Friday, January 6, 2017

What Do You Have in Your Hand?

So, we're not even a week into this new year and I already got off of my intended blog post schedule. Oh well. That is life. Yesterday was quite busy and we all were quite tired that evening and so we headed to bed early and I didn't manage to blog. But since this is the series that I may be most excited about this year I didn't want to skip it. So I will try to get two blog posts done today.

  This series of posts is really going to be focusing heavily on contentment, on using what we have and being joyful in the process. Let's focus on how rich we already are! We will talk about saving money in lots of little ways, using what we already have rather than buying, so that we can use the money we earn for things that are truly important to us.

  I have found that setting aside times of having a spending freeze (meaning I buy basically nothing - I explained it in this post ) has been helpful to me to realize areas that I do spend regularly in, to find that I can do without certain things, prevent any wastefuless and to just force me to think outside the box and be creative. Often times it causes me to learn new ideas for doing things that often then become habits later. As I mentioned before I am doing that for the month of January and perhaps beyond so I will be reporting on that here as well. Whether you try out having a spending freeze or not I hope some of the ideas that I share here can be a blessing to you and your family.

  So far this new year I did buy the contacts for Mara (and pay for her eye appointment) that I had already said I was going to do. I did also make one un-planned purchase and I deliberated over this for some time while Mara was learning to put her contacts in at the eye doctor. You see the stomach bug hit our house this week (germs were shared somehow at church on Sunday and fellowship dinner afterward and a large portion of the congregation got sick on Monday). Thank-fully only Aaron and Megan got it at our house. But anyway when I was in town with Mara I got a call from home that Aaron would really like some 7-up. We don't drink pop very often but that is often a special treat when we have the stomach flu. While I waited for Mara I looked online and found that there where many other drinks that also would be good for stomach upset such as ginger tea, peppermint tea and different concoctions with baking soda and vinegar and I had the stuff at home that I could make them with. But I also knew that my sick boy (Megan wasn't yet) would really prefer some pop. I ended up caving and going to the gas station and buying a 2 liter of pop for $2.15. I did then also give him ginger tea but he and Megan enjoyed their pop.

   The next day the boys announced that they needed rabbit feed. I was a little frustrated as I have been working on them to give me a week or two notice on things like that as I simply don't go to town very often (like sometimes only 2 times a month) during the hours that the feed store is open. But they told me when it was gone. What to do now? I decided I would do a little research to see if we could feed our rabbit with something we already had. I was delighted to find rabbit feed recipes on this forum. I had everything that was needed and I was able to whip a batch together in a few minutes. Jonathan reported that the rabbit was quite excited about it's new feed. So as long as she stays healthy with the new food this will be a big win! It is cheaper, easy to make and we have the supplies on hand in good quantities and Esther seems to like it better. I will continue to research the idea of growing (somewhat anyway) and mixing our own feed. This blog has information on how you can even grow a lot of your own rabbit feed.

Using what I had to teach childrens' classes

Being a Soldier for Jesus Christ
That was the subject matter that I wanted to teach to my Sunday school class last month. When I teach a class I like to figure out ways that I can make it hands-on and interesting. I had seen a fun idea of making grass head men when I was researching projects for our December homeschool group and so it seemed like a fun plan to combine a grasshead guy and a soldier together.  

 We had some fun with this project!

Of course another beautiful thing about this project was that I could do it using things that I already had on hand. Many of the items were re-purposed.

To make them we took the tip of an old nylon or pair of tights (another reason to save those!) and first put in around a tablespoon full of grass seed. If you don't have grass seed maybe you have wheat that would sprout or some other sort of sprouting seed. Be creative!

Then fill it up with dirt to the desired head size. I did have potting soil on hand but hand thought about using dirt from a pot where the plant had died. If your ground isn't all frozen and snow covered like mine you could also dig some out of your yard.

Next you tie it up and balance it on the top of a tin-can or some sort of container. The tied portion will go down inside the container.

Then you want to make the face. Pull out a portion of dirt to look like a nose. You can put a little rubberband around it if you want to make it stay in place. Little rubberbands leftover from the days of braces came in handy. Then we glued on some button (or googly eyes would be cool) eyes and a felt mouth. Again - be creative!
 Then we "dressed" them by putting a piece of construction paper (or use scrap paper that the kids have colored on) around the can.  A helmet was made for their head from an egg carton and a pipe cleaner.
 Megan actually made all the armor for my class as a Christmas present for me. She wanted to make something for me and on Christmas Eve Day was frustrated because I had said I would give her an idea for a handmade gift and I hadn't yet. I was busy with last minute preparations and knew I still needed to finish preparing my class and so I told her that I would love a gift of the armor for my whole classes grass head guys. She did a great job making them for me. The breastplate was recycled aluminum foil, most of the belts of truth where scraps of fabric, the swords were toothpicks and tin foil, the shoes were paper and the shield was cardboard with a fabric handle on the back.
 The guy made from white tights ended up with some weird "birth marks" as the dirt seeped through. I think the nylons work better. The grass easily ended up in weird places like coming out the eyes but those can be plucked. :-)

 Overall we had fun with this project, hopefully it helped to enforce the lesson and it was made with what I had on hand.

Science Class for Preschoolers
 Yesterday I was in charge of teaching the preschooler class at homeschool co-op. Our theme for the year is science and I thought it would be fun to do several active experiments with them to make them realize that science is fun and interesting. I didn't expect them to understanding the whole experiment but simply to present some different words and ideas to them and make it fun. So I started looking around for ideas. I simply took the ideas that used things that I already had on hand or could substitute something else and I skipped the other ideas. Some times it is worth it to buy things but oftentimes it really isn't necessary.

The picture above is a picture of the aftermath of some fun. I failed to take a picture while we actually doing it and when it really looked neat.

What I did was sprinkle baking soda (I buy it in bulk cheaply and have quite a bit on hand - and I used around 2 cups) all over the bottom of a pan and then I gave each of them a little container of white vinegar that I had tinted either blue or yellow with food coloring. When giving it I did give careful instructions not to drink it but one little girl still took a sip which quickly came drooling back out. Poor girl!

 Then I gave them spoons or droppers so they could then put the vinegar a little at a time on to the baking powder. Not only did we get to see it fizz and bubble but we also saw our two colors mixing to make green.
 We also cleaned some old dull pennies with salt and vinegar. Our only issue here was that some of the kids had little cuts on their fingers and working with salt and vinegar stung a little.
 We also talked about air pressure and used different things to blow little pom-poms around. I got the idea for that here and their is more instructions.

 I also had balloons for everybody and we talked a little about static electricity and tried rubbing them on old wool sweaters or our hair and clothes and then we hung them up on the wall.
 I also brought tubes and toy cars for all of them and we explored gravity and had the cars go through the tunnels. We tried going through flat and then tilted them to make them go through faster.

 I also had some dry beans which we tried pouring into various types of containers (glass, metal, Styrofoam, plastic, etc) and listened to the different sounds that they made.

The class went pretty well and we were able to try a lot of different things all while using things that I already had in "my hand".

  Most of us already have so much. Let's focus on using what we have rather than thinking about what we might like to have and spending money for no good reason.

  Do have any ways you have especially enjoyed using what you had lately? I would love to hear! Also if you have any economical rabbit feeding ideas I would love to hear your thoughts there as well.

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