Friday, January 30, 2015

Random 5



1. We have officially made our plans for our next trip to Florida .... squeal!!! We haven't been since last Spring and are in desperate need of a trip. I worked out our school schedule for the remainder of the year to make sure we get in the appropriate number of hours. We can take about 10 days to go to Florida at the beginning of April and complete our school year by May 1st. My friend, Jodi, and her kids aren't going to be able to make the trip with us as we had hoped, but my mom is going with us (it is her house, after all) and I am just as happy about that. The kids won't be quite as entertained as when they take friends along, cause they are stuck with just each other, but it sure makes for an amazingly relaxing week for me. I can already feel the warm sun on my face. I am so giddy I could scream!

2. When reading By the Shores of Silver Creek this week, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, we came upon the lyrics to the song "Paddle Your Own Canoe". Here are the lyrics. (It's a good word, ya'll)

I've traveled about a bit in my time
And of troubles I've seen a few
But found it better in every clime
To paddle my own canoe.

My wants are few. I care not at all
If my debts are paid when due.
I drive away strife in the ocean of life
While I paddle my own canoe.

Then love your neighbor as yourself
As the world you go traveling through
And never sit down with a tear or a frown
But paddle your own canoe!

3. I have lost 3 pounds since December 30th. I am 8 pounds away from the weight I want to be at by this summer. I am feeling great eating (mostly) clean and exercising every day. There is nothing fancy to my weight loss and healthy lifestyle plan. I just track my calories, alternate fats and carbs (not overdoing either), eat lots of protein, and exercise 5 days a week.

4. Speaking of exercise. Last night I went to let Kyndal and Collin's dog Yadi out of his kennel to go to the restroom since they had been gone most of the day and wouldn't be home until late. I put him on his chain outside and turned around to grab their mail. When I looked back up he was running across their street. When he is loose, he doesn't care to be caught. And it definitely takes two people to accomplish it. I took off running and he took me on a chase through the neighborhood, finally ending up about three blocks away. A couple of times I lost him because it was dark outside and he would bolt through someone's back yard. I really thought I was just going to have to let him go. Finally a guy came out of his house and I asked him if he would help. Two more girls later and a leftover pork chop and we finally had him surrounded. And then all of a sudden he just sat and let me come pick him up like we hadn't been running through the neighborhood for the past 30 minutes. I wanted to strangle him but was, instead, bombarded by slobbery puppy kisses. And very relieved.

5. Today we are trying something new with our schooling. Fridays always seem to get the best of us. I have a plan, but with housework and needed trips to the grocery store, etc., we typically don't get to what we have planned. I really need this day to get some things done at home. Our weekends are always so busy with the kids' sports, and on Sundays I rest darn it! Our schooling style is for me to be involved in pretty much everything they do. They don't do a lot of true independent work. So from now on our Fridays will look like this:

  • We will finish any unfinished work from Monday-Thursday of that week.
  • We will do one writing assignment from WriteShop.
  • The kids have to read a total of one hour throughout the day, with freedom to choose how to break up that time.
  • The rest of the time they will get to choose what they are learning and take care of doing it themselves without my involvement. There are some parameters:
    • No video games or devices unless they are playing an approved educational game, i.e. Stack the States, Presidents vs. Aliens, etc.
    • They MAY play one total hour of Minecraft (I think all that building is intense planning and learning, just saying.)
    • Any videos watched must be educational and approved (and they can request videos about topics of interest that I can request from the library).
    • They can color, paint, create, build Legos (not just play with sets already put together), do stop motion videos, research interesting topics, do additional reading, play board games (especially games like Yahtzee, Scrabble, Chess, etc.), play outside (they don't get outside near enough), etc.
I would like to see the kids take more control of some of their learning, and I think this will be a neat way to accomplish that. Plus it will free me up to get some much-needed things done around the house before the weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Science Experiment: Which Surface Has the Most Germs? (Ewwww....)


We have been learning about bacteria, viruses, and germs as part of our Prairie Primer lessons for By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. So we did an experiment.

We did not have any petri dishes or agar so I consulted the web and found an alternative. Our "dishes" were small, plastic drinking cups from Dollar General and our "agar" was 1 cup hot water, 2T clear gelatin, and 2T sugar all boiled and dissolved together. We poured the "agar" evenly into the cups held by an 8x8 baking dish, covered them with Press 'n Seal wrap, and put them in the refrigerator overnight to solidify the gel.

The next day we were ready to set up our experiment. We made a list of the surfaces we wanted to test for bacteria. Our choices were:

  • Brynne's mouth
  • Eli's mouth
  • Our dog Quincy's mouth
  • The kitchen counter
  • The dining room table
  • The toilet
  • The bathroom sink handle
  • The backdoor knob. 
We took a clean Q-tip and rubbed it on a surface, then gently rubbed the Q-tip all over the top of the "agar" in its labeled cup. The kids did this for each surface. Then we covered the cups back up with Press 'n Seal, put it in a black plastic bag, and put it on one of the dining room chairs that is closest to our furnace vent. (We had read that we needed dark and heat to grow the bacteria.) Then we waited.


