Sunday, December 16, 2012

It Isn't About Where We School

By now we have all heard of the Connecticut school tragedy which took 26 lives, including 20 children ages 6 and 7. Any normal mother is grieving and suddenly over aware of where her children are and wondering if they are safe. The day it happened I could not even bring myself to bother with school. We literally sat on my bed watching movies all day. All I could do was be near my babies. I wanted to jump on top of them and shield them even there, in the safety of my bedroom, in the safety of my locked house, in the safety of the country where "things like that never happen". I won't let it.

Isn't that what we always say? That can't happen here. It won't. We don't live in an area where murders live. I homeschool. I keep my kids with me nearly every moment of every day. When they are with me, they are safe.It can't happen. I won't let it.

At first it was about gun control. That argument even made me angry. Control the guns and you control the criminals. Now it is about where we send our children to school. If those parents were only homeschooling! If they only knew how much safer we are here, at home, tucked into my bed, watching family movies together. Nothing like that happens here! I won't let it.

You all know that I am a supporter of homeschooling. I think it is the best way to educate. I do. I do not however, think that now is the time to be shoving the fact that our children were not the victims in the faces of those whose children were! As I write this my two oldest are sitting in a crowded restaurant, with few exits and little hope of escaping someone determined to kill. Thursday we were in a gym where 20 little girls lined up practicing cartwheels with no closets to run to should someone come in determined to kill. The location of where these children were is IRRELEVANT in the grand scheme of the evil that happened. Evil knows no boundaries. It doesn't care whether your child is homeschooled, or public schooled. It doesn't care if your child is 7 or if they are a young college student. Tragedy happens EVERYWHERE. The first victim was the killers own mother, in her own home.

The location was tragic. The fact that it was mostly children was tragic. The thought that you can't go to school, or to church, or out to eat without at least putting yourself out there for something tragic to happen is sometimes unbearable, especially after events like this. But now, my homeschooling friends, is not the time to preach homeschooling. Now is not the time to forget that even if we don't agree on educational philosophy, that these parents sent their precious little ones to a place where they should have been safe, where things like this shouldn't happen. Instead of taking this and using it as a homeschooling platform, I beg of you to do nothing but cry with these parents, pray for all of those involved, and remember that we are only protected by the grace and mercy of God and at any point, he may also allow our little ones to be taken, maybe even violently, and nothing, not even homeschooling, can prevent that.

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto,27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Homeschool Mom Sends Kid to Public School - a Possible Disaster in the Making

Yesterday was my seven year old son's first day of school.  We had been preparing for days.  The school uniform had been bought and tailored to fit (I was hemming them an hour before we were scheduled to leave the house) and inspected (we picked all the little white puppy dog hairs off the black shirt) and located a couple pencils and a backpack that had a working zipper.  I located three *important* pieces of mail to prove my address (my mortgage statement, utility bill, and a piece of unopened junk mail from Discover card that I thought could pass for a bill). He had to have a school physical first, so we went to the doctors office and got the necessary paperwork.

We made the decision to send Micah to school for a number of reasons, not because he was not learning at home or was being difficult, but because we need the resources the system offers in a way that we would not get without him being enrolled.  The doctor said that the was "very interested to see what happens."  Hopefully, this will help us in our journey to help Micah get a good diagnosis or help confirm the one he now has. Micah was super excited and honestly, so was my husband.  I think he was glad I was doing something "normal" for once......

Anyway, back to the first day of school. I had my 2 youngest daughters with me so the 4 of us went into the school building.  The girls were pretty thrilled to see the inside of the school.  Quin, my 7 year old, asked if she could go.  She said lunch smelled good.  We gave all the appropriate paperwork to the office staff and were walked down the hall to meet the teacher and the class.  The teacher invited us into the room, introduced Micah, got him situated at a desk and then the trouble came.

Teacher to me: "Did you bring any supplies."
Me: Blink. Blink. "Uhm. Well, we found a pencil this morning, I uh, guess we left it at home."
Teacher to the moron mom (me): "Oh, well, I will loan him some of mine, but he will need supplies."
Me: "Of course! So, uh do you have a list or something?" (I can feel the 6 and 7 year old students judging me.
Teacher: "Yes, this is a list" (hands me a  list).
Me, seeing it is mostly normal stuff, rambled:  "Oh! Good, we have a lot of this stuff at home because you know we homeschooled and we have supplies - most of the supplies on the list as a matter of fact - and I just did not think about sending this stuff, but we homeschooled so we have like, scissors and glue and stuff and you know, supplies."
I try to offer one of my smiles that others have claimed to be "beautiful"  and "lights up a room" - and stuff....

