Education, Family, Friends, Fun, Living, Parenting

State Fair Bound

We had some very unexpected and exciting news earlier this week. Fabienne’s cake which she entered in the county fair through 4-H was selected to go to the State Fair. It was not marked on her entry card when we picked up her cake from the county fair, so it was a surprise to see her name and cake listed as a state fair entry.

We were also asked if she would write a one-page story about her project and include a photo with it in a binder. Evidently, there’s a gift certificate she could win. So, with just a few days notice, here we go! Oh, and the cake had to be repaired too! Yip, she made a unicorn cake with a gold horn and in bringing it home the tip of the horn got knocked off. The horn had been sprayed with gold, edible glitter, so we had to cover everything up except for the tip of the horn and spray it again. The horn isn’t as pointy or as long as it was, but it still looks pretty good.

Fabienne is also fighting an ear infection. So, this morning we got her paper written while she lay in bed with ear drops in her ear. I let her dictate to me what she wanted written, and I helped her by asking some questions and doing the typing. Here’s part of what she wrote:

This is my first year in cake decorating. I wanted to take cake decorating because I wanted to learn how to decorate cakes, and I like to eat cake.

I like unicorns, so I wanted to make a unicorn cake. I found a video on YouTube and I really liked the design, so I went with it. It was a unicorn cake by Rosanna Pansino.

To decorate the cake I first iced the cake with white royal icing. I used a tool to smooth the sides out, but I didn’t make it completely smooth so it would look like fur. Then I chose my icing colors which were purple, pink, blue, and yellow. I used rosettes to make a floral main.

I used fondant to make the horn and ears. I rolled out a long piece of fondant like a snake with one end thicker than the other. I then rolled it around a chopstick. I sprayed gold, edible glitter on the horn. I had to wait a few hours for it to dry before I could insert it into the cake.

For the ears, I cut teardrop shapes out of white fondant—two large and two small. The small ones I sprayed gold with edible glitter. I put the small teardrop on top of the large teardrop and put toothpicks in between the layers. I laid the ears in a bowl to let them dry to the shape I wanted.

I drew eyes using black icing to make my winking unicorn.

I am very pleased with how my cake turned out.

Education, Family, Health, Homeschool, Living, Parenting

My Hope is in the Lord

This past year, specifically the past school year, has been the worst year ever.  If I were a new home educator, I probably would’ve given up months ago.

Fortunately, I have 21 years of experience on my side.  I know that problems don’t have to be fixed right here and right now, and that often it takes time to see results.  I am qualified and I know I can do this, despite the fact that my family is saying the opposite.

What makes me qualified?  I love my daughter more than anyone else on this planet.  The only one that loves her more than I do is Jesus.  I will do what it takes.  I will scour the planet for the answers, find them, and put their practices into place.  Just as Jesus will leave the 99 to go after the one stray sheep, find it, and carry it home, I will do what is necessary to find what my daughter needs and see that those needs are met.

Watching a child struggle is heartbreaking.  Searching and searching for help and not finding it can be even more heartbreaking.  Thankfully, God has led us to the people we need one by one.  God is great, loving, and kind; and with Him we will succeed.

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,  Psalm 146:5

Education, Family, Fun, Health, Homeschool, Living

Slowing Down

As I mentioned in my last post, it was a huge disappointment to end up with a severe ankle sprain just a few days before what is one of the most important races of the year for me.

I spent the first week after my injury wallowing in my mire and eating lots of chocolate.  I tried to continue with my 10,000 steps a day, but it soon became obvious that this was more than my ankle could tolerate right now.  The doctor kept telling me, “You’re going to have to lay off.”

The first thing I did was to cut my daily step goal in half to 5,000 steps.  This is equal to a couple of walks around the block each day, which is enough to make my ankle feel better, but also enough to make it want to swell.  I’ve also been concentrating on my eating.  No more chocolate and back to Bright Line Eating.

This time of year is always a big switch in schedules for me.  Our running group has quit meeting three days a week and it’s now back to school time, so there’s a big switch up in our daily activities anyway.  This year’s switch up has been bigger than expected.

I started a project last summer of going room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer getting rid of things we no longer need or use.  We have gotten rid of so much “stuff” and have so  much more that needs to go.  I’m continuing that project as I can.

