Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I've emailed the winners; Christi, Ronda and April check your mail next week. To everyone that didn't win, I'm talking to some people about doing give-aways through the blog more regularly. Keep in the loop, I like to share. 

I've decided to make a bit of a change and comb out my dreadlocks. I roll my eyes at that word: dreadlocks. They never really got to the stage where they were noticably locked up. A year later and people still say "Oh, you're trying to grow dreads?" Yeah. I'm trying. My hair, on the other hand, doesn't want to comply. Contrary to what people (and websites that sell you stuff) believe, not everyone's hair is made for dreadlocks.

Oh, it'll knot up and look messy and be a pain in the ass but those really pretty fat locks you see out there, well, some people just can't do it. After an entire year of trying, I've realize I'm one of those people.

I've backcombed, waxed, braided, palm-rolled, aloed, crocheted and finally in a last ditch effort to get ALL the stray hair in, sewed.

Nothing worked. And I really wanted it to.

So, this afternoon I combed out three of them. It took hours. It hurt. I used half a bottle of conditioner. It made me nauseous and dizzy. If you don't hear from me for awhile I'm probably unconscious on the bathroom floor.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pattern Testers Wanted

I'm tired of moping about not having money. I'm tired of complaining that we'll never get our land developed. So, I'm doing something about it. Not sure how well it will work but I'm trying and I think that counts for a lot.

I'm working out a pattern for a utility/vendor apron I made and need two people (at least) to test the pattern and tell me if my instructions are completely wonkers.

I've been told this would be great for teachers, waitresses, farmer's market people, gardening, home improvement, home party throwers, evangelists, anywhere you need extra pockets to hold stuff you need. I use mine for clothes pins while I stylishly hang laundry in the back yard where no one sees me. Hey, I see me and my bright apron makes me happy. Plus, the kids know when the apron goes on we have laundry to tend.

The pattern would be free, emailed to the first testers that volunteer and in PDF format. It's intermediate skill level mainly because of the enormous amount of bias tape that needs to be made and blindly sewn. When I get the a-okay that the instructions are clean, clear and easy to follow I'll have the pattern up for sale in our Etsy shop.

Contest and a real Birthday

Just a quick note to everyone that entered the contest. Today, after Yoga, I'll write everyone's names out on slips of paper and throw them in a hat...or a bowl. I will then deploy a most scientific method of picking names out aided by various kids. If you win one drawing you're out for the rest of the prizes. Just FYI. I'll post the winners on here probably tomorrow and notify them via email.

Today, is in fact, an actual birthday in our house. Olivia, my first born daughter and second born kid, is now seven. Holy wow. I mean, I knew it was coming but...geeze.

We had her party last night. I barbequed some dogs and burgers and a huge pile of veggies. Earlier, I had made cupcakes which I let her pick from a mix. Remind me to never do that again. They were gross. They tasted like dry cherry candycanes and too sweet frosting with no flavor other than copious amounts of white sterilized sugar. I had to make it up to the Confectionary Gods and make some of my famous chocolate ones from scratch. With almond frosting. mmmm. I hope it earned me some forgiveness.

We ate and goofed off for the camera. The present pile was meager but if you don't make a big deal over it, kids don't notice. I still have her birthday quilt to finish which I haven't presented to her yet. I tried to choose things that were meaningful, worthy and inexpensive.

I bought her a long pesant dress and matching doll dress from A Lady out of Carolina after swearing profusely at the high prices looking over the American Girl doll store I found her on Etsy and fell in love. Not only are her dresses well made (with serged edges and good quality cotton), she makes them all herself, in America (which AG can't say). I only wish I could have gotten everything else like that.

I picked up a wooden nursery and birthday playset from Play Wonder* at Target. Olivia wanted this badly and it fits perfectly in the wooden doll house Cordelia got for her birthday at the begining of the year. They're simple, sturdy and not too expensive. Then she got the Toy Story 3 Leapster game. I <3 LeapFrog.

I manned the camera, which you can tell by my absentness from the photos...again. I would have gotten more photos of the toys but they snatched them up and scurried away with their prizes before I could. The day was simple and meaningful, two things that I strive to bring to our home. I feel so much has gotten away from these two values. Our souls feast on lasting gifts and memories and the whole face wide smiles of a very happy now-seven year old.

