Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum--Little Duder (aka Rockbiter)

When people find out that I homeschool my children, they usually ask what curriculum we use. I think they expect to hear that we use Bob Jones, Saxon or A Beka. The BIG names. Usually I have to think about it for a few minutes because, well, we don't use just one system. I wanted to homeschool to be able to give each of my children their own individualized program. I want to encourage their strengths and improve their weaknesses. I don't want to be limited in any one program that may or may not work for any one of my children. Also, I do not have a lot of money to spend so I have to be very crafty on how to spend my allowance on curriculum. I want the best bang for my buck, so as much as I would love to get one of the big names with a full curriculum packet, I cannot. Besides, we seems to do a hodge podge of learning styles I think we are almost unschooling. Almost.

Here is what I have chosen for Lil' Duder. He is currently 3 1/2 years old as of right now. He is fiercely independent at times and is extremely curious. This year he is joining his brothers in school because he won't get left behind and loves to copy his brothers. He is very intelligent and watches everything closely. Lil' Duder is my only southpaw.  He gets easily frustrated because he is unable to get it correct the very first time he tries a new task. He loves attention and is eager to please. Lil' Duder also loves to show off, just like his big brothers.

Lil' Duder will be doing two pages out of Christian Liberty Preschool activity book each school day. He will also be doing two pages of Building Thinking Skills: Beginning ages 3-4 a day. I also printed up a binder from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I really liked the idea of a daily notebook. I have some extra worksheets and coloring books to occupy him. Lil' Duder has a pretty good attention span and likes to keep busy so I need "makeup" sheets for him. I'd like to keep it simple for him in the beginning but already it is pushing me to give him more and more work.

I will be adding some lapbooks for him from Homeschool Share. I think he will love that. It will be fun to read him the stories then to work on the various activities offered by Homeschool Share. I really enjoy lapbooking and look forward to creating my own components so I am not limited.

Lil' Duder will join the rest of the family in the Bible Study, Science and History. I will go over these more in depth with one of the other boys' curriculum. We will be doing these subjects together. Each child will be doing an activity or worksheet appropriate to their skills. This system just works better for our family.

Lil' Duder will also be using the Easy Peasy online curriculum to kind of round things out. All more boys seem to enjoy it very much. It is a wonder and a blessing and I am so glad to be able to use this wonderful free resource.

We will also be doing various activities and crafts throughout the year from various places online and from books from the library. I really love working with preschool things. There really are so many wonderful resources online for this age group. I look forward to seeing Lil' Duder expand his brain in the coming year. Don't you just love seeing the world through the eyes of a preschooler?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Frugal Moms Beware: Homemade Wipe Solution Might NOT be such a Great Idea

My Facebook has been chock full of money saving tips and tricks. A great many of them I have known for quite some time and use often. There are some, however, you should be wary of. Before I started on my Soaping Adventure, I thought that all of these tips and trick were a very good thing. But that isn't always so. Sometimes one should bear in mind that not everything on the internet is good, safe, or well researched.

When you have little money, finding the little gems that have been around awhile seems like such a Godsend. As more and more people get away from the "toxic" cleaning supplies and start to use more "green" ways to clean, other items to save money start to take hold. One such savings is to make your own baby wipes and/ wipe solution.

I have to say that I really cringe at times now that I know how to make my own body products such as lotion, lip balms and of course, soap. I cringe at the ingredients and the directions on how to make wipe solution. I know mothers who would take on a company for poor manufacturing practices and yet in their own home with their own precious bundle of joy fail to follow those same manufacturing practices in the interest of saving a few bucks. The potential harm is just horrifying to imagine.

If you have been reading my blog, you will know that I cloth diaper my babies. My little Princess Flower wears cute little cloth diapers that I made for her. I use cloth wipes whenever I can. In fact, I wish I had more flannel, I love using the wipes for a lot of other things other than wiping a cute little tush. But whether you cloth diaper or use disposable diapers, making your own wipe solution for homemade wipes is the same.

If you wanted to make disposable wipes, then using a strong paper towel is the first ingredient. For the wipe solutions there is usually water, baby shampoo/soap, and essentials oils. Some have glycerin added. Others have a various different additives such as olive oil or some sort of moisturizer. None, not one I have read has an added preservative.

