Thursday, October 27, 2011

Candy School Day 1

In this time of year, when candy abounds, what could be better than finding a way to incorporate it into your school work?  Today, after we finished some of our "regular" school, I busted out the candy.  We copied a stanza of the poem "If Peas Could Taste Like Candy" by Crystal Bowman for our copywork, and then we did experiments with our candy.  Did you know that the white S on Skittles and the white m on M&M's do not dissolve in hot water?  If they remain together, they float to the top!
Notice the "m" floating at the surface of the water.  There are two of them.
We also separated out the colors from the M&M's and Skittles.   Here are our strips from our Chromatography experiment.  Notice that the purple Skittle on the far right and the brown M&M on the far left show more colors than just one.  We also did some math with candy, like count Reese's PB cups by twos (because there are two in a package) and multiplication because 4 small tootsie rolls equal a big one, so how many is __?  I have more experiments and literature up my sleeves.  We'll see how many days of candy 
 school we end up having!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aspiring Novelist

I haven't figured out how to add Linkies to my blog, so here is my button!  Have you ever dreamed of writing a book, but can't find the time?  NaNoWriMo is the perfect solution....50,000 words in 30 days!   NaNoWriMo starts soon!  Preparations have already begun at our house.  We're getting excited!  The kids are participating too.  Their program is called the Young Writers Program.  The goal is to write a novel in a month.  The kids get to choose the number of their words (well, their teacher does, *cough, cough) and if they accomplish their word goals, they get a copy of their book, all published!  Additional copies can be purchased.  If you are participating in this, let me know.  We'll find each other on the forums to encourage each other!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Borrowed Ideas from the Blogosphere: Part 1

I find that when I wander into the blogosphere, I have to remain very conscious of my time.  It is SO easy to follow one blog to another blog to another blog.  Some days, I follow this strange rabbit trail, and I find all I've really done is waste time, but other times I find a tremendous jewel, and I'm glad I wandered.  It's almost like mining.  ;)

So, here is part 1 of the jewels that I recently discovered and plan to incorporate into my school year this year.  I will do my best to give credit where it is due, which isn't always easy in out in the blogosphere.  If you see that I made a mistake, please comment on this post and I will correct it to the best of my ability.  I do not want to claim credit for other people's idea's nor do I wish to give credit to the wrong blogger.

The first idea is a morning board.  My dear friend had done something similar, on a small scale on her partial wall in her kitchen where she teaches her children.  I too have a partial wall in my kitchen, but it's bigger and my stuff looked so small on it (except the paper Christmas tree, but we won't go there!), I couldn't make it fit what I saw in my head.  Then, I came across this post on a blog.  Her calendar and printables led me to this post.  These things got my gears turning!  This weekend, I made my own morning board. I bought a display board from Hobby Lobby...purple, of course, because that is my favorite color. 

In the upper left is a "Days in School" chart from Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations.  The coolest thing about this chart is that it is color coded to match the place values for Math-U-See!  I laminated her chart and added the color coded pockets.  I printed those from Homeschool Share, the small ones on colored paper, available here.  They print 2 to a page, so that was perfect.  One for the words and one for the numbers for each place value.

Under the "Days in School" chart is the "Make the Date" chart from Carisa at 1+1+1=1.  I printed it twice to have the box on colored paper.  This uses coins to make the date.  Today is the 11th, so there is a dime and a penny to make 11.  This is a fun way to teach the kids the values of each coin.  The pocket beside it holds the extra coins.

Under that is the temperature chart from Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations.  Again, I printed it twice.  I cut out the white thermometer and glued it to the colored paper so it would show up better.  Beside that is a ring of prayer cards from the International Mission Board.  We use these cards during our morning prayer time.  You can find them here.

Front and Center are the Months of the Year and Days of the Week Charts from Carisa at 1+1+1=1.  Days of the week and months of the year are things that Smiley has not gotten the hang of yet, and Little Man has not yet mastered them.
I found this calendar in the dollar bins at Target.  The month was $1.00 and the dates were $1.00.  They also had the month titles for a dollar and the "Today is..., Yesterday was..., Tomorrow will be..." charts, but I don't really need those and the ones from Carisa at 1+1+1=1.

This weather and season chart is from Carisa at 1+1+1=1.  Again this is something that Little Man and Smiley are mastering...knowing each season and what order they come in.  Next to these are two pockets of the extra dates for the calendar.

This is blank still, but in geography, we will study one country a month.  The top chart will have a small print out of the country we are studying and next to it will go the continent it is on.  I will probably just google the country image, but the continent printable will probably be the continents from Continent Hop available at Spell Outloud.  Under is the poster for our Artist and Composer of the semester.  We have always had great intentions regarding (and spent a decent amount of money purchasing supplies to teach) the fine arts.  If it is on the morning board, there is added accountability.  We will probably study Beethoven and Mary Cassatt this semester.
In the bottom right hand corner is another date chart from Carisa at 1+1+1=1.  I just used the bottom half of that printable since the top was similar to the days in school chart.  Under that is a skip counting flip chart from Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations.  I printed these two to a page, laminated, hole punched and put them on a ring.  We will go through one each day.  It goes all the way up to the 12's.  Skip counting helps them memorize multiplication facts.

