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December 30, 2012

Wrap up of 2012 and Looking 2013

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November of last year we started this blog after a suggestion from a friend of Al's and mine and a phone call sister's counsel. At the time when we started this blog I was in my last trimester of pregnancy and trying to potty train a toddler. Al was student teaching, had a 1 1/2 year old, and in her second trimester of pregnancy. Jo had a 5 month old baby girl plus her four other boys. It potentially was the worse timing ever for us to start a blog but somehow we survived the beginnings of getting a blog going.
I felt like though we posted in those first few months I wasn't really sure that it would work until Valentine's Day when we decided to make 3 outfits in 1 day, do a photo shoot and then blog about it. The funny thing about that is the outfit that we first started that post was Boston's which because the satin was cheap didn't wash well and I ended up throwing it away. I had a few scraps from Boston's dress and other projects and realized that we could make a 3-Tiered Skirt for Ty. After whipping that up we decided that we could just make Ryder's tie shirt since we had a small amount of super wide bright pink satin ribbon. Ryder's tie shirt was a big hit with him and when he would wear it we would get tons of compliments, which made me realize sometimes you will be surprised by which project is your favorite.
I love how the photo shoot turned out. It was fun to have the kids be natural and just snap pictures of them with their sweet personalities. After that Al and I were addicted. In relation to this blog I think we will always think of V-Day as our real beginning.

We were so pleased with the V-Day Outfits that we decided to make rainbow pillowcase dresses for the girls and a little leprechaun outfit for Ryder. It was so fun going to Walmart and picking out several different fabrics and trying to put them together for a cohesive rainbow. Out of that project the rainbow dresses were my favorite and Boston was able to wear it for a long time first as a dress and then as a top. Though we haven't done it yet it would be one that I would like to replicate it, with new fabric or maybe same though different occasion.

Even after this we weren't the best about posting but we tried our best. Jo was busy with homeschooling with a toddler and baby, made clothes for all of her kids for their Hawaii trip and some practical pillowcases, all the while being the encouraging big sister (Mary or Martha, Even Hermits Outgrow their Shells). Al had a baby (Birth Story Part I, Part II), played with the idea of being a Hermit, while trying her best to keep her house organized and laundry done. I survived my first real family vacation to Yellowstone,  me just trying to survive life with two littles (Tips for the Hermit that has to Go, 1/2 a gallon of Oil and a Greasy Baby, Try Again Mom, The New Mommy Project, When you say something stupid). We got to welcome our new sister Nae to the blog. She was busy with work, downsizing our brother from 2 storage sheds to 1, and taking care of 2 former bachelors. There was a lot to juggle and we were grateful to get a preview of the humor in her life. We look forward to seeing more of her next year.
One of my favorite/most used project for the year was Boston's Minkee Crib Sheet. It has been something we have both loved, I have loved how well it has washed (better than any other crib mattress I have owned). Boston's favorite project was her Minkee blanket, it is her favorite blanket and goes down so easily as long as she has a corner of her favorite blanket. Ryder's favorite project was his tie shirt and then the leaf monster suit.
This Fall we received our first feature on a Link up party for our Sweatshirt Refashion
So I Married A Craft BloggerThis is the most socially responsible craft that has linked up to date. Some sweatshirts should not be worn by adults. Check your closet. If you have a sweatshirt with horse heads or roses, please, help yourself by doing this craft. Your man and your kid will thank you. ~ So I Married a Craft Blogger
I loved participating in Project Run & Play Sew Along Challenge and that really pushed me to design and sew quicker than I ever had before. I met some really awesome women.

It has been fun having Jo closer since she moved from MN to MT to be able to see her more often. It was a treat to be able to sew a pillowcase dress for her little girl and take pictures of her family while Al and I were visiting for a few days.
Jo is such a shining example of what a modern pioneering woman is (maintaining a garbage disposal, easy peanut butter balls, remodeling her house).
Al has been a great support to me as I bounced ideas off of her and has played as an awesome sous seamstress to many of my projects (like helping me cut out tons of little leaves or even letting her son model a dress so I could submit it to PR&P since Boston was under the weather). Al has made some really amazing stuff in the last year but has been holding out a little so hopefully we can get her to display it here so it can be inspiration for you.
By the way did you see the amazing nativity she made? The truth is she actually made 3 sets of blocks and she was amazing at weeding.

