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Welcome to the sometimes random posts of Gina Reynolds. Use the labels at right to select your area of interest. Comment and let me know what you think. Scroll down on the right to follow this blog. Please feel free to check out my website as well at http://ginareynolds.org
God Bless...Gina

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Speech and Debate 2016


<b>Hard</b> <b>work</b> doesn’t always go unnoticed
Well, here we go again.  Our first tournament for NCFCA starts tomorrow and this year it's a National Open.  Let me back up a bit for those of you new to our speech and debate journey.  Feel free to click the debate tab at right and see how this all got started years back.  

Our family participates in a competitive Speech and Debate league for homeschooled students called NCFCA.  It is an excellent part of our educational plan and I highly recommend it for EVERY homeschooled student.  As a parent, you will LOVE what it does for your students.  It certainly improves their speaking and confidence skills, but there are so many academic, emotional, character and relational ways it has benefited my kids as well.  But, back to the matter at hand...

This week the girls are HARD at work preparing for their events.

Yesterday we had students from our team over, helping them prepare for their events.  They have some great speeches that I am looking forward to seeing completely polished.

Today we have reserved for ourselves to get us ready to go.  The first one of the year is always the hardest.  We've got bags to pack, food to bring, a car that we're hoping gets fixes in time, food for the guys staying home, and that doesn't even count the event stuff.  That would be printing the scripts, filling out script submission forms, finishing art boards (why did Ariel do THAT category again!?!?) and gathering supplies (like sticky notes, pens, binders etc.)

What I will say is that they really are working hard.  I will also say that I see so much improvement this year, as I do every year,  but this year especially.  Each year they improve, but somehow as they get better and better it gets more noticeable.  Lexie especially this year seems to have found her stride.  She just seems like a natural and is really enjoying it.  Ariel continues to to hone her skill, but at this point for her it's little and subtle, but noticeable to Mom!

So, I'd like to applaud not only my girls, but all the other kids in the league who are working hard and doing the right things.  We often give praise to those who "break" (make it to out rounds) or do well, but we can't always control the outcome.  We can control how much we put into it.  Do what you know you need to do and I believe God will reward you.  God may not reward you in the way you hope or expect, but look for it, He will.

I do hope, and I know, we will have great news of accomplishments over the season.  We have no idea if our girls will do well at this tournament, but they have been preparing to do so and I do pray they will be rewarded for their efforts.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Jesus Stocking

Here's an idea to add to your Christmas tradition, and it's not too late to start THIS YEAR!  Last night at our Mom's Co-op Christmas party I shared this and remembered myself how special it is.  If you're looking for a way to focus on Jesus this year you might consider a Jesus Stocking.

Several years back my husband came up with this idea to help us keep Christ the focus of our Christmas day.  We hung an extra stocking we had and called it the Jesus Stocking.  The idea was that each member of the family would create a letter, or something written to put in it and "give" to Jesus.

The week before Christmas we remind each other, "have you put your letter in the stocking yet?"  On Christmas morning, before we open our gifts, we pull the letters out and read them.  When the kids were younger, it was often a picture they drew with a few words.  As they got older, most of the offerings were in the form of letters. Often we'll thank Jesus for things, count our blessings, and share hopes for the future year. 

Once we tried it, we liked it so much that I went out and found "nativity" fabric to make Jesus his own permanent stocking.

After Christmas I save the letter and put them in our scrapbook.  It's fun to look back over the years and see how the kids have become more thoughtful as well as reminisce on what went on that year for our family.

So have a Merry JESUS filled Christmas this year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Our Convention schedule for 2015/2016

I love connecting with so many homeschoolers at convention each Spring.  Over the years I have have made some amazing friends through our Total Language Plus booth and I'm thankful for that.  This year we will once again be attending several regional conventions.  I hope to see some of you there.

If you've never been I urge you to give it a try.  My first convention was eye opening and changed our homeschool in so many brilliant ways.  If you always go I encourage you to continue.  You know you'll be glad you did.  Sometimes the year you think, "I don't need it this year" turns out to be the year you REALLY do need it, or someone there really NEEDS YOU!  