Stay tuned...tomorrow I'll post another gem I found and have already incorporated from Jolanthe's blog at Homeschool Creations!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Catch Up Day!

I went on vacation last week.  It is rare that the Bru Crew goes on vacation other than to visit family somewhere, and this was no exception.  This vacation was a little bit different though because we went for Vacation Bible School.  I know, I know, the word vacation in there doesn't mean you have to go while you're on vacation, but the church of my youth is so special to me, and in years past (last year being the exception) my own church hasn't done VBS.  This year, with our building destroyed by the tornado, we're still figuring out what we're doing.  So, I went on vacation for Vacation Bible School.  Wait, it get's better...the theme was the beach, and I was at the beach!  How much more literal can you get?  It was a good week of VBS, but my time there was crazy busy, with my afternoons and weekends filled with shopping, swimming, the beach, a trip to Urgent Care for X-rays (Nothing was broken, praise God!), cooking, and lots of eating out.  It was non-stop.  The whole drive home on Monday, I planned this week-what I needed to do when, ha, ha, ha!  The plans of man are not the plans of God.  I was planning another non-stop week with a funeral, swimming lessons (cancelled), school preparation, cleaning, laundry, etc.  Tuesday morning, I was quite sick.  Some of my symptoms started Saturday, but Tuesday, I felt like I'd been run over by a truck and left for dead.  My tonsils hurt, my ear hurt, my head throbbed, I was dizzy, it hurt to breathe, and I couldn't keep food down.  So much for my plans.  I spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday sitting around (because it hurt worse to breathe when I lay) watching TV because my head hurt too badly to read.  By Thursday, I decided I needed to go to the doctor.  I was diagnosed with a viral URI and prescribed medication to treat my worse symptoms.  I still spent the day sitting around, but by late afternoon/evening I felt decent enough to unload and reload the dishwasher and cook dinner, even if I didn't feel well enough to eat it.  Sadly, even though I never ran a fever, I was contagious.  One of the kids got all my symptoms plus a fever, another was queasy and it hurt to breathe and ran a fever, a third had painful breathing and that was it, and the fourth threw up and that was it.  Thankfully, Bru Crew Dad didn't catch it since he's leaving the country on a business trip on Sunday.  Also, thankfully, today I feel almost human again.  It doesn't hurt to breathe!  My head hurts, but doesn't throb, and I successfully ate breakfast!  Looks like I'll be doing laundry today, and trying to play some catch up from what I wanted to get done this week.  Definitely not everything, I'll relapse for sure if I try to do a week's worth of work in one day, but at least enough laundry that Bru Crew Dad can pack for his trip.

Except for the funeral which I had to miss, all the work will wait.  I would really have liked to go to this funeral to be there for this sweet family who lost their son tragically, but I was too sick, and it sounds like there was not enough room for those who attended anyway.  Amazingly enough, despite my throbbing head and inability to read and comprehend words on the page the last couple of days, I could still read and comprehend my Bible.  I kept up with my devotions this week, and God gave me complete peace about resting and taking it easy and about my plans being rejected.  The kids were too sick to make much mess either, so we mostly all sat around watching movies or whatever, and the rest didn't matter.  It amazes me how God can make Himself known and glorified even in our illnesses.  What a mighty God we serve!  Now, I'm off to tackle a portion of that mountain of laundry waiting for me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lazy Days of Summer

Ms. Quality Time...the brains behind the whole thing.

Little Man and Tenderheart in the "bunk bed".
 As a kid, summer was far and away my favorite time of school, staying up later, sleeping in, playing outside, Kool-aid and popsicles every day!  We do not live in a neighborhood like mine was growing up.  There are not kids on our street for my children to ride bikes with or go to the creek with (nor is there a creek to go to) or play kick ball with.  My children have each other, and that's it.  That doesn't stop there fun though.  They are staying up later (too much later for me!), sleeping later (I love waking up at 9:00!), playing outside, coming in only when it thunders or they need Kool-aid or popsicles.  I limit their sugary things most of the time, but I figure they're burning it all off outside in the summertime.  This past weekend, the kids decided they wanted to build a teepee.  It didn't work well, so they recruited Daddy for help.  It didn't make it to Monday.  They had taken scrap fabric outside to cover it on Monday after breakfast, only to discover that it had fallen since Saturday.  BruCrewDad and I had given them permission to take fabric out and cover it.  BruCrewDad said, "Take it and be creative!"  They decided to take his advice and make do.  Here's what they came up with. 
Smiley in the "swing".