Our goal for this blog for the upcoming year is to get more readers and to provide information for our readers that useful and inspiring to you, with the addition of Link-In party going every week as well. Soon we will be offering our projects, artwork and crafts on Etsy.

Is there something as our reader that you would like to see in 2013?
Silhouette projects? Quilting projects? Articles about Marriage? Recipes? Or something else. Help us out!
December 29, 2012

Excited for PR&P!

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Is anyone else sewing along with PR&P (Project Run & Play)?
My enjoyment of PR&P has worn off to my dear sisters and it seems as though they will be joining me in some of the weeks. I am really excited about this because we all have different styles/design/sewing strengths. I think you will get to know us a lot better through these challenges. Here are the different weeks and deadlines:
  #1 Jan. 7-10:  The Pattern Remix Challenge:  Remixing The Cottage Home Mama's fantastic Party Dress
#2 Jan. 14-17:  Stripes and Polka Dots
#3 Jan. 21-24 :  Boys Week:  Create a design of your choice for a boy.
#4 Jan. 28-31 Love is in the Air:  This week will be a Valentine's Inspired challenge. 
#5 Feb. 4-7 The Men's Dress Shirt Challenge:  Take a men's button up shirt (doesn't necessarily need to be a dress shirt---like it can be a flannel shirt---just as long as it's a men's shirt and buttons all the way up) and make something wonderful out of it for a child.
#6 Feb. 11-14 Week Six:  Your Signature Look:  Share with us a design created by you, that is all your style.
When preparing for this season I have really put my pinterest account to work. We have created a secret inspiration board with nearly 450 pins I feel like we will have a good starting as far as colors and designs that we like and would like to make into our own.
My idea for the first week is something along these lines.

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, from Us to You!

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Christmas 2010
#2 said, "Momma- I think Jesus is fake and Santa Clause is real."
Oh boy, I thought to myself, we have some work to do. Then I asked him why he thought that. He said, "Well Jesus died, but Santa Clause lives forever."
Things to teach #2-
-The definition of Fake
- Reiterate the Resurrection
This little boy never stops thinking!
There is a super cute/cheap/ easy craft for this picture at this link
This is a re-post from Jo's family blog

This year I made for the Grandma's a Christmas towel paired with a printable I had seen a similar printable over at Darling Doodles. I liked the text they had there but I felt like the scriptures said it better so I made my own printable that I will share with you here today and maybe you can pin it for next year. The towel is a simple white hand towel with red satin ribbon that I basting sprayed the back side and let Ryder apply it to the band on the sides. I then attached it with a zig zag stitch around the sides. 
Here it is the link to Google Drive it is 5 by 7
I even made a two handout layout to print on an 8.5" by 11" if you are doing it for multiple people

December 24, 2012

acrylic landscape

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I have had many people tell me that they would never be brave enough to paint.  As I was painting today I started to realize that painting is just like everything else.  You can do it if you decide that you want to.  Another one of my motto's is don't quit until you like it.  
So I am going to try and walk you through how I paint a picture.  

