Symmetry and Sleep

Princess did the funnest art activity that was actually for math. I have done this activity before with younger kids and yes it was fun and creative, but I guess I thought it was to simple for an older child? Was I ever wrong!  An older child is able to see depth in the project a younger one cannot. Princess was able to understand the concept of symmetry (we were learning about lines of symmetry in math) and manipulate the paint in the ways she desired. The finished products are simply beautiful and we had so much fun talking about we each saw in the pictures.

In this first one we used red and blue, we started with a dot of red, a dot of blue and then a dot of blue with a dot of red on top. We thought that it would combine to make purple, but for some reason it didn’t but did make an interesting effect. I thought this one looked like to Angels dancing, Princess thought it looked like 2 teddy bears cuddling with their feet together.

This was our first one, we both thought it looked like a butterfly, which Princess says was her plan.

Sleep is one of my escapes. I try to keep an eye on my sleep habits because when I start sleeping a lot it can mean I am depressed. Problem being, I also get depressed if I don’t sleep enough, plus I get migraines from it too. So, I feel like sleep can be a tightrope, however I also feel like sometimes I purposely lean a little to far one way thinking I can correct it before I fall. I will start reading a good book and play the just 10 more mins game, sometimes I really can’t fall asleep and reading does help, but sometimes I do get sleepy but am so into the book I don’t want to put it down. Insomnia doesn’t help with the balancing act. There are nights when I try and try to sleep, only to fall asleep 2 hours before I have to get up, Then run on empty all day only to fall in to bed exhausted and still not be able to fall asleep. That has been me lately, I am so tired, I know if I went in and laid down right now I could sleep. But I can’t, I have Monkey to watch and Princess to do school with, I promised Rebel I would make chili and cornbread for dinner, and of course the never ending chores. Plus for some reason I have an urge to make up some new beeswax covered bandannas, they are an alternative to plastic wrap.  If I can get up enough energy to make them I will take pictures and post how to make them. They are super easy and very useful!

Today might be a day where I just survive, but I am hoping to make it one in which I thrive!!

Amy

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Pumpkin Science and Math Day

Life got a little crazy around here lately. We had a small visitor arrive on Labor Day, he needed a place to stay while his Mommy got herself some help. BB took custody of him but I was his child care, I forgot how much work babies are! Our school routines went down the drain, and I felt exhausted, by Friday I was ready to sleep all weekend. I also had a hard time blogging because I couldn’t post pictures of him, which I kept forgetting when I took pictures. 🙂 His mommy did a very scary and difficult thing and now is in a program to get the help she needs, so he gets to go to the place and live with her! While he was visiting his Mommy the yesterday, Princess, Monkey and I did some pumpkin science and math. It was great fun!

First we did an art/ science project. We drew the life cycle of a pumpkin from seed to sprout to vine to flower to g
reen pumpkin to orange pumpkin. Princess wouldn’t let me take a picture of her project because she IMG_0258thought it looks messy. There is a part of me that wants to do it anyway, but I do try to respect their wishes on things like this.

Next we used some of our super math skills and measured our pumpkins (or gourds) we used blocks to see the height and then measured them to make it a little easier, and a tape measure to get the circumference. We thought it was interesting that our pumpkin’s circumference was almost exactly twice as big as the height. Using a digital scale we weighted the pumpkins. And lastly we guessed how many seeds were in our pumpkin, then cut it open counted out 100 seeds and eIMG_0259estimated
the rest. Monkey misunderstood and tasted his gourd, thought it was yucky and pretty much abandoned our project.

For science we talked about the parts of the pumpkin and gIMG_0262ave the scraps to the chickens. Princess had just finished a unit all about animals, plants, water and air so I was trying to incorporate them all in our project. To bring in the water and air we hypothesized which would create a better puree, boiling the pumpkin in water or baking it in the oven (hot air). I actually thought baking it would be better since that is what most people sayIMG_0264 to do, Princess thought boiling it would be better (since that is what we do to make mashed potatoes.) Turned out for us, she was right, the boiled pumpkin made a smoother softer puree. Of course we had to make something with the puree so Princess made a super simple pumpkin muffing (cupcake) which had more math, weighing the pureed pumpkin, dividing them into 12 equal muffin tins, timing baking. Tomorrow we will roast the seeds. Lastly, we planted a few seeds. I know it isn’t the right time of year, and I will save some seeds to plant next year, but I wanted her to understand the full cycle and to learn to not just use up resources but to ensure the next seasons supply as well.

It was a good day, we had fun and learned a lot. I can’t wait to roast the seeds tomorrow!

The Most Amazing Woman I Have Ever Known

It is almost the anniversary of my parents deaths. My Father died Oct. 1, 1999 and my mother followed ten months later on Aug, 16, 2000. Before I lost my parents I figured with in a couple years of losing someone you just got over it. I now know you never recover, you never forget, you never stop missing or loving them. Sometimes it is easier than others, some days I still want more than anything to just call them, talk to them. They are forever with me, that i know, but I  miss so much the wisdom, knowing that a lot of what I am trying to learn they already knew and could have, would have loved to teach me, teach my children.

Every year from mid August to the beginning of October I struggle with my depression, more so than any other time of the year. Silly  me just figured this out last year, so this year I am hitting it head on. I am attempting to tackle the situation and see if I can keep it better at bay. One thing I am doing is celebrating my parents. Today since my Mom is so close to my heart I wanted to share about her. She, Barbara Joyce (Branstietter) Cook was the most amazing woman I have ever known. She loved with everything she had, she protected like a true Mama bear, she was smart, kind, hard, faithful, loving and talented.

I wished I had paid more attention while I was growing up to my parents doing things like canning, making jelly and jam, knitting and crocheting, gardening. I have had to learn all these skills and more on my own. I like to think they would be proud of me, actually I know they would be proud of me. I also know if they were around, my garden would be more structured and productive, and I wouldn’t be afraid to knit so much or crochet socks! I have no idea why socks seem so difficult, I know I just need to focus and do it, then it won’t seem so hard. Kind of like making bagels. I had wanted to make them for years, pinned numerous recipes then yesterday, I just did it! But that is a post for another day.

I hate that my kids have to grow up without them, knowing they would be there for everything, from sports games to music concerts to scout events. They would have taken them for sleep overs and camping. Daddy would have experimented with food to help me figure out Rebel’s allergies. Mom would have been there to listen and comfort me about how hard it can be to raise a child with special needs. I miss them with my whole being, the tears just keep flowing as I write this. You would think after all this time it would stop hurting so much, but it never does.

Taking it one day at a time,

Amy

Drying Herbs and Refashioning Nightgowns

I have been busy with garden and crafty things. My wonderful husband gave my sewing machine a much needed cleaning and oiling, then through some research and trial and error I got it to stop bunching (at least till I was showing the kids how to use it) I was able to make Princess a couple of night gowns from some old t-shirts that Jeremy doesn’t wear. I loosely followed the instructions form It’s Always Autumn but Princess doesn’t like things tight around her arms or neck so I just cut arms into short sleeves and left neck line as it was originally.

I have also been busy drying herbs. I have dried 2 batches of basil and am currently drying rosemary and thyme. My house smells so good right now with the herbs in the dehydrator. I am also trying yellow squash again, the batch I did the other day worked but I had no idea how much water was in the squash, they shrunk so much I could hardly get them off the tray. The cubes for soup I think will be ok. Today I cut the squash thicker and we will see how it goes.

Hopefully I will get my sewing machine to quit bunching again and I will be able to finish the apron I am in the middle of making from one of Jeremy’s old button up shirts. I could sew it by hand, but I would rather do it on the machine since I have been working on repairing an old quilt by hand.

I am off to continue all my projects,

Amy

First Harvest and Bread Making

Wow it has been crazy busy around here! I don’t even have a working car so it has all been on the home front, which as weird as it seems I have been loving it! Our first harvest from the garden is starting, although I lost a couple cucumbers and beans to a wild rabbit and the chickens. But I saved one little cucumber and sliced it up and made some simple refrigerator pickles. However they left  my jungle of summer squash alone. I planted a couple of black beauty zucchini plants but the green house must have gotten the sticks mixed up because what ended up coming up were yellow crook neck squash. Needless to say I was a little disappointed but the plants are growing amazingly well and after some research have discovered that anything you can do with zucchini you can do with yellow squash. First thing I am attempting is some chips, I used the slicer and made thin rings, salted them and put them in the dehydrator. I also diced some and am dehydrating them to use in soups this winter.

My basil plants are also growing like crazy. The last few years I have mostly just made pesto with them, which is great but I wanted to be able to use them in more recipes this year. My first major harvest of them I just dehydrated. I also have a plan to make some basil olive oil. I will probably do that with my harvest or at least part of it next week.

I mentioned before I have been reading the Little House books. I have always wanted to make sourdough bread, but have always felt a little intimidated. In the Long Winter, they use a sour dough starter to make bread with out yeast, and made it sound so simple. I looked up a few recipes for starters online, but some “cheated” and used yeast in the starter, I wanted a more traditional recipe. I can’t believe how simple it is! you mix flour and water in equal parts and set aside, everyday for a week you stir and add a tiny bit more flour and water to feed it.  I am on day 3 today, I can’t wait to make the bread.

While I am already mixing a starter daily, I figured why not make a Amish Friendship bread starter too. I haven’t had any in years, maybe decades! But with our sugar issues I hadn’t sound a great substitution I wanted to try, now that I have found dextrose I really wanted to try it, so I am making a starter for that too.

I have been feeling the fringes of depression hanging around, one thing I am doing is keeping busy with new projects. I have been teaching Princess how to sew, and she is loving it! we made her dolls a bed (mattress, blankets and pillows) and now are working on some clothes. By no means are they top line fashion, but they are useable and she is very proud. I also found an old quilt in my sewing fabrics, I had completely forgotten about, It got torn to shreds in the dryer a long time ago. I am planning on attempting to repair it, the task seems a little daunting, but hopefully well worth it.

I hope you find a way to thrive today, try something new!

Amy

Tin Can Lanterns and Water Table

School books have started to arrive!! I am so excited! First thing I did was get all the teacher manuals that have arrived and started reading through and creating the lesson plan for the first week of school. Normally I would do a month at a time, but since this is Princess’ first adventure in homeschooling since preschool I need to feel out how she is going to work best, what days and times she performs best at and the best environment for her not to mention just flat out what kind of learner she is now. I did some placement test to see where to start in some of her books and I was really proud of how well she performed. Through our daily learning notebooks I have learned a bit about her style and skills as well.

I have been listening to the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder again. I love these books, I realized I have never actually read the entire series, how that happened I have no idea! But it really speaks to my homesteading soul to listen to what life was like when she grew up, the skills they knew that we have lost, and some that are returning. The younger kids were listening with me, but only made it though Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie before Fablehaven took over their interest. However, when we were picking some topics to learn more about or to try out Pioneer skills was a winner! Yay!! Today we set out to make tin can lanterns, just like the ones Laura used (ok not just like, but a decent modern replica) in Little House. I froze water in some tin cans overnight, then the kids got busy drawing a pattern for their lanterns. Next they took hammers and a nail and poked holes into the can along the design. The ice keeps the can from getting smashed while hammering. We let the ice melt and had lanterns. I want to attach some thick wire to make a handle as well. The kids were pretty into the project and they were able to do most of it with minimal help (except Monkey.)

tin can lanterns

We also recently picked up a water table at a garage sale, what a great find! Today we washed it all up, filled it with water and Monkey and Princess had a great time! It wasn’t to hot out, but still warm enough to splash and play and maybe get a little wet. Now if I can just get the animals to stop using it as a water dish, they have water but for some reason like to drink out of the water table.

water tableToday has been a great day so far, a great day to thrive!

Amy

Summer Learning and Brownies!

Since we are almost done with summer camps I decided it was time to start some summer learning. Ok so the fact that Princess’ school books arrive tomorrow might have something to do with it too. Rocket is off to Music camp, so it is just Rebel, Princess and Monkey at home. I have been prepping a Daily Calendar Notebook for Princess while we are homeschooling this year. Most of them that I found are year round. I figure why not start it now? This gives me a chance to see what she knows (she has been in brick and mortar for Kinder and 1st) and see how she learns best now before we actually start school. Plus Rebel is participating as well, so I can keep his retention up during summer as well. Lastly, it lets me see how Monkey is going to behave while we are doing school. I have no idea what to expect from him yet.

I found lots of daily learning notebooks, calendar notebooks and other such named things. I choose I to use the one from Confessions of a Homeschooler, I used her preschool programs for Princess too and we loved them. She has great ideas and tons of great printables. learning notebook

Have I mentioned we have gone sucrose and fructose free (unless it is in the whole fruit) Today, was a tad cooler, and I really wanted something chocolate. I came across a recipe for Hershey’s Frosted Brownies, I figured why not give it a try with dextrose, the sweetener we are using along with brown rice syrup. I will post the original recipe and then tell you how I adjusted it.

Hershey’s Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Prep time: 10 mins  |  Cook time: 25 mins  |  Serves: 12 Squares
Cuisine: American  |  Category: Desserts
Source: Hershey’s

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour – 1/2 cup
  • Cocoa powder – 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Butter – 1/2 cup
  • Eggs – 2
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

For the frosting:

  • Butter, at room temperature – 3 tbsp
  • Cocoa powder – 3 tbsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp
  • Powdered sugar – 1 cup
  • Milk – 1 tbsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Instructions:

    1. In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
    2. In another mixing bowl stir together butter, sugar and vanilla essence. Add eggs and beat with a balloon whisk till combined.
    3. Add flour mixture in batches to this while mixing with a spoon until completely mixed.
    4. Line a 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper making sure that the paper is over hanging above the pan. This is to easily pull out the brownies after they are baked.
    5. Grease the bottom and transfer the batter to the pan. Smooth the top and tap the pan on the counter to even out the surface.
    6. Preheat oven at 180 C (350 F) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. You can see the sides pulling away from the sides of the pan.
    7. Take out the pan and holding the paper, lift the baked brownies out and let it cool.

