Thursday, July 8, 2010

June 2010

Alright, I have a plan.  Aren't plans wonderful?  I love them, possibly too much.  I always feel better when there is a plan or schedule to follow.  I admit it, I'm a follower.  Now being a follower of Jesus is always right but the problem is I tend to follow people.  If I like what they do, I'll do it too.  Take this blog for instance.  I read other peoples blogs and get ideas and then try them out myself.  My friend is blogging weekly about her summer activities with her boys.  She is a really organized person and I don't know how she does it but she seems to have double the amount of time I do.  She says it's because she has 2 kids and I have 5.  I don't know. . . maybe.

So my plan?  Well, I got the idea from her, but tweaked it a bit and adopted it for me.  I'll blog about our activities monthly.  That way, when I take pictures of an event, I won't feel the guilt I feel when I don't get them on my blog right away.  I'll just be able to relax, knowing they will be included when I do my monthly blogging.  Sounds like a plan!  Yay!

So I created a schedule for our summer (another idea from that same friend) and I'm loving it.  It is very helpful for me to see what I'm doing weekly on paper. Now that I'm writing, I'm realizing I created this schedule for 3 reasons.

  1. I tend to have a few children who struggle with boredom so I figured this might help with that. Knowing what you should be doing and when. 
  2.   I also have a few who tend to not get things done that aren't fun, like chores.  So I thought, if they could see all the fun plans we have and that they can't do them unless their chores are completed, then they should be motivated.  Correct?
  3.  It also helps me know where everyone should be at what time!  My children have jobs now and also  do volunteer work at Gospel for Asia.  I'm always loosing my mind trying to remember where each one is supposed to be and when.  It's very strange being the Mom of teenagers.
So I'll post a few pictures of the highlights from June

The men went camping.  Of course they took the camera and came back with pictures of food.  And lots of it!  This was the first time in a very long time that Rich has gone camping without me.  He and 2 other friends decided to take their boys on a Father/Son camp-out. Let me tell you, it was quite the event.

They were serious about this!  They got together and did their planning, delegating food items to bring, visited Bass Pro for the latest in camping equipment, and sent endless e-mails back and forth.  Rich and the boys even took a fishing class which wasn't all it was advertised to be but that's ok, they had fun.

We've had brand new fishing poles for about 3 years now and had never broken them in.  Why you ask?  Because Rich is not a fisherman!  I've never fished either.  Even though I've always thought it sounded wonderful sitting on the quiet water maybe in a boat or on the bank, waiting for a catch, I could not get my husband interested.  But this weekend with some coaxing from his friend, he took the boys fishing!!  I was thrilled.  They did not catch a thing but came back with lots of stories and would try again in a heartbeat!

One of the other boys caught one so they at least got to see a fish up close.

This is a picture of all the boys who went.  AJ is the third from the left and Reece is in the blue shirt.  I wish I had a picture of all the Dads because they were the real heros who took all these boys camping in Texas in the middle of June!

You might not know that we don't camp in the summer in Texas because it's too hot.  Spring and Fall are prime times to camp but not summer.  They figured that out after the first night when no one could sleep.  At around 2 a.m. they discovered that everyone was miserable except for two boys out of 7 who sleep like rocks.  AJ being one of them.  Everyone else got up and sat in their camping chairs around the firepit.  There was at least some air flow outside the tent!  They eventually went back to bed and slept a few hours but decided right then and there, they were not staying a second night!  So they went fishing all day and then had dinner, packed up and came home a night early.  MEMORABLE STUFF!

What did us girls do?  Well, we did what all girls would do.  We had a slumber party, watched a movie, painted our fingernails, had a tea party and slept really soundly!  I'd share a picture but the boys took the camera!  Bummer!

One of the best things about this summer has been being able to go swimming every Friday afternoon.  We have some friends who own this pool and they let us use it regularly.  Thank you!  It is a beautiful place and so nice that we can swim without having to pay money to find room in a crowded pool at a public place.

Micah is really getting used to being in the water.  He hangs onto this kick board and kicks like crazy.  He is a little scary because he doesn't have any fear.  He will get out of the pool and jump to me from the side which is great if I'm ready!  I'm just afraid he'll jump one of these days without me being there to catch him.  Guess I just need to make sure I am!

Olivia has been doing a lot of sewing this summer likes most summers.  A friend gave us a Serger machine and a goal I have this summer is to get it working and stay working!  Then we'll really be able to have some fun sewing!  It is now at the repairman's house being worked on for the third time!

I mentioned that my kids have jobs.  Well, one of Olivia's jobs is to do occupational therapy with a little girl who lives down the street.  She goes over to her house twice a week and works with her for an hour so her Mom can have a break from it.  If any of you have had to do any kind of daily therapy with your kids it can be monotonous to say the least.  So, this mother has hired Olivia to do these exercises with her 10 yr. old daughter.  Ariel just had a birthday so Olivia made her matching shorts for Ariel and her doll plus a cape for her doll as well.

Ariel was adopted from from an orphanage in India.  Her sister as well was adopted from China.  Ariel and Lily Ann's birthdays are a week apart so she made them both a gift. She really enjoys this job and is especially fond of these two girls.