   First I like to find a picture that has good coloring and composition.
I tried to find the credits for this photo, but I couldn't.  I found this image on a google search for beautiful Montana Landscapes
Next I break the picture into shapes.  So for this picture as you can see, on the bottom half there are basically 2 triangles, a green and an orange triangle.  In the center their is a long rectangle that goes the entire width of the picture, and on top there is basically a wash of light blue with a few defined shapes.
So to start, I do the background, or the sky.  
Just a cloudy blue wash.  
Next I go in and do the mountains in a navy blue wash. 
 Next, I add the lower green triangle, and finally the lower orange triangle.
Now the picture has a basic structure, without any defining details.
I like to do the mountains next, adding details, and color, shading, and lines.  Then I finish the clouds.  My technique for the clouds is to use a lot of round motions with the brush, and never lift up the brush until I run out of paint.  Then when I feel I have enough white clouds on the page, I go back in and define them with a bit of color.  Next I move on to the green field.  I use a flat brush (This is the only brush I use, for the entire painting)
It is razor thin. I put about 3 different colors of paint on my brush, and dab away, making thousands of little lines all over the section that I am painting, always starting in the back and working horizontally across the page, and then moving down the painting and across again. When I did the grren triangle I used combinations of blue, yellow, green, and brown.  For the red triangle I used combinations of red, green, orange, brown, and yellow.   If it starts looking to uniform, I turn the brush a bit, and continue working.  And Wallah! a few hours later, you have a landscape worth hanging.
                                                         This the completed painting. 
December 21, 2012

A Sweet Experience

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Our Grandpa passed away this weekend.  He remained at home, with his 6 adopted children by his side.  He laughed, played peanuckle, cried, sang, read poetry, and entertained guests right up to his last hours. 
I was so glad that my children could be a part of this inevitable part of life.  Dying is not the end.  It is not something to fear.  We believe in Eternal Families.  We believe in marriage forever, not just until death parts us. 
As we looked forward to Grandpas return with our Grandma, we celebrated.  We cried.  We ate.  We told stories.  We hugged him.  We held his hands.  We welcomed visitors.  We learned. 
I learned so much watching my aunts.  I watched my aunt Renea come in and sit by Grandpa, pick up his hand and so sweetly cut to the chase.  "How are you feeling Grandpa?" 
He said," I wish I wasn't here any more. " She said," I know, but it will be soon enough. "
 Aunt Lori told so many jokes, and constantly lightened the mood.  She also cooked, cleaned, and basically kept the home running.
Aunt Suz is a nurse.  She seemed to know just the right things to do.  Wiping Grandpas forehead with a wet cloth.  Wetting his lips with an ice cube.  Running her hands through his hair.  Anything to comfort him as he passed on. 
Aunt Rose is the oldest sister.  It was sweet for me to watch her as she cried, and laughed, and sang, and loved. 
Momma Shaffer seemed to know just the right time to suggest singing.  We were all around watching Grandpa as he struggled to breath.  We were telling stories, and crying as we prayed that he wouldn't have to suffer any longer.  Then, Momma Shaffer asked if maybe we could sing.  Grandpa thought that would be a pretty good idea, so we sat around and sang hymns and christmas songs.  We cried and passed the tissues and sang some more.  It brought such a sweet spirit to the home, and it gave us and Grandpa some much needed comfort. 
The uncles and Poppa Shaffer were equally awesome, helping Grandpa with his needs.  Telling him that he was no less of a man for needing a wheelchair.  Or that Heavenly Father would surely say, "Well done" when Grandpa got to Heaven.  They also joked.   Like about the time when Aunt Lori couldn't change his oxygen tank because she couldn't find the wrench.  Uncle Mike laughed when she looked so scared and said, "What you didn't want to go home and tell everyone that we lost Grandpa, because you lost the wrench?"  There needed to be some humor.
They stayed up with him through the night, comforting him, and carrying him to and from his chair.  Changing his oxygen.  Blessing him. 
We told favorite stories.  The best story I heard this weekend was, when they honored Grandpa by calling him Crazy for adopting 6 teenagers and marrying their single mom.  Our Grandpa was almost 40 when he married Grandma, and the kids were mostly grown.  The odds of that turning out well were not good, but I honestly can't say that I have ever met a more cohesive, tender hearted, caring family, than my own.  I don't know how they all turned out so good, they all attribute to a miracle and a steady Dad. 
I love my family, and I know this is a bit sentimental, but it is also part of the Shaffer Sisters.
with love, Jo
December 21, 2012

Vinyl Nativity Blocks

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So Scary is super good at staying up on reading blogs. She found this awesome idea of making Nativity Blocks for your kids on Yellow Spool and pinned it on my Pinterest board (she's always doing this for me, which I love; If you want to ever see a random board, this is it).

These are the blocks from Yellow Spool.

