Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some of Our Favorite Lego Activities

     Do you have someone at home who just can't get enough Legos? Me too! Here are some of our favorite Lego activites from around the web! (You know, other than just playing endlessly with them) Many of them have an educational spin on them, because that's just how we homeschool mom's roll...

     All of these ideas (and more) are Pinned over on our Lego Projects board on Pinterest, which is a great way to keep track of them all (and future ideas we find online!)





Our first Lego idea that we loved was Lego Ice Exploration from Dayna over at Lemon Lime Adventures. 



 The basic idea is to freeze a mini fig in ice and then have your child figure out how to remove them. A few tweeks we added to our own excavation project. We didn't let the ice fully freeze. My daughter who wanted to try this is only 4 years old. I was sure she would have a hard time waiting, or chopping away at the ice, so we only let the ice half freeze- the added benefit being it only took about an hour in the freezer before it was ready! I also had my daughter use actual Lego tools to remove the mini-fig from the ice. 


That's a mini plastic axe she's using =)

She also used some rock salt we had and learned about how salt can melt ice faster. This was a great sensory activity. She even enjoyed playing with the ice well after the Mini-Fig had escaped. Dayna also has a great idea for Lego Calm Down Jars that you should really go check out as well! 



Our second activity was a Color your own Mini-Fig free printable from Mary at Homegrown Learners. We love coloring in this house, especially something open ended like this that gives the kids the opportunity to branch out and make it unique! 




Which, of course for many boys leads to Mini-figs holding axes and flame-throwers ;)



Our next project was a Lego Marble Run from Octavia and Vickey.com This became a bigger project for us since we didn't have a large Lego board, so we had to puzzle one together from our various small boards.



We also had no marbles so ours was a small Styrofoam ball run, which doesn't have the same ring to it but was equally as fun! This is such a great idea and really forced my big boys to be creative and think through the next step before each new path could be completed.



     It also was a great lesson in patience as several of our original ideas didn't work out so we had to disassemble and try again! 

The final idea we tried out was the Lego Catapult from Science Sparks.com This was another excellent idea for making the Legos more educational! 



     The first catapult was functional, but not strong enough to be pulled back without falling to pieces. So we had to talk about reinforcing and how we could make the whole thing stronger. 

     We enjoyed finding some new Lego ideas and I hope you did as well! We have some more Lego ideas in the works including my son's idea for making up some Lego comics! Be sure to like us on our Social Media to be the first to know when new posts are up! (Right hand top of the page has all our links)
















Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Carob Cookies

Some of the links in this article are "affiliate links" , which means if you click on one and purchase something I receive a small compensation, Thank you! This is disclosed on the top of every blog post in accordance with the FTC regulations for bloggers.


       I like recipes that do more than just taste good! Especially with children, who can be picky, it's so important to find ways to incorporate healthy foods into their diet everyday! 
     
     This particular recipe is inspired by keeping their little tummies healthy. The star ingredients Pumpkin and Carob and both excellent sources of fiber. In addition, pumpkin is high in vitamin A and has vitamin C, calcium and iron as well- all excellent when you are sick or to keep you healthy. Carob is even higher in fiber than pumpkin and also has iron, calcium and several trace minerals. It is also considered a "pre-biotic" which, in the simplest terms, means in feeds the good flora in our guts. (click that link if you would like a more detailed explanation). 



     Carob is particularly useful in cases of diarrhea. Lets not get too technical about it since this is meant to be a recipe post, but we all know that this is a common problem in children particularly and can cause serious concerns if not stopped quickly. In my experience, carob is one of the FASTEST and easiest ways to quell an over-excited stomach. 
Some of the other ingredients such as coconut oil, oatmeal and flax seed are all helpful in building up an upset gut and providing key nutrients for the body. I do not include conventional sugar in this recipe, even the less refined variety, because if you are fighting illness it's best to avoid sugar. The pictures have a light sprinkling of demerara sugar on top for better picture quality, but that could be skipped unless you are quite sure your children won't eat this without some extra sweetness, in which case I say add a little sugar, it will still have lots of healthful properties even with a little sugar- but try them without it first! You may be surprised how much you like these!



