Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Another Homeschool Question

So a couple of days ago, a friend asked me "If school only takes around 3 hours a day, what do you do with your kids the rest of the day?" Normally my response would be, "Whatever the heck we want!" But I'm pretty sure that wouldn't satisfy my friends question and it's not really not an accurate response. We do what we need to and then fill in the rest with other stuff. Now I will elaborate on that statement. 
When we first started homeschooling I bought a book all about scheduling for homeschoolers. If I remember right the title of the book was Manager of Their Homes. Now this book does have a lot of really good tips and I do recommend it, however, I don't implement every aspect of it into my life. One of the tips I don't follow was to write out a detailed schedule of how you want your day to run. I did try and implement one, but stopped using it. Here's why I don't have a detailed schedule. Everyday is different for us. I workout everyday and each of those workout times is different. Sometimes I need to go to the store, we have co-op or history club, etc. And if I had a detailed written schedule and for some reason something didn't get done on that schedule I would feel like a big, FAT failure and fall into a deep depression. Alright, I might be slightly overdramatic, but really, I didn't like how I felt when something didn't happen on my schedule.  
Also, it seems like any homeschool schedule you look at, the mom gets up at 5 in the morning in order to be showered and ready for the day before her children wake up. Again, that is SOOOOO not for me! I happen to really like my sleep! And I'm pretty sure that if I woke up at 5, my children would sense that I was awake and that would totally defeat the purpose of waking up that early. So if you happen to be an early bird catches the worm type person, than by all means try their sample schedules, but I am NOT one of those people.
So what follows is more of what we do and what works for us. I feel like I say what works for us a lot in these homeschool posts because really it boils down to what works for you as a mom and your family. 
Anyways, here is what I do during our homeschool days. 
My kids usually wake up between 6:30 and 7:30. I do NOT make them wake up at a certain time. Their little bodies are still growing and sometimes they need more sleep. But they usually wake up around 6:30 and 7:30. I do NOT make them breakfast every morning and please don't call CPS on me! They get up and get their own breakfasts, because I have taught them how. They can make oatmeal, cereal, toast, frozen waffles, etc. and the older kids will often help the younger two. Does it always run smoothly? No! Is there sometimes fighting? Yes! But for the most part, they are pretty self-sufficient. I usually use this time to get myself ready. I try and wake up around 7:00, but if I had to stay up late working on something, then I might sleep in till 8. Most of the time I'm up around 7:00 though. Sometimes, I will bring my 2 year old in to bed with me to snuggle for a little while because I know that these moments are fleeting. 
After I am ready for the day, I go down and get my breakfast. While I'm eating my breakfast, the kids are getting ready for the day. Getting showered, dressed, cleaning their rooms, etc. The reason why I like this is because I can eat my breakfast in peace and quiet. I will read my scriptures during this time or catch up on an episode of Pioneer Woman. Hey! Don’t judge!
After they are ready for the day and I'm done with my breakfast the kids start on their independent work. I will work on laundry, cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, or any other household task that needs to be done for the day. I always make sure that I am available to help the kids if they have a question. Sometimes though we do our independent work during the afternoon when my baby is napping because I had a workout in the morning. So again this schedule is super flexible, which is how it needs to be for us.
Usually we do lunch around 11 or 12, depending on when the kids finish their chores and independent work or when I've finished with a workout class. Following lunch we do reading time. This could be a book of the month book, history reading, or just a book the kids want me to read. Sometimes all 4 kids will sit and listen and other times my toddler is running around the house being very sneaky and trying to coax her older brother into joining her mischievousness. Hey folks! Just being real here!
After lunch and reading I put Piglet down for a nap and the kids are expected to have quiet time. Sometimes Porkchop will turn on a movie . . . which I allow! GASP!
Sometimes the kids finish up independent work because they didn't have enough time earlier in the day, due to other activities that were going on. Other times the kids will go upstairs and read quietly or work on a quiet activity in their rooms. The key to this time of day is QUIET! Use this time to regroup. Sometimes I blog, sometimes I finish chores, other times I sit and eat a piece of chocolate and stare blankly into the great unknown. It really depends on the day. Today I am sitting at the kitchen island blogging, while the kids finish their work. Porkchop is seated next to me so I can observe his work and help him out. After about an hour to an hour and a half, again depending on the day, we might work on a lapbook, history project, art project, etc. Then around 3:00 we have a snack, myself included. Hey it's hard work homeschooling! :) After snack, I try and have the kids do a clean up so that the house is somewhat clean when daddy comes home from work. Sometimes the kids do harder chores during this time, but most times it’s just a simple quick tidy. After the house is tidy they can do as they like. Play outside, color, etc. 
Once dad comes home it's time for dinner. Sometimes I make dinner and sometimes my husband makes dinner. Again it depends on the day. After dinner and we've cleaned up, we either do family night, go to the YMCA, go to church activities, etc. As for bedtime we shoot for 7:30 with a lights out at 8:30. That doesn't always happen, but it's a goal. My husband and I really value our time together in the evenings and it is healthy for our relationship, so we stick with this bedtime. 

