Wednesday, July 30, 2014

50 States of Legos- Stereotyped

A Canadian photographer (hardly seems fair, at least an American should make fun of Americans!) used legos and stereotypical images to create scenes for all 50 states.

Here's Minnesota.

50 States of Legos: Minnesota
I'd say it's accurate.

Check out your state here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Inja" Turtles

Truitt is obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Never seen the shows or movies but that hasn't stopped him!  Also, he can only say Inja Turtle.  Adorable.

Anyway, we were at the Mall of America this weekend to look at the Sea Life exhibit coutesty of my parents, and the Ninja Turtles just happened to be there promoting a new ride they have.

They thought this was amazing.

The sign behind them says "Danger No Climbing", so of course they kept repeatedly asking to go up and hug Raphael.

Kembia is way into it, showing off her Ninja moves.  After we left, the littles kept talking about how they gave them hugs and high fives.  They were feeling pretty awesome.

Truitt has a birthday coming up soon, and he has requested a Ninja Turtle birthday, and we will happily comply!  I got a bunch of Ninja Turtle stuff on clearance a couple of weeks ago.  And just recently I saw in stores the new design where they look more buff.  Because everyone wants buff mutant pizza eating turtle toys!

Friday, July 25, 2014

If I had loads of money...

These are the things that have been grabbing my attention lately.  Actually, the first two have been on my list for a long time.

1.   2.Glacier National Park Blanket


1.  A cowhide.  I don't know where I'd put it, but I still want one.
2.  A Pendleton blanket.  In this pattern.  I am not normally a primary color type of person, but for some reason I just cannot handle these blankets!
3.  A Kitchen Aid mixer.  My mother in law swears by hers, and I don't really have the counter space for it, but I saw a copper colored one and I was kind of sold on it.
4.  A fiddle leaf fig that doesn't just grow up but out.  I have one in my room that started out tiny.  But it doesn't branch out like this one.  It just grows straight up. Architecturally a lot more boring than one with branches.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

$2 Nail Polish Beats Chanel

Did you guys see this article by Consumer Reports?  Where the $2 Sinful Color nail polish lasts longer than Chanel's $27 polish?

I actually buy Sinful Color (what a horrible name!), so I have to say that I felt pretty darn good knowing that it came out on top.  Chanel was actually 6th.  Let's see $2 vs. $27.  It's not even a competition!

I will say that a couple of the Sinful polishes actually dried matte, which I am not a fan of, so I recommend quick swiping your nail to see.  But other than that, love them, and they dry fast too, which is a huge plus for me.  I don't have minutes and minutes to wait for my fingers to dry!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Been Rough

5 trips to the clinic in the last two weeks have resulted in:  2 people with strep throat (myself included, first time as an adult), 1 ear infection, 1 bizarre, highly infected toe infection with a possible strep throat, and one "well" child visit.  I love to give my money to clinics.

I started to offer convenient, affordable and confidential access to prescriptions for those of us with busy lives and tight budgets.
Too bad Chris can't just switch from engineer to doctor....

Needless to say, with sickness rampant in the family plus school, I haven't had a chance to blog lately.  We're just trying to stay afloat.

However, school is going better than I thought it would which makes me extremely happy.  And we decided to officially start Kembia in kindergarten because she is whip smart, knows all her letters and numbers, and won't stop asking for it.

It's very, very basic.  We do Horizons K math.

Horizons Math, Grade K, Student Workbook 1   -     By: Alan Christopherson

For reading we are using the book How to Teach your child to ready in 100 easy lessons.

Product Details

And we are using A Reason For Handwriting.

A Reason for Handwriting, Level K, Complete Homeschool Set  -

And that's it for her.  It takes about 20 minutes max per day.  She was a little bummed at first because she was wondering who her teacher would be and where the playground was.  And when I told her I was her teacher and the playground was our swingset she was a little doubtful, but she's adjusted now.

And remember when I talked about the lizard we brought back from Missouri that was missing a tail?  Our salamanders ate him! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do You Paleo?

Vacations can almost always guarantee you one thing:  weight gain.

Enter Paleo.

Actually, to be totally honest, I am not sure I am cut out for Paleo.  No grains, no dairy (what is life without cheese?), no beans, and no alcohol.  It's like Atkins gone insane.

But, I am willing to try.  For a while.  Until I can't handle not eating cheese again.

Here are a few great Paleo websites, if like me, you find yourself wondering what in the world you can do with eggs...again.

1. PaleOMG

2. Taylor Made It Paleo

3. Cave Girl In The City

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sixth Grade Homeschool Curriculum {Ava starts!}

Well, we've got a week of our new school year under our belts.  And it's starting out great. (Ask me in a month or two and who knows!)

