Family Night--FHE Job Chart

One of our favorite nights of the week is Monday night.  It's our family night.  With all of the craziness in our combined schedules it's so nice to have ONE night when we are all home at the same time.  

Sometimes it's hard to protect that time, but we've made it a priority since our family is our priority.  Our Family Night has turned into one of our favorite traditions!

I wanted a simple way for us to keep track of what we wanted to do for Family Night--with everyone having an important part in it.  
So I made {this little} chart about 2 years ago and it has been perfect for us!


The magnets (with jobs on them) rotate around a family photo.  
It's easy and simple.  It's also expandable.  

When I made it, I didn't know how big our family would be.  We hoped we would have another baby (coming in December!) and I didn't want it to be too permanent.  All we have to do is switch out the family photo and add another job magnet and it's new again!  
Ellie recently was included and has a part in the Family Night "job" rotation now (these photos were taken when I first made the chart and she was a few months old.)

So what do we include for family night?  

You can put any "jobs" on your Family Night Board.
Right now, our Family Night includes:

Conducting: Welcomes the family and makes sure everyone knows their job.

Prayer: To open the special evening.

Lesson: We usually make these religion oriented, or about listening to mom and dad or any other topic that needs to be addressed as a family.  But it depends on who's turn it is, how it turns out!

Activity: Something to do together whether at home or out and about.  Sometimes service too.

Treat: A favorite part--and very important!

(We'll add Song choice next with the new baby, it think.  Right now the conducting person chooses a song for us to all sing together :)

Some of our favorite family night activities have been doing some very simple things, but it's amazing how meaningful it all becomes.  Recently, these are some of the activities we've enjoyed:
  • had bubble-blowing contests with big pieces of gum
  • searched for statues downtown
  • played balloon volleyball in the family room
  • went to play music for an elderly friend
  • played Angry Birds together
  • a family bike ride to the local ice cream shop
  • and a nature walk where we saw a {little} family of ducks

If you don't already have family night, you should try it!  It's a simple way to stay connected as a family.
  We are cherishing the memories that have come from a simple hour or so committed to each other each week!

What you need to 
make {this little project}

Frame: I used a shadow box frame and it sits on a shelf, but any frame would work.

Magnetic backing:  I used the back side of a metal sign from the dollar store.  You could use sheet metal cut to size, or magnetic paint to create the right surface.

Magnets: Mine were from the dollar store :)  Any will do!

Labels: Each magnet will need a label.  I used stickers I had already for all the lettering.  Vinyl lettering or a sharpie would also work great.

Family photo: Any size, depending on the size of your frame.


Here's a close-up.  In real life there is no glare from the stickers on the hearts :)



It's been fun to see the kids take on more of the responsibility for our family night as they are getting older.  When it's their turn for the lesson they stand up in front of us and talk about something important to them (sometimes it's butterflies/bugs--Jay, or cleaning and dancing--Kay) and then we help them tie it in to a gospel principle/Christ and have them tell us (testimony) how they feel about that principle.  
I'm sure their public speaking practice will come in handy sometime too :)
Really, it's just so fun to be together and enjoy being a family.


Family Night is one of those {little} things that really adds up to so much more!

Change Your Mind! Interchangeable bows and headbands


At our house, there seems to be a lot of "changing my mind" going on.
 Last summer I shared my "change your mind" headbands that I made for Kay.  It's been a life saver!

Now that I have two girls that need hair goodies, I just made some more things that we can "change our mind" with that they can both use.  And they both LOVE them!

My two girls and they like to wear their hair differently.  Kay is a headband girl.  She's {little} miss independence and she can put a headband in herself.  So that's just about all she will wear.


Ellie has cute {little} curls all over her {little} red head and a bow clipped in gives her a darling 1930's baby look!




What's a Mom to do?
  I don't want to make double the hair goodies!


 So I made something they can BOTH wear.


I took my bows (more about where I got the bows later)
 and I hot-glued a small piece of elastic on.  I glued just the two edges down. 
It's just the size for Kay's headband to slip through. 

OR

Just the size for me to put an alligator clip through the loop and clip it into Ellie's curls.