This year I will be unveiling a new vendor workshop, "Literature to the rescue."  There are a couple others I may present at a few this year as well (possibly "Masterplan your homeschool" and "Homeschool on the Cheap".)

 I have not finalized which conventions I'll be speaking at yet, but our booth will be at the ones below.  I'm be at most of them, but there might be one or two that you'll have the privilege of seeing only my capable children manning the booth.

Please stop by and say "hi"!


Date City Sponsor
June 2-4 2016 Naperville ICHE

Date City Sponsor
April 29-30 2016 Indianapolis IAHE
May 14 2016 Fort Wayne FWAHS

Date City Sponsor
March 19 2016 Farmington Hills HSW
May 20-21 2016 Lansing INCH

Date City Sponsor
March 31-April 2 2016 Cincinnati GHSC Midwest
May 12-14 2016 Sandusky TTD

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Finished History Timelines (and instructions to make your own)

It has happened, we have FINISHED Mystery of History 4This concludes our last journey through history in our homeschool (at least till grandkids someday!)  We have traversed the complete history at least twice for each of our students.  Our goal was to "set the stage" so to speak the first time through, and create a lot of "links and critical" thinking in the second run through.  There were holes to be sure, but overall it was a successful journey.  (To see my recommendations for history curriculum keep reading...)

So here is Lexie's finished Timeline of history from our trip through MOH IV.  We did timelines with MOH1, MOH2 and MOH3 as well, so that we have now "timelined" the complete history of the world.  Our first time through we did our timelines on a big wall chart, but this second time through we did notebook timelines for each student.  These could be done with any curriculum, not just Mystery of History. 

For the notebook timelines, take card stock and cut one inch of each long edge for your pages, making them 7 1/2X11 instead of 8 1/2X11.  Now, take two more pieces of uncut card stock to become your cover and back.  For the cover and back 3 hole punch one edge.  Lay them out on a table (or floor) and use clear packing tape to secure them together.  We taped the back side only.  This way you can accordion fold your timeline and put it in a 3 ring binder or lay it out to look at it.  How many pages you need will depend on how much of history you plan to cover in one timeline.  The one shown above spans from 1700 to present (we did 50 years per single page.)
The cover (obviously well used!)

one of the pages, note the card "envelope"

For younger children putting your events on the timeline and drawing some sort of picture to help you remember what the event is may be enough.  Once our children were older we required timeline cards.  We made "envelope" pockets that we glued to each timeline page, and the index cards that went with the events on those pages are stored in the pocket for that page.

The index cards themselves have written on them the key facts about each person or event.

We used many things in our trips through time.  For the elementary years we were very "eclectic" and frugal!  The only true "curriculum" we used at times was The Light and Glory series by Peter Marshall.  We also used The Complete book of World History and The Complete book of United States History  as "spines", though I wouldn't really call them curriculum.  These each run about $20 and are secular (so there are mentioned of evolution), but I found them useful as a starting point and to know what were key events in a certain era.  From there we would expand with the library, internet, magazines and our own unit studies and projects. 

Elementary is a time to camp out on time periods that interest you and immerse yourself: eat the food, make crafts, read books.  Have fun with it, and don't worry about doing it in chronological order.  Young minds don't think that way yet.  There is plenty of time later to put the time period in perspective.  The library and internet are good friends for this time in your homeschool journey.  There is so much available we never felt the need for a "full" blown curriculum or course of study.

For the middle years we did start moving into a more organized and chronological study of time.  I recommend this starting when your oldest is 6th or 7th grade.  Being the frugal but busy Mom that I am. I did look for something of quality that had all the "extras" so I didn't have to think of them, and could be used for more than one trip through.  Though we ventured into other things, we primarily used the Mystery of History series.  Yes, they are not "cheap" ($40-60 each volume) but when I factor in that we used each of the books twice (expect book 4 as it just came out last year) for 4 students it was reasonable. They have different "assignments" for younger/middle and older which made it very "do-able" more than once.

During the middle and high school years we also used All American History (partly because MOH 4 was not yet available) and some of the Truthquest series.  We added in other biographies, unit studies, lapbooks,  magazines etc. which would be too numerous to mention in the scope of this article. (Not to mention the fact that I'm sure I can't remember them all!) 

In high school I loved to focus on the original source documents when we could.  Many of these are given as "suggestions" in the curriculum.  These would be things like Of Plymouth Plantation, The Mayflower Compact, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, even fun ones like Don Quixote.  Whatever we were studying we tried to "experience" first hand rather than let a textbook interpret for us.  Of course there are limits on this (or we'd still be trying to finish), but when you can don't overlook those often "free" resources.

So it is with great excitement, but also some sadness as we end our formal study of history.  I am pleased to report however that several of my children have really embraced certain time periods of history and made it their own passion to learn and study apart from school, which just warms any homeschool mama's heart!  My oldest son just returned from his honeymoon in Japan.  This has been a lifelong dream started with his study of the Samurai in Jr. High. 

I might also mention that though some may find our methods a bit eclectic, they have proven to be effective for at least two of my children.  Both of my boys found they had retained a lot (way more than I had hoped for) from our history studies and easily tested out with CLEP's and/or passed college American and World history courses.  My only problem was that when my son Taylor was looking for the text we used to study from I had loaned them to a friend and had to retrieve it!  So don't be too quick to sell your text, your college kids might still want to use them!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Making capsules

There are some herbal remedies that just work better in capsule form.  Bentonite Clay is one of those.  It's not an "herb", though I still consider it one of my "home remedies". 

Here's what the Bulk Herb Store has to say on the clay, "Its highest power lies in the ability to absorb toxins, impurities, heavy metals and other internal contaminants. Bentonite clay's structure assists it in attracting and soaking up poisons on its exterior wall and then slowly drawing them into the interior center of the clay where they are held in a sort of repository. To state it another way, Bentonite is swelling clay. When it becomes mixed with water it rapidly swells open like a highly porous sponge. From here the toxins are drawn into the sponge through electrical attraction and once there, they are bound."

We have mostly used it for digestive type issues.  It simply gets rid of any stuff you don't want in your digestive system.  If you think you ate something bad, have stomach cramps or diaherra etc... try bentonite clay.  My only problem with it is that you can dissolve it in water but it's kind of, well, "clay" like to drink.  I much prefer to take a capsule or two instead of a teaspoon. Typically we would take it for a day or two (2-3 times a day) till the symptoms are gone.

That's where this fabulous capsule machine comes in.   It's easy (once you follow the instructions, follow link for a complete step-by step) and you can make tons of capsules for your family for a fraction of the cost of pre-made ones.  Bulk Herb store sells the Bentonite powder for $4.50 per 1/2 pound.  I can't even begin to predict how many capsules that would make but 100's for sure.  With a quick search, the cheapest I could find was around $8 for 120 capsules and they weren't even pure clay.  It was $11 for the "pure" bentonite clay ones. 
Store the unused capsules in an airtight jar
Here's the box it comes in

Has a "squisher" part and "holder" part
Just follow the instructions with the box and give them a squeeze as you take them out
 I wish that I had a miraculous story to tell you and I SHOULD HAVE!  On our trip to Mexico 2 years ago I ate something bad, I could tell.  My stomach got worse and worse until I was up all night sicker than I have ever been.  I'm quite sure it was food poisoning.  But did I have any Bentonite clay with me, NO.  Never again, I will ALWAYS travel with a few capsules, just in case!

I store the made capsules in labeled ziplock bags
Be sure to check out all the testimonials on the Bulk Herb page, as many have had miraculous results using it as a poultice for all kinds of bites and stings too.  We prefer to just not get stung, but will have to remember that if we do.  I'm pretty good at avoiding bee's!
Almost finished Turmeric capsules, all they need is the squeeze

And once you have the little capsule maker you can use it for many herbs.  Another one I do is Tumeric root. This one also would be tough to take a teaspoon of, but as a capsule it's no problem.  I'd do 2 3X a day, but see what works for you.  It's a great anti-inflammatory.  Try it instead of ibuprofen next time!

Monday, October 5, 2015

First launch successful

You know as I reflect on our oldest child getting married this past week the word "intentional" still stands out.  Were we perfect parents?  No.  Has he always been the model child? No.  Did we do the best we could and follow the direction God gave us for him?  Yes, to the best of our limited abilities I believe we did.  Again, did we do it perfectly? No, but we were diligent, we tried to be intentional.

A couple of intentional things we chose to do that stand out in regards to his marriage.

#1 We prayed.  Early on we began praying for his marriage and his future wife.  We tried to be intentional and specific.  I believe God answered those prayers in Kathleen, his bride.

#2 We taught.  Sure, we taught him God's word but beyond that we intentionally taught the things the Bible says about being a husband and father.  We did things like Bible studies, family devotions, books-like Teknon Warrior as well as trying to surround him with other Godly men to model. We went way beyond what they teach in Sunday School.

#3 We modeled.  Our kids have always known our marriage comes first.  From the time they were little they know time Mom and Dad had together was a priority.  They saw us attend marriage weekends, go on dates, take trips together, lead Bible studies together, work together and yes, even fight.   We do not have a perfect marriage, but a real marriage that we work on and our children know it.

#4 We had relationship. We had "dates".  Family dates, one-on-one dates (though as the kids got older they no longer liked to call them that!)  and plenty of family work and play vacations.  We talked, lived, worked, played and did life together.  That takes time and I thank the Lord for homeschooling, because without it I know I would not have the relationship I do with my children.

As much as we had successes we also had failures.  We were not always as consistent as we should have been but God is gracious.  Writing this I realize there are those that may do the same but yet have very different results.  It is by God's grace.  There is no magic formula.  I want to Thank God for this outcome for Logan and Kathleen.  I believe God has worked in their lives to bring them together and am excited to see what they will become and how God will use them together!

It's not over, though our relationship will change, Logan is still my son.  We will still pray, teach, model and have relationship.  But it is very rewarding to see the fruit thus far!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Paper Lantern Centerpieces

These were easy, inexpensive, and really cute.  I used them for the rehearsal dinner centerpieces for my sons wedding.  They are honeymooning in Japan and had an oriental theme for the wedding.  These fit right into the red/black oriental theme.  Read on for how to create these pretty lanterns.

First, a confession, I both enjoy and am incredibly frustrated by Pinterest.  You find a really cute picture of something, exactly what you need, and then try to figure out how they did it.  Once you can figure out how to trail back to the original spot where this lovely creation lives, the frustration is only intensified.  There is the picture again with zero instructions or comments on how the heck they did it!  Can anyone else feel my pain?

My daughter tells me, "It's an inspiration board Mom."  Well I guess I need a little more than inspiration.  I need the detailed instructions too.
paper #lanterns as centerpieces #wedding:

So for anyone else frustrated, at least with the pretty Chinese lantern centerpieces, I'd like to help you out.  I figured it out!  And here are instructions! 

Here is the original picture I found on Pinterest.  They are just paper lanterns you can get at party stores, or online with flowers poked in the first level of metal frame.  Just use wire snips and cut the stems off the flowers leaving about 1/2 inch of stem to poke through.   I hot glued mine in just to make sure they were secure.  After that all you need is a battery operated tea light.  They seemed pretty easy, except how in the world do you get them to stay standing and not roll when bumped.  They sit if you balance them right but once you attach the flowers they are top heavy.  This had me puzzled.

Tried a number of things but finally the perfect thing dawned on me.  A large mouth canning ring.  It sits perfectly and I already own a bunch,so I didn't have to buy them!

I spent about $25 to do 10 centerpieces.  The flowers and tea lights were from the Dollar store.  I found the patterned lanterns on clearance for $2.99 a pack of 3 and the plain ones on line 10 for $6 (didn't use them all.)  The 6 and 8 inch ones work best for centerpieces.