Pumpkin Carob Cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened (if you prefer you can just use 1/2 cup coconut oil and eliminate the butter or vice versa)
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup whole wheat flour (sprouted if you have it)
1/2 cup unbleached white flour (you can eliminate this an just add whole wheat if you would prefer, this will give it a little more familiar texture to those use to store-bought cookies)
1/3 cup carob powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup demerara sugar for sprinkling (optional)



Directions:


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine butter, coconut oil and coconut sugar in a bowl whip together to combine.
  • Add egg, vanilla, flax meal, salt and pumpkin puree, stir well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine both flours, carob powder, oatmeal and baking powder. Stir to combine well.
  • Add dry ingredients to your wet ingredient and mix to form a stiff cookie dough (add walnuts if you choose here)
  • Scoop out on a parchment lined cookie sheet, flatten each cookie with a fork. (Sprinkle with Demera sugar if desired)
  • Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

    All four of my kids really enjoyed these cookies. In fact, my youngest son enjoyed them so much that he had a melt down when I said he couldn't come back for thirds!  I hope you'll try it with your children too and let me know the results! 

I am a blogger, NOT a medical professional . Nothing written on this blog is meant to be considered medical advice. Not meant to treat, cure or prevent any disease as according to the FDA regulations.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Apologia Educational Ministries iWitness Review

     Why do you believe what you believe? What evidence do you have that it's true? These are important questions in our family and I was so excited to have the opportunity to read this series of Christian apologetics books from Apologia Educational Ministries, written and designed by Doug Powell (MA Christian Apologetics, Biola) . The three books in the series are iWitness Biblical Archaeology, New Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness. Each book costs $14.


 photo iWitnessPin.jpg
     
     These iWitness books are written in a quick-read or "coffee table" book format that gives you the option to read a long section, or just a short one, and still learn something new. The pages are filled with colorful and interesting pictures that relate to the text, such as pictures of the caves in Qumran near the  discussion about the Dead Sea Scrolls. These books are intended to be read by ages 11 and up, however our oldest son is not quite 9 and we enjoyed reading them allowed together during our evening devotions as a family.


 photo iWitness.jpg
Apologia Review


In the first book, Biblical Archaeology, Doug Powell talks about the stories of the Bible, such as the Flood and the Exodus and gives several historical finds that coincide with each story. We learned many interesting stories that I hadn't known before. I've always enjoyed ancient Egyptian History and so the part of the book which discussed which Pharaoh could have been in power during the time of Moses was fascinating to me. My spine tingled as I read of excavations at Jericho that showed that the outer city wall had fallen against an inner retaining wall (was that the distant sounds of trumpets I heard?) 




Apologia Review
In Old Testament iWitness, Powell discusses the books of the Old Testament, how were they chosen, how long have they been considered together to form a book, and is there evidence outside of the Bible for the historical events they describe. We found it interesting to learn some of the many ways that the scribes used to make sure they copied the text accurately such as making a grid, counting the words, and throwing out the copy if one inaccuracy was found. Again there are many fascinating pictures on each page that go along with the writing, and give you a little insight as to where or who they are talking about.

Apologia Review
     In New Testament iWitness, Powell discusses how the books of the New Testament were chosen, why others were rejected and what evidence we have of these books being the ones used by the early church. He also gives a brief history of the early church fathers, what books they specifically mention as being inspired by God. There is a section discussing some of the books that were not chosen to be included and why, some being outright heretical and others merely acceptable for worship, but not considered meant for the universal church.
 
     We found these books to be extremely interesting. All of the children (other than the baby) wanted to be standing next to the reader to see the pictures. The pictures inspired great discussion about the subjects. Our children were technically "too young" for these books, however we found the writing to be understandable by at least our older two boys (ages 6 and 8) with just the occasional word that needed further explanation.  In my opinion, these books are great for children and adults alike, even if you had no children in your home but were interested in Biblical History from a Christian worldview, you would enjoy these books. If you, or your child, have a difficult time with books with lots pictures (think "scrapbook" feel) or varying text fonts, including many with a "handwritten" fonts, then this book may not be for you. We were pleased with the engaging fonts and scrapbook-like picture/text format. We found a lot of information that we didn't know and certainly these books would be a great starter to inspired further study into the subject of Christian Apologetics.


Apologia Review
Follow Apologia on Social Media
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
 Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
 Google+ - https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
 Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/








Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Herbal Discoveries: Rosemary and Sage Hair Rinse


Some of the links in this post may be "affiliate links" which means if you click and then purchase something I receive a small compensation, Thank You! this is disclosed on the top of every post in accordance with the FTC regulations for bloggers.


     Here's my second Herbal discoveries post I'd like to share with you! I'd like to tell you about an easy Rosemary and Sage Hair rinse that we use. It's great for softening your hair (much like a conditioner would do, but a lot less chemicals!) and also may help with your dry or itchy scalp.

 photo HairRinsePin.jpg
    
     Nothing could be simpler than this recipe! Mostly what you need is a little patience while your herbs infuse into your vinegar! But before we get to the recipe, lets talk about why I chose these two particular herbs.

