Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

I struggle every year with gift giving because I want to make something homemade without it seeming cheap. I think I found a good balance this year and apologize in advance if anyone related to me is reading this. You may want to stop reading if you want to be surprised.

I found several recipes for sugar scrubs and was pleasantly surprised by the results after testing the recipes.

1 1/2 C sugar
1/4 C olive oil
several tsp vanilla

The vanilla is a strong enough scent that it didn't have trouble masking the smell of the olive oil. If I need to make anymore, I'll use coconut oil in place of the olive oil. My hands were left super soft and did not feel greasy. I cleaned up the kitchen after using the scrub and even after a few hand washings, my hands were still soft.

2 1/2 C sugar
1 C olive oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice

This one worked just as well on my hands, but the olive oil smell was very hard to mask with lemon juice. If I make this again, 1/2 C of olive oil should be enough.

I put the sugar scrubs in canning jars and will decorate them so they look fancy.

Another thing I am trying this year is making my own soaps. I am picky about soap ingredients and looked everywhere for a reasonably priced sodium laurel sulfate free melt and pour soap. Bramble Berry had what I wanted. I ordered their sampler pack that includes hemp, clear, white, aloe, honey, shea, and goatsmilk. I plan to buy a couple of essential oils to mix in with the soaps. I am super excited and hope that the soap bars are well received.

I also ordered lip balm melt and pour from Bramble Berry. The ingredients are simple and a small amount of base makes several tubes of lip balm.

All grandparents and great grandparents will be receiving 4x6 photo albums of my favorite pictures from this year.

The gifts will go to 11 people and will cost about $50. I enjoy making and giving (and receiving) homemade gifts and the cost fits our budget.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baby #4

I am almost 20 weeks along, which doesn't seem possible. We had our first, and I hope only, ultrasound on Friday and discovered that baby #4 is a girl. I am elated. Maeve is happy too and is excited to have someone play Littlest Pet Shop with her. The boys are mostly indifferent, although before the appointment Finn said that he wanted a brother. I am hoping that this little girl will be a good personality match for Finn. Maeve and Oren are two peas in a pod and often gang up on my sensitive Finnegan.

The baby looks healthy as far as I could tell and was using her arm as a pillow. She was a little over 12 oz, although I don't put much stock into ultrasound measurements. I am able to feel her movements more frequently now and know that it's only a matter of time before she's up in my rib cage. I feel like my belly is growing at an astounding pace and I am hungry all day. I try to have some control over my portions because I do not want to gain 55 lbs this time around. I'm not sure if it's possible for my body to stay within the 25-35 lb recommended weight gain, but I'm going to try. I've got exercise covered because Oren has started sprinting when we are out in public. Last week at Kohl's I saw a woman try to hide her laugh because I was running through the picture frame section trying to catch Oren. Stinker.

We have mostly picked out a name for the baby. I say mostly because the kids hate the name and insist on calling the baby another name on our list. We'll see. I tend to change my mind several times. We're going to get odd looks and criticism for whatever name we choose so it ultimately doesn't matter.

I need to start sewing diapers and figure out where to put the baby's clothes. We'll be able to use everything from Maeve because the seasons will match. I am very happy about that since it did not work that way with the boys.

I also need to start thinking about childbirth. Childbirth is a beautiful, wonderful, empowering experience, however, I would like to click my heels together and have her magically appear in my arms. I'm undecided as to whether I need a doula. Mathew was excellent the last time and very attentive to my needs. He doesn't say much though and I think I need to hear more encouragement and a calming voice of reason. My inner dialogue during Oren's labor went something like "why is this taking so long and OUUUCHH." Granted, labor and delivery was only three hours, but it was a whole hour longer than Finn's labor and delivery. I think that extra hour was all transition and constant contractions. Fun times. It's funny now that I think about it. My labor with Finnegan was calm and quieter and that matches Finn's personality. Oren's labor was a lot of moving, switching positions, and vocalization, all of which fit his personality. Interesting.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Homeschooling Update

This school year is going well so far.

Maeve has started reading and tells the boys to pick out one book at bedtime for her to read. She lacks confidence with spelling, but when prompted, almost always spells the word correctly. Singapore was not a friendly math for Maeve so we switched to Life of Fred. She is much happier and is now asking to do math. We've done a few grammar lessons out of First Language Lessons for a Well Trained Mind and I think that book will work out well. Our focus in science is animals and we are working through the Usborne book of animals. I don't remember the exact title. We are finished with an intro to American History and are jumping to world history. I am loosely basing our history lessons on Sonlight's Core B curriculum for the rest of the year. Maeve isn't a huge fan of her Explode the Code workbooks, but they have helped with her lower case handwriting and they also force her to read and understand what she reads. I think she finds the workbooks redundant and boring. We're still working through the Progressive Phonics books and Maeve is able to breeze through them.

Finn is still great at math. He's almost finished with Singapore 1A and the math is getting hard for him. He works at his own pace and we rarely read the lesson out of the book before starting the problems. He has finished two Explode the Code workbooks and can recognize many words. Finn still has the option of whether or not he wants to participate in school for the day. Sometimes he'll go grab his math or another activity and sometimes he'll go play the Wii. He's only four so I don't feel the need to push academics.

Oren is Oren. I've started trying to include him more by doing a letter a week. He likes to glue and cut so I start our day with a craft geared towards him. Oren has no interest in letters, but he loves books right now. His favorites are The Little Lamb, Where Does Maisy Live?, The Belly Button Book, Come Along Daisy, The Grumpy Goat, and his newest special book is Velociraptor.

I've incorporated calender time into our school day. We pull up the day's weather and on a marker board the kids write the current temperature and the high for the day. They also write the time (and show it on an analog learning clock), day, month, and date. We say the Pledge of Allegiance too, although that usually gets a lot of moans.

All in all, I am pleased with how things are going.