Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Going on a crazy Lake Erie...during high wind warning! (slow loading pictures!)

So, dh calls me and says "You wanna do something crazy???  Let's go to Lake Erie and see the waves!"  Just another advantage to can drop what you're doing and GO on some crazy adventure.

The Great Lakes are having the worst waves since the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in 1975! 

It was a long drive and we barely made it before dark, but we got to see some pretty cool waves......they're expecting larger ones, like 25 ft!

It was so, so, so utterly bitter cold!  Some winds I could barely walk against.

We were about 20 ft. from the breaker.......we got wet!

PS.....some of the night shots look like fire or fireworks, don't they?  The headlights shining on the water made it look that way.    I did not enhance the colors.  I took them from within the car (couldn't take the cold anymore!!!!)



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Naming a new horse

No, we've not gotten a new horse.  Well, I take that mother-in-law and sister-in-law both recently got new horses! 

But what I'm referring to is the fact that our oldest daughter recently entered a contest to come up with the name for a horse in a historical fiction book.....and the author choose her name for the horse!  So, when the book comes out late next year, the acknowledgments will include her name and she will get a free copy of the book!  Isn't that cool?!?   She's pretty excited!

Here is part of what DD12 had to work with to help with the naming of Sarah's new horse in book 4......

Excerpt from the fourth book:


    My new horse, a beautiful Morgan filly, wanted to run.... 

    After purchasing the chestnut beauty the day before from a man at Springfield who supplied horses to the army, I had yet to name her. She deserved one that matched her build and personality.  

            The filly stood fifteen hands high, weighed one thousand pounds, proud and high spirited, with a muscular build, clean cut head and a well arched neck. Her color was copper-red with a reddish-gold mane and tail.....

            The horse trader who sold me the filly assured me she was descended from Black Hawk, and of course all the Morgans had come from the original Morgan horse—Figure. Black Hawk was famous for a lightning quick stride and elegant manner. I had seen with my own eyes this great horse when he was shown at the Ohio State Fair.

            “Granny, this horse wants to run and I’m going to try her out.” Gently nudging her in the sides with my boot heels was all it took. She sprung forward and the sudden jerk nearly knocked me off. Quickly righting myself I kept low in the saddle and clung to the pommel. This horse was quick.....

            “Whew girl! You’re something else. Blackie at his best never had your speed.” Bringing her about, again I nudged her, and this time prepared for her fire. She did not disappoint. The sorrel lit out as if trying to out run lightning.

DD12 choose the name Fire Hawk, as it seemed to fit the horse's color and  pedigree, as well as her spirit and her speed.   DD12 enjoys coming up with names for horses that match their personality.

It's exciting that DD12 will be recognized in the acknowledgments of the book....she hopes someday to see her name on the cover of a book!  She enjoys writing stories.

If you've been looking for some good, educational, character-building stories for your might consider purchasing the Sarah series........Sarah's Wish, Sarah's Promise, and Sarah's Escape.  As I said, book 4 in the series, comes out late next year.  Both of my girls enjoyed the series and were already looking forward to getting book 4 even before dd12 won a copy!

The author, Jim Baumgardner, has created a character that kids can relate to.  Sarah is an orphan who's fun and gutsy and compassionate.  The stories take place in Ohio during the pre-Civil War days and revolve around slavery issues.  The target audience is 8 to 12 year olds.  The author has given part of the proceeds from the sales of the books to the Maude Carpenter Children's Home in Wichita, Kansas.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Replicas of the Nina and the Pinta

We recently went to see the replicas of the Nina and the Pinta down on the Ohio River.  They were so neat.  It was good for the girls (and me!) to see just how small these ships were that Columbus ventured out with!  Amazing that they actually made it across the ocean.....surely God's hand was on them!

We learned that Columbus' crew were mostly in the age 12 to 19 range!  The Nina was built to size, but the Pinta is actually 50% larger than the original.  The Nina was built without the convenience of power tools.  Aboard the Nina was a boat that was handcrafted by a 14yo Brazilian boy.

The Nina


The Pinta


We all wanted to apply for the job opening!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hedgehogs and weasels.......oh my!

Last week the girls learned about weasels and hedgehogs!

The girls had to choose a mammal to do a poster/report on for their co-op class.  They were limited as to what they could choose and (smart teacher!) they could not choose cat, dog, or horse.   DD9 choose weasels and DD12 choose hedgehogs.

So, the last couple weeks we were surrounded by weasel and hedgehog books from the library, print outs from the Internet, and I even found an audio about weasels on my computer that I had downloaded some time ago from "You Need A Story."  

