Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summertime So Far

Summer is officially here - all the schools are out.  As a homeschooling family, the 'official' last day of school is lost on us.  We sort of start tapering off in mid-March and by the beginning of May, kids tiptoe into the school room to finish up the last few pages of this workbook or that workbook.

That last sentence makes it sound like all sunshine and lollipops around here.  In actuality, they slip into the schoolroom when I start handing out extra chores because somebody said the magic phrase..."Mama, I don't know what to do."

I'm thankful my kids don't moan, "I'm bored."  Their version sounds less whiny, but the truth is, it means the same thing.  And when I hear it, I come up with all manner of things they could do with their energy and time.

Anyway, Summer is here.  We purchased a pool membership this year and I had high hopes of spending lots of time hiding my delicate red-headed complexion in the shade whilst my kiddos were expending lots of energy in the water.  However, it's been kind of rainy lately.  As in it-rains-every-single-day-and-there-is-no-way-i'm-going-to-dress-and-sunscreen-my-people-just-to-swim-for-the-eighty-seven-seconds-between-rain-showers-or-thunder-storms.

So there hasn't been much time at the pool and this is how we are all feeling about it:

These rainy days have given us ample opportunity to try out some of the fun ideas I've found on Pinterest, though. 

This little game didn't work as well as it probably should have, but it kept all five kids entertained for half an hour and the younger two entertained for most of an afternoon.  So, you know, win!

Another benefit of converting to almost solely indoor activities is that Thomas finished up a project he's been working on.  He frequently rides the neighborhood and brings home roadside finds, usually in the form of wood.  His latest find spoke the idea into his head of building a surprise for his youngest sister.  His finished product was unveiled today, much to Anna's pleasure.

It's hard to get a good pic of the lovely little table he built her, but she was enchanted and the girls have already put it to good use for a full blown ladies tea party (which both their brothers crashed when they realized there was pepperoni to be had!) and a tea party for their favorite dolls.  When the sun comes out, I'll get a good photograph (you know, iPhone good) of his miniature farm table masterpiece.

Actually, the sun did come out for a bit today and Thomas bee-lined outside to start the mower.  We negotiated a monthly contract with him for keeping the lawn mowed for the 'mowing season' and he is keen to keep up his end.

This development provides him with a paying job that puts some jingle in his pocket and frees up quite a bit of time for Joshua.  If left on his shoulders, it would take him two evenings worth of work to maintain the yard each week.  With Thomas doing the mowing, he takes only a couple hours one evening as needed to weed-eat, deal with shrub trimming, and other much smaller jobs.

Today, however, Thomas only got most of the backyard mowed before the rains set in again.  But at least our neighbors know we're trying to not bring down all the property values!!

One day?  One day we're hoping to get back to the pool and resume the energy expending. 

Sooo, any suggestions or ideas for more inside activities?  We still have quite a few rainy days forecasted over the next week or so...

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Keeping Calm To Carry On - The One On Cups

 Once upon a fairy tale, there were magical creatures that came in to whisk away cookie crumbs, clear and clean out the refrigerator, and wash to sparkling all the dishes.  And everyone lived happily ever after.

That's a fairy tale I made up, in case you couldn't tell.

In my reality, we sweep several times a day to keep the crumbs at bay, the fridge gets cleaned out when I can't find casserole dishes anywhere else, and dirty dishes accumulate at horrific rates!

Thankfully, my children help with the sweeping and we stumbled across a fabulous system for lessening the number of dirty dishes.

Thre are many methods to keeping homes with lots of kids in supply of drinking containers.  We have gone through more than one rendition of water bottles, starting with sippy cups, graduating to Camelbaks (which we loved and lost), then to Klean Kanteen (which we love but are in the process of losing), and finally, I quit.

I mean I didn't quit watering them, I just quit buying drinking containers.  The kids still drink plenty of fluids.  They just drink it from regular ol' glasses.

Only it got to where we were going through 20 (or more) a day.  No joke.  Those people would use one, set it down, get thirsty later, and grab a clean glass.

Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Y'all... we drink water almost exclusively.  I'd walk into the kitchen and see 11 glasses partially filled with water.

I might have said (loudly) a time or two something to the effect of "WHY do you people need to use 6 glasses a day...EACH?"  or "WHAT ON EARTH???"

Or, you know.... something like that.


And then, one day, I had an epiphany. 

You know those little silicone bracelet things you collect from random places?  I sent the children in search of 7 of them (we call them bands).  They came back with about twenty of them.  I then showed them how to put the band on their glass and informed them that each morning when they got their glass out of the cabinet, they needed to place a band on it.  This was to be their glass for The Whole Entire Day.