Monday, June 13, 2011

God Still Owns Tomorrow

Procrastination and perfectionism go hand in hand.  They are the two sides of a dual-edged sword which frequently attacks me.  The perfectionist in me wants everything, and I mean everything to be just so, and since it rarely can be, because, let's be honest, I can only do a handful of things really well, I just put off doing what I can't do to my perfectionistic satisfaction.  What a miserable way to live!  My closest friends would be the first to tell you that I have a HUGE tendency to do things big or not at all.  They are helping me find middle ground. 

My perfectionism also causes me to plan, tremendously plan (not like my mom plans, much to her dismay).   As a homeschool mom, school has to be planned, but I started planning the 2011-2012 school year in March of 2011.  We weren't even done with the 2010-2011 school year yet!  I wasn't planning it "officially" on paper, but my gears were turning way back in March.  I tried to stop them, but it didn't work well for me.  Some days, I was so busy planning things in my head, and sometimes on paper when it got to be too much for my head to contain, that I missed a large portion of the day I was in...planning almost 6 months in advance!  I know the old saying, "Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift; that's why it's called the present."  It's easy to say.  It even sounds cutesy, but it's so common that it means nothing to me.  I recently read it worded differently however, and this time, it made me think.

I am slowly reading Let Me Be Woman by Elisabeth Elliot.  It is a collection of letters she wrote to her daughter.  So far, all of the ones I've read have been while her daughter was engaged.  They may all be that way, I'm not sure because I haven't finished it yet.  (I'm reading several books right now, as usual.)  One of the things that she shares with her daughter is that today is all we are responsible for, God still owns tomorrow.  Now, that sounds similar to the above saying, but at the same time, it is profoundly different. The above statement is all about you, your choices, and your responsibility to yourself.  Her statement is about God and our responsibility to Him.  If I'm thinking about today as a gift, I'm thinking about myself.  When I receive a gift, I can do whatever I want with it.  The giver has no say in how the gift is used, or even if it's returned.  (Come on, I know you've done it too!  We've all received gifts we didn't want or need.)  However, if I'm thinking about God owning my tomorrow and I'm borrowing today from Him, the way I treat borrowed things is different.  I am more careful with other people's things than I am my own.

Also, she's not really talking about worrying about tomorrow.  Jesus told us not to, and we shouldn't.  That's easy for me to say, because worry isn't my struggle.  What Elisabeth Elliot is talking about is living.  Is planning a sin?  No, I don't believe it is in and of itself, but what if your planning tomorrow keeps you from living today?  What if you put something off, saying, "Oh, I'll just do it tomorrow."  That's okay sometimes, but what if it's a habit? it's getting interesting.  God still owns tomorrow.  What if He chooses not to give it to us?  Did we live today, or are we planning to live tomorrow?  Were we responsible with today?  Did we do what we should have?  We truly are living on borrowed time.  Are we acting like it?

Please don't think that I have arrived at this yet.  God is just beginning to plant the seeds of this truth in my heart, but I think it's important.  Will you travel this road with me?  Can we live together on our borrowed time being responsible with what doesn't truly belong to us?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Southern Storms

Many of you have heard about and seen some of the devastation from the storms in the last couple of days.  With teary eyes, I must share my own story. 

 The morning of Wednesday, April 27 began like most stormy evenings and early mornings.  The thunder woke me up first.  I was not a bit surprised that it woke up one of the children, who crawled into bed with me.  Ms. Quality Time whispered off and on, and I told her to try to go back to sleep.  Within five minutes, the tornado siren went off, so we went to our safe place.  The rule in our house is to let sleeping dogs lie.  Unless the storm or siren wakes a child up, we leave them in their beds, sleeping peacefully through it.  The siren lasted only about a minute, and Ms. Quality Time and I headed back to my bed.  Within five more minutes the thunder woke Little Man up.  A real surprise!  This is the same child that once slept through lightning striking and breaking the tree right outside of his window.  (That one even woke up Bru Crew Dad, who can sleep through most anything!)  Bru Crew Dad was on a business trip, so there was plenty of room in my bed for the two awake children in the wee hours of the morning.  We weren't very sure of the time because the power was out.  I remember checking my cell phone as some point in this, and it was around 5:30.  I do know it was still dark outside.  The siren went off yet again, and the three of us went to our safe place.  Again, the siren lasted only a minute or two, and we drowsily went back to my bed.  Within ten more minutes, the siren went off a third time.  By this time, Ms. Quality Time was getting very concerned about her sisters.  I must admit, I was surprised they weren't awakened by the thunder.  The three of us stayed in our safe place while I prayed for wisdom.  My husband was the one who made the rule about not waking them up, and I feel that it is important for both his authority and the example I set for my daughters to be a submissive wife, not only when he's around, but also when he isn't, to keep his rules.  When the siren continued to wail past the two minute mark, and I began to hear what I have heard that tornadoes sound like (a freight train), I decided that even my husband would have agreed if he were there that it was time to wake up Tenderheart and Smiley.  The five of us crammed into our safe place, and even our cats, sensing the danger, came and huddled with us.  I am not sure I have ever crammed so much prayer into just a few minutes.  God spared us, and we were so grateful.  The house behind us and the one across the street both had huge trees fall over.

We were still without power, so we headed to town to McDonald's because we were hungry, I needed coffee, and I wanted WiFi to check my facebook and see how my friends managed.  I also wanted to keep a watch on the weather.  I pulled up the local storm radar and watched from McDonald's.  We had carried our school books with us because homeschooling is portable.  :o)  Later, I heard that because the trees had knocked down the power lines on the highway, that the southbound lanes were closed except to emergency personnel, so I was stuck in town.  We stayed at McDonald's until the next line of storms looked close, then I went to the grocery store, bought a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, some trail mix, Gatorade and juice, then I headed to my church, where there is a basement.  That line of storms missed us.  We ate lunch at church, in one of the basement rooms, continued to work on school, and then I let them play.  While I was taking of the kids to the bathroom, Tenderheart was rocking in a preschool sized rocking chair.  It happened to be half of the hard floor and half on the cushions placed in the preschool room to protect the munchkins when they fall.  This made the chair unsteady.  It tipped back, and she hit her head so hard on the cinder block wall that I heard it down the hall.  She calmed quickly, and I didn't feel a knot or anything, so I just kept an eye on her.  Within an hour, she threw up, was dizzy and having a hard time staying awake.  Knowing that these are signs of a concussion, I knew she needed to stay awake.  I debated the best route to take.  I prayed for wisdom.  She wanted to go home, and I'd been told the highway was open now, but I thought the church was safer than home, so we stayed a while longer.  When I couldn't keep her awake at church any longer, I decided it would be easier at home.  I helped her up the stairs and into the van.  Not long after, our pastor's family came to the church because they felt it was safer than their house as well.  We were sorry to have missed the opportunity to fellowship with them, but I felt that being home was the best choice for our family at that time.  Tenderheart seemed much better now.  No longer dizzy and staying awake was much easier for her.  In addition, power had been restored at our house, so we were able to get online and watch the approaching storms.  I had facebook on one tab to keep up with my local friends, and the live stream from the local meteorologist on another tab.  Suddenly, we saw on the live stream that a tornado was forming and heading straight for our town.  Not long after, the siren went off, so we carried my laptop to the safe place and prayed for our town and our friends.  We heard their was a second tornado spinning off and heading toward our part of town, and then we lost power.  Thankfully, we were again not hit directly at our house.  Without power, it was difficult to check on people, but we had hit or miss cell phone service.  I texted my mom, and my father-in-law called to check on us as well, and inform us about other family in the state.  Both sets of our parents were concerned about Bru Crew Dad and his safe arrival at home since our airport had also been hit.  His flight was delayed, but he made it home around midnight.  We were still without power.  He informed me that the loss of power was widespread.  It was odd for none of the store signs to be lit, no street lights or traffic lights, etc.

After having PB&J again for breakfast, Bru Crew Dad called the office and discovered they would be closed down for a couple of days.  We called my sister who lives about four hours away, and invited ourselves for a long weekend.  We felt that since we had a place to go and enough gas to get there, we should leave the few supplies that could be purchased in town to those who couldn't go anywhere.  Early Thursday morning, I had received a text with a picture of our church gym, so I knew it was damaged, but my friend didn't know the status of the other buildings.  We packed up our stuff for the weekend, but stopped by the church on the way out of town.  We couldn't even get down the street it was on because of the debris on the highway.  We parked a couple of blocks away and walked to the church.  We had to step over down power lines and crawl under an oak tree that was at least 100 yrs old to get there.  As I arose from under the tree, I got a glimpse of the church, or what was left of it.  I couldn't move.  I stood there, tears in my eyes, looking at what was left, and knowing that we had almost been in that building when it happened.  I know that buildings are just things and they are replaceable, but I love my church and the memories we have there.  It felt like a death to see the destruction.  I pulled myself together quickly for the children's sake.  When we got there, our pastor was there, and looked as distraught as I felt for a moment, but he pulled himself together quickly as well.  His son waved at me from the baptistry, which we could see from the outside of the church.  The pastor's family and the church secretary came by while we were there and told us we left too early and missed all the excitement.  I quickly informed them that this was excitement I was glad to have missed.  Upon seeing their vehicles, it struck me that we would have lost our van if we'd been there too.  We would have been rather stranded, with Bru Crew Dad still out of town and no mode of transportation.  I'm sure the pastor and his family would have let us crash in their living room, but it would have taken multiple LONG trips to get us all home in Bru Crew Dad's pick-up truck.  Several of our friends came by that Thursday afternoon and were as distraught as we were at seeing the church as it was, as well as the rest of the destruction in town.  We love this community, and to lose restaurants that have been in town for almost 100 yrs, and these HUGE trees, to see the destruction everywhere, it's devastating! 

