Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why I've Stopped Making Laundry Soap

I am back, again!  After 3 years of busyness and trying to stay sane with 4 kiddos, homeschooling, 2 moves, and life in general, I had to write a quick post about my new laundry soap findings.  Let's face it, laundry is the revolving door that never stops revolving, and my laundry was getting annoying.

I  love making my own laundry soap.  I have loved it for over 6 years. It was so easy and cost effective, why would I want to stop making it?  I'm pretty sure I've saved hundreds of dollars making my own, (I'd even venture to say close to $1,000!)  I hadn't had any problems getting my clothes clean, except for the past few months.  Clothes were starting to look dingy, more gray, and getting smelly.  I mean really smelly, like moldy smell.  What??  I thought it could be my front loader washing machine.  I started washing it out with bleach more often, cleaning the rubber seal, and making sure I drained the water in the front more than once a year.  (I had no clue you even had to do that, until I started reading the washing machine manual! The things you learn!)  Regardless of all my efforts, my clothes were not getting any more pleasant smelling.  And on top of that, my clothes were getting gray spots on them.  I was tired of rewashing and eventually throwing away towels and shirts.  So I did the one thing I always do, I turned to Google for answers.  I was shocked by what I read about homemade laundry soap.  There were multiple people all saying the same thing. Here is what they were saying:

Laundry Soap is NOT the same as Laundry Detergent.  

Well, obviously they're different names, but don't they do the same thing?  Not even close.  Laundry soap is not good for fabrics.  The soap in the recipe does not rinse out easily and is left behind, which is a breeding ground for mildew.  Hence the gray spots, dinginess and smell.  I was definitely appalled reading this, but hesitant to give up my laundry soap.  I went into the grocery store with the mindset of, "I'll try one bottle of store bought laundry detergent and if it doesn't give results, I'm going back to my homemade soap until I figure something else out."   I chose a brand that was as chemical free as I could find and afford.  Amazingly, my clothes didn't smell anymore!  After one wash, they had a completely different look, feel and smell.  I was shocked at the transformation, but relieved as well.  I didn't even know we were WEARING mildew, breathing it in from our clothing, bed sheets, you name it.  No longer do I have to worry about smelly clothes, nor the health hazards of mold and mildew in our laundry.

Since I no longer DIY my laundry soap, I'm finding plenty of other DIY ventures for me to try.  Next on the list: remodeling our pop up camper!  Yes, that's right a POP UP CAMPER.  :)  Fun adventures await the Davis clan!



Monday, May 26, 2014

Ethan's Quilt ~ A Memorial Day Special

As per tradition at Christmas, we draw names for giving gifts.  This past Christmas, I drew Ethan's name, my sister's boyfriend.  I was at a bit of a loss, for quite some time.  It wasn't until I got the idea of a quilt, that my panic started to subside.  I had already made t-shirt quilts for my sister, brother, husband and myself.  Why not see if Ethan wants one too? 

I got the best surprise when asking if he wanted one.  He did and had been saving his old military uniforms for just that reason.  YES!  I told them to send me the uniforms and I would see what I could come up with.  It turned out better than I hoped for!

 Here it is; the finished quilt.  It is a queen size quilt.  The backing is black flannel.  It is a really warm, heavy quilt!  (My boys didn't want to give this one up either.  They have a harder time parting with quilts than I do.)

 Ethan kept a lot of his patches and I just started playing with them, piecing them together in different designs.  I knew I wanted to use them, and this one stuck.  I love the way it turned out.

Ethan seeing it for the first time! 

And just to give you an idea of how big it really is; Ethan is holding it up and my dad is sitting in the chair next to it!

This has been my favorite quilt to make so far.  Thank you Ethan, for serving our country and keeping us safe!

And thank you to all the service members and their families for sacrificing so much to ensure our freedoms! 

God Bless America!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Schooling through the Summer

I have never wanted to school through the summer.  This year though, I have had a change of heart.  Well, I have to do it since we are a little behind from our 2 month winter break.  I took time off during and after our move to get settled and re-evaluate our curriculum.  The kids and I are enjoying our new, living books.  It is nice having my busy boys excited to learn!