This is a really amazing idea especially considering we had tons of extra blocks (that Power Shoes made from a 4X4) just waiting for a purpose.

I liked the general notion, but I wanted a stronger contrast because things to be bold. I put my Silhouette to work (as I do for most projects).
WARNING: This is not for the faint of heart. This took hours, but I really love it.

These are the blocks I made.

We used black stain (left over from my table refinish) on the blocks. I had some white vinyl and I downloaded some nativity images from Silhouette using my subscribe and save credit. Most of the time was spent in weeding the vinyl and making sure we hadn't lost any dots on the i's.Yellow Spool has a free printable to do the light ones.

Both my toddler and baby really love this. I am relieved to have a nativity out that I don't have to spend more time letting the glue dry on it than it is actually on display. This is something that I see myself having and still being loved even when I am a great grandma.


I used most of the phrases from Yellow Spool, but added some of my own words on the blocks that needed more.

  •  J
  • Savior of the World
  • Only Begotten of the Father
  • Luke 2:11
  •  M
  • Mother of Christ
  • Virgin
  • Luke 1:27-31
  • J
  • Mary's Husband
  • Carpenter
  • Matt. 1:18-21
Wise Men
  •  W
  • Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh
  • Traveled from the East
  • Matt. 2:1-2, 10-11
  •  Sh
  • He is our Shepherd
  • Visited the Babe
  • Luke 2:15-16
  •  A
  • Heavenly Messenger
  • Glad tidings of great joy
  • Luke 1:28-30, 2:8-12
  •  C
  • {spit}
  • Came w/ Wise Mend from Afar
  • Sh
  • Baaah
  • We are His Sheep
  •  D
  • Hee-Haw
  • Carried His Mother
  • C
  • Mooo
  • Gave up Manger for His bed
  • St
  • Sign of Christ's Birth
  • Bright and Guiding
  • Matt. 2:9-10
December 20, 2012

Trouble shooting and maintaining a garbage disposal

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So your garbage disposal is not working eh?
Mine wasn't working today either.
So I googled it!  What did our mothers do without Google?  

Did you know you were supposed to maintain your garbage disposal?  No.  Me neither.
So, if your reading this and thinking, "poor sap, her garbage disposal doesn't work"- go throw some ice cubes and lemon peals down your disposal for good measure.  And don't forget about tossing some baking soda down the drain every week.

OK, now on to the not working part
My garbage disposal was making a humming noise.  Apparently that means something is stuck.  They make a tool for that.  But, I didn't know, that's why I had to Google it.  
Warning* did you know that your never supposed to put your hand down in to the garbage disposal hole thingy?  Yeah I didn't know that either.
OK so we are on to the handy tool part.  You just stick that tool that kind of looks like an S shaped allen wrench into the middle hole on the under side of your disposal.  

Now spin it, until it spins freely.  
-now turn the water on and then turn the disposal on.  Does it work?  Great!

If there is no sound when you turn the disposal on, you should push that little red button- that is shown in the bottom right corner.  That resets the power.  If that doesn't work, Google it! :)

December 19, 2012

Snowy Bubble Skirt

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When I was going through my mom's fabric I found some leftover snowflake material from my senior year winter formal dress. It wasn't very comfortable fabric to have against my skin but I knew it would be perfect for a bubble skirt for Boston since the snow flake material is stiff it would give good volume but because it would be lined it wouldn't have to touch her skin.
Several months ago when Delia Creates published her Bubble skirt idea I made one with yellow gingham and gray elastic, I love it. And I am constantly getting compliments on it. Since Brooklyn is bigger now I increased the length and the width to accommodate her growth.
The snowflake material was cut at 11 inches long by 42 wide, the top layer lining is 9 inches by 40 inches wide and the knit that gives the bubbling effect is 7 by 22 inches.
I decided to mix it up and do a yoga waist band (because this girl likes to eat and with all the holiday deliciousness I could see that she would need the room). I followed Make It and Love it Yoga Skirt Tutorial for creating the band and attaching it to the skirt.
She was wearing it yesterday (got so busy I forgot to get a picture of her in it) and she kept swishing it around. I think she was happy and comfortable in her little skirt.