DD12 did a bit more than required for the project.  She and a friend (they're doing the project together) decided make a unique presentation, by being a reporter (dd12) and interviewing a hedgehog (friend).

They also made a hedgehog out of salt dough (with cocoa added to make the dough brownish) and toothpicks.  Then the night before the presentation dd12 made hedgehog cookies.  Since we have a child at co-op with peanut allergies, we could not do Jan Brett's traditional recipe.....dd12 instead frosted the back part of the cookie with chocolate frosting and added chocolate sprinkles to make it looks spikey. 

We didn't do it, but if your child is interested a  FREE lapbook about hedgehogs can be found at Homeschool Share

Here are the display boards that the girls did:

hedgehog board

Weasel board

Monday, October 12, 2009

October meteor showers: Orionids


(I'll leave this post on top for awhile, as a reminder.  Scroll down for other posts.)

Orion has been my favorite constellation since I was a kid, but I never knew that it was the radiant for a meteor shower!  (Don'tya just love learning right along with your kids.....gotta love homeschooling!  )

You can view the Orionids between October 15 and October 29, with the peak being the wee hours of October 21.  (The 20th and 22nd may also be good for viewing.)

There are not as many meteors as with our favorite shower, the Perseids, in August.  There are only about 20 an hour at peak for the Orionids.  But hey, we homeschoolers will look for any excuse to get outside to "do school".......even if it is 1 a.m.!!!  Yeah, we're slave drivers....

So look up to the skies the last couple weeks of October.  Find Orion in the southeastern sky and look to the left of his left shoulder (the star Betelgeuse, a fun word pronounced as "beetle jews", which when said fast sounds like "beetle juice" )

Radiant for the Orionids


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Got young girls? A Christmas or birthday idea.........


If you've got young girls, you've got to see these!!!!

Breezy and her sister Emily have teamed up to launch a new home business, Noble Rose Press!  They have created some beautiful historic PAPER DOLLS......with the artistic talent of those two, how could they not help but be beautiful!!!

The dolls are part of a series they've entitled Daughters of His Story....Historical Women in Christ's Kingdom.

Girls and the dolls
Don't they look like fun?!   Won't you consider purchasing some and support these two lovely homeschooled ladies?  The paper dolls would make great Christmas or birthday gifts!   

Shhh...don't tell the girls, but I ordered them for Christmas.  Just think of the hours of creative play that I  they could have!

Visit Noble Rose Press today......they just launched the site today and they are having a Grand Opening sale on their products!   But HURRY......the sale ends Saturday!!!


National Chestnut Week is next week!


OK, so National Chestnut Week is not high on my celebration list!  Didn't even know there was such a thing!

But hey, part of the fun of homeschooling is trying things new....and getting to go on field trips... or, even better, getting to do both in one shot!

Yesterday, the girls and I gathered chestnuts at a local orchard.  We spent three hours there, each of us picking enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket.  The bucket weighed about 35 lbs. when full.    We were paid $10 for each full bucket.

It was a good lesson in economics....maybe they'll be less likely to blow that $10 they earned, knowing it took 3 hours to earn it!

So, what do you think of when you hear the word chestnuts?  I think of the Christmas song......chestnuts roasting on an open fire.....   But what else can you do with chestnuts besides roast them???  Does anyone still even eat roasted chestnuts???  I can't say I ever have!

I decided to find out a few facts about chestnuts.  I was surprised.

First off, we Americans don't eat much of them.  (OK, that was no one I know eats them!)   The U.S. per capita consumption is only 0.04 lbs, compared to 2 lbs. for China and 1 lb. for Europeans.  Big difference!

Next, I thought we were just doing old fashioned labor yesterday and gathering the nuts by hand.  Nope, worldwide this is the norm.  However, there are folks looking to mechanize this step. (My hands say.......please do!!  Even with lined leather gloves on, those burrs still can poke through....OUCH!!!)

And, I learned that most American think that chestnuts are only used for roasting (again that was not really a surprise), but did ya know that chestnuts can used in flours, main dishes, soups, and even desserts.  Taiwan even has chestnut flavored ice cream bars! 

Chestnuts are high in fiber and low in fat....sounds like Americans need to eat more of them!!  Chestnuts are gluten free, so they can be ground into chestnut flour for those sensitive to gluten.  

It takes about 2.5 lbs. of chestnuts in the shell to make one pound of dried chestnuts peeled.   So that means that each bucket that we gathered will be about 14 lbs. once they are peeled and dried.