*Play Wonder is made in China. I know, I know. I try my best.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Girl!

I worked Hard.

Saturday we woke up and took the kids to the movies. Our new sitter came to test drive Max and see if she'd be up to coming twice a week for the rest of the summer. I need the break. I need the time to gather my thoughts, work on school and treat the still painful episodes I get from the car accident from last July. We had a great time seeing Toy Story 3. I cried and sniffed loudly. I hope I didn't bother anyone. The kids on the other hand, were quieter than I was. It was so nice getting out and doing "big kid" stuff. It was also Emmy's first non-diapered outing. What a day.

We came home midafternoon. The sky was threatening rain. Dark clouds polka-dotted the bright blue sky. I wanted the rain. My garden needs it. For a state that is surrounded on three sides by water, we get so little of it during these upper-ninety high summer days. The sitter said everything went well and is excited to start on Tuesday. I sent her off deleriously happy I might actually get a break regularly then headed out before the clouds lived up to their threats.

Max is still going through an attached-to-mommy phase which has made outside chores hard to do. But the garden was being neglected and I had to find a solution. I set him up in the baby pool near the gardens edge with the picnic table umbrella as shade. I tended to my baby as I tended my garden. The weeds were thick and stubborn so I borrowed my neighbors electric weed whacker thing. There was so much more than I realized and had to take breaks regularly. My arms aren't as strong as I want to think they are.

It was a slow process. The heat beat down on me. Dirt smeared my face and arms. Weeds got tossed out and new plants brought in. Leeloo has been digging in the garden so I replaced what she tore away with new rich black soil. Over the course of last week, I had harvested more rabbit manure and had slowly added it to the top of the garden. I worked the nutrients deep in the empty parts of the beds. Max stayed in his designated spot with little trouble which was helpful to me accomplishing so much.

I refilled the aquaglobes. I have to say, I didn't think this novelty item was really at all worth it. Now, I wish I had bought more when I found them so cheap. While the heat and relentless sun drain them rather quickly, they do help the plants from getting scorched which is all I can really hope for. I lost so much last year to that harsh globe of fire.

I have a hard time finding the little victories in my gardening pursuits. I'm not a natural gardener. I once killed an entire cactus family. Even Arizona can't do that. Two years ago, when I decided the kind of life I wanted to lead I started my first little garden with a few tomatoes and herbs. I knew I was in for a lot of learning when they all rapidly died. Looking over my garden I see the failure, the disappointment. It's hard not to see the bad when there's so much of it. The fact that so little is actually producing save for the lemon grass and those two small watermellons is sometimes hard to swallow. One can only eat so much sage. There is a lot of green out there, it's just not giving me much.

I have to keep things in perspective though. It's why I started the 2010 tally on the side bar. I need to be reminded that good things do happen. Things are moving forward even though the miniscule daily growth is so hard to notice. I flipped through the photos in my folders and found this taken just three short months ago.

A big difference compared to this from today.

This second bed is cleared out and will be home to the new squash and pumpkin vines that are still under the grow light indoors. I want to give them a good hearty start before they are pushed outside under the sun. I'm constantly fighting off the shield beetles that are attracted to my watermellon and cucumber vines. As long as I'm dilligent, and go out every day to spray them off the plants they seem to be more managable than the horde swarm that decended last year.

I worked hard. My muscles are still protesting. They're weak from holding the heavy weed eater and digging up the tough as nails dirt. Pulling up creeping grass by the roots and laying down new hope. We'll see in a few weeks if my effort will pay off.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's My Party! Birthday Giveaway!

Happy Birthday to Solidity of Rainbows!!!

It's been two years since I started this blogging adventure.

We've had lots of stuff happen; Deployment, Birth, Illness, Gardens, Birthdays, Holidays, Crafts, Recipes, Bugs, Homeschooling, Rabbits...well, you get the picture!

Today, in honor of our birthday, we're giving YOU presents!!!!!

Three prize packs are up for grabs.