December 17, 2012

Looks like a NFC (Nothing for Christmas)

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We are kicking off to an insane week for the Shaffer Sisters.

Last night our dear sweet Grandpa John passed away. It was bittersweet. He was definitely suffering and it was good for him to go. Not only that but with every Christmas season that comes, he is left longing to be with Grandma Twila even more. This last weekend we all spent time with Grandpa John. It was good to be with family, share stories, and eat homemade rolls. I’m glad that we went to see him, but it puts us days behind since Momma Shaffer was going to watch the toddlers over the weekend so we could finish Christmas presents.
We are days behind, but trying to work as fast as Christmas elves can. We are trying to have a $0-2 budget per person.

As you can see the kids are getting along swimmingly. So maybe it will be a NFC for them, if they don’t start behaving.
We can’t promise that there will be a lot of posts this week. But we will try our best to keep the posts coming, even if they are in their most simple form. (We do know that these might not be helpful this year but maybe you can pin them and save the ideas for next year). If you have any questions about the how, comment or email us and we will let you know more.
Excuse our punny pictures, we are just in that kind of mood.
December 14, 2012

Wampanoag Unit Study

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The Wampanoag native american tribe, was the tribe that helped the pilgrims, when they reached the Eastern shores of the United States.
For this unit study we made a Wikkiup.  This is a traditional Wampanoag home.  We used some twigs that we gathered, some moss from the dollar store, a fabric that looked a lot like tanned animal hide to me, some hot glue, and some card board.

 This was our first project, so this became the home for our class pet, Rocky.
 This is Rocky.  We painted Rocky acrylics.   He survives on Faith and Prayer.  Each child gets a turn to take him home for the week, use him as prayer rock,  and bring him back on Fridays.
 We made native american feather headdresses, like those that the Wampanoag people might have worn to the first thanksgiving dinner.
This was a super easy craft.  I let each child pick 10 feathers.  Then we used a banded elastic and a hot glue gun, we glued on the feathers and then tied the band on their heads.  This was a highlight for them, and they were excited to see how different they each were.

We made traditional Wampanoag jewelry using copper beads, seashells, leather strings, and wooden beads.
I bought most of the craft items from JoAnns and the DollarStore.  The kids had a blast.  We also talked about traditional Wampanoag food.  I provided jerky, popcorn, and dried cranberries for the kids to snack on while we made our crafts.
This was a super helpful site, when I was researching what I wanted to share with the kids and how I wanted to share it

December 13, 2012

Easy Peanut Butter Balls/ abundance while waiting for the pay check

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We are getting a little low on funds here in Jo's house.  We are paying two of everything, until we get our Minnesota home rented.  So, when I say money is tight, it is tight with a capital T!
But, even though money is tight and I have only bought groceries once in a month and half, I am starting to realize what an abundance we actually have.  We have had plenty to eat every day.  We have had 1-2 loaves of fresh baked bread to go with our free range chickens, deer, elk, and wild boar meat (all from the great hunting men on Hubbins side of the family and some of his co-workers) .   Some of my nieces and nephews gleaned a huge box of potatoes from the field for us.  We have rice, pasta, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, beans, lentils, and every spice imaginable. I had several big bags of frozen vegetables, and even a case of butter in the freezer.   But, the thing that has made this 1 and 1/2 months so great is the case of peanut butter, and the case of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips.  We have had a little sweet treat every night.  As we have continually run out of ingredients one at a time such as milk, eggs, white flour, etc. I have had the chance to search for new recipes that fit my ingredient list.
Tonight was a HOME RUN.  We will be making this again.

                                                         Aren't they pretty :)

1 12 oz jar of peanut butter-(remember I have a case)
3/4 c of brown sugar
3/4 c of butter (softened)
3 3/4 c of powdered sugar

12 oz of chocolate chips
This is where I changed the recipe a bit, and added 1/2 c peanut butter to the melting chocolate chips.  I just think it helps the chips go a little farther, and makes the semi-sweet chips taste a little better.

mix the first four ingredients and roll them in to small balls if you like more chocolate or bigger balls if you like more peanut butter.  then freeze them.

