Friday, February 19, 2010

CHA Science and Social Studies Fair 2010

For the last few months, Britches and my Little Man have been hard at work on their science and social studies fair projects. Today, our homeschool group held its annual fair. It was a long, busy day for me, because I was the coordinator. But it was SOOOOO worth every minute! It was a great day, and it was a great fair. Here are the pictures of the kids projects.


Britches did a project called "Triangles are Stronger Than Squares." She did an experiment using gumdrops and toothpicks. She built 2 towers, one with triangles and one with only squares, and she showed how the one built with squares collapsed under weight, and the one with triangles held strong. She also showed different things that are built using triangles, such as the Eiffel Tower, geodesic dome houses, the water tower near our house, bridges, and even the signs hanging out over the Interstate. She worked very hard on her project, and she won 3rd place in her division. She was a little disappointed at that, because she put so much work into her project. But I had to remind her that she did really well, and that she was competing this year against older kids. Last year, she was in the younger division. That helped her feelings some. But I was still very, very proud of her!!


A few months back, we did a lesson on Vikings, and my Little Man really enjoyed that!! So he decided to do his project on the Vikings. He showed pictures of their houses, how they built their ships, different types of armor that they used, foods they ate, and the different gods they worshiped. He also told about a Viking funeral. He built a model of a Viking longboat (their ship), and he brought his plastic sword and homemade bow and arrow to display. My Little Man won 1st place in his division, and he even won 1st place overall in social studies. I was very proud of him, too. 

My sweet hubby man was able to take off work today, so he could come and help set up and take down the things needed for the fair. And he was able to actually watch his children participate in the fair this year. Rarely does he ever get to do that, because his work usually has him driving all over the state. So this was a real treat today. The kids enjoyed him being there, and I enjoyed it, too!! 

And their papaw and mamaw even showed up to watch and take pictures of their projects. So Britches and my Little Man knew that there were a whole lot of people there cheering them on today. And for that, I was thankful!!

Leading the science and social studies fair this year was great. It was great fun putting it together, and I really, really enjoyed seeing all the amazing projects that our homeschoolers came up with. It was a FUN DAY!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Big Snow of 2010

Very rarely do we see any snow whatsoever in my neck of the woods. And even more rarely do we see an actual snowfall - you know, the white, fluffy stuff that you can actually throw at each other without knocking someone out (because where I live, we get sleet - makes a good ball, but you don't really want to get hit with it!) and the kind you can roll into three balls to make a REAL snowman. 

But last Thursday, the weatherman said to watch out, because snow was heading our way. Everyone was holding their breath and hoping, but I don't think anyone really believed it would come. (Weathermen have been known to be wrong, on rare occasions, of course.) But to all of our surprise, snow flurries came floating down out of the sky right around lunch time, and they kept getting bigger, and faster, and heavier. And by Friday morning, all the world around us was a beautiful white! 

In the Deep South, we get this kind of snow about once every 10-15 years, if we're lucky. So in honor of the occasion, and because no one could get out of their driveways, the local schools closed and many area businesses shut down for a snow day. Well, we couldn't be left out just because we homeschool! So I declared that A Higher Calling Christian Academy was closed Friday for our own snow day!

I woke the kids early to show them all the wonder. They were thrilled! They ate their breakfast as quickly as they could, and headed outside by about 8:30. They played all day in the snow. Here are the pictures of our snow day!


My house covered with beautiful snow...


My lovely woods glistening with snow...


My honey's shop...


My plum tree...


The view of my road...


This is my garden. There were at least 6" of snow covering my beds.




Right off the bat, we had a snowball fight! It was the best snowball fight ever!!


The kids have always wanted to make snow angels, and this was their chance. This is Britches' snow angel.


And this is Little Man's snow angel. 


Little Man and Little Sister were making a snow fort together. I think Little Sister got the raw end of that deal, because every time I looked over at her, she was carrying her snowballs to Little Man, who was himself standing at the snow fort not doing anything but putting them in place. After I told him as much, he started helping with making the snow balls.


 The finished fort...


Britches decided to shake my tree and see how much snow would fall on her head!

Thursday afternoon, after the snow and sleet mixture had just begun to stick, Little Sister made her own little snowman all by herself! She was so proud of that snowman, even though he didn't even have a face! 


Our snowman. This is the first snowman we have ever built together, and it was great! Little Sister insisted we needed to go inside to collect a carrot for his nose, and Britches decided to bring out a hat for his head.


Britches wanted to build her own snow fort, without the help of her brother and sister. There was so much snow in her daddy's trailer, she decided to just build it right there. She didn't intentionally build it in the shape of a heart, but it sure turned out looking like that. 


My baby girl was sleeping through most of the fun. But when she woke up, I took her outside for just a minute to let her look at the snow and feel it, and to get a picture for grandma. She was none to enthused about it, so we went back in pretty quickly. 


All three of my kiddos came in soaked to the bone. Oh, and this was the second pair of clothes they had put on! When they came in, I sent Britches straight to the shower, and while they waited for their turn, Little Man and Little Sister warmed their feet and hands by the fireplace. 