First: a $30 Joann Fabrics Gift Card

Second: A Craft Pack filled with patterns, fabric, and notions

Third: A crafty treat I've sewed up!
Your choice of a zippy bag, crayon wallet OR 2 pack of reusable snack bags!

How to get entered in the drawing!

Follow this blog (one entry)
Twitter about it (one entry)
Blog about it (two entries)
Follow HeartSong Farms (one entry)

You must post a comment on THIS blog post to enter with links to the twitter/blog posts and tell me how many entries you qualify for!

I'll give everyone until Monday at 12 noon EST to get their entries in and do the drawing that afternoon.

Good luck!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Aztecs, Mayans and Incans...Oh, my!

Yesterday we finished up our unit study on Aztecs, Mayans and Incans. I used the thematic unit pictured below. I really enjoy these books. They use a mix of fiction and non-fiction books and incorporate many different types of topics for a well-rounded lesson on their own. Plus, they're reasonably priced!

Over the course of the past few weeks we've read a fiction book on the Mayans (The Corn Grows Ripe) and another on the Incans (Secrets of the Andes). We've watched short animated movies through Brain Pop and did vocabulary, geography and tests through there as well.

We watched Cracking the Mayan Code, a PBS movie through NetFlix streaming, last week. Then we read the DK Aztecs non-fiction book and discussed all the things we've learned about them and the Conquistadors. We also read Amazing Mayan Inventions and made drawings of our own inventions. I printed out things through Enchanted Learning for some Mexico worksheets including coloring the Mexico flag.

With our heads swimming with codices, step pyramids and gold we rounded out our studies with a hands-on project: Geosafari's Mayan Dig.

I found this on clearance at my local Lakeshore Learning. Even not on sale it's a fairly good price. It comes with a very comprehensive booklet with math problems and little worksheets for the artifacts you find. You could really do a fairly complete lesson just with this kit. There is a little scraper and paint brush and a clay brick. Alex has been anxious to do this for awhile.

It's a lot more work than you'd think, scraping away slivers of clay while trying to find the four artifacts hidden within. He held his own for a good bit.

But then his hands got tired so I took over. It would have been better if his sisters got into it more. Then they could have swapped scraping jobs. Apparently, being an archeologist isn't as much fun as Indy makes it look.

Finally we found something!

What is it?! What could it be!? The kids were delighted when we started pulling out items and it renewed their enthusiasm for the tedious task of scraping the clay. I think that euphoria is what archeologists live for. Maybe they just like getting dirty, too.

I was actually quite impressed with the size and quality of the "artifacts" in the kit. The three big kids are outside playing archeologist and curator as I type.

Now, on to Ancient Egypt. I have a Dig kit for that too!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've come to the realization that I can't learn to do anything right without first doing it every possible way wrong. Or surmounting every concievable obstacle and problem surrounding whatever task or project I want to undertake. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

It was like that with the garden. Blight, mildew, various bugs, drought, flooding, no fertilization, no sprouts, and disease. And that was just in my first year. This year has been better. I can at least say that.

Yesterday, I had gathered up my camera and variety of rabbit care tools in the hopes of capturing me grooming one of the boys.  So I could show everyone that even a novice with no mentor, no farm past and no farm present can have a tiny slice of the life we Barnheart'ers crave.

It went first. I relieved Duncan of another mass of soft-as-air fluff. I trimmed off a hidden mat on his hind leg. All the while he was perfectly fine. Oh, there was the one moment when I was sitting in my anirondack chair softly cooing to the gentle beast while gathering his white gold when he got a bit spooked and jumped off my lap. I let him go, grabbing for him could hurt him more than the short jump from my knees to the wood pallet deck. He stopped after he landed and I scooped him back up and proceeded with the trimming.

He seemed fine. Until I put him back in his cage, his face smeared with blood. When things like this happen my heart jumps into my throat and otherwise stops altogether. Breath catches in my lungs, I have to tamp down the panic. I checked him over and found one nail hanging in the fur of his front paw. Somewhere during the trim -I'm thinking when he lept- it ripped off. The entire nail. Black claw and white bed. The blood flowed hard and red, he favored the other leg. Duncan washed perfusely which only aided in smearing the fresh red blood all over his stark white fur, leaving him looking like a derranged psychotic carnivore. The contrast was startling.

