Saturday, September 27, 2014

Just a Peek

I've been wanting to take a moment to travel back through our first month of homeschooling through the pictures I've taken these first three weeks.  I cannot believe next week will usher us into October!  I remember older people telling me how fast time goes by the older you get.  Now, I am one of those older people saying the very same thing, because it is SO true!  That is why it is SO important to take time to just be.  Be present.  Be mindful.  Be observant.  Be reflective.  Be still.  There is no better way to slow time down than by making a conscious effort to NOT be so busy.  It's the business of adulthood that sucks our time away.  So, now is my time for reflection.  I hope you enjoy traveling back with me.

We ended the summer with our one and only trip to the beach.
Weather was a bit cool here in SE Michigan this year.

The hubby got all our wood ready for this year, and hopefully next!

School pictures!  Our new first day tradition.

The first science experiment of the year; a visual in mummification.
The three-year-old was the one with the spot on hypothesis!
We started using the busy bags from the trade I participated in the summer.
(A fun idea I highly recommend!)

Bella loves preschool!

Harmony back at her math program.

We still took time to watch things grow and to enjoy the nature around us.
Bella LOVES taking pictures of our growing tomatoes!

We all helped in one way or another to
prepare for hunting season.

Finding out what happened to our apple slices in our first experiment.
Annabella needs to taste everything!

Wild grapes grow around our property.
Maybe we'll do something with them next year.

We enjoy the turkey that travel our yard.
Finding their feathers is like discovering treasure.

My favorite stop when we take a nature walk on our land.

Exploring a new local park.

Bella loves to climb!

The kids think the new hearth is a stage.
Guess what movie we watched recently!

We learned about cells.

And, learned that Play-doh can grow mold.  Gross!

An exercise on the importance of our bones.

People without bones.

Learning about the protective fluid around our brain.

Traveling around Africa before the digging of the Suez Canal.

Benefiting from the short cut of the Suez Canal.

As you can see, we've done a lot in September.  Now that fall is here, we will begin a whole new set of adventures.  I love taking pictures of what we do if for no other reason than to see that we really do get a lot accomplished in our time, as fast as it does slip by.  Pictures are a fun way to record our life together, and with today's technology it is easier than ever.  Most of these pictures are unedited, because I just don't have the kind of time I would like to devote to photography at the moment.  Plus, I wanted you to see that it doesn't matter the perceived quality of the photos, rather it's the ease of record keeping that they provide.  We forget things all too quickly, and pictures are a good way to preserve those memories and even record your school year.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

10th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day

September 26th is the 10th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  If you are anything like me you have no clue about what this disease is, what causes it, or if there is a cure.  When Heather Von St. James contacted me and asked me to spread awareness, I accepted the challenge.  There's been a lot of that going on here lately.  Here is a little bit of what I learned:

What is Mesothelioma, anyway?

Our bodies have a thin layer of cells that line our internal organs.  This lining of cells is called the mesothelium.  Malignant Mesothelioma a rare cancer that occurs in this layer of cells.  There are three types:

1.  Pleural Mesothelioma - Occurs in the pleura, the lining of the lungs.  Accounting for about 70% of the cases, this is the most common form.

2.  Peritonial Mesothelioma - Occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity.

3.  Pericardial Mesothelioma - Occurs in the lining of the heart.

What is the cause?

Plain and simple, Mesothelioma in all its forms is caused by exposure to asbestos.  It may be decades after exposure that an individual begins to show signs of having this disease.  As soon as a person exposed to asbestos begins exhibiting symptoms proper diagnosis should be sought from an expert.  The sooner this disease is caught the more options the exposed individual will have for treatment.

What symptoms should I look for?

Depending on the type of Mesothelioma one or more of these symptoms may be present.  Since some can be easily attributed to another cause most people have experienced symptoms for two or months before diagnosis.  Symptoms can include:
  • Low Back Pain
  • Side Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Persistent Cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Loss of Sensory Capability
  • Coughing Up Blood
  • Facial and Arm Swelling
  • Hoarseness
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime and exhibiting any of the above symptoms should promptly see their medical doctor.  Once a diagnosis is confirmed you will then be referred to a specialist.

What happens after diagnosis?

Treatment options and a treatment plan will be the topic of discussion when meeting with your specialist.  Recent developments and discoveries mean that there are now more treatment option available than ever before for those diagnosed with Mesothelioma.  Some options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  There are also clinical trials, experimental treatments, and other alternative options available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.  

If you would like to learn more about Mesothelioma please visit the following websites:

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Heather Von St. James ~ Mesothelioma Survivor

Heather with her daughter Lily.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Power of Nature

Walking the property with Lucky Dog.
 While the weather is still warm the kids and I are tryipng to send as much time outside as we possibly can.  After the historically long and cold winter we had here in Michigan last year I have been trying to be proactive in my preparations for this year.  I have experienced the healing benefits of time spent out of doors as well as the negative effects of going without time spent soaking in the sun and smelling the roses.  If I had to choose the number one bonus of living in the country it would have to be the abundance of nature available to us at all times.  This is in stark contrast to the nearly 20 year sentence I served in our previous, very urban, residence.  (No, city living is not for me.)