Teacher, looks at me, unimpressed and makes a sound that sounded like she choked a bit. Probably biting her tongue to keep from saying what she really feels - That I am acting like an idiot who has no sense of the real world and probably need some socialization.
Me: "So er, what is the difference between a word tablet and a writing tablet?"
Teacher tries to explain it to me but I start looking at all the kids looking at me and seeing my little baby boy sitting at a *school* desk with is big beautiful brown eyes and I feel the tears start to well up as I start thinking about how I am going to have to leave him there all alone in this cold, concrete building.
Me, trying desperately to pay attention, and to regain some of my composure:  "So, does the tablet actually say "Word Tablet"?"
Teacher, sighing: "As I was explaining, you will just give us the money for the supplies and we will get those for him from the supply room."
Me: "Oh. Okay, then.  Do you guys take a check?"
Teacher: "Yes, just write it out to Pope Elementary."
Me, rummaging for the checkbook in my purse:  "Oh okay. I can do that right now."
Teacher: "Well just send it with him tomorrow, you interrupted my lesson."
She then goes on to tell me that I need to send field trip money and homemade cookies as well.  partners (people who .
Me: "Oh uh sorry, yeah, I will send it back to you and the money for the field trip and I will send the cookies on Wednesday.  Got it."
The teacher starts escorting us out.  I stop and tell Micah to have a good day and that I love him and we walk out of the classroom, the teacher shutting the door behind us.
I start feeling my eyes get all watery and my face is hot.  I start sniffing.
Then I hear:
"Mrs. Carter!"
I turn to see the teacher walking very quickly to us.  I match her pace, because darn it, she needs me for something and I have a purpose and I am not an imbecile!
We meet up about halfway.
Teacher:  "What about lunch?"
Me: "Lunch?" Blink. Blink.
Teacher: "Yes, his lunch money."
Me: "Oooohhh his lunch money."
Teacher, sighing: "Yes, he needs $1.70 cents. Just give me $2.00 and I will have him bring back change."
Me, opening purse and beginning to rummage: "Oh yes, I have that.  But my change purse is empty and so it is in here in the bottom of my bag, but I have that..." I begin showing her hand fulls of change.
She looks at me: "Don't worry about it. I need to get back to my lesson.  Just send it with him tomorrow."
Me: "Oh.Well okay but I have it, I have right here in my purse."
Teacher: "That is alright, I will just get it from him tomorrow."

She turns around and goes back to her classroom.
I walk to the van and get the girls situated.
Then I went to Panera and had an early lunch. Then I went shopping at Lane Bryant.
I am sure all those people thought I was an idiot too, you know, since I was randomly crying.

The school called me 3 times to find out various information about Micah's diagnosis and about how to obtain his records from our cover school. I almost had a heart attack each time.

He rode the bus home yesterday and was thrilled.  He had a great day and was excited to have been able to go.

This morning he got up and got ready.

We missed the bus but dang it, he had 3 pencils and a backpack.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why We Celebrate Christmas but Not Halloween

Why yes, he is picking his nose in our Christmas Photo
If you haven't read it already, we don't celebrate Halloween. We thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that our convictions do not allow it. When we have that conversation with people who do celebrate/participate in it we often hear "well then, how can you celebrate Christmas when it also has pagan roots?". I think it is a good question, sort of misguided, but I do think that we need to search scripture and pray any time we participate in an activity not specifically "OKed" in the Bible.

Both have roots in Paganism, it's true. Halloween finds its origins in All Hallows Eve, a Catholic holiday which was set aside to honor the dead. A tradition called "souling" in which the rich would exchange bread with the poor in return for prayers for the dead is believe to be the beginnings of "trick or treat". Since I do not agree with Catholic doctrine, I cannot celebrate Halloween as a Christian holiday and feel that I should actively avoid based on this reason alone. However, there is more. Halloween has evolved and as different cultures, occults and religions added to it, it has not only become a day to celebrate false theology, but also to celebrate, death, destruction and evil. Today there is nothing left of Halloween that is redeemable. The holiday as a whole, is a pure representation of evil. I don't have a problem with dressing up. I do have a problem with glorifying death and destruction, the very things which Christ gave himself to triumph over. Since the holiday as a whole does this, we cannot participate in good conscience.

Christmas on the other hand has a different history. Most of the traditions are hard to trace back to their roots, and I am sure that some of them are actually born out of pagan rituals. However, the original holiday, Saturnalia, a week in which Roman law was closed and citizens could basically behave how they wished without fear of being prosecuted by the courts, was a pagan holiday influenced by Christianity rather than the other way around. Over the years Christmas has taken a distinctly different path than Halloween in that it has become increasingly more Christian (though it is in a decline right now) and Halloween has become increasingly more evil. I have given some links below that get more detailed in specific traditions associated with Christmas and how Christians have turned them into traditions that represent Christ rather than pagan rituals.

Since the Bible does not mention either holiday we have to comb scripture a little more to find our answers on whether or not we can exercise our Christian freedoms with these two holidays. Scripture tells us in Philipians 4:9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Can I find pure and lovely things in Halloween? No, I can't. Can I find pure and lovely things worthy of praise in Christmas? Yes, I can.

There are certain aspects of Christmas that we don't bother with. My older two don't believe in Santa any more and we have made no secret to my younger that Santa isn't real, though he still struggles with it since he is only 4 and can't quite sort it all out. Basically we don't lie about it. When they ask we tell. I don't think Santa is evil or wrong necessarily, but I do think perpetually lying to my children is.

Of course, I don't answer for what your family celebrates and I believe it to be very important for each of us to search scriptures and spend time in prayer contemplating what the Lord would want us to do in these situations. I hope this sheds a bit of light on why I am ok with Christmas but not ok with Halloween.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I do not censor unless it becomes vulgar or personal.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 7

Day 7 of our give away is sponsored by Natasha Varnick - an independent Shaklee representative. Here is what she has to say about it!!