I left him to tend himself unsure what the proper course of action was. They don't cover these things in Rabbits for Dummies. I hopped on the Rabbit Talk board and frantically posted a question about what to do.

Thankfully, it seems this will take care of itself. It needs to stay clean and Duncan needs to stay calm so he doesn't rip it open while it heals. As long as infection doesn't set it, he'll be fine. This morning I went out and he greeted me at the door, his face white again and weight seemed equally distributed between front paws. Breath I didn't know I held was released in an audible sigh. I'm not going to finish his trim for at least a week while he heals. No out-of-cage exploring for him either.

I could have posted how wonderful the event went yesterday and omitted the part when my rabbit profusely bled all over and scared the hell out of me. I could have made my homesteading experience a vision of a slowly fulfilling dream-life but that's not how I function. The good comes with the bad. My learning seems to thrive on haywire and the unplanned. Yes, I'm skittish like a rabbit in an open meadow with hawks circling above when it comes to expanding my homesteading endeavors. The loss of Flora still has me nervous about those two new does I'm considering. But even with all the problems chalked up to learning, all the bitching and all the heartache my life really is a slowly fulfilling dream.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Goings On

I have been carless since last Monday. Rob made it home from Army drill Sunday night with assistance from a tow truck. Since he has to go to work every day, he's been taking my car. He worked hard Saturday and Sunday to get it fixed but there's still a few more things that need to be done. Which means I'm housebound again this week and kinda going nuts.

I did get out on Saturday with only three kids in tow and made it over to the grocery store and farmers market before the skys opened up. We have a seven day a week farmers market over here that I've been going to for years. It's where I get my local Amish made onion cheese which is to. die. for. This past weekened they had a sale on bing cherries. $1.49 a pound. I bought about six dollars worth.

Sunday, that got turned into this.

Yesterday, after watching numerous YouTube videos, I decided Conner needed a haircut. I only very poorly trimmed him once. In these 100 degree- 100 percent humid Florida days, I have to be vigilant in the care of the Angoras. It's one of the reasons we have so few breeders in the state. I hadn't realize how long his coat had gotten until I got the shears in there and started cutting it away. His coat was at least 2.5" long. Three is the recommended length for trimming but I can't wait for that.

He was such a good boy, sitting still in my lap while I slowly clipped away his winter jacket. He's been having a rough time of it. Duncan has been marking him (which means he's been getting pissed on). Being first time rabbit owners and not having this problem until about a week ago, had no idea why Conner was getting so dirty! We thought maybe he was too young to know how to care for himself or maybe he was sick. But upon closer inspection and research I realized Duncan was the culprit. We put a board between the cages and the problem has been solved. Now to clean up the bunny.

I didn't get quite all of him done yesterday. Today will start round two of his haircut. I still need to do his neck, shoulders and cheeks where a lot of mats form, around his sides and tops of his feet and trim off a bit on his belly. The belly and bottom of feet hair have to stay to guard against the cage wire but it needs to be cleaned up.

It's gotta feel so much better out there.

I ended up with almost a full ounce of hair that I've put in a plastic bag to save for spinning. I also found a breeder up near our land that has a good bit of does ready. We're going up to the land on the 4th weekend and could pick them up on the way back home. I still have a little trepidation in my heart after Flora but I need to move on if this is what I really want in life. And it is.

Last night, while Rob and Alex were at puppy class with Leeloo and the other kids were already tucked in bed, I decided to pull out the knitting. Most of the sewing projects are either completed or at a stage where I can pause. It's nice to mix it up a bit. I started a gnome.

Sometimes, I look around and think my life would be so much easier without all the constant projects. I can't go anywhere without something new piquing my interest, something I want to try. My to-do list is miles long as it is. But in all honesty, the life of a homesteader is chock full of things to be done everyday, as is the life of a mother and homeschooler.

To be self-sufficient means doing things yourself. It's not a life for everyone but it is the life for me.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father-less Day

I'd like to write a post for those of us that don't have fathers. I don't mean the ones that have grown up with a dad and have lost them far too soon. While my heart goes out to you that have known and lost, this is for those of us that never knew a father in our lives. Never had a dad to tuck us in or lovingly scold us over our current boyfriends or too short skirts. To be overprotective or spoil us. No one to walk us down the aisle when we were married or to be papa to our kids. This is to those that had to explain to all the other kids in class why you're making a Father's Day card for your Grampa or your mom.

