Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Post-Christmas Traditions

Like many families, we have post-Christmas traditions. The day after Christmas, we hang around the house, play with new toys, enjoy leftovers, and discuss when the decorations should be taken down. (For the record, I am of the "leave them up until January 2" persuasion. My husband is more the "It's December 26, Christmas is over, get this crap out of the house TODAY" type.)

Most of these are pretty common, but we have another favorite that may be a little uncommon. Unless you come from a hunting/shooting family in the Midwest. At some point in the days after Christmas we like to take our gingerbread house outside and dispose of it by shooting it with the pellet gun.

We used to just toss it, but when our oldest was going through his "demolition phase" we thought it might be fun to let him take a hammer to it.

Then two years ago, when the younger one had just discovered the fun that is family firearms time, he asked if we could shoot it. Thus began a family tradition. We all take turns, inspecting the damage after each shot. This year was great fun because everybody hit their mark at least twice, and Matt pegged a couple of specific shots (e.g. taking one of the blue pom pons off the top).


 Taking aim...

There was some significant structural damage.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Everything Give Thanks

It's November, and now that things in our [new] house are beginning to fall into place, we've started doing our Family Faith projects each month. As usual, our theme for November is giving thanks.

Last year, we did a tree with fall leaves. This year, PumpkinButt requested a cornucopia.

I took these before we actually started, so it's pretty bare up there. I also got excited & took the pictures before I put the scripture up.

The deal is that every day in November, we each write something we are thankful for on a fruit/vegetable. Then we color it, cut it out, and hang it up on the board. (This way my kids get fine motor practice too!) This is always something we mention during the "thank you" portion of our bedtime prayers, and we talk about things during the day that could later be put on the board. This way, we're incorporating it throughout our day. I'll take more photos throughout the month as we start to fill it up.

How do you give thanks?

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I cannot believe my last post was in July. That's so sad. But my lack of posting is a testament to how busy we've been. A lot has changed in the past several months. I will spare you the details (for now) and just give the bullet points:
  • We moved. 
  • I went part-time at work.
  • We pulled our boys out of public school and homeschool.
Ok. So that's only three changes, but they're all HUGE ones. And they all happened in a matter of weeks. I'm still reeling, unpacking, organizing, and trying to find my retainers. (If you happen to see them, will you please let me know?)

Anyway, what I really want to share today are pictures from Halloween! It was SugarPlum's first Halloween, and probably the only one ever that she didn't have a say in her costume.

This year we had a duck hunter, Batman, and Robin.

 Hubby dressed as a busy Dad who had to work late, and then return to work after the celebrating was over. (Which was a huge bummer.) I went as a homeschool mom:

easiest. costume. ever. 

I was already wearing the mismatched pajamas, teether clipped to my shirt, and messy topknot hairdo (complete with pencils).  I just added a few extra Cheerios to my hair, and I was ready to go! Am I the only homeschool mom who feels this way?

We partied with Hubby's family, trick or treated, and consumed way too much sugar.

Here are a few more images of our festivities (which pretty well lasted all month long).
We managed to get a little decorating done...

I am always in charge of the deviled eggs at family events!

SugarPlum actually kept her headband on (for a while, anyway).

We did a few great fine motor activities and decorated the mantel.

October + science = making slime.
What did you do for Halloween???

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Try it Out Tuesday: DIY Hand Soap

This week is a TiOT two-fer!

First up: Microwaved Soap
(Find the Pin here, and the original post here.)

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why would anyone want to microwave soap?"

Actually, there are a couple of reasons, but the reason I tried it was to spare my children the task of grating the 1 1/2 bars of Ivory Soap needed to make our own liquid hand soap. A couple of years ago, they were so excited to take a bar of soap to the cheese grater for laundry detergent. It was a treat, a fun task; they even argued over who got to do it.

...then the shine wore off and now I find myself suspiciously alone in an empty room whenever I get out the grater.

So. I took to Pinterest to see if there was a less "painful" way to get a bar of soap ready for melting.

Summary: Putting about a bar of Ivory Soap into your microwave will cause it to expand (Easter Peep-style), but it will stay in its new airy, poofy state after the microwaving has ceased. (Unlike the Peep, which shrinks back do to its original size, but not necessarily its original shape.) The Pin clearly states that it must be Ivory Soap, and that it might be done in sections because it gets, like, really poofy.

I cut my bar of Ivory into 4 pieces, put it on a microwave-safe plate, and turned it on for two minutes. We waited. And watched. (Seriously, it's a little sad - you might've thought we were watching brain surgery take place in there...)

And this is what happened:

It was a success. The boys played with the outcome, and eventually tore it into tiny bits, which went into a pot for soap-making.
None! It was simple and fun. My house did smell strongly of Ivory soap for about a day, but I didn't think it was too bad.
Will I Do This Again?
You betcha! It was fun to watch, the boys got to play with it, and I ultimately got my "shredded" bar of soap for melting (with zero complaining).

Book Two: DIY Liquid Soap
(Find the Pin here, and the original post here.)
If you've been to a store lately, you've probably noticed that things are getting expensive. If you've read the label on a product lately, you've probably noticed that most of the stuff we put in - and on - our bodies is full of unpronounceable chemicals. Enter DIY liquid soap. After doing some research on various recipes, I realized that the same recipe can be used for hand soap and for body wash.

Two birds+one stone=awesome.

You, too can make your own liquid soap simply by grating a few bars of Ivory Soap into a big pot, and then melting it with some water. You then let it cool overnight, and add more water and more heat in the morning.

I followed the instructions exactly, except that I didn't. I followed the procedure exactly, but I cut the recipe in half. The original makes two gallons of the stuff, and what if it was an epic fail? I'd have two gallons of something that's not soap to dispose of.

Here is my experiment, in pictures:

It was easy to do, and made a gallon of... stuff that will clean hands and faces. It lathers like it should. Mostly. And it cost me less than a dollar.

My soap has an odd texture. It was rather gelatinous at first (think slightly melted Jello). I attacked it with my emulsion blender, and it loosened up, but still had a slimy texture (think Flarp or Gak... maybe snot). I put it in the bottle, and since then it seems to have set up again. When I filled a dispenser yesterday, I had to sort of squeeze the bottle to get it out. Then I had to use a table knife to cut the slime & avoid over-filling the dispenser. After adding a little water & shaking the dispenser, it works fine.

Will I Do This Again?
Yes. Because I am a glutton for punishment & I refuse to be beaten by a bar of soap. The next time, though, I will follow both the procedure and the recipe. And then we'll see what happens. For now we will use what I made, as it does the job it is meant to do.

Try it Out Tuesday is a semi-regular feature here on the Purple Brick Road.
I try out pins from Pinterest and report the results... so you don't have to.
Got a Pin you want me to try for you? Leave the link in a comment, and I'll check it out!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Big. Scary. Blessings.

We've got a LOT going on here at the Purple Brick Road. Here's a quick summary:

1) We now homeschool. All year round. We have taken the huge step of pulling the boys out of public school, and started our school year on July 8. So far, it's going well. We've had a few bumps in the road, but mostly we've been feeling our way & are beginning to figure out what works best for us.

2) Back in May, my Popi (grandpa) passed away. It has been incredibly difficult for me, as we were very close. I still have moments where I want to ask him a question, or tell him something interesting... and then realize that I can't now. This grieving process has been a slow one for me, and seems to still be dragging on. I am surprised by the patience I've had with it, though. I'm just praying a lot and letting it run its course.

3) We are in the middle of moving. (While simultaneously grieving, learning to homeschool, and figuring out how to be a stay at home mom...) We are so blessed to be able to buy my grandparents' house. It's a lovely, small house that my Popi built (as in: with his own hands) 60 years ago. Nani (my grandma) is moving into a small apartment so she'll have less to take care of.  I'll post more about the house & its history when the move is done.

4) In the middle of packing and hauling, I'm also organizing and purging. Matt & I have lived in this house for 13 years. We've unfortunately collected a lot of junk crap stuff. I'm spending most afternoons, evenings, and weekends sorting through it all. We are packing the things that will be moved, & pricing the things that will not be moved. My sister & I are having a garage sale in two weeks, so... yeah. We have to prepare for that.

5) We have a trip to Woodstock, IL in our near future. This trip has been planned for months & months. I was looking forward to visiting the extended in-laws, but in the midst of all this craziness, my excitement is waning. There's just so. much. todo.

6) The school year begins in just a few weeks for the district in which I work. I'm still working part time (since we made some really stupid financial decision in our youth our current financial state requires income from both of us). I'm still waiting on the Lord to show me exactly how I am  to homeschool 2 boys, take care of a baby, run a household, and work two days a week (while moving, renovating, and trying to find a few moments to knit). *Gulp* Pray for me, will ya?

So that's about it. (Isn't that enough?) Despite the disorganization, time crunch, huge goals, and adjusting to this new season in our lives, almost all of this is a blessing. It's all a big, scary blessing. Which scares me. But I'm living in a state of perpetual gratitude. With every breath, I'm thanking God for answers to prayers, for scary blessings, for things to learn, and for this incredible adventure!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Baptism!

Our beautiful baby girl was baptized last Saturday evening. It was a lovely ceremony, and our new pastor even used her baptism as the base for his sermon. It was so wonderful to see our daughter begin her journey of faith.

She has two godmothers: her Aunt Angie (my sister in law) and her Aunt Becca (my life-long best friend. Seriously - we've literally been best friends since I was born.) Both are strong women of faith, and I know that they will lovingly guide her through matters of faith and morality.

After church, our fmaily came back to our house for the three F's: Family, Fellowship, and Food.

One of my little sisters is a professional photographer, so all of our important events are recorded beautifully. You can see the wonderful video she made here. And for specifics on Kinsye's gown and bonnet, check out my knit blog. In the mean time, I'll leave you with a couple of photos of our adorable baby from her photo shoot this afternoon.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beautiful Bounty

We recently joined a food coop. I wasn't sure what to expect, so we just bought the produce basket, which promised a "variety of seasonal, fresh fruits & vegetables" for about $22.00. I placed my order and eagerly awaited the pick up date.

I was pleasantly surprised. And a little scared, given that I personally don't care for most vegetation & any vegetables I learned to cook prior to having children involved a can opener and a microwave.

Don't judge. I'm getting better. I now serve a minimum of one (but usually more) fruit or vegetable with every meal. And my kids enjoy fresh vegetation for snacks, while I sneak M&M'S while hiding behind the pantry door. I said I was getting better, but there's still a little room for improvement. Anyway, I started by taking inventory of what we got & writing down a plan of what to do with each Item. There was some googling involved. (Did you know that an Athena Melon and a cantaloupe are the same thing?)

I enlisted the help of my trusty crew, and we went to work. It took most of the day, but I listed each item as we finished it. The boys loved watching our list grow, and this evening, Riley is using a batch of the sweet potato biscuit dough for his night to cook dinner. We've got another basket coming this Thursday, with some new items, and we are all excited to see what we can make of it!

Here are a few photos from our adventure.