I just love it when God blesses us with something unexpected and so much fun. He is such a good, loving God who gives us good gifts. And the big snow of 2010 was a good gift indeed!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Memories

Every year of my childhood, every time some special event or holiday came around, I always knew that we were in for the unexpected. My mom, who always loves doing "out of the ordinary" things - to say the least - would go all out for whatever the occasion. I always thought she was a nut ball! We ate ice cream cones on the birthday of the ice cream cone, we had green foods for supper on St. Patrick's Day, and she would bring home packs of silly putty to celebrate silly putty day (yes, there is such a day). See?! A complete nut ball! And every year, on Valentine's Day, my brother and I would wake to the smell of pink Valentine's pancakes for breakfast.

And apparently, I am as much of a nut ball as she is, because, every year since my kids were born, we have pink pancakes, or muffins, or whatever else I can think to turn pink, for breakfast on Valentine's Day.  And this year was no different. When my kids woke up this morning, I pulled out the waffle iron, and went to work making our special holiday breakfast. My kids wouldn't know what to do if I didn't make a pink breakfast for Valentine's! So here are some pictures of our fun this morning.

You start with a good waffle batter, and pour lots of red food coloring in! And, ta-da, you end up with a very nice, pink waffle!

Next, pull out your fanciest glasses (no plastic for special occasions!), and fill them with some milk. Pour lots of red food coloring in the milk, stir, and, ta-da, pink milk! You could use strawberry flavoring to make pink, but I was trying to keep the carbs as low as possible.


Round up the kids, sit down all together at the table, and enjoy some very happy, smiling kids!


Apparently my mom wasn't such a nut ball after all. Or maybe I've just embraced being a nut ball myself. Either way, I am making some great memories with and for my kids every time I do something fun and creative, like a pink breakfast. 
And by the way, this was the only thing I did for my kids for Valentine's. By making them a special breakfast and spending time with them while we ate it, I was SHOWING them how much I love them. No amount of chocolate or presents could ever compare to that!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


For the last month or so, I have been talking about all the things I want to change in my life this year. This year is the year for CHANGE! I want change to come in many areas of my life, from something as small as a new hairstyle to something as important as not taking a moment for granted and living life to the fullest. I am adopting many healthy eating changes, and I've also changed my sedentary lifestyle to one that encourages and welcomes exercise. Today, I ran and walked THREE AND A HALF MILES!! Last year, I would have dreaded the thought of walking slowly for one mile. But today, I was exited about my workout time, and I was disappointed when it had to come to an end. CHANGE! I need it!

One major change I made is giving up my coffee. For any of you who know even a little about me, you know that I LOVE my coffee strong, large, and several times a day. It is the first thing I think of when I wake, and I can't function without 2 good, strong cups. By the time lunch is over, I'm thinking about the next 2 cups I'll have for an afternoon snack. And often, in the evening, I am craving more before bed. And the cycle continues day after day after day.

The problem with that is this. A little coffee is fine for most people, but an excessive amount can lead to all kinds of problems with your body. The caffeine high that I get from my first 2 cups lasts only until snack time. By that time, the caffeine has worn off and I am dragging. I can't make it through the rest of the day without another caffeine high. So I drink more. But by the evening, that caffeine high has worn off, and I can't wait to crash for the night. There again, the cycle goes on and on and on.

So I decided to get off of my coffee for 2 weeks to see if I felt better. To my absolute amazement, I am now more awake than I have ever been, I stay WIDE AWAKE for the entire day, and I am even staying up later at night than I ever have! By getting out of the cycle, my body is able to work like it was meant to work. I feel better, and I am better able to function in each day! There's one positive thing! After the 2 weeks were up, I was quite proud of myself, and in the back of my head, I thought, "Good! I did it, I'm done, I can drink coffee again." But I felt so good that I just couldn't talk myself into getting back into the habit again. So I haven't.

Reason number 2 for giving up my coffee is a spiritual one. The Bible says that anything in excess is sin. Everything is OK in moderation, but anything that we do or eat or drink (or whatever) in excess is a sin to My God. When I was no longer able to drink my coffee in moderation, but it became an addiction and I was consumed with it, it became a sin for me. I have tried cutting back and even giving it up many times in the past, but I always go back to drinking in "excess". So I had to quit completely.

There are lots of other benefits from quitting, like less money spent on coffee, filters, Starbucks - I could go on and on. But the 2 major benefits for me are my health and my obedience to God.

God asks different things of each of us.  Not too many of you have been called to homeschool your children as I have. Only a few of us are called to children's ministry. Some of us are called to a mission field far away. Some of us are asked to serve the poor and homeless. A few of us are called to sing in church. Many are asked to give their time and talents to glorify Him. Do not think that, just because God has asked something of me, He is asking the same of you. We each have our own convictions from God.

