Monday, July 30, 2012

Green Babies Review

A few weeks ago I attended a virtual baby trade show online.  I had a blast browsing the booths, chatting with various companies, and finding new products.  I know, kind of nerdy, but its true.  I even chatted with the president of Haba US about their non toxic stains.  (She commented that she has seen one of their engineers eat a spoonful of it; its that safe!)

Green Babies is a company that I had not heard of before.  They sent us some of their products to try out.  (shampoo/wash, lotion, bubble bath, spray detangler, and sunscreen)

The ingredient list looks pretty good on all of these.  They include some food grade preservatives, but nothing terrible.  I did not find this in the EWG Skin Deep database yet.  I'm guessing it would be rated a 1 or maybe 2 for some of the natural oils.

We tested out the shampoo/ body wash and found it to be very mild.  There is a faint scent to it, but its earthy and nice.  None of the girls reacted to it at all.

The lotion is actually pretty thick and had to be rubbed in.  Its not greasy, just thick and nice.  I hate watery lotion.

I need to use coconut oil as detangler in Julia's curly hair, but the Green Babies spray was nice for Lucy and Esther's straight hair.  It helped the tangles out without being too oily.

The girls loved having a bubble bath.  I put in several capfuls, and it did okay.  We got some bubbles, but they weren't super thick.  The girls were thrilled though!

The sunscreen went on nicely.  It is a bit white, like most mineral based sunblocks, but thin enough that it rubbed in well.  I really liked the tangerine scent; it wasn't too strong and smelled fresh.  Another plus is that this is a non-nano sunscreen.

Overall we enjoyed the various products that we used.  I'm thankful that there are more and more healthy safe choices out there for body care products.  Check out Green Babies website if you are interested in learning more about their fun products.  (They also sell some adorable clothing!)  Thanks Green Babies!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Continent Boxes and More!

Note: We are homeschoolers, using My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures this coming school year.  This post mainly has to do with my planning specific to that curriculum, but contains lots of fun links.  :)

In preparing for the fall, I came across "continent boxes", a super neat way to make geography hands on and fun for my little ones!  This blog has some great photos and ideas of what to put it each box.  Here is another blog with details on how to do this.  This person on Pinterest has several boards with ideas pinned for continent boxes.  I'm excited about putting ours together.  (ETA: Here is a forum thread with tons of ideas.)

This blog has ECC specific printables and a link to the MFW Blogroll.

Homeschool Share has some geography related lapbooks.

This is a blog that contains a years worth of weekly posts about ECC.

Paper dolls from around the world will be fun to make.

Here are more coloring pages from around the world in case we need them, and flag coloring pages too.

We purchased the dvd series Planet Earth to use throughout the year.  I'll have to screen it for predator scenes, but there is some gorgeous scenery in it that we will enjoy.  Someone put together this list of countries studied in ECC and related parts on the dvd:

Week 5-6 Mexico: "Deserts" Disc 2 Episode 2
Week9-11 Brazil: "Jungles" Disc 3 Episode 2
Week 12-13 Norway: "Seasonal Forests" Disc 4 Episode 1
Week 14-15 France: "Caves" Disc 2 Episode 1
Week 16-17 Germany: "Fresh Water" Disc 1 Episode 3
Week 18-20 Kenya: "Great Plains" Disc 3 Episode 1
Week 23-24 India: "Mountains" Disc 1 Episode 2
Week 27-28 Japan: "Ocean Deep" Disc 4 Episode 2
Week 29-30 Russia: "Ice Worlds" Disc 2 Episode 3
Week 31-32 Australia: "Shallow Seas" Disc 3 Episode 3
Week 33-34 Antarctica: "From Pole to Pole" Disc 1 Episode 1

My Father's World has a message board with plenty of ideas to go along with ECC, books, websites, CDs, games, and more.  I'm going to start with ECC as is for the most part and then pull in other resources if we need them.

We will also be using the library often and finding books about the countries that we study.

Not really ECC related, but we made a trip to Costco today and I picked up a giant package of glue sticks, a large box of copy paper, and a package of 3 ring binders, all at great prices.  :)  I also just had a new printer delivered to my doorstep the other day.  The girls will be excited to go pick out a few new school supplies soon too.

I joined this yahoo postcard group and haven't looked into it much, but we'll be trading postcards with people later on this year.

I'm looking forward to starting - just a few more weeks of summer!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Compassion Kids

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

One of the things I'm really excited about for this school year is that my children each got a Compassion kid to sponsor!  Lucy and Julia both had birthdays this summer and as their gift, someone sponsored a child in their name.  We decided to do one for Esther too.  I think this will lend itself perfectly to our "Exploring Countries and Cultures" curriculum.

It was so much fun to show the girls the website and talk with them about these children and what it means for them to be sponsored.  Lucy commented that it was sad to just pick one and have all the rest still waiting.  They both asked questions and were interested.  Although we haven't received our paperwork yet, the girls are already thinking about their sponsored children.

I plan to have them write letters and send small gifts (stickers, etc) throughout the year.  I think it will be a wonderful thing to keep in mind.  Compassion even has a Pinterest board with all kinds of fun ideas on it for sending to the children.

This person sponsors 19 children and blogs about it!

She also keeps a list of Compassion bloggers here that I'm excited to look through a glean ideas from.

Do you sponsor a child?  What fun things have you mailed to your child?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Its been quiet around here lately.  Well, not in my house, but on the blog.  ;)  I've been spending some time reading through our homeschool books for the coming year and freaking out planning.  Lucy will be doing third grade work and Julia will be starting kindergarten.  Julia tagged along quite a bit last year, but this is her first "official" year.  Looking at all of the various subjects and books times two is overwhelming.  I'm sure that once we get started things will find a rhythm.  In fact, the girls are already asking me if they can do schoolwork.  They do well with a structured morning and enjoy it for the most part.

Another reason that I am nervous about this year is just because the content is so important.  We are going to be using My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures.  I know that it really has the potential to open up their little hearts and create a love for other people.  Combine that with the fact that they are growing up so fast this summer: learning to ride their bikes, taking their first swimming lessons, both having birthdays, and I'm ... I don't know, I guess just wanting to use my time with them to the best of my ability.  In the day to day, that's hard though.  I have dishes to wash, babies to care for, a house to clean, and are we missing important lessons as we just get through the day?

Just my thoughts.  I'm feeling the need to pray for them, with them, to ask God for help.  Thats not a bad thing.  I'm working on creating our daily schedule and planning some fun resources for the year.  There are a lot of neat ideas out there that I will be sharing with you soon.
How is your fall planning coming?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July Stork Stack

I have been wanting to post about our July Stork Stack for a few weeks now.  Vacations and swimming lessons have kept me quite busy this month!  We're home, and I'm slowly getting through the piles of laundry.  Earlier this month we received the bright turquoise box:

Stork Stack is a subscription service that brings five fun products to your doorstep each month.  The theme this time was "Happy Birthday, America".  I love how they executed this; all of the items are made in America!

JJ Cole bottle pod - Adorable print, but not really useful to us.  My babies are breastfed and always with me, so we do not need bottles.  It could alternately be used for a sippy cup or water bottle, but with six in our family, that isn't practical.  I'm sure I can find someone to give it to though.

Dr Robin's for kids lotion - I had not heard of Dr Robin's before.  It was created by a dermatologist, is gluten-free, vegan, and contains no phthalates, parabens, or fragrance.  Lucy struggles with dry sensitive skin, so this is great to have.  I love that its an all natural product.

Maple Landmark wooden baby rattle - Perfect for Isaac right now!  He is just learning to grab on to things.  This is exactly the kind of toy we love around here, no plastic, no chemicals, just responsibly sourced wood, made in the US.

Green Sprouts Disposable Compressed Wipes - Okay, I have to admit this one was completely lost on me.  This is a little tube of compressed wipes that you add water to and use.  Now, isn't the purpose of wet wipes that they are already wet?  As far as being compressed, there are ten wipes in the tube.  Ten wipes are already pretty small, so I'm not sure what good compressing them does.

Heirloom Tomato Catsup from The Scrumptious Pantry - Catsup is one item I did not expect to receive in a Stork Stack!  However, its one of the five or so foods that Julia likes.  I'm interested in trying out this healthy version.

The Stork Stack is definitely a fun package to receive and open.

On a another note, go like Stork Stack on Facebook!  If they get to 2,000 likes by July 31, Chris will wear this costume while delivering the Chicago Stacks:

If you know anyone in Chicago, it would totally be worth buying them an August Stork Stack just to have this guy deliver it to their door.

You can see my review of the June stack here.  I can't wait to see what August brings.  :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Non-dairy Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I still want to play around with some variations of this recipe, but couldn't wait to share it with you.  Non-dairy coconut milk ice cream!  As you can see, we tried it out on the 4th of July.  We had it again last night with strawberries for dinner.  Yes, for dinner.  My kids were pretty confused about that one.

I found the recipe here.  Actually, a friend found it and emailed me the link, thanks Katy!  :)

4 cups coconut milk (like this, not from a can, although that might be good too)
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 Tbs vanilla
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp salt

Place ingredients in a blender.  Gradually add xanthan gum while blending.  Freeze in an ice cream machine.  Enjoy!  (If your blender can't handle that much liquid at a time, reserve 2 cups of the milk.  After blending everything else, pour into a bowl and whisk in the extra milk.)

I love that this recipe is so simple.  Its gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and egg free.  I can have it ready in about 30 minutes for a fun after dinner dessert.  We topped ours with Enjoy Life chocolate chips, and another time with fresh strawberries.  If you happen to have any leftovers, it freezes a bit solid, but quickly thaws and is delicious.  Let me know what variations you come up with!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Tell When Beans Are Cooked

We eat beans and rice frequently around here.  They are cheap, filling, and a meal we really enjoy.  I cook beans from dry in my crockpot, and usually tend to overcook them.  The other day a friend told me a tip for how to tell when they are done cooking.