Anyway, I spent hours and hours researching curriculum.  And then I decided that rather than following a box curriculum by one publisher, I would create my own.  It took a long time to compile it, but I am so glad I did.

Ava's 6th Grade Year:

Math:  Horizons grade 6
Horizon Mathematics 6 Student Book 1
She doesn't really like math even though she is good at it.  We used Horizons with Owen last year and liked it a lot so we're giving it a go for Ava.  So far so good.

History:  Mystery of History Level 1: Creation to Resurrection

Mystery of History Volume I (Second Edition)

We love this curriculum.  It can be used with multiple kids at the same time.  I read the lesson out loud to Ava and Owen and then the kids have age-appropriate activities to do.  My favorite part about it is that it teaches history, but also teaches what was happening in biblical history at the same time.

Grammar:  Rod and Staff Progressing With Courage 6

Grade 6 English
I'm not gonna lie.  This one is a doozy.  It's tough, but widely considered to be the best grammar homeschool curriculum.  It is put out by the Mennonites.  Ava is very much self-taught in general in school, but with this one, I have to watch a little closer.  She reads so fast that sometimes she isn't comprehending as well as she should be.  Simple subjects and predicates anyone?

Vocabulary/Spelling:  Wordly Wise 6

Wordly Wise 3000 Student Book Gr 6, 3rd Edition   -     By: Kenneth Hodkinson, Sandra Adams
This takes a group of words and has you do a daily small activity with them to help expand your vocabulary.  We also use the list as her spelling list.

Science:  Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science

Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd Edition, Textbook  -
We love this too!  It takes a creationism approach to science and explains the issues that arise with evolution, carbon dating, finding soft tissue in supposedly 50 billion year old fossils....  This is technically started in 7th grade, but lots of people start it in 6th.

Literature:  Good books

Here is my post where I listed out the books on her list.  She is expected to read at least 40 during the school year.  Instead of worksheets that ruin the fun of reading, she has a small journal where she jots down a paragraph of two as she reads- things she likes, doesn't like, etc, about 4 paragraphs for the whole book.  Ava excels at reading, but we do the journaling as a way to keep tabs on reading.

World Geography:  Expedition Earth by Confessions of a Homeschooler

We're doing a modified version of this curriculum.  She does geography every day and rather extensively.  We do it three times/week, and pick and choose what we do from her curriculum.

Art: World's Greatest Artists 1 by Confessions of a Homeschooler

We're loosely following this curriculum.  She does art (and most things) daily, and we only do art 1x/week.  At first I didn't like the little books she uses for the studies- they're pretty cheesy, but Owen and Ava both like them.

Music: Piano Lessons

There you have it.  We may start a composer's series in January to flush out music class, but for now this is what we are rolling with.  Ava is very self-directed and does just about everything on her own.  I help with math issues and new concepts, and run through some grammar that is to be done with the teacher, but otherwise, she does all of her school on her own.

Easier than I thought it would be, but I think I am lucky in the fact that she can do most of it all on her own and has the personality for that.  She's not the type of kid with boundless energy and who needs to be brought back to the table.  That'll be Truitt for me and I will totally have to rethink homeschool!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Peppermint Tea- A Yummy Summer Drink with Health Benefits

After 8 days of being away from the house, my peppermint plants have grown like crazy. Which is good because I have been drinking peppermint tea daily, and if it hadn't of been for our Missouri trip, I quite possibly would have harvested the whole plant!

Here is a recipe for Peppermint Tea.  I make it hot, drink some and then let it cool and finish the rest as iced tea.

Peppermint Tea

- boil water
- take two 4-5 inch peppermint sprigs, muddle slightly and place in teapot  (you'll want a teapot that is 6 cups if using that much peppermint)
-pour boiled water into teapot
-add one black tea bag, steep for a few minutes, stirring occasionally
-add sugar to taste
-drink hot to enjoy immediately and cool the leftovers for iced tea

Here is a list of the health benefits of Peppermint Tea.  I don't know about everything on this list, but we have used it for stomach upset, headaches and to bring down body temperature from a fever.

Health benefits of peppermint tea (Good thing I drink this stuff like water)

And this has nothing at all to do with Peppermint.  But I thought it was funny, and since technically it's nature....

junk in the trunk... #captionme
Does this bark make my butt look big?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Treating Swimmer's Ear Naturally (at home with no doctor visit)

Ava spent much of her vacation time in the water.  Which led to Swimmer's Ear.  A very painful bacterial infection in the outer ear- from the eardrum all the way out to the part you pierce.

Just keep swimming! Always move forward even if you are getting bullied,you are having family probs or whatever just keep swimming!!!
Her motto.

