Feb 10, 2015

Now What?

This is my first year directing a community for Classical Conversations. I really love my job!

I got to thinking about those of you newer-to-homeschool moms, I thought this might be a help to you. Yah, I should've written it about 5 months ago, but hey, better late then never!

So after your community day, once a week, what should you do at home?! What do you need to do?

1) Memory Work: We always review the memory work for as many weeks as we can. 30 minutes. Every day. Now, that's an ideal (which in all honesty means that it doesn't actually happen every day), and it's easier now that one of my kids is older. You can buy the app, you can use the CC connected tutorials, or you just sit in your living room, coffee in hand, Foundations Guide on your lap and go. Sometimes we go by weeks. "Let's do all of week 14-18". Sometimes we go by subject, "Let's do all of Science and History today." Play the songs in the background. Or the car. Hey, we've even done memory review during hula-hooping or jumping on the trampoline.

2) Geography: Trace (or draw from memory) those maps! At the end of Challenge A, your child will be able to draw the entire world map, with labels, from memory. A little practice every day makes it a much less daunting task and this is a great way to get a few minutes of memory work review that you don't really need to be involved in (unless you love to learn and want to be able to wow your friends at cocktail parties by drawing the US map from memory complete with tiny little labels for places like Mitchell Peak and the Erie Canal). Littles have an easier time if the tracing paper is taped down over the map. Older kids can try drawing freehand or from memory as they progress. Here's a great resource for learning to draw the US map (learned in 4 parts/regions). I know we can tend to skimp on geography because it takes me 4.7 seconds to go get the map!

3) Reading/Spelling/Phonics: This subject area isn't included within our community day, but reading is kinda important and needs included in your homeschool schedule. There are tons of great resources and curricula out there. Ask a homeschooler you trust what they've used and what they liked and why. I really like Spell to Write and Read - but while it was great for one kiddo, NOT SO MUCH for the other. I've also heard great things about Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Now, please remember there is a mighty age range for learning to read, so go easy on yourself and don't stress out too much.

4) Handwriting: Goes along with 3. Important! With very little kids, tracing letters in the sand or on a dry erase board is plenty! As my kids have gotten older, I assign copywork every day. They copy short sentences (younger) to paragraphs (older) either from our History memory work or from classical literature that I have them read/have read to them. If you need ideas in this area, I know just where to send you - let me know.

5) Literature: This is my personal opinion, and I'm sure you're already reading to your kids. I just want to encourage you to read really good literature with your kids that is above their own reading level! There are TONS of great audiobooks on Librivox.org, and TONS of free classics formatted as e-texts at gutenberg.org. I choose books by looking through the invaluable reading lists at amblesideonline.org by grade level. Here's a thought-provoking article about the trend in required reading lists for middle schoolers over the last 100 years.

6) Mathematics. Lastly, Math. MATH! CC's memory work curriculum is amazing and going to be so handy as our kids progress, but you'll need to choose a math curriculum of some sort. I always hear great things about Saxon (used later when our kids get into Challenge but not required) and Math-U-See, and to tell you the truth I don't know anything about any other curriculum except the one I use. Which is free. K-12.

7) Resources: Here are my favorite homeschool go-to websites.
Classical Conversations - of course!
Old Fashioned Education - her premise? A great education doesn't have to be spendy. Great links to so many free books, resources, classics, old-time curriculum, etc. as well as schedules. This is where I started my homeschool journey, 7 years ago!
AmblesideOnLine - a Charlotte Mason resource - which I think ties in well with CC especially as it relates to reading great literature in all the subjects and providing a smorgasbord of beautiful and amazing ideas, thoughts, and art for your children to interact with.

8) Pray. Pray - no I'm serious, pray. I need to remember daily that this calling is (or can be) really hard and I can NOT do it on my own so no wonder it feels impossible. I need the Lord's help for wisdom in little things like "which reading program should I use" all the way up to "how do i encourage this kid in this when we're already both frustrated and discouraged"! He is our mainstay and cares more for our kids' education than we do. They are made to glorify Him and what a great opportunity we have to grow up future truck drivers, moms, lawyers, uncles, teachers, cashiers, scientists, engineers, aunts, librarians, dancers, dads and administrative assistants who love the Lord with all their hearts and seek to follow Him for a life time. Truck drivers, lawyers, teachers, cashiers, scientists, engineers, librarians, dancers, and administrative assistants who can read Cicero in its original language, espouse thoughts on Shakespeare, and parse a sentence like nobody's business - all for God's glory and to His praise.

Compatriots! 
9) Compatriots: I list it last but I think it's very important. DON'T GO THIS ALONE! You need a compatriot! At least one person who you can get together with (or text!) during the week so kids can play and you can tell this particular someone, out loud, that some certain other someones are driving you crazy this week. We are all struggling - I guarantee it. So let's not be quiet about it - let's be open, ask for help, be an encouragement and trek down this road together.



I'd love to know what you'd suggest to your just-starting-out-in-CC-self. What would you tell him/her if you could talk to her now?

Jan 16, 2015

Golden Milk - to sooth the common cold

I've been reading about turmeric off and on for a long time. I first started learning about it way back when I realized I love curry and found it in a curry blend. Then it got mentioned over and over in my Foundations of Herbal Medicine course as an anti-inflammatory (and therefore a pain reliever). If you'd like to read some studies on turmeric and it's effects on inflammation, you can go here.

