Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sugaring Hair Removal

I recently found a wonderful recipe for Sugaring on Pioneer Thinking, a website providing information about natural and simple living. I feel this recipe works as well if not better than many of the commercial versions currently on the market and is much cheaper too.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • A drizzle of Molasses (optional)
  • Something to spread the mixture with (i.e. tongue depressor, popsicle stick, etc.)
  • Cotton fabric (I use old strips from a previous sugaring kit, but any cotton fabric strips will do)
Make sure the area you plan to sugar is clean and dry and has at least 1/8 to 1/4 inch of hair growth.

Microwave - Mix lemon, sugar, and honey in a bowl. Microwave on high for about 2-3 minutes until it bubbles into a smooth consistency.

Stove – Mix ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on medium-low until the mixture bubbles into a smooth consistency, stirring often.

Let the mixture cool until it can be safely touched.

Spread a thin layer of mixture on the desired area. Cover the area with a strip of fabric. Rub the strip in the opposite way of hair growth about three times. Grab the end of the fabric and pull it off very quickly against the direction of the hair growth. If the mixture gets too hard to spread, reheat the mixture slightly.

This recipe stores for a long time. I keep mine in a covered container in the refrigerator and reheat when needed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Birthday Time Again

Six years ago today…no, I won’t put you through that.

Today my baby girl turned 6. She is becoming a wonderful young lady. She makes me smile every day.

I love you, Jolie. I look forward to watching you become the woman you will someday be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Polie Bear Time

Jolie has started her own blog. The blog will be based on her written and illustrated stories, as well as her artwork and photography. She is very excited about her blog and has already added (or rather I added) two of her stories. I'm sure there will be many more to come. I hope you will check them out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Step Closer to Home

We now feel a little closer to our “someday” home. We received and put our new Washington license plates on the van.

We are Washington State residents. Yes, I know we live in Florida, all the way across the country from Washington (don’t remind me), but we enjoyed Washington so much when we were stationed there (both sides of the Cascade Mountains) that we changed our residency from Florida to Washington several years ago and plan to eventually retire from the Navy and settle in the Evergreen State.

We are pretty serious about this plan…

We are registered Washington State voters
We have two vehicles registered in the state of Washington
We have Washington college funds for each of the kids
We are saving to buy our “someday” land

As of today, when I grow up I want to be a farmer. You know how it is when you’re growing up…your career plans change over time, but for a while now I've wanted to be a farmer (my Grandfather would be Grandma told me so).

I’d like to have some land; raise Angora goats (for fiber), Great Pyrenees (for breeding and herding), and chickens (for eggs); grow some pumpkins (to sell); and have a nice big garden. I don’t think that’s a terrible dream. I’m saving my pennies to make it happen.

All you Washingtonians be looking for us in about 9 and a half years. We’re trying to get there sooner, but if all else fails, we’ll get there eventually.

One Week Down and All’s Well

Lincoln is doing wonderfully.

He has only had two accidents (knock on wood) and they were caught in mid-action and redirected.

He loves playing with Chester…a little too much sometimes. He has figured out that he can grab Chester’s collar and pull him around while they are playing. Chester is doing a good job of getting him back, especially when Lincoln’s lying down.

The kids are enjoying having a bigger dog around. I think they each have a scratch to prove it. Lincoln might only be about 30 lbs., but his swipe packs a pretty hefty punch.

He's a great addition to the family.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A New Addition to the Family


The Miller family has grown by one.

I’m surprised I was able to keep it a secret from so many of you for so long. I wanted to wait to tell everyone until he made his arrival.

Actually, he was sort of a surprise to us as well. I guess I never imagined that it could happen so quickly, considering how long it took last time.

We would like for formally introduce you to…

(Abe) Lincoln Miller

We got him Wednesday from a local breeder. Lincoln is a Great Pyrenees. The Great Pyrenees are in the same family with the Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards. He’s just about three months old and currently weighs 30 lbs. He will be about 120 lbs. when he is full-grown.

It’s kind of a funny story of how he came to us. I was reading through our daily FreeCycle posts online and saw a listing for an 11-month-old Cairn terrier puppy. Chester is half Cairn terrier (darn those breeders!) so I thought he might be a great addition to our family. I emailed the owner asking about the puppy’s gender, color, whether or not it got along with other animals and children…all of the responsible questions I thought. Well, two days later I saw in that day’s postings that the puppy had been picked up. I guess I asked too many questions and the people just wanted to get rid of a dog, not find him a good home.

While I sulked, I decided to look up Great Pyrenees breeders in our state.

[You have to understand that we have had a Great Pyrenees before. We got Ekimo when Jake was about five months old and he was about two months old. The two of them grew up together. He had what the vets considered doggy Irritable Bowl Syndrome or Inflamitory Bowl Syndrome. He got very sick just before Jensen was born and unfortunately had to be put down. Losing him was devastating. He had been part of our family for six years.]

I found a breeder and was admiring her dogs. Justin walked up behind me and said that I should call them. I was just looking, so I said I didn’t want to…so he did. He found that the breeder had a 4 month old male and a 3 month old male and female available as well as five day old puppies that would be available near Christmas. I was just looking for more information, but Justin was hooked. We had to really talk it over because this addition was going to be a big one for us. Adding another animal means that we no longer qualify for military housing (you can only have two pets in housing). It also means that it will be very difficult for us to find someone who will rent to us with three animals, to include a large breed dog, so we will need to purchase a home at our next duty station.

We went for a run and thought about it. By the time we were home we already had his name picked out. I called her back and Justin wanted to know if we could come and get him that day. He needed his health certificate done, so we had to wait until Wednesday.