Because she ended up going down with my parents almost a week before the rest of us went, I was late in getting to the swimmer's ear.  If your kid has symptoms, and it starts out with an itchy ear, you want to get to it immediately.  If not it becomes extremely painful, and will result in a lot of tears.

Because we were out of state, our insurance costs would have been astronomical.  A typical urgent care visit costs about $300 not including medicine.  And an ER visit will easily set us back $500 minimum.  Sooo, we were trying to avoid that at all costs.

Enter Pinterest.  What, oh what did we do before Pinterest?

And she totally came through.  A diy swimmer's ear remedy is equal parts alcohol 70% found in the medicine section of stores, and white vinegar.  Mix it up, 5 or so drops in each ear, wait a minute or so and flip and do the other one.  I did it three times a day, sometimes up to 5 times because she was in so much pain.

Swimmer's ear remedy

I also rubbed lavender essential oil around her earlobes on the outside because she was in so much pain and lavender is supposed to be good for pain.  Her ears got red and swollen and she would literally cry when I touched them.

We did this for 1.5 days before we noticed anything working.  On the night of the second she woke up and was remarkably improved, but we continued it for the next 2 days.  No doctor was needed and thus no antibiotics to be used.

Had I been able to get to her right away when first symptoms appeared, I feel confident that it never would have gotten as bad as it did.

And in case you don't believe everything you read on Pinterest, which you should be wise not to do so!- here is a Mayo clinic article on the exact same remedy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Day of Homeschool!

It's here.  Already.

I had all of June and the first week of July to get ready, and somehow it flew by and now we are at the first day of school.

Hello class, my name is......Mom.  Crazy.

Homeschool Room with DIY Farmhouse Table {happinessishomeade}
Wouldn't this be an awesome school room?  We're doing school at the kitchen table, Ava will probably do much of it on her bed due to lack of room in our house.

We are doing year round schooling following a 6 week on, 1 week off schedule, with two weeks at Christmas, and all of June off.  We'll see how it goes.  I am team teaching geography and history to the kids so we will start with that first thing in the morning.  Meaning I read the  lesson out loud and then they have grade-level appropriate exercises to do afterwards.

Then off Ava will go to do things on her own like reading, and science, while I focus on Owen, and she and I will later meet up again for math and grammar.  Schedule subject to change on what works and/or what doesn't!

We're doing a 4 day schedule with Friday being relaxed to focus on art and music and if anything remedial is needed.

And just for fun, because I have a feeling humor will be my best friend.

My mom is in love with my principal.  . . And I'm OK with that. After all, my principal is my Dad, and Mom is my teacher! I'm homeschooled and loving it!   

homeschooling humor | Homeschooling humor.

Image detail for -School of Awesomeosity: A little Homeschool Humor

Thursday, July 3, 2014

J.Crew Downing Tote Review

Remember this post where I couldn't decide if I wanted the J.Crew Downing Tote or the Madewell Transport tote?  Well, I ended up buying the J.Crew, and here are my thoughts.

Here is a picture of my bag now, after almost two months of use.  

Bathroom has the best lighting!

 I was a little disappointed that it loses it's uprightness, for lack of a better word.  The purse can collapse in on itself more than this, it kind of depends how much stuff you have in it. But I am not sure if the Madewell bag could stand either.  There also are some wrinkles in the leather on the bottom portion of the bag.  I don't know if this is due to the fact that there are two pieces of leather sewn together to complete the bag or not.  They horrified me at first, but now, it just shows that the bag is used.  The zigzag section gets a little worn out.  But like I replied in the comments of the first post, it has more of a charm to it- that I've had the purse forever, like some long-term heirloom that would have been much approved during Jane Austen's time!

It's a little out of focus but you can see the wrinkles in the leather and how the zigzag is worn.

The little pouch that comes with the tote is completely useless.   The size seems decent, but it is sewn so tightly that you can't get much in it. My phone doesn't fit in it, and I would be reluctant to stick credit cards or my drivers license in there.  So nothing is in it, but I still leave it attached to the bag.  Mostly from laziness.  Perhaps I will stick a lipbalm in it.  

The fact that the bag is one big pouch is slightly problematic if you are not organized.  It becomes a catchall for everything.  And with only one compartment, when the phone rings it becomes chaos to wade through the crap to find it.  I have resorted to buying little zipper purses for it.  One for my travel essential oils, one for first aid stuff, you get the idea.  It's not such a bad thing because when I want to switch purses it's easier in that way.

Cost ended up being the largest factor on why I purchased the JCrew vs. the Madewell.  I ended up paying $117 after taxes for the Downing Tote, and the Madewell Transport is $168 before taxes.  I think the zigzag adds something extra to the JCrew tote, but in hindsight, I probably would try and save up longer to purchase the Madewell bag.  I think that small zipper compartment on the Madewell would be well worth it.