1. They are readily accessible by anyone who has access to a Grocery store. I have both of these herbs growing in my own yard and I am blessed to live in a place where both of them can survive year round! (I do cover them for the occasional freeze) At least in the US, you should be able to find both of these herbs in your vegetable aisle. Fresh is always better, but if dried is your only option, then it's better than nothing!
 
2. Both Rosemary and Sage are excellent for your scalp. They both have been known for being a help for dandruff as well as having antibacterial and antiviral properties. Rosemary in particular has some properties that may help increase circulation as well.

 photo hairrinse2.jpgHere's how you make it. Choose how much you would like to make. This Herbal vinegar will keep well, I chose to make a full gallon. This is NOT the time to use your more valuable raw Apple Cider Vinegar. The more typical store bought kind is fine in this circumstance.  





 photo herbalhairrinse1.jpgWhatever size you choose, you'll want a similar sized glass container. I'm using one of those large pickle jars from a wholesale club store. Fill it 1/2 to 3/4 full of your herbs. This may be a reason to choose a smaller sized container if you don't have it growing in your own yard, since it would be pricey to purchase as much herb as I am using here. If you find that you enjoy this hair rinse as much as we do, you may decide to purchase some of the herbs yourself and grow your own! Fill the jar with your vinegar and put on the cover.

 photo hairrinse5.jpg      Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight (I put it in a lower cupboard). You'll want the herbs to soak in the vinegar for at least 2 weeks, more time will not hurt though, I tend to leave mine for at least a month. You should try to regularly shake or turn the jar a little to make sure all the vinegar is well infused with the herbs.






     When it's ready, strain the herbs from the vinegar and discard them. (Still great for your compost pile or if you don't have one, place them under a tree or bush in your yard.) Now your vinegar is ready to use! You can shampoo your hair as normal, we like to use a shampoo bar ourselves such as this one. To use the rinse, it's nice to have a squeeze bottle like this one pictured, but it's not essential.

 photo hairrinse6.jpg      You want to dilute your vinegar to be about 50/50 with water. After you wash your hair pour the rinse over your head. I like to do this with my hair forward, especially if I've just shaved my legs. Vinegar on legs that have just been shaved DOESN'T FEEL GOOD, just take my advice on this one. ;) I pour it on my head, being careful to avoid getting it in my eyes, squeeze it through my hair.

 photo hairrinse3.jpg
      You can rinse with water immediately. Your hair will feel softer right away! If you have a condition like dandruff you may want to leave the vinegar on longer or even not rinse it off. The smell will be slightly stronger, however by the time your hair dries the smell will be mostly gone.



     Some other potential uses for this vinegar:
  • it would make a decent bug spray, especially if you add some lemongrass or citronella essential oil to the finished product. (Do NOT ingest if you added either oil) 
  • It also would help as a non-chemical solution if you had a bug infestation on a plant. Spray the plant well with the infused vinegar and when the bugs are dead wash the plant off with a hose.
  • Certainly, as it is, could be used for and oil and  infused vinegar salad dressing! Sage is NOT recommended for nursing mothers as it can lower milk supply. A little may be okay, but a large amount should be avoided.

          I hope this herbal vinegar is helpful for you and your family! I am happy to try and answer any non-medical questions  you may have and I'd love to hear about it if you try it yourself!


In case you are interested these shots were taken with a CanonPowerShot  SD 1200

 
All medical advice should be asked of a medical professional. I am NOT a medical professional. Not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease according to the FDA.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Babywearing Journey








    
     This is probably one of my favorite things I have ever written about. If you know me personally and have had a baby in the last 9 years, chances are, I've either talked to you about babywearing, made you a carrier or BOTH! =) I'm very passionate about it because, honestly, to me it's one of the secrets to being a happy parent!

 photo Babywearingpin.jpg

     Travel back with me 9 years from now and you'll meet a very pregnant first time mom, who like many new parents, signed up to take a childbirth class at the hospital. Providentially, I didn't have a teacher like many do who eschews all things natural and instinctual. I had a wonderful teacher, who encouraged me to strive for an unmedicated birth, to breastfeed my baby and to try babywearing! With my first son, I got a mainstream carrier but found it uncomfortable. I even wore my son on my back in it, but didn't find it supportive enough for either of us!






 photo babywearing2.jpg
I'm in no way advocating wearing this carrier in this way, it was uncomfortable and unsafe!






