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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chalk Is Cheap

   Im tired of buying chalk and it breaks within the first use. Even the thick pieces. Of course none of the kids want to use the broken ones. So there they sit, lonely, with no one to play with. No pavement or chalkboard wants them. Gone are the days where kids were just thankful to have something colorful to play with. 
   I've decided to try out a recipe that I found on Pinterest for home made chalk. It was really easy and didn't take very long to whip up. The waiting part took overnight but I can deal with that. You need: plaster of paris, water, food coloring, rubber scraper, a glass mixing bowl and mold of your choice. We used soap making molds.    
   Mix the plaster of paris 2:1. I started with a cup of plaster and 1/2 cup of cold water. That gave us enough to fill two big squares on our mold tray. After your plaster is mixed, you can add 8 drops of food coloring if you want. We tried adding 8 more to see if the color would be darker but it didn't seem to change very much at all. 

   Mix well and pour into your mold tray. Gently tap the bottom of the mold against the table to release air bubbles.

   Rinse your bowl immediately after your done with hot water and make more using different colors. Let them sit overnight to dry out. Carefully pop them out of the mold and VOILA!! We found all of our supplies at our favorite craft store AC Moore. If you sign up for their emails, you get a 40% off coupon each week. Thats when we bought our plaster. I think the coupon brought it down to around $5. That 4.4 lb carton will last us through several batches. So chalk IS cheap.
Happy Chalking!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Home Made Bird Feeders

   Last week the kids and I decided we wanted to make bird feeders out of pinecones. So i took the kids on a walk at Turning Point Park which is such a nice place to go. If you haven't been there, you should try it. We found a lot of pinecones and we even tied our little field trip into what we were learning about in science, conifer trees.

   After we got our pinecone treasures home, we noticed a few that were not quite open yet. If you have a few like this all you need to do is turn your oven on 200-250 degrees and bake your pinecones on a cookie tray lined with wax paper. This will dry them out and allow them to open. It also gets rid of any bugs that may be inside them so thats why we just cooked all of ours. Watch them carefully, so they don't burn and once they are open you can remove them and let them cool. Ours took over an hour. I started the oven at 200 and quickly lost patience so I cranked it up to 250. 

   Besides pinecones, you will need peanut butter, string and birdseed. Tie your string on first. We tied some at the top and some at the bottom, both worked the same. Next, you lather up your cone with peanut butter and roll it in the birdseed. Ours seed was in a big bowl. I found that was easier for the kids because they could grab handfuls and pour them on the pinecones. After they are covered to your satisfaction, put them on a tray until  you are ready to hang. Then find your favorite tree branch and tie the string around the branches. Now, just wait for your feathered friends to find their hand made treats! 

It was 73 degrees on this 1st day of spring

   Another option we made afterwards was this last picture. You poke holes straight through the tube and insert sticks for the birds to perch on while they snack. Also poke two holes at the top for string to be able to hang it. Spread peanut butter on the same way and add bird seed. We took the sticks out before we started the PB and put them back in once we were done with the seed.

   My next venture is making a home made suet feeder and home made suet. Even though I work at a pet store and can probably get one cheaper than i can make one, its more fun for the kids to make it themselves.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Home Made Dryer Sheets

For a few months now, we've been using our home made dryer sheets. I've still got many more uses left out of them but thought I'd share the "recipe". It's really really really easy. Like you won't even need pictures. Plus I don't have any lol!

You need how ever many old washcloths or towels you can part with. I found about 5 washcloths and 2-3 small hand towels that had been stained or ripped. You will also need a small bucket like sand pail size or bowl. Lastly, your favorite FABRIC SOFTENER. I used downy lavendar scent.