So as you can see we don't have a super strict schedule. Often times when the kids are getting ready in the morning they might start playing and I might let them continue to play for awhile just because they are being super cute and sweet and I want to savor that moment.
But it all comes down to how you are as a person and how you want to do homeschool. This works for us right now. But if it stops working for us then we will have to adapt and change. That's what’s great about school at home. You can change what's not working. One thing I want to try and implement is a scripture devotional time. I want my husband to be included in this but he leaves for work at 6 in the morning and I don't want to get up that early, much less wake my kids that early. So I'm still trying to figure that one out. 

So as you can see we are not lacking in things to do. So if we go back to the question asked, "what do I do with my kids the rest of the day?”,  I guess I COULD say "whatever the heck we want?", because we do. We still do our schoolwork and household chores, but if we want to pack up and go to the beach or park, we can. If I want to take them to the museum, I do! It's just finding those things that you want and love to do with your kids and then fitting them into the things you have to do.

Here are some things we do when we are not doing schoolwork:
Coloring (my girls love to draw)
Imaginative Play
Outside Play
Character Training i.e. chores
Art Museum 
Children's Museum 
Farmers Market 
youtube videos (might seem like a silly one, but the kids love it)-> this is a supervised activity
Playing the piano
Practicing their Tumbling
Listening to Music
The List Goes On...

Here's the thing to remember too. You don't need to entertain your children every moment of every day. If you'll notice some of these activities require my attention, but some don't. Find a balance that works for you, whether it's an activity a week to once a month. You'll find too that you can also do different extra curricular activities during the day that other kids wouldn't be able to do because they are in school. That might be music lessons, some sports, service projects, etc. So those are activities that can give you something to "do" with your kids. Really, I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do. I think you will find yourself trying to eliminate things once you start homeschooling vs. trying to find things to do. 
Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

So lately I have had some inquiries into how I go about making laundry detergent. I made my first batch awhile ago and went with a liquid version. It worked really well, but I thought I would try a powder version this time. If you are interested in the liquid version here is the recipe. The ONLY reason why I decided to try a dry version was to omit the cooking step.
Here is the recipe.
  1. Grate one bar of soap with cheese grater or food processor.
  2. Put grated soap in pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
  3. Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda until completely dissolved.
  4. Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
  5. Cover and leave overnight.
  6. Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.
  7. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.
  8. You could add a few drops of essential oils to each container and shake well, but that is completely optional.
Now if you want to go with the dry version here is what I did. 
I went and gathered my materials. 1 box Borax, 1 4lb. box Baking Soda, Washing Soda, FelsNaptha, Zote, and Essential Oil for scent.

Then I pulled out the trusty food processor.

Then I put on the grater attachment and grated up the felsnaptha and zote.

After grating, plop it into a bowl.

Then fit your standard blade onto the food processor.

Dump your gratings into the processor and whip it up till the gratings look like little bright pink and yellow pearls. You could probably make this with various soaps, but I REALLY like the color pink. And the pink Zote and yellow felnaptha were only 98 cents!
Then take a small portion of your baking soda and put it into a bowl.
 Then add a bunch of essential oil to your soda and mix well, breaking up any clumps as you go. You could also use Purex scented crystals if you wanted to bump up the scent a notch.
Next, grab a HUGE bucket and dump everything in (all the soap shavings, whole box of borax, whole boxes of baking and washing soda, essential oil mixture) and get mixing. Make sure you really scrape the bottom and get all those pretty soap colors distributed evenly throughout all the powder stuff.
 After its mixed well, put your mixture into a vessel of choice. I LOVE glass containers, so that's what I went with. There wasn't enough room in this container for all of my mixture, so I put the rest in a plastic bag to store for later. 
 If doing the liquid option you might want to choose old laundry soap containers or large juice containers. 
Hopefully this has inspired you to go make your own AWESOME and INEXPENSIVE homemade laundry detergent.
When you go to do your laundry you only need 2-4 tablespoons depending on your load size and it is safe for HE machines as well as septic systems. Pretty sweet, right?!

Note: You could add oxyclean to the mix, but I think that that stuff can be kind of harsh on sensitive skin so I opted out on that stuff, but you might want the extra boost.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Temple Square

While in Utah, we decided to spend a day in Salt Lake City. While there we went to temple square. We couldn't have asked for a better day. It was BEAUTIFUL!
I really wanted to get a family picture in the traditional spot in front of the temple, but this was the best we could get. There was a couple doing their wedding photos so we had to hurry and snap a picture.
The kiddos in front of the reflection pool.

