sometimes the universe tells you
that you are too busy
or else that ice skating
is perhaps not worth the risk.
either way I’ve decided
to take a short break from blogging
and focus on more important things
like learning to put on socks.
now has new meaning.
I’ve got a stockpile of columns
to get me through Easter,
after that I’ll be pecking
things out quite slowly.
I’m done with capital letters
unless autocorrect helps me out.
Facebook is easier
you can follow me there
and share all your ideas
I am waiting
to be healed and inspired.
goodbye for now…
Can I just say “Eeew”??! When I set off this year to do a better job helping my kids learn science at home after school, I didn’t know it would involve mold and dead rodents.
Here’s our latest kit:
This is the first kit we’ve gotten that is next to impossible to recreate at home. It came with a bunch of things I wouldn’t know where to buy: petri dishes, test tubes, Agar solution, etc. I guess you could find that on Amazon, but it would end up costing a lot more than $12.
Anyhow, here’s a look at some of the experiments we did:
The great news is my kids will hopefully have a better time remembering to use soap. 😉
For more posts about our Magic School Bus science kit adventures, click here.
The devastating Washington Mudslide is making national news this week, but many of my friends from outside of WA aren’t sure where Oso, Darrington and Arlington are. Roughly speaking, the mudslide is happening in the mountains about an hour’s drive from Seattle.
Understanding the geography of another state is difficult. I’m not very good with Arkansas , Vermont, or Ohio geography, because I’ve never been there. So here’s a crash course in WA geography in 60 seconds or less.
- Seattle (think Space Needle)
- Bellevue (think Microsoft)
- Tacoma (think the Tacoma Dome)
- Everett, Renton and Kent (think Boeing)
- Spokane (think close-to-Idaho)
- Olympia (the capitol)
- A huge, gigantic estuary coming into WA from the Pacific Ocean and Salish Sea (picture rocky beaches with mountain views)
- Mt. Rainier (duh!)
- Olympic National Park (Bella and Edward’s backyard)
- North Cascades National Park (pristine wilderness)
- Western WA can be cold and rainy (think, good place to fish)
- Eastern WA is almost like a dessert (think, good place to pick peaches)
Okay, now take a look at Google maps and you’ll have a much better understanding of where the mudslide happened.
This is a very sad time for our beautiful state. My heart and prayers go out to the people of Oso, Darrington and Arlighton.
My son’s third grade class has been gearing up for the Science Fair. For Bruce, this meant experimenting with conventionally grown versus organically grown potatoes.
My son was having so much fun, that I decided moms should get to do a science experiment too. So I headed to Fred Myer and bought two brand new hummingbird feeders. I also purchased Pure Cane C&H sugar, as well as the store brand.
I mixed up the hummingbird food with the ratio of 1/3 cup sugar to 1 cup water. I also added a few drops of red food dye, which I normally don’t do. Since I was “launching” two new feeders, I wanted to make sure and get the birds’ attention.
Then I set the feeders in my tree and waited. The GMO feeder was on the left, and the Pure Cane C&H sugar feeder was on the right. After one week, this is what I saw:
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. That feeder on the left is half empty. So maybe the hummingbirds like the GMO sugar, but just not as much as the other one.
It is now three weeks later. I have emptied, bleached out, and refilled the feeders three times. The birds refuse to eat from the feeder they know to be GMO.
I’ve tried filling up the “bad” feeder with “good” sugar, and the birds still avoid it like the plague. They won’t go near it at all.
That, my friends, really freaks me out. If hummingbirds won’t eat the stuff, then why would I feed it to my kids?
I LOVE my Wonderbag Portable Slow Cooker! Here’s something yummy I threw together tonight and cooked while we were at a Little League game.
- 1 lb chicken filets
- 2 eggs + bread crumbs, salt and herbs to bread the chicken
- coconut oil
- 4 carrots
- 4 celery stalks
- 1 onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
(Don’t know how to “bread” something? Click here.)
This meal is sweet and spicy. You could take out the sweetness by using olive oil instead of coconut oil. Or, you could amp up the spiciness by adding chilies.
For more information about the Wonderbag, check out their website.
Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today’s Everett Daily Herald: If robocalls could hear, they’d get an earful from the kids. (Oh, and no, my kitchen table does not normally look that nice!)
By the middle of March I struggle to remember how much I love the Pacific Northwest. Snow is one thing. Rain is another. But the gray? That can really get you down.
They say March is “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” My daughter knows this expression too. That’s why she keeps yelling “I hate the lion!” every time we go grocery shopping in the rain.
But today, March 21st, a miracle happened: sunshine.
It’s hard to describe how the special color of light, and the warmth coming in through window panes, can change a person who is starved for sunshine.
Whoo-hoo! We made it!
Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future, by Elizabeth Esther, is so good and so powerful, that in addition to crying and laughing I also feel a little bit ill.