There are quite a few recipes at Chestnuts Online, including some great sounding Italian ones!    Now I'm hungry!

OK, here are some pictures from our outing.

Here in the Appalachian foothills, the fall colors are just starting.

Looking was a long drive up to the top orchard.

The orchard at the top of the hill.
Orchard #4

The orchard where we decided to gather.  It was the oldest of the 4 orchards.
Orchard #3

We found a tree with burrs all over the ground and started in.
Burrs everywhere

Aren't they pretty!
Chestnuts up close


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thermogram results are in!


As mentioned before, I had a full-body thermogram done earlier this week.  The results, with thumbnails of each scan, came in today's mail.   The thermography report revealed no suspicious (as in cancerous) areas!  \o/ 

That's not to say that I don't have a lot going on, however!   There were several inflamed areas, many likely having to do with my dermatomyositis, interstitial lung disease, or Raynaud's phenomenon.    The only one that is likely not a result of those was some inflammation in the upper abdominal region.....I'm wondering if that's not stress on the liver by the medication I'm on???

I hope to take this information to the doctor and see what he rheumatologist isn't an "alternative option" kinda guy.  But I've tried his way for 6 it's time to explore some other ways.   I did learn of an D.O. within our network that does have alternative leanings......I hope to call him next week.


A P.S. for the thermography post

A couple things I forgot to post about on the previous thermography entry......

When you call about thermography, not only ask about the manufacturer of their equipment but also ask who interprets the scans.  The lady I went to sends the images to be read by doctors at Duke University, but she told us about another local themographer who interprets his own even though he was never trained to!     Your doctor is more likely to appreciate the findings if read by a reputable organization.

The other thing I forgot to write about was that you should have a second scan done about 3 months after the first.  This will provide a baseline for you, tell you what your norm is.  After that, they are recommended to be done yearly to keep an eye out for changes.  

The UBCF that I mentioned in the previous entry has been also paying for the second, follow-up breast screening.  


Friday, October 2, 2009

Themography....instead of or in addition to mammograms

thermography scan

I just had my first thermography earlier this week.  I have been considering it for a year or two.

Thermography is  a non-invasive, thermal imagining scan that does not use radiation.  It can be used for early detection, either in place of a mammogram or in addition to.  

It has been FDA approved for over 25 years and is finally getting some well-deserved recognition.  It can detect cancer up to 10 years sooner than mammography!!!  And the procedure is not painful at all.  It is used in hospitals around the world and has become a popular choice for many hospitals in the Western United States.   Where I live, it seems we still need to educate our doctors!

I recently heard a speaker.  She is a two-time breast cancer survivor.  Both times that she had cancer, she had both mammograms and ultrasounds and neither showed a thing.....she was pronounced "fine" because they couldn't see any cancer. (She knew with her symptoms that she quite obviously was NOT fine!!!)   Thermographies showed the cancer immediately, both times.  The second time she had cancer, it was contained in a sack......until the doctor required a mammogram, which broke the sack  , and then the cancer spread to 8 of her lymphs.

Thermography takes a picture of the "heat" (or lack of) of your body.

Thermography is not just used for the breasts, but the entire body.  Thermography is not overly good at showing uterine/ovarian or prostate cancer due to their location (deep and midst an area that is already usually very warm). It's also not all that great at scanning the brain.   Hopefully, as they improve equipment, these areas will also show up better.

Themography reveals vascular and nerve problems (or potential problems if left alone).   So, thermography is not only used for cancer, but also to detect fibromyalgia, immune dysfunction, diverticulitis, Crohn's, arthritis, sinus problems, carpal tunnel, and more.

As with all equipment, not all thermography machines are the same.  Meditherm units are supposed to be very accurate.   The images are interpreted by doctors at Duke University and you are sent the results within a week or so.  If something suspicious is revealed, you can then take these pictures to the physician of your choice and you can proceed as desired with the information.

Most insurances around my area do not cover the scan for breast screenings.   However, the United Breast Cancer Foundation has been re-imbursing for the breast screenings!   You have to fill out "paperwork" on the website at United Breast Cancer Foundation and once you get approval, you schedule a screening.  After the screening, you complete the process for re-imbursement.

Around  here, a thermogram for just the breast area is $150.  For half of the body, it is $250 and for the whole body, $325.   Each exam takes half an hour to a full hour to complete, depending on which one you have done.  If you can stand and sit on a stool, you can do this.....there is no painful squishing and pulling or anything!!!

Some pictures of scans and more information:

White is very hot/abnormal, reds and oranges are the next, down to the greens and the blues.  Lack of heat in some areas is just as telling as white in others.

I opted to have the full body scan done.  I'm anxiously awaiting my results.  I expect them next week.

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to give medical advice....just wanted women to know about another possible option and how they might get reimbursed for the breast screenings if their insurance does not cover it.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did you know that books are not machine washable?



Hoodies are great.  When you wear a hoodie, you feel like a kangaroo.  You've got a pouch to keep your hands warm.  And it's a handy place to put your book and some paper and a pen for taking notes while you read.   (It's a unit writing thang!)   When the weather warms up you can remove the sweatshirt and run around in the t-shirt you wear under it and throw the sweatshirt in the car.  And when your wonderful children unload the car for you and kindly remove the sweatshirt you carelessly left behind and considerately toss it in the wash bin for you and you neglect to go through the pockets before placing it in the washer.....well, let's just say it wasn't pretty!   Oh, here, see for yourself......

Book Damage1
Book Damage 2
Book Damage3

Thankfully, there is PaperBackSwap to rescue me.....some kind soul out there is going to send me another copy of the book.  I wonder if she would still send it knowing what happened to the last one???  Thank you, dear Flora......I'll try not to wash this one!!

The real bummer about the whole thing was losing the notes of the first three chapters!!  They didn't survive the wash. youngest wishes to add a public service announcement:

                       Do not try this at home.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Unexpected blessing


We wanted to do something special last night with the girls, and since Plan A didn't work out, we decided to make a Plan B and go to the movies instead.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was playing.

I don't watch much in the way of TV and have never seen previews for the show.  Didn't even know the book was going to be a movie until someone mentioned it on the Homeschool Share Message Boards,  so I didn't know what to expect. Couldn't imagine taking the book and filling 1.5 hours! But, overall, we were pleasantly surprised and rather enjoyed the movie. Not something I'm likely to purchase, but it was good.  

Our unexpected blessing of the evening was, when we walked in and were trying to determine when the show was playing and how much it was, a lady came up to us and asked if we were going to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs--in 3D--and we said we were thinking about it. (Still didn't know the cost yet.)   She said that they bought a bunch of tickets and one child didn't show......we could have the extra ticket.  

Wasn't that sweet!!  It was a real cost $30 for the other 3 of us.   Wow....when did movies go up so much!?!?!   (Can you tell we don't go often?  That we're used to going to the dollar theatre!?!)


Friday, September 18, 2009

Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?????


Really believe?

Oh, I'm excited about our church's new Sunday evening classes!  This time around, I'll be participating in Focus on the Family's The Truth Project!!

Truth Project

Most of the believers of today live pretty much like non-believers: not having a biblical worldview.  This small group study is designed to help Christians start to look at daily life through Biblical lenses.  I can't wait to start reinforcing this in my own life! 

I've come a long way in my thinking....

but I'm sure I've got a lot yet to learn...

do I really believe that what I believe is really real???? 


Monday, September 14, 2009

Invisible Illness Week: Sept. 14-20, 2009

Blogging for II Week

Many are shocked when they learn that I have a chronic illness...three of them actually.   I don't particularly look ill.  That's where the phrase "invisible illness" comes in.  Each year in September, for Invisible Illness Week, bloggers everywhere are posting about their life with an invisible illness--a chronic condition that affects their life every day. 

If you think you don't know anyone with a chronic illness, think again.  Almost 1 in 2 Americans live with a chronic condition--it just may not be one you can obviously see!

I have Dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease that affects the muscles and the skin.   At various times, I've had sore or weak muscles all over and painful rashes on my face.  I cannot be out in the sun much, as that will lead to a flare in the illness.  So, I've learned to wear sunscreen almost daily and to wear a hat when I know I'm going to be in the sun a lot.    I'm hoping that we'll be able to get disease under control and I can stop taking the nasty medications for it.  One night each week, I take 6-8 pills and then try and fall asleep before the nausea hits.   The following day, I'm generally tired.  The second day after taking them, I generally get a headache.  (Hey, at least it's predictable!)

I also have Interstitial Lung Disease, another autoimmune disease that makes my lungs weak and susceptible.  At the moment this is under control (in remission) and I'm taking no medications for it.

And I also have Raynaud's Phenomenon, which seems to go along with autoimmune problems.  My body doesn't always regulate temperature very well.  My hands and feet have poor circulation particularly, and my toes have begun to get numb places due the damage to the nerves.

