Saturday, June 30, 2012

Organizing our books

Books, books, books.  We seem to be over run with books at times.  I had put groups of books on certain shelves in order to make finding them easier.  However it seems that I was the only one who could remember where a book was supposed to go after it was read.  Oy.  My system was not complicated.  All library books on one shelf, all small board books on another, and the girls' books on two others.  I also had a shelf devoted to my books, and how-to books.  Anyways it was pretty obvious to me where each book went, but not so obvious to any one else :-)  So I had to take matters into my own hands.  I decided to put a strip of colored paper on the spine of each book.  That way all the 'red' books go on one shelf, all the 'orange' books on the next, etc.  Problem solved!  For the most part ;-)  The baby hasn't picked up on this system...ha, ha!!  Oh well, in time he will.  Hey, maybe it can double as teaching him his colors!  Killing two birds with one stone.

By the way, these pictures were taken with our family camera!!  It will still need to be sent in for a repair on the battery door.  It's pretty hard to hold the battery door shut (with force) and take a decent picture.  It will be a much cheaper fix than my camera.  I'm still going to miss using my camera :-(  Boo hoo.  But, too many other more important things that need to be done than fix a camera for that money!

Above you can see the green stips of paper that I taped on to the bottom of the spines.  I really love this system!!  Now no one, except that baby, has to ask me where a book goes!  Nor can they get away with leaving it out because...."I don't know where it goes."

Some books have one strip of color, those books belong in the living room, and some have two strips of color, those belong in the family room.  Above you can see a shelf with red strips and the one below are the books used for the online curriculum, Ambleside Online.  They all have a blue background with a white strip in the middle.  On the white strip I wrote the year the book is read in and which semester.  So for a book that is read in the seventh year, in the third semester I wrote, "7.3".

Had to include this picture of our resident cutie :-)  Tomorrow is a big day for Jedidiah.  He turns six years old....SIX!!!  Wow, amazing.  He is very, very, very...did I say very?  EXCITED to be having a party at the pool.  It will be lots of fun.  With so many July birthdays I convinced him that he didn't need to have cake for his birthday.  Ha, ha!  Actually there was no need to convince him.  Once he heard he could have pie he jumped all over that idea.  We will be making two trays of 'fruit squares'.  One of pineapple, one made with peaches.  Yummo!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bulk food storage

You saw in my last post the components of my bulk food storage set up.  I finally got it back in order this morning.  I still have a few more gamma seal lids I want to purchase.  I tried color coordinating the tops with the food, or name of the food, but I only had so many lids on hand.  For example our Prairie Gold wheat has a yellow (gold) lid.  However when the girls had claimed the blue lid for the cat food bucket, and I wasn't able to use it for my "navy beans".  So I used green instead.  I can always dump out the contents and erase the "navy beans" lettering when I get some new lids.  I plan on buying a pink lid for our pinto beans, a black lid for our black get the idea.  They only have about 8 colors to choose from, so some of the lids will be the same colors and some won't match with the food or name of the food, but it's a start.

Excuse the graininess of the photos.  Here is my two tiered system.  The bottom level holds the full, or in some cases empty, containers of the grains/food.  These are 5 gallon buckets that you can purchase at Walmart in the paint section.  They have the number 2 triangle on the bottom, which indicates they are food grade.  I purchase the tops that go with them, and they are a bit of a pain to pry off.  The top row are the buckets that are in use, that have easy to access lids.  That means I only have to pry off lids when the top buckets run out, instead of every time I need something from the regular lidded buckets.

You can see parts of our couch cushions in this photo.  Most of the kids were in the bedroom with  me.  They were playing dinosaurs.  The cushions were for their lay eggs :-)  Jonah jumped in this picture.  You can see I have room in front of the top buckets.  Presently this is where I put my bowl as I scoop out any needed food item from the buckets.  It's also where Aubrey climbs up to help me scoop out said food items, as does Jonah and Jed.  Who knew that grabbing some food could be so much fun!

A close up of a gamma seal.  You just grab the middle of that "X" and give it a spin.  Much, much nicer than having to pry, pry, pry off the snap on lids that come with the buckets from the store.  Trust me on that one!  I really want to purchase a tool that is sold to pry off such lids.  They run cheap, like $5.  It would save time, and fingernails!

Here you can see the gamma lid off.  On the top of the lid you can see the white rubber ring that makes the seal.