 This was something new that I hadn't seen. They made this model of the temple allowing those that can't go inside to see what it looks like in the temple.

 We totally lucked out visiting the tabernacle. There was a lady practicing the organ so we got to hear the beautiful music she was playing and then they did a brief demonstration on the acoustics of the tabernacle. Without the help of a microphone they ripped a piece of newspaper and dropped a few strait pins and a nail to show how perfect the structure allows the sound to travel. Truly amazing!
 Following the tabernacle, we went to see the Christus Statue. 

For some reason my uncle felt like I should want to take a picture of him and not my children. He was wrong! :)
 Awww....Family moment!
 And here is one more picture of the beautiful weather. I took a few "weather" pictures so when I get  back to our rainy home I can look back and maybe soak up a little Vitamin D from these pictures. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Food First and Water Fun

Today my kiddos had their first Chickfila experience. We don't have one of these close by in our neck of the woods so we decided to give it a try. I thought it was pretty tasty and so did the kids. Truth be told I think they were just super excited to have some soda. 

 We also let the kids run through the outdoor malls water feature they had. It was probably a little on the cold side to do this, but they didn't complain. The LOVED it and it was probably the highlight of their day.

 This was my FAVORITE part. My sweet hubby was awesome enough to run through and play with the kids and on one of his final runs he got hit. And he got hit good. Right in the crotch! It totally looked like he peed his pants. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Even people passing by were cracking up. It was classic!
 And you can't have an experience like that without a good dose of mocking. My dad made sure go give my hubby his fair share. Good times!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baby Heaven!

I haven't been around a little baby in a long time. I still felt like my baby was little until today. Look how big my baby is compared to this cutie. 
Today we traveled to Utah and I got to hold both of my cousins new babies. I was in heaven. What was funny though was how jealous Piglet was when I was holding one of the babies. She was not happy. It took a good long while before she even wanted to look at the babies let alone hold one. She finally came around and then decided they were pretty cool.
Look how grown up she looks though. I'm not sure that I like that my baby looks so big!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers

So this weekend I had the awesome privilege of making some cupcakes and cookies for a bridal shower. The theme was April Showers Bring May Flowers. The lovely brides colors are turquoise and coral so we decided to incorporate those colors as well. I decided for the cookies to make sugar cookies and I REALLY wanted to make them umbrella shaped and then have the flowers be on the cupcakes but I couldn't find an umbrella shaped cookie cutter anywhere. So I just did flowers all around. Here is how they turned out.

Isn't this table super cute! My sister and her friend decorated it! Amazing!
 And here are the cookies and cupcakes on display. The cookies were a lemon sugar cookie and are by far my favorite sugar cookie recipe I've ever made. They were still nice and soft, but still held there shape really well when baked. 
 The cupcakes were all peach. Peach cake and peach frosting. I even put little pieces of peach in them. Mmm.... I think next time I will try and add a little more peach flavor though to really send them over the top.

The cupcake recipe was adapted from tasteandtellblog.com
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup peach jam
  • 2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespooon flour
  • Frosting
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons peach jam
  • peach slices, for garnish
  • Heat oven to 350F. Line 16 cupcake tins with liners.
  • In the bowl of a mixer, mix together the vegetable oil and sugar. Beat in the egg.
  • In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. To the sugar mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Then add half of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk, then the remaining flour. Mix just until combined. Fold in the jam.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chopped peaches and flour. Fold into the batter. Fill the cupcake tins 2/3 full with the mixture and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17- 20 minutes. Cool completely.
  • To make the frosting: In the bowl of a mixer, cream together all of the ingredients. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes

The sugar cookie recipe was adapted from allrecipes.com. To the cookie batter I added the zest of one lemon and the juice of the lemon.
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. 
Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

For the Icing I used Martha Stewarts recipe and went with the meringue powder. I also added 
a few drops of lemon oil.


  • 1 box confectioners' sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder or 2 large egg whites


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. 
  2. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. 
  3. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. 
  4. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. 
  5. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gumpaste Flowers, One Cool Dude, Muffins, and a Bra Holster