In the meantime we made our hypotheses about which surfaces would have the most and least bacteria.
  • Eli- Most: Quincy mouth; Least: Eli mouth
  • Brynne- Most: Bathroom sink; Least: Quincy mouth
  • Mom- Most: Kitchen counter; Least: Toilet
  • Daddy chimed in on Instagram that he thought the dining room table would have the most bacteria.
We checked the progress on Day 2 and there was no change. We were going to check it on Day 4, but Brynne was sick with the flu and we didn't do any schoolwork that day. So we didn't get it checked until Day 6. When we took off the Press 'n Seal .... ewwwww!!!!



Daddy was right.

The top three bacteria-laden surfaces were:

Dining table, Kitchen counter, Toilet

The three least bacteria-laden surfaces were:

Bathroom sink, Eli's mouth, Brynne's mouth

Well, at least the children's mouths are low on bacteria! But, obviously I need to do a better job of cleaning (that's no big surprise ... especially on our dining room table. Yuck!) The doorknob and Quincy's mouth were right in the middle with a small bit of bacteria starting to grow.


What a fun and informational experiment! This is one I recommend for all ages. My kids also do Science Notebooking with their experiments, but for littles you could do it just for the gross factor. Older kids could throw in other variables, like amounts of light and levels of heat.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge


When did someone last suggest you 'chill out'? Or, when did you last tell someone (or want to tell someone) to 'chill out'? Or, when did you last tell yourself to 'chill out'?


The only person who ever really tells me to 'chill out' is Kyndal. I normally don't get too wound up to be told to, but her and my personalities are the opposite so I react more to things she is doing and she thinks I am unreasonable. I constantly tell Eli to 'chill' because he is a tad high strung. Rick also gets pretty fired up about some stuff and I tell him to 'chill', as well. I tell Dawson and Brynne to 'chill' for totally different reasons ... they love to wrestle, run, play, scare each other, etc., etc., etc., and this mama who needs quiet has to tell them to 'chill' pretty often! I don't like disorder and chaos and outbursts so needing a good 'chilling out' around me is often necessary. But it's not all about me, and kids need to be kids. For that reason I have to remind myself to 'chill out' pretty often, too.

What most recently caused your heart to melt?


My great niece Ellie grabs at my heart strings pretty often these days. She is two months old and her "talking" and smiling just gets me. I love her to pieces!


"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered." ~ G.K. Chesterton. Your thoughts? When did you last experience either an adventure or an inconvenience? How did you see it at first, as an adventure or an inconvenience? Does it feel the same in hindsight?


True. This would go right alongside "chilling out"! Most inconveniences are not nearly as big of a deal as we make them out to be. I can't think of anything recent that has happened. But last winter our central furnace went out in our 100 year old house. And our gas fireplace stopped working. Basically we had no heat. We needed to replace our unit and with the cost of the new unit and extensive ductwork, we didn't have that as an option. I didn't want the kids to freak or for Rick to feel bad that we didn't have the money to properly heat the house. So, I put on a very positive attitude and made the most of it. We ran a quartz infrared heater in our living room along with another space heater, ran space heaters in each of the bedrooms, used electric blankets on the beds, and shut off our kitchen and bedrooms from the main part of the house. We made it a daily thing for us to all pile up in the living room with layers of clothes and socks and blankets and watch movies and television series together. It was actually a really great winter for us as a family because Kyndal was living here and we spent so much time actually together in a small space. I think we drew closer together as a family last winter.

Looking back? Oh my goodness that was an inconvenience that I had no intention of repeating this winter if possible. Sure I treated it as an adventure, but not one I wanted to do again! We purchased a direct-vent furnace for $1,000 at the beginning of this winter that heats our house perfectly. We are warm and toasty. I am so glad I do not have to put on a positive face in light of those circumstances again!

A Wendy's Frosty, root beer in a frosty mug, or a frosted chocolate cupcake ... of these three, which one is your favorite 'frosty' treat?


I'm not a big ice cream eater or soda drinker. I would pick a frosted chocolate cupcake every time. Actually I prefer salted caramel, but I wouldn't turn away a chocolate one!

Would you say your life so far this year has been more like a circus or a symphony? Explain why.


This has been a very peaceful and harmonious year so far. Things actually are moving along like a symphony. Now, I know that is soon to change as we have a son graduating from high school and then starting college and a daughter getting married. Things are going to really get crazy here in a couple of months. I am trying to appreciate every moment of our symphonic winter before the circus arrives.

Since it's a 'snow day' here, what's your favorite song containing the word 'white'?


Of course "White Christmas" is my favorite. I don't care who sings it. But for something a little different, how about "White Horse" by Taylor Swift?



If you had to leave the city you currently live in, what would you find the hardest to leave behind?


Definitely my family. Other than my brother and his family, we all now live here. My mom and dad live about a five minutes walk away in one direction, Kyndal and Collin another five minutes past that. And my sister and nieces live a five minutes walk away in the other direction. We can all get together and attend each other's events and just be there for each other when needed. Even last night we all gathered for dinner at my parents'. I would also miss the simple life we have carved out for ourselves. We know from experience that life away from here is hectic and difficult. I don't ever want to give up the peace we have.

Insert your own random thought here.


I swear one of these days I'm going to beat my husband at Words with Friends. Just not today. Urgggghhh!!! It makes me so stinking mad how badly he kills me in this game!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat - To Be Alone or Not to be Alone?