Now, about those cute chunky bows.  I got a rainbow of them for the girls to share at one of my favorite girlie websites.  I want to share the website with you (I'm not affiliated in any way) because they have such inexpensive and FUN girlie things, from dress ups, to hair things, to leggings.


And right now there is a sale (through July 22) for 25% off your order (use code FUN25).  And shipping is always free with orders over $20---which I love!

So, here is the link for the chunky bows I used in {this little project} ($9 for 12 of your choice of color.)

 I also love their {little} leggings.  I just had the cutest photos of Kay and Ellie taken with their lace leggings and the headband bows and bow clippies from {this little project} in their hair.

And they have pettiskirts that are darling too!

 There's more too...you're bound to find a {little} something you'll love or that would make a perfect gift :)

Have fun!


Our Cloth Diaper Project--Finale!

A pretty big thing happened at our house this past week.  I washed my last batch of cloth diapers!

Yes, Ellie is 2 years old and a big girl now :)  And actually, our cloth diaper story really isn't totally over since we'll be using them again after baby #4 arrives in December. 

I haven't shared much about {this little project} before.  Some of you maybe thinking it really isn't a {little} project.  And that's what I used to think too.  Which is why I decided to take a minute and share our family's experience with cloth diapers.

This is Ellie in her cute little cloth diaper ;)


I've mentioned before that I call myself a hippie sometimes.  Well, that's partly because of where I live right now.  I don't personally know anyone else in our city that uses cloth diapers.
We moved 2 years ago and where we used to live, it was something that a lot of my friends did.
And I think that made a lot of difference for me.

Cloth diapering, when it is totally foreign, seems totally overwhelming.  It's hard to know where to start without someone to show you the ropes.

So, I'll share our story here in case there are some of you that are wondering how it works and where to start.
Feel free to ask questions.  And know that there is not a "right" way.  This is just how we do it :)

I'll answer tho most common questions people ask me about cloth diapering:

Why did you choose to cloth diaper?
I used disposables for Jay and Kay.  I switched Kay to cloth right as I was starting to potty train her for practice for me before baby #3 came.  As a "first timer" at cloth, I wanted to know what to expect and have my system figured out before I was sleep deprived with a newborn. Trying the cloth diapers on Kay first gave me courage to try cloth diapering.
Kay did well in them and seemed to potty train better in cloth diapers.

There were a few things that made me interested in cloth diapering specifically:

1- I read some articles about the chemicals that are in disposable diapers.  Some of them have been linked to a rise in infertility as well as cancers.  I started to think about what is best for baby. (If you want to read more about the chemical debate in diapers, here is a good place to start.)

2- I was thinking about this gift I was receiving in this {little} person joining our family.  And when I thought about the estimated 4,700 diposable diapers that we would go through before the baby was potty trained, I just felt like my little gift should not hurt the world she is becoming a part of and will inherit from my choices.  I didn't want my baby to leave that ugly spot right from the start.

3- There is a financial investment initially with cloth diapers.  But, over time they save you a lot of cash.  Especially if you get to use them with more than one child.  My husband was in school and we didn't have a lot of extra money to start our cloth diaper "collection."  We really had to consider whether to choose to do cloth because of that.  I started with just buying a couple to try out with Kay.  I wanted to feel sure we would really go cloth before we invested all the way.  My husband was not nearly as motivated as I was to do cloth diapering.  But at our house, we've come to an agreement: he does most of the dishes and I change most of the diapers.  Knowing that it would be my job made it easier for him to commit too :)

 What kind of cloth diaper do you use?
I decided to start with gDiapers.  I liked the idea of having a pad that lays inside the diaper that you can remove when you change, and if it's not poopy, you can replace it with a clean pad and use the outside cover again.  This is different than the "pocket" style (I'll talk about those later).  One thing I liked about these was that they are potentially less laundry.



gDiapers come in newborn, small, med, and large.  I bought about 10 of each size.  I tried their newborn size and it was terrible.  I don't recommend doing cloth diapering on a newborn.  It's best to wait until baby is about 10 pounds, or the size of a regular small diaper. 

