why we needed to head outside for the little experiment MFW suggested...

First we drew the sun on a piece of paper shrinking it down to a one-inch diameter. (The dot is the approximate size of the earth comparatively.)

Then we went outside to measure out approximately 650 inches using a yard stick. (Yes, my kids are still in their pajamas.)

In the picture above you can see three of the kids. The two furthest away represent the approximate diameter of Betelgeuse in comparison to our one-inch sun. A7 is in the middle holding our picture of the sun.

Here's a close-up.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

This looks like fun!


Curriculum Clean-Out carnival from August 2nd to August 15th. Check out Jolanthe's blog for details! Pin It Now!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Learning Centers Update

I recently updated our learning centers and wanted to show you how they look now.

Before I just had a couple of things at each center. But the kids were becoming bored more quickly than I hoped and I didn't want to have to change out the learning centers that often. As you can see above, Learning Center 1 now has 5 containers. Each container holds a different activity.

Box #1: A Math game that we had.

Box #2: Assorted Puzzles.

Box #3: Math manipulatives and scale.

Box #4: Worsheets about weather printed from

Box #5: Lace-up patterns and string.

I attached a baggie to the wall with slips of paper folded inside. The kids "Pick a Number" from the baggie and play with that box when they get to the learning center.

Learning Center #2 is set up the same way, except there are only 3 boxes.

Box #1: Math Wrap-ups

Box #2: Free printables from SparkleBox about plants.

Box #3: A box of our File Folder Games. (You can purchase Integritas Academy File Folder Games Collection 1 CD-Rom on our website for only $15! The files to 17 games are included, all geared toward pre-K through 3rd grade students.)

I moved our Art Center to a bigger table and added some construction paper, crayons, scissors, and glue.

I added a sign with construction paper ideas. (This idea sheet came with my pack of construction paper.)

I taped three pieces of yarn to the table for the kids to practice braiding.

I'm always inspired to draw when looking at pretty pictures of wildflowers. Attaching an index card to this book and sitting it on the art table adds another simple activity for our little ones.

Truly, our learning centers are quite simple. I use what we have and as you can see, I spend little time on making it pretty. I'll continue to change boxes out when I have the time, but it's been well over a week now and the kids are still entertaining themselves quietly at the centers.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sense & Sensibility Patterns

As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

My 2nd year of reviewing products for the TOS Homeschool Crew has officially begun and I now have fun products arriving in my inbox and on my doorstep. One of the first products I received was an e-bundle from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. This is quite a unique online company ran by a homeschooling mom, Jennie Chancey, who has created a line of vintage patterns. She offers her patterns in print, as a download, and through live and MP3 classes.

I was very excited to learn that I would be reviewing the Girl's Edwardian Apron Class and E-Pattern. It's an absolutely adorable little apron that I knew my girls would love. And since the website boasted that "This is a fantastic pattern to use as a mother-daughter project to teach sewing!" I thought that perhaps...just limited sewing skills would be enough to complete this project.

I was well..sort of...right.

Since I had never actually sewn from a pattern before, I read through all of the directions and watched the entire class before beginning. It was incredibly helpful to have the class. As you listen, you can click through slideshow of pictures. This makes it very easy to pause the MP3 and actually make the apron step-by-step with the class. Each step of the pattern's instructions are thoroughly covered including lots of helpful tips from Jennie and links to additional videos at the end.

Nevertheless, I still felt slightly inadequate to attempt this all on my own. So I decided to call in friend, Cheri, who actually has sewing skills. She very graciously agreed to bring her kids over to play with mine and help me to make the apron.

Now, I should pause to tell you the things that I needed help with and admit how minimal my sewing skills previously were so that you understand why I needed the additional help despite the class offered by Sense and Sensibility. First and foremost, because I had never used a pattern before, I didn't actually know how to cut out a pattern....or even measure my daughter correctly. Neither of these were covered in the class or e-pattern instructions, nor would I necessarily expect them to. Also, occasionally the pattern would call for a different stitch, like a zig-zag stitch or a basting stitch and I wasn't sure how to set my sewing machine to do these stitches. Other than that, the instructions and class were quite thorough enough for me to attempt on my own. But it was SO nice to be able to watch Cheri do a step, and then repeat it or to just confirm with her that I was reading the instructions correctly since it was my first sewing project from a pattern.

Before Cheri arrived, I printed out the e-pattern. It was 25 pages that needed to be pieced together and taped. There were instructions on how to do this including video links to demonstrate that I found quite helpful. This part actually seemed quite easier than I expected to and I wouldn't hesitate to purchase an e-pattern and do it this way again.