I realize that there are many of you reading this who are scratching your heads and trying to figure out what in the world I'm saying and doing!! Here's something to remember. God does not ask the same from each of us. God does not ask everyone to give up coffee, or video games, or money, or whatever. But what He does ask from EACH of His children is that we put Him first and foremost in our lives. And He is a very jealous God. Anything that comes before Him, He asks that we get rid of it. So what do YOU have in your life that is an addiction, something that you can't get away from, something coming before your God Almighty? What is He convicting you of today? It probably won't be the same thing in which He has convicted me. CHANGE - we ALL need it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stewardship - Part 2

A few days ago, I told you about our newest unit study on stewardship. And at the end of that post, I told you we would be going on a field trip to the grocery store soon. And, yeah hooray, Friday was field trip day!!!

The day started out rainy and cold, and I almost changed my mind about taking the kids to town. But, my grandmother had already agreed to keep the 2 littlest ones while we went, so I didn't want to pass up that opportunity. I figured it would be easy enough in the rain with 2 older kids who knew how to walk and stay under an umbrella. So we went.

When we arrived at the grocery store, I gave out the instructions. I handed each of them a world map and a pencil, and I told them we would be labeling where different fruits and veggies were grown and from where they were shipped. But, we also had several other things I wanted them to learn. We headed inside ready to start school.

As soon as we walked in, I had the kids each pick up a sales paper. We opened it and talked about the things they had on sale this week. One thing we learned is that, just because the store has an item on sale, it doesn't mean it's something healthy.

The next stop was a display of several junk food items. We looked at each thing, and took a guess as to whether we thought it was a healthy food. We turned each item over and looked at the Nutrition Facts label. With each item that we picked up, we compared the health benefits. The kids learned how to completely read a nutrition label, which includes calories, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, sodium, protein, and vitamins and minerals. And, they learned what each of the items on that label does for their body. Noticing that each of the bags of chips, the flavored fruit drinks, and the Valentine's candy was NOT healthy and was full of sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium, we moved on to the dairy section hoping to find a better choice.

Both kids examined the labels for yogurt, sour cream, and Ranch dip, and they compared the health benefits of each. One thing that they learned at this point is that, even if something isn't full of bad things, it may still be lacking or void of good things. So instead of putting food in our bodies that has bad or no benefits, like the Ranch dip, we determined that the better choice would be the yogurt. On to the next section of the store.

We headed down the pasta aisle next on our field trip. The first thing we looked at was Kraft Mac and Cheese. The kids noted the amount of sodium in each serving. We talked about the fact that processed foods need sodium to preserve them, because they may sit on a shelf for quite awhile before being cooked. But, too much of that sodium is not good for your body. We went to the other side of the pasta aisle, and we examined the plain pasta noodles - bow tie, elbow, alphabet, and lots of other kinds. What they found out is that, by eliminating the added sauce packet from the mac and cheese, pasta has NO sodium and lots of other good benefits. So we could cook plain pasta and add whatever we wanted for a much healthier choice. Another thing we did with the pasta is compare the regular Kraft Mac and Cheese with the whole wheat Kraft Mac and Cheese. Britches found out that the whole wheat actually had more sodium and less protein than the plain. So, just because it says "whole wheat", and just because one part of the food is more healthy, it doesn't mean that, as a whole, it is better for you.

Next, we went to check out the variety of whole grains. The kids learned that there is much more to choose from than just whole wheat flour and brown rice.

We stepped across the aisle to the oils to check out what healthy fats are. It is amazing how many good, healthy oils there are to choose from. The kids compared the labels of walnut, almond, and sesame oil, and hazelnut, coconut, and olive oil. We talked about bad fats and good fats. Saturated and trans-fats are bad for us, and unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good. Pretty much all of the oils were about the same as far as oil went (even vegetable and canola oils), except for the coconut oil. It was loaded with saturated fats! So there again, just because something sounds healthy, you wouldn't want too much of that kind of fat in your body. We also talked about how animal fat is NOT the fat we want to put in our bodies! Thus, lard is OUT!

And last, we walked down the cereal aisle to see if the kids could each pick out a healthy cereal. No, cereal isn't the healthiest thing out there, but there are some that are better than others. And hey, they are VERY convenient! Little Man went straight for Kellogg's Special K Pecan and Cinnamon, because it has nuts (which are good for us) and cinnamon (which lowers blood sugars). Britches grabbed a box of Total Honey Clusters, because she said honey is good for you. So they compared. The Special K had less sodium and less of something else (can't remember what), but the Total had WAY more vitamins and minerals. We bought both, because they were both pretty healthy!

As we were heading home, I asked the kids what they learned from our field trip. Britches remembered that, just because it's on sale, it isn't always healthy. Little Man learned that marshmallows are NOTHING but sugar!!! They both learned how to read an entire nutrition label. And they learned that there is no one food that has every nutrient needed for good health. You need to eat a variety of foods to get everything your body needs. And we try to make the best choices possible, so we can be sure to be good stewards of the bodies God has given us. After all, if we don't eat healthy, we won't be in good shape to do the work in which God has called us. And we want to be ready for whatever He asks of us!

All in all, the field trip was a great success and lots of fun! In fact, I planned WAY more things to do than we had time for. Things still to be taught are price per ounce, price comparison, processed v/c fresh foods, cost of eating out v/c cooking at home, and so much more. And we never even had time to pull out our world maps. Another day!!

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess