Booking Through Thursday – Bedside

What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?

A few things… I rarely have only one book on the go.

Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana: What To Name Your Baby Now, by Pamela Redmond Satran, is in the bathroom – I flip through it when, well, I go to the bathroom, trying to find baby names idea. πŸ™‚ Currently I’m pretty stuck on Caitlin, but my husband is not 100% sure of the choice, so I keep my eyes open!

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (Simple Mom’s Book Club May-June selection), is my everywhere bo0k – the one I usually stash in my purse when going to an appointment, or the one I’ll read in the living room during naptime or early evening while my husband watches the hockey game. I find I don’t do really good with more “info” books at bedtime, because, well, that’s when I read to fall asleep, and I simply don’t retain any info hahaΒ  (but I have no problems retaining plot lines of a novel though! πŸ˜‰ )

And my current bedtime novel, which is actually becoming my all-free-time book (naptime, and as soon as baby is asleep in the evening, to kind of way too late I night… much close to an obsession really *sigh*), is the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Yes, I have joined the cult – 5 years later LOL I was waiting to have all 4 books, in Trade Paperback (my favourite format), to read them, but I was in the mood for a light read and a good fictional/mystical/magical/however-you-call-these-books (I don’t just mean vampire plots, I like all “magical” plot lines; one of my favourite ever TV series was Charmed, for example) after reading Brick Lane, by Monica Ali, for my Stay-at-home-Parents’ Book Club (which I didn’t really enjoy – not bad, but not good either), and I thought, from the sizes of the books, that the first 3 would take me to the release of the 4th in paperback on August 3rd (already pre-ordered).
Hmm… wrong! I just started book 3, Eclipse, yesterday… Twilight took me maybe 5 days to read, and I literally zipped through New Moon in 2 days. I have a feeling I’ll be done Eclipse by the end of the weekend… But, my friend is lending me her copy of Breaking Dawn πŸ˜‰ I am still buying it for me, I think I will have to re-read them later on, at a less speedy pace, to get into the story a bit more deeply! I usually don’t like reading books too quickly, because then you kind of stay on the brim of the story, never really fully engaging with it, but what can I say – they are really, really compelling, and I NEED to know what happens. Right now! The writing style is simple and light, yet the plot is always moving, always something going on, and the author is really good (IMHO, yours can differ) at setting suspense right in the first few pages that you just know won’t be resolved until the very end, so – you’re stuck. You have to read.

*sigh* At least my husband finds my obsession with a good story amusing πŸ™‚

Little Garden Grows

I tried gardening once before – in the summer of 2008. Which also coincides with the summer Miss A was born. Which means that my poor plants ended up pretty much neglected, and for the most part died.

This year, I’m determined to make it work! We highly value fresh produce & organic eating (when we can) in this family, and growing our own vegetables seems like a great way to save some money, while knowing exactly what we are eating – plus it’s so satisfying, conveninent (once it’s grown and right in your backyard), eco-friendly, and a great value to pass on to our children.

So, I’ve been reading up on it, I planned a raised bed plot, I got some seeds. My original plan for our backyard was to have 2 raised beds: one rectangular where I would plant tomatoes + basil (I heard it was good for the tomatoes!), carrots (which are also apparently good to combine with tomatoes, even though you might get slightly smaller carrots), and romaine lettuce (an easy grow, plus the allure of fresh lettuce leaves all summer is tempting); and one circular where I planned to plant some rhubarb (a perennial plant that keeps growing with minimal care – perfect! And so YUM). I need to wait until the last frost date to plant most of my stuff, which is pretty much now, but I could have probably planted the rhubarb earlier, as it loves the spring cold for it’s roots… But I haven’t yet prepared the beds (I just have the bricks set but I still need to dig up the grass in the beds!), and I think my rhubarb bulbs died. 😦

Garden 1, Me 0.

My little raised beds, awaiting completion

We also went to a playdate on Earth Day (April 22nd) and did a seed planting craft (A loved filling the egg carton with dirt! I pretty much had to do the rest when the play kitchen got more interesting.) The seeds planted include a mix of snapdragons, some “ladybug” tomatoes (not quite sure what the ladybug part means, there’s a ladybug on the package my friend got! I guess they are seeds aimed at kids πŸ™‚ ), and some pumpkin seeds. I’m definitely looking forward to some yummy pumpkin this fall!!

A is rocking the egg carton filling

And then, that same weekend (April 24th), a neighbourhood mom, who’s a gardener extraordinare, offered to host a little Q&A afternoon, and even hooked us up with some seed. She gave us some peat pellets to plant the seeds in (I’m only and always using those form now on – how convenient!), and had a host of seeds available. I chose to plant some Tiny Tim tomatoes (a cherry tomato type), asparagus (which will actually start producing edible veggies in 2-3 years, but then it’s a perennial!), peas, corn (!), sunflowers (my favourite flower ever) and Mesclum mix (more lettuce!). She gave us some good tips to get started, such as to cover the seeds with saran wrap for eat until they sprouted, how to spray water, and sent us on our way.

The gang on May 2nd

May 2nd - Tiny Snapdragon sprouts on the left!

And wow – the seeds are actually sprouting and GROWING! I must be doing SOMETHING right πŸ™‚ All the seeds I planted in the peat pellets are doing a-awesome, and I have quite a few pumpkin seeds, Ladybug tomatoes, and snapdragons that sprouted as well. I got a bit of mold on my corn pellets, but my friend mentioned that I could gently scoop it out, let it dry, and re-water, and if it came back, to spray with very diluted dish soap and water and that should take care of it. And it did, for the most part. I had tiny bits again this morning but I scooped it out – and the seeds seem unaffected! I had a natural soap solution a neighbour gave me to try on hand – Pink Solution, apparently you can do anything and everything with it, and it’s all natural – so I used that to spray the mold.

May 6th - It's growing!

So this is where I’m at – incomplete raised bed awaiting carrots, basil and romaine lettuce planting, and a bunch of sprouts on my window silt. Not bad! I am planning on using the May long weekend to do some raised bed prep and perhaps planting, and will inquire as to the readiness of my sprouts for transplanting also. My friend mentioned they needed to be stronger, although they are getting quite tall! I think I will mostly do containers for those plants for now, until I figure a more permanent plot out. Plus, it will be handy to move them around if needed. Especially the huge corn plants… in our fairly tiny backyard…Β  My neighbours (with also fairly tiny backyards) will love me πŸ™‚ (or maybe they will – fresh corn anyone?)

May 11th - Corn & Peas on the right, Sunflowers & Mesclum on the left

May 11th - Tomatoes in the back, with tiny asparagus sprouts out front

May 11th - Pumpkin sprouts

Garden 1, Me 1 πŸ™‚

Mother’s Day Crafts

Today we celebrated by spending a lovely day as a family – first with a breakfast at the restaurant, followed by a few errands (I know – but it’s always nice when we all go together!), and then some crafts at home.

Mother's Day Bookmarks

The first craft we did was colour some bookmarks I downloaded from here (5th one down – the other crafts are from this page too). They are, technically, already coloured, but I figured A probably had some suggestions as to how to enhance them. πŸ˜‰ She chose mostly purple… which is fine by me, because it’s my favourite colour too! I then laminated them with transparent sticky book cover, and voilΓ  – 4 new bookmarks pour moi πŸ™‚

While A did that, I traced out her hand to use later for the Hand Lily Bouquet. And while I was cutting away the hands, Dad helped Miss A colour a nice card for Mom, complete with message in the middle.

A card for Mom

Miss A applying glue

Then after nap, we did the flower bouquet craft! I cut out 3 colours of pipe cleaner – dark green, neon green, and sparkly green – cut in half.. And we hand 4 hands of each white, beige and yellow. We started by brushing some glue at the bottom of the palm with a mini popsicle stick (A loved doing that), and then folded the hand over the pipe cleaner stick (after getting A to push the stick nice and strong into the glue of course!). Then I turned down the fingertips a bit for curly petals. At the end, I wrapped a pink & purple ribbon around the bouquet!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hand Lily Bouquet

On Going No ‘Poo

Yesterday marked 6 months since I bid farewell to shampoo & conditioner. I had no idea what to expect when I stepped in the shower with a mix of water and baking soda on November 6th. I had friends who had made the transition successfully, and online reviews all seemed very promising. I figured: what have I got to loose? If the result is extremely crappy to the point of unrepresentable-ness, I’ll just step back in…

But it was fine! Sure, there is a transition period, which can hit anytime around 2 weeks to a month, and can last from a few days to a few weeks. I guess it depends on your previous hair washing routine: if you were one to wash your hair every day or even twice a day with both shampoo & conditioner, to then style it with hair products, then transition might be longer. If, like me, you washed every 2-3 days and never used any styling products on it, then it might be shorter. I couldn’t exactly pin-point when my transition was… I think around 2-3 weeks, it felt slicker in-between washes – but not dirty. Just, you know… a bit more blah.

And it’s not hard either! When you read up on it, it can feel overwhelming, with all the different ratio, testimonies of having to adapt mixes through the seasons, adding conditioner, using baking soda, vinegar, apple cider… But really, you just have to try one, and tweak it. What have you got to loose?Β  If it’s crappy, just step back in!! πŸ˜€ (although I would suggest trying it for a few washes!)

So what exactly is “no ‘poo”? Basically, it’s “no shampoo”. Meaning none of the store-bought hair cleaning products that get expensive and are full of chemicals, and are really just detergents aimed at stripping your scalp of it’s natural oils, making it prone to produce more, creating the need to wash more often, with more shampoo. I have oily hair. I’ve ALWAYS had oily hair. Sleek, really straight, oily hair. So it would seem counterproductive to use a method that actually lets my scalp produce it’s natural oils unhindered, right? Not so! After a few weeks adjustment, as my scalp adjusting to “hey… I don’t need to produce so much anymore!”, my hair actually became LESS oily than it ever was before. More manageable too. And I swear it feels thicker as well (and by that, I mean from BEFORE I got pregnant πŸ™‚ ).

The basic formula for no ‘poo is 1 tbls of baking soda for 1 cup of water. I use half of that on my medium length hair (just below the shoulders), and it works great. I use a squirt bottle, which I fill up before every wash – I find it easier to prepare it as I need it, otherwise I tend to use more than I really need. And even though baking soda is less expensive than shampoo, I still like to save a buck more when I can πŸ˜€ You might need more or less depending on your hair length and style, or a slightly different ratio. But don’t be scared – just start with the basic 1 tbls per 1 cup of water, use that for about a month until you hit/pass transition, and then if you don’t 100% like the result, try out a few different formulas. You can’t really go wrong any which way anyway, except maybe a bit of baking soda buildup, but that’s an obvious consequence with an obvious remedy.

If you have hair that tangles very easily, you can add a conditioner from 1 tbls apple cider to 1 cup of water. But if you have oily hair, that might make it oilier too. I have very very fine hair, and used to ALWAYS need conditioner or else it was heck trying to comb it afterwards. I have never used the apple cider mix, and my hair is perfectly fine to comb after washes!

We also use this method with Miss A. Since we had started with using regular baby shampoo with her, she did go through a small transition as well, but now it works just fine! Her ratio is the same as mine, and we wash her hair every 3-4 days, like I do. The only word of caution when using this with young children: it’s not tear-free like other products on the market. πŸ˜‰ But, with a bit of imagination and resourcefulness (spray bottles anyone?), it’s possible to not get it in their eyes!

Want more info? These articles are great starting points:
* How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo, from Simplemom.net
* Shampoo Free, from babyslime on LiveJournal – very good in-depth article.
* Shampoo Free?, on KellyMom.net
* A friend’s saga of going No’ Poo, including with her now 2 yrs daughter

I think my next step will be to wean out my face cleaning products. I heard honey was very good, and oil too – I know, oil! And I have oily skin. But the argument makes sense and hey – I can always rewash my face if the result is disastrous. πŸ˜‰

Pre-Homeschooling?

Since DD1 has been about 6 months old, DH and I have been considering homeschooling. The reasons are many, and should probably make the focus of a post of their own. However, I think I can confidently say that, at this point, this is the route that we have decided to follow.

Then I learn that a good friend of mine, who also happens to be my back door neighbour, and who has a daughter just a few months older than Miss A, is also considering homeschooling. And the girls get along GREAT together (as much as 2 yrs olds do)! So we started doing some research together.

And boy – is there ever options out there! From radical unschooling to highly structured through pre-made curriculum homeschooling, with a mix of both in between – and not to mention all the different philosophies, from Charlotte Mason to Waldorf to a little bit of nothing… How’s one to choose??

I have to admit, I’m not sure exactly what I what to do for my homeschool yet. I’m partial to the Sonlight curriculum, because I’ve only heard great things about it and it has a focus on books, but I’m sure there are other great ones out there too. And anyway, I will have to find add ons for Canadian content. And do I really want to buy an expensive and structured curriculum, or do I want to go based on my child’s interest and get books as we go? Or perhaps I want to just simply unschool

But sometimes too much research is like not enough: you just get lost, and you never make any decisions. Sometimes, in my opinion anyway, it’s best to jump in, try something, and tweak it as you go. I’m still researching options, recording ideas, government requirements (it’s legal in our province and you don’t have to do much of anything actually, in terms of declaring & recording, as far as I’ve found), organization, how to proceed, etc. But, I’ve decided to try out some things too, along with my neighbour.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not teaching my 22 mo. If anything’s for sure, it’s that I don’t believe in early academia for the sake of early academia – unless it’s really and truly the toddler’s interest to do alphabet flashcards, penmanship and early math all day. And I think all learning should be child-led (which taps into my reasons for choosing homeschooling versus the school system – there is just more opportunities for that in the one-on-one setting of homeschooling than there is in the overflowed classrooms). What we’re doing is more for the sake of us adults, to try out some organization & recording thing, and how we can plan lapbooks and unit studies. For the kids – crafts, day trips, playtime, colouring… things we would do ANYWAY, whether they’d be attached to a “theme” or not πŸ˜‰ My neighbour found some great activities based on farms and gardening – which is quite timely for spring and summer. We have great local farms in the area to visit, which most families do once or twice in the season, and lots and lots of trails for nature walk, which I love to take advantage of.

Farm lapbook - Barn

So, today, we started our farm lapbooks! We made barns out of construction paper, and glued it inside a folded-up folder. I mostly did that part πŸ˜‰ Then came the decorating part with stickers – THAT Miss A was all over! Watch out with her when stickers are around πŸ™‚ We also read a book about barn animals (the girls had a blast making all the sounds), and sang Old MacDonald using the felt board. Then the girls free played while we picked up πŸ˜‰

I printed out some of the farm activities we found online for the girls, and started

Activities for Farm lapbook

laminating them with book covers (makes them more sturdy) and cutting them up. But first, I got Ariana to colour her farm flashcards – they turned out quite colourful, as you can see! I will finish these while watching TV tonight and stick them in the lapbook. Speaking of laminating & activities, I also made her a colour sorting game I downloaded from Confessions of a Homeschooler – she’s very into her colours lately.

Paintbrush Matching set

If anything, it will be a great scrapbook souvenir of the summer πŸ™‚ (when life was bliss before the chaos of a younger sibling!)

Booking Through Thursday – “Half”

So … you’re halfway through a book and you’re hating it. It’s boring. It’s trite. It’s badly written. But … you’ve invested all this time to reading the first half.

What do you do? Read the second half? Just to finish out the story? Find out what happens?

Or, cut your losses and dump the second half?

Read the whole thing. I can’t do half things πŸ˜‰ Movies, books… I always have to finish it if I’ve started – plus I always wonder: but what if it got better later on??

There’s been 1 book that I haven’t finished – it was a chick lit for a playgroup book club (don’t get me wrong – I do like some chick lit every now and then), and I couldn’t really get into it even in the first chapter – something about the style and tone turned me off. And I was on holiday in Ireland, and had also brought with me “The Rebels of Ireland” by Edward Rutherfurd, my favourite author ever, and kind of REALLY wanted to read that book, while, quite conveniently, IN situs. πŸ™‚ I have to say, I don’t regret – there was something special about reading about some places while being there, I felt more connected to the book – and could identify where the characters were.

I’m currently a bit ambiguous with my current read, “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali, but I do think I will finish that one. It’s also for a playgroup book club πŸ™‚