No Poo – 1 Year Anniversary

(photo taken today, day 4 of weekly wash cycle)

No poo means no shampoo. I refused to post about this before, largely because  the entire world does not need to know my hygiene regime…also I wanted to see if this worked. This month marks my one year anniversary shampoo-free (mostly); and I would say it has been largely successful – but I have a few complaints.

First,  let me say very clearly that using no shampoo actually causes your hair to be LESS OILY. I know that seems hard to believe, but its true.

For those of you who know us, or have followed this blog for a while, you know that my son Jasper has a detergent allergy. He had horrible eczema as a baby – and it took us a while to figure it out. Once we did figure it out, we cut out detergents as much as we could. We stopped using regular toothpaste, soaps, dish detergent, laundry detergent and even deodorant – all which have detergents in them. I had never used shampoo on the children, and my husband has minimal hair – so really I was the only one using shampoo. So while we cut out almost every other type of detergent – I kept using shampoo. You can read about our changes HERE.

We have gradually introduced some detergents back into our home with no impact on Jasper. Largely I decided dish soap was a must – otherwise everything seemed greasy. I just couldn’t get by without it. But other than that, the rest is perfectly doable, healthier for our home, as well as the environment.

I have super thick, wavy/curly/straightish hair (depending on the day and the part of my hair you are looking at). Before I started I was having to wash my hair at least every other day, if not daily due to the amount of oil and buildup that accumulated. It was driving me crazy. My hair was much drier in my teens and only needed to be washed every 3 days – by my 30’s I was needing to wash it daily.

But last May I took the final step and cut out shampoo – the few friends and coworkers who knew I did it gave me some crazy stares for quite some time. My hair was a grease ball for 4 months. I spent the summer with it pulled back in clips and ponytails. Finally everything changed.

I spent the first 2-3 months rinsing my hair, a lot. A whole lot. Every night I was rinsing it out. I was trying to use just water to get everything balanced out.

Finally, I introduced 1-2T of baking soda mixed in a cup of warm water – this did the trick.  No more greasiness. And the apple cider vinegar works great as a conditioner. I found it works best if I mix it also in warm water and then pour it on my head. My hair finally looked better – not the silky soft, good smelling hair you get from shampoo – but it didn’t look like I hadn’t washed it anymore.

It was indeed 4 months or more before I saw drastic improvement. By 6 months I could go a week between washing my hair with baking soda if not longer. I love that this has dramatically cut down the work I have in the shower and in doing my hair each day. (time is pretty important when you work full time and you are the mom of 4 youngsters)

However, this only worked because I pretty much have always had a no-style haircut. I have always let it dry by itself, used little to no products and simply let it go as it does. This doesn’t describe a lot of women though.

I only think this worked well for me because I am not interested in sleek, stylish hair. However, because I wasn’t using shampoo, I didn’t have anything stripping my hair on a regular basis. And while it was always soft – it was also always dirty feeling to me. It doesn’t have the same silky soft feel you get with shampoos and conditioners.

And so this complaint led me to a MAJOR hiccup.

I decided to see if maybe I could just shampoo my hair once a week. IT WAS A DISASTER.

The shampoo made my hair feel great. But it made my scalp SUPER dry and itchy. I was miserable.

So of course, I tried to wash it again with shampoo thinking maybe I just didn’t get all the soap out well enough. MORE super dry and itchy scalp. It was really horrible. Day 1 was not so bad, day 2 I was itching, day 3 I was about to claw my scalp off.

So back to the baking soda. I had to readjust my hair and scalp some.

But since I was generally unhappy still – its not quite how I’d like it – I bought an all natural shea based shampoo. And well, I can’t stand the stuff.

So its back to baking soda and vinegar – this seems to work best.

While I love coconut oil for a gazillion other uses – I have only tried it once to help moisturize my hair. It made it look greasier, sordof like I had put gel in my hair while it was still damp. And then I needed to wash it again sooner.

And for anyone interested, I have had color and highlights added to my hair this spring and had no problems with the hair or method. In fact, my hairdresser said I had the healthiest hair she had ever seen – which I believe translates into no split ends, flyaways, etc.

So here is my routine for the time being:

  1. I take 1-2 T baking soda in a cup to the shower with me. During my shower I add about 1 cup of warm water, stir, and pour onto hair and scalp and scrub.
  2. 1-2 T of apple cider vinegar mixed with water – pour over hair, work through some and rinse.

And that is it! Super easy. And only once a week. Then usually about half way through the week I rinse my hair once. I continue to let my hair dry naturally.

Pros: Hair is naturally clean, no man-made chemicals, no carcinogens, hair is soft, my hair is not excessive oily anymore, and washing is only required once a week – when we went on vacation I washed my hair before we left and didn’t have to worry about it again while we were gone – that was a super plus and once less thing for me to pack.

Cons: Hair is soft but not silky, would not recommend this for people who want to straighten their hair.

I’m open to any other suggestion – as long as it doesn’t require me to brew up some concoction in my kitchen. It must be easy.

Loved the day – letters and science

Fantastic day today. Children were awesome. We did a great science experiment. But to top it off – Petra wrote me a little note all by herself – without any prodding or even knowledge of her doing it. She simply disappeared and came back with this little letter that said:

“Mome is luvd” and it also says I am the best mom in the world (but “the” intersects a misspelled “world” – so it may be hard to read).

I’m a little stoked. This is her first note to me ever.

The science experiment was also a ton of fun. We did “Soak it to me” in the Mudpies to Magnets book. The experiment shows that water passes through soil in different ways – sometimes slower or faster…and also that soil holds water. We have been studying the water cycle and ground water the last 2 days so this fit perfectly. Jasper couldn’t get enough of it. He insisted we do it twice. We tested two samples from the yard, clay, and sand. And then after we finished he spent another 20 minutes with it. It was so much fun that it distracted Thomas and he came out to see what we were doing and take some pictures of the three of us.

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Our Chore Chart

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.”

—Booker T. Washington

 

There is no doubt my children are a handful. With four children, ages 4 and under – we can be a maddening group for others that are not used to the commotion, loudness, and impulsive hands.

I’ve learned that my home has different rules than other homes. For instance, while many homes don’t allow feet and jumps and such on the furniture – Petra and Jasper who both love gymnastics are alwasy flipping on our sofa at home.  They also jump inside, do handstands, donkey kicks, burpies, and make a lot of racket – that just doesn’t go over so well in other homes.

I certainly have a rambunctious and loud crew.

Last month after coming back from the mountains it was obvious we needed to do something more to encourage good behavior with our preschoolers. Thomas and I both agreed to institute a chore chart. I probably shouldn’t call it a chore chart, its really a daily responsibility chart – including good behaviors we would expect. For example, we expect the children to wake up with happy hearts, get dressed by themselves, brush their teeth, stay on task during any schoolwork or practices, sit still during story time, use manners saying please and thank you, learn and recite memory verses, eat their vegetables for dinner, etc.

The first day I spent time drafting up a chart with responsibilities (because I couldn’t find any I exactly liked online). I pulled out some gold star stickers and we moved forward each day with rewarding the children with stars as they completed responsibilities.

The spreadsheet I drafted was completely unnecessary….but I will get to that later.

We decided that each day if a child earned 10 stars they would be rewarded with a quarter that night to go in their piggy bank. And whichever child had the most stars for the day would get to stay up 15 minutes late, as a way to encourage them to continue to strive for stars all day.  I was a little hesitant about starting a competition with them, but it has been successful so far and its also been a wonderful time for us to spend quality time with just one child. And honestly, they value this SO much more than money.

After a week or two my husband asked if I had checked out the apps on the iphone for chore charts. After a quick read through of about 4-5 different apps I decided on Chore Pad for two main reasons: 1) you can create your own list of chores and assign how many stars are associated with each chore (giving them different values), and 2) we could both use it on our iphones and then it syncs automatically so that no matter which of us gives the star – the other knows about it!