As I continue to process this emotionally, I am grateful for the safety of my family and friends.  I frequently find myself teary-eyed, but I found myself reminded of Corrie Ten Boom.  If you don't know her story, I highly suggest reading The Hiding Place.  Corrie Ten Boom grew up in Holland.  She and her sister were both in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.  Growing up, they were taught to thank God for everything.  The bunkhouse they were in at the concentration camp was filled with fleas that bit the Ten Boom girls when they slept and they found themselves itching frequently.  Corrie complained about the fleas, and her sister reminded her to thank God for all things.  Corrie wasn't sure she could thank God for fleas, but decided to try.  Later, she discovered that the only reason their cabin wasn't checked regularly, and the small Bible they had smuggled in wasn't confiscated was because of the fleas.  The guards didn't want them, so they avoided the bunkhouse.  I never would have thought that I would thank God for a mild concussion (Tenderheart is fine, by the way), but it was because of that concussion that we left the church when we did, and we were safe at home when tornadoes struck both north and south of us on Wednesday evening.  I am grateful to our pastor, who saw the possible danger and had cancelled Wednesday night services ahead of time, and I'm grateful to God for His protection.  I'm also grateful at the way we've seen the community rally together through this terrible time.  CVS is giving away water and diapers to those in need, neighbors are helping neighbors, those with gas stoves and hot water heaters are inviting friends over whose facilities are all electric.  We might remain without power for an extended period of time, since our power plants were hit, and we will have to borrow another church's facilities that wasn't hit and change our meeting time for an extended period of time while we rebuild, but I feel confident that not only will our community survive and pull through this, we'll be stronger for it!  Please pray for us and all the communities that are regrouping, rebuilding through this time.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pancakes and Traditions

I love traditions!  They create such a sense of belonging and unity within a family!  When a couple gets married, they are each bringing family traditions into their marriage.  Some traditions from each family will be kept and others end up being dropped, as the new family creates it own traditions.  My sweet mother got up every Sunday morning and made waffles, or occasionally pancakes, from scratch.  She still does that when I go home to visit and happen to be there on a Sunday, even though making enough for The Bru Crew is quite a chore!  Bru Crew Dad's family, instead, came home and made pancakes after church on Sundays.  Since we can barely get ourselves out the door on time for Sunday School on Sunday mornings, and every other Sunday, I have to be there more than an hour before Sunday School for Ensemble rehearsal, making a big breakfast each Sunday morning is not very practical for us, plus, for it to really be the tradition I grew up with, it would need to be waffles, and while I love to EAT waffles, I can't stand to make them!  At home, we eat the frozen ones when we eat them...that's how much I dislike making them!  Because the pancakes for lunch after church was important to my husband, that is a tradition we chose to continue.  I, however, get tired of making the same pancakes every Sunday.  (It doesn't make a lot of sense really, because I eat peanut butter toast for breakfast every single day without getting tired of it, but it is what it is.)  Anyway, I am on the constant search for "new" pancake recipes to try!  Blueberry, strawberry, double berry (both blueberries and strawberries together), banana nut, pumpkin, "pink" pancakes (which has ricotta, pureed beets and cinnamon), apple cinnamon, gingerbread, and chocolate chip have all made an appearance at my house.  Some more than others...chocolate chip and blueberry being the most common.  Recently, I didn't have ingredients to do anything exciting, but I replaced half of the milk in the batter with OJ and added chocolate chips.  Orange and chocolate are a GREAT mix, but I wasn't sure how it would taste in a pancake.  I am so grateful for my husband's patience as I try new pancake recipes!  Knowing the tradition, my mom recently emailed me a recipe for cinnamon roll pancakes that she had come across.  It took me a little while to work up the courage to try them, but today was the day.  They were delicious!!!  They were much more complicated than most of my pancakes to make, so they will not be in our regular rotation, but it was an enjoyable break from our norm. Rather than syrup, these pancakes a a cream cheese glaze (aka-Frosting) that made them taste more like cinnamon rolls.  Little man is my picky eater, and he was not thrilled with this newest development. (Cream Cheese is on his "Do Not Eat" list.)  His one pancake took over an hour for him to finish.  The girls, however, loved them!  I found they were so rich that we didn't eat as many as we usually do, so there are LOTS of leftovers!  Notice the serving plate on the table.  It looks like breakfast one day next week!