After they are frozen or you have melted the chocolate and peanut butter together in a sauce pan, pull them out and roll them in the chocolate.

 make sure to lick your fingers lots.  make sure to let your kids help.  this is a super fun, messy, happy, treat making party.

Thanks 6 sisters!  This recipe was a hit!
December 12, 2012

Black, White and Damask All Over Bib: Waterproof Sleeved Bib

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A while back we took the kids to an all you can eat buffet, I got Boston a plate of mashed potatoes and went back to get Ryder some food. And before I could start feeding the potatoes to her with a spoon she had it everywhere within her arms reach.As people walked by they chuckled and some people offered condolences that we would have to clean her up. And I chuckled as I realized that it would be impossible to get her cleaned up. Situations like this have become more of the rule than the exception to it.
Traditional Bibs only protect in the 4 by 5 inch space that the bib covers, so we usually just strip her down and then redress her.  Which she hates getting wiped down afterwards. On Friday I made a fitted vinyl tablecloth for a family friend as I was wondering what to do with the scraps I remember I had pinned this little bib pattern from fleetingthings, so after few modification I made this little number: 
PS. This picture was taken after I did the pudding test and then I just dunked it in water and hung it to dry
I used the pattern but adjusted instructions:
I omitted the toweling since my vinyl is waterproof and flannel backed.
I sewed bias to the end of my sleeves before I sewed them together (since vinyl is a beast to hem) and I thought that it would be a congruent look to the bias trim that is around the neck and bottom.
I tacked my seams open before applying the bias trip. And top stitched on both sides of the sleeves.
Instead of Velcro I used snaps because I don't like when Velcro ruins clothes when it is tossed in the wash. I should have (but didn't think about it until after I installed them) put interfacing on the back flaps so that it was strong enough to deal with the pulling of the snaps apart.
I added buttons at the neck and the arm for decoration so that it looks more like a stylish shirt and less like a bib. 
Step 1. Get annoyed at mom for giving you a pudding cup but not opening it yet
Step 2. Put your fingers in the pudding
Step 3. Work on Covering your face and bib in chocolate
Step 4: Test complete, have mom soak in water for a minute and hang to dry.

This morning I decided to put the bib to the test and give Boston a pudding cup. I was so pleased with how well it covered her PJ's. And as of right now its the best bib that we own, but I am going to the drawing board today to make slight adjustments to the pattern for full coverage. Because the vinyl is stiffer than cotton with toweling then it didn't drape as well as I would have liked so I will be adding a send tie back to keep the bottom in place. I also think I will be adding pocket so that it catches the food before it hits the clothes and making the top a little longer.
After I sold plasma today I went to the fabric shop and bought some really cute Oil cloth to make a new bib with the adjustments suggestions listed above. 
December 10, 2012

Menschy Monday: Operation Honesty

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Despite my love for order and organization, I really struggle with the mundane everyday kind of house jobs and in particular dishes and laundry. Dishes are the better of the two since they usually get done a couple days a week. This is in preparation for company coming over, because I want to cook up a storm and need measuring spoons, or because we have nothing else to eat on. It’s really incredible how long we can make it without doing dishes, but it’s due to the fact that we have so many sets of dishes, pans, and measuring spoons. To help me get over this procrastination, I have called on Jo’s assistance. For Christmas this year, I am giving her all of the extra pans and dishes that I don’t need and that might be useful to her(don’t worry, she already knows).

So Laundry. Haha. It’s such a funny word to me these days. I like wearing and having clean clothes, but that is the one household chore that can get put in my bedroom, have the door shut on, and get forgotten about until the end of the day when I am more than ready for sleep. Right now I am wearing a skirt and nice shirt and I didn’t even make it out of the house today. Why, you might ask? Simple. I am nearly out of laundry and my basketball shorts and t-shirts are usually the first to go. Besides washing our underclothing, accidents from Ty, and super poops from Heber we have not done laundry since Halloween (I bet your jaw just dropped just like my friend Cyd and Scary’s did today). We don’t have a washer and dryer and a pretty tight budget so we just try to last as long as possible until the next time we visit a family member with a washer and dryer (thank you Mom and Jo for sharing your wealth). 

