Our goodies are here! Marie Madeline Studio!

You should have heard the squeals when the mail carrier arrived with our package this morning!  We had so much fun choosing what to order that it took us over a week to put together our order.  Would you believe that everything was sewn, packaged, shipped and received in less time than it took us to decide?

This is our 2nd round of goodies from the sweet ladies at Marie Madeline Studio, and it was just as exciting as the first.  The girls are having a photo shoot this very moment.  That’s why the gallery of photos will be at the bottom of this post.  There are going to be far too many photos to give an individual treatment.  I could see it in their eyes.

As soon as we opened the packages, the seamstresses among us were struck at the stunning quality of every seam and hem on every item.  I don’t know how they do it but their work is utterly flawless.  ‘Nuff said.

Last time we ordered the mid-calf Gracie ruffle skirts.  Those skirts are all still going strong, so this time the younger ones chose the brand new Tessa bloomers – perfect for girly girls who love to climb trees and jump on the trampoline.  Kaitlyn and Lydia chose Bianca handbags, and Megan and Deanna chose some of the beautiful high quality fabric to craft their own creations.  Megan is already planning her first-ever quilt, while Deanna wants to make herself a skirt this time.

Can you tell they’re having fun in the photos below?

I heart Swagbucks

Why didn’t I join Swagbucks sooner?  Leave it to me to be the next-to-last one to jump on the bandwagon.  Now that I’m on, you’re probably the last one.  Jump on with me!

I just blogged about Swagbucks a few days ago on Frugal Hacks, and already I have enough for $10 in Amazon gift cards!  We already use google all the time, so I added the Swagbucks search engine and now I get paid for something I was already doing for free.  That’s my idea of fun!

Exclusive code

To join, just go here and fill out the simple form, and they’ll start you out with 3 Swag Bucks.  I also got 1 Buck with my very first search.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Want more?  Here’s a special code just for my bloggy friends to get 2 bonus bucks when you sign up:  LIFEINASHOE (case sensitive).  It’s good through midnight, Friday, May 9 so hurry!  Feel free to tell everyone you know.  I don’t mind.  :D


Search & Win

Our weekend summarized in linkage

We had a whirlwind weekend at the Oklahoma City homeschool conference.  I’d love to tell you about it, but we’re still pulling things back together now that we’re home, so here are a few quick links to sum up our weekend:

  • We made a quick-stop at IKEA. Hubby indulged me and let me run in and out for this incredible drying rack.  We’re using it already, and it’s everything we hoped it would be!
  • We met Julia and her family. They own an amazing old white brick building in Oklahoma City, with a coffee shop downstairs, a creation science museum on the second floor, missionary apartments being constructed on the third floor, etc.  We went up and down the elevator, touring the place from top to bottom.  Julia sold some adorable baby dresses from her Young Entrepreneur’s booth at the conference, and she has more on her blog.  I really love this one with the cowboy theme.
  • The Boy had a beautiful curly-headed admirer. It was love at first sight, and she cried when he left.  They met again the next day: he spotted her from afar, and asked to go visit.  At first she didn’t notice him standing there awkwardly; then their eyes met.  Hers grew wide with surprise, and she dropped her ball and ran and threw herself into his arms.  She’s only 14 months old, so she’ll get over him someday.  We brought our camera, but left the memory card at home, so we have no pics to remember her by.
  • We met old friends and new ones at the conference. Why didn’t I jump up and hug Kelli when she came by?  Mainly because I had just met somebody with exactly the same name – first name and last! – and was still very confused.  I know what you’re thinking: it’s not hard to confuse me.  Any excuse will do.  I’m afraid lots of people caught me with a dazed and confused look on my face this weekend.  If you were one, thank you for not laughing.  :)  Hi, Karen.  Hi, Edie.  Hi, Other Person Whose Name I Have Already Forgotten.  Hi, James Bond.  Yes, he was at our booth.  I checked his ID.  He actually looked a little like Sean Connery, too.
  • We heard about Swine Flu ad nauseum. And I don’t mean we were nauseated because we had it, though we might very well have had it a few weeks ago.  Who knows?  The symptoms are striking only in their complete lack of distinguishing qualities or uniqueness.  I have a sneaking suspicion that half of the country already had it over the last 2 months.  I find it telling that interviews with victims are almost entirely absent, though I did manage to dig up this one.  Could it be that there’s simply no story to tell, once you move away from hysteria toward reporting actual news?
    If you think that’s not quite scary enough, try reading this link that Candace found.  It looks like normal, run-of-the-mill influenza isn’t quite as scary as the CDC wants us to think.
  • I got really excited about Swagbucks when I saw lots of new bucks appearing in my account.  Look for a post about that very soon.  Like, in an hour.  I have an exclusive coupon code to share with my readers!
  • We arrived home to find new DIVE CDs in our mailbox! Review to follow.  After we get back to school, that is.  Today, it’s laundry.  We’re doing Home Ec.

The Boy promises not to drown…again

All the work at the Oklahoma City homeschool conference was done last night, and this morning we’re getting ready to check out of the hotel and head home.

Well, we will be getting ready after hubby and the kids get back from a quick morning swim.

Did I mention what happened last time they went swimming in the hotel pool?

Thursday evening, they all came blasting back into the room, one hubby and a hurricane of wet excited children, and The Boy ran straight to me with huge earnest eyes.  “Mom!  I drowned!”

“You WHAT?”

Nearly everyone in the room repeated after me: “He WHAT?!”

I’ve heard a thing or two about raising boys.  It seems a mother can expect approximately 2.7 near-death experiences per week, per boy.  Our boy is way behind on that schedule, perhaps because his dad had so very many in his younger days.  Nevertheless I was curious, so I inquired further.

Apparently he was sitting in the hot tub with the bigger girls and lost his seating, slipping off the steps and toward the center.  He’s short, and the hot tub was deep.  Natalie felt him tugging her hair from behind, and tried to swat him away.   That’s when Megan realized that he was under water. No harm done; she fished him out, and he wasn’t even scared yet.  He was just annoyed that he got water in his eyes.  It was all so fast that only the one fishing him out knew about it.

And so it begins.  I may not like pools, but at least I’m not scared by blood, bugs, snakes, toads or spiders, because I hear there’s a lot of those involved in raising boys, too.

Swine flu

I know a lot of people are scared, but I have a confession to make.  I can’t help being suspicious that the general public is being whipped into a panic over a manufactured crisis.  Every time I hear somebody on the news say, “Don’t panic, but…” it just sounds like they are suggesting that you’re going to feel the need to panic when you know all the facts.

It’s like talking to a little kid who just skinned her knee.  Do you say, “You’re fine.  There’s just a few drops of blood,” or do you scream, “Don’t look!  I think you’re bleeding!”  Does any mother in the world think that’s a good way to keep a 5yo from panicking?

Call me cynical, but the CDC’s Key Facts About Swine Flu simply don’t look that scary.   The google map showing confirmed and suspected cases of Swine flu in the US doesn’t look that scary.  Influenza already kills 35,000 people every year in the US, and nearly 10 times that many people worldwide.  So far, the WHO only credits the H1N1 strain (Swine Flu) with about 13 deaths worldwide, though Mexican sources were earlier blaming it for nearly 200.

For a more balanced view than what the media is presenting, you might want to take the time to read this extensive article from Mercola.com, or watch this brief video of Ron Paul reminiscing about the 1976 outbreak.  Did you know that exactly 1 person died from Swine flu back then, while at least 25 died from vaccinations and thousands suffered severe side effects of the vaccinations?

First, the government wanted to bail out our economy.  Now we have a health crisis, and they’re ready to leap to our rescue again.   Can I see a show of hands?  Who think this might help certain parties in their goal to achieve nationalized healthcare?

No Shampoo, week 8 1/2: Let the mockery begin

After my little pity party in the last update, it’s only fair to let you know that things are going better now – except where the part about mockery comes in, but no fair reading ahead.  All mockery in due time.

Last time I posted about my no-shampoo adventure, I was feeling discouraged.  After weeks of steady improvement and a decrease in the amount of oil produced by my scalp, I felt like I was regressing.  My hair was suddenly more oily instead of less.  My dandruff seemed to be coming back.  I thought I was almost done adjusting and then it seemed like I might be back in the early stages again.  I was whiny.

I asked for encouragement, and I received it.  Thank you.

Now my hair is also encouraging me.  This week, I feel like I’m back on track.  My hair is feeling and looking better than it has in weeks or months, with less washing.  I used an egg on it this morning just to get ready for our trip to Oklahoma City, but I can’t remember the last time I egged it, and it really wasn’t too oily yet.

Which brings me to the bit about mockery.

A sweet and encouraging reader suggested this:

…Then try an egg mixed with lemon juice, 1/4 cup water and BS pour it on bit by bit and really massage it in well to the scalp and through the hair. Followed by a cold CV rinse…

I love you Sophie, but I got the impression that you said to mix the egg, lemon juice, water and baking soda all together before using it on your hair, right?

So I did it.  Was this a practical joke, Sophie?  Are you sitting in front of your computer giggling right now?

You all have my permission to start laughing now, because I’m probably the only one who didn’t see this coming.  I found myself holding an impromptu science experiment in the palm of my hand.  My “shampoo” turned into an overflowing glass of yolk-colored fizz and foam.  I yelped and stammered in surprise, trying to decide whether I was closer to the bathroom sink or the kitchen sink, while all the kids came running to see what their ever-calm-and-collected mother was so excited about.

When the reaction had slowed, I went on with what I doing.  My hair is nice and clean now, and I expect it to stay that way through the weekend, maybe with the help of a baking soda/vinegar treatment in a few days.