Preservatives have become a nasty word in today's vocabulary. Honestly, I do try to stay away from foods with preservatives in them. It isn't entirely possible for my family, but we do try. In beauty and body products they are necessary. I don't know how many of you realize that there are preservatives in your lotion, your shampoo even in liquid soap.

Fact: oil and water is a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties.

Mold, bacteria, and yeast will grow in the right conditions. Often in a warm environment with an oil and water combination. Frankly, I do NOT want to expose my precious ones to abnormally high concentrations of those nasties. I understand perfectly that my family doesn't live in a bubble. We aren't hermetically sealed from contagions. Neither do I operate under the impression that my children are very sanitary. Mostly they aren't. Goodness, you should see some of the things they do. Of course, if you are a parent or just know a child, then chances are good, you already know.

Most of the wipe solutions I've seen seem to rely on the preservative already in the baby shampoo or other soapy type vehicle. I know from my research into making my own products that a preservative can have some additions, but that is my own creation. I know how much and what type of preservative I used and whether it can withstand a broad spectrum of pH or needs to have range of pH to work properly. Using someone elses product, you don't have that information. I also note that they don't always let you know that you really should use distilled water rather than tap water. The fact that you are adding extra water is going to throw off the formula and thus the preservative most likely will fail.

Another item I note about the directions for wipe solution. Many do not tell you to sanitize your workspace, your tools and your containers. How many times have we heard horror stories about tainted products? How do you think they got tainted? Good manufacturing practices don't only apply in big companies. If you are going to save money and go through the process to get a similar product, don't you want it to be safe to use in the end?

I could make a wipe solution. I do have a broad spectrum preservative I could use. But I don't. I don't like the thought of my cloth wipes sitting there in a moist environment for such a length of time. I don't find it difficult to take some time and run some warm water on a wipe(I usually do a couple at a time) and then change a diaper. I have no problem grabbing a paper towel and wetting it and using it as a disposable wipe. Often, I only really need is water. I keep a small travel bottle of baby wash on the diaper table for the really difficult diaper changes. It is easy enough to add a tiny drop of soap to the wipe and work it in.

Now I have preservatives because I make a lot of my own products, but I'd hazard to guess most moms wouldn't even know where to get some let alone how to use them. Frankly, it is easier and cheaper for me just to use simple tap water as I need to.

I have seen in my cloth diaper world, some concentrated wipe solutions. Some I know have preservatives, so I would likely use if I ever wanted to fork over the money. Others I can tell, don't. I guess I am becoming my mother, reading the ingredients labels. And I have generally informed myself what long officially sounding names are, perhaps you should do the same. It is easy enough to do, do a search for INCI names, your world will expand.

An example of preservative failure. This is my Little Duder's moist flushable wipe container:
This is what is inside:
I know these wipes are preserved. Most store bought ones are. I believe what happened here is that this shipment most likely got very hot. Heat kills the preservative, makes it inert. I shudder to think of wiping Lil' Duder's bottom with that.

Just because you can't SEE the mold, bacteria, or yeast doesn't mean it isn't there. Plainly you can see this has been compromised, but often you can't see that your wipes have been tainted. Does your baby has back to back diaper rashes or a diaper rash that doesn't go away? Yeast rashes are so difficult to get rid of in the first place. Does it come back? Do you know why?

How often do you wash your wipe containers? I never gave it a thought before. But I think I will wash my wipe containers more often and spray them down with some 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol) from now on.

Do you still want to save money making a product such as this? Perhaps you can find a better way. Please, before you make any frugal tip/trick, do your own research. Research the ingredients, research to see if anyone made this before. Research to see if anyone who used such came to any harm. Even trusted sources are human and can make a mistake. It is up to you to keep your family safe, even if you have to do it frugally.


Organizing the Piles of Shopping Bags

I've been overrun with t-shirt shopping bags. My little holders were stuffed full and my little helpers didn't know what to do with the extras so they have been stashing them willy nilly all over the house. Personally, I don't like bulging bags of bags. I think it looks ugly. I decided to take some time out to get them bundled how I used to bundle them. I've been on an organizing kick lately. It felt so good to have those unsightly bags all bundled neatly into one little basket.

Here is my video of how to bundle them if you'd like to try your hand at it. I tried to make a short video, but you know what? I like talking and I tend to ramble. Have fun!