"Shaklee is a health and wellness company whose mission is to provide a healthier life for everyone and a better life for anyone. Dr. Shaklee created one of the first multivitamins in 1915 and one of the first biodegradable, nontoxic cleaning products in 1960. Shaklee is a growing community of over 1.2 million people worldwide, sharing products that help others transform their health and their financial future. The company's newest launch is happening on Jan. 1, 2013. It's called Shaklee 180, a clinically-proven weight loss plan that maintains lean muscle mass as people lose weight and inches.
Shaklee's product line includes vitamins/supplements, natural skin care, weight loss products, and all-natural cleaning products as well. Some of my favorites are the multi-vitamins for adults (Vita-Lea) and kids (Incredivites), the Alfalfa complex, the Defend and Resist complex (contains elderberry and echinacea), and the Basic-H2 all purpose cleaner. As an independent distributor for Shaklee, I have the privilege of sharing Shaklee's products and the Shaklee business opportunity with others and seeing lives changed!"
Register for a FREE bottle of Shaklee's biodegradable, nontoxic cleaner called Basic-H2. One 16-oz. bottle makes 48 gallons of super powerful all-purpose cleaner or over 5,000 bottles of window cleaners.
For more info on Shaklee products, visit her website:

To enter to win the whole lot of our fabulous give away items look to all the Rafflecopter entries below! Remember to check back daily for more ways to win AND to see what else is coming in this super awesome give away!

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Letter to Those Who are Concerned About My Kids' Hair and Education

Before I get started, here is a random image to satisfy Anna's request that all my blog posts comes with pictures. 
It is a random picture of a puppy.  
The past couple of weeks, I have had a couple of people approach me. One was concerned about my oldest daughter's hair and the other about my two middle children's reading ability.  Both of these women really care about my kids and in no way meant harm.  Sometimes though, our caring can only complicate already complicated situations.  This is my response to them and my advice on how to help people in complicated situations.

To the person that is concerned with my oldest child's hair:

I say this to you:  Me too.  I look at my oldest daughter who is trying to grow up - without my consent, by the way - and see her try her own things with her clothes, her nails, and yes, her hair.  I understand your concern for it is also my concern.  I know you hate to see it looking unkempt, but guess what? So do I.  I appreciate you asking if you could take over "doing her hair" and I will allow you to, because I know that my child can benefit from being around you and your children and that you love her - her hair is truly a secondary reason to my agreeing to allow her to be at your house every other Friday.  I hope that you are consistent with what you have asked and that you don't let her down.  So many people have let her down, myself not excluded.  But please understand, she could be bald and still be stunning.

To the person that is concerned about my two 2nd grader's reading ability:

I say this to you:  Me too.  I am their mother and their teacher.  To me, those duties are not separate.  They are one and the same.  As their mother, I teach them about life and that includes the "three R's".  I get that you care for my kids and as a public school teacher, you can see that they are "behind" in their reading ability.  Please understand this:  I spent my son's kindergarten year not knowing if he was going to live and his first grade year not knowing how he was going to live.  We are spending this year healing from that trauma and the ongoing questions we have have that have not been answered about why he is sick. We are also trying to keep him awake. Do you know he sleeps any where from 14 to 18 hours a day and when he is awake, oftentimes he feels bad? Feel free to help me devise a strategy about how to get him and my daughter "caught up" to where you feel like they need to be.  I don't like that they are behind either and I can promise you that I am doing everything I can to to get them both "caught up" to where people like you think they should be.

To the both of you:  I know this sounds harsh and I really don't mean it to be, I just don't know of any other way to say these things.  I know beyond a doubt that both of you are approaching me out of a caring heart, but your caring is burdensome as it just applies more pressure to me and my life and honestly, I am doing all I can. I am glad for your offer of help, truly I am. But, please don't give me more to do.  Please just accept that there are things you don't know about and therefore can not understand.  If you want to know, ask and I will be glad to have you over for coffee.

I hope and pray that you hear my heart on this.  You are not helping unless you are doing. You are not helping if you are giving me more to do in an already full day.  You are not helping if you are weighing me down with expectations.  I can promise you, I expect way more of myself than you can possibly know.

I do appreciate your concerns and I share them.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

12 Days of Christmas - Day 5

It is our 5th day in our 12 Days of Christmas Give Away!

Here is a little something to help you plan your meals!

E-Meals is a wonderful, inexpensive, yet thorough meal planning service.  For as little as $5 a month, you can pick from any number of menus - They have an all natural menu, low carb, clean eating, gluten free, paleo, portion control, organic, or choose their classic menu based on the grocery store you shop at!  My family has been enjoying the paleo menu immensely!

Le me say, the ease of this menu can not be adequately expressed.  It is amazingly simple and so concise.  The shopping list is made for you - just print and take to the store - it is even sorted into categories for you. The meals are quick and easy to prepare - all the ingredients and the instructions are printed right onto the menu. They also email a new menu to you every Wednesday.  The only way it could be any easier is if they actually came to your house and cooked the meal for you.

Emeals is giving one lucky winner a FREE 3 month subscription for the menu of your choosing!  All you have to do is mosey on over to the Emeals website - and pick what menu you want to try.  They have samples for you to look at, so you can be sure about what you are getting. Then come back and post what menu you want to start cooking up!

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Day 4

Every mom needs some down time so today, I am adding to the giveaway a $10 Barnes & Noble e-gift card. The only catch is you have to promise you will use it on yourself!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Give Away - Day 3

Today we are going to give you a personalized Christmas ornament to decorate your tree. This ornament is going to be personalized for free, for you!

Can't you just see a personalized ornament on your tree!
It may not be this exact ornament, it will depend on what the wonderful people at Family Matters & the Blue Eagle Store, the sponsor of this give away has in stock for you.  But, I can personally guarantee you, as the owner of a Christmas tree that is decked completely out in these ornaments, that it will be super cute, the best quality and even better, personalized to your specifications!
To enter to win go to the Blue Eagles Store and browse for a bit, then come back here and tell us what your favorite product is! Super Simple!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 2

Ahhhh! I totally dropped the ball on getting today's post up! Since I messed it up I am going to post what was going to be added last to the lot today. I hope today's prize will help you forgive me!

