Monday, July 17, 2017

The chapter books that won over my girls...

There is a fine line between being able to read and suddenly devouring chapter books.  It is as if a light switch turned on and suddenly the child who just a few days ago didn't want to read a simple reader suddenly wants to read a chapter book every waking second.  What does it take for that light switch to turn on?  A well-written chapter book that draws the child into the story and makes her want to read another one!  This just recently happened with my third reader and I thought I'd share which chapter books helped my girls make the jump from "able to read but not willing to put forth the effort" to "Mama, can you please request the next book in this series at the library?"

1st child:  The Boxcar Children by Warner and Mandie books by Leppard
2nd Child: Rainbow Magic Fairy Books by Meadows and Encyclopedia Brown books by Sobol
3rd Child: Princess Katie's Kittens by Sykes and The Princess In Black series by Hale

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer 2017 chores for my 6-10 year olds

In addition to cleaning their table spot each meal and doing a tiny bit of math review and piano each day, all my older girls all have a particular chore assigned for each week-day in the summer. These chores are similar to their school-year chores but take just a bit more time since they have more time on their hands.  For instance, during the school-year they all have a day to sweep but during the summer, they have to both sweep and mop.  During the school-year they quickly wipe down the bathroom sink and toilet but during the summer I add scrubbing the tub and sweeping the floor to their job description.   The girls are excited because this summer I am giving them all one night each week to help me cook dinner. They can help me plan the menu but they have to do the dishes as well.  I spend the first 2 weeks each summer going over exactly how I expect chores to be done and supervising and then I pretty much let them do it by themselves as best they can for the rest of the summer.  If they need help, they can ask, but for the most part they are quite independent with their chores.   My 4 year old isn't on the list because she doesn't read yet, but she knows she must help me with a chore each day, such as emptying out the dishwasher or helping me pick up things from the floor or do laundry.

6-year oldsweep DRlaundry and clean dresserclean guest bathroomHelp with dinner and clean upvacuum Alyssa's room
8 year oldvacuum and dust/sweep LRclean master bathroomsweep and mop art roomlaundry and clean roomHelp with dinner and clean up
10 year oldlaundry and clean roomHelp with dinner and clean upvacuum and dust/ sweep LRsweep and mop DRclean master bathroom

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthday Traditions in a big family

Having 5 children can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to birthdays. It has taken us a while, but we are starting to develop some birthday traditions to help with the cost and at the same time give our girls something to look forward to.

First of all, our girls share a birthday celebration with a sister. They have many of the same friends, so it works out nicely and they have been quite happy (thus far) to share celebrations. We have two winter birthdays and two spring birthdays. Our newest fall blessing might get to celebrate on her own but it will be a while before we have to decide about that. In general, we just do small, simple family birthdays until the age of five. At that age, the child can invite more friends to a party shared with a sister if it is a party year. We used to take the girls out to eat for their birthdays, but now that we have 5 children, it is too expensive to do that. So now I let them plan a menu for breakfast and dinner on their special day and that has been quite fun for them to do! After dinner, we share presents with the birthday girl. The sisters usually choose something from their own toys to give to the birthday girl that they know she has always liked. It is always sweet and funny to see what they come up with. My husband and I don't spend a lot of money on birthday presents, but we try to find things on sale during the year that the child will love. For instance, my eldest loves to bake so she received some silicone muffin liners and cookie cutters that I found for a good deal, along with some special pens that she loves to use to write down recipes for her recipe collection. We also try to take time to look at baby pictures and talk about what we remember about their birth and talk about what a special time it was. In addition, they always get to help make a special birthday treat to take to school and share with their friends. In our family, we definitely try to make the day special rather than giving many expensive presents.

My parents started a few traditions with the girls to celebrate certain birthdays and it has been so fun for them to look forward to those years that we have added a few more of our own. Here are the ones we have come up with so far:

5 Years - first party with friends

7 Years -- can receive an American Girl Doll as a present and begins birthday lunch date and shopping trip with Grandma and Papa

9 years -- Destination birthday but no friends party (My eldest desperately wanted to go to the American girl store so we planned a fun trip to Charlotte and let them shop at the mall there. I think when my second-born turns 9 we are going to take them all to the Great Wolf Lodge!)