 I have two of these black buckets.  I wanted to try them out  to see how I liked them.  I get them locally, so I'm not sure where you would find them online.  These also twist off, but have a 'lock' feature.  You need to press in that red button as you twist the lid off.  This prevents children from getting into the buckets.  So far I have not had a problem with my children trying to get into the gamma sealed buckets, but if I did, I could always put any needed items that needed to be stored from children in one of these.

Here you can see the grooves, or bumps that help to lock the lid in place.  It's sort of like those child locks for cabinets, the ones with the pull 'tabs', the same concept.

We had a late start to the day.  Well, I didn't :-)  We need to get those tests out and I need to run to the walk in ortho clinic for a check up on my foot.  After that we really need to dive into our regular school day.  I have to say it's hard to get mentally into this school stuff in the summer.  During my ER time I brought along one of my Charlotte Mason volumes.  I brought the wrong one.  But God always seems to know what we need, right?  I really would love to share some of my thoughts on what I read that night.  Great stuff!  Until then, have a great day!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Testing week done!!

Yeah, the annual year end testing is all done!  I had to do three separate testing groups, one for Saoirse, one for Flannery and Moira, and one for Isabella.  They took two tests a day, for 5 days.  As we were preparing to set up a testing area in my bedroom the girls insisted we had a small table upstairs we could use.  I was pretty sure we sold it in a yard sale.  Come to find out I was right.  Although we did have our small 'preschool' sized table that is supposed to have adjustable legs sitting up there.  For years and years we've had that round table in one of our rooms.  But recently we put it up as space just seems to be getting smaller :-)  A good look at the legs and is was apparent that there was no way I was going to be able to adjust them! Hmmm, now what.  Improvise!  Not very conventional to say the least, but functional.  This is where we spent many an hour the last week:

UGH!!  I've written this post at least 5 times over and it refuses to allow me to write any more than the above paragraph.  Can you see the steam coming out of the computer?  Grrrr.  Let me try again....

 In my recent round of decluttering and reorganizing I made a set up for our bulk foods in my bedroom.  You can see the components above, but I moved them all around to make this testing desk. I'll have to take a picture sometime of what the set up looks like normally :-)

 There was plenty of natural light for their testing week.  And they had the fan blowing on them all week as well.  We've been trying to make it to July 1st AC free.

Adventures in Yard Work

I haven't finished my post on the other buggies we dealt with 9 plus months ago. But someting else came up that I thought I would write on.  That being our, or in this case, my, latest adventure in yard work.  I have had the girls go out in the yard to pick up the stray items that find their way around the place.  It seems that no  matter how many times I've sent them out there that they don't seem to understand what I mean by "Picking up ALL items/trash/stuff from the yard!".  So two days ago I went out there with them to show them what I meant.  The girls took turns watching the boys as I went around with the girls showing them what I wanted picked up.  Finally, FINALY, ***FINALLY*** all the junk has been picked up :-)  We did it in quick order too, so seeing as how I was ahead of things time wise, I thought I would throw in an extra bonus....mowing the lawn.  I had some of the girls bring in the boys, as it is too dangerous for little boys to be roaming the yard when the mower is running.  The other girls went around the yard picking up or moving any large rocks, or bikes.  I thought I pretty much covered the needed safety issues.  How wrong I was.  Silly me, since this was spur of the moment, I didn't go in to change my shoes.  I was wearing my sandles.  Note to self....sandles are BAD when you are mowing.  So here I was mowing along the edge of the garden (think mulch/sticks being mixed in with the grass), and happened so fast, I got stabbed with a stick on the top of my foot.  Boy did that hurt.  It was hurting much more than I thought it should, so I stopped to take a look.  There was a bit of a very small scrape and a small round circle from the stab.  I rinsed it off with the hose that was running.  It wasn't bleeding much at all, and so I went on my way, I still had some yard left to mow. 