Take a spoonful of beans out of the pot and blow on them.  If the skins wrinkle and start to peel, they are done.  Magic!  I've used this tip successfully for a while now, each time thinking: "Why didn't I know this earlier?"  So there, now you know.  Or was I the only one who didn't know this handy tip?

See Tammy's Recipes for more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sunscreen Review and Giveaway

My girls are growing up so much lately!  First riding their bikes, and now their first ever swimming lessons.  Lucy and Julia are both enjoying their lessons.  They have amazing teachers who give them just the right mix of encouragement and firmness.  They are even jumping off the diving board and going down the slide!  (with lots of help)  I'm so proud of them.  They are feeling like very accomplished little girls.

It is actually a bit hard to tell them apart in the water.

Look at that big slide!

Its been extremely warm hot here lately.  (102 yesterday!)  When the girls aren't wearing their UVSkinz, I've been covering them with sunscreen.  Being around the water really intensifies the sun on their skin.  Thankfully, I had some Miessence Sunscreen on hand for review.  We've used it daily for almost two weeks now.

The sunscreen is very easy to spread on.  It has a slight gritty feel, but it is not bothersome at all, even to my sensitive kids.  We found it to be water resistant, and a great light coverage.  My girls still got a bit of sun through the sunscreen, but they didn't burn at all.  On a few days when I felt like they were a bit pinkish and might burn, I used Badger instead because it is thicker.  Most of the time I found myself reaching for Miessence though because of it being so nice to spread on.  I'll definitely be keeping a bottle on hand.

I've really liked all of the Miessence products that I have tried so far.  They use mostly organic ingredients and nothing harmful.  You can find the ingredients listed for each product, as well as a description of the ingredient.  With Miessence, lifestyle members receive an ongoing 20% discount once an order of $150 has been placed.  If you're interested, there are also many benefits to becoming a Miessence rep.

Would you like to win some Miessence sunscreen?  Jessica (my friend and Miessence rep) is giving one away!  You have three chances at winning, leave a comment for each:

1- Subscribe to my blog by email or other way and comment letting me know you did.
2- Like Jessica's Miessence page on facebook, comment letting me know you did.
3- Share this giveaway on your blog or facebook, linking to this blog post.  Comment with a link to where you shared this.

Be sure to include an email address so I can contact you.  The giveaway will close in a week on July 13 at midnight.  Happy Summer!  :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Fourth of July! Part 2

Our firework shirts turned out great!  Julia kept saying that she was "horribly excited" to see the fireworks.  :)  Esther and Isaac slept through most of them.  I have a feeling that we are going to have some tired kiddos today.  Happy 4th!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

We're painting firework shirts today!  (Like this, except we used red, blue, and sparkly pink.)  Hopefully they will be dry tomorrow.  Grandma and Grandpa are coming over for hot dogs on the grill, potato salad, and watermelon.  Of course we will be wearing our new shirts to go see fireworks too.  If everyone cooperates, maybe I'll have a cute picture to post tomorrow.

On another Fourth of July note, here a couple of books that we've enjoyed recently.  Both are excellent, with plenty of information in a simple to read format.  Its fun to see my girls beginning to understand it all.

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting Started Homeschooling

Although my children are still young, homeschooling is nothing new to me.  I grew up being homeschooled, and loved it!  I have many fond memories of my mom reading out loud to my brother and I or making a big messy craft project with us.  Its been so much fun to begin homeschooling my own children.  I love being a part of their learning experiences and getting to witness all of their excitement over new things.

Are you just getting started with homeschooling?  Here are some of my favorite (random) websites and tips for you:

This is a great article on socialization, and why its so not a big concern.

Cathy Duffy Reviews is a great place to look for curriculum ideas and reviews.  She also has a book that is a great resource.  You can get a general review of most any homeschool curriculum on her website and then research it further if you are interested.

Homeschool Reviews is another place to check for reviews.  (Also Amazon of course.)

The Happy Housewife has a round-up of curriculum reviews written by various bloggers. sells used curriculum.  Your local Craigslist may have listings as well.

Rainbow Resource is a huge website with homeschool books and products.  Whatever you do, do not request their catalog.  I am not kidding.  It is around 5 inches thick and waaay too hard to get through.  Just stick to looking things up on their website.

Home Science Tools is a fun science store that I have purchased some of our things from in the past.

There are plenty of websites with homeschool ideas, crafts, and curriculum. is a big one with ideas and printables for creating lapbooks.

If you are using a certain curriculum, check and see what other resources they have to offer.  My Father's World and Heart of Dakota both run message boards devoted to helping people use their curriculum.  There are also yahoo groups, both of which contain wonderful ideas and help.

Getting connected with a local homeschool group is a must!  Ours has monthly meetings and an email group.  Members plan field trips from time to time.  This is also a great place to ask questions.

My last piece of advice?  Just go ahead and buy several bookshelves right now; they will be full in no time!

Do you homeschool?  What are your favorite links or tips for a newcomer?