I remember a couple years ago when Ty was a baby and both Farm Boy and I were in school. Scary and I had ran to Wal-Mart for diapers. We were somewhere in the baby section and this little girl and her mom were down the same aisle. The little girl said, “Mommy, why is that Mommy wearing a dress?” I gave a sheepish look and said, “Because I really need to do laundry.” I could tell the mom was embarrassed by her daughter and told me that I looked very nice. I am probably the reverse of most people I wear the casual comfortable clothes first, and the dressy stuff on Sundays and when there is nothing else left. 

When we are finally all out we do a ton of loads of laundry at once (the one advantage of coin-op washers and dryers). I know this is something I really need to work on. There is an image I downloaded from Silhouette that says, laundry today or naked tomorrow. I should probably post this image all over my house, but I think that might just throw off the aesthetics.

 When we are completely out of clothes, I find myself forced to hollow out a pumpkin and cut some holes for legs and stuff my baby into it (see picture above)

Just kidding, that was a picture from Halloween. I want my husband to make me a wash board for Christmas so I could just wash my clothes at home. I also I hope that someday when I have a washer and dryer in my house that I will be more amazing about doing laundry. I also think that getting rid of some unwanted clothes might help this situation.What are useful techniques for those of you who stay up on laundry easily?
December 08, 2012

Star Unit study

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Friday, in our home-school co-op, I had the chance to teach about stars.
We talked about Hydrogen and Helium, the different properties that they each have, and how they help to create a star.  Then we built them with some fancy science blocks that we borrowed from one of the other teachers.  I am sure we could have used marshmallows and toothpicks though.
We talked about the birth of a star, which is actually AWESOME!  Did you know that the gas starts swirling and it spins so fast that it creates energy and light, and it burns into a star.  Now imagine 5 little boys trying to become stars.  AWESOME right?

                                      Carina Nebula
We did a little paint by numbers that in the end made a beautiful star.  Each one was a little different, since I had to draw them by hand, but that made them all the more unique and lovely. This is one of the completed stars.  I used to despise what I would call "busy work".  But now I choose to see it in a different light.  I recognize it for its good qualities.  In this case, the paint buy numbers teaches number recognition, following direction, and fine motor skills.

The scanner is a little off, but you get the idea.

We read a story about the new star that lead the Wise men and the Shepherds to Christ.
The children loved the cutout pages, the simplicity of the words, and knowing the ending before we started.  I loved teaching them about the birth of a star and then letting this story of the "new star" sink in.  Oh, it opened a myriad of questions!  I love their brains.  They are so magnificently built.  I can't wait to hear what they will say next.  I love how profound they are.
There are several songs with actions about stars.  "Every Star Is Different", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "I Am Like A Star" and many more Christmas songs featuring stars.  I love driving the lesson home with the spirit!  It is so fun to see them grasp something that leads them to a testimony of the divine creation.  As we sing of the Savior, teach of his divinity and Majesty, and then invite the children to do the same in their own way, the spirit is so strong.  Then I know the lessons they learn won't soon be forgotten.

                                       children signing

In my mind, a unit study is the most effective way to teach a group.  I love delving in to every aspect of the subject so that, in the end, it is firmly secured in the child's mind.  Some children are auditory learners, others kinesthetic, others learn visually, and there are many more learning styles.  With unit studies, everybody has a chance to learn in they're own preferred method.
The children I have the privilege of working with range in age from 3 to 7, so it is imperative that I have a variety of activities to do with them.  I also work with mostly boys, which is actually perfect, because they are the "movers and shakers" literally.  And I get that.  That means we switch directions often.  If I didn't have the stability of the unit study, I don't think I would be able to maintain the ebb and flow of momentum in our little corner of the classroom.
Today we covered less material because we are practicing for a play we will be preforming in two weeks.

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