Cut your washcloths in half and cut your towels into a similar size. Put them all into your bucket. Pour the fabric softner on top of them making sure they are all covered and soaking. You may need to save some strips to soak later if you don't have enough room in the bucket. Let them soak overnight. Grab a strip, wring it out and hang it to dry. Make sure you put newspaper under them to catch any drips if you need to protect your flooring. If you have dry ones left over then you can soak them now and repeat the process. Once they are dry (ours took overnight), you can stack them up and just toss one or two into your dryer load. You can reuse them several times. My cousin said about 30 times each which sounds about right but I haven't been keeping track. Just make sure you find them when you are folding and replace them on the bottom of your stack. You can resoak/reuse these until they fall apart. One small bottle of softener has lasted us about 3-4 months and we still have hundreds more uses left. Oh and if you wash one like I did once, no worries. Just resoak it. Mine actually still had some power left in it so I didn't need to do anything.

I've tried an even cheaper option. You can actually make your own fabric softener using conditioner vinegar and water. Then, use that in place of downy or whatever you use. I personally didn't like the home made softener but we used really cheap conditioner and it was too flowery for me. I'll stick to my lavendar downy!

Happy home-made dryer sheet making!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cappuccino gone wrong

Pinterest strikes again! I need more energy, plain and simple. Everyone says coffee but it's repulsive to me. I even plug my nose in the coffee aisle lol! I found a recipe for home made cappuccino which I do love! Odd right? Tell me about it. So after work last night (about 9:30 pm) I went over to Pittsford Wegmans which is massive chaos at any other time of day. I got all the ingredients I needed and drove home to concoct my creation. After I had everything all together, I microwaved some water and put 3-4 heaping tablespoons of my mix into the water. I stirred and stirred. When I took my spoon out, it was full of coffee grounds. It suddenly occurred to me that while I knew I had to get instant coffee I had actually purchased coffee that you would brew. Yuck! So there's a whole batch of this stuff sitting on my counter bc I'm trying to figure out if I can strain out the coffee or put it through a coffee maker. Or maybe it's just a total loss. Lesson learned: never buy coffee alone unless you know what your doing. Man was that a dumb move. At least I could laugh last night. It was really quite funny! Well at least now I have coffee for when my mother in law comes over. She has a stash in my cupboard with all the supplies lol! I DO have a coffee maker though! It only brews 4 cups at a time. (It's for company what do you want from me?! LOL) Happy wacky Wednesday!
Update: I tried to put it thru the coffee maker. One, it was really watery. Two, I had to add a lot more creamer to make it drinkable. All in all, it wasn't bad per say. Just not to my tasting as it had too much coffee flavor in it. Looks like I'm going back to get INSTANT coffee...

What am I really teaching my kids??

So it is now 10:30am and I am still in my bed. Blogging from my warm comfy blankets. The kids are being super quiet so as to not "wake me up". Because that means we have to start school. Who doesn't love a day off? Sorry kids, snow day was yesterday. Today we must work. Now I'm not a morning person by any token. I usually let the kids sleep till 10 am but today, we are obviously "late for school". I hate when my alarm goes off at 7:20am. I turn it off at that point. Don't judge me, at least I don't pretend I'm actually going to get up by hitting snooze 10 times lol! I tend to do my best thinking in the morning silence, even during the random barking from my 3 lovely animals. Yes 3 dogs... God help me! So I'm pondering how I can change our schooling schedule so the kids get more out of it. I feel like I'm just doing the bare minimum. I mean I'm a creative person. I can teach them arts/crafts all day long. But I can't incorporate that into grammar or math or that awful boring history/social studies. Remind me why we NEED to know that stuff again? I've never had a moment where I thought, "man I should've paid attention in social studies so I could write this stupid grocery list or do laundry or make dinner. Or so I could get this floor mopped the right way!" I just don't see the use other than knowing a few presidents, who took credit for discovering America, names of continents and some other important events. All those wars and treaties etc.... BOOORRRING!! Useless information. I stand by my opinion that I've never used that knowledge enough to have needed to take that class all those yrs. Theres always google when you get stuck lol! Anyways, I've always thought the Charlotte Mason approach was good so I spent some time on that site this morning picking and pulling from different areas. I think I have a good schedule now. Sometimes I just feel like I'm not doing enough. Like what are they really learning. I wanted to provide them with a fun school environment. It's not turning out like that though. I feel like they would be learning so much more back in public schools. Which unfortunately some of what they learn would be bad. Sometimes I question our decision to homeschool. Was it the BEST idea for our kids? In some ways I know it is because I can see how close the girls are now and Michael too. Also I am becoming more in tune with their lives and styles. Mariyah is really advanced in math and loves to wear sweatpants everyday. Jocelyn needs someone to hover over her while she works and she gets it 100% when you do. Sometimes she would prefer to do math under the table. Strange but I've gotten over the fact that it's not good lighting under there because she seems to concentrate better under there. I know what kind of books they like to read and how long their attention span is. My poor son, I've really been slacking on him. He knows the ABC's but couldn't name them or tell u sounds. He likes to read his Bob books and occasionally do work from his workbook. He's not motivated at all and I run out of steam quickly. He asked about going to school next year so I signed him up. School is only 2-3 blocks away but it will give us time to work. He is a constant interruption during the day which makes for long days of school work. He sits with us sometimes and will want to do work but mostly he likes to drive his sisters crazy. Next year we are going to try a different math curriculum. We like apologia science so we will continue with that. I'm looking for a new grammar/language arts text. We've been through 3 this year, blah!
Well it sounds like my snuggle buggle is coming upstairs to cuddle. Time to get my lazy butt on the move so we can do our work and play outside! Maybe even do our work outside??