Here are two screenshots from my phone:

The results so far have been great. We gradually have added items to the list that they can earn stars for – everything from eating their food at dinner time to putting away the silverware to practicing piano. Obediance and happy hearts also wins them stars. As does helping someone else. Cleaning their room is worth 3 stars.

Currently, they have the ability to earn 33 stars a day. We also added a new rule that if they get 20 stars they automatically get to stay up 15 minutes late. Most days, this doesn’t happen. The first week or so Petra and Jasper averaged only 5-8 stars a day, but they are improving and we added some items – and now many days they are closer to 15-18 stars a day. It is still rare for them to get 20 stars a day, but with time I think they will be able to smoothly sail through a day with more and more positive behaviors. On days they tie, I may let them both stay up 5 minutes late – which they just giggle, hoot and holler over.

And in case you are wondering, we don’t take stars away for bad behavior. We decided to only focus on positive behavior. However, at the end of the day, there is always dicussion with the child that goes to bed on what they could have done to earn more stars that day. Whenever Jasper goes to be early, the next morning he is always on a rampage to earn stars fast. He’s helping, cooking and cleaning – asking for stars for the smallest deed. And in the evenings you might catch one of them running through the house trying to get some stars earned quickly. But usually we don’t have time for the last minute craziness.

I would say overall it is helping. And I love that Chore Pad offers a simple, paper free method to counting it all up. It takes some time to enter the information, and assigning stars daily is a chore for me – but for a handful of children it works. Currently its for sale in the apple app store for $1.99 and well worth it.

Learning at the Gulf Coast

We have two wonderful day trips to the Gulf Coast in the last two weeks that have been not only fun, but great learning experiences for Petra and Jasper…especially since we are all always learning. Preschoolers pick up on everything and are truly sponges learning from the world around them. We are currently studying oceans at home, and this seems like the perfect time of year as well to visit the coast – not too hot, not too cold and most importantly to me – not to crowded.

The children had fun playing in the sand and looking for seashells and sanddollars. The area we have been going to is loaded with sanddollars right now. I randomly found two doves from sandollars – which seems like such an odd find since I’m so used to NC beaches.

There were lots of interesting things happening around us, including:

Birds to watch and view –

a crab (and seaweed) to check out and examine – this one endured about 20 minutes of observation in a pail before I had them throw it back into the ocean –

We were helping the children become familiar with the rhythym of the ocean and waves. The Gulf’s waves are pretty small which make it a fantastic learning opportunity for preschoolers. Jasper started to understand how it all worked and was riding the waves in before we left for the day. When I was with him, he would venture out to around his shoulders, and waves would come and go over his head – and he just thought it was wonderful. If we were in the Atlantic Ocean I would be a lot more leary of this because of the size of the waves and visibility of the Atlantic. But the Gulf water is crystal clear, just like a pool, and so I have no opposition to his brave water swimming when I am there with him.

But we reviewed that water is a powerful force and can knock us and other things over.

I don’t know why I find these photos so funny….anyway…

there were other things to see as well, including a military helicopter that sat at sea for 1 hour for some strange reason:

other people and even fish:

after 4 hours on the shore Jasper was pooped, we headed home and the kids both took naps on the drive back.

the only thing now is that Petra thinks every Friday we are supposed to go to the beach…Friday’s are for the beach, just like Sundays are for church…according to Petra.

Geography lessons

Coming soon … our geography lessons outlined online and much more!

I’ve had some fun pulling together lessons for the children for the summer (maybe longer). I wanted to cover geography with them this summer – but I had some issues finding what exactly what I wanted – in fact I still haven’t found exactly what I wanted, but we are making do since I can’t suddenly create a ton of computer programs, apps and videos. Since they are just 3.5 and 4.5 years old I need lessons geared towards young children, introducing them to basics, with lots of hands-on activities. While they are very smart preschoolers – they are still preschoolers and enjoy activities for short periods of times. My goal is to cover: Earth, maps, globe, weather, climates, oceans, continents and some countries. As we discuss different continents and countries I want to be able to relate to them the culture, weather, biomes, animals, languages, celebrations, traditions, artists, missionaries, scientists, flags, literature, poetry, music, famous locations/buildings, etc., associated with each one. To be frank my goal is only to expose them, I have no intention of expecting them to memorize tons of facts and information. If they do – then great – if they don’t, well OK. This is largely a plan for fun activities that allows exposure to some new ideas and concepts, and vocabulary.