That was back when I was young and spry and didn't really care about words like "anti" and "inflammatory" and "pain". But then I got slightly older.

So, here is a recipe for something called Golden Milk. This is so yummy! It's a spicy lovely sort of hot drink reminiscent of hot cocoa (in a strange way) but really good for you, too. And what isn't inflammatory?! Colds? yes. Joint pain? yes. Sinus problems? yes.


Our Golden Milk Recipe:
2 cups of milk (coconut, almond, rice, etc.)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1 Tbsp of honey (or to taste)
1 Tbsp coconut oil (the second best part after the turmeric, in my opinion)

Heat milk and spices gently in pan. *Stir. Pour and serve. YUM! (Watching an episode of Red Dwarf at this point doesn't hurt, either.)

Turmeric is a native of Southern Asia and has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a blood purifier, digestive tonic, carminative and for liver disorders. This recipe is reminiscent of those days as turmeric was boiled with milk and sugar and used to treat colds. Turmeric was also used topically to treat bruises, sprains, wounds and inflammation.

*Author's note: Do not walk away from the stove while your Golden Milk is heating. It's not pretty - and you don't want to know how I know. But I know how I know. And I know that you don't want to know. Unless you do. 

And now, because I am not a doctor, my disclaimer!
The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Discuss this information with your own physician or healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I can not and do not give you medical advice. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad consumer understanding and knowledge.  The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other health care provider. 

Jan 14, 2015

Homemade Mascara!?


A friend of mine said, "I haven't ever even THOUGHT of making mascara myself." Well, I had - for the last two years - in which I kept wanting to but never getting around to it. I just wanted to try it - why not? And the bonus? This mascara has two of my most favorite ingredients in the world in it: cocoa powder and Lavender Oil!

I first got all of my ingredients together:
Cocoa Powder
Aloe Vera Gel
Vegetable Glycerin
Bentonite Clay Powder
Lavender Oil

It took a little trial and error, but I came up with these amounts:
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp bentonite clay powder
8 drops glycerin
1/2-2/3 tsp aloe vera gel (The mixture seemed a little thick, so this is where I added extra to get the consistency I like.)
3 drops Youngliving lavender essential oil

After mixing everything together, the hardest part was getting it into my cleaned out mascara tube. I took a popsicle stick, swiped some in, and then tapped it on the counter until that portion went down into the tube. Kind of repetitive. This took longer than anything.

(My two girls loved helping me make this.)

Results:
All in all, I really like this mascara. Every morning I get a kick out of the fact that I'm putting cocoa powder on my eyelashes and I think the lavender smells dreamy.

It's really not as dark as I would like. Next time I will replace some of the cocoa with activated charcoal.

It did have a front end investment - I mean, seriously, how long is that tube of aloe vera gel going to last at 1/2 tsp per batch? I'll be making my own mascara well into my 80s!

I think it stays on just as well as any store bought mascara! Yah!

Wouldn't YOU like to wear cocoa powder on YOUR eyelashes?

Oct 14, 2014

Elderberries & Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry - [Gouache & Pencil]
So if you've known me more than 15 minutes, you probably know how much I like plants, and herbal medicines, and yes, tinctures and ointments (so fun to say) and salves (also fun to say but more fun to make). Well, I'm learning all about ELDERBERRIES - and made my first batch of elderberry syrup last week.

And then I got to thinking - is this just a folk remedy thing? Don't get me wrong, I think folk remedies are awesome and I completely value the knowledge of those who have gone before me - but I was curious about recent studies done on the herb. Does elderberry really help with the flu and sinusitis and colds?

Turns out, several studies may show elderberry to be helpful with all these things! A small study in Norway found that those participants taking 15ml of elderberry extract 4 times a day had relieved symptoms an average of FOUR DAYS earlier as compared to those using placebo. Watch a short video about Elderberry by Tierana Low Dog, MD here.

Have you ever been sick? Do you remember wondering what it was like when you felt normal? Four days shorter!? That's like an eternity when you have a cold!

This summary from the University of Maryland says that elderberry probably reduces inflammation of the mucus membranes and also decreases nasal congestion while boosting your immune system. YES, sign me up. Now, read further in that summary as it mentions a couple of cautions: like if you're pregnant or taking immuno-suppressant drugs (in both of these cases the possible immune stimulating effects of elderberry would not be recommended). Always remember that plant compounds can interact with presciption drugs - so you really should check into that before you use herbal preparations.

However, the berries (cooked first and made into a syrup) have been used for a long time in Europe to treat colds and flu, so my family will continue to make use of this amazing berry!

Here's how I make my elderberry syrup. Super simple.

3 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup elderberries (dried)
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Cool a bit and then filter through whatever you use to filter things. (I use a muslin cloth.) Squeeze out the berries at the end to get the last of your 'tea'. I compost the spent berries or feed them to my chickens.

I put everything in a quart jar and sweeten to taste with raw honey. I use between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of honey.

I keep the concoction in the fridge and give my family about 2 tsp several times a day when they're sick.

And one of the best things about elderberry (syrup)? My kids LOVE the taste! One of them asked if she could even have it on her plain yogurt for breakfast!







And now, because I am not a doctor, my disclaimer!
The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Discuss this information with your own physician or healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I can not and do not give you medical advice. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad consumer understanding and knowledge.  The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other health care provider.

ARToberfest / day thirteen

Fall Leaf
Not much to say about this leaf except that the colors were amazing!