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!!

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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.