As the summer gets closer and closer, I am beginning to get more excited about schooling through the summer season.  First of all, it will be a good indoor distraction from the heat.  Everyone keeps telling us that once the temperatures get over 100, it's all the same.  Yikes!  Secondly, it has never been easy for my kids to get back into the school year after the long summer break.  I'm thinking the shorter breaks during the summer will keep them motivated and having fun.  Lastly, my kids learn daily, with or without school, so adding to their play will not only enrich them, but keep their minds sharp and yearning for more.  Learning should be fun and I am praying that my kids will continue to view it that way!

The type of learning we encounter at our house is through play, life experiences and living books.  I was struggling with thoughts of failure for a few days.  I didn't think my first grader was reading enough, working on spelling words enough, or getting grammar concepts down.  It was a waste of my time to entertain these thoughts.  Each child is unique and learns in different ways and at different speeds.  I am not failing.  When I see him get excited during his lessons, it makes my heart feel much better.

To help ease my mind, I did start a new writing journal for him.  I write him a short letter, a few days a week, and leave space for him to write his response to my questions.  I don't help him spell the words.  I ask him to sound them out.  He did not like this the first couple of times, but now he just jumps right into it.  He is having fun while working on his reading, penmanship, spelling and creative writing.  It is a win-win!

I had to put Dash from "The Incredibles" on the cover.  I created the cover in Microsoft Word.  It took me all of 5 minutes to pick the font, color, picture and print it.  He had the biggest grin when he first saw it.  Something a little extra to make it special for him!

Here is a sample of one of the letters I have written to him.  (I made the picture huge so you can read it all!) I go over his spelling with him when he is finished.  I don't make it a big deal if he spells a word wrong.  I praise him for sounding them out so well and then show him the letters he missed.

The few of the topics I have written about so far are summer trips, summer activities, birthday gifts for siblings, and movie characters.  It is fun to read his answers too!

Enjoy your summer, whether you are schooling, unschooling or just playing!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Marvel In The Beauty

I go through life, day to day, running from one thing to another.  I am planning the next day, crossing off my to-do list and racing against the daylight hours to get it all done.  But does it matter if I have a clean house?  Does it matter if I plan the perfect day of school?  Does it matter if my to-do list gets shorter?  Does it all really matter that much?

 I try to do it all.  It's exhausting.  I can't do it.  Not alone.

This new year has been a turning point.  I am searching out God and His word more than ever before.  I am learning the characteristics of God in an entirely new light.  Each day brings me to a new realization about who He is and how true His love is for me.  There is a new spark in my heart.  My soul clings to His promises and looks to Him for answers.  I read more of His word.  I trust in Him more and more.  I take out piece after piece of the worldly me and throw it away.  I'm making room in my heart.  I want to know my God more deeply now than I ever have before.

I am finding Him in the littlest and biggest of things.  A pink rose growing through a fence has a meaning.  It is God's way of telling me He sees me and loves me.  "Here is a rose just for you, your eyes, destined to be at this place, at this very moment."   

Never think He has abandoned you or forgotten about you.  He loves you more than you could ever fathom.  Look around and see how His creation speaks to you about His unending love.  It is written in the stars.  It is sung from the birds.  It is whispered in the wind.  You are His beloved.  He sacrificed his one and only Son so that you could live eternally with Him.  He is waiting with open arms for you to run to Him.  
Start running!

Friday, January 31, 2014

My Reluctant Learner

My first grader is what you may call a reluctant learner.  Sitting still and doing book work is not in his vocabulary.  He is a mover and a kinesthetic learner.  He is the exact opposite type of learner than me.  I am constantly coming up with new ideas to make learning happen that doesn't make school seem like it's only listening to stories and copying words, or doing massive amounts of math problems, etc., what he calls 'boring.'

Spelling words are a battle field.  I used to make him look at the word and spell it on a white board.  Then the next day, show him the word, hide it, use it in  a sentence and have him write it.  It was like this for the 4 days we do spelling.  Let me just say, he cringed when I would pull out the white board.  Obviously, this wasn't working for us.  I did the most logical thing I could think of; I went on Pinterest.  

