Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moments from MFW...Study of Egypt 9/19-9/23/11

WEEK 5 - Creation to the Greeks, Mummies and Pyramids:

We have really been enjoying our study of Egypt in it's earliest history.  We are learning the books of the Old Testament and during this week we are also studying mummies and pyramids.  My historian is loving this study!  He is especially interested in all of the efforts kings took to preserve their bodies.  Several times both of my children commented on how important they thought they were from the size of their tombs, and how little humility seemed to be a part of Egyptian life for a pharaoh!

We enjoyed a science project, which we began this week, but will continue watching in the weeks to come.  This was done to expand on our study of how well the Egyptian people preserved the bodies of the dead in order to avoid mold and decay.

First...we took three slices of bread.  Then we labeled three baggies "plain", "antibiotic ointment", and "toast".  We put one slice of bread in the "plain" baggie, without doing anything to it.  We spread antibiotic ointment on another slice and slid it into the appropriate baggie.  The last slice was toasted and slid into it's baggie as well.  All baggies were sealed and we placed them on the hutch to watch daily for several weeks.  My children made a hypthesis in their science journals according to what they believe will happen to each slice of bread.  Here are the slices of bread and my daughter's science journal:

Their favorite activity, by far, was building a pyramid.  I was really surprised at how much they enjoyed this activity, since they wanted to just build them out of the paper patterns rather than out of another medium.  My little girl really enjoyed decorating the walls of her pyramids with images she thought might have been found inside.  My son preferred to draw the bricks on his for a realistic effect; however he stowed a surprise inside.  Prior to "sealing" his tomb, he cut a small pharaoh out of paper and colored him inside his sarcophagus.  He placed him inside the pyramid where he had drawn the chambers into the walls.  Then he sealed the pyramid to "protect" his tiny king from robbers.  He really enjoyed knowing he had secretly stowed a pharaoh in his pyramid.  Here is a photo of the pyramids after they were completed:

Currently, we are in week 6; learning about Job, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Hagar, and Ishmael.  Hopefully we won't be as terribly delayed in posting about week 6 as we were in week 5!  We have been pretty busy.  We are reading through Tanglewoods' Secret and very much enjoying this beautiful story and how it depicts salvation for a child.  My son began construction on a Lego ziggurat this evening, just for fun!  What fun it is to see them enjoying about the history they are learning about during the weekly study!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Practical Help in Tough Times! Laundry detergent - easy & VERY inexpensive!

This economy has been really tough on many of us and I have been seeking ways to cut expenses everywhere I can.  However, sometimes making something from scratch is so difficult that it is hard to do regularly.  In addition, I have found that many items people use to make at home to save money, such as clothes, are now more expensive...I am shocked at the price of fabric and polyfill lately (not that I'm much of a seamstress..but I have tried)!!!  However, I found a very easy to make laundry detergent that is truly cheaper than the commercial brands.  I would never have guessed you could make a good product that is much less than buying the store brand, but this really is just that.  It doesn't have the strong fragrance of store brands, but this seems to be a good thing as several people in my family have very sensitive skin.  This is truly simple to make...I did this in less than 30 minutes and it was simple.  Here is the recipe: need 3 ingredients, plus water, and a large bucket with a lid to store it in, that will hold at least 2 gallons.

Here are the ingredients you need:

1/3 - 1/2 bar* (about 2 to 2-3/4 ounces) of a 5.5 ounce bar of laundry bar soap (usually Zote or Fels Naptha) I found a 5.5 ounce bar of Fels Naptha & a 14.1 ounce bar of Zote...I only used 1/3 of the bar of Zote (a little over 4 ounces, but not quite 5 ounces) & made a double batch, about 4 gallons of detergent.  (*UPDATE:  11/10/2011 - I have been using 1/2 bar of the 5.5 ounce bar.  It seems to get the clothes a little fresher - and they didn't seem as clean with 1/3 bar.)

1/2 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer - but not baking soda, this is in laundry detergent aisle, it is called washing soda)

1/2 cup Borax

Here is a picture of these ingredients:

One store carried Zote, so I tried it first, but then another store carried Fels Naptha, so I bought it to try the next time.  The Zote smells very much like Ivory soap.  The Fels Naptha has a little more fragrance to it, both smell nice, but not over-powering.  This is the Fels Naptha:

Here is what you do:

1.) Grate the soap (I grated it in seconds in my food processer).
2.) Put the grated soap in a pot with 6 cups water and heat until it melts.
3.) Add the watshing soda and the Borax and stir until they dissolve.  Remove from heat.
4.) Pour 4 cups of hot water into the bucket.
5.) Add the soap mixture to the water in the bucket and stir.
6.) Add 1 gallon, plus 6 cups of water  (22 cups in all on this last addition) to the bucket and stir.
7.) Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  It looks a little funny; like a watery gel, but it works!  It still works even if yours doesn't gel up as well, and I've noticed mine seems to gel better as it sits over time.
8.) After 24 hours it is ready.  You will want to stir it occasionally.  Use about 1/2 cup per load, slightly more for really dirty, smelly clothes.