Would you feel ill at ease going to a movie alone? Or to eat at a restaurant? A concert?

I'll start by saying Introverts unite! I am an introvert and introverts typically do not have a problem doing these things alone. I have never gone to a movie alone or a concert, but I would have no problem doing it. Well, the concert maybe. It's more fun to sing and act like a fool with a friend. But I have eaten in a restaurant alone (with no qualms) and like to do various other things alone, too.

A couple of things I actually prefer to do alone? Shop. Yes, I love to shop alone. That way I can shop my way which is a slow wander and not worry about holding someone else up from what they are wanting to do. And I like to go to museums alone. Again, I am a slow wanderer and one of those who likes to read each and every thing along the way. I don't like to feel rushed or feel like I am holding someone back from moving on. I also enjoy doing these activities with others. My mom, Kyndal and I have a lot of fun shopping together and I love taking the kids to museums and seeing them through their eyes. But if I really want to soak it all in personally, I would rather go alone.

This is me walking alone in New Orleans on my way back from the
National WWII Museum that I attended alone. I had lunch alone at the
museum restaurant and stopped at a cupcake shop on the way back
and had a cupcake alone. It was a great day!

Monday, January 26, 2015

How We Beat the Flu in 24 Hours with Essential Oils


** Disclaimer: I am, obviously, not a doctor nor attempting to tell you that you should not go to the doctor if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms (especially a child or the elderly). I am also not guaranteeing that any of the things you read in this post will help your family. This is just this family's experience with the flu and how we conquered it in 24 hours. Perhaps you can take something from this post to help your family, too.

On Thursday morning Macie's mom (the little girl I care for) texted me to tell me that Macie had tested positive for the flu that morning. Knowing that we had been exposed the days before, I jumped into action.

I had recently been looking for some non-medication alternatives to severe and recurring sinus headaches (because the sinus medications don't work anyway). I came across a recommendation to use Eucalyptus oil in a diffuser. I don't have a diffuser but I do have a vaporizer that I run in our main living area everyday to attempt to keep our humidity levels in the safe range. I went to the Amish bulk store and purchased Eucalyptus to add to the vaporizer. Within an hour my headache was much less and throughout the next day it was eliminated to almost nothing.

So when I learned that Macie had tested positive for the flu, I cranked up the Eucalyptus in the vaporizer. I also sprayed Lysol on every surface Macie might have touched and washed all of the blankets she had used.

On Friday morning Brynne walked out of her bedroom and I instantly knew she had the flu. She had a bad sore throat, was very congested in her chest, had a disgusting cough, had a snotty nose, had a fever, and the "flu eyes". (If you have ever had the flu or a child with the flu, you know what eyes I'm talking about.) I put her straight in the bathtub with a cup of hot green tea with honey. She even had a little accident in the tub, if you know what I mean. Girlfriend was SICK!

When she got out of the bath I already had her convalescent bed all ready for her with plans for her and I to do nothing but get her well. I moved the vaporizer next to her and made sure it had a steady concentration of Eucalyptus.


I ran to the store to get the necessities of being sick ... some Sunny D, V8 Splash, ginger ale, bananas, oranges, some sweet treats (sometimes you just need a sweet treat when you feel cruddy), and ingredients to make homemade chicken and noodles.

I had jumped on the computer before I left for the store to see what essential oils were best for the flu. I got lots of hits on Thieves by Young Living or OnGuard by doTerra and then DIY Thieves formulas. I took a picture of one of them with my phone and after the grocery store went straight to the Amish bulk store. There I purchased more Eucalyptus (liquid gold, in my opinion), Rosemary, Cinnamon, Orange, and Cloves essential oils. When I got home I mixed it according to the recipe and added an equal amount of olive oil as a carrier oil. Then I made a separate batch for us adults and put it into a marked, empty Eucalyptus bottle. (All total I spent $20. Much cheaper and less irritating than a doctor appointment. I also quadrupled the recipe. And I still have tons of oils left to make more when we need it.)



Our go-to meal for sickness is homemade chicken and noodles. I boiled a whole chicken (to get the best broth) in a stock pot with about four cloves of garlic and a half of a chopped onion. I alternated boiling and simmering the chicken for about 3 hours. Once the chicken was done I took it out of the pot and strained off the garlic and onions (so my kids wouldn't freak if there were "chunks" in their soup). But the broth was still so fragrant! I boiled the noodles in the broth, added some finely chopped carrots, and added pieces of chicken. It was delicious and just what the doctor ordered!


I attached a black napkin with a rubber band to the kids' version because I didn't have a dark glass jar.

I told Brynne I didn't want to use the Thieves-ish oil (that's what we are calling it) until she was really feeling bad so that we could really see if it worked. With the Eucalyptus vapor, lots of fluids, and healthy meals she really didn't feel too terribly bad most of the day ... just lots of coughing and blowing her nose. Her fever hovered between 99 and 100 most of the day, which is usually as high as her fever gets because she has a naturally low regular body temp. At about 8:00 p.m. her fever was going back up and she looked as though she didn't feel well. I used a cotton ball dipped in the Thieves-ish oil and rubbed it on the bottom of her feet and she put on socks.

By 9:30 p.m. her fever was gone! She slept with me, with the Eucalyptus filled vaporizer in the room with us, and she had a good night's sleep. She slept until almost noon the next morning and when she woke up she had NO SYMPTOMS! Her nose was clear, she was not coughing, her throat didn't hurt, she had no fever, and her stomach didn't bother her anymore.

Later in the day her nose started to clog and she had a slight cough, so we did another dose of Thieves-ish to her feet. She said, "Mommy, it really does work!"

Now, I can't say definitely that any of the essential oils worked in eliminating the flu in 24 hours. I cannot even say that Brynne had a positive case of the flu (as I did not take her to the doctor ... I am completely against going to the doctor over every little illness. I also knew the doctor would want to put her on Tamiflu which I won't let my kids take as it can cause neurological problems, as explained to me by our favorite pediatrician in Oklahoma).

What I can say is that Brynne had all of the flu symptoms. In my opinion, she had the flu. I can also say that after using the essential oils, keeping her hydrated and fed with healthy foods, and having her rest, she had nary a flu symptom just 24 hours later.

Coincidence? I just don't think so.

I have now had two positive experiences with essential oils. Because of it I decided to see what oils are best for reflux/heartburn as I have to take prescription strength Prilosec twice a day. Research recommends a drop or two of Lemon oil in a glass of water. I picked up some Lemon oil today and added it to my cup of Chamomile tea. I am going to experiment to see if it will be possible for me to go off the Prilosec at some point. Even if it doesn't work, it is delicious and I plan to continue to add it to my tea anyway.


My advice? Go buy a $15 vaporizer at Walmart. Go buy some basic essential oils. Research which ones are best for what, and give them a try.

Oh, and the Lysol I used on Friday? No more. A couple of drops of Thieves-ish can be added to a quart of water and put in a spray bottle to be used in place of Lysol.

I am so glad I finally tried essential oils! And so is my child who didn't have to suffer through days of sickness.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Haven't Done One of These in a While


I haven't done a weekly wrap-up since early December. That's because we have been on Winter Break. We stopped school the Friday before Christmas Eve and resumed this past Monday. It was some glorious time off! We weren't really excited to start back with our studies, but we had an excellent week! There were no bad attitudes and no transition days to get back into things. I attribute that to us finally having our groove and a schedule we all enjoy. It's a good mix of must-do's and get-to's. All was well until today when Brynne came down with the flu. Our schooling came to a screeching halt, but we accomplished so much that I didn't feel bad at all about us taking today off.

By the Shores of Silver Lake


We have moved on to reading By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This week had us learning that Mary has gone blind due to scarlet fever and the family has moved away from Walnut Grove and the house on Plum Creek.

We dug into a deep study of bacteria, viruses, and germs (fitting, huh, with Brynne "catching" the flu from Macie).

We read Micro Mania by Jordan D. Brown, Viruses up Close by John Shea, and Bill Nye the Science Buy's Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.

We watched Bill Nye the Science Guy: Germs and Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body.

We started a couple of fun experiments: Which Surface Has the Most Bacteria? and Can Washing Hands Decrease Bacteria (from the Bill Nye book)? We have set up both experiments and are now observing every couple of days.


We also learned about the parts of the eye by using See All You Can See.

General Studies

  • Math had us dividing four digit numbers by a one digit number. 
  • We moved along in Fix-It Grammar, feeling a little rusty from our break. 
  • Our Bible lessons have us learning about 12 year old Jesus escaping to the Temple. 
  • Eli is reading another book in the Middle School series by James Patterson and Brynne finished one of the books in the Dear Diary series and jumped right into another one. She loves this series. 
  • And, of course, we were so happy to get back to our morning meeting with Carl Azuz at CNN Student News (we are even planning a detour to Atlanta on our vacation this summer to tour the CNN Headquarters. Anyone know how to schedule a quick meet-and-greet with Carl?)
  • I wanted us to get back into our WriteShop program, and had plans each day to do a lesson. We started out Monday learning about the parts of a letter of invitation. And that's as far as we got. We ran out of time every day. I have got to figure out how to fit this into our schedule.
  • We are also trying to fit in some time to learn about the state where we live. We ran out of time most days, but the kids did draw the State of Missouri by looking at the Atlas.

Health


We had a hands-on health lesson with a trip to the dentist. Shamefully, the kids have not been to the dentist for regular cleanings since we moved to Missouri. I was very proud of them for going back to their appointments without me! While one was having an appointment the other was doing math, grammar and reading in the waiting room. Then they switched.


Eli got an all-clear, but Brynne has two cavities. They did learn a lot about their gums, proper brushing and flossing, and received some cute little tooth hour glasses to help them time their teeth brushing. They came home ready to apply all they had learned.

I might grab some books and throw in some extra lessons about good dental hygiene next week.


And that was our first week back. Pretty good, I have to say. Now here's to hoping that Brynne gets over her flu so we can resume schoolwork next week, and that none of the rest of us get it!

Have a great weekend!



Random 5




1. Well, darn, the flu has hit us. Brynne wasn't feeling good last night and woke up with fever, congestion, cough, tummy ache, and the "flu eyes" this morning. She is now in my bed sleeping with one of the pups and a vaporizer full of eucalyptus nearby. Hoping the rest of us don't get it!

2. Her only question was, "Do I not get to go to basketball practice tonight?" I said, "Oh no, honey. You're not going anywhere for a few days." She started crying. She has a game tomorrow that she is going to have to miss. That girl loves her sports.

3. Looks like this is going to be a movie weekend for us, snuggled up in the living room trying to get/stay healthy. That actually doesn't sound too bad to me, as long as we aren't feeling miserable. Our weekends are usually pretty packed, so an excuse to stay home and rest suits me fine.

4. I am going to the Amish store today to stock up on more essential oils. I am going to make my own  OnGuard or Thieves with clove, orange, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. Hopefully rubbing that on Brynne's feet will offer her some relief. Worth a try, huh?

5. On a brighter note, Kyndal has started her own salon. The environment at her other salon was not a healthy one and she decided to make long-term plans. She has opened a salon in the town where Collin and her will end up once they have children who are school-aged, the town where Collin grew up and where Kyndal graduated from high school when living with her dad. It is risky for her starting out on her own, but she has a lot of talent and confidence so I know she will be fine. Her salon is called tHAIRapy by Kyndal ... isn't that cute? I am very proud of her for taking this head on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge



American Idol is back for a 14th season. Are you watching? Have you ever watched? If you were to audition for the show (or were made to audition), what song would you sing?

I did watch the show for the first 5 or so seasons. Then when Simon Cowell left I stopped watching until the season that they brought on Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. After that, with all of the judging changes, it just got too goofy for me. Plus, I felt like the show moved from finding a great singer to all about the "show" ... lights, cameras, lot of action. The focus seemed to come off the singing and all the judges did was tell the contestants how great they were. Early on I would fantasize that I could actually sing (I assure you I cannot!), and the song I would sing at my audition was going to be "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." So when did you last have to 'eat a frog'? or two? How'd that work out? 

The only thing I can relate this to, personally, is exercise. If I don't do it first thing in the morning, I mean first thing, then it doesn't get done! That means I have to get up at least 45 minutes earlier than I want to each morning to make sure it gets done before I start my day. Always get that big yucky thing over with first thing so you can enjoy the rest of your day!

If you were going on a safari, what is the number one animal you'd want to see?

I would love to see a male lion and his den of lionesses interacting together with their cubs. Very interesting familial dynamic.

January 21st is National Granola Bar Day. I know. Do you like granola bars? Chewy or crunchy? Your favorite flavor? How about regular granola? Let's exhaust this topic in honor of the holiday, okay?

I do really like granola bars. My favorite is a chewy cranberry and dark chocolate. Yum! I also love granola either on bran cereal or in yogurt. This fall I found a yummy pumpkin spice granola at Aldi. It was amazing!

If only .......

I could live in Florida in the winter and Colorado in the summer, then I would probably be the most content woman in the world. I would still want to be here in my hometown in the fall and spring. Can you imagine such a life?

You can add one item to your bedroom. What will it be? Keep it family friendly please.

Enough space for a reading nook next to a sunny window with a pretty view (and the reading nook, the sunny window, and the pretty view).

What is the one thing you have enjoyed about winter thus far? If it's not winter in your corner of the globe, what season is it and what is something you've enjoyed about whatever season it happens to be?

It hasn't been too miserably cold. I find it ironic that last year was the warmest recorded year in history, yet we had the longest and most frigid winter in my memory. It started in early October and we had a final snow in May! This year it's been dreary and wet with no snow, but the temps haven't been too horrible.

Insert your own random thought here.

Rick and I had a great time in New Orleans last week! While he was at his class I spent my time reading, watching t.v., blogging, and sleeping. I also spent several hours at the National WWII Museum preparing for our studies next year. When Rick got out of class we did some walking and some eating. It was nice to spend some time together and to enjoy a little pampering.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

If you could learn any one skill in the world without trying (like Matrix learning style) which would you pick?

I have always wanted to be able to sew. Being able to sew my own curtains and simple clothing would be so amazing. When Brynne wanted a prairie dress I had to pay more than I want to admit, when I wish I could have just sewn it myself. It would be great to be able to make Halloween costumes with more than just hot glue and hem tape (that can be a tad limiting). It would just be really cool to be able to change out the patterns of my couch cushions by sewing some new slip covers any time I saw a fabric I liked.

Now that I say that, I don't know if I have the patience to sit and sew. Brynne and I learned how to knit, but it bored me to tears.

So if I could magically know how to do one skill, it would be sewing, so long as I was perfect at it and it didn't take all my time.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Random 5



1. Actually learning about being an introvert is freeing me from so much. Check back next week when I post about how an introvert likes to go on vacation. This trip to New Orleans opened up my eyes to so much in light of my new understandings.

2. I am reading the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed (excellent, by the way). I loved this part from the book ... (Cheryl had just been charged by a bull on the Pacific Crest Trail) "I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go. The bull, I acknowledged grimly, could be in either direction, since I hadn't seen where he'd run once I closed my eyes. I could only choose between the bull that would take me back and the bull that would take me forward. And I walked on."

3. New Orleans confirmed that I could eat fish and beans every day of my life.

4. The members of my family are addicted to crack .... Trivia Crack that is. Do you have this app? Even the little kids have it on their devices and there are constantly two or three games going on between our family members at all times. I should count it as school hours. They are learning so much!

5. The end to our glorious Christmas break is on Monday. I'm not going to lie ... I really want one more week of nothing to do and nowhere to go. But, we must get back at it. We are going to buckle down for the next 11-12 weeks straight and then I am certain we are going to have to make a week-long trip to Florida.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge



I am joining Wednesday Hodgepodge from my hotel room bed in The Big Easy while I sip Starbucks coffee and watch HGTV. Yeah, life is pretty darned good at this moment.

What's your best piece of advice for a newly married couple? I'm asking for a friend.

Set your budget and all monthly living expenses on the husband's income ONLY! That way if the wife wants to work, her income can go for savings, extras, etc. But then if she ever wants to quit work to stay home and care for her family, there is no financial adjustment to be made. This is the counsel we have given our daughter and her fiancé. And it has already worked out for them as she tries to find the right place for herself in her business as a stylist. She has the luxury of taking her time without major stresses of money because her fiance makes enough money to pay all of their living expenses.

Before we're too far into the new year I wanted to post a question Theresa submitted during the December giveaway. Teresa blogs over at Being Refined as Silver (http://beingrefinedassilver.blogspot.com), so everyone go say hi. Theresa asks, "What were you doing on December 31st, 1999?" and "Did you or your family make preparations for Y2K?"

Rick and I had just started dating a couple of months before. We joined my parents and all of their friends, my brother and sister and their significant others, a very large group of people, at a hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, for a great party. It was a lot of fun! The only prep I can remember for Y2K was setting our VCR (yes, VCR) to 1971 so that it wouldn't be confused!! LOL! Maybe we did that. I don't really remember.

According to Global Language Monitor, the most used word of 2014 isn't a word. It's the heart emoji. Huh? How can something that's not a word be the most used word, but I digress. What do you think was your most used word in 2014?

"Done". This past year I realized how "done" I was with so many things. I was "done" doing the things that took away from a simple life. I was "done" participating in many activities. I was "done" being bullied by others. I was "done" worrying about impressing others. I was "done" being lazy about healthy eating and exercise. I gave up several things and embraced others ... all leaning toward a simple, peaceful, and healthy life.

Speaking of words, it's that time again. Time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words they'd like to see banished (for over-use, mis-use, and general uselessness) in 2015. This year's top vote getters are -- bae (before anyone else), polar vortex, hack, skill set, swag, foodie, curate/curated, friend-raising, enhanced interrogation, cra-cra (as in crazy), takeaway, and -nation (a suffering sports suffix). Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?

Definitely bae! Did you know that according to Urban Dictionary it is the Danish word for 'poop'? Makes me laugh every time I hear some silly teenager talk about their bae. Funny! Another word I would do away with is along the same lines ... it's "boo". Being around teenagers I hear a lot of them calling each other their "boo". Oh, please.

January is National Hot Tea month? Are you a fan? Do you like favored teas? How do you take your tea? Have a favorite cup or teapot? How many cups of tea do you consume on a given day?

Oh YES! When I started having major heartburn and reflux issues, I stopped drinking coffee altogether and started drinking hot tea instead. I had always loved Green Tea, but it has a high acid content, as well, so I had to stop drinking it. I started drinking Chamomile religiously. Up until this point I could not stand any flavored hot beverage. But Chamomile has a slight flavor as it is an herbal. I got so used to flavor that now I love flavored teas. I am able to drink coffee in moderation now and even find myself adding flavor to my coffee! I still drink a lot of Chamomile, about 4 cups a day. (In fact, right now I am drinking a cup of Chamomile Citrus from PJ's Coffee of New Orleans.) I used to always drink out of my yellow travel cup. But now my favorite cup is the pottery cup my niece Angela made for me. It is perfect!! I love it!



Whatever happened to ____________?

Julia Roberts? She was mentioned in my book I am reading The Introvert's Way by Sophia Dembling. She doesn't do a lot of mainstream acting anymore. She is a voice over for Nationwide Insurance, have you noticed her? But she has not been doing a lot of movie acting. She is an introvert. And now that I am learning what that really means, I can see that in her. I always knew I felt a connection to her as a woman. I would love to see her in a good movie sometime soon. Looks like she might have a good one coming up ... The Secret in their Eyes. It's based on a book, but neither of my libraries has the book. I might have to buy it.

What is the one book on your must-read list this winter?

I don't really have a "one" book on my list, although I am making reading books about introverts a priority. I want to understand myself and my introvert family better.  My must-read list changes constantly. I am a voracious reader and there are so many things I want to read and not enough time. I love historical fiction! I am looking for that one author who just keeps putting out amazing historical fiction. Any suggestions?

Insert your own random thought here.

I am very grateful for Kyndal and Dawson. Because they are great young adults, very responsible and loving, I was able to accompany Rick on a trip this week to New Orleans. They are taking care of Eli and Brynne, the house, the dogs and even Macie so that her mom didn't have to find a different sitter this week. Although I could have left the kids with my mom and dad, now they are able to stay in their own home with their own stuff and are being loved on by their two favorite people. I truly am grateful and I hope they know how much I appreciate and love them.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat





Today's Tuesday Coffee Chat is a fun one ...

