Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

About a month ago I decided to make some homemade laundry detergent.  Olivia and Julie had made some at GEMS camp, and they brought home a small jar of it.  I used it until it was all gone (about a week), and then decided to make more.

Here is the recipe that I used:

1/3 bar grated Fels Naptha soap 
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax
1 5 gallon bucket

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. Stir and add 1 more gallon of water. You use ½ cup per load.

The results:

Well, at first I really liked it.  I liked that I spent only $.99 for the Fels Naptha soap, and I already had the washing soda and Borax in my science closet.

Then after a couple of weeks of using the detergent, I realized that our clothes were really not getting that clean.  We have really dirty, smelly clothes, and they were not coming out smelling or looking fresh.  Between our sweaty running clothes and Clay's soot covered clothes from blacksmithing, I guess our clothes are just too dirty for homemade laundry detergent.

If anyone has a different recipe or any suggestions for how I can make my detergent work better, please advise me.  One thing I could have done is to not add that gallon of water the next morning after the detergent gelled, but it's done now! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Schoolroom AFTER

Here are my after pictures of my schoolroom.  I am very happy with the results.  It has been ready for almost two weeks now, and it still looks this neat!  So far, we are doing a good job of tidying up after each school day.  I know that at some point the schoolroom will get messy, but right now I am enjoying it!

 a view of the whole room from the door you enter
(I know these pictures aren't the best.....)

The U.S. and World wall maps are new.  We use our globe every day to locate places, so I knew that these wall maps would come in very handy.  I tried to hang them high enough so that the cats couldn't reach them.  A couple of years ago I hung a U.S map in the schoolroom closet, and those cats shredded the bottom of the map!

I moved the piano to the center of the wall, and I moved a small desk (to the right of the piano) from across the room to this wall.  This serves as Clay's workspace.

 Here is a view from the opposite of the room.  Behind me are doors that lead to the bathroom, a small closet, and our storage/crafting/sewing room.

Jimmy raised my marker board, and I put the white bookcase underneath it.  The tall cabinet to the right of the marker board used to be where the piano is now.  We call that our paper cabinet.  My cabinet maker originally built it for my girls' bathroom, but it took up too much space.  So it has always been in my schoolroom, and it has always held school supplies and all kinds of paper.  

 One side of the schoolroom.  This is the wall between the entry door and the bathroom.

I moved this desk down the wall to the left to make room for the tall bookcase.  This computer is for all of the children to use.  The little space at the left end of this desk is Julie's workspace.  The books to the left of the computer are Julie's schoolbooks, and the books to the right are the children's test binders, and a couple of my binders.  

 The shelf underneath the marker board holds Olivia's and Julie's history and literature books.  They are sorted by subject, and I have labels on the spine of each book.

 This shelf holds Cores Pre4/5 and Core A (Sonlight) plus three boxes of categorized science books.  Those books have been sorted in those blue and purple bins for a few years now.  The cups on top are holding pencils, pens, scissors, etc.

 Clay's workspace.  I hope he is looking at the world map often!

 The cabinets at the end of the room.  

All of my extra schoolbooks are stored in these upper cabinets.  The cabinet on the far right contains all of our painting supplies.  The lower cabinets store various craft kits and supplies.  The filing drawers hold all of our household and school-related files.  I cleaned these out this summer.  What a huge job that was!
The four black boxes on top are all Sonlight boxes.  I have each child's name on them, and they hold their current Sonlight readers, read alouds, history, and geography books plus my teacher's guide.  The fourth box is Leah's and Sam's Core B science box.

 A new slipcover for this rocking chair!

This rocking chair belonged to Jimmy's grandmother, and he had it in his apartment before we were married.  I have had it recovered twice, and it was threadbare and cat-shredded!  I have rocked and rocked all five children in this chair!  It used to be in the children's rooms.  I have also used it in my bedroom and in various living areas of our homes.  Once we moved here, it has always been in the schoolroom, because I knew I would be rocking babies down there too!  I have slept many nights holding a baby in this chair!
This is the first time I have bought a slipcover.  It does not stay on very well due to the design of my chair rather than the fault of the cover.  However, the overall look is very nice, and it is soft.