Elizabeth’s story of growing up in The Assembly, as the granddaughter of church founders, George and Betty Geftakys, is harrowing. Preaching on street corners by age nine, ingrained with the belief she would be Left Behind at any moment, taught that the natural curves of her body were to blame for tempting all men into sin, and spanked every day in the methods of Michael Pearl; no wonder this mom of five has PTSD. Reading about so much awfulness made me start shaking.
Gracefully, Elizabeth lightens her memoir with bits of this-is-so-messed-up-I-can’t-believe-it humor. For example, when Elizabeth is finally permitted to attend public school, it’s only because her parents commissioned Elizabeth to bring her high school to Jesus.
The most stomach churning moments in this book have to do with child abuse. On page 41 she describes “obedience tests” aka “mat-training” or “blanket training”. Children were placed on mats and then spanked every time they reach off the matt. Elizabeth describes how some mothers would intentionally tempt their children by placing candy all around the mats, and then spank them when they reached for the candy. Pardon my French, but “What the fudge?”
There’s another section in the book where Elizabeth’s father tells her its God’s will (because Dad said so) that she give up her hard-earned position on the school newspaper–that had me in tears.
Thankfully, Elizabeth Ester has found healing. Part of her new life comes from the Catholic church. What I found so interesting about the last chapter of the book, is that Elizabeth is describing what Methodists like me call the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. It’s when we base our faith in God on four things: scripture, church tradition, reason, and our own experience. It took a lot of courage for Elizabeth and her husband Matt to lean on reason and experience, when they had been so spiritually abused by the other two.
Girl at the End of the World is a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous book. It’s a cautionary tale to all Christians. If we believe the Bible is the living word of God, then we need to let the Bible live and breathe. We need to stop letting people use the Bible as a weapon. If we believe God gave us free will, then we need to exercise our own opinions and stop wiping our wills clean. If we believe Christ died for us so that we may have eternal live, then we need to live.
Live well, Elizabeth Esther. You deserve it!
P.S. You can find more about Elizabeth Esther by reading her blog. Thank you to Convergent publishers for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
Have you ever heard of Bill Gothard? If you answer “No” to that question, don’t feel bad. I had never heard of him either, until recently. I’m just an ordinary SAHM, sending my kids to public school and taking them to my nice, friendly United Methodist church on Sunday.
But how about this… Have you heard of the Duggar family from TLC’s popular show “19 Kids and Counting”? You have? Good! Now we’re getting somewhere. You know all about Bill Gothard only you didn’t know it. Gothard is/was good friends with the Duggars.
What we’re really talking about is a group of fundamentalist Christians (some people would say cult), who have a huge impact in the American homeschooling movement today. The name of their organization is the Advanced Training Institute, or ATI, for short. Part of their message is that good Christians don’t send their children to public schools.
Right now ATI is going through a major scandal. Bill Gothard, the former leader, has been accused by over 34 women of sexual harassment of minors. The allegations include fetishes, grooming, and in one case, groping. These stories are being shared on a website called Recovering Grace. Here are some examples:
The trouble is, most public school families like mine haven’t heard about any of this. Why should we? Hmmm… Maybe because the Duggar girls are on a book tour right now, promoting their ATI lifestyle. We know all about the Duggars; we just don’t know the whole story.
Let’s start with something really horrible: Blanket Training.
Never heard of blanket training? Me neither! Apparently, it’s when you put a young infant on a blanket and then hit the baby every time she puts her hand off the blanket. You train the baby through physical discipline to stay on the blanket. More about blanket training.
If smacking babies isn’t enough, here’s something else to make your blood boil: Stay-at-home-daughters.
That’s when parents give their daughter such a horrible education (or no education), that she’s unprepared to get a GED, go to college, land a paying job, or even move out of the house. She’s stuck at home forever, doing housework and taking care of her siblings, until her father allows her to enter “courtship” with a man he selects. More about stay-at-home-daughters here.
FYI, some of these links are from a website called Homeschoolers Anonymous, where former homeschoolers are sharing their stories. A lot of the accounts come from growing up ATI, but not all of them. Also, some of the people share really positive views of growing up homeschooled, including one of the website founders, RL Stollar.
Homeschoolers Anonymous is also related to two other websites: Homeschooling’s Invisible Children and the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. Their goal is to make sure that America doesn’t forget about children like Hana Grace-Rose Williams, and to help create simple laws that would protect homeschooled children in the future.
The Coalition is suggesting regulations for homeschooling that include:
- Parents homeschooling their children should have a GED or high school diploma.
- Homeschooling parents should not be sex offenders.
- Parents should teach the same subjects as public schools, but be free to use any materials they would like.
- Children should not be forced to be at grade level.
- Parents should be required to maintain academic records for the homeschooled children (so they could later go to college.)
- Parents should be required to submit birth certificates to the state. (Btw, in the case of Hana Grace-Rose Williams, nobody was certain when she died how old she was, and her body had to be exhumed during her parents’ murder trial.)
- Progress should be assessed each year with an exam of the parents choosing.
- There should be a yearly portfolio review.
To me as a public school person, these ideas seem like no-brainers. But to the homeschooling community, this is a big deal. Check out this thread on The Well Trained Mind message board to read the vitriol.