If you have a great pancake recipe, please share it with me!  I'd also love to hear some of your traditions!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Bru Crew's First 5K

The Bru Crew ran their first 5K today.  Smiley is not big on running, so she and I just walked and jogged.  Tenderheart decided that Little Man, Ms. Quality Time and Bru Crew Dad were running too quickly for her, so she joined us. Bru Crew Dad is the runner in our family (and would have won this race if he'd been running his pace), but he set a reasonable pace for his runners.  Ms. Quality Time sprinted the last leg and finished 3rd place for the 15 and under females.  She finished in 40:46.  Little Man got a bad cramp right at the end and almost had a come apart, but he made it.  His time was 41:10.  Tenderheart wanted to run more than Smiley, but her obedient spirit kept her with us.  I let her run ahead on the last leg, and she finished in 49:58.  Smiley and I finished at 50:23.  She did not enjoy the race as much as the other three, but I was proud of her perseverance.  I was proud of all of them!  Smiley, in her characteristic ability to keep us laughing, commented once that she was chasing her shadow.  I asked her why she couldn't catch it.  She thought about it, and then said, "I don't know."  Later, she noticed the ponytail on her shadow was swinging as she jogged.  She said, "Mom, when my feet hit the ground, they make music, and that's why my hair is dancing!"  What a funny girl!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Suffering with the common cold is a fact of life....or is it?

My journey into the world of herbs and natural remedies has been slow and gradual.  My parents introduced me to herbs in high school.  As an adult, I took very few until a couple of years ago.  We treated teething ailments with a homeopathic remedy, that DH says he wouldn't have bought if he'd known it was homeopathic, but it worked so much better than traditional pain relievers that by the time we discovered it was homeopathic, we were sold on it anyway.

A couple of years ago, as one of my children suffered through yet another cold, my dear friend suggested sambucus (elderberry).  I found some at GNC and used it, and it did seem to relieve some of the symptoms.  My friend told me about the website that she uses to buy hers, and it was only a few dollars more for a bottle twice the size.  Even with shipping, the bottle was cheaper than buying 2 bottles locally.  As some medical issues arose in my own life, this same friend purchased herbs for me to help relieve my symptoms.  They failed to eliminate the need for surgery, but they made me more comfortable until then.  My friend also introduced me to a combination of Fenugreek and Thyme for sinus headaches. 

I became convinced of the need for good vitamins in our lives.  Children vitamins with no artificial sweeteners (which make us sick) are harder to find than I thought, so I turned again to this site.  I discovered almost 200 children's vitamins on this site.  Some are no better than the ones the Bru Crew was taking before, but some, WOW!  I couldn't believe all the things in some of them!  I was so excited!!!!  The first ones I purchased, the kids gagged on!  So, back to look again.  The second ones were better, but not as good as the first ones, as far as ingredients go.  I decided to order something different the third time.  The kids ate the third ones, but I had to bribe them!  Then, I discovered that they had echinachea in them, and it is better not to take echinachea every day, non-stop, so we switched to something similar, but a little tastier and without echinachea.  My plan was to alternate-two weeks of one, then two weeks of the other.  That turned out to be too complicated and after the tastier ones, the kids turned their noses up at the ones with echinachea.  (I later found several hiding under the couch cushions.)  So, I turned to prayer.  I had switched through several vitamins of my own during this time, and finally found a whole foods vitamin that worked for me.  I was struggling for the kids because Ms. Quality Time thinks she is too big for a chewable, and she can swallow pills, but most pill vitamins are not for children, and she is not a teen yet to take the teen vitamins.  Tenderheart decided that she too wanted a pill, while Little Man and Smiley informed me that the only vitamins they liked were gummies!  Oh me!  I wasn't sure what to do, but James 1:5 promises wisdom to those who believe and don't doubt, so I claimed that and prayed hard.  I knew that the health of my family was important to God, and he wanted the best decision for my family as well.  Finally, I realized (with the help of the Holy Spirit) that even if the vitamins aren't the best vitamins available, my children are young enough to still be forming their habits for their adult lives.  It is important that vitamins are a pleasant experience for them so that they don't grow up taking them to please me, but in their hearts are saying, "I can't wait until I'm an adult and I don't have to take this junk anymore!"  So, I found gummies that I thought were acceptable, and some whole foods gummies to add to it, since I firmly believe that the best nutrients come from foods that God made.  I ordered some mini-pills that were whole foods for the older girls, but they were discontinued.  I found something else whole foods for Ms. Quality Time.  They are probably similar to Juice Plus pills, but cheaper and from a company that I trust (not that I don't trust Juice Plus, I'm just not that familiar with that company).  I discovered that the second kind of chewables that I purchased made a mini-pill that has some whole foods and is smaller than the pills Ms. Quality Time takes.  The company sent the wrong vitamins this last time, so we are still waiting for those for Tenderheart.  She is anxious to be done with the gummies, but aware that her older sister's pills are too big for her to swallow.  All that said, because of good vitamins, our sick time has been greatly diminished this year!

