Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Immune boost time!

Seems like everywhere you look people are coming down with the flu, strep or colds lately.  Winter seems to be the season for it.  My own daughter has been down for about a week and thankfully she's doing better and seems to be almost through it now.  She started to give it to me, but I knew to take protective measures.
Echinacea, part of immune boost

As soon as my throat starts to feel sore, I start with my tinctures.  Can I prove that I would have gotten really sick? No, but I did start the tinctures right away and "so far" I haven't got it.  On top of that, my throat isn't sore anymore!  Now if my daughter would learn to listen to me and start taking the tinctures AS SOON as she starts to feel symptoms we'd all be better for it!

This time what I used was my sore throat tincture and immune boost tincture.  Like most of the things I use, I took 3 droppers full, 3X a day (when I remembered!)  Also, I try to continue it several days after I feel like the symptoms are gone.

If you've never made a tincture before, check out these instructions in my entry on Yarrow, and if you need to order dried herbs I would recommend Bulk Herb Store.  The time to make them is BEFORE you need them, so start now and have them on hand.

Here are my "recipes":

Immune Boost Tincture
Echinacea Flower and root

For the sore throat one, I'll warn you it has a lot of different herbs.  I was determined one year to get something to help with sore throats.  I did a lot of reading and looking at different "recipes" and combined several from herbs I had on hand.  If you don't have one or two, I'd put it to brewing anyway.  All of these are helpful for sore throats.  (I've used this one a lot, at the twinge of a sore throat I start it...especially if someone around has had strep!)

Sore Throat Tincture
Marshmallow Root
Slippery Elm
Blackberry Leaf
Red Clover
Bee Balm 

*As always, please take the advice and use at your own risk. Please check for yourself on any precautions for any particular herb. I am not advising others on what to do only sharing what has worked for me in my experience.  I am not a medical doctor and am not giving medical advise.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Impromptu for LIFE

You know, I just love a good quote.  Quotes can be great discussion starters, provide inspiration and be motivational.  What's more: they are perfect for practicing impromptu speaking.
One of my favorite quotes of all time

Why would you or your students want to practice Impromptu speaking?  Simple answer: to develop better thinking and speaking skills.  Actually, I have found it is an incredible way to develop strong thinking skills.  Developing the speaking skills is just a bonus!

Practically speaking, thinking "on our feet" is a skill we all need in life.  Have you ever been at a bridal shower and been called out by someone sweetly asking, "...would you give the blessing?"  Quick, think!  Or how about at a church prayer meeting when the pastor asks, "...would you mind sharing with the group how your Aunt Matilda is doing?"  Wow, how do I begin?  Maybe, it's in a more formal setting, like a job interview where you get a question you hadn't anticipated.  You think, how do I answer this? All the while trying to think of a way to verbally stall without rambling!

So how do you practice impromptu speaking with your students or children?  It's simple.  Find some "topics" and let them chose one to speak on (see the pdf below.)  Then give them a short time, we use two minutes to "prep" for a (hopefully) 5 minute speech.  At first it seems daunting, but the more they do it, the better they will get!

What should they do in their "prep" time?  Write a bullet point outline.  It's just like writing a regular speech or paper.  Have an intro, that hopefully catches attention.  Move on to usually 3 main points, each with some sort of illustration or story to support it and finally conclude.  This is not the time to write out complete sentences, but encourage words or short phrases that will jog their memory.

Now, put your paper down and give the speech.  What? Put the paper down?  Yes.  Here's another skill that can be developed through Impromptu speaking, visual recall.  
Folded Impromptu "slips" in the jar waiting to be drawn...

Visual recall will become very important to students, especially if they move on to college.  It's the act of "seeing" what they wrote on the paper, actually visualizing it in their head.  Writing notes also helps your brain remember it.  It's really interesting how just writing things down works, but I digress.  If you want to know more check out this article on Why We Remember What We Write.  Just the fact that your student wrote it down, even if they never look at the paper again, will help them remember their points and stories.

I must confess, I have been slacking.  I'm on my last student in our homeschool and we haven't been doing a lot of creative or fun things.  Well this morning I did some long overdue "teacher prep" and made my daughter some new impromptu practice slips.  She's going to love them, they are Dr. Seuss quotes!  One of her favorite quotes of all time is , "A persons, a person no matter how small." Dr. Seuss.   I've included a pdf download in case you want to use them too.  We might as well make the learning fun!