We just don't have a dad.

We never did. We never will. There is no one on the planet that will stand up and claim us as their own. Even as our mother marries or remarries those men aren't our fathers. They're not our dads, most of the time they're not even male role models. They're just people that are with our moms.

It's a hard concept to grasp; not having a father, not knowing who he is. Looking in the mirror and wondering what bits of you are from that side of the family. Worried you're genetically destined for some major health failure that runs on your imaginary dad's line and you'll never know until it's too late. There's just an emptiness, a void. Like part of who you are has been erased, though you can still see some of the smudges. A shadow of something that could have been there.

Sometimes we feel lost and incomplete. Half of a whole. Sometimes we get angry with those that complain about their overbearing fathers. When explaining why you have no idea who your father is, is just one time too many. Sometimes, even hearing the good things our friend's dad's do, simply hurts.

But most of the time I don't think about it. Most of the time it's not a big deal...Most of the time.

Today, I've already given my thanks to those dad's that are currently in my life. Though none are father-figures to me, they're still fathers in their own right that deserve recognition. One of which, is the amazing dad to all five of my babies.

But I wanted to give my support to those of us that have a Father-less Day today. To let you know you're not alone. That even though the circumstances boil down to being crummy and unfair, we can still turn out all right. We will be okay.

Happy Father-less Day from me to you.

Laundry Learning

*first published on Project Laundry List 

"I hate laundry." I hear these harsh words a lot throughout my mom friends. And, truth be told, when there is a lot going on around here, laundry can feel that way. But recently I've been taking a new approach to Laundry Day. I call it Laundry Learning. As a homeschooling family five -three of which are school aged- I like to pull lessons from every day life. It makes things go smoother, lets me get more done and infuses boring lessons with necessary -and fun- life skills. Yes, I've turned laundry into a school lesson.

Not only do little helpers make the work lighter, they can also do some basic learning skills. The three year old can tell me the color of whatever she's hanging or attribute it to a certain member of the family. The kindergarteners can match, practice hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. We can make patterns with the clothes on the lines. Older kids can do fractions with folding, discuss global warming and energy reduction, solar energy use and track weather patterns. We can estimate and count the number of pins it takes to hang the clothes.

Learning is everywhere, even in the most mundane and disliked chores. Try out Laundry Learning and see how it can transform your lines.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Handmade Holidays

Today's post is the first in a series I'll be writing over the next six months. I know it's early to start thinking about the end of the year and all that it entails but I like preparing for things before hand. Enough gets shoved at me without notice, I try and control what I can.

This year, I want to do at least 90% of our gifts to give and get handmade. Either by me or another doesn't really matter. I want to choose gifts to give infused with love and hardwork. If I make the gifts I need time to plan it out and make it in semi-secret. The other ten percent will be things I just don't have the ability to make, like art and school supplies. And possibly underwear (though I actually do know how to make those).

So far, I have planned to make the kids each a pillowcase. I already have the fabric for Cordelia's. I found cute blue manatee fabric. Manatees are her favorite. For some bakers in my life, I'll be making some homemade vanilla extract that I'll gift in pretty bottles. I have to start it now because it takes a good six months to marinate before use.

Those are the only things solidly on the gift list. I'm debating making a felt board with lots of pieces which will be a group gift. Possibly drawing a coloring book. Amelia and Max may get new quilts. I might upcycle some clothes for new things in the dress-up boxes and possibly make our own version of pillow pals. I might try my hand at homemade jelly candies, too. The soap I've been wanting to make might get given as gifts if I get around to making it.

It's early, I know, but has anyone else started thinking of creating a Handmade Holiday this year?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Help me decide

I've been trying to clean up the blog before the big two year birthday bash and give away starts. Apparently, I am a very chatty person because there is a LOT to go through.

I've make a link to recipes and tutorials at the top under the new banner and have been trying to think of how to organize homeschool stuff into it's own, easily accessible area.