Today I am adding to the prize lot a $25 Walmart giftcard!! Since this prize pretty much speaks for itself I will just post the entry requirements and let you have at it!

Be sure to come back again tomorrow to see what else we have added!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 1

It is time to begin our 12 days of Christmas Giveaway! Over the next 12 days Jessica and I will be posting about some great products and adding them to the giveaway. Gifts will include everything from some pampering items for you, to some great curriculum! This will be ONE BIG GIVEAWAY! One winner will be chosen for the entire prize package so be sure to come back every day for more chances to win!

On the first day of Christmas Molding Minds gave to me:

A set of We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards and a Virtues Kids Kit!

I love my children, but you know if you have a daughter you have some sass and you know if you have a son you have some rowdiness! I searched high and low for a fun way to teach my children virtues with a Christian basis and I found it!!!

We Choose Virtues is a character training tool that can be used as an entire course or as a supplement to your existing Bible routine. There are 12 character traits that are taught with the use of colorful flash cards, posters and other materials.

We reviewed the Faith Based Virtue Flash Cards, Virtue Clues ,  Virtues Coloring Book and the Kid Virtue Poster a few months back and LOVED them. The colorful flash cards (5.5×4.25) were my personal favorite of the items. They are very colorful and along with featuring a virtue they also feature a memorable character (Duck and Chuck represent diligently) a quote that makes the virtue easy to remember (Ok, whatever you say, I will obey right away!) and an applicable Bible verse. The back of the cards feature teaching hints as well as practical application tips and discussion starters. The Virtues clues are colorful credit card sized flash cards that are easy to carry around for moments when your child needs a quick reminder of a virtue with a word of encouragement from the little boy or girl character that represents each virtue. This is a download only. This is great for your younger children but my 7 and 8 year old still enjoyed it immensely! We learned a trait each week and then followed it up by coloring the corresponding character. It was a nice way to solidify and talk more about each virtue.

One of the other great things about We Choose Virtues is that they have different levels of materials so you can purchase from 3 years old all the way up to 18 and they also have kits geared towards classroom use, homeschool use, church use and family use.

We Choose Virtues has become an indispensable tool in our house and we are seeing results! My kids enjoy learning the new virtues and it is easy to remind them about each one with the quotes and with the clue cards! This is the perfect edition to your school! I personally will be adding some of the other products to our stash! (excuse the excessive use of ! I am just excited!)

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

Thanks giving is just a little more than a week away. I have seen on Facebook and other social networks, people posting one thing they are thankful for each day. Because I am an overachiever and somewhat of a show-off, I decided to do all my days at once.
So here is my list:
  1. I am thankful forGod who provided a Savior who died for the wrong I have done and will do and then offered amazing grace.
  2. My husband - he is a great guy.  He the quiet to my boisterous, the calm to my liveliness, and I am his challenger - in a good way.  We balance each other well.
  3. My kids - They are awesome. :D
  4. My mother and father - I am incredibly thankful to have both my parents still living. 
  5. My siblings - We all get along very well and I am proud to call them my best friends. My sisters and brothers are always there, no matter what.
  6. My friends that I have known forever - They have known me through the worst of times and the best of times and still love me regardless. 
  7. My new friends that I have made in the last three years - nothing like making new friends!
  8. My dog and the warm furriness of a pet that is pressed up against your side when you are sitting on the sofa and just a bit chilly! 
  9. My home - I am fortunate to have a warm home with space for everyone.
  10. The internet - It offers friendships with people I would have never met with out it.
  11. My kids' pediatrician - We see Dr. Stepp and he has seen us through some very hard times with my son's medical condition.  
  12. Homeschooling - I am thankful that I am legally able to homeschool.
  13. Good books - I love reading. Reading a book is very much like going on vacation!
  14. Bacon - Because it is bacon - enough said.
  15. Coffee - I really love coffee, especially with a big pile of bacon.
  16. Change - I am so glad that things change. Even when change really bites at the time, it always brings new revelation and new relationships.
  17. My washing machine and dryer - there are those that enjoy doing laundry with a washboard and then hanging it out on a clothesline - I would not be one of those people. 
  18. Weather forecasters - Even though sometimes they get it wrong, most of the time, they get it right!
  19. Farmers - I like to eat, they make it possible
  20. Mechanical pencils - a new lead is just a click or two away.
  21. T.V. with kid's shows - because sometimes, I just need a babysitter.
  22. Laughing - because sometimes, I just need a good laugh!
  23. Ibuprofen - I think it may cure everything.
  24. My cell phone - I remember having to page my dh at Walmart to remind him to get milk.
  25. My paid for van - it fits everyone in my family, and it is well, paid for.
  26. A good fitting bra - you know why if you have one.
  27. Food delivery places - when I have had a long day and making dinner is just too much to think about, I am glad dinner can be just a phone call away.
  28. My sewing machine - it is super cool to be able to make things that people love.
  29. Forks - because eating with chopsticks takes far too long.
  30. Comfy T-shirts
That is my list! What are you thankful this season?

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lesson Plan on Sumer

There are lots and lots things to learn and know about Sumer. I could not find a lesson plan that I liked well enough to do with my children, particularly my 6th grader.  This is what I came up with, it is by no means comprehensive and you could easily add or take away from it.

Artist's depiction of a Sumerian City
Lesson Plan on Sumer

Objective 1 – Understand what Sumer was and where it was located and why it is important
·        Map –Mesopotamia, Sumer, Iraq, Persian Gulf, Tigris, and Euphrates
·        Name and locate a principle city in Sumer

Objective 2 – Describe what a Sumerian city may have looked like
·        Draw a picture including city walls, moat, and Ziggurat

Objective 3 – Understand the ability to produce an abundance of food and access to resources encourages people to settle in one area.
·        Why were the Tigris and Euphrates rivers important?
·        Compare and contrast a nomad’s life with that of a person living in Sumer.

Objective 4 – Know what the Epic of Gilgamesh is – The epic of Gilgamesh is not really suitable for children, so the teacher should briefly retell it or read an age appropriate retelling of the story.
·        Write or draw your own adventure.

Objective 5 – Understand the what cuneiform was and how it was used
·        Make “clay” tablets – we used mud and water, the kids wrote on them and we let them dry in the sun.  You could also use playdough, there is a link to homemade play dough in the appendix
·        Create your own cuneiform

Objective 6 – Understand Sumerians based their math on the number 60 and relate that to our world today.
·        60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute, circle is 360 degrees

Objective 7 – Be familiar with Sumerian’s worship of several gods and the role of the Ziggurat
·        Make a ziggurat out of sugar cubes              
·        Discuss how kings were viewed as deities, and when the king died it would seem that his guards, musicians, servants, wives and concubines voluntarily sacrificed themselves in order to go to the afterlife with the king.


Sumer – A Short Summary
Sumer was an ancient civilization discovered in 1853 by British Consul John George Taylor, when he discovered the city of Ur, the Abraham of the Bible’s birthplace. Sumer was established about 4000 years ago, around southern Mesopotamia, now modern Day Iraq.  It is a river valley basin, supplied by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Some believe it is located around where the Garden of Eden would have been located.

Sumer was an advanced society. They developed irrigation for agriculture, traded with the people and other nations surrounding them and established industries such as metal working.

Sumerians worshipped many Gods and Goddesses and also deified their kings. When a King died, there is evidence that the royal guards, musicians, servants, wives, and concubines voluntarily sacrificed themselves in order to join the king in the afterlife. They were all then entombed in ziggurats.

A Sumerian city would not normally have been overly beautiful. The city would have had a wall and a moat around it.  There would have been a ziggurat in the city center.  There were also no trash collectors, so the streets would have been littered with garbage and household waste.

Sumerians contributed to our society.  Their math system was based on the number 60. Today, we still have 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute and circle is 360 degrees. 

Sumerians are also thought to have the first, most organized system of writing.  This writing, cuneiform, took many years to learn.  It started with pictures and progressed to wedge shaped symbols. These symbols were pressed onto clay tablets with a reed pen.

Sumerians also had works of literature.  The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest literary work. It was written in cuneiform on 12 clay tablets. It is about the Adventures of King Uruk.

Online resources:  Lots of information here, also some quizzes and such.  There is a decent, short retelling of The Epic of Gilgamesh on this site.   Mesopotamia for Kids  Lots of cool pictures here  Free video on the Standard of Ur. They also give some really great background!  Toward the end of the video they do point out the naked, bleeding prisoners depicted on the Standard, I had no issue with my kids watching this video, but you decide for yourself. – homemade play dough

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Friday, November 2, 2012

My Favorite Things... And a Give Away!!

I'm in Love!!!

Yes, I said it, I'm in love! :)

I'm a licensed Cosmetologist. And after many health problems, I became a Certified Natural Health Consultant as well. These 2 loves of mine have caused me to look high and low for great products that deliver real results AND are safe to use. That is a hard combination. I have found many natural companies but the quality is often lacking. And I've found luxurious companies but the products are loaded with chemicals that I won't put on my skin or encourage my loved ones to use! What's a girl to do?

A friend introduced me to Verefina! It was love at first sight! When I saw how beautifully the products were packaged, I was pleased. I learned that many of the bottles were specially designed to help keep air out so the product will have a longer shelf life. What a great idea! But sampling is believing...

I put a squirt of Pina Colada lotion in my hands and was immediately in love with the fragrance, and the luxurious feel lived up to my hopes as well! I wondered what was in the product. Turning the bottle over, I was THRILLED to find that I could read the ingredients!

Verefina products are 99-100% natural!

Could it be?? Could I finally have found a product that has the luxurious feel and fragrance without toxic chemicals? Indeed! I went on to sample the sugar scrub and skin care and I needed no more proof. This was what I'd been looking for! With fragrances like Grapefruit, Lavender, Cool Mint, Lemon Poppyseed, Pina Colada, and Spearmint, you're sure to find something you love. Verefina offers products from head to toe!

If you are like me and you need to sample to believe, sit back and let me pamper you for a moment...

Gently rub a small amount of our Lemon Coconut cleanser on your face, wipe with a warm, damp cloth. I love how soft my skin feels, those exfoliating jojoba beads really do the trick! Now spray a mist of the Ultra Hydrating Rosewater Mist on your face, it smells like a rose garden! And I love the way it hydrates. Finish your facial with the Sea Buckthorn skin cream. Has your skin felt softer?

Let's scrub your hands and feet with the Sugar Scrub, you pick your favorite fragrance. I love the Lemon Poppyseed, but they are all wonderful. They are so soft that you don't need lotion. But for fun, let's break open the lotions! Aloe and Calendula or Olive Oil? And what fragrance do you prefer? Your skin will love you! We have a foaming soap in each fragrance to go with your favorite lotion. Not only is there soap and lotion for you, but for your children and babies, too! Oh, their gentle skin will thank you!

You may have noticed the lovely fragrance in the air? It's the diffuser that has your favorite essential oil quietly blowing in the background. We have several oils, and all are top notch quality!