Now, once you're hooked on the benefits of Impromptu speaking it's time to polish and hone your skills with us in the NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association) and compete in Impromptu.  More on that next time....

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Turmeric-good for you!

Whenever I can, I love to use more natural alternatives for my health issues.  In at least one case I've had amazing success with Turmeric for inflammation.  This is an amazing herb with so much potential for medicinal use.  

Just like all the herbs I use, I like to know where it's coming from and what's going into my body.  For that reason I don't like to take "pills" promoted by a certain company or even listen to "claims" by companies who sell these "formulas".  That said, I do look for solid research and found some claims backed up by research.

In an article titled 20 Health Benefits of Turmeric over at healthdiaries.com you'll find links to University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, lots to studies in the U.S. library of Medicine, Michigan State University and more.  The benefits of Turmeric can include help for Parkinson's, Inflammation, Depression, Pain, Brain Tumor, Liver issues, skin cancer and more.  Check the article out.

My experience with Turmeric has been for inflammation. I had incredible results after having a heart cauterization.  I was about a week out, and my hand, wrist and arm started swelling up.  It wasn't going down.  I decided to give Turmeric a try and within a couple hours most, if not all of the swelling was gone.  I was amazed.

Please note-with anything you decide to take, ask your doctor and do your own research.  Herbs, just like prescriptions can affect other things your taking and have side effects.  Turmeric, for instance does have a slight blood thinning effect.  If you are on other blood thinners your Dr. may not want you to take it.  I'm not a Doctor, just sharing my experience and what has worked for me, please use your own wisdom for your health needs.
You can see it's only half full, I forgot to take a pic until I drank most of it!

Typically, I'll make my own Turmeric capsules, but when you can it's nice to incorporate some into your diet.  See my entry on capsule making here. I'm not a huge fan of the flavor, so when I heard about this Turmeric Chai Latte recipe I was skeptical.  However, I had all the ingredients so I tried it.  One word: AMAZING!  

Turmeric Chai Latte
2 cups milk (regular or Almond)
1 T. butter
1 t. Turmeric 
1 t. ground Ginger
15 whole black peppercorns
1/2 t. coconut oil 
honey for sweetness if desired (I used about 1teaspoon.)
Cinnamon to garnish
Place all ingredients except honey and cinnamon in saucepan and simmer.  The longer you simmer the stronger it will be.  Cool slightly and place in your blender.  Blend till frothy.  Pour into mugs, add honey if desired and sprinkle cinnamon on top.  ENJOY!

This recipe comes from my favorite place to buy dry herbs, the Bulk Herb Store, recipe modified slightly of course!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

First day of school post

Lex's college this year
My facebook feed has been flooded with "first day of school" pictures, as I bet yours has too.  Being the eclectic homeschoolers we are, we never really did "first" day pictures.  Somewhere in the archives I have Logan's first day of public school pictures, not once, but 3 times.  The poor kid; the year he started school they delayed the first day due to "boiler" problems, if I remember correctly.  He was so excited the first day, but by the 3rd I think he was wondering if it was really ever going to happen.

Ariel's college this year
Once we started homeschooling I think we may have taken one or two pictures, it was never really our tradition though.  I actually thought about it this year, as my youngest started her "first day of college", which is sort of her first day of "traditional" school ever.  From the car, I tried to snap a picture of her walking away to the academic building, but her sister who was driving pulled out too fast and all I got was a blur;  Oh well.

So what was our first day of school like?  We spent a lot of time in the car, and I'm not kidding when I say A LOT!  We were down two cars, so I was transporting 3 for all their work and school needs.  That kept me pretty busy.

The upside...I got to hear about some of their new classes that they are doing without me!  I always know pretty much ALL about their classes up till college.  Each of the girls had some high (and low) points of their first day (or days in Lexie's case, as Bethel started last week.)  I was glad each of them had something that seemed a least a little exciting to them.  Neither of them have been really into starting school this year.

Now our first day of "school at home" probably should be today, but really isn't.  Lex has homework to do for Bethel and we need to take Ariel out to drive in preparation for her test on Friday.  We did however have speech class at co-op this morning, so that counts, right!? (Yes, it absolutely does, and it was a fabulous first speech class by the way!)  The rest of our "at home" stuff (Algebra II, Science and Language Arts) will have to wait to start till Friday.  And really the Language Arts will probably be letting Lexie write her speech, as that's what she's excited about right now and I need to capture that till it's gone.

So remember the "flexible" thing.  Read my previous post if you don't.  If your first day or first week isn't going as planned it's okay.  Just adjust and move on.  And, take a picture if you want, but if you don't that's OKAY too!

Friday, September 2, 2016

When life derails your plans

As a homeschool Mom, summer is my time to get things accomplished!  Believe it or not, typically I do get quite a bit accomplished, but not this year.  It was the beginning of the summer and I considered all the possibilities for my summer; re-doing the guest room, finishing my office, my garden of course, working on my Little Learners curriculum, losing a few more pounds, increasing my work-outs and probably a few more things I discarded.  I narrowed my list and put it on my chalkboard.  Once I write it out I'm usually pretty good at accomplishing "most" of what I set out to do.

Then my plans slowly got derailed.  Starting June 6th my leg started giving me issues.  Turning a really long story into a short one, I ended up with knee surgery about 12 days ago.  I was looking forward to being "back to normal" about now, or within a few weeks, but it's not looking like that will happen either.  Surgery didn't fix it,and nothing can be done for at least "awhile".  This means probably months not weeks until I can do what I need to do again.

That's my story, but I'm sure most of you can relate.  Maybe it's bed red for a pregnancy, chicken pox that goes through all 4 kids ONE AT A TIME for 2 months straight, a loved one with a serious illness, an injury with long hospital stays, or something else.  These things keep us not only from doing the thing we WANT to accomplish but even make the daily things we NEED to do to live difficult.

So what to do?  

Now summer is over, school is supposed to start and HOW in the world is THAT going to happen?

Here's what I'm trying to do:

1) Let go of expectations- It was probably a month ago I had to let go of getting what I wanted to accomplish this summer.  Modify if you can.  Not being able to walk well, I can't do much, but I did manage to get curtains made for my office.  This was only one of several things I wanted to do for my office this summer, but I'm trying to be thankful for the little I could do.
Window curtain for office, turned out cute I think

This is so much easier said than done, as once again I had some expectations which had already been modified for fall that will need to be modified yet again.  

Curtains over office closet opening

2) Remaining flexible-Try not to make plans very far into the future.  Take it a day, or week at a time.  If you're not sure you you'll be able to do it, don't commit.  For instance, I was just asked to give a workshop for an up coming Women's retreat.  One of the topics I have lots of information for and it won't be much of a big deal to put together. The other topic they had asked me about would have taken me more time and energy (and involving standing to try out recipes and such) so I knew I needed to say no.   I'm doing one that I should be able to handle, but not the other. 

3) Enlist and take help-This one can be hard, but sometimes you have to ask.  We had a family meeting of sorts a few nights ago and had to really lay out for the kids that we need some help.  There are things I can do, but they all take me longer and exhaust me.  Just because you CAN do it doesn't mean you should.  Save some energy for other things and farm out the chores, errands etc. that you can.

4) Think outside the box- Sometimes there can still be a way you can accomplish something you need to do, just differently.  For example, walking through stores to shop is taxing on me right now.  Yesterday, I sent my girls in for a few items and waited in the car.  They can use my card at the self check with no problem.  My energy was conserved and we accomplished what we needed to.  It's not normally what we'd do but it works.

Maybe you can't accomplish all the school you wanted and need to let go of some electives, but your kids are helping with cooking, cleaning and meal prep.  I think they just did Home Ec this term!  Or are your olders teaching and caring for your youngers a lot?  Student teaching can be put on a transcript!  Be creative.

Remember that whatever is derailing you wasn't in your plan, but God knew.  I have no idea why I'm going through this, but God does.  The famous verse from Jeremiah 29 tells us that God has a plan and a hope for the future.  My hope is in the future.  This too shall pass.  When it does I will be so thankful. 

I am frustrated, no denial there.  But I'm getting pretty good with crutches, so I'm trying to look at it as gaining a skill!  Take joy in the little things you can still accomplish and try to have joy in the journey, frustrating as the journey sometimes is!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Winter Unit Study-Julie of the Woves TLP

Our co-op is doing Julie of the Wolves this year and I promised my friend Tammy, who is teaching, that I'd share my unit study we did long ago to go with it.  It was one of the best unit studies we did, Ariel especially enjoyed it!  Hope some of you can use it this fall or winter too!  So here's the re-post, enjoy. (This was originally posted in my original homeschoolblogger blog, then as a column for homeschool mosaics and again in my new blog.)  