I was over heated by the time I got done, so my first order of business was to cool off.  Normally I am pretty religious when it comes to washing off wounds.  You can call me a bit of a germ freak.  So it was not normal for me to wait.  Of course all of this was going to work against me in the coming hours, but I had no idea at the time what I was in for.  So after I cooled off I went off to the tub to wash my foot.  It had been at least 45 minutes since I was "stabbed".  As I went to rub the spot, I had severe pain shooting through my foot!!  OWWWW!  Alrighty, that is NOT normal.  After rinsing and ever so carefully washing it, I was able to see a bit of wood.  Ah ha, a splinter.  I washed off my tweezers and went to pull out the splinter.  Come to find out that this splinter went almost straight *down* into my foot, not the normal piece of wood just under the skin.  Let me just say that it hurt!  It was very hard to get out.  I knew I had some choices to make.  A deep puncture wound (the wood was 3/8 of an inch long) can cause issues since it's not easy to wash out.  I did some soaking in epsom salt and hydrogen peroxide.  I took some remedies for tetnus and pain.  I figured I would watch it to see what happened.  By the next day the area was all pink around it (2.5 inch diamater), and continued to be painful.  Not much changed most of the day.  I wondered if I should call our homeopath.  I thought I would wait till the next day.  But things changed quickly last night.  Over six hours my foot got definitely worse.  So much so that waiting till the next morning wasn't looking like an option.  So I went to the ER.  This particular ER has always been pretty empty.  Not last night.  Three hours in the waiting room (typical of most ER's I know, just not this one).  An X-ray to see if they could see if anything was still stuck in there, a tetnus shot, an antibiotic and some motrin.  I wish I had the time to call the homeopath, but I made the right call.  My foot looks better already.  It's still pink and swollen, but not to the extent that it was.  You all know I am not fond of antibiotics, but this definitely wasn't going to wait till the following morning.  I guess I'll be downing some probiotics in the near future.

Hopefully we won't have a repeat of any such events in the future.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Dealing with buggies the natural way

Some of you may have heard me referring to dealing with the buggies on and off for a bit now.  We've had three different buggies.  None of them pleasant.  But all of them treated naturally.  Most people opt for the insecticide/pesticide options.  I knew that I didn't want to go that route for many reasons.  The biggest reason was of course for our health.  If you have buggies, then you are not healthy to begin with :-(  No sense making it worse by coating yourself with poison.  It is important to remember that our skin is the largest organ we have.  What you put on your skin will be absorbed, and it goes to the blood stream pretty quickly.  Below I tell you how we defeated two of the buggies.  I will use a separate post for the third buggie. 

First let me state that this is what *I* personally did.  I can't tell you what you should do.  I do suggest doing your own research to find what will work best for your family.  Our latest buggie has been fleas.  Oh, how fun!  NOT!  This, so far, has been the easiest to get rid of.  I don't think we are free of them yet, I only started this approach, but we've had great success so far.  Our animals have fleas.  We've never had a problem with them in the past.  As a matter of fact a lot of people I know are having issues with fleas like never before.  I am assuming it has to do with the warmer than normal winter we had.  What ever the reason, our animals have fleas.  They got into the house because of the cat.  The girls just couldn't resist sneaking him in for some snuggles.  Unfortunately he didn't come in alone!  Not too long after their little sneaky ordeal Moira came up with these itchy bumps.  Over a 3 day period she had a total of at least 60!  I thought she might have the chicken pox!!  No such luck.  I realized it was fleas.  Our plan of action...

The first step was to give the cats a bath with the original blue Dawn dish detergent.  I'm not sure how natural that is, but I am sure it is a LOT less toxic than a flea dip.  Dawn really works.  Maybe another soap would as well, but this is what I read, and I was sticking to it.  The girls continued this for a few days in a row.  I had the girls get everything off their bedroom floor.  If it was cloth, it was put into the laundry.  If not, it was put away, or into a bag to deal with later.  I then vacuumed the floor.  Afterwards I made up a mixture of diatomatious earth (food grade) and borax.  Borax is poisonous to humans or animals if consumed!!  Do not apply borax to animals or leave it out where a child can get into it.  Because I was mixing this with the DE and I was sprinkling it onto their floor, I wasn't worried that one of the kids was going to eat it.  I made sure that I got under all furniture and in their closet.  Supposedly fleas like cool dark places (hanging out under beds and couches).  The girls used pure DE on their mattresses.  They rubbed it in and then put clean sheets on top (a face mask is needed as the powder can irritate the lungs).  I have been going room by room through the house applying the DE and borax mixture to our carpets.  The results?  The next morning Moira only had 2 bites!  Since then she hasn't gotten any new bites.  I would call that a success.  I plan on leaving it in our carpets as long as possible.  After I vacuum I will reapply the mixture.

I also made sure that the girls coated the goats, dogs and chickens with the DE.  Again, don't use borax, due to the fact that the animals may try to lick it off, ingesting the poisonous borax as they do so.  I believe the girls gave the dogs a Dawn bath as well.  Goats are very prone to developing pneumonia if they get wet so we decided to just stick with the DE alone.  We are also raking up all outside hay and applying DE to the ground.  A healthy animal/human will not fall prey to parasites/fleas and the like.  I know that our animals diets need to change, but until that can be a reality we need to try to get rid of the fleas/parasites physically. 