About ten days ago, give or take a couple of days, I did get sick, however.  I thought it was allergies, since our bradford pear trees were in full bloom, and I treated it as such.  However, last Tuesday night when my throat was on fire and I couldn't sleep, I began to think I was getting sick.  When I finally fell asleep and then woke up with crusty eyes, it was confirmed.  I began to drink my echinachea tea (which has many other immune boosting qualities and elderberry in it).  I felt some better.  My herb friend, who I mentioned before and I ask questions to all the time and knows much more than me, has told me several times that she takes garlic for colds and that sugar suppresses the immune system.  I didn't know about the whole sugar thing, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it.  I discovered that I was almost out of my regular sambucus, so I bought one from the local health food store that has no sugar, and includes echinachea, astralugus (another immune booster), vitamin C and Zinc, both of which are well touted for their immune boosting properties, especially against the common cold.  This particular cold also resulted in sores in my mouth, which I always take the amino acid L-Lysine to fight against.  I took an additional Vitamin C, limited my sugar dramatically (no jelly, no syrup on my pancakes, no cookies or candy, unsugared cereal, etc.) and ate only one piece of dark chocolate a day, I continued to take my Fenugreek and thyme as needed, and with my snacks, I chopped up a clove of garlic and downed it with OJ.  My DH complained about this practice, so I quit after three days, but it helped me so much that I may look into another way to take garlic next time.  The interesting thing through all of this, is that with the exception of my mouth sores and the occasional drainage, I had a cold without symptoms!  DH got a cold about the same time, and turned his nose up at my vitamins, herbs and supplements, and he coughed and sneezed until yesterday.  I say that with the utmost respect for my wonderful husband!  I am so grateful for him, and glad that he allows me to buy and take herbs even if he and I are of different opinions on the subject.  I just wanted you to see the difference in taking them and not, at least in the two of us.

On a side note, I was still unsure about the whole sugar thing, so last night I put it to the test.  We had gone to our local museum for a "Night Out with the Backyardigans".  I ate two chocolate chip cookies while I was there, and since they ran out of bottles of water, I had a small can of coke. (I think they were like 6 oz or something.  They were the size of cans of tomato juice.)  I had more symptoms last night than I've had since I started taking things to fight this cold off!  I guess sugar really isn't good for your immune system!  Also, I firmly believe that taking too many things at the same time is less effective than spreading them out, so my schedule was something like this:

7:00-vitamin and fenu-thyme with breakfast(since both recommend food)
9:00-vitamin C and Lysine (since it's supposed to be between meals)
10:00-garlic with OJ (with a snack to help control the acid in my stomach)
11:00-Echinachea tea
12:00-vitamin and fenu-thyme with lunch
2:00-vitamin C and Lysine (since it's supposed to be between meals)
3:00-garlic with OJ (with a snack to help control the acid in my stomach)
4:00-vitamin and fenu-thyme
6:00-garlic with OJ (with dinner)
8:00-Throat Comfort Tea (which also contains echinachea) and Lysine

This is not the only way, and probably not even the best way to do what I did, but I just wanted to give you all the details.  May your next cold also be symptom free!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


In the middle of the night last night, I heard a loud crash, followed by the pitter patter of kitty cat feet.  I thought nothing of it.  This is what I found, when I woke up.  They broke my pizza stone!!!!  Then, things got worse!  We had scheduled our female cat to get fixed, but when Dan's grandmother died, we canceled.  I had considered waiting and getting them both fixed together when our male cat was old enough to get fixed, but that isn't going to work.  She is in heat now, and there is only one male cat around-her brother.  As I'm heading out the door to the dentist this morning, it becomes apparent that we cannot wait to get her fixed, and they will have to be separated until then!  I was late to the dentist because I was going from the dentist to the gym, and I knew I couldn't just lock one of them in my room without a litter box, food and water for 3 hrs!  Fortunately, I didn't have any cavities (I was SURE I would after my morning!), and I had a good workout, but then I went to get the kids from the nursery only to discover that Smiley had an accident, so home, and to the shower we came.  Eventually, we will get to our school work today, but there have been lots of life lessons so far!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

If Dr. Seuss was still alive, today he would have turned 107!!!!  I have loved Dr. Seuss since I was a little girl, and I enjoy reading his books to my children.  They also enjoy reading his books themselves, so I decided to celebrate it in our homeschool today, but I didn't tell the children.  They each have a notebook in which I write the date and their assignments for each subject that day, but under today's date, it simply said, "Surprise School" with a smiley face.  I was really excited!  They were too, because I tend to want to check things off my list too badly to take the time for fun.  The Lord is working on that in me, but Dr. Seuss's birthday is just to fun to skip!  I woke them up to eat a green eggs and ham casserole that got mixed reviews.  Smiley resisted it, but eventually ate all of it.  Ms. Quality Time ate half of hers.  We adults enjoyed it a lot.  Little Man and Tenderheart ate the peppers and the ham from theirs, and left the rest.  I steamed some fresh spinach and pureed it to add to the egg mixture to make the eggs green without food coloring and to add nutrition.  After breakfast, we made a quick trip to the library to turn in books that were due before they were late.  Once we got home, Little Man read Green Eggs and Ham and the Bru Crew colored a picture from the book, just like Dr. Seuss did. 