Monday, March 12, 2012

Answered Prayers (last blog today I promise)

Do I really need to brag about my God? ....YES! So during Thursday night services, I was talking to another member about how there are so many families integrated into our church. There are generations of families that are still growing. It seems everyone is related to someone through marriage or blood or fifth cousins or something. But for us....its just us. My kids don't have a grandpa or gramma or aunt, cousin etc that goes to church with us. This makes some family gatherings awkward bc our families are just not aligned the same way. We make due but we don't compromise when inappropriate things are brought up around our children. We won't tolerate it. Now I'm getting off topic... OK, so this past Sunday, we brought our niece to church with us. She actually asked if she could spend the night so she can go to church. Not so she could sleep over with the kids lol! Of course we said yes! After services, we stopped off at a flea market and the kids and I waited in the car while my husband looked around for more stuff we don't need but thats a whole nother blog! I asked her how class was and she said it was good. Then she said,"I started to cry in class." Mama mode kicks in unnecessarily and I asked who was bothering her? What happened? She told me the most beautiful confession. She said that while she was praying she was praying about her life and her mom and she just started to cry. I said,"Do you think God spoke to you through the lesson?" She goes,"I don't think so? I didn't hear him talking?" LOL!!!! Kids!! I didn't push further on because I wanted her to know that what she prays about is between her and God and she doesn't have to share if she doesn't want to. Later that night I got a text from her mom that said, "thanks for having her, she had a great time." So I texted back that she was always welcome to come and I shared that she told us she wanted to come again in two weeks. Her mom said that her son was asking about church and that she was thinking about it too! I was dumb founded! We talked for literally hours about everything, I tried my best to encourage her and she finally decided that she will come to church with us. I am super excited! Now I don't know what my niece said to God but I do know that He was listening. Not only did He answer her prayers about her mom and their life, but mine also. If her family does end up coming to church, then we won't be the only part of our family there. I am def gonna be in some lengthy prayer this week. I can't wait to see what God does next....

Candle Magic...