The second buggie that we dealt with was lice.  I think I mentioned how we figured that one out!  If not, the short of it was that Flannery told me her head was itching.  I *never* suspected lice.  I looked her over, didn't see anything.  A few days later she was complaining again.  I did a thorough search, nothing.  It wasn't until a week or so later that I finally saw the nits.  Oy.  I knew I wasn't going to use the OT stuff.  Not only is it poisonous but the lice are building a resistance to it.  I can't remember what I was trying at first, but I wasn't seeing result fast enough.  I did some research and found a product that is silicone based, that is supposed to suffocate the lice.  It is non toxic.  We bought it, at $10 for 4oz!  Ouch.  The instructions say that one application is supposed to kill them off and that you may have to do one more treatment if the first didn't work completely.  I was not pleased with the results.  We did two treatments and we still had them.  Mind you I was doing the whole washing all our bedding daily and towels and clothing immediately etc.  We really couldn't afford to buy more bottles of the stuff.  I did a LOT of reading on this.  Oh, I almost forgot I also bought a special nit comb called the Terminator Nit Comb.  People were claiming that the comb was all you needed.  Hmmmm, not too sure about that, I wasn't too pleased with pulling out wee buggies that were still alive.  So what I did was have Jeremiah bring home a large container of vegetable oil.  I put it on all of our hair and LEFT it on.  I kept applying it each day, without washing the previous stuff out.  Each day I used the nit comb.  The life cycle of the lice is about 7 days in the egg until they hatch.  They do not start laying eggs for at least 2 or 3 weeks.  So we left the oil in our hair for 10 days.  We did wash some of the oil out at times, but then after our hair dried we reapplied the oil.  I've been combing through hair just to be on the safe side, and NO buggies :-)  A large bottle of oil, and one special nit comb was all it took.  Cheap and non toxic.

My next post will be about my battle with scabies.  I HATE those things!!!!!!  What I did wasn't complicated, but a bit more to write about, so I will save it for another day.

I certainly do not like sharing that we've had to deal with these very icky bugs.  BUT if I can help just one person through their ordeal with it then it will be worth it.  Again, I am only sharing what I did for my family.  I am sure I am leaving some details out, so please do your own reading.  Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Why I've been missing in action

Two comments in a day after only posting two posts in a month!  There is a reason.  I wish I could say it was a good reason.  As any long term reader knows I stick with the basics.  This boils down to writing about life with a large family.  Lots and lots of things can be encompassed in that, I mean what *doesn't* affect a large (or any size family for that matter!!) family.  I have only written a couple posts on politics or my concern there of.  I've stayed away from such things like conspiracy theories or 'end of the world' banter.  Not that I haven't seen, or heard it, but I try to steer clear.  I mean, I have enough on my plate than to take on the world.  But recently that has changed.  Recently it has become evident that things may be changing in our country and NOT for the better.  As such I have been spending more time reading some of these issues and attempting to prepare, the best that I can, my family for the coming possibilities (physically speaking, which I am a fry cry far from being ready!!).

In a nut shell...I've been depressed.  Life as we know it may be changing (and soon), and it may never be the same again.  It's been pretty hard to get on here to write about daily life things (like the praying mantis that was found, or our diet change experience, or the new chicks, or seeing old friends...) .  It has been hard to engage in life.  I know that this is WRONG, but that is where I am at.  Kind of hard to really enjoy and engage in life when there seems to be no stopping what may be coming.  Hard to enjoy the little things when thoughts of being on the run, being persecuted, starving, your children dying because you can't access the basics of health care, or concentration camps are running through your head.  I am sure some of you may be thinking I have gone off the deep end, but I urge you to do your own research on these things.  The US has been training it's troops for civil unrest for the past handful of years, and it seems they are expecting a 'situation' coming soon.  I am very thankful for all I have, for the privileges I've grown up with.  I desire those same things for my children, and it breaks my heart to think that that may not happen.  I worry for their safety.  A huge fear is being separated from them.  The correct answer for all of this is to give my concerns over to God.  But sometimes it takes a while for that correct answer to become a reality.  After googling "Can America be saved?" I almost wanted to cry.  But I found one site, that echoed my heart.  Something I had been thinking about and was wondering how to implement (wide scale that is).  It's called, 40 Days to Save America.  I certainly don't think we should wait till the 40 days before the next presidential election to do something, but they have the right idea.  Please take a moment to look over their site and pass along their link.