Ms. Quality Time
Next, Tenderheart read The Cat in the Hat to us, and they completed a maze to help the cat find his hat.  This was followed by making edible hats for snack.  I melted white chocolate, dipped ritz crackers, and the Bru Crew put a marshmallow on top while the chocolate was still wet.  We then rolled out various red candies, like Starbursts and Laffy Taffies to make rings around the hat.  Their first one was as realistic as they could make it, but the second hats got a little crazy, and the colors were whatever they wanted.  Here's pictures of the hats.  We followed this up with The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and a Cat Dot-to-Dot page.

Little Man
 We read Fox in Socks, and completed a rhyming page, which was to be followed by  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, but we were unable to locate our personal copy, so we simply quoted as much of it as we could remember, which turned out to be quite a bit collectively!  This was followed by an opposites page all using fish-old fish, new fish, sad fish, glad fish, etc.  Finally, Ms. Quality Time read us Happy Birthday to You. In it, they go to Katroo, eat hotdogs on spools with mustard, which you wash off in the mustard off pools.  We had a lunch of hotdogs with mustard (and/or ketchup) and colored (gold)fish (from One Fish, Two Fish).  Then, we headed to our local indoor pool to swim.  [We did remove any ketchup or mustard ahead of time, in spite of what the book says.  ;) ]   All in all, I think our Dr. Seuss Day was a smashing success, and they are EXHAUSTED!!!  Ms. Quality Time said in a rather disappointed voice this evening, "I guess this is just a one time deal."  I told her that next year they would be expecting it, so it wouldn't be a surprise, but I thought it might be nice to make it a tradition.  I even encouraged her to be thinking of ideas to use so next year we could use some different books and different ideas.  I hope that you had a splendid Dr. Seuss' Birthday today, and if you didn't celebrate, I would encourage you to think about celebrating next year!

PS-Most of my printables came from Seussville!  Be sure to check it out!                  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A New Week!

After the crazy week we had, washing clothes and packing for a trip, driving to Indiana for a funeral, driving home in the snow while my hubby tried to find a good place that had WiFi so he could send a couple emails for work, I am looking forward to starting a new week.  I have some fun things up my sleeves this week!  Stay tuned to my blog to read about them as they happen.  (Some are surprises for the Bru Crew, so I won't post them yet.)  I usually do my school planning on Sunday afternoon for the rest of the week.  I find that in the afterglow of worship, planning my school week is more in tune with what God wants for my week.  Ultimately, that is my desire anyway.  I can plan whatever I want, but if it isn't what the Lord desires and plans, I am wasting my time!  Time is too precious to waste.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1a 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

It's Thankful Thursday. As I sit in a hotel in what my FIL calls a frozen wasteland, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for our safe arrival last night, even if we got here at 1 AM. I am thankful that the rain held off until the very end of our trip, at which point Dan was rested enough to drive again. I have a hard time seeing well enough to drive in the rain, especially at night. I am thankful to have known Dan's grandmother whose life and homegoing we celebrated today. I am thankful to have seen so much family today, even under the sad circumstances. I am thankful for the children behaving so well during the funeral mass. My children are typically very good in church anyway, but not being Catholic, I thought there might be some questions about why the priest was doing this or that. Those may come still, but I'm thankful they didn't loudly come during mass! I am thankful for a nap. For those of you that know me well, you know I'm not a good nap taker, especially if some of the children are not napping, but since we have 2 adjoining rooms, the two none nappers listened to iPods in the other room from the nappers, and I slept! Lightly enough that when they were done, I knew it, and I got up, but it was good rest.

Lastly, and most important, I'm thankful for my salvation and Savior. Acts 16:31 promises us that if we believe on the the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trying again!

I have dropped blogging as things got busy over the summer and then the new school year started, but as I've been reading the blogs of friends, I'm encouraged to continue my blog. The timing of this decision isn't excellent since we are busy enough this week with a rather unplanned trip North for a funeral, but that's okay. I have gone back through and edited the names of the children to make it a little less private.

I have to share a cute story with you, Smiley was climbing a tree in the front yard one day this week, because it has been unseasonably warm for February and we have taken advantage of it! I overheard her talking to herself, and having a pretend conversation with someone else. I could tell b/c the "other" person had a different voice. ;) She came out of the tree and proceeded to tell me the whole story. So-and-so's mom asked her, "What? Are you famous or something?" And Smiley answered, "No, I"m not famous. I'm just cool!" I was so tickled by that statement that I laughed off and on for the next hour.