The other reason I chose gDiapers is because they are less bulky.  Many other brands are a one-size-fits-all diaper.  But that means that a tiny person is wearing all that bulk and it's snapped up to fit her.  And that works for a lot of people.  But I was worried that her clothes wouldn't fit well.  And the gDiapers were still bulkier than a disposable, but in a cute way :)

gDiapers also have biodegradable inserts that are another option.  It's like doing part cloth, part disposable and it's better for the environment too.



I also used "pocket" styled diapers when my kids got bigger than the gDiapers large size.  The kind I bought were the Kawaii Baby cloth diapers.
  These diapers are a very affordable alternative to brand name diapers and they have worked great for us. 

Where did you buy your cloth diapers?
As I said before, we were in school when we decided to cloth diaper.  So I was interested in getting the best prices I could for diapers.  Some diapers are $10-20 a piece.  That can add up quickly.  I looked at baby "deal-a-day" websites, ebay, etc. when looking for good prices.  It can take some time, but it did save us some money to compare prices.

What kind of wipes do you use?
I made my own wet wipes.  I used 2 pieces of flannel or terry cloth about 7x7 inches sewn together.  They worked great.  I just got them wet right before I used them.  If I was out and about I used disposable wipes.

What about dealing with poop?
When you are a mom, you get to be more up close with poop, right?  Cloth diapering doesn't change that.  When baby is milk-fed you don't have to do anything different with the poop.  Just toss it into the container you keep them in because the poop is water-soluble.  But when baby starts solids you have to dispose of it.
I like these biodegradable and flushable liners.  Just lift them up off the diapers and toss them in the toilet.  But I didn't always use them.  I used to just tip the diaper and dump it.  And that works too. 



These liners also work great if you need to use a diaper cream.  It's best not to get the cream on the cloth diaper because it affects its absorbancy.  The liner takes care of that.

Where do you store your dirty diapers?
I picked up a frosting bucket from my grocery store and have been using that to store dirty diapers in.  It's worked well.  I store the diapers as is (no wet solution in the bucket) and just rinse the bucket in the sink by my washer each time I wash the diapers.

My friend uses a wet bag and throws it in the wash with her diapers each time she does the wash.  


What about the laundry?
You don't want your dirty diapers to sit a long time.  The smell grows that way.  I wash them about every 3-4 days.  But you pretty much wash just whenever you are running out!   For me, two extra loads a week isn't significant.  It's pretty simple.  Some people wonder about the environmental impact of washing diapers.  But it's often compared to the 5-6 flushes of the toilet your baby will be making when s/he is potty trained.  And our water is a renewable resource.  Disposable diapers never breakdown.

You do need to be careful about the soap you use with your diapers.  I used this soap powder for mine.  But my new homemade soap recipe will work too, when baby #4 comes :)


I run a rinse cycle and a regular wash cycle.  I have a normal washer and dryer.  Nothing fancy.  They work great with cloth diapers.

You should know that there is a bit of a smell while you wash your diapers.  It doesn't last.  My washer is in the basement so no one has to smell it, but if your is in the kitchen, you should be aware that you might need to burn a candle or something :)
I line-dry the outsides of the diapers and put the liners in the dryer.  The previous owners hung some nice telephone? wire from the rafters of our unfinished basement, which work great.  But I'm including a link for a great (space saving) solution for a drying rack too:


Can you make your own diapers?
I made my own inserts/pads for my gDiapers.  It was a good cost savings for me.  But it's not for everyone.  I also made my own wipes (see above).   If you want to look into sewing your own diapers here are some places to get you started.

What about when you are traveling?  Or just out and about?
I keep little plastic bags in my diaper bag, just like I did for disposable diapers.  When I am running errands and need to change I diaper I put the dirty diaper in the bag and instead of tossing dirty diaper in the garbage, I take it home and toss it into the bucket.  I thought this would feel weird, but it doesn't.  I use disposable wipes when I am out because wet wipes have to be treated with teatree oil or something antimicrobial to keep their dampness from becoming a freshness problem.

 These wet bags are nice because you can toss it in the wash too!


When we travel I use disposable diapers.