   Saturday was a busy day for Pinterest projects. Besides playdoh we also made personalized candles. This was prob easier than the playdoh to start with but ended up being quite tricky. You will need: 1 white pillar candle, white tissue paper, scissors, craft paint and markers, wax paper and a hair dryer or embossing gun. 
   Next time we make these, I'm going to try it with a colored pillar candle for a background effect. For this project we used sparkly tissue paper and it came out pretty cool. 
How to do it: Cut a piece of tissue paper that is the same size as the pillar candle when wrapped around it. Then using your markers and paints, you can create any panoramic design you like. We put a paper bag underneath the tissue paper before we started which ended up sticking to and ripping our artwork. Wax paper worked best. You can also make cute little flowers with your finger tips (tip from Pinterest). Once you are happy with your picture let it dry. Now comes the tricky part... wrap your tissue design around your pillar. Take a piece of wax paper and wrap that around the tissue. While holding the wax paper with one hand, use your hair dryer on high heat to  stick the tissue to the wax paper. This will take some time and patience. I ended up wearing an oven mitt to protect my hand from the heat. While heating up the candle, move the hair dryer back and forth in a slow motion so you don't concentrate on one spot too long. You will start to see the tissue merging into the candle. You will need to move your wax paper around the candle to be able to "melt" all of the tissue. Once finished, remove and discard the wax paper and VOILA!! 
(This pic from www.cometogetherkids.com)
   This was the one I did. You can see I didn't do a good job measuring the tissue so once it was done I used a box cutter to remove the excess tissue at the top. Notice the sparkles that were in the tissue paper. I thought the paint would scratch off but it doesn't unless you really are trying to scratch it off.

Have fun with this one!! 


   During one of the several hours I spend each week on Pinterest, I found a recipe for playdoh. So, this past Saturday we decided to try making our own. I came out really well and it smelled great! The kids had a blast doing it and no one cried which is always awesome. 
   First, we got a glass mixing bowl (you could use plastic too) and we added 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/4 cup salt, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and 2 packets of our favorite color koolaid. Don't use magical clear strawberry koolaid or lemonade-my sister found out the hard way, it doesn't yield a pretty playdoh. Mix all those dry ingredients together well with the utensil of your choice. We used forks.

   Now boil 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 TBS of oil together. Pour the hot mixture into your dry ingredients and mix it all up. Pour carefully so you don't splatter the hot oily water on the curious little ones who want to see what your doing. 

I suggest to start by trying to get all the dry mix from the bottom of the bowl first. That worked best for us. There will come a point where it will be difficult to mix the ingredients. 

   Have an adult empty the contents onto the table and knead it the way you would with bread. Caution: it will be HOT!! Once it is fully mixed, you should have a softball size worth of yummy smelling playdoh. 

   My daughter assured me it still has that salty tasting quality of store bought playdoh-dont ask! You can store it in a ziploc baggy or other container. I think next time I may half all the ingredients and make several new colors to replace our current containers full of mixed playdoh that no one wants to use. ENJOY!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rain is pretty...

February 23, 2012
Today I am so thankful for Gods chosen path for me. I feel like He has always been pushing me and screaming my name to come to Him but I was just too stubborn to listen. He never gave up though. Even when I chose the wrong path, He still made sure there was an exit that I could get off at whenever I was ready to listen. My life was just a mess and sometimes I wonder if i really would be dead right now if I had stayed on that path. I don't know how I made it home sometimes. I would go out and drink with my friends and seriously drive home very much drunk and yet i would make it home. I would work a 13 hour day and drive all the way from Greece to Hilton and make it home despite falling asleep at the wheel a couple times (on more than one occasion). Why did he chose to save me? Why me, why am I so special? I haven't done anything significant in my life to glorify him and warrant such a saving grace. Yet He never gave up on me. He didn't take no for an answer. He made sure I met and kept in touch with Jessi, Cheryl and my husband. Those people have played a very significant role in my path towards God. And bc I'm so stubborn He had to bring me all the way down to the worst (or at least it was to me) time of my life. It took a lot of hard times and sorrow for me to listen and give up on doing things my way. 
I am so lucky to be part of a church full of amazing and beautiful women, inside and out. I remember one of the first women's get togethers. I knew no one. I felt awkward and out of place and I just didn't fit in. I was stuck to a seat and I wasn't trying to mingle or move. Then this really nice woman named SN came to sit next to me and she didn't move either. She talked to me the whole time and made me feel so much more comfortable. she got to know me and made sure I was included in the conversations at the table. The rest of the women at our table did too. That was so special to me. So many of the mothers at our church have helped make me what I am and its bc of their love for Christ and what He is doing thru them. CS showed me what it's like to have a solid lasting marriage. CC showed me what an amazing wife is. SA has great mothering skills. Sis MS has the energy of a power plant, seriously I don't know how she does it. She is so giving and sweet, that she showed me her paperwork for homeschooling and gave me so much information and support and encouragement. CN showed me how important is to your marriage to be able to laugh with your husband. Sis CS showed me how to be a well put together lady of the house. She's so feminine in a house full of boys. She too was very giving with information on homeschooling. Ch gave me the biggest shove to homeschool. She homeschools her kids and works. That takes tremendous strength and patience. P.T. always has a smile on her face and she always takes time to say hi to my family. She is just so happy that its impossible not to sponge off of her. I could say wonderful things about every woman I've gotten to know. And I could say all these things about each of the women I've mentioned. They are all amazing moms and wives and there are hundreds more just like them in my church.
yesterday when I was on my lunch break, I went to mcdonalds. normally there are mass amounts of kids there between 12pm-1pm but this day was exceptional bc its february recess. so multiply the kids times a gajillion. I've never seen so many chicken nuggets and happy meal boxes in one place in my life. being that it was my lunch break, I wanted a little bit of peace and quiet. I chose to sit in the window area and watch traffic. It started to rain which normally makes me think of mud and dirt ~ mess! But since I was trying to relax, I think I saw it in a different light. The rain was so pretty. It was just coming out of the sky and hitting the windows, rolling down, so clean and just beautiful. I was just thinking about what an amazing creation it was. How can science explain that? "Rain gets absorbed into the clouds and then when certain hot or cold fronts blow against them, the rain descends from the clouds" or something like that. LAME! God made it! It rains when God says it needs to rain and thats how it happens! I'm done trying to explain things scientifically to the kids. Trees grow because God made them for birds, squirrels and other animals to live in and be safe in. It also creates shade for us when its hot. Back to the story, the rain was so pretty and I was glad to have enjoyed it on my lunch break. Thank you Jesus for your beautiful creation! xoxo