    
     That's when my mind started churning and I started to think, "Could I make a carrier that would work better?" After all, I tend to enjoy making things myself, and while I was pregnant I had taught myself to sew by making cloth diapers for my son.






 photo babywearing7.jpg




Why, yes, I did make that diaper myself! Thanks for asking! ;)

    
     So I started to search online and found thebabywearer.com forum and lots of helpful mamas and advice! This was before there were a million youtube videos on the subject and so many different brands of carriers that there are now! I made a Mei Tai first, which is a carrier that you tie shorter straps around your waist and them longer straps crossed over your back (or front) to tie the baby on to you.



 photo babywearing5.jpg
They are BOTH pretty cute if you ask me!




     This opened up a whole new world for me! The baby could be happy and content snuggled close to mom and I could get things done, or go on a walk! When my son was little, it was winter and we lived up North, we tried to take him on a walk in the cold in his stroller.



 photo babywearing4.jpg
On top of all this we still covered the whole stroller in a blanket!!



      When we got home the poor baby was freezing! Even under all that covering. I started to think I would just have to stay indoors until it got warm again and I thought I would go stir crazy! But then when I started babywearing, I realized I could put him in a carrier and then put a large coat around us both!
 photo babywearing3.jpg
After a long walk, see those rosy red cheeks?




    
      I even made a coat with a hole in the back of it, so I could wear him on my back as he got bigger and still take a walk in the cold.




 photo babywearing14.jpg
That is the face of a contented and toasty warm child right there....


     I started being asked a lot of questions during our local La Leche League Meetings about babywearing. Not wanting to take too much time away from talking about breastfeeding, I started a separate meeting for local moms to learn more about babywearing.


 photo babywearing15.jpg
Our first babywearing meeting!

     Why, you ask, did we become so passionate about a simple piece of cloth? Well let me tell you some of the things babywearing has done for us:
    • Its helped me bond with my children. Being close enough to kiss and smell your baby's head is therapeutic for mommy and hearing mom's heartbeat and smelling her unique smell, gives baby security as they transition to the outside world.

    • It's given me freedom. When other mom's waited with their bulky stroller in a line at the zoo, we were able to walk right in. And I never had to lift my children to see the animals, they were always at the perfect height already!





       photo babywearing8.jpg
      Babywearing at the Zoo!

      • It's allowed us to still enjoy the outdoors as we always have. We are a family who loves to hike a mountain, or go off the beaten path. We like to live life where no stroller dared go!


      

       photo babywearing11.jpg
      Babywearing in Acadia, ME






      • It's kept my hands free. Even though every stranger I meet still says "Boy! You've got your hands full!" (If you have multiple children, you understand) But seriously, it's allowed me to have my hands free for my other children, for opening the door, for making dinner, and even -once- for catching myself and preventing a serious injury to my baby and myself when I slipped on a wet floor!
       



       photo babywearing12.jpg
      My older son would be soaking wet in this family photo if not for babywearing ;)






           My advice to new moms? Learn how to babywear. Find a local group to get you started, if there isn't one, join one online and find out which videos are safest and best, then start your own local group!  My advice to more experienced moms? Babywearing still has something to offer you as well!




      
       photo babywearing10.jpg
      Babywearing at 8 months pregnant



           My advice to the skeptics? Don't knock what you haven't tried! Babywearing is incredibly safe if you take the time to learn how to do it right (just like putting your child in a crib, stroller, or swing- learn how to do it safely first!) And for what's it's worth? I have 4 children ages almost 9 on down- They all walked at a normal time, they all are happy independent children and they all SLEEP ALL NIGHT IN THEIR OWN BEDS. So don't tell me I've created needy or dependent children, because I may have a hard time keeping my sarcastic comment to myself!
      

       photo babywearing9.jpg
      Learning how to do it himself while being worn!


          
            And just think! You may be teaching the future generation how to be more compassionate and caring with your good example!!

      
       photo babywearing13.jpg

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Lemon Caraway Seed Cookies: Sourdough and Non-Sourdough Method







    "Everything was in train for supper. There was to be stewed chicken, with 'riz biscuits' and honey, raspberry preserves, spiced peaches, fruitcake and caraway-seed cookies with delectable sugary tops." excerpt from Phoebe Dean by Grace Livingston Hill copyright 1909

    "That was twelve long years ago, and they had not forgotten! They were coming to see her, and wanted some caraway cookies! A glad light leaped into her face, and she lifted her eyes to the gray distance." excerpt from Cloudy Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill copyright 1920

    Some of the links in this article are "affiliate links". this means if you click on a link and you buy a product, I receive a small compensation, Thank You! This is disclosed on the top of every post in accordance with the FTC regulations for bloggers.