For the frosting:

  1. In a mixing bowl beat together butter, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla.
  2. Add powdered sugar and milk and beat well to a smooth spreading consistency.
  3. Slather this frosting on the brownies and level smoothly.
  4. Cut into squares and serve. Keep it refrigerated.

Hershey's Best Brownie

For the sugar I used dextrose powder and for the honey I used brown rice syrup. I had never made a sugar free frosting, afraid it wouldn’t work with out powder sugar, but the dextrose powder is really light, so I gave it a try and it worked pretty good! Now this is not the nice fluffy buttercream frosting of  my dreams, but for a sugar free frosting it is pretty decent! The brownies are still in the oven, almost done. I will have to give you the review for them later.

Today was a great day, I thrived and so did the kids!

Amy

180 turn around in 1 day

It always amazes me how my depression can be lifted in a single day. One day I feel awful and the next something happens or a sequence of events happen and I feel the veil lift. That is what happened yesterday. I don’t know that it was one thing but several things.

First, yesterday was the last day of camp for Rebel, I got to pick him up at 10:30, I guess I didn’t realize how worried I was about him at camp. Last year wasn’t a great week for him at camp, it was the first time ever he didn’t have a great time. I really wanted him to make some friends and have a fun filled week. Which he did, I was so relived when he was in my arms again.

Then I got a call from Princess’s nurse at her camp, she was sick. I ran out to pick her up, poor baby, it was 80 something degrees out and she is under a blanket shivering. She had a fever and felt sick to her stomach. Now normally when my kids are sick it can be a trigger for my depression, but in this case, knowing she was home and I didn’t have to make that hour drive twice a day was more of a relief. She is doing a little better today, fever is gone and she is resting on the couch watching movies (which is a special treat.)

Also, I got an email from Princess’s online school that her school books have shipped and will be here Tuesday. It is like Christmas! I got so excited, we have to get the school room ready! I need to reorganize and get the calendar wall ready, her daily calendar notebook ready, decide if we are going to use work boxes (which I am leaning towards so she will know what to do while I am working with Monkey, and can schedule the activities she needs me for while he is sleeping,)

All of the sudden my babies are all home. Yes, I get a little crazy when they are gone, no wonder I love homeschooling. But I respect their choice enough to let them go to brick and mortar if they choose. I feel like I have a plan and goals again, I am excited wake up and get going again. So once again I have over come another round of depression and am ready to thrive again.

Amy

Surviving Depression One Day at a Time

I had another adventure yesterday, Almost more than I can deal with sometimes. Thank goodness for family, friends and nice people in this world. If it weren’t for them I might not get out of bed some days.

So I dropped Princess off at camp, Rocket, Monkey and I were going grocery shopping afterwards. We made it almost to the store and my car died, I was able to get it started again but every time I stopped it died again. Somehow by the grace of God, I got it into the parking lot of the store. I figured it just needed some coolant since I notice the temp had shot up. We went shopping so it could cool down and put coolant. I began putting the coolant in and it ran out the bottom just as fast. UGH! I could see that it was coming from a hose (thank goodness) but couldn’t get to it. When I tried the hose split (I thought). I called a tow service but they can only transport 2 people, and we had 3 of us. Thankfully one of my sisters lived and worked right by where we were. She was able to take the kids home on her lunch for me and I waited for the tow truck, in the hot sun. A wonderful man, (who was not the tow truck driver, because he isn’t allowed to) took a quick look and the hose had just come loose and I knocked it the rest of the way out. He was able to fix it with in like 5 minutes. Yay and immensely grateful. I was able to fill it with coolant (I had no idea how much coolant the radiator took) and was on  my way.

Once I got home I was still really shaken, my head was pounding and my stomach was queasy. I figured just stress, so ate and rested but it didn’t go away. Once kids were picked up and Jeremy got home I laid down and listened to an audiobook. Today I am a little better, my head still hurts, my stomach is still upset and I feel really unemotional and sleepy. Could be stress, could be depression, could be I hit my head in the bath tub day before yesterday.

Depression is such a strange thing. Days like this, it is so hard to battle it and not give it. All I want to do is go to bed and sleep. Hide away from the world. This is one of the ways I use to reach out beyond myself, to let out my feeling, to not hide, but to feel safe at the same time. No one should feel like they are alone in this. I am grateful I have people in my life who make sure I know I am loved, who take extra care when I feel this way. They also let me know that it is ok for me to be this way, as long as I keep trying, keep battling, and when it gets harder to battle they will help me, stand with me, hold me and love me. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I can’t imagine going through this with out the support I have.

If you feel this way, or worse, please find someone to help you. If you can’t find someone, please reach out to me. You are worth it, you are loved, even when you don’t feel like it. I will be there for you.

Amy