The time that I spent running in the past is now spent doing strengthening exercises for my ankle every day.  I’ve discovered that they can easily be done while sitting in the recliner with the footrest up, so that makes them more comfortable and enjoyable.  After those are done in the morning, I then spend time getting my electrodes placed and then wrapping my foot in some way to help keep them in place.  I use a TENS unit all day every day, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off.  Yes, these are my electronic shock treatments.  At night I’m sleeping with a compression sock to help with the swelling and a brace which immobilizes my ankle and helps with the pain.

I’ve had to face one of my biggest fears:  If I stop running or exercising, I’ll never start again and go back to being a couch potato.  I’ve finally decided that this is not true.  Where I am now is temporary.  I’ll do what I can, slowly increasing my activity, until I’m back to where I was.  It will probably take months, but that’s ok.  There’s nothing like having goals to work towards!

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11

Education, Homeschool, Living

Totality Awesome!

This past Monday was a once in a lifetime total eclipse.  We were fortunate enough to live right in the path of totality!  We’ve been preparing for this day (August 21, 2017) for a few months now.

We were told that the protective glasses would sell out so to order early.  I ordered my glasses in early July.  I made sure we had enough for the extended family and was glad that we were all prepared.  Then, about eight days before the eclipse, I got an email from Amazon.com saying that our glasses could be fake and not to use them!  So, we went into search and find mode at that point.  Everyone in town was sold out, but someone told my husband that Menards might have some.  He gave Menards a call, and he was told that they had 500 glasses in stock.  I couldn’t help but think that something wasn’t right if everyone else was sold out, but Menards had plenty.

My husband went to Menards, located the glasses, but could not find a manufacturer on the glasses.  He gave me a call and we were talking about it on the phone.  He even sent me a picture of the glasses, but all he could find on them was “Made in China.”  A passerby heard my husband talking to me on the phone.  He was a science geek and understood our concern.  He told my husband that he lived close by and had bought a package of 50, so he would be glad to let us buy some from him at $2.50 a pair.  They were made by one of the companies listed as safe by AAS, so we thought he should snatch them up.  So, yes, my husband entered the home of a total stranger to buy our solar eclipse glasses!

We did some research to find out just when the eclipse would fall in our area.  We poked around NASA’s website which was full of information.  We did some reading.

IMG_20170821_114632861.jpg
Sporting our one-of-a-kind, designer t-shirts.

Cinderella made multiple trips to Grandma’s to make several solar eclipse t-shirts for extended family members.  They came out really nice.

My mother and I reminisced about the 1979 total eclipse.  I was in school that day, and it was only a partial eclipse for our area.  If there were viewing glasses at that time, we didn’t know about it.  We made the cardboard shadow boxes and went outside during the eclipse to view it in our shoeboxes.  I’m not sure what was more exciting, actually seeing the eclipse or the fact that my shoebox really did what it was supposed to.

We watched a couple of videos.  We thought this one did a great job of explaining the various stages of the eclipse.  I also downloaded the Solar Eclipse Timer app.  It was totally worth the $1.98 that I paid for it.  It gave you an audio warning of the various stages of the eclipse and told you what to look for.  The developer did a great job making this app.

We were fortunate that we could watch the whole thing right from our front yard.  It rained and rained all morning, but it stopped raining and cleared off ten minutes before the eclipse started.  We dawned our eclipse t-shirts and glasses and went outside right before C1.  The app counted down to contact time, we looked at the sun with our glasses, and really didn’t see anything.  We noticed what we thought might be a little indentation in the upper right hand corner of the sun and thought that might be it.  As we waited and watched, the indentation became bigger and bigger.  The big moment was finally here!

It would be nearly an hour and a half before totality, but we were able to occupy our time with occasional looks at the sun and observing our surroundings.  The lighting became dimmer and dimmer, but it was different than how the light gets dimmer at dusk.  It was almost like the bad lighting of a soap opera.

At about fifteen minutes before totality, we walked around the corner and up to the top of a hill.  There is a vacant field there and we wanted to have a good view of the 360 degree sunset.

It got quieter and quieter.  By the time totality arrived the temperature had dropped several degrees, the birds had stopped chirping, the squirrels were quiet, the crickets started chirping, and small children had put themselves to bed.  (It was wishful thinking, anyway).

Once totality was here, we were able to take our glasses off and look directly at the sun.  The view of the sun’s corona was amazing, and something no camera could ever truly capture.  It was very, very dark as if it were early nightfall.  The street lights came on.  It was truly an incredible event.