Eventually I would like to breed Great Pyrenees dogs when we have our land in Washington after Justin retires. I figure I can grow Great Pyrenees and Angora goats side by side and it will be wonderful. I don’t think I’ll breed Lincoln. He will just be ours to love.

He is doing well thus far. He, Chester and DC are getting along well. I wonder if he looks at Chester as a giant chew toy sometimes (Lincoln is already three times Chester’s weight). DC was sure to hiss and bat at him right away to show him who was boss and he hasn’t given her a second thought. The kids love having him around. I’m not sure, though, if they enjoyed today’s poop roundup in the back yard. Lincoln is a much bigger dog if you catch my drift.

I was on puppy detail the last two nights, so I think Justin is planning to take over tonight since he doesn’t have to work in the morning. Lincoln is used to sleeping outside, so his first night inside he was a bit restless. He slept outside half the night last night (only because I was tired of fighting to keep him in) and he pawed at the door at about 2am to come back in for the rest of the night. We’ll see what tonight holds for us.

Though getting Lincoln was a bit of a spontaneous decision, we have yet to second guess ourselves. He is an amazing addition to the family and will be loved forever.

Teaching the Water Cycle and Water Pollution

The first Wednesday of the month we gather with other homeschoolers for Roots & Shoots. This month I was in charge of leading the group and chose to focus on the water cycle and water pollution.

Being me, I stressed over the presentation for weeks. I had lots of great ideas…have the kids test water samples…teach them about our watershed…go on a fieldtrip to the water treatment facility, but none of them came to fruition.

I did find several nice water projects for us to do as a group, but the timing was off and the kids in our group were a bit young. Although we didn’t participate in that one, I think I will have my kids participate in some of the other projects offered by The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education throughout the year because they look very interesting and engaging.

After utilizing the adrenaline associated with procrastination, I found several fabulous activities to do with the kids. Because I like multi-sensory presentations, I tried to mix up the demonstration a bit.

We started by discussing the water cycle. I was surprised that some of the kids didn’t know about the water cycle, so I explained and then showed them a picture and read the captions from one of the books I displayed on the front table. I then had them color a picture of the water cycle. I had two different sheets, one for the older kids that was a bit more detailed and one for the younger kids that was simpler. From there I had them gather in a circle and taught them a song to help them remember the water cycle. I thought it was a cute song. My kids have been singing it around the house for the past few days. We then transitioned into a game that walks the kids through the water cycle. I think it would have worked better had we had more kids (we only had eight and that included Jensen) and if they had bee a bit older.

I was also surprised that the kids couldn’t explain what water pollution. The two nine year olds knew, but the six and seven year olds (five of them) had trouble with it. I read them A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry. I thought it was a wonderful story that followed the life of a river from its discovery by a Native American tribe to the pollution of the Industrial Revolution to the cleaning of the river. The kids’ eyes grew wide as they learned about companies polluting the river with chemicals and dyes. We had a great discussion about the book, which led us into our experiment.

I created two models, one represented a landfill and the other represented someone’s yard. We talked about harmful things that some people throw into the trash (i.e. motor oil, medicines, etc.). Then I showed them how when it rains, the water washes some of the contaminants into our lakes and streams. The same went for the pesticide model. The kids saw how the water washed the fertilizer into the pond at the bottom of the hill. I think both models had an effect on the kids. The moms were pleased with it, so I was happy that all of my stressing had paid off.

I found a great reading list of books covering water conservation and water science. The list includes books of all levels for students and adults.

I got the idea for the landfill and fertilizer runoff models from Water: A Resource in Crisis by Eileen Lucas. If anyone is interested in recreating them, here’s how –

Materials (per model) –

Rectangular plastic food storage container (mine was about 11”x7”)
Pea gravel (about 4 cups)
Small saucer
Cotton ball
Food coloring

Place the saucer at one end of the plastic container. Stack pea gravel three-fourths of the way up the opposite side of the container. Lay a piece of foil from the edge of the container and up the sides down to the saucer, completely covering the gravel and slightly overlapping the saucer. Add additional gravel over the foil, not covering the saucer. You should now have a “hill” on one side of the container with a “pond” at the other end. Pull the cotton ball apart slightly and drop several drops of food coloring onto it (I used red for the landfill and green for the fertilizer). Place the cotton ball on top of the “hill” and cover with a bit more gravel. Pour water on the top of the “hill” to symbolize rain and watch the runoff that collects in the “pond.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Costumes for Halloween

My kids are dresser-uppers. If given the choice, they would play dress-up and make-believe all day long. Some days I have a princess, a Jedi and a superhero sitting at the table with me for lunch. Because of their love of dress-up, I don’t mind spending a little more on Halloween costumes. Unlike some families, our costumes don’t get packed away during the first week of November. Rather, our costumes get added to the dress-up bins, which are currently overflowing.

This year I allowed the kids to spend up to $25 on a costume. Some may find his excessive. Technically, I could classify our Halloween costumes as an educational purchase because they are used so often and for what I feel is an educational purpose. There is a great deal of research showing how pretend play is very important for all aspects of development in young children.

Jake dressed up as Anakin Skywalker. He would specify that this particular Anakin is from the new Clone Wars (animated) movie, not any of the other Star Wars movies. He decided to buy the matching light saber with his allowance money because his costume cost $25.

Jolie chose to be a black cat. She got a bodysuit from an older homeschool friend and I spent $6 on some black ears and a black tail for her. I used some eyeliner to make her whiskers and some lipstick to make her pink nose. (Good choice, Jolie!)

Jensen went with Spiderman…then Indiana Jones. I bought him the Spiderman costume for Halloween, spending $20. We got him an Indiana hat and whip for his birthday. He decided at the last minute to switch from Spiderman to Indiana Jones.

I don’t mind spending a little more on costumes at Halloween time because my kids will wear them until they can’t be worn any longer.