I think I have too much going on. What do you think?

I've been thinking that I should break out my blog by topic. Create a new blog just for crafting or one just for homeschooling. Again, what do you think? I don't want to be too spread out but I think it's hard for people to navigate a blog looking for homeschool stuff when half a dozen of the posts before it are about other stuff. I'm having trouble navigating it.

We already have a farm blog which is basically just for our building and happenings on the land. Would you, as a reader, have a specific topic or point of interest that would steer you to following and being connected to a blog (and subsequently the blogger)? Or do you enjoy my mishmosh of topics, never knowing what you'll get? I really don't want to blog just to read myself talk.

Perhaps, I'm thinking too much.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Armed with a Steno Pad

I realize that in many places school is wrapping up for the summer break season. Many kids are already out, while others have just a few short days left, if that. One thing that is very, very different in our homeschool is that we don't take a summer break.

Gasp! NO summer break? Are you mad, woman??

Probably, but that will have to be covered in a different post. My reason is very simple; they just don't need one. There really isn't any very good reason to take a months long break over the summer. The break was initially instituted so that additional hands would be available to help on family farms. We don't have one. Not yet anyway.

Homeschooling means a flexibility in our schedule that isn't attainable with institutionalized learning. We take breaks whenever we feel like it. Last year we took off almost a month in October when Rob came home from Iraq. Then we went to Disney for a week in the begining of December. We'll be taking another two weeks this October to drive up to New Hampshire and visit my family. Those kinds of things would be hard to do if we didn't school in the summertime.

But there are things we need to do now that correlate to the public school calendar. Homeschool fairs will be starting up next month, school supply sales will start then, too. In order to reap the benefits of sales and demonstrations I have to start my school year planning now, six months before our new school year starts.

Armed with a Steno pad, the Rainbow Resource online catalog and the heaps of school books in the homeschool room, I've started making the list of materials we will be using or need to buy. This year I'm homeschooling four kids. Alex is 3/4th grade, Olivia and Cordelia are in First and Amelia is Pre-k/Kindy. It might sound confusing -and sometimes it is- having one kid in multiple grade levels for different subjects but that is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool. It's also why organization is so crucial.

Each child has a list of subjects under their name tabs in the Steno book. Under each subject will be written the book(s) that we will be using. I have a plastic tote that I'm housing the books we'll utilize, sorting them out of the general boxes of material. There is a tab for things we own and another for things we need to buy with item numbers and prices. Yet another tab holds the website logins we have and the last will be a schedule of who does what on which days.

The book is small enough for me to carry easily and add to when I'm out shopping or at the conventions I plan to attend. Having the prices listed will tell me if I'm finding a good deal. I'm sure things will flex and change throughout next year, we like to take a Montessori/Unschooling approach with some things, letting the kids dictate what we'll be learning. But the book will help me see gaps in learning and give me a structure on which to build their education.

For those of you that are starting your breaks, have fun! For my homeschooling friends, I'd love to hear what you have planned for the upcoming year, and have fun too!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Farmer U

A few months ago I sent in my eighty dollars to Penn State to enroll in their online Beginner Farmer Course. The nine unit lesson is broken up by different farming categories which you can take in order or break up as you need with no time limits on completion. There's a general overview of farming, fruit or vegetable farming, farm implements and safety and others.

I finished my first course a few weeks ago. Wow.

At first, while I was reading the materials I wasn't sure if it was going to work for me. The reading material is based on Agriculture in Pennsylvania, of which I am ridiculously far from. But the lesson worksheet had nothing to do with PA. It focused on my soil, my region, my farm.

I was asked to question my little five acre's land formations, soil content and farm viability. What and how would I sell my products to become an in-the-black farm? What are long term goals as well as starting out ventures? What is biosecurity and how is it applicable to my farming procedures?

I sent in my worksheet via email to the instructor who got back to me faster than I expected. He asked further questions, requesting I elaborate on points I made in my answers. Probing me to dive further into the land I already own and my visions for it. He was patient and informative, giving me more resources to look at and leaving me with an open invitation to ask more questions.