My plan is to intermingle most of our school activities – math, reading, history, science, literature, music, cooking, and French – with our geography theme. And the challenge is on.

Most everything I have found online is largely focused for children that can write, complete some research, and do a book report; which of course is nonsensical for my two little ones.

I have found a couple very useful websites though and I am going to list these out here.

My absolute favorite is a blog post from The Sunny Patch on a kindergarten geography program that this mom created. She is a Canadian mom on the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew (something I hope to be involved with when I have more time and the children are a little older). You can find her website HERE and her post on geography lesson plans for kindergarten HERE. She lays out 36 weeks of lessons plans on geography! And this was the inspiration and my starting point.

Along the way we will be doing many activities – some which will be specifically designed to go into a lapbook on the earth for each of the children. They don’t know it yet, but they are going to love this lapbook!

As we move through the weeks I’ll post our lessons and resources. But just as a beginning guideline to those of you who may be interested, here are some of the useful free resources I found:

Your local library – I’m pulling books weekly on topics we are discussing. I’ll include our book lists as I post the details of our lessons. It has been critical to know how to search our library database effectively to find what I need.
National Geographic printable maps HERE and videos HERE.
ABCTeach.com has printable flags to color – go HERE.
Crayola.com has free coloring pages and craft ideas – go HERE.
Enchanted Learning – has a ton of printable pages, resources for lapbooks or other uses, also has foreign language minibooks and other resources– go HERE
Discovery Planet Earth has videos online – go HERE
Education.com has online worksheets and coloring pages – go HERE
Kids Know it Network has songs related to geography – go HERE
MamaLisa.com has songs from countries all over the world – go HERE

A ton of geography links can be found HERE

A couple more great blog posts to check out:
Guest Hollow blog has an amazing resource of lapbook templates and ides – go HERE
All Boy Homeschool blog has a page showing the earth lapbooks they made – go HERE

And lastly to help prepare me for the weeks ahead I scoured our local goodwill bookstores for children’s atlas books, maps, books on the earth …. found a ton! =) That always makes me happy.

More to come on our first few weeks of studying the earth!

Gymnastics – Balance Beam Performance

Petra (4yrs) had her spring gymnastics performance today. Honestly, she is a huge goofball in gymnastics each week and thinks that acting silly during practice is the most fun ever (unfortunately). But today I thought she did an outstanding job on the balance beam. She can’t really goof off on a little beam unless she wants to fall – so it works out well I guess.

I took a couple pics at the beginning of her beam performance.

And the rest I got on video.

We asked her what she enjoyed most – she said the floor. =) I do love that we get the opportunity to watch all the big girls perform – its inspiring for the younger ones. She came home and practiced her splits.

 

Winnie the Pooh sparks learning

I found these great Winnie the Pooh cardboard alphabet tiles at Goodwill a couple weeks ago for 50 cents. Jasper has loved playing with them. He pulls them out just for fun, lines them up, and works on spelling words.

The first day we had them out I gave him about 7 tiles and then asked him to spell some “-at” words. He did fantastic. I had no idea how easy it would be for him. So I mixed it up with other words – words that we haven’t even had a reading lesson on yet – and he sounded them out and spelled them perfectly (all 3 letter, short vowel words)! I was thrilled, and to top it off he loved every minute of it.  (which is a very telling sign considering most of the time when I sit him down to read he acts like he can’t do any of it, or like its the hardest thing on this earth – I guess I figured him out, if he can spell them and then read it to me, surely he can read it when someone else has written it)

This week I pulled them out and asked him to line them up alphabetically. I figured there would be a couple missing – turns out only the letter V is missing.

It was a great find. I’m always looking out for learning toys. I did a quick search online and didn’t see them for sale…if anyone knows where to find them or what they are called I would love to add a link to this post for them. Unfortunately it looks like they are out of publication.