Last thing you took a picture of? Why did you want to capture the image? (Show your work.)


Dawson's senior prom is in a couple of months and he desperately does not want to go. It's just not his thing at all. He did not go to his junior prom even though the juniors put on the prom for the seniors and he could have gone. But since he has a sweet little girlfriend, who is on the junior prom committee, who really does want to get all dressed up and spend a magical night with her man, he has been advised (by his very wise mama) that he needs to suck it up and provide her with that magical night even though he is a major introvert who would prefer to stay home that night and watch movies and drink hot cocoa.

Now just because he has (reluctantly) agreed to attend prom, that does not mean that he has any plans to spend a gazillion dollars on a tux and such when he is totally not a tux kind of guy. I told him I thought it would be completely okay for him to do prom the "Dawson" way. We live in a small town and his individuality has been completely embraced. And, when it comes down to it, who cares what anybody else thinks anyway.

We ordered him some nice khaki colored dress pants and a classic white button down oxford (a two-for-one event shirt since he needs to wear it for Kyndal's wedding in July). He is going to wear a tie to match Taylar's dress. Then he's going to have a little fun. We bought him some awesome boat shoes with accents of turquoise. He's going to get a fun belt and some wild socks to pull it all together. So I was looking online for socks right before I opened up this post to answer this week's Tuesday Coffee Chat question. I took a couple of photos of the websites with my phone and here is the last one I took. It's not exactly what we are looking for, so we will keep looking. But he knows he wants something turquoise and pink since Taylar plans to wear a pink dress.

I've said it before, but I am so proud of Dawson for being an individual and not being afraid to just be who he is. And the great thing is that everyone at his school accepts him for who he is and will probably be jealous that he had the courage to do prom his way instead of just falling into the social norm. He has been a fun kid to raise.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Getting (Re)Fit 2015


Lots of people are working toward getting fit this new year. Lots of people usually do, including me. I tend to do really well for a couple of months, then taper off some until summer when we start to get more outside exercise walking and riding our bikes, then completely shut down in fall and early winter. I also go in spurts (always starting at the first of the year) of eating healthier. I get in a groove of doing all of those things that just make me feel better. I am in that groove right now. I don't know how long it will last but I hope it lasts for a long time because I feel great! I am only a week into my new plan, but it is working well and I haven't once been tempted to "skip a day" or cheat a little. The first week I lost almost 2 pounds of my 11 pound weight loss goal and I have felt energized and happy.

What am I doing exactly?

Well, it all starts with a good schedule. I am waking by 6:30 a.m. and getting my exercise done first thing! Since it's been too cold to get outside to run, I have been doing 25 minutes of Tae Bo. It certainly gets my heart beating and the sweat pouring.

Then I have a cup of coffee and sit down with my Bible, devotional and journal and have some quiet time. It's not all about getting physically refit.

Then I shower ... and get dressed ... and put on makeup ... and make the beds ... unload the dishwasher ... and get my daily household chore done right off the bat.

Then I am ready to tackle the bulk of my day. (Starting a week from today that will include our regular homeschooling schedule.)

I developed an eating plan that combines the philosophies of Trim Healthy Mama while tracking all of my foods, drinks, and exercises on My Fitness Pal. Basically I eat 5 small meals a day so that I never get hungry. I eat a protein at every meal. I alternate between higher carb meals and higher fat meals. And I try to eat low glycemic foods. Basically this has me eating lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats with lean proteins. The pastas and breads are almost non-existent. In fact, I just realized I haven't had a slice of bread all week, nor any kind of pasta.

Yes I count every calorie and measure my food. But My Fitness Pal makes it a cinch because I just scan the bar code of my foods and enter the serving size and it's just there. I have been eating the same meals pretty much all week. I baked a bunch of 2 oz. boneless pork sirloin chops (for breakfast), a bunch of 6 oz. chicken breasts (for dinner), and made a large pot of vegetable soup and some honey pecan chicken salad. That way I can just heat things up with my sides when I am ready to eat.

I am eating about 1450 calories per day, but burning off 260 calories per day exercising. This gets me to a net calorie intake each day below my goal of 1200. And I am full and satisfied. In fact, I have to make myself eat my two snacks a day because I am usually not hungry. But it helps to keep me from being famished at my regular meals and overeating.

So far, so good.

The thing I really like about this plan is how much healthier I am eating. My Fitness Pal allows me to track the nutritional values of all that I eat. I check on it several times throughout the day to try to stay within my goals. I am a carboholic and this plan allows me to eat 50% of my daily calories in carbs (so I'm not doing without), 30% in fats, and 20% in protein. At the end of the day I am usually a little under 50% in carbs, a little under 30% in fats, and a little over 20% in protein. This gives me an immediate slimming of my stomach, hips and thighs. And the exercise is helping me to firm up those areas.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what my meal plan looks like, shoot me a comment and I'll get back with you. I do know that every body is different, and experience has shown me that this plan that I am on happens to work for me. I don't know that it would work for you. I guess my point is to just try something. My Fitness Pal is an amazing tool. It provides me with the accountability I need and the visual resources to succeed.

Here's to you and your goals for this new year.