The bands are stretchy enough that my (then) 4 year old could handle banding her own glass and they are totally dishwasher safe (we drape them over a tine on the top rack).  It's been a beautiful year of banded glasses at our house!

I won't lie.... sometimes somebody has a bout with forgetfulness and I'll find an extra glass or four running around.  It makes me a bit cranky, but I just do my best to remember that this is still way better than the eighty-eleven we were doing for a while. 

The fridge (and it's contents) is still an issue...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oh. My. Oils.

I know.  You're probably hearing a lot about essential oils.

Y'all, the first thing you need to understand is this:  Essential oils are nothing new.  (Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh anyone?)  They've been around for centuries and their benefits have been enjoyed by many.

However.  Modern medicine has evolved such that essential oils were thrown by the way side in many societies.  Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for pharmaceuticals and most certainly a need for doctors.  BUT.  Those times are not as frequent as we Americans have come to believe. 

In fact, in our 20-ish month stint with essential oils, my family has been to see our doctor for a sick visit once.  Remember when we found out Anna's lack of enthusiasm for the beach was due to pneumonia?  That was our last sick visit to the doctor.  October of 2012.

Since then, we've handled minor burns, ear infections, urinary tract infections, headaches and migraines, scratches, cuts, blood pressure issues, scrapes, bruises, the flu, colds, the monthly mood-swings of mama, the winter blues, seasonal allergies, stomach bugs, bug bites and more with our growing collection of oils. 

Y'all, if you hear me say, 'I've got an oil for that', you should at least hear me out.

Back in March, I had to have a tooth crowned.  Um, crown prep is uncomfortable when your locally numbed and downright painful when the anesthetic wears off.  I had talked to a friend and fellow oil-lover before I went in for the procedure and she (from experience) recommended clove essential oil for pain.

Now, I'm a weak girl.  I had an epidural with all five kids.  I have a low pain threshold and am a cranky bat when discomfort of any kind sets in.

Ask my sweet husband.

So when the dentist advised a prescription for a pain-killer, I'm pretty sure he was as shocked as I was when I replied I didn't want one.  (I knew if I had it on hand, I would take it.  Did I mention I'm a weak person?)

I was fine throughout the afternoon, but when the numbness started wearing off, it ran like a fox from a hound.  In a matter of minutes, I was ready to track down my dentist and haul him to the nearest pharmacy and demand, beg if helpful, bribe if necessary, drugs. 

But I remembered what my friend had said.  (Most of it...)  I beelined for my box of oils and ousted 2 drops of clove onto my fingertip and slathered it all over the hurting places in my mouth.

Imma tell you right here, right now:  Clove is considered a 'hot' oil.  This means that I felt like an atomic fireball had just given birth to quadruplets in my mouth.  The pain from the dental procedure evaporated within seconds (and stayed gone, amen!) but it took a few minutes for the heat from the clove oil to ease up.  I smeared coconut oil around, but I'd already seared a few taste buds off.

The second, and last time, I needed to use the clove oil for the dental pain, I heavily diluted ONE drop with coconut oil and smeared it around on my sensitive gums.  No burning this time, and the pain that I was treating was gone in seconds.  Way faster than popping a pain pill and waiting 30 or more minutes for it to take effect.

The dentist's office called the next day to see if I needed the pain prescription called in.  'No, thank you, though.'

We have some pretty cool testimonies concerning the use of our oils with our family.  We're a healthy family living mostly healthy lifestyle, anyway, but the oils have allowed us to avoid antibiotics for ear infections and other mild infections (good thing, too.  Have you read this article?) as well as address minor ailments here at home.  There are others with powerful testimonies concerning their use of oils.  You should hear my mom or my brother-in-law tell you about how essential oils have allowed them to control issues that have enabled them to come off prescription medications (smartly, with a doctor in the loop, even if the doctor wasn't thrilled about the road taken).

Another quick reason we love our oils:  Anna reacts in an ugly way to mosquito bites, and they LOVE her.  (She got her mosquito charm from me, unfortunately.)  This picture shows her back and shoulder after playing outside in a tank top for about 45 minutes one evening.  Then it shows what those bites looked like minutes after applying one of our favorite blends - Purify.  The second shot is taken much more closely so you can see the teeny spot left after the oil had been applied.  One drop of Purify - that was it.  And the bites don't itch and irritate her.

Before and After - Mosquito bites treated with doTERRA's Purify.

Essential oils are not the magic cure all of everything, but they are certainly a powerful tool to have in your medicine cabinet.