We had totality for two minutes.  Once C3 started, we had to put our glasses back on to look at the sun again.  The sun was a sliver once again, our surroundings slowly became lighter and brighter.  And within a few minutes, the sky became completely overcast and we were no longer able to view the eclipse.  We felt so grateful to not only be in the path of totality, but to also view as much as we did considering the weather.  It rained for the rest of the day and throughout the night. There was record flooding all across town.  We received a total of eleven inches of rain that day!

Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:26

Education, Homeschool, Living, Parenting

305 lbs. The Phone Call That was Never Made

I went into my second day of work with one hour of sleep under my belt.  Shortly after my phone call with Mr. G., he sent me a text reiterating everything he had said to me on the phone.  I kept reminding myself that hurting people hurt people.  I could not imagine how this whole experience of the past several months must’ve been for Mr. G.  Three hours later I got another text taking back some of what he had said–mostly anything that could be considered slander against his former employer.  He did not take back anything hateful he said about me personally.

I was devastated and had no idea how I was going to make it through the day.  Unfortunately, I had about a 20 minute drive to work, which was just enough time to think about the events of the night before.  I walked in the door sniffling, and my boss, Mr K., asked me if I had a cold coming on.

Once I got situated, I went into Mr. K.’s office and gave him a Reader’s Digest version of what had happened the night before.  I told him that I thought it would be a good idea if the number on the phone was changed since a lot of the drivers and probably Mr. G.’s friends already had it pre-programmed into their phones.  Mr. K. called Charles about the matter and I heard, “. . . she’s very upset about the way Mr. G. treated her.”

Before the day was even over, I got a text from one of Mr. G’s friends.  I ignored it.  Mr. K. and I went online and tried to change the number, but we were not allowed access.  I stopped by the cell phone store on the way home and tried to get the number changed.  I personally was not listed on the account, so I was not able to do so.

I went home that evening physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had huge doubts about accepting this job, and a very bad feeling about it once I did accept it.  Was this what the bad feelings were all about?

I was concerned about it being a strain on the family.  I knew we could make it through the summer, but my main concern was the fall once school started.  We would have to make some huge changes to our homeschool.  Every negative concern that I had about taking the position, my husband had a solution for.  I reluctantly accepted the job after he convinced me that we could “make it work.”  Moments after I called Charles and accepted the job, my husband walked in the front door and said, “I think maybe it would be better if you just stayed home.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I told him if I wasn’t going to take the job that I needed to call Charles back right that moment and tell him.  That phone call was never made, and at this moment I was truly regretting it.

A friend loves at all times . . .  Proverbs 17:17a

Education, Health, Homeschool, Living

305 lbs. The Eights Stink

I was totally unaware that the last time I would work was that meeting in January to introduce us to our potential new employer.  I was never given a termination date.  After the third consecutive week of being told that Mr. G. was going to cover my shift because of changes coming, I told him that I was going to assume that I was out of a job unless told otherwise.

My communications with Mr. G. became fewer and further between.  I told him that I knew that would happen and that eventually they would come to an end.  However, he promised me that we were friends for life.  I so wanted to believe that.  He also promised me a job as soon as he was given the reigns, so to speak.    I wanted to believe that too.

Even though I rarely actually saw the people I worked with because I worked from home, I missed them terribly.  All of our communications was through text or telephone, so I would spend time talking to each one of them while we were working.  It was my connection with the outside world.  After spending Monday-Friday homeschooling a seven year old, I was ready for some adult conversation.  Since my employment came to a blunt, unexpected end, there were no goodbyes.

I knew the drivers were not allowed to use their phones while driving and I certainly didn’t want to cause any problems, so I did not try to contact any of them.  These were men with families that needed their jobs.  I could pray for them and hope they were doing well, but I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize their income.

The Commit to Get Fit program had just started, so I continued with it.  My daughter had talked me into trying some boot-camp type classes.  Burn, Build, and Tone was on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and it was as tough as it sounded.  Then, she talked me into trying Metcon on Saturday mornings.  It was equally as tough, but I enjoyed it.

We had to weigh in and do our BMI each week with our trainer.  Our age was required for the BMI machine, and I had to tell Cole every week my age.  I would tell Cole, “Forty-eight.  Don’t you remember?  The eights stink.”  And that’s how it had been for me.  Every age ending in eight really did stink.