10 years -- Special fancy lunch date at Hotel Roanoke with Grandma and Papa

11 years -- Can get ears pierced and attend Mama-Daughter retreat at Camp Eagle (our church camp provides wonderful date nights that we would love to attend each year with all our girls but they are too expensive for big families like ours. We've opted to wait and enjoy them individually at the crucial "tween" stages because they provide a good opportunity to chat about issues too old for younger sisters.)

12 years -- sometime during the 12th year Daddy will randomly whisk her away on a special trip for a couple of days for just the two of them -- it will be a complete surprise when and where.

13 years -- Arbonne make-up party to learn how to apply make-up and figure out colors for skin-type

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Relief for Infant Congestion and Croupy-sounding cough

When my baby was just a little over three months, all her sisters came down with the flu. It was rough. Thankfully, since she was nursing around the clock, the baby never developed a fever or any horrible symptoms like her big sisters. But she developed a bad sounding cough that sounded a good bit croupy. She didn't do it all the time, but when she did cough, it sounded rough and I was terrified that it would grow worse and become hard for her to breathe. I had never had a sick baby that young before and don't usually use any kind of medicine or even natural remedies on babies that little. So I decided to ask one of my friends who had studied herbal medicine what she would suggest.

She recommended lemon eucalyptus oil diluted in olive oil and rubbed on her chest and the bottoms of her feet. She said, "For the chest, I would rub from the center/ sternum to the outside of the chest on each side. Also, if the cough is croupy I would say that is ok- as long as she is breathing well and doesn't seem to choke on it. If I got desperate I would use colloidal silver as an antibiotic. But it is so hard knowing dosages, etc. with babies- I would probably reserve it for desperation. Also- I have used onion poultices with my kids when they were little with good results. Just stir fry an onion in tiny bit of oil until it is translucent, and then put the warm onion pieces on a cloth ( thin, like a cheesecloth) on the chest. As long as the onion isn't too hot, you can even wrap it on there and just leave it for a while. That works fairly well!"

I followed her advice and also took my baby for 2 adjustments from my favorite chiropractor and my sweet baby recovered quickly and easily without growing any worse!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Natural Relief from Shingles

I came down with shingles during my last pregnancy and it was utterly miserable.  It was well over a month before I was able to sleep through the night without the pain or itching waking me up.  Throughout that month, I stumbled across different things that helped to relieve the pain and I wanted to write them down before I forgot them.  I put something on my sores every couple hours and just alternated between each of these throughout the day.  Although I was in intense pain and couldn't imagine it being any worse, my spots did not get as bad as the pictures on the internet so I do believe these natural remedies helped a lot!

1.  Acupuncture -- The only nights that I managed a decent sleep during that month were the 3 times I did Acupuncture.  It is the only time I have ever done it and I don't love the process (those little needles can hurt!) but for some reason it really works!  If my shingles were to ever return, I would immediately head to the Acupuncture office to see if I could avoid such a bad case of it.

2. Chiropractic care -- by the time I realized that my malady was shingles, I was in  too much pain to be adjusted.  If I contracted it again, however, I would immediately get adjusted because my research showed chiropractic care to be very effective.

3.  Essential oils -- I alternated using tea tree oil (melaleuca) and ravintsara diluted with a tiny bit of coconut oil.  Lemon, Lavendar, Geranium, and Roman Chamomile  are supposed to help as well.

4.  Collodial Silver gel -- this is antiviral and really helps!  I alternated it with the essential oils several times a day.

5. Peaceful Mountain Shingles Rescue Homeopathic Gel -- this was very soothing!

6.  Derma Change Shingles Relief Cream -- the Maneuka honey in this was soothing to my sores  as well.  I alternated this with the Homeopathic Gel above every night before bed.

7. T-Relief tablets -- these have arnica as well as several other homeopathic remedies.  I took one every time I woke up in pain and I do believe they helped dull the pain so I could go back to sleep.  I took this instead of Tylenol because I was pregnant and didn't want to take Tylenol PM every night.