      
            Have you ever read a story and got caught up in a simple phrase, mention of a food or style of dress? Particularly, if the book is from a time you did not live in, or a place you have not visited. This is how this recipe came about for me.

          When I read two separate references, by the same author, for Caraway seed cookies, I was intrigued. I had some Caraway seeds in with my spices that had sat in the jar for a long time, but I had never used them and really wasn't sure what they were for. So I began to search online and I found this absolute GEM of a blog article complete with newspaper clippings and old time poetry about Caraway cookies! I think one of the things that I love about learning about a different time or place is that it gives us a different idea about ourselves! We don't realize sometimes how we have categorized something in our lives to be only useful in a specific way - and yet it may be completely arbitrary that we do so! This applies to cookies as well as deeper subjects. ;)

     photo Lemoncarawaycookies.jpg      Because I love learning about herbs and spices as well, I decided to look up Caraway seeds and find out what benefits they may have. I found out they are a powerful anti-oxidant and a galactagogue (herbs that promotes milk production in nursing moms).  


    On to the cookies!!


     photo IMG_2761-2.jpg

    Sourdough Lemon Caraway Seed Cookies
    (makes about 2 dozen cookies)
    What you'll need:
    To be combined the night(or 8 hours in advance) before
    1/2 cup sourdough starter
    1/2 cup of unsalted butter or coconut oil

     photo IMG_2759-2.jpg

    Combine these ingredients until they make a thick dough. Cover with a cloth and sour your dough for at least 8 hours, I like to leave it souring overnight.

    In the morning, or 8 hours later you'll need:
    PREHEAT your oven to 375 line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    2/3 cup coconut sugar (you could use Sucanat as well, however it will raise your blood sugar more)
    1 egg
    1 tsp pure lemon extract
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 TBS lemon zest (optional)

    The baking soda is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to a non-sour tasting sourdough recipe, if you forget it once you'll never live it down with your children (ask me how I know...).

     photo IMG_2760-2.jpg

         It will take some unconventional mixing to incorporate these additional ingredients (more like "chopping" them in with a wood spoon than mixing) but once they are all incorporated you are ready to bake! I like to use a cookie scoop to place on your tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 10-15 min.


     photo IMG_2762-2.jpg


         Sourdough Cookies will not be super crispy, but that doesn't stop them from being super delicious! Something about the combination of Lemon and Caraway in this recipe is so super yummy! The first time we made them we brought them to the beach with us (which is a great place to eat them since the anti-oxidants can help your body fight the free-radicals in the UV rays of the sun!) They were gone before we reached home!


         If you don't have any sourdough starter on hand, or if crispy cookies are essential to your enjoyment of them, don't worry! You can still make these delicious cookies, have the health benefits of a soaked grain! If you would like to make your own soaked grain, I have used this method from Kitchen Stewardship before with good results. There's an Amazon link below that you can use to purchase it if your do not want to make your own.


     photo IMG_2763-2.jpg
    these are still the sourdough variety, the others disappeared before I got a picture!



    Lemon Caraway Seed Cookies (Non-Sourdough Recipe) 
    (makes about 2 dozen cookies)

    Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

    1/2 cup unsalted butter or coconut oil

    2/3 cup coconut sugar (you could use Sucanat as well, however it will raise your blood sugar more)

    1 egg

    1 tsp pure lemon extract
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 TBS lemon zest (optional)

    In a mixing bowl, combine the butter (or coconut oil) with the coconut sugar and mix well. Add the egg, lemon extract and caraway seeds. Traditional baking methods would then tell you to combine in a separate bowl the flour, baking soda and salt. If you would like to do it that way, that's fine. I do not want to have another bowl to wash and so I add the baking soda and sea salt to the mixed ingredients and mix them well, then I add the flour. (and it's always turn out fine this way). Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 10-15 min.

    This second method will create less rise to your cookies and a crispier texture. I don't have a picture of the second method, the cookies disappeared before I could take one. ;)



    I hope you and your family love these cookies as well and that they give you a new useful spice that perhaps you've never used before! I'd love to hear about it if your try this recipe and what you think of them!








     If you are interested in learning more about the Christian author Grace Livingston Hill there is a great website here and many of her books are available for free as scanned copies in ebook form through Amazon, Google books, etc. She wrote more than 100 books in her lifetime and supported her family through writing after her husband died.





    In case you are interested, these shots were taken with a Canon PowerShot  SD 1200
        


    For any and all medical advice please see a qualified medical professional.

    I am a blogger, not a medical professional. In compliance with the FDA regulations, any advice is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
      Thank You!