Winter Unit Study

I’m digging back into our homeschool archives – way back to 2008, in fact – to a time when my kids and I did a unit study on winter. If you were to survey my children, who are now 21, 19, 16 and 15, they would probably still list this as one of their top learning adventures we have had. It made a big impact on Ariel (my now 16 year old); she still wants to have sled dogs!

As I looked it over, I realized how good it was; too good, in fact, not to share with you.
So if you’re looking for some end of winter fun, look no further. We’ll look at some great literature, artwork, sled dogs, the Iditarod and more, all with a multi-age study. Part of the study is following the Iditarod race, which starts March 7th this year. It lasts for days, even weeks; so, if you’re a few days late, no worries.

As a base for our study, we decided to do the Total Language Plus Julie of the Wolves  as a multi-age read aloud, along with a little study on the Iditarod.  The study guide for Julie of the Wolves has a lot of comprehension and critical thinking questions, even compared to some of the other Total Language Plus guides on other books.  Also, it’s short, only 5 units, so that makes it fit my purposes as well.

If you’ve “heard” about Julie of the Wolves and have concerns about “controversial content” I encourage you to check out my original blog entry where I go into this and quote the book. We had a wonderful time reading it and it was not at all controversial for us. (But please be your own judge.)

With that said, the book is wonderful.  It’s a great nature study book with lots of animals of the tundra to study and discuss.  My daughter has wanted to study the tundra and it fits nicely with that topic.
For some reason, over the last few years, I’ve seen information on the Iditarod and been drawn to a study of it, but it just hasn’t panned out (till now).  I think the race and all that goes along with that will be appealing to my boys.  With the combination of Julie and the race I think we’ll have an interesting study for all four kids!

Product DetailsMost of the time we use the Total Language Plus (TLP) guides in their entirety, but we are going to pick and choose a little with this one to make it fit our needs.  We’re using all the comprehension and thinking questions, some of the writing suggestions, and some of the vocabulary, but skipping the dictations and spelling entirely.  I love that the program is flexible so you can do what you want with it!
We’re also using some elements from the following things:
I like my children to create their own lapbook elements and pages so, with the template link and the basic notebook pages, they can print off the ones they want to create.  The sled dog lapbook was one that had been free awhile back so I had it “sitting” on my computer just waiting to be used and the notebook pages I had also gotten for free awhile back and use those regularly.  I did order the Draw Write Now specifically for this study (my kids drawings could use some help!)

So here’s our plan:

Iditarod/Alaska/Julie of the Wolves unit study (7 day study, do over 2-3 weeks, doing “days” as you want or all at once, your choice.)

Day 1

Read Julie of the Wolves aloud p. 1-36, discus comprehension and thinking questions from TLP guide.
Research Lemmings
boys (age 12 +14) – 1 page paper
girls (age 8+ 10) – lapbook element
Draw Wolves- from Draw Write Now p. 42, research wolf behavior (behavior and audio of howls, growls etc…)
Notebook page
Assign books for book reports:
  • Lexie (age 8)-Kiana’s Iditarodby Shelley Gill
  • Ariel(age 10)-Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
  • Taylor(age 12)-Black Star, Bright Dawnby Scott O’Dell
  • Logan(age 14)-Dogsongby Gary Paulsen
Do ½ hour of independent reading.

Day 2

Read Julie and discuss question in Total Language Plus guide for pages 37-70
Research Caribou 
Make lapbook element, can use reindeer from Draw Write Now to draw your own.
Make lapbook element or notebook page on Caribou.
Print out and label Alaska map with places Julie lived or is at now.
Maps –
Vocabulary words (take from TLP guide) on board, discuss and copy into notebook.
Put vocabulary on lapbook element.
Older students (my boys) – one Personally thinking question (TLP guide) from any of first two days questions.
30 minutes of reading on independent books.

Day 3

Read p 75-104 of Julie.  Discuss comprehension and thinking questions from TLP guide.
Draw and research seals. Make lapbook or notebook page.
Make a page (or lapbook element) about the state of Alaska.
Research Eskimos- Yupik and Inuit.  Boys (older students) – write a one page paper.  Girls (my younger students) do lap booklet on each.
Finish reading independent books today and tomorrow finish and make report.

Day 4

Read page 109-138 from Julie of the Wolves, discuss comprehension and thinking questions from TLP guide.
Read about Iditarod history – serum run, look at state map you made yesterday, print Iditarod map.
Make oral and written book reports or here.

Day 5

Read 139-170 from Julie of the Wolves.  Discuss reading and comprehension questions.
Research sleds – Do lapbook elements, draw sleds.
Northern lights art project.
Aurora story and facts.
Make Aurora fact cards for lapbook or notebook page.
Start researching dog – types of dogs used.  Make lapbook element or notebook page.

Day 6

Start read aloud Woodsong.
Choose mushers.
Research musher commands. Put on a Vocabulary flap for lapbook.
Make excel spreadsheet to follow chosen mushers. (Logan, older students)

Day 7

Finish Woodsong.
Start race journal.  Take on persona of musher or fictitious story of yourself running the race and journal each day.  Do several days.  Day 1 – At the start, etc…
Research food and medical for dogs.
Continue to follow race, chart the progress in excel, and journal as interest warrants…..
The official Iditarod has lots of information on the history of the race, mushers, dogs etc…
So there’s our plan. Feel free to modify and do what you want with it, but have fun!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What we're using this year

Cannot believe this will be the shortest "what we're using this year" entry I think I've ever written.  Each year I have traditionally done a blog on the curriculum we'll be using over the year.  Usually, as the year goes, you can expect to see some entries highlighting how those choices are going.  With only one child left in our homeschool, it's a shorter list this year!

Now Lexie is "kind of" a Junior/Senior this year.  She had started school when she was 4, because well, we homeschool, and we can.  With all of her siblings doing school, it was just easier and she was anxious and ready.  Over the years, it made Ariel and Lexie only one grade apart so we were able to most things "together".  Because of this, Lexie is really about done with her high school requirements.  Though she is almost "done" we have decided to not graduate her this year.

Why?  Well, simply, we don't want to penalize her or our family for finishing early.  You see, she can take advantage of early college and early college pricing UNTIL she graduates.  Yes, I could have started her early college last year, but I felt a 15 year old in class with 21 year olds was too huge a difference.  She also would lose a year of competition in speech and debate by graduating early.  So, she will graduate when she would have if we had her in public school.  Not late, on time, but giving us lots of flexibility for her senior "flex" year.  One of the benefits of homeschooling, again!

So what will we use for the little bit we are doing at home this year?

Scarlet Pimpernel (The) NovelFor Language Arts:  We will be doing some Total Language Plus as well as studying and testing for the CLEP composition test.  Typically we also count part of her speech and debate as some of her English credit.  She plans to write, script and perform several speeches as well as write and research both affirmative and negative debate cases.  We are likely to do The Scarlet Pimpernel, To Kill a Mockingbird and American Literature Short Stories Total Language Plus guides.
Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 Complete Set, Version 2.0  -     By: Greg Sabouri, Shawn Sabouri
For Math:  I finally did it, I broke down and spent WAY too much for a math curriculum!  We had nothing else to "buy" this year so the funds were available and I'm honestly tired of teaching math (after 4 kids!)  It's my least favorite subject to teach.  We have used Math Tudor DVD and I do still like them, BUT they do involve a little of me go over it and to watching it with them.  My hope is that with Teaching Textbooks Algebra II I will not have to be involved and she can "get it" herself.  I've done a few lessons and I think it will work that way.  Stay tuned and I'll "let you know".  For $180 my expectations are HIGH!

Living Fossils, Volume 2: Evolution, the Grand Experiment  -     By: Dr. Carl Werner
 For Science: We were very pleased with Master books Pre-Med we did last year, so Lex took a look at what else was offered.  She chose Master Books Life Science which has a lot of fossils, geology, and creation science in it.  It will be very different than what she has done these last two years and looks to be MUCH easier (pre-med was quite challenging!)  It will be a nice "break" for her as she'll be starting college and may need to focus her attention there.  We are not using (nor did we purchase) the video's, just the books.  We had actually purchased this the year before not realizing her pre-med was going to take longer than we thought, so it was waiting and ready to go!

Speech and Debate:  We'll be doing a speech class in our co-op where we'll prepare and present one platform, one literature interpretation and one illustrated speech.  This will help her get her speeches ready for our competition season.  She'll also participate in a skype debate club where she'll have assignments and get/give feedback with other students bi-weekly via the computer.  And of course we'll participate in several speech and debate competitions with NCFCA.  

What else?

Lexie is excited to be enrolled in Bethel College's Reach program for high school students.  She'll be able to take 2 classes this fall.  We can't register until later in August and I know from past experience with my other kids that many times the ones you want aren't available by that time, but she has a list of 4-5 she'd like to take, so we'll see what she can get.  

And, that's enough!