My understanding is that some homeschoolers view any regulations as a potential threat to their rights to homeschool, and therefore are against any oversight whatsoever. There’s also a libertarian vibe running through all of this, that is hard for me (personally) to understand.
It’s really important to note that not all homeschoolers in America are religious. Also, many families who are religious, choose to homeschool for primarily academic reasons.
When it comes to schooling, I am Pro Choice. I’ve taught at a really horrible public school before. If my children were living in that district, I would want to be able to homeschool too. So I fully support the right to homeschool and want that option to be protected.
But whoa! How are we as a society to protect kids from people who are so brainwashed that they would hit young babies and burn their daughters’ birth certificates? How do we protect the next Hana Grace-Rose?
I think the people running Homeschoolers Anonymous, Homeschooling’s Invisible Children and the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, are really brave for speaking out. That’s why I’m adding them to my blogroll.
So the next time you see the Duggars on television, pay close attention. Those smiles you are seeing? They might be forced.
P.S. Interested in finding out more? Check out Free Jinger.
Got some old crayons laying around? Turn them into masterpieces!
Heat rocks from your garden in the oven at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. (Smooth rocks work best.) The rocks will be hot to the touch, but not dangerously so. Use hot pads just in case, to protect your kitchen table.
Then color with old crayons. The wax will melt on contact, producing a beautiful paint-like effect.
Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today’s Everett Daily Herald: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140316/BLOG5205/140319518/Greedy-piggy-bank-is-too-precious-to-butcher
Americans are infamous for their obscenely gigantic refrigerators and I’m no exception. My freezer is usually so packed that something falls out and hits me in the head every time I open it.
That’s a sharp contrast to the mission countries that Wonderbag serves; places where Wonderbags mean reduced deforestation and increased quality of life. Wonderbags can be the difference between a mom being raped on her way to gather extra firewood for dinner, or staying home to help her children with their school work.
That is very sobering.
My American kitchen is a world away. But I’ve found that Wonderbags can improve my quality of life too.
This year for Lent my family is trying to simply dinner and focus on family, and our Wonderbag is part of that plan. We are following an old-school/new-school meal plan:
- Meatless Mondays
- Taco Tuesdays
- Wheat-less Wednesdays
- Throwback Thursdays (leftovers)
- Fish on Fridays
- Souper Saturdays
- Sunday Chicken Dinner
The beauty of this plan is that the kids know what to expect for dinner and I have a clue about what to cook. If I go grocery shopping on Friday, it works out great. We clear out the fridge Thursday night and have fresh fish on Friday.
Today is Wheat-less-Wednesday and on the menu is Swiss Steak made from a bunch of things from my freezer and pantry. The picture doesn’t do it justice; this meal was so yummy my kids asked for seconds. It makes a really good meat, veggie, and gravy concoction that is excellent over rice.
- 1-2 lbs cube steak
- 1 lb mushrooms
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 onions
- 3 carrots
- 3 T butter
- 2 T Worchester sauce
- 2 T sherry vinegar
- 1/2 packet organic ranch dressing mix
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese
- rice (for serving with the Swiss Steak)
- Sautee the butter, meat, mushrooms, onion, garlic and carrots in a Dutch oven until the meat is brown and the mushrooms have shrunk (about 15 minutes). The veggies will cook down and make a broth that will begin to boil.
- Add in the seasoning and cheese.
- Boil for 5 minutes.
- Cover the bot and bag in your Wonderbag for 4+ hours.
- Serve over rice.
For more information about Wonderbag and their mission to help the planet and improve the lives of women, please check out their video.
Here in America, Wonderbags can be purchased online through Amazon. Every time an American purchases a Wonderbag, a woman in Africa gets one too.
I’ve got two new Young Scientists Club kits to review:#26 and #36. I ordered our subscription in 2013 with a steep discount through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Now we get a new science kit every month for a total cost of about $9 a kit.
Kit #26 is about static electricity and is pretty cool, #36 was about famous scientists through the ages and was awful. If that had been our first experience with The Young Scientists Club, I would have been asking for my money back.
The main problem with #36 was that a lot of the experiments needed clay, but the clay the kit came with was all dried up and worthless. That meant that almost every experiment failed, which caused a lot of eight-year-old frustration, which caused mommy-frustration, which pretty much ruined a perfectly good Saturday morning. It was like a chain reaction of awful.
So if you engage in this science-by-mail adventure, don’t order kit #36.
Kit #26 however, was pretty good. Some of these experiments you can try at home for free. All you really need are balloons, cereal, and a comb.You just won’t have the nifty script that the kit provides.
Important science fact: When you rub a balloon on your hair, all of the negatively charged electrons from the balloon jump to your hair. Then the balloon has a positive charge. When the positively charged balloon comes into contact with something that has a neutral charge, like cereal, water, or the wall, electrons from the new item will jump to the balloon.
There are lots of other static electricity experiments you can do with balloons. Use your imagination and have fun.