Cheri helped me to measure my daughter, A7, and cut out the pattern and fabric. Then we began working through the pattern step-by-step. It took about 5 hours total to complete the apron...the last hour I was working on my own.

And the finished product...

The Girl's Edwardian Apron features straps that criss-cross in the back and tie which allow for easy adjustments as the child grows. The pattern includes sizes 2-14. A Yardage Chart is available online. *Note about Yardage Chart: The Girl's Edwardian Apron features a bias binding around its edges. Jennie's instructions on how to make your own bias binding are included in the pattern or you can purchase pre-made binding. Since I had experience with using pre-made bias binding, I went ahead and purchased that. However, even though the pattern only called for 3 1/4 yrds of double fold bias binding for the size I was making, I actually used almost 6 yards. So I'd advise buying extra bias binding if you don't plan to make your own.

Here's the front of the apron with the very-handy deep pockets. A7 loves, loves, LOVES her apron! She literally wore it all day long. I'm planning to make H4 a matching apron.

The Girl's Edwardian Apron E-Bundle that includes both the MP3 class and e-pattern is $24.95. You can purchase the print version of the pattern for $12.95 or instantly download the e-pattern for $7.95. Sense & Sensibility's website has many other patterns for purchase, including the original Edwardian Apron for women and other beautiful patterns from the Regency, Romantic, Edwardian, Titanic, and Swing Eras.

I so enjoyed conquering my fear of sewing from a pattern. I loved the finished product and how much A7 enjoys her apron. And I thought the e-pattern instructions and class were extremely helpful. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Sense & Sensibility Patterns to anyone who enjoys sewing and is looking for unique and historic patterns.

Don't forget that I'm not the only one reviewing Sense & Sensibility Patterns. You'll find other homeschool moms' reviews on the TOS Crew Blog!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No sibling rivalry here.

When L1 decided to plop down in E2's lap the other day, I couldn't resist taking a few photos. E2 cheesed it up right away and didn't want me to stop taking pictures.

A sweet kiss from big bro.

They really do love each other. E2 looks out for L1 and she squeals "La la!" every time he comes into the room. I have no idea what that means, but she seems to identify her siblings that way.

This is E2's trademark grin and L1's "perfect princess" stare. They've certainly won me over. Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Glorious Fourth

We took a trip up to Indianapolis to enjoy the Glorious Fourth at Connor Prairie last week. Connor Praire is a living history outdoor museum letting guests experience life in the early 1800's firsthand.

A few of the things we did while we were there:

-Created 'Thank you' letters to be sent overseas to our soldiers.

-Watched up close as people were taking rides on an 1859 style hot air balloon.

-Learned about and tried our hand at loom weaving.

-Participated in candle dipping.

-Sat in a one-room schoolhouse and received a lesson on "ciphering".

-Hubby scored 15 ft in the watermelon seed spitting contest...G8 scored 5 ft...I passed.

-The kids briefly joined the militia and were trained in the proper way to hold a musket and march.

-There were some women quilting outside one of the period homes and they let the kids try it out as well.

-Played dress-up in the playroom.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's Gorgeous!

Only a M.O.M. (Mom Of Many) can truly appreciate the beauty of a 15 passenger van!

You see, this is what we have been driving for the past seven years...
It's been a good van...but it's a worn out van. It has 235,ooo+ miles on it. It has a large rusted dent in the passenger side door (my fault). A half a gallon of light blue wall paint was spilled and dried into the carpet in the back (also my fault). And we haven't had air conditioning in the van in five years.

This is what the inside looks like...

Look a little strange to you? Well, I was just certain that God would provide a BIG van (with air) for us well over a year ago when I was pregnant with L1. After all, she was number 6 and we only had enough room for 5 children in the back of our worn out van. But alas, God had different plans...the funds for a BIG van never worked, but we were able to get an extra bench seat at a local junkyard that matched our van's interior perfectly for free! My husband took out the middle two bucket seats and replaced it with the 2nd bench seat to make our 7-passenger an 8-passenger.

Yes, it was crowded. Yes, there was much screaming and fighting. Yes, the kids had to climb OVER the bench seat to get into the back. Yes, we still had to survive the humid summer without a/c. But there were enough seatbelts to go around.

Until now that is. The expected arrival of Baby #7 is fast approaching and we were fresh out of seatbelts. We have prayed and pinched and saved and there has been much talk about how to contribute to the "Van fund". Nevertheless, things are still tight around here. To be honest, a month ago I had given up all hope that we would even be able to purchase a new van. I honestly had come to terms with having to drive 2 vehicles everywhere once the baby was born.

And then God provided!

Isn't it pretty? Best of all, it has FRONT and REAR air! Woo-hoo!

And the kids have plenty of room! We are an EXCITED family this week! Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Big Announcement! And something free for YOU!

I have had many up-till-2AM nights working on creating a new online business for the past 3 months and I'm finally ready to invite you all to check it out!

Integritas Academy
Inspiration for lessons with your little ones at home.

A part of the site is called "Inspiration". This is a gathering of posts and ideas that I have on many different homeschool topics. Also included on the site are over 40 homeschool product reviews that I have written this past year. (I'll be receiving up to 75 more products this year with the TOS Crew and still giving you my honest opinion about each one!)

We would eventually like to offer unit studies, lapbook lessons, and e-books for purchase on the site but for now I'm very excited to announce that I have my first series of products available for purchase on the site....FILE FOLDER GAMES!

FILE FOLDER GAMES are a great tool to use to teach your little ones. Our kids don’t even realize they are learning while they are playing! Our File Folder Games are ordered as printable files. You print your game boards and adhere them to the inside of file folders for easy storage.

These FILE FOLDER GAMES are perfect for WORKBOXES and LEARNING CENTERS! I created all of the games myself and all of the artwork is my own.

You can browse through our selection of FILE FOLDER GAMES here:

They are available for individual purchase by Paypal. (I will email the files and instructions once payment is received.)

OR I also have all 17 games available on Integritas Academy File Folder Games Collection 1 CD-ROM at a GREAT BARGAIN! See details here:


I was hoping to get the word out about the website and our file folder games through the blogging community. SO, if you have a blog and would be willing to try out my file folder games and blog about it I will send you the files to 3 of our games absolutely free!

Here's what you'll need to do:

*Check out our website and our file folder games here:

*Then come back here and leave a comment to this post. I'll need two things in the comment section... (1) The names of the file folder games that you would like to have. (2) Your email address.

*I'll send you the files and you get to print them out and play with them with your little ones!

*Sometime in the next couple of weeks or so, just blog about our games, our site and what you thought of them. (Please be sure to link to our site and mention that all of our file folder games are available for purchase individually or as a collection on our Collection 1 Cd-ROM.)

*Lastly, just let me know when you've posted so that I don't miss it!

Thanks so much and I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The to-do list was thrown out the window today!

Breakfast had been finished and the morning routine was well under way when I decided to quickly check my emails this morning. I opened up the messages from a local homeschool Yahoo group that I am on to see a post about a free Revolutionary War reenactment taking place in a homeschoolers back

Well a couple of phone calls later and we were confirmed to "Come on over!" So all pencils and workbooks were forgotten as I loaded 6 kids, two diaper bags, and partridge in pear tree into the van.

We did not get our math lessons done today. We did not crack open the spelling workbooks. We never got around to the science or art lessons I had planned...

But we were there when the Revolutionary war family pitched a tent in our friend's backyard.

We listened to the stories of Revolutionary women...the clothes they wore, how they cooked their food. My kids can tell you that there were women and children living in the army camps with their husbands. They can also tell you that if their husbands died they had 48 hours to find a new husband or leave camp.

We watched and listened as the drummer boy marched into camp.

We learned all about his very important role in the army and listened to the many different drumming beats...ones that announced dinner, a time for prayer, battle, and retreat. We heard the sounds of the Revolutionary War from this very talented player.

And then his father returned from battle. He shared with us about his weapons and the important details of even his clothing.

The children sat and listened and then we ate and fellowshippped with the other children. On the way home, the kids sang "God Bless America" and I knew that this day could not be ended with math work and spelling worksheets.

So instead, we came home and read five chapters of "The American Twins of the Revolution".

I'm not sure that you can get it anywhere other than Salem Ridge Press, but you wouldn't want to anyway because Salem Ridge is a wonderful company and this book is on sale right now for only $9.71. It is a wonderful, action-packed, and brave tale of two young children and their mother who courageously travel to bring money and food to General Washington and his troops. It was written by Lucy Fitch Perkins and published in 1926.

So at the end of the day I have to face reality. Absolutely nothing was checked off my to-do list. It's funny how I don't seem to be bothered by that at all.

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True Beauty

This is my grandmother and this photo was taken three weeks ago at our family reunion.

She is 95 years old and every year the family gathers around this matriarch to sing her a song that she old country song..."Red Roses for a Blue Lady".

As the song is sung each one of her 14 children dances up to her in order of their birth and hands her a red rose.

Grandma's husband died when she still had 11 children in the home. She never remarried.

She has 52 grandchildren.

At last count, she has over 110 great-grandchildren and a dozen great-great grandchildren.

She is a "Mom of Many" and has an incredible legacy to show for it.

And she is beautiful.

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