I got you to read with bra holster, didn't I?! So this post is just some of the happenings of the day. Today I tried my hand at making gum paste flowers. I will have to show you later the finished product. I'm not even going to say what it's for. You'll just have to wait and see. My kids hate it when I say that.
This awesome little man got a brand new pair of jeans and a shirt. He also lucked out when I found these sunglasses at the dollar store. Who's in the coolest mom in the world category today? That's right! It's me! But only for today! Tomorrow I will go back into the dog house when I make him clean his room or have when I make him take 6 bites of his dinner instead of 3.
Today we got to see some really good friends for a brief moment. They are just stopping through on their way to a cruise. They have to get up at 4 in the morning and I REFUSE to get up that early for anyone! Sorry friends! I don't even get up that early for my family. So I made muffins for them to grab on their way to the airport. Lemon Blueberry! Mmmmm....
And I know this is what you've all been waiting for! This is me wearing a bra holster! I decided to take a picture of me wearing it due to several people on facebook asking about if its really as cool as they say it is on the advertisements. And let me just tell you. YES IT IS!!! You can't even see it. Pretty amazing! I got this in my stocking at Christmas time and was totally skeptical that you wouldn't be able to see it under a fitted shirt, but you really can't! And this shirt is pretty thin too and you can't even see where the handle is. Pretty sweet!  O.K. Now that your curiosities have been answered you can move on. 

Oil Pulling

So here is something I never pictured myself doing, but here I am writing about oil pulling. So what is oil pulling you ask? Well, let me tell you! In a nutshell, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method for detox and rejuvenation. Traditionally, oil pulling was done with sesame oil, but I like using coconut oil because of it's antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties. Right now I am using the oil pictured below which is already in liquid form, but you could totally use the solid coconut oil you get at the store and just let it melt in your mouth. I also like to add just a couple of drops of melaleuca oil to my coconut oil so I am reaping the benefits of the melaleuca oil as well. It's also important to note that you can oil pull at anytime of the day, but the best time to do it is in the morning before you eat or drink anything. This is to ensure a more thorough detox. Now here is the crazy part! You have to swish it in your mouth for 20 minutes! I know! I know! It sounds like a crazy amount of time, but I promise, it's not so bad. This is what I do. I take a teaspoon of oil and a couple drops of melaleuca and put it in my mouth and start swishing. And then I get ready for the day. I take a shower, get dressed, do my hair, makeup, make my bed, etc. The important part is to stay busy. If you stay busy you don't even realize what you are doing and the time will fly by. Once the 20 minutes is over I spit it out. DON'T SWALLOW IT!! SPIT IT OUT! It's full of toxins, remember? Make sure if you are using regular coconut oil that you spit it out in the trash so it doesn't later clog your pipes and you end up with a big mess! Then after you spit it out, brush your teeth and call it a day. Below I will post some of the benefits of oil pulling, but here are a couple that I've noticed. My sinuses don't hurt anymore! I haven't had a stuffy nose since I started using doterra's oil regimen for allergies, but I still had a little residual sinus pain. It seems like every time I do this, now this is kind of gross, but it actually pulls out mucus from my sinuses! CRAZY! Since I've been doing it my sinuses have not been hurting! Also, I feel like my skin looks better and my teeth feel dentist clean after each pull, which I do everyday in case you were wondering! Give it a try! It can't hurt! 

Health benefits of oil pulling
Studies show that this simple cleansing process can whiten teeth, strengthen gums, and help heal and prevent oral health issues such as:
  • Cavities and gingivitis
  • Plaque
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Dryness of lips, mouth, and throat
Other benefits of oil pulling 
Oil pulling is also used to treat and prevent health conditions beyond the mouth. Some of the benefits may include:
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Seasonal allergies relief
  • Headache relief
  • Reducing chest congestion
  • Detoxifying the body of harmful metals
  • Certain skin conditions like eczema
  • Supports healthy kidney function
  • May relieve ulcers and diseases of the stomach

Monday, April 15, 2013

J.R.Tolken's The Hobbit Family Night

We are part of a book club and we have read 3 books in this club, but this time was actually the first time we could get together since every other time someone was always sick. But not this time and we were super excited! The book we read this time was The Hobbit. My kids loved this book and are hoping mom and dad say they can watch the movie. The answer right now is "we'll see!" The are not a fan of that answer! So the family that hosted had some AWESOME activities planned. First we solved some riddle because of course Gollum loved riddles. Then we made maps with hidden messages.
The kids drew their maps and then lightly drew a message with vaseline and then we used a black light to see the message. Pretty cool!

Then the kids made clay dragons.
Porkchops favorite part was decorating his with glitter. I'm pretty sure he dumped most of it all over him instead of his dragon. At least that's what it looked like!
And this is his finished dragon. See what I mean about the glitter. He maybe got a little carried away! What do you think?
Piglet wanted me to make a cute pink dragon. So she patiently watched as I formed the dragons body. Then together we placed jewels down the dragons back. It was a lovely mother daughter bonding moment, until . . .
She decided she wanted to make snowballs! Such a sad end for the cute pink dragon.
 This was Babe's. She put green wings on hers but the are folded down because he was resting.
And this was Honey's. I thought it turned out SUPER cute! It didn't survive the ride home very well, but she has plans to revive him tomorrow! Thanks so much to our hosting book club family for a very fun night!
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