8.  Arnica gel -- I alternated this with the silver gel several times a day and I do think it helped.

9.  Collodial Silver -- I drank this about 3 times a day in an effort to kill the virus more quickly.

10.  Dr. Christopher's Formula Cayenne Heat Ointment -- I was afraid to use this when my sores were raw and angry because it is so potent, but once they transitioned to more of an intense nerve pain rather than a topical pain, this was very effective.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Lice and Tick Prevention Detangling Spray

Lice seem to be a major problem in the schools this year.  Not only are they everywhere, but they seem to be harder to get rid of than they used to be.  In one of my daughter's classes, there was a major lice problem before Christmas.  I thought for sure the 2-week break would clear things up, but after a week back at school we got another letter saying they were still finding kids with lice!  We happen to have 6 girls in our family with lots of hair so the thought of lice is absolutely horrendous to me!  Thankfully we have avoided it so far and I truly think the detangling spray I make them use a couple times a week has kept the lice at bay.  I actually started using it two summers ago as a tick deterrent and then added the essential oils that deter lice when the girls started school. I didn't really find this recipe anywhere; I just started mixing things that made sense to me together to make it.  I don't ever measure so I will try to guestimate what I do for readers but feel free to tweak it to please your own kids.  My girls do not really like the apple cider vinegar smell but neither do ticks and lice.  The smell vanishes quickly enough and it is great for hair so they have gotten used to it. The rose geranium oil is expensive but we haven't gotten a single tick in our hair the 2 summers we have used it and the summer before that we got them every single time we visited the grandparents or went to the lake.  It lasts a long time and is totally worth the price!

(*Note: I don't want to get into any debates about essential oil brands.  I have used Young Living, Do Terra, Edens Garden, and Plant Therapy all with great success.  I currently primarily buy Plant Therapy mainly because of the affordable price, great extensive Kidsafe line, and because of two day shipping on Amazon, but I love the others as well.)

very small travel size water spray bottle
1/2 tsp moisturizing oil (I usually just use olive oil because it is what I have on hand but almond, jojoba, or any other liquid oil will do)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
5 drops Rose Geranium oil (for tick prevention)
5 drops tea tree oil
10 drops Plant Therapy "Get 'Em Gone" blend
water filled the rest of the way to the brim of spray bottle

Directions:  Shake well and spray on hair.  I use it on my girls' hair every time they wash it and any other time there are tangles.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Just a few new favorite baby products

Babies really don't need much but it seems that every time I have a new baby I find a few things that help make my life easier.  Here are the ones I've loved this time around:

1. Baby K'tan original Baby carrier - I've always loved babywearing, but with 5 kids, it is an absolute necessity to have my hands free!  I formerly used the moby wrap or just a simple sling for the first 6 months until the baby was old enough to really use my favorite Ergo carrier.  And they were super helpful.  But the sling restricted one of my arms, making it hard to carry out many household chores or hold two different hands while crossing a parking lot. And as much as I loved the moby, it was honestly a pain to deal with all that fabric.  The K'tan solves both of those problems and is easy to put on and comfortable to wear.  I don't know what I would do without it.  The only downside is that I have used it so much out of necessity that my baby is slightly addicted to falling asleep in it!  I bought mine brand new on ebay but for the half the price of Amazon or the nearby stores that carry it.

2.  Arms Reach Co-sleeper -- This thing was a life-saver the first 2 weeks!  We usually just use a pack n play beside our bed but I am always highly anemic after giving birth and I get bruises all over my arms as I reach over and down to pick the baby up all night long.  I love this co-sleeper because the baby is completely safe so I can sleep in peace but she is so much easier to pick up!  We got ours on Craigslist for about  1/4 of the price.

3.  Tiny Love Take Along Mobile -- My last toddler destroyed our mobile and when I went online to search for one for our new baby, I was horrified at how expensive they were!  But this one is awesome because not only is it half the price of most of them, it is portable and can easily go on the carseat or pack n play for trips.  It can clip anywhere!  I also like that it is more simple than  lot of the over-stimulating mobiles available.