It was wonderful and eye-opening and only the first of nine lessons. Thinking about that bare five acres in real ways is molding the vision into something that just might be. There is so much I don't know about managing a successful income sustaining farm, or even a hobby farm. Hell, I've never even held a chicken before. Having to take an indepth, hard look at what I really have to work with and want to accomplish makes having these dreams that much closer to reality even if I don't get to pet the livestock.

There are a couple other courses through Cornell that start up after the growing season is over in late September that I'll be looking into. They're more expensive but learning is just about all I can do right now. I'm greedy for information. I heard a funny quote once that has stuck with me, though I can't site the source:

"Read, read, read. Learn all you can about the animals you want to keep. And then remember, they didn't read the same books."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prefold cloth diaper to semi-fitted - Tutorial

We use prefold diapers and covers over at our house. I find that I like them a lot better than any other cloth diaper both for use and cost. I've mastered quite a few folding techniques and the covers do a good job keeping the cotton in, but with a boy, getting that just-right-fit is difficult.

Especially, if they're like Max and like to "help" you put the diaper on by taking it off or try and run away all together.

I've been working on this for a little bit, the nice thing is that it doesn't have to be perfect since no one will really see it and if they do, chances are they're poo-stained anyway. Who's going to look closely at sewing lines at that point?

Take your flat diaper, I use unbleached indian cotton, and lay it flat. Measure out approx 5" on one side and 3.5" on the other. The five inches will be the "back" and the 3.5 the "front" when you put the diaper on. Mark these places and draw a semi-circle connecting them like this:

Sew a tack stitch along the line you made. Cut off the semi-circles along the sitch line without cutting the stitches.

Cut off the stitching along one end and "open" the diaper so the outside is now inside ripping the inside seams apart. You might have to work the folds of the middle section a bit. Sew it all the way around the edges and then turn it back right side out.

You may have to sew down the side where the fold of the diaper meets. Sew a top stitch around the whole diaper and on the end you opened sew it closed with a tight zig zag.
Less leg bulk all the absorbtion!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Something for the Ladies

I'm going to talk today about something that is a bit of a taboo subject.

I'm going to give you a moment to back out of the post now before anyone's delicate sensibilites are offended.

Go on. It's okay. I don't mind.

For everyone else, our topic today is Menstruation.

First let me explain that just about every person in my family has been treated for or died of some type of cancer. Seriously. My maternal grandmother and grandfather, my aunt, at least one distant cousin, recently my grandmother's sister and a whole lot of other "great" people that I don't know. And this is just what I do know having been estranged from my family for most of my life.

That kind of thing can make a person a bit nervous. It can make a person think hard about the choices laid before her. I've stopped doing a lot of things that have had cancer-causing links. I don't dye my hair anymore, I've stopped using aluminum-based deodorants and this week started making reusable cloth maxi pads.

It's a slow process, completely changing around your life. Its hard to shuck a lifetime of beliefs and try things that aren't popular, are a little strange or just a tad taboo. But it's for health, the cornerstone of life. So, I give few apologies.

I made these pads using a few different methods. First was a pattern I bought from Uber Domestic on Etsy*.
Nyki is uber-helpful, too. I made the blue fabric pads with organic bamboo velour, natural cotton batting and 100% cotton quilt fabric. These are little liners.

Inside of the liner pads.

The pink spectrum (I'm all about color) are "regular" pads. Made with a layer of Zorb in the middle. Since I was having trouble with the strechy velour, I opted for flannel to work until I get better at the pattern.

Inside of the "regular" size.

I didn't realize at first, that I color coded them but it actually works out. When they're all folded up (see the photo above) it's easier to pull out the required size without having to unwrap them. I continuted the trend making the overnight sized pads in greens.

I also tried a different technique with the pinks, you can see it on the far right. Overall, they're super easy to make and I'm actually looking forward to my cycle this month and not because we're in a pregnancy scare. Today I'm finishing up two overnights and making a wet bag to hang on the toilet paper holder in the bathroom. If I get good at making them, I might stock some in my Etsy store, but one thing at a time.

I'd love to hear from others if you have or currently use cloth pads or if I've piqued your interest in trying them out.