** This is not a formal review of My Fitness Pal and I have not be contacted by them to do a review nor received any compensation for writing positive things about them. I just love My Fitness Pal and wanted to share my experiences with it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Random Friday



1. We have been on Christmas break since December 19th, and it has been glorious! We were planning to start back to school this next Monday, but I am going to go on a trip with Rick to New Orleans next week. So, we'll start back on the 19th.

2. Speaking of New Orleans, I am super excited to get away with Rick alone for a few days. These trips are the best of both worlds for me. I get some recharging and pampered time alone in a hotel room while Rick is at his class, but he and I get to dress up a tad to go out to eat and explore. It is always so enjoyable to go on these trips and I can't wait!!

3. I started back to my healthy living routine this week. I am up extra early in the morning to do some exercise then spending some dedicated time with God doing some study and scripture memorization. I have eaten healthy all week using the philosophies of Trim Healthy Mama and entering all of my foods, drinks, and exercises on My Fitness Pal. This week I lost 1.8 pounds. It is a solid start toward the 11 pounds I would like to lose and the healthier and more toned body I want to have.

4. I spent a bunch of time yesterday and today getting a little organized on some of the little detailed items that need to be purchased for Kyndal's wedding and reception. These are all of the "little" things that I can buy when I have $20 here or $30 there that I can spend. Having a BUDGET is so important to me this year, as I have posted about previously. My budget is off to a good start and this week I was able to buy ahead some gifts for the upcoming year because of post-Christmas sales (even some Christmas gifts for next year!). It even got me thinking about how I can possibly save a little money each month for Christmas gifts this next year.

5. This weekend HBO and Showtime are free. I am going to DVR some movies for us to watch later. We still have a long winter ahead and it is nice to have some movies stored away for those cold weekends.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Planning for Next Year


When do you start planning for the next school year? I have a general long-term plan to get the kids through, at least, the next 4 years or so. I have a general outline going at all times.

But I do start to seriously plan for the next year by about January. The biggest reason why I do this is so that I can start looking for interesting and inexpensive resources to go along with our studies.

This year we have thrown ourselves into Prairie Primer by Cadron Creek. We have immersed ourselves in the times of the late 1800's and prairie living. The study has been so good for us. Although it is, primarily, a literature unit study, it also covers a lot of science topics. It also leads us down several historical rabbit holes and guides us through many character lessons.

We do math, grammar, writing and reading separately. We pretty much have the curricula that we like and just continue to move through the different levels.

After 5 years of homeschooling I have learned that the best learning environment for us is a literature unit study. These then lead us to to different eras in history to study. Science has always been a weak area for us, but Prairie Primer has provided us with as much as I think we need at this time.

I started looking for literature unit studies similar to Prairie Primer's style and learned that Cadron Creek has two other studies based on The Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables. My kids have watched the first Narnia movie, but we have never read the books. They are of an age that they will love it!

The problem I thought I was going to encounter, however, was that Narnia is a fictional world, not really taking place in a real time in history, so actual history lessons were going to be sparse. But if you know the backdrop of the Narnia story, when the children are not in Narnia they are living right smack dab in the middle of World War II.

And there is where I found our history focus. We can easily spread the time frame of WWII out throughout the entire year and our study of the entire Narnia series. There is so much to cover!! In fact, there is a lot! After I got over the original feeling of being overwhelmed with how to plan the history portion of the study, I really started to get excited.

When I homeschooled Dawson, we stopped learning history after the 1920's (and Eli and Brynne will do that same study in the future). I know so very little about the 1930's and 40's. I can't wait to learn all about it! I have found some great outlines of material to cover and now I am starting to plan. I will definitely have my eye out for neat resources!

** If you have any WWII resources you think we would enjoy, please pass those ideas along. Keep in mind that we mostly love to read, watch and do when it comes to activities, and I am planning for 5th/6th grade.

Here is where starting to plan early comes in very handy. Rick has a class he is taking in New Orleans next week and I am tagging along with him since it's a free vacation for the two of us. While he is in class during the day, I will have the day to myself. One of those days will be spent lounging in the hotel room, you can be sure about that. But on the other day I am going to go to the National World War II Museum that is in New Orleans. Well, didn't that work out nicely? I plan to spend the entire day there soaking in absolutely everything I can. There is a special hands-on program that I get to attend while there. In order for the teacher to teach, she has to learn, right?

So, to wrap-up, our spine will be Further Up and Further In (a literature study on the The Chronicles of Narnia). Our science will primarily come from that unit study. For history we will learn all about WWII, before, during and after. I will build those lessons myself.

For math we will continue with Math-U-See, continuing with fractions and then moving onto decimals and percents, while throwing in some Life of Fred books, as well. We will do more Fix-It Grammar from IEW, moving onto the next book after The Nose Tree. Our writing will be with Write Shop for another year. We will throw in more formal spelling, mostly because they just like to do Soaring with Spelling activities. The kids will continue to do a lot of personal reading.

And that should pretty much do it. We won't be changing much from this year, really just adding a couple of small things. The only big change is that I will not be reviewing products for the Schoolhouse Review Crew next year. I found that reviewing all of the products was interfering with the learning we really wanted to do, and it had us spread too thin. I truly appreciated the three years I served on the Crew, but it was time to move on.

We have hit a groove that works well for us.

I love homeschooling.