I was richly blessed in the realm of nature growing up, despite my lack of recognition or gratitude.  Even though I grew up in the city, my home had the feel of the country.  From the street you'd be none the wiser, but a short walk down the driveway opened up to a small sampling of the benefits of country living.  My mom grew up on a farm.  She always planted an AMAZING garden.  I grew up with home canned tomatoes, peaches, pears, and bread and butter pickles as well as an assortment of jams.  There was a small shed that looked like a barn, a raspberry patch, and several city lots worth of undeveloped woodland for tree climbing, fort building, and just plain exploring.  It was so much fun!  We had mature trees in our yard for lounging under on lazy summer days with a good book and a cold drink.  For a time we even had a couple of travel trailers for camping out at night.  (With a little black and white television for late night viewing of Benny Hill and Monty Python, probably the most risque thing on television at the time.  I'm still not sure if my mom knew we were watching those shows, or how much she would have even been bothered by it really.)

Now that we are raising another batch of children, I have tremendous gratitude for the location of our family home.  With all the emotional healing we have done over the past two years my appreciation has done nothing but multiply.  I can think of no better place to repair broken hearts, grieve lost dreams, and refresh mind and spirit than in the center of the quiet hum of nature.

So, how am I preparing to foster the love of nature within my children and nurture our connection to the out of doors during the winter freeze?  Here are some of my ideas:

The kids enjoying the sand table I plan
to convert for indoor use this winter.
1.  Clean out the sand and water table.  (You could also use a plastic sandbox.)  Stash it away inside.  Pull it out on one of those "cabin fever" kind of days, and fill it with dried beans and small toys.

2.  Keep the playdoh put away until winter settles in.  Use it for various activities on and off throughout the winter months like creating fossils with plastic animals, making nature impressions from items in our nature box, shaping animals and other critters, and general creative play.

3.  Fill the feeders, and make sure they are placed in convenient places to view from inside the house.  Keep a log of the birds we spot, and draw some of them in our nature journals.

4.  Gather items like leaves, twigs, flowers, and acorns for crafting.

5.  Track the weather throughout the winter watching the sky and reading books about the changing of seasons.

6.  Continue to take walks outside as the weather permits.  (Be willing to drop the day's plan to jump through the window of opportunity, especially after long periods of not being able to venture out.)

7.  Spend December learning about the history of Christmas and the true spirit of the season while crafting gifts to give to others.

8.  The very moment the opportunity presents itself, build snowmen.  (If you don't seize the moment, it will never happen.  Perfect packing snow does not fall according to my homschool schedule, ever.)

9.  Talk about fruits and vegetables, look at seed catalogs, and plan our garden for the spring.  Start some seeds.

10.  Keep track of events at the local nature center.  Participate in the activities, or just visit now and then.

Bella found a perfect walking stick
that she used during our walk and
discarded before returning home.
Here are some fun resources for further exploration:

I have TONS of resources on Pinterest

Family Education is always a good source of ideas.

Nature Detectives is a great site out of the UK.

Nature Rocks is a fun site with a search feature that you can customize to your own criteria; season, duration, location, age group, etc.

American Forest Foundation has some interesting ideas and resources.

Nature Explore has some fun resources for families as well as information about creating an outdoor classroom (One day!) and a free download for starting your own nature club.

Project Learning Tree is a great resource for using nature as education.

I hope these ideas and resources encourage you in making time in nature a priority for your family, whether you live in the city or the country or somewhere in between!

My current crew exploring our property.
Avery found a turkey feather!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rising to the Challenge

We are independent business owners.  My husband is the owner-operator of a small transmission business in Roseville, MI.  As most of you are aware, I am sure, the climate for small business owners has dramatically changed over the past few years.  It has become progressively challenging to generate a livable income, especially for automotive repair related businesses.  In the process of reevaluating our approach to marketing our business we have done a lot of brainstorming.  It all boils down to social media.  Our business is lacking presence in the most popular form of communication and sharing of information in today's online culture.  When is the last time you referred to your printed telephone book that gets dropped on your front step once a year?  Exactly!  (Mine goes directly to the burn barrel.)

Acknowledging our lack of online presence, coupled with our lack of knowledge in the most efficient approach to generating this online presence, we contacted a friend in the business; the marketing business.  We hired Fusion Marketing to help us make this transition from paper to technology a more smooth one.  Part of the process will include writing short articles about our line of business to be published in relation to our business; AKA content.  We have discussed the generation of content several times.  The fact that I could write content if only he told me what subjects to write about came up once again.

Now enter the challenge!

My husband challenged me to write 150 words or more on the subject of transmission coolers, something I know nothing about.  What do you think?  Did I rise to the challenge?

Here is the article I wrote:

Keep it Cool – Extending the Life of Your Transmission

Is your vehicle a workhorse?  Do you frequently tow heavy loads?  Are you aware of just what the role of your transmission is in the performance of your vehicle?  The job of the transmission is to regulate the RPM’s (Rotations Per Minute) produced by your engine and transmit the power created by those RPM’s to the drive wheels.  In the process of regulating and transmitting this energy the transmission relies of transmission fluid (a slippery, oil-like fluid) to help keep it cool.  When a vehicle works extra hard temperatures can exceed the maximum range of 160-200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Extremely hot temperatures can cause the fluid to burn and even damage the moving parts of the transmission resulting in the need for costly repairs.

Installing a transmission cooler can help protect against the overheating of your transmission, help your transmission to last longer, and even possibly prevent the need for you to pay for costly repairs.  Much goes into choosing the proper cooler for your vehicle.  Your transmission technician can help you determine which cooler will be most beneficial for your vehicle based on specific criteria like the weight of your vehicle, the weight of your cargo, and the weight of your trailer as well as where you most often travel with your vehicle while towing all that weight around.

In addition to the above considerations, your transmission technician will also determine the proper placement of your transmission cooler.  The engine housing does not provide a specific compartment for the transmission cooler, but proper placement is key in gaining the most benefit from the installation of the cooler.  Heavy airflow is required as well as protection from rocks and other projectiles that may be launched up from the road surface.  Proper inlet and outlet hoses also must be installed carefully as to avoid contact with hot surfaces as well as moving parts.

With over 30 years of experience the transmission professionals at Royal Transmission, LLC will gladly discuss your specific needs and help you make sure your transmission is properly cooled in order to prevent inconvenient interruptions to your work day and avoid costly repairs.  You can contact them at 586-776-4470 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to arrange an appointment for your transmission check-up.

379 Words - Mission accomplished!

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Student Logbook Review

My Student Logbook Review
My Student Logbook has created a versatile, adaptable, and easy to use system for homeschool families to teach their children to track their individual progress.  The system was born out of the frustration of a real life homeschool mom anticipating the birth of her seventh child.  With a little inspiration from a tried and failed system, and the assistance of a loving husband, My Student Logbook was born.  Harmony is thoroughly enjoying using her Undated Student Logbook this school year.

At first, I was a little apprehensive about Harmony using a logbook to track her school year independently.  She is nine, falling nicely into the second grade and up intended user age range, and not used to this level of accountability.  I didn't tell her we were getting it, and decided to surprise her with it one morning after breakfast.  We received Harmony's undated logbook with the Butterflies cover quite some time before we were actually beginning our new school routine.  So, I chose to use it just for her daily household responsibilities as a way to help her learn to use the logbook and get used to the accountability of record keeping in a more relaxed manner.  She was SO excited!  Seriously.  I am not kidding.  I know.  I was a little surprised myself.  I mean, I thought she'd use it okay, and she may even enjoy it, but excited?  Really?  Yes.  EXCITED!  In fact, last week, when she found out I would be writing the review soon, she told me, "Make sure you tell them I love it!"  The passion has not waned even as we continue to use it for our school year.  It may be, at least partially, that she can use it to keep me on track.  "Nana, we still need to do Spelling!"  What child doesn't like reminding their parent of something they forgot?  Oddly enough, I have never heard, "Nana, I forgot to clean the rabbit cage!"  (Insert smirk here.)

My Student Logbook Review

Currently, Harmony is using her logbook to keep track of her school activity as well as her household responsibilities.  I LOVE that I don't have to write everything down ALL-THE-TIME anymore!  At the start of each week I flip the page, tuck it under her list, and write the date at the top.  That's it!  No more list making.  No more forgetting things.  No more pressure.  It's one less thing I have to think about, and that my friends is a VERY beautiful thing!  Since we don't order our day by increments of time, rather a routine of activities,  I use the "time" column to put which day she is to do the task.  For example, We do Bible and Devotion every day, so I write M-F.  However, we do our Nature Journal on Fridays only, so I simply write F.  This lets her know in a simple fashion what she is to be doing each day.  It works wonderfully for the both of us, and I don't anticipate needing to make any changes to our routine until January of next year.  That means we will have used a list that I wrote one time for FOUR MONTHS.  (Que triumphant music here.)

My Student Logbook Review

Myself, I am very excited about the implications of using My Student Logbook over the long haul.  One of the goals of our family is to teach our children to be independent and self-driven.  This tool fits perfectly.  Over time Harmony, as well as Bella and Avery when they're older, will learn to hold themselves accountable and keep track of their progress.  The "little extras" round out the logbook nicely.  I love the pages tucked neatly in the back.  What child, young or old, doesn't like to fill out an "All About Me" page?  (Not to mention the pages to list your prayers and goals, the bible verses they've memorized, the books they've read, field trips and other activities, test records, and highlights of the year.)  Way, way, way down the road it will also come in handy when it's time for me to write their high school transcripts.  So much potential in such a little package!

My Student Logbook is available for $15 in 2014-15 School Year, 2015 Calendar Year, and Undated versions.  A PDF instant downloads are available for $10 - $20 depending on the download chosen.

To learn more about My Student Logbook visit them on Facebook or check them out on YouTube.

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