Father's Day was a lot of fun this year.  We were invited to some special friend's house for a BBQ and evening of fellowship.  We went to church with this family years ago and have remained friends ever since even though our paths don't cross anymore naturally.  We have to make an effort to get together with them which is difficult sometimes with busy schedules.  We always have so much fun with them because they have a great sense of humor (not sure how to write that in the plural sense).  Senses of humors? :)

Michael and Rich, the two Fathers we were honoring.

Sandra and Michael.  They have a really great relationship even though Michael looks as though he is scowling in this picture.  He is an Italian, so he and Rich have similar personalities and get along really well.  They have 3 boys and a girl and have chosen to home school like we have.  We enjoy getting our children together as much as we adults like to get together.

Didn't I say Michael has a great sense of humor!  He'd probably kill me if he knew I posted this.  Oh well, if I die soon you'll know why.

Eli is the youngest in their family and the older boys let him try and tackle them all the time.  As you can see he is going to smash Scott's face with this big ball.

Got him!  They played with this ball for hours.

Reece on their zip line!  They rent a cool house that backs up to a golf course.  Grass for miles!  It's beautiful!

This is Jessie, their only daughter.  She is growing up and is really pretty.  She and Julia served us our dessert that night.  It was very nice to sit outside and just relax and be served food.  I need to teach my children to do that!

Grant is their oldest boy.  He is 15 and accomplishing much for his age.  He has written a book (historical fiction) and had it published,  He is a leader in Boy Scouts, and a great older brother to his siblings.  His parents should be proud and I know they are!

This picture represents a week to remember.  Julia and Reece attended a recreational Day Camp at a local church in our town.  We only own one car and I have it 2 days a week so we figured out that they are old enough to ride their bikes there.  I rode with them the first day and then their older brother AJ accompanied them the rest of the time.  We have a perfect biking trail close by that they took the whole way there and never really had to be on the street.  Every morning, they were up and out the door by 9 and played games and meet new friends for a few hours.  They loved it.  Since then, both AJ and Olivia are riding their bikes more too.  They love this new found freedom and are getting some much needed exercise this way.

Well, the last thing I'll post about is our soap making adventures!  I've already devoted an entire post to this so I'll just post a picture of our second batch.

Isn't is pretty?  I know, it looks like cheese but it's still cool.  This batch was really very difficult because after we made it, it wouldn't come out of our mold!  We waited about 3 days and it was still very soft (just like cheese) and it just wouldn't release from the mold!  We put it in the freezer for a bit and then began prying and chiseling away at it, very carefully though.  Finally we had to cut out each bar and pop them out individually.

So we decided to try again.  We had everything we needed to make a third batch and I wanted to try a blue color!

I used lavender flowers to scent this soap but next time I'll use some lavender essential oil to give it an even stronger lavender smell.  AJ wanted a green soap so we melted green and blue crayons to give the soap color.  It's pretty hard to mess up a batch of soap!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Homemade Soap!

Ok, I've been wanting to make soap for about 3 years now.  Every year I think about it.  One year I actually sat down and watched a few videos on the art of soap making.  Whenever I pass a vender who is selling home made soaps, I stop and look, smell, and wonder if I could do it.  I usually wind up talking to the soap maker and they always encourage me that it's really not that hard.  So this summer, when I was putting together a summer schedule for the kids and I, I included my long time dream of soap making.  Inside I was really wondering if I would get around to it.
 So after doing a bunch of research, AJ and finally picked a recipe and gathered our supplies. I tried to use things I had already so that my first batch didn't cost too much.  I already had palm oil, peppermint essential oil and lavender flowers.  I also had a silicon bread pan that would be a perfect mold.  After all, I didn't know if I'd ever do this again, so why get all the fancy supplies.  I decided to go ahead and get Lye from Lowe's and pay the $12 even though it's $6 each on the web plus shipping when you buy 5 jars of it!  I found out that you can buy special soap colorants which would add to the cost too.  Then I found out that you can use natural items like spices to create color and even melted crayons!  I've got those too! :)

So this is my bar above.  It is scented with lavender flowers, dried rosemary and I threw in a message oil that I happened to have that is a wintermint/lemongrass scent.  I used turmeric (spice) in hopes of a yellow color.  In the end, I discovered that dried lavender are quite potent and that is what it smells like mostly now that it's done.  The yellow, turned to peach, which turned to beige.  It's not the prettiest but definitely has a homemade look to it that many soaps have.
AJ helped me a lot and was most interested in soap making.  We printed off our directions from the web and watched endless videos about each step trying to make sure we understood how it all works. AJ wanted red swirls in his soap so we chose to try red crayons.  He added peppermint essential oil to scent his soap.  His turned out really cool looking!

AJ got about 8 bars out of his chunk.  It sliced like butter.  We had to wait 24 hours for it to set up before slicing it and I thought AJ was going to pass out from waiting!  He wanted to slice his bar at the exact moment the clock reached the 24 hr. mark! 

Measuring and slicing intently. 

It almost looks like candy!  This is when it's ok to say that it looks better than it tastes!

So we plan to make another batch soon. Our batch made 20 bars.  You just might receive soap for Christmas this year or possibly your birthday (although I'm horrible at remembering birthdays), or maybe for no reason at all. 

The last test was to see if it lathered.  It does, it does!  I was so very excited that our experiment with soap making was a success.  My soap making dream came to fruition and it was a total blast.  Now I can say I'm a soap maker!

Last night I made a gallon of liquid soap with 4 oz. of this bar soap!  So cool!  More on that later if your interested. :)