So as bad all that sounds, I'm doing really well!! \o/  God is so good!!!  He is faithful and merciful.  I've come a long way since first being diagnosed (see my post for last year's Invisible Illness Week). 

While I wake up stiff and sore each morning, I'm able to walk around and do normal things without breathing difficulties.  I'm able to lift and carry most things.  I can hug and laugh and love on my family.  I can teach and we can go on field trips.  I am able to live each day!  I now find joy in even the smallest things.....a hug, a sunrise/sunset, a rainbow, a butterfly, etc.  I no longer take things for granted, especially such things as health and the ability to walk and breathe.   I can do all this because of my God.....He is my strength, my resting place. 

(If you want to read more about my story, see the post I did last year for Invisible Illness Week.)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Download free encouragement for your new school year!


The Old Schoolhouse magazine has put together a compilation of encouraging words and advice from seasoned pros like Steve & Jane Lambert of Five in a Row, Amanda Bennett of, Malia Russell of Homemaking 911, Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest/Bramley Books, Ruth Beechick, and more.

Their topics include:  cooperating with the Holy Spirit, managing a multi-level homeschool, organizing, and more.

Kick your school year off below to read more and to download your free copy of The New School Year:  Planning Your Course and Letting the Lord Determine Your Steps.

Get this FREE!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Using Forunately for You's Pockets and Tags of Time in workboxes


Since we're doing workboxes (see older posts) this year, I've been looking for some items that can be put in them for the girls to do independently.

I had downloaded some of the freebies from Fortunately for You some time ago, but had not used any to date or even particularly looked them over.  (You know how it goes, download it because it's free and you might need it someday, save it on the hard drive somewhere, and forget about it. )  As I was going through my computer files recently, I found those freebies and took a closer look and got the idea that their Tags of Time or their Pockets of Time could be a great workbox items. 

After determining the difference between ToT and PoT, I decided to purchase a few of each.  I decided to use ToT with my younger daughter, who is not particuarly  creative, and I would use the PoT with my older daughter, who is my artist. 

Both products test the child's comprehension of a story.  For each chapter, there are summarizing sentences about the chapter for the child to put in order to show the flow of the events in the story.  

PoT involve the child coloring a rectanglular tag with the sentence on it a particular color, cutting them out, and then, as they read the chapter, placing them in order and putting them the chapter's pocket, which is created by attaching two pieces of cardstock together to create up to 3 chapter pockets on a page.  (An answer key for mom is provided and lists the order the colors should be in.)   When completed, the child can make a cover for the pocket pages, punch, and secure with yarn/ribbon and make a book. 

The ToT involve a child decorating a tag as desired.  The child places colored strips which contain the sentence in order on the tag.  (Fortunately for You thoughtfully include non-color strips that you can print if you don't have a color printer or if your color ink is low!  Then you must tell the child what color to color each strip.)  The child must also include the chapter number, the chapter title, and a small graphic that represents the chapter.  (Again, an answer key is provided telling Mom the color order and which graphic matches each chapter.)   The ToT allow the child more creativity in the placement of the items and how the tag is to be decorated.  Once all of the chapters for a book are completed, the tags can be secured with yarn/ribbon.

In both cases, the child can also use the tags to retell the story.

This works for my younger daughter because she doesn't have to go through the effort of writing (a laborious chore for her).  It will work for my older daughter, giving her an outlet to be her creative, artistic self.

My youngest will finish her first PoT today, The Courage of Sarah Noble.  Next week, my older will find The Sign of the Beaver in her workbox and will complete her first ToT.

  Works for us!

ETA:  To use these in the workbox, each day I would just place the book to read and the print outs of the rectangular tags for 3 chapters at a time.  Then doing one chapter at a time, DD9 would color the tag according to the instructions, making sure to read the sentences as she did so to familiarize herself with what to look for in the story.  Then she cut them out (just one chapter at a time), again reading the sentences.  I also had her write the chapter number on the back.  Then she read that chapter of the book.  As she read, she'd arrange the cards in order.  After she read the chapter, she paper clipped the cards and gave them to me for grading.  Once I verified they were in the correct order, they were placed in their pocket.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How do you know you're serious about making your own laundry soap?

When you go out and buy an industrial-sized soap stirrer (aka, paint mixer) to attach to your drill.  

Stirrer 1

I've been making my own laundry soap for about 15 months now, but this was only my second batch of the liquid kind.  It's cheaper than making powdered, but it needs stirring every now and again, so my dh went out and bought a stir stick that really does the job!!