 This shelf holds from top to bottom:
miscellaneous history books
reference books, teacher manuals, a box of science books
Core C Sonlight books, 2 science boxes
Core W Sonlight books, 2 science boxes
Core F Sonlight books

 just a close-up so you can see the labels on the book spines

These are the extra books that wouldn't fit in the schoolroom, so I put them on shelves in the closet!

I hope you have enjoyed a tour of my schoolroom!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Schoolroom BEFORE

This summer my schoolroom became a dumping ground for VBS, Rustic Youth Camp, and beach materials.  Since we were not using the schoolroom for school, it was an easy place to  put things.  

Today, I am going to share all of my BEFORE pictures of my schoolroom.  They aren't pretty!  I spent about 40+ hours in this room, cleaning out, sorting, purging, organizing.  I cleaned out drawers and cabinets in my schoolroom that I haven't cleaned out in years.  I also rearranged some of the furniture.

 Early in the summer--before it got too bad in here...well, actually most of the stuff had been stored in the big closet to make room for Julie's sleepover party.

I moved all of my Sonlight books from my den into my schoolroom.  In order to make room for them, I had to clear my schoolroom shelves of my miscellaneous history and science books.  So I sorted the books into categories--all over the floor.

 Even in the midst of all of my cleaning, Leah still managed to find a space for arts and crafts.

 It got worse before it got better!

 still sorting books

 the book piles getting more organized

 This is where I stored our new curriculum as it arrived.
I am not sure why the snow cone machine is up there!

 The closet where everything was stuck for the party.

I will share one AFTER picture.  The walk in closet!  I even had an empty space after I cleaned it out!  But now there is something in that space, and I can't think of what it is right now.

Tomorrow, I will share all of my AFTER pictures.  I was very pleased with how my schoolroom turned out!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Other Four Children's Curriculum

Julie:  10th Grade

  • Saxon Algebra 2
  • Notgrass World History (supplemented with selected books from Sonlight Cores 200 and 300)
  • Apologia Chemistry
  • Music Appreciation (Bob Jones)
  • Logic
  • The Elegant Essay (IEW)
  • Wordly Wise
  • Daily Grams 
  • Home Economics
  • Rosetta Stone Spanish, Year 1
I scheduled Julie's writing course to be worked 3-4 days a week for the school year.  Chemistry and Algebra 2 are taking the longest to complete each day.  This is Julie's first year to use Notgrass (and therefore her first year to have a history textbook), and she is liking it.  This is my first time to use an music appreciation course.  Olivia completed an art instruction and appreciation course when she was in the 10th grade.  Since I now have both courses, I will let Clay look them both over and choose which one he wants to do when he is in the 10th grade.

Clay:  8th Grade
  • Horizons Pre-Algebra
  • Apologia Physical Science
  • Logic
  • Wordly Wise
  • Daily Grams
  • Easy Grammar
  • Cursive writing
  • Sonlight Core W (language arts and world history)
  • Rosetta Stone Spanish, 2 days a week
Leah:  3rd Grade
  • Horizons Math Grade 3
  • Sonlight Science Core B
  • Logic
  • Sonlight Core C (language arts and world history, year 2)
  • Wordly Wise
  • Daily Grams
  • Easy Grammar
  • Cursive Writing
Sam:  1st Grade
  • Horizons Math Grade 1
  • Sonlight Science Core B
  • Logic
  • Sonlight Core A (language arts and general history)
  • Handwriting
For all of the children, I use products sold by The Crictical Thinking Company and Mindware as their Logic curriculum.  Both companies sell a variety of workbooks and hands on type puzzles than challenge the children.

Also for all of the children we are continuing to use The Bible Study Guide For All Ages 4 days each week for our Bible instruction.  I am also adding a new study called Our Spiritual Heritage.  I plan to conduct lessons from this study 5 days a week.  I only bought workbooks for Leah and Sam, but all of my children will benefit from the lessons centered around God's wisdom, as well as the weekly chronological review of Bible characters and events.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I Completely Forgot to Do Science!