Oh, and you can stop laughing now.  It’s not that funny.

What’s on your weekend agenda?

We’ll be in Oklahoma City at the Vision Forum booth!  It’s our family’s first conference of the year.  Will we see you there?

Math news

We’re not much on drills, but today we’re doing these math drills for fun, in addition to Saxon for the bigs and Spectrum for the littles.

In other math news, we recently did the Saxon placement test and found that all 4 of the big girls were ready to move up.  I expected them to do well since Meg went from Math 65 to 87,  Lydia went from Math 76 to Algebra 1/2, and Kait and Deanna both went from Math 87 to Algebra 1.  We chose to ignore the warning that the placement test should not be used for this purpose, but instead should be used to place students who are moving to Saxon from another publisher.  So far, it seems to be going very well.

I think I have finally hit upon a plan to motivate the children to greater accuracy in their math: like many other families, I only require them to do the odd-numbered problems, IF they miss no more than 2 problems.  If they miss more than 2, they have to go back and do the even-numbered problems as well.  Suddenly they are very careful to double-check all answers, and even the nameless daughter who frequently missed up to 50% of her problems due to carelessness now consistently gets a near-perfect score!

And last but not least, we’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of our DIVE Into Math CDs from Dr. Shormann!  Hurrah!

Once more because we need to hear it.

Download the audio on Behemoth.com for free here: Doug’s ‘Freedom at Risk Speech’ on behemoth.com

Adventures in sprouting

Heather asked about our new sprouting ventures.  We’re hardly experts, but you knew that already.  Nonetheless, I’m glad to share what I’ve learned so far.

We ordered some seeds and an inexpensive sprouting jar from Lucky Vitamin, who had the best price around and flat $4.99 shipping.  I was really waiting for my Easy Sprouter to arrive from Marci’s Amazing Graze Farm general store, but I suspected we would want more than one sprouter anyway.

LENTILS

As it turned out, the Easy Sprouter arrived before the seeds.  No problem – the instructions said that lentils were ideal for beginners, and we had some in the pantry!  I put 1/2 cup in the sprouter and let them soak in warm water.  Just before bed, I drained them.  The directions said that when you use the Easy Sprouter rinsing is not necessary for most sprouts, including lentils, so we just watched and waited.  By the following evening we had tiny sprouts!  It was that easy.  We started nibbling right away, and had eaten all of them before the next day was out.

To my surprise, they got rave reviews from all of the children – we agreed that they tasted a lot like fresh raw green beans, a rare treat in our house.  Who knew raw lentils could be so good?  Needless to say, we started another batch right away.  The second batch was just as successful as the first, and gone just as quickly.   If they ever last more than 24 hours, we can store for 1-2 weeks in the fridge right in the sprouter.  I am in love with my Easy Sprouter!

WHEAT

I took a good look at the design of the Easy Sprouter and made a rough copy out of 2 containers, in which to try some additional sprouts.  We started some wheat sprouts next, but these didn’t germinate.  I’m not sure if it’s because my sprouter was inferior (it was, but is that why these sprouts failed?), or because the seeds themselves were too old – I suspect they are at least 10 years old.  At any rate, they just got soft and started to smell suspicious after 2 days, so we tossed them.  I’ll try again in the Easy Sprouter, and if those fail I’ll try with fresh seeds.

ALMONDS

Next, I used my fabricated sprouter to make some almond soaks since they sounded fast and easy and we had raw almonds on hand.  These are like sprouts, but they don’t actually grow roots.   These were very simple, but got mixed reviews.  I enjoyed them along with some of the kids, but others just wrinkled their noses and refused to eat more than one, or even declined to try a single one.  Those of us who ate them agreed that they tasted almost identical to raw coconut.  I thought they were very good.

SALAD MIX

When our seed order arrived with the big sprouting jar, I immediately started a mix of clover, alfalfa, fenugreek and radish.  Since I’m using a simple jar & screen, I had to remember to rinse and drain 2-3 times/day.  The results look and taste a bit like alfalfa, but definitely different.  They have a stronger, slightly spicy flavor and are thicker.  We used some in salad and nibbled some plain, but this was a big batch – most of it is still in the refrigerator.

BEANS

I also soaked 2 lbs. of white & navy beans and let them sprout for 24 hours before cooking in the crock.  I’m hoping that it will make them more digestible.  That remains to be seen.  :)

AND MORE…

We still plan to try: raw sunflowers, raw peanuts, mung beans…oh, and alfalfa sprouts, eventually.  FYI, Charity left some information warning against a toxin found in alfalfa sprouts, but I don’t think we’ll be eating enough of any one sprout to worry about this.  You can probably tell that alfalfa sprouts have far more competition now than they did when we, er, sprouted the idea.  Sorry.  Bad joke, but quite honestly the idea of sprouting a wide variety of seeds is really growing on me.   It’s taken root in our household.  Even hubby has expressed a seed of interest.