Now for the savings...this is incredible compared to the price of commercial laundry soaps!  I recently paid $11.97 for 100 ounces.  Here is my cost breakdown:

I figured high...since prices are different everywhere.  I paid $3.76 for Borax, $2.88 for Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, & $0.97 cents for Fels Naptha / Zote.  I rounded these up to $4.00, $3.00 & $1.00.

A 55 ounce box of Borax yields nineteen 1/2 cup portions for about $0.21 cents per 1/2 cup!
A 76 ounce box of A&H washing soda yields a little over thirteen 1/2 cup portions for about $0.23 cents per 1/2 cup!
A 5.5 ounce bar of Fels Naptha cut in 1/3 is about $0.33 cents per portion (the Zote was even cheaper since I paid less than $1.00 for a 14.1 ounce bar!  (**UPDATE:  11/10/11 - I'm changing the calculation to 0.50 cents per portion since I have decided that 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha works better.)

Therefore for the cost of these added together, without calculating the cost of my water, is:
.21 + .23 + .33 = $0.77 cents for 2 gallons of detergent!
**.21 + .23 + .50 = .94 cents for 2 gallons of detergent if you use 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha @ approx $1.00 per bar (UPDATED 11/10/11 due to finding that 1/2 bar works better for our clothes)

That is seriously less than the commercial brand...and it really does work - and it really was easy to make.  I cannot imagine how much money I could have retained if I had been doing this for I choose not to think of that - but I will think of how much money I can save from now on!!!

Enjoy your next laundry day!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bunny sighting!!! Update on our wild baby bunnies!

I am so behind on posting.  We have been really busy with school work & just life in general!  Also - we are SO thankful for the rain...but since I haven't got extra cash to buy a surge protector I don't keep my router or computer plugged when there is lightening around - I don't get on the computer at all!  I have a wonderful practical tip I'm going to share soon - so check back in a day or two!  But for now - I wanted to share our exciting news about our bunny sighting!

About two weeks after we discovered the baby bunnies - it became necessary to coax them to relocate.  Our dog was literally getting sick from being indoors too much.  He did not want to "go" on a leash and ended up with a kidney infection!  I would never have known that could have happened.  We were getting him out every day to run around freely in the evenings (off-leash) - but it wasn't what he was used to - so he would wait too long despite frequent trips outside on the leash in the daytime.  We had spotted the mother bunny under a nearby shed and kept hoping she'd move the babies there where they would be safe from Diesel!  Then - one bunny vanished.  We could not find him anywhere, but judging from how well the other three were jumping about - we thought they were gaining independence.  We waited till late in the evening - when the mother would usually be getting ready to come feed them - placed them into a box and carried them over to the shed and let them go.  We found a spot to hide nearby and were so thankful that they found their way to her.  We often wondered about the fourth bunny.  We've spotted the other three several times and the mother, but not the missing one...until yesterday!

The little girl I babysit, and my little artist, came running into the house breathlessly!  In a woodpile by the fence, not far from the playground where they were once nested, they spotted him.  He was almost doubled in size and very cute.  I went to see - and sure enough - it looks just like the missing bunny.  He looks well and healthy - and even briefly hopped out from under the wood to see us!  We left him as he seems to be doing well.  We were very thankful that it appears all four bunnies are safe.  And our dog is now doing much better too!  We repaired a larger yard that we had used in the past giving him a wonderful yard and shelter so he can have more room to play! 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The heart of a child... Moments from MFW 8/30-9/2/11

This week...I just want to share a wonderful moment that happened while we studied "The Victor Journey Through the Bible".  We were reading on page 12, "The Fall", about Genesis chapter 3.  This is the story of the original sin of Adam & Eve and how they were cast out of Eden and a Cherubim, with a flaming sword, placed to guard the entrance to forbid entrance from that point forward.  We read a passage as follows:

"No trace of the beautiful garden has been found and some think that it withered and died when God expelled Adam and Eve.  Others believe it was destroyed by the great Flood in the days of Noah.  Some think it still exists."

Those words lingered in the mind of my historian.  After we finished reading the section he pondered.."What if the garden really does still exist?  What if we are blinded by our own sin and our sin does not permit us to see the garden?  What if the cherubim still guards the entrance but no person can see any of this because of our flesh and sin?"

He thought about this a moment longer, as did I, savoring the moment where his heart gave me a thought that I had never imagined on my own.  I began to wonder myself...what a thought.  How wonderful to imagine that, with God, this is actually possible.  And what an amazing thing to think of that beautiful garden still there.  Maybe God still walks in it during the cool of the day.  I was really enjoying that moment when he offered one final thought...that is really very much a thought that I could see him having next!  He then wondered aloud, "And what if there are still dinosaurs roaming the garden?"

Wow - what a blessing to be home with my children to capture these amazing moments where their innocent minds and childlike hearts think thoughts that our reality hardened hearts don't dare remember as easily!