You won't find this at a spa, but you have to try this deoderant to believe it! I have used several brands in the past and never been pleased. But this one WORKS for me. It comes in 3 fragrances, I know you'll enjoy it too!

Do you feel like you've just been to the spa? This is what I get to enjoy every day! Well, ok I'm a homeschooling mom, so maybe I don't have time EVERY day for all of it, but I do get to enjoy much of it every day! I enjoy it so much that I joined the Verefina family a month ago. I'd love it if you would stop by my website and see for yourself all the items you 'sampled' plus more! We're growing all the time, so keep on the look out for new products! To see everything from the creamy lotions to natural first aid, visit

And what would be more fun than a virutal spa day? How about a give away?!?! I believe you'll love Verefina as much as I do, and to prove it I'm giving away a bottle of Olive Oil Lotion in your choice of Unscented, Lavender, Pina Colada, Spearmit or Grapefruit to one lucky winner! Hurry and enter today!

Now hurry and enter to win! :) Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ditching Academics for Character Training

It has taken me a long time to gather the guts, and the words, to address this. I want to be sure I am completely clear up front, the condition of my children's souls and their character are absolutely the two most important reasons that I homeschool. If I homeschool them through graduation and the only real thing "I" have accomplished is that they have repented and accepted Christ and have learned how to live a Christ-like life, I will consider homeschooling a success. However (and you knew that was coming, right?), I am worried that there is a strong leaning happening in the homeschool community towards sacrificing our academics to the noble cause of character training.

So where am I going with this? Please forgive me if I ramble. I am not quite as profound as I would like to think so let me give you an example. Several months back when we were getting ready for our move, I was chatting with some of my homeschool friends I asked them for some practical advice on how to homeschool during a move: the most common answer I got was don't focus on academics, just focus on character training during that time. I know where their hearts were so I don't want to sound like I am questioning motives, but part of me wanted to scream! Really? Quit schooling for what could be months? Moves are hard, especially big ones like the one we are currently going through. Packing it up and teaching "character", ahhh, it sounds like a dream come true. But, what if doing that actually teaches just the opposite?

2 Timothy 2:15  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Why do we teach our children to read in the first place? Why is it important to have an intelligent vocabulary, a comprehensive understanding of math and an ability to discern history and science? It all points back to Christ! How are our children to understand Psalms without a decent understanding of poetry and prose? How can they appreciate the act of creation without some background in science? Or the resurrection of Christ? Do some have the ability to have a deep understanding of Biblical concepts without ever being taught to read? Sure, but for most of us, our understanding of deeper things is built on the basics of the 3 Rs.Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. What message do we send our children when we pack it up and quit when things are tough? When we persevere with things that we know need to get done even though times are tough, we teach them to not only be persistent themselves but that we must rely on Christ. Sometimes this means that He sends others into our lives to help which opens the door to teaching our children what servant-hood looks like.

I begin to wonder sometimes, if we don't use the excuse of character training as a way to be lazy. I know, harsh words. I have no doubt we all start off thinking that we are doing what is best in the moment, but how often is quitting, even if just for a while, really the best thing? And then there is how others perceive us. I don't think we should give in to the world's expectations of how we should school our children, but if we are constantly giving people the impression that we will just stop teaching math every time there is a bump in our world, how can we expect anything but regulation to follow?

Now, are there times when we should take off? Absolutely! I would never try to school through the death of a close family member, or any other catastrophic event. What I am saying is, before you give someone advice to stop their academics and focus on "character training" remember that academics produce character as well.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Homeschool Organization

This post has been targeted by a spam bot that is driving me insane so I am reposting it hoping that will make it stop!
Organization and Homeschooling

These two words need to hold hands and be snuggled up together. Unfortunately, this is a huge struggle for most people. I feel like I have finally got a pretty decent handle on this problem. I know what I have and, more importantly, I can find it. LOL, Let me tell you what works for me!

I set three goals for my homeschool things.

1. Everything needs a home, so I can locate it at all times.

2. Everything needs to be in close quarters.

3. Nothing needs to have to go together like a puzzle and can not overflow.

First I bought a rolling cart from Goodwill. It is an old microwave cart from back in the day and has a cabinet underneath. I also have dedicated 2 bookshelves and a filing cabinet drawer for my stuff. The cart sits next to the kitchen table where we do our homeschool. The cart holds everything I need to do our daily homeschool work. My lesson planner, my curriculum, Bibles, notebook paper, pens, markers, crayons, glue, construction paper, and any books relevant to the current week’s unit.

Now, if you are a real life homeschooler, you know that that is a teeny tiny portion of actual homeschool stuff. I am not wishy washy when it comes to curriculum. I know what I like and I buy it in advance, used and in good condition preferably. I store the years I am not using in a plastic tote in our attic. I do not keep a bunch of “extra” workbooks and other things that I may have tried but changed my mind about. Get rid of old or unused curriculum. Either bless someone else with it who otherwise could not afford it, or sell it using one of the many websites for used curriculum.

My filing cabinet drawer holds my future printables for my upcoming lessons and any ideas I run across. I have them sorted by subject. I keep a copy of my registration from our cover school in there, planning forms, and a big folder that holds the books for our current unit. I also keep some miscellaneous things like a couple of science kits and the bug playground. Doesn’t everyone have one of those?

My first bookcase holds all the books for my older daughter’s personal and school reading. Miscellaneous Milliken workbooks, atlas, Wall Chart of World History, and supplemental workbooks that keep me supplied with stuff for extra practice and other reference materials. Then there is the encyclopedia set and dictionary and on the bottom shelf is an encyclopedia set for plants and animals, and a Childcraft encyclopedia set.