And I also use disposables when I am lazy.  Or if I didn't get the wash done in time.  Or if my babysitter can't handle a cloth diaper.  About babysitters: most of my babysitters do great with cloth diapers.  In fact, they think it's rather cool that we use them.  Which I think is cute of them!
 
The main thing is: you have to make cloth diapering work for YOU.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes I'm glad I have another option when I need it.  Other families may do things differently.  And that's ok.

Overall, I feel like we have been successful in our 3 goals (see beginning of post) of: less chemical contact for baby (healthier), better for the world we live in and baby will inherit, and better for the budget.  Every time I use a disposable diaper I cringe, knowing that I'm throwing away around 25 cents change.  After you use cloth for a {little} while that might happen to you too :)

I'm looking forward to putting the diapers away in the closet for a few months.  Just after Christmas, baby #4 will get to use them and I will be glad to think about those 3 goals again for a healthy baby, world, and budget.

But, not having a baby in diapers is pretty great.

And the hippie thing...well, I'm ok with it :)

DIY Laundry Detergent

I'm a bit of a hippie. 
It's partly an excuse to do my own thing. 
And it's partly true because I go ahead and do my own thing.

But if you're a hippie, that's expected.  Right?

For mother's day I made my own laundry detergent. 

In all my hippie-ness I am a bit of a tree hugger and am ever aware of my stewardship of our earth.  I've blogged quite a bit about that.

So I decided to give mother earth a gift for mothers day. 

Not only does making your own detergent save you $$, it's also really great for the environment.  More and more companies are becoming greener, but sadly, many of our cleaners are not very earth friendly for our drinking water.

I've been using my DIY Laundry Detergent for a few months now.  And  love it!

Here is the recipe I used:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Super Washing Soda
1 bar Fels Naptha Soap
(ZOTE would also work--see note about ivory below)




I used my food processor to make it.

I have one of those Ninja machines.  It basically turns everything to either a soup or smoothie so I don't use it for much food prep.
I thought it would be perfect for whipping some bars of soap into powder though.



It was! 

I doubled the recipe above and decided to use a bar of ivory soap instead for the second batch.  That's part of the white you see.  The Fels Naptha is yellow.  Ivory worked ok, but it didn't make the same light powder.  I could see it potentially not dissolving as quickly. So I wouldn't use it alone, but mixed in it's nice.  And the scent is too!

Just mix it together with a spoon and you get
 this powder goodness!



For the record, my sister also uses her food processor to make her detergent and it's not a ninja.  You can use a regular hand grater as well if you are worried about putting a bar of soap in your food processor.  But if it can handle ice...you're probably fine...

If you are feeling like a hippie (I mean earth friendly), a double batch fits great in two reused large yogurt containers.

 
I use 1-2 tablespoons depending on the size of the batch and how soiled the laundry is.

Each yogurt container holds enough for 32-64 loads of laundry! 

And it cost about 5 cents a load to make--big time savings there!


And if you are going for cute, I keep mine in this too.



As a bonus, I haven't needed to use a dryer sheet either.

The {little} stuff matters :)

Warning: if you make this soap, you may feel a bit like a hippie.

Enjoy it!




For another laundry secret weapon, check out this post from the archives.

Patriotic Geography Learning

Originally shared as a Music and Movement guest post at abcand123learning.com

 With Independence Day coming up, we've been working on learning our country's geography in one of our favorite ways: with music and movement!

I have a four-year-old and she goes around the house singing the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order.  I love the magic that music gives children!

Here is the song she's been singing:

I love how this video shows the shapes of the states.  It helps her to "see" the state she is singing about and now she can point to and name all her states on a map too.


My six-year-old son already knows his states so he's been singing along with this song that is about each state and the order they joined the union:


This song is fun for learning or reviewing the state capitals:


One game we like to play with the US map is the, Map Munching Game AND the"Don't eat the State" games!  This is a really fun way to review and learn new state geography.

Another game we like to play is with an inflated globe.  We call it "Where in the U.S. is....?"  or "Where in the world is....?"
I hope these movement and music ideas make learning even more fun for you too!

Happy Fourth of July!



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