I found some really cool ideas, but only one I could use that he would find cool as well.  Can you guess what it used?  Legos.  I changed a few things about the spelling game so it would fit my plan better.

My spelling words for this week
Here is what I did:

I used an egg carton and put it in the center of a blank sheet of white paper.  I had my list of 10 spelling words and they just happened to have 12 different letters.  (I am currently using the first grade spelling lists from Heart of Dakota's Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.)  I assigned one letter to each spot.  When my list has more than 12 letters, I'll be adding the lid or another egg container to the game.  I then counted the frequency of each letter and put that many Legos in the corresponding spot.  You can kind of see the Lego man body in the letter "P" spot and the heads in the letter "H" spot.  I separated them so he could build a man as he correctly spelled the words.  I would say the word, show the card to him, use it in a sentence, and hide it.  He would then try to spell the word aloud, picking one Lego piece from each letter spot as he said the letter.  I helped him sound it out and show the card again when needed.  Then, I let him use all the Lego pieces to create his own whatever when we were done.  The first time, we only spelled the words aloud.  I am going to work into having him write each word as well.  I just want it to be fun learning right now.  

Let me tell you that he loved it! *insert "Hallelujah" song*  He wants to play it every day.  Now, I'm frantically coming up with new ways to use the game with other subjects as well!  I love it when school is tons of fun for the one who would rather play all day.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Explorers in the Making - Free Science Printable

Science is a favorite subject around our house.  Inventions, animals, plants, weather, we love it all.  Our new attempt at child-led learning is going well, and I am on the lookout for free resources.

Our studies started off this week with snowmobiles, since we watched the X Games.  We have looked at the first snowmobiles, the inventors, where snowmobiles are used, what people used before snowmobiles, and the weather and animals in those areas.  We pulled out our Birds, Nests and Eggs book.

My kids love this book.  We looked at the different birds and tried to pick out the ones that could live in the colder areas.  Then we went to the internet and googled bird range maps of Alaska, the arctic, northern United States, and other cold areas.  The boys wanted to see what birds are in Texas, so we looked at that map as well.

I found the San Antonio Audubon Society webpage.  It was a great reference and had a "Just For Kids" link.  In it, I found lots of free printables and a link to a kids magazine called "Wild Times" which is published in New Hampshire.  You are able to print off the different issues for your own use.  My boys loved it!  They are very age appropriate for lower elementary.  My first grader was able to read the majority of it and could complete all of the activities.  My preschooler loved the pictures, maze and matching in the first issue.  I am definitely adding this to my list of science add-ons.  Have fun exploring science!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Learning with Legos

As I am beginning to change our schooling to unschooling, I am trying to find new ways to incorporate learning through play.  Of course, I went on Pinterest to locate some treasures, and I found some ideas using Legos, which all of my children enjoy playing with.

I found some printables for creating your own Mini-Figures at Homegrown Learners and we had some creative drawing of historical figures and then make believe figures.  We then wrote little stories about the figures.  My 1st grader wrote a few words, but I didn't push too much since he was reluctant to pick up his pencil.  But he really enjoyed dictating a story to me and reading it out loud later to daddy.

 I also found a Lego board game that I printed off.  I made up the rules.  Lego men were used as the game pieces.  We played where each person started with 6 lego pieces and we rolled a die to collect pieces along the game board.  At the end, we built anything we wanted out of the pieces we won.  For my first grader, I had him build something before we start and then we roll 2 dice (for addition or subtraction practice) and add or take away pieces depending on what spot we land on.

This was my creation.  I had to have the Lego Man leaping into the hovercraft.  It's what he really would be doing.  I mean come on, it's a hovercraft!

BG, my preschooler, working on his creation after the game.  He won many more pieces than I did.

I am definitely going to use this game again.  Not only did I get to incorporate math, writing, history and art into the day, I also had 3 happy children who asked to play the game again the next day.  That makes me happy!


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