There are many examples of God interceding for a country when that country falls to their knees in repentance.  I don't think we should wait till the fall to do this, but it would be good to come before God as a nation during this appointed time.  So this summer I plan on pouring my heart out to the Lord, the only one that can save us.  I know that we as a country deserve any punishment that we may experience.  But I also know that God is forgiving, and when people, as a nation, fall to their knees He may be willing to hold back that punishment.  I pray that there is a large enough remnant of repenters to call upon His Holy name to save our country.

There is much more I could write.  But I will leave off here.  My plan of action is to stop reading about this topic.  I know it's there, and from what I've read, not much hope to do anything about it, so more reading isn't going to help me.  Not to mention the worry and angst in which I have been living.  I want to enjoy life with my family.  I want to stop thinking, "I better enjoy this picnic, it may be the last one we go to (speaking of the Memorial Day picnic we went to)."  I know all the "right" theological come backs for my angst, I suppose for now I am not spiritually strong enough to find rest in those theologically correct positions.  I will spend extra time on my knees, and trying to prepare as best physically.  The results will be up to the Lord, and I can only pray that I will indeed find peace in that.


It seems I have talked a lot about organizing in the recent past.  I have been doing it.  We've been successful with some of our changes.  Other changes are taking a bit to stick, but I am determined for them to work.  Sometimes it's the small things that we change that can really make an impact.  I decided to rearrange my kitchen.  We've had our things in the same spots since we moved here, almost 6 years ago.  I decided to change things up to see if it would be a benefit to us.  One change was to move all of our plates/bowls/cups/silverware onto our metal wire rack, that resides right next to our dishwasher.  This means that 75% of the items coming out of the dishwasher can be put away without ever having to take more than a half a step.  I put our pots and pans into the cupboard where our dishes used to reside.  That gave them twice the space that they had before.  I always hated trying to tame the  pot monsters!  Take one pot out and a tower of others would come crashing to the floor.  Now there is plenty of room for them.  Plus I separated our cookware tops.  Trying to weed through them (among the monster pots) became overwhelming at times.  So those have their own drawer.  Easy to access, without having to rummage through everything to get to what I am looking for. 

I also had a battle with my spices and herbs.  I have about 30 glass jars (mostly mason jars with some peanut butter jars) filled with various herbs (medicinal).  I also have a largish group of spices that I buy at BJ's, so they are extra large.  I originally had the herbs in a cupboard.  Whenever I needed an herb I would have to resort to taking out most, if not all, of the glass jars to get to what I was looking for.  Since I was making various healing teas I couldn't keep all of my needed herbs in the front row.  I had seen this cute idea on another blog ( I wish I could find it to give her credit, hopefully in time, I'll update if I find it).  This woman put all of her cooking spices into the small mason jars (1/2 pint size) and put pretty labels on the top of the lids.  With the pull of the draw she could see all of her spices at once.  This was a neat idea.  But not practical for our situation.  Number one, we are seriously lacking drawers in our kitchen.  Number two, we go through a lot of spices and it's not practical to put them into small jars, still having to find a place for the bulk containers to reside.  So I found a solution that worked for us.  I moved all my bulk spices to my pantry.  They are lined up alphabetical.  They don't all quite fit, but it's the best I could do.  Behind the spices is another row of spices, these are extras of what is on the front line.  As for those 30 jars of herbs....I made some of my own labels with pretty paper.  The woman who I got this idea from just glued her paper to the top of the metal lid.  This would NOT work for our family.  They would  be in ruins in 72 hours.  So I laminated them, making it easy to clean off.  Instead of gluing them to the lid they manage to stay in  place with the metal ring, even when I go to open the jars.  If one happens to forget it's place, it's a breeze to just slip it back in, but this is rare.  Below you can see my set up.

Labeling my shelves leaves no excuse to all of the readers in our house as to where everything goes.  Let me just say that shopping day would leave my pantry a mess with everyone just throwing things in there willy nilly.

My bulk spices.  I do still keep some smaller spices in the original cupboard.

The bulk herbs.  For the peanut butter jars, as seen in the front, a bit off to the left, I just taped the label on.  Saoirse had great fun helping me with this project!  Since these are on a lower shelf I can see at a glance all of my herbs.  So picking the one I need at the moment is a snap.

A close up of a couple of lids.  Looks like I need to give them a brushing off.  The good thing though, is that they are being used!  And, yes, we have 'goat vitamins' :-).  It is an herbal mix for their health.  We get them from a site that makes only food grade remedies for goats.  So the humans in the family can use them too.
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