*Uber Domestic can also be found right here on Blogger.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sprouts and Hawks

I am so tremendously pleased with the new grow light (Hydrofarm JSV2 2-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System). Just about everything is sprouting, except the Big Max pumpkins and some of the herbs. But I haven't given up hope yet. The Small Sweet Pumpkins are going to need to be replanted probably today or tomorrow. I'm not quite ready to put them outside yet. They're still so young and vunerable.

And speaking of sprouts...Yesterday was haircut day. I'll admit it right now, that I have no idea the proper way to cut hair. I just pretty much wing it and hope it's decent. Besides, it's hair, it will grow back. Eventually. Max was up first and when I took the shaver to his nape to trim that little piece of tail he jerked. The result was a good two inch chunk taken out of the back of his head. In the middle. To the scalp. I tried to fix it best I could. Here are the results.

Seriously mom.

It's not that cute.

Well, maybe just a little adorable.

I rock so hard now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Four days and counting

Monday started off normal enough. The kids getting up far too early, heading downstairs to get breakfast of cereal and to let the dog out. They went downstairs ridiculously more awake than they should be and then alarm set in; the TV wouldn't turn on.

What's that? How could it be?

My TV devoted kids were at a loss. I tried to turn it on and still that familiar click and hum of power was absent. "Must be broken." I said after fumbling with the controls and checking to see if it was in fact still plugged in (which it was). I was ready to be met with high shreiking protests and tantrums but they merely shrugged it off and went on their way.

I did what I normally do when I don't want to stir the pot; I did nothing. I ignored their lack of response instead of jumping up and down dancing, surpressing expressing on the outside what my insides were doing.

I have a love/hate with Television. There are shows that have merit and educational DVD's that we own that are worthwhile, but overall I despise the innane, mind-numbing programming that my kids seem to be obsessed with. We have TV rules for what they can watch but sometimes the limits are what get me so aggrivated. I have four kids that all have opinions and favorites, they're also TV gluttons.

Which is really my fault. I know it. I own it. Over the course of years that included bedrest, new babies and single parenting, TV provided entertainment I couldn't. I just can't seem to make a working relationship with that damned box. It seems to be either all or nothing when it comes to the tube.

Tuesday was the same; TV free. I still couldn't figure out what was wrong with the set. Wednesday followed suit. Rob figured out what was wrong with the remote and he watched TV last night after the kids went to bed. "Just could you please, maybe, break it again when you're done?" I pleaded.

Today marks four days of the kids being completely TV free. It's amazing. But now I'm scared to turn it back on, now that I know how. I'm worried that one show, even if it's a thirty minute DVD is going to open the floodgates once again and have it's hooks back in my kids.

So, maybe we do a TV detox? A week or two completely free and then introduce a show here and there? Maybe longer? I'd love to hear other's experiences shutting down the tube and how (and if) you reintroduced it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alphabet Scramble Game -Tutorial

This is a fun homeschool game that combines reading, spelling and writing. It helps exercise imaginative and problem solving skills and can be exciting and fun too! I call it Alphabet Scramble. It costs less than five bucks to make and can be used for multiple grade levels.

I bought these tiles from Michales. With a 40% off coupon they came out to be about $2.50 (reg. $3.99)  for the package of sixty tiles. If you have a scrabble game that you can recycle the cost will be much less.


One 8x12 piece of canvas
ribbon or braided string approx 12" or a lone shoestring
Fabric Marker or permanant marker
Alphabet tiles or recycled scrabble tiles

Using the canvas and ribbon make a drawstring bag. You can really make this any size as long as hands can get into it to pull out tiles. Mine has ties on only one side. I used a scrap piece of canvas to write the name of the game on it with the fabric markers and attached this to the front of the bag.

Fill it up with the tiles.

Set your kid to work.

You can change the rules of the game to suit the skill you want to improve. Alex took a handful of tiles and has to write five words at least four letters long. I had him write the set of letters he pulled out above each set of words he wrote. (Creation was the biggest one so far!)

For the littler girls, that are kindy/1st grade, I'll have them make three letter words. You could add a timer, set a certain number of tiles to pull out, play a game where two people go head to head, making words with the same letters and then compare after giving points for each word or number of letters used in each word. There are a lot of possibilities with the game.

I'd love to hear your own Alphabet Scramble game stories!