For what it's worth though, I do have the Madewell Kensington Satchel, and even with all the issues with the J.Crew bag, I prefer it to the satchel.  Mostly because the JCrew tote is larger, and I am the type of person who likes a bag to be big for books.  And with 5 kids, my lifestyle isn't so much zippered up purses.  I need to be able to access the contents of my purse quickly!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Essential Oil Diffuser- Which one to use?

My journey with essential oils has gone really well.  We've used them for a lot of things, and pinterest is filled with a million more ideas if something comes up.

One of my favorite ways to use oils is diffuse them in a room.  But a quick google search will give you a million different brands, and all of the diffusers on Amazon have good and bad reviews.

Here are the three that I own.

The first is by Smiley Daisy and was bought off Amazon for about $50.  Oil diffusers aren't cheap, even the "cheap" ones.  I actually like this one decently.  But I hate the humongous, ugly logo on the front.  I've read that you can get it to come off by scrubbing with oil and sugar, but it voids the warranty.

This is a decent diffuser.  It works better in terms of output than the Samyo listed below, meaning the vapors come out stronger and farther into the room.  When you purchase off Amazon, the company sends you occasional emails on how to use the diffuser with different oils for different situations.  I actually quite like it because being new to this, I need ideas.

Samyo 100ml Aromatherapy Essential Oil Purifier Diffuser Air Humidifier with 4 Timer Settings & 6 Colors Changing Light
The second is by Samyo also bought off amazon.  This one doesn't have a  logo on it like the one in the picture.  And both this and the Smiley Daisy have a bunch of different colored lights if you'd like to have those on.  My kids think they're cool, I am indifferent.

This one works not quite as well as the above Smiley Daisy.  But with this one, it is much more pleasing to they eye with no crazy logo.

Both the Samyo and the Smiley Daisy seem to do better if placed up high on a shelf or even elevated on your counter.  The vapor shoots out the top but at the side and has a tendency to fall down towards the ground immediately.

Both of the first two diffusers work fantastic in a small bedroom or kitchen.  Any place that is relatively closed-off and not cavernous.

The third one is by Young Living. It retails for $96.  I ended up joining and becoming a member even though I am not going to sell the oils (I don't think they are exclusively the best, nor are they the cheapest for good quality), however, I really wanted to be able to smell some of their oils.  I have bought some full size oils (the ones that come in the Young Living kit are 5ml vs. the fullsize 15ml) without smelling them and several are quite terrible- my kids would literally have to be the sickest they have ever been to get over my aversion of them.  Buying Young Living's kit was a good way to get a bunch of oils, plus a diffuser "relatively" inexpensively.

I haven't had this diffuser very long but here are my thoughts.  The vapors come out the top of this diffuser (mine is slightly different in the middle, purple and less flowery if you can imagine).  They also come out at a much stronger force than either of the other two diffusers.

It does a better job of getting the oils up and into the air immediately.  And breathing them in, is of course, how the benefits of a diffuser are done.  So in terms of that, this one is superior.

However, Young Living suggest 8-12 drops of essential oil in their tank which holds approximately 100mls of water.  In the other two diffusers they hold a max of 120mls, and suggest 4-6 drops of oils.  The Young Living diffuser only stays on for about 1 hour and it pumps out all the water in that timeline.  With the other two diffusers, you can set how much it comes out with the Smiley Daisy, either slow- cycle every 30 seconds of diffusing, then not, or with the Samyo you can set how much time to diffuse, up to 3 hours.  You don't have any of those options with the Young Living diffuser.

You also are going to use more oils much faster with the Young Living if you stick with 8-12 drops, but even if you don't, it spits out the same amount of water as the other two a lot faster, so even if you don't use the drop number they suggest, in the end you will still use more oil.

The biggest issue with the Young Living diffuser is the price.  I ended up not paying $96 because it came in my kit with 10 different oils, but at that price you could by both of the other diffusers, and have a couple for different rooms.  Which you are going to want.  Right now Owen is asleep in his room with Peppermint diffusing to help his fever, and Truitt has one in his room pumping out oils for respiratory issues.

If you are looking at a bigger room, then I would suggest the Young Living diffuser.  It made the oils go through our living room, which is decent sized much quicker than the other two.

My advice is to think hard about where you are going to put your diffuser, your price point, and how you want the oils to come out.  Maybe your plan is to put it on a shelf somewhere, and then I would definitely say buy a cheaper one, but if you are thinking about putting the diffuser in a relatively large room, I would probably go with the Young Living if you can afford it.