The Commit to Get Fit program was over in mid-March.  This year, there was a closing ceremony that was very nice.  We all met one evening in a room with tables and chairs at the community center.  There were healthy snacks and drinks available.  Everyone in our group sat at a table with our trainer, Cole.  Each trainer had an opportunity to say something about their group and to hand out awards if desired.  Some did more than others, but Cole definitely stood out.

Cole spoke about our group in general, and then had an award for each one of us.    Cole had very kind, yet humorous words to say about each of us as well.  We were all laughing and crying at the same time.  When Cole got to me, he mentioned that I had been with him for two years in a row, and that both times had been around very stressful events.  Until then, I had completely forgotten about the year before, but my mind immediately flashed back to Bob and his illness.  And, with that, Cole presented me with the “Veteran Award.”  We hugged, and I cried.  It’s a simple-looking award printed on white card stock, but it means the world to me because of what it represents–a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) with a true friend.

Education, Homeschool

Back to Homeschool

All across America, whether you have school age children or not, this time of year is often thought of as “back to school.” We had the recent sales tax holiday where many school supplies were tax free for a weekend. We’ve all been inundated with “back to school” ads from various retailers, and most of us are once again seeing the yellow school buses in and around our neighborhoods.

Most homeschools also experience a “back to school” transition this time of year. Even those that homeschool year round often take a shortened summer break or go with a lighter schedule during the summer. Sometimes the transition back to spending more time every day doing school work can be difficult for the whole family. Here are some things you can do to help make that transition smooth and peaceful.

Start your school year in the middle of the week. By starting your school year off later in the week (let’s say Wednesday), you will only have three days of school before the weekend is here and you have a break again. You can make it an even lighter transition, by starting your school year the Wednesday before Labor Day, taking the weekend and Labor Day off, and then you will only have four days of school your second week of school. Even if you don’t start the week before Labor Day, you can still take the next Monday off.

Regardless of when you start cracking the books open again, you most likely will find that there are some supplies that you forgot to purchase. The fast approaching three-day weekend will give you a chance to go out and purchase those supplies that you find you need.

Make your first day of school a day of fun. Instead of cracking the books open right away, take some time to play some educational games. If you use binders or notebooks, let your children make covers for them. Take pictures and record some vital statistics such as your children’s height and weight. Have your children fill out an annual survey asking about all their favorite things. Do very little bookwork on this day. Let your children review and get excited about the materials you plan to use this coming year.

Also remember that you do not have to start all subjects on day one. Another way to transition into the school year is to start with a few subjects and then add a subject or two each week. This method can help the whole family transition back into a regular routine.

Regardless of how your school operates, remember that it’s your school and it is up to you to customize it to fit your family. If something isn’t working (and you will have something that doesn’t), change it or get rid of it. There is nothing that says that you must educate your children Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Education can happen any time of the day and any day of the week, so take advantage of it and do what best fits your children and your family.

Education, Homeschool, Tech

AP makes one million minutes of historical footage available on YouTube

An incredible, FREE resource for homeschoolers!

LONDON — The Associated Press and British Movietone, one of the world’s most comprehensive newsreel archives, are together bringing more than 1 million minutes of digitized film footage to YouTube. Showcasing the moments, people and events that shape the world, it will be the largest upload of historical news content on the video-sharing platform to date.

The two channels will act as a view-on-demand visual encyclopedia, offering a unique perspective on the most significant moments of modern history. Available for all to explore, the channels will also be powerful educational tools and a source of inspiration for history enthusiasts and documentary filmmakers.

The YouTube channels will include more than 550,000 video stories dating from 1895 to the present day. For example, viewers can see video from the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, exclusive footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marilyn Monroe captured on film in London in the 1950s and Twiggy modeling the fashions of the 1960s.

via AP makes one million minutes of historical footage available on YouTube.

Education, Government, Homeschool, Islam, Religion

Why Does Common Core Require Teaching Islam? ⋆ The Constitution

If this won’t convince you to homeschool, I don’t know what will.

However, Common Core really originated from the Connect All Schools program, which is part of the “One World Education” initiative orchestrated by Qatar Foundation International (QFI). The director of QFI’s Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics is Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna who was the founder of The Muslim Brotherhood.

via Why Does Common Core Require Teaching Islam? ⋆ The Constitution.

Education, Homeschool

The Homeschool Diploma

Homeschool diplomas are not only valid—they often signify an exceptional education.  

Michael Farris