That kind of sums up our first week of homeschool, the beginning of my 12th year.  You would think that by now I would have my act completely together, but I truly think that this year will be the hardest homeschool year for me--ever!  I know that I said that last year, but this year really is the hardest.

I have so much to blog about, and if I can find time to do it, I think that my blog posts will encourage you.  Not in the way that you think, but hopefully encourage you that you are not alone if your school year is not off to the perfect start that you hoped for!  I know that two of my closest friends have not had the picture perfect start either, and we have texted and shared our "war stories" from 5:00 AM each morning until bedtime.  It seems funny when you look back, but while we were actually living out this school week, it wasn't pretty.

Throughout the week my friends and I reminded each other that it was all ok.  That our attitude of love and service towards our children and our husbands was way more important than a completed school day.  I kept reciting to myself over and over again, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Colossians 3:17

Here are a few highlights of my week:

  • Like the title of this post, I completely forgot to do science with Leah and Sam.  For the first time, I bought them an official science curriculum, now that they are in the 1st and 3rd grades.  I plan to use Sonlight Core B Science.  I bought the Instructor's Guide.  I bought 2 sets of activity pages.  I bought the "lab kit".  I bought all of the required books that I did not already own.  I just completely forgot to actually teach the lessons.  Every single day this week.
  • I am now 68 pages behind in Clay's read aloud book, Mara, Daughter of the Nile.  It's a great book!  It just has microscopic print, and we are scheduled to read three chapters a day.  We have read 5.5 chapters so far.  
  • I had a surprise when Julie and I opened her Saxon Algebra 2 book.  I decided to no longer use Teaching Textbooks for high school math, and since Horizons does not have Algebra 2 yet, I chose to use Saxon.  Well, guess what?  If you use the 3rd edition of Saxon high school math (which is what I bought), it has geometry included in the Algebra 2 course.  That's great, except that the first part of geometry was included in their Algebra 1 course, which we have not done.  So, the first two chapters of Algebra 2 were geometry review from Algebra 1!  So far, we are spending 1 hour a day on math--and we are completing 1/2 a lesson each day.  I am hoping that it will get to the point where we can do one lesson per day, but one hour of math a day is my limit! In case you are wondering, we are not doing every single problem (about half of them).  It's learning the new (supposed to be review) concepts that are taking us so long.  And Saxon is a whole lot harder than Teaching Textbooks.
  • Olivia's online college classes completely stressed us out the first few days of school.  I know that I spent at least 3 hours the first day of school trying to get it all figured out.  Half of that time was spent with my friend Amy B. at my side with her laptop---both of us trying to figure out Blackboard.  Her daughter is taking College Algebra too.  Apparantly, Blackboard (the computer program that the college classes use) was experiencing technical difficulties the first three days of class.  Frustration!  If we can learn the technology of online classes, I think Olivia will do fine with the content.  She has been emailing both her algebra and English Comp 1 teachers, and they are happy to answer our many, many questions.
  • Sadly, I had two friends to lose loved ones (one a father, and one a husband), so there were visitations and funerals to attend.  Those events helped to put my stressful school week into perspective.  I am striving to concentrate on what is truly important.  I am striving to enjoy each chaotic moment.  I am striving to cherish my children and husband each and every day.
"Be joyful always.  Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Saturday, August 18, 2012

12th Grade Curriculum

For her senior year, Olivia will be studying the following:

  • College Algebra (online class at ICC)
  • English Comp 1 (online class at ICC)
  • Apologia Physics
  • Notgrass American Government
  • Notgrass Economics
  • Health (PACES)
  • Bible
I also have compiled a list of 16 books (in addition to the two assigned in English Comp 1) that I would like for her to read this year.  These are books taken from Cores 400 and 530 of Sonlight, and they are selections from both American Literature and British Literature.  

Olivia is scheduled to graduate from our homeschool on May 3.  Since we are beginning school three weeks later than usual, it is going to be a tough challenge for her to complete all of her courses by May 2.  I know she can do it.  It is hard to believe that 11 years ago she was beginning first grade!  Although I did not begin homeschooling her until January of her first grade year (she attended our local private school first semester), homeschooling had been on my mind and in my heart since she was a one year old.  It just took me a few years to gather my courage to actually believe I could homeschool--and then begin.

The homeschooling years have flown by!  In January, I will begin my 12th year of official homeschooling.  Since Olivia is my oldest child and my first child to homeschool, much of her education has been an experiment.  Thankfully, that experiment has turned out so well!  I was mentored, guided, and advised by a few wise, godly ladies, and much of the path I have traveled with Olivia, I am also traveling with the other four children.  I have made a few curriculum changes along the way, but my philosophy has remained the same.  I am striving to raise children who become Christians, who serve the Lord with all their might, and who set heaven as their goal.  

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."
Psalm 127:1

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ending the Summer With a Bang

As our carefree (ha!) summer days are winding down, we are trying to cram in as much as possible before the long days of school begin.  While I have been busy, busy, busy preparing for the upcoming school year, Jimmy has helped me out tremendously by taking the children on fun and exciting outings.  Yesterday he took Leah and Sam on a field trip to our local "zoo", the Tupelo Buffalo Park.  I have not visited the Buffalo Park in over 7 years, and  Leah and Sam have never been.  It is minutes from our house!  I pass it every time I drive to meet Lynn and other friends for our long run, and I always think, "I need to bring Sam and Leah here!"

They saw the world's largest giraffe in captivity (23 feet)--Leah has already drawn a picture of him in her journal.  They also learned all about the bison that live right here in Mississippi.  When Leah and Sam got home, they excitedly told me every single detail of what they saw and did at the Buffalo Park.  The field trip was a success!

After the field trip, Jimmy took Olivia for her driver's test, and she got her driver's license!  Yes!  She can drive now!  I am so, so grateful to Jimmy for teaching Olivia to drive, driving countless hours with her for practice, and then taking her for the final test.  I must admit that I have ridden with Olivia driving only two or three times!

Today, the fun continues!  Jimmy plans to take all of the children, plus one friend to Dismal Canyons in Alabama.  I will stay here--finishing up my school planning and cleaning, and also running some last minute before school starts errands.  The summer is rapidly ending!

I think we will have our Back to School Treasure Hunt on Sunday afternoon (and I have already bought the really fun treasure), so that we will be ready to hit the ground running Monday morning.  Not only do we begin school Monday, we also begin piano lessons that day, which means that our first day back to school will have to end at lunch.  I am still working on adjusting the children's work so that being finished with schoolwork by lunch is an actual possibility.

I am going to get started on my to-do list now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finally, A Blog Post

It has been a crazy, busy summer.  I have blogged less these last two and a half months than I ever have since I began this blog in May of 2008.  Last week I considered taking a blogging break for a couple of weeks or maybe months, but I decided to just jump back in.

So here's the deal.  I have been doing some major spring cleaning, even though it is August!  I cleaned out every nook and cranny of my schoolroom, and for the last several days I have been planning and organizing our upcoming school year.  I am almost done.  I think I can finish this tomorrow and Thursday.

Jimmy is off most of this week, so he and the children have been a huge help with the spring cleaning.  I typed up a list of what I wanted to accomplish before we start school next Monday.  It was two pages, single-spaced!  We have diligently worked to cross items off of that list.  We may even finish it tomorrow!

I am so happy to say that my running is going great.  Finally!  I have been meeting Leanna once or twice a week, early in the morning (early, as in I am home by 7:15) to run 6-8 miles.   I have also met Lynn twice for a long run, and we are all running together bright and early tomorrow morning!  Yesterday and today, Jimmy ran with me, and I really enjoyed that.  In fact today with his company, I ran 6 miles without walking.  That is a milestone that I have not completed since last November!  I met my goal two weeks in a row of running a total of 24 miles, and this week my goal is 26.  I plan to build up to 30 miles a week, and just run that amount until my next surgery.

I have said this for the last couple of years, but this year I really mean it:  This school year is going to be the hardest one ever! I really, really don't know how to schedule my day.  Realistically, each child needs me a minimum of one hour, and that doesn't factor in my read aloud time.  Since Clay will be an 8th grader this year, this is the last year that I will have scheduled time to read books to him.  He and Julie are both studying World History this year (and actually so is Leah--the second half of World History), so I know that Julie will want to hear the read alouds too.  Help!  Someone schedule my day!  I can't decide if I want to spend a huge chunk of time trying to create a detailed schedule on paper, or just start school Monday and figure it out as I go!  Maybe something in between.

The children begin XC practice tonight.  They are all thrilled!  Their coach told them at the beginning of the summer that if they completed at least 80% of their prescribed miles for the summer, they would be rewarded with a cool tie-dye t-shirt.  I am happy to say that all four of my running children completed this challenge.  Even Leah!  Even though we had school, and camp, and a week at the beach, and VBS, and just life in general, they dedicated themselves to following that plan.  I am very proud of their diligence.  And I am especially thankful to Jimmy who ran many, many of those miles with them--to insure that they got their miles in.

Tomorrow I hope to begin sharing some pictures of my newly cleaned and organized schoolroom, as well as our curriculum for the upcoming school year.  I also have plans to share recipes that some of you have asked for.

Thanks for all of your condolences for our sweet dog Lucky.  Olivia is working on marking both Lucky's and Lilly's gravestones.  I am not sure exactly how she is doing it, but I know that it will be perfect.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Catching Up

Over the last week or so, I have been steadily working on my summer list.  My summer is rapidly approaching the end, so I have been working, working, working!  Here are a few highlights of what all I have been doing.

  • Running:  Finally.  I had a 20 mile week.  Actually it ended up being 24 miles, and I couldn't have been happier.  I planned another 24 mile week for this week, but since I missed my run yesterday, I am not sure if that will happen.  I'll know by Saturday.  If I can run 8 miles today on my treadmill (it's raining), then I'll be back on track.  We'll see!
  • Homemaking:  I have canned three batches of salsa, and I need to can another batch today.  Each batch produces 6-8 pints of salsa.  I can whenever I get 30 or so ripe tomatoes from our garden.  I also made strawberry fig preserves using the figs from our fig tree.  I used chia seeds as the gelling agent.  So the preserves are 100% all natural.  And organic too I guess since I used our figs and fresh organic strawberries from the grocery store.  I have been wanting to make homemade laundry detergent for some time now, and last Saturday, I did!  So far I like it.  
  • Homeschool Planning:  I have not done too much in this area.  I do have each child's books in their work bucket or work area, but the actual planning of their daily schedule and preparing their materials is on still on my list.
  • Cleaning Out and Organizing:  I have completed all that I am going to do at this time!  Even though I love cleaning out things and organizing what's left, I was weary by the time I finished my list!  Actually, I still have a few minor areas left on my list, but I will just get to those areas later.  My schoolroom, kitchen, office area, and storage/craft room are all in order!
Last week included a visit to my new niece, Millie Janalee.  We also shopped at Costco while we were in the Memphis area, and Clay had a dental appointment with my brother, our dentist.  At the beginning of the month, I shopped for what I hope is a month's worth of non-perishable groceries at Kroger.  I completed my monthly WalMart shopping, and I bought 3-4 months worth of Costco items.  I still need to buy my Sam's stuff for the month, and I should be done with shopping for August except for weekly produce and milk from Kroger.

On a very, very sad note.....our sweet dog Lucky died yesterday.  Our whole family is heartbroken.  I plan to write a post about Lucky and the wonderful dog that he was, but I can't right now.  Many, many tears have been shed here for the last few days.  Lucky came inside our house Monday night (he is normally an outside dog), and he never stood up again.  I am so glad that he came inside for the last couple of days of his life.  He was surrounded constantly (and I mean 24 hours a day) by members of our family until the end of his life.  We will be grieving for a while.