The second bookcase has a shelf for history & social studies type story books, a shelf for science, and a shelf for art,language arts, and reading.

The third bookcase has all the kids fiction books. I use Readerware to organize my home library. I know I should insert a picture of my bookshelves here, but really, they look like bookshelves, with books on them. So, you can use your imaginations. I did use the label maker and label the shelves though. I am also pretty strict about the shelves and making the kids put stuff up correctly. I don’t care if the books are on the shelf upside down, just as long as they are on the shelf they belong on.

Next to the homeschooling cart are two plastic totes. One holds supplies like Styrofoam, tempura paint, self hardening clay, magnifying glasses, rocks, fake gems and other odds and ends that I need for my school year. The other tote holds all my extra printer paper, folders, notebooks, crayons, envelopes of all shapes and sizes and packing tape.

Then finally I have a set of hanging file folder totes. One for each one of my children. While I loved the idea of workboxes, I have four children, three whom I currently school and there was no way I have enough room for 36 shoebox size plastic containers. I have a post about how I have our work folders set up here.

So there you have, a small glimpse into my homeschool set up. The trick to this was finding something that worked for me and the space I have. I also tend to lose things so I have to be pretty specific about where things go. I also never let the school supplies out of the kitchen. I have another set of pens, paper, crayons, etc in the living room for the kids to use. That way, I am always prepared for the next thing.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Plan Monday and Going Paleo/Primal

Since we have been living at my parents, eating a completely whole foods diet has been...well, non-existent. It's not really any one's fault, just a matter of adjusting, and letting it slide. I have decided that on November 1st we are going to do 30 days of Paleo/Primal as a detox and then get back on track with our whole foods diet. I am not entirely sure if what we will do will be considered Paleo or Primal because we will eat dairy, and I am not entirely sure what the difference is (feel free to comment and let me know!). Anyways, here is our menu plan that gives me the first half of the week to cook some things I already have and then start up with the changes on Thursday.


Breakfast: Cereal and yogurt. We have about 1/2 of a box to go before it is out of here!

Lunch: Left overs
Dinner: Herb-Crusted Pork Loin
with mixed veggies and dinner rolls


Breakfast: Cereal and yogurt
Lunch: Applegate farms ham and veggie kebabs
Snack: Fruit and nuts
Dinner: Beef Fajitas with onions, bell peppers and raw cheddar (this will include tortillas and our last grain)


Breakfast: Last of the cereal
Lunch: Sloppy Joes with raw veggies
Snack:Fruit and nuts
Dinner: Roast Chicken with roasted potatoes and green salad

Thursday (Paleo Starts):

Breakfast: Bacon, eggs scrambled in bacon fat, yogurt
Lunch: Applegate farms ham and veggie kebabs
Snack: Grain free blueberry muffins
Dinner: Moroccan meatballs with citrus carrots and cauliflower mash


Breakfast: Coconut flour crepes with berries and cream sweetened with honey, yogurt
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack: Cinnamon Apple chips sweetened with rapadura
Dinner: Baked Coconut Cod


Breakfast: Bacon, eggs scrambled in bacon fat, yogurt
Lunch: Grilled steaks and mixed veggies
Snack: Fruit and nuts


Breakfast: Bacon, eggs scrambled in bacon fat, yogurt
Lunch: Sunday Roast with maple and rapadura butternut squash
Snack: Chewy granola bars (yes, with oats) with cocoa nibs
Dinner: Pork Chops with sauteed asparagus and roasted cauliflower

Join the menu planning fun at Menu Plan Monday!

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

I have been sitting here with this page open pondering what to blog about. Life has kept me moving so much the last few months that I have hardly had a moment to breathe let along blog. In the absence of a profound blog idea (one which will probably come to me at 2 am and that I will wake up remembering I had, but not remembering the details), I have decided to share some blessings in our lives.

1. Our house is moving along. The brick was finished today and my husband spent all day wiring the alarm system. We are very close to being able to sheet rock. So far things have gone as planned and we have been able to make the money last. We will run out soon, but the house will be livable and we will be able to finish it out as we have the money. We are about 2 years from being home owners completely mortgage free. I can still not even imagine.

2. Living with my parents has been, for the most part, easy. We have gotten along well, and to be honest, my parents are out so much we sometimes wonder if they decided just to give us their house! Eating as organic as I would like has been difficult, but it is what it is and I can hardly be ungrateful after all they have done for us.

3. Keira has discovered a love for gymnastics and seems to be quite the natural. She tried out for pre-team last week after only a month and a half of classes. She did not make it, but she tested at level 3 for everything except the bars, which she had never trained on. The coach wants to give her until April and then possibly move her straight to level 3 team skipping pre-team all together. Let me tell you this girl has some heart for this. She stretches every night for about 30 minutes and has been working out to gain the arm strength she needs to be good on the bars. She has some big dreams and I am excited to see where she goes with this. The best thing is that we never could have afforded what gymnastics cost had we not made the decision to move and build. She has also been playing soccer which again she seems naturally inclined to. I think she just might be my sporty one.

4. Brianna is starting homeschool art classes on Tuesday. I am really excited as she has felt a bit in her sisters shadow recently. She loves anything artsy. I will be sure to post some photos of her work.

5. Luke FINALLY knows his ABCs and is night trained. I am not a big pusher when it comes to early learning but I really thought he might never be interested in learning them. Between that, him learning to write his name and being completely out of diapers, I am now faced with the harsh reality that my last baby has been raised and is now a proper big boy.