November 17, 2010
Today we had a visit from John Drew aka pretty much a jerk. He has always ripped us apart when he comes in. nothing is how it should be and everything is wrong. no matter how long we prep the store and clean and straighten he is just never satisfied. however, today he was very nice or just in an amazing mood. he said the store looked great and we seemed to have finally "got it". he said we should be proud that we've come a long way. its all true we really did bust our butts the past week. staying late till 12:30 or 1:30 just to get it all done. lucky for me wendy let me go home after he left. i was exhausted and i really missed my kids. its nice to enjoy spending time with them again. 
on another note ive been trying to remove the tv from the kids lives. pastor k. mentioned that he felt like it brainwashed ppl and i kinda thought the same thing after he said it. it made sense. kids see violence even in cartoons and being mean to ppl and treating others wrongly. sometimes even curse words. all michael wants to do is watch cartoons all day. he has a million toys and he wants tv. ill admit the tv is very convenient when i need the kids to wind down or be quiet. its an attention machine. and im sure pastor was correct saying it causes ADD. sunday night michael was not in the mood to go to church. it would've ended badly. so i stayed home with him. on one condition….no tv. he wasn't happy but we ended up painting a few pictures, cleaning up, playing a few board games and having a good time. i told him we could finish up the night eating popcorn and watching the wizard of oz. it was a lot of fun. the next morning he woke up asking to play board games instead of watch cartoons. so now as a general rule he may watch 30 minutes of tv and thats all. if he watches a movie before bedtime thats ok for now. but im hoping to phase that out too with music or something… most of the families in church do not have tvs in their home much less a tv in every single bedroom as well. hopefully michael is on board too. we both are trying to get our family to be more aligned with Christ and our church. i know we will accomplish it bc we have Gods blessing. michael is playing with playdoh right now. he watched cartoons for 30 mins and i said ok tv off, now lets play playdoh. of course he was all about it. 
last night i saw on Facebook that cheryl posted something about her daughter Mia. the doctors thought she had signs of lyme disease. she was asking for prayers. of course i prayed for her last night and today. i saw on Facebook this morning that Mia was cleared of Lyme disease. she has a bad sickness instead. but it will pass. either way thats better than Lyme. thats is just proof of Gods miracle of healing. he is so amazing.