6. I started a homeschool page on facebook. I really expected to get about 15 maybe 20 members. We are at right around 150! The best part is that I am getting to know so many of these great moms from all walks and they have provided me with such a wonderful support system that I could not live without, truly.

7. This is a hard one for me because it has been bitter sweet. We once again decided to give the church search a try, but we do firmly believe that we may have found the one God is calling us to. We have been attending for about a month and have grown so much just in that short time. We still plan on giving it more time before making the decision, but at the moment we are convinced that this is our new church home. Please pray for wisdom and discernment. We have bounced around quite a bit and after returning to the church that I grew up in, were determined to just stay put. It didn't work out that way, and we definitely want to be sure that this change is what God would have us do.

Things have changed a lot over the last few years, months even. Things changed, as they do, adventures started and I am looking forward to seeing how God blesses us in the future!

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Gracious Forgiveness

Today at gymnastics class my two girls were playing with two other girls in "the pit" (a big hole in the floor filled with foam blocks used to help practice tumbling and bars). My rule is that they do not jump into the pit while there is another child in it so that no one accidentally lands on anyone else. They follow this rule, and while they were playing today Keira was patiently waiting on another girl to climb out and Brianna was holding the rope Keira was on to keep her from swinging. As Brianna accidentally let go of the rope Keira, unprepared, fell into the pit on the girl and hurt the girl's shoulder. Immediately, both of my girls ran over to her to make sure she was ok and to apologize for having hurt her, but instead of accepting the apology and going over to tell the coach that she was hurt, the girl and her friend started making the incident look very dramatic, shouting at the girls to "get back" and to "go get the coach NOW". My girls, unsure of how to handle how they were being spoken to burst into tears and ran to me.

I witnessed most of what happened, so I was somewhat prepared. My first irritation is that the girls were in the pit unsupervised, but I might just be a tad over protective. Next, I had the girls explain what happened and then told them that they should not have been on the rope until the other girl was out and that when there is a problem they need to go to the coach and not listen to another child barking orders at them. Last, I was heartbroken, because, I watched them try to apologize and instead of this girl saying, "I'm ok, thank you for apologizing" the two little girls ganged up on mine and accused them of plotting and hurting the girl on purpose. When the two other little girls came over, I took Keira again and had her apologize and then told the girls that she absolutely did not mean to hurt anyone and that it was a cruel accusation that really hurt Keira's feelings and that next time they should get the coach if there was a problem. Of course all I got was an angry glare and after I asked the girl if she thought she needed ice, and if her mother was there so that she could let her know she was hurt, they both huffed off. I did decide to go ahead and let the mother know that Keira had accidentally hurt the girl and had apologized. Mom seemed to shrug it off and we left.

When we got in the car I thought about what lessons to take from this. These girls had a record of being rude to my girls (who are no angels, but are genuinely kind and friendly so are quite shocked when it is not reciprocated) so I thought about how to handle bullies, or people who speak rudely to us, or safety around the pit...Then I decided it was time to talk about graciously accepting apologies.

The Bible tells us that when we are hurt by someone that we should forgive 70x7 times (Matthew 18:21-22). We are to continually forgive, and I believe we are not only to forgive, but we are to forgive graciously and completely. So, that is our lesson for today. When you accepted that apology from a friend who hurt you did you just "forgive"? Or did you graciously and completely forgive? I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who has graciously and completely forgiven me.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Lesson Plans

My kids love fall with the changing leaves, cooler weather, and pumpkin patches.  Here is a list of activities and lesson plans about pumpkins!

This page has lots of ideas and could very well make a complete unit on pumpkins.
Teaching Hearts Pumpkin Unit

This project helps kids to understand that living things need air, water, and light.
Scholastic's Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden

This list of things has lots of cute, short projects on pumpkins and pie!
Bright Hub Education

There are several things on this page that seem to be useful ideas, the one I linked to is my favorite!
Pumpkin Unit

This is a lesson and project on the life cycle of a pumpkin
Pumpkin Life Cycle

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Lapbook and Lesson Plan

I was looking for a lapbook about Halloween that was happy, spoke about the history of Halloween, and was colorful.  I needed it to not be difficult in the way of writing, since the majority of my homeschoolers are not writing yet.  I wanted it to be colorful with lots of cutting and pasting.

I will be the first to admit I am not that creative and I did not want to spend loads and loads of time with this.  I searched and searched for one, either free or one to be bought, and to my dismay, could not find one that met my requirements. So, I took my uncreative side, searched around the 'net and found some resources. Thanks to some Word savvy friends that helped me tweak things, I came up with one.

I also included a simple five day lesson plan on how and when to use the lapbook, what projects you can to do coincide with the portion of the lapbook you are doing that day, and a list of other resources you can use to find out more about Halloween and the things that go with it that the lapbook doesn't address.

Click here to take you to the lapbook.   It is in PDF format.

 Here is how you make the lapbook.  First, take a file folder and open it out. Fold the ends to the center.

Then print out the lapbook. Have your child color the front and back pages.  Place the cover facedown on the lapbook and put on of the folder flaps on it.  Trace the edge of the folder.  Cut the cover page along the line you traced. 

Glue each piece to the front flaps of the lapbook.

 Color and paste the back cover to the back of the lapbook.

I will not go into detail on how to put each component into the lapbook since I do this in the lapbook lesson plan, but this is what it will look like when you are done. (Ignore the writing on the folder - I had to use an old one for demonstration purposes for this blog post :))  But, this is what the inside will look like when you are done.

Have fun!

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