Early learning thoughts….


I’m basically reblogging this post, because this article really helps to sum up many reasons as to why many homeschoolers, among other parents, believe that it’s okay, and even beneficial, to delay formal educational settings with children.

I found it informative. Maybe you will also.

Check it out.

The article first appeared on the website of The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada.



I think this article dovetails nicely with the educational advice given to us over a hundred years ago.

The First Eight or Ten Years—Children should not be long confined within doors, nor should they be required to apply themselves closely to study until a good foundation has been laid for physical development. For the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, nature the best lesson book. Even when the child is old enough to attend school, his health should be regarded as of greater importance than a knowledge of books. He should be surrounded with the conditions most favorable to both physical and mental growth. [1] – {CG 300.1}

I need to remember these thoughts myself!




How to make a (neat) charcoal poultice

I do not normally like to do “how-to” blogs for several reasons.

  1. I think it’s sort of silly to post twenty pictures of how I made my apple pie, etc., when you probably already know how to.  🙂
  2. I figure that the web already has enough how-to posts out there, and so why waste my time in repeating info that other people are already showing?
  3. I don’t like to take the time to show, step by step, how to do things.  I’d rather just show the finished product and let you take the steps needed to get there, as long as it’s pretty obvious.
  4. I don’t feel like I am an authority in most areas, so don’t want to present myself as an expert, offering advice.

With that said, there are some times when I do recognize that you need a step-by-step instructional, if it’s something new or different.  So, although you will not see many of this type of instructionals from me, I do want to share this one.

It’s for how to make a charcoal poultice.  That’s right, poultice.  So…what is that?!?  By definition, a poultice is:


noun ˈpōl-təs

: a soft, usually heated substance that is spread on cloth and then placed on the skin to heal a sore or reduce pain

So…there are many different types of poultices, for many different purposes.  The one I’m focusing on today is the one made from activated charcoal.  It is used on many types of wounds and inflammatory conditions and infections.    If you have any type of skin itching, pain, insect sting/bite (including spider bites), swelling, infection under or on the skin,or  wound infection, a charcoal poultice may do wonders to help, since charcoal works by adsorbing (sort of like “soaking up” toxins).


I do not believe in reinventing the wheel.  So much research has been done on the effectiveness of activated charcoal, that I would not be without it in our home.  I refer you to this website to learn all about charcoal and its many uses and advantages.  http://www.charcoalremedies.com   At that website you will find the reasons why charcoal works, and why it’s good to try.

I can see many reasons to learn simple home remedies.  I can help my family with simple ailments if I educate myself, and hopefully, we can help others as we learn.   Of all of the home remedies, I believe that learning about the power of charcoal is one of the most important, because anyone can use it, you can even learn to make it (which I would like to do).  I hope that you do check out the above website (not mine, and I don’t have any affiliation with them; I simply go there to learn).

Still, many people are hesitant to use charcoal topically, because it is so messy.  It’s messy to work with, mix up, and for many years, when I would make a poultice (flax based, which does work well, just messy), I would find that the black slimy substance had oozed to the sides of the dressing and made a big mess in the bed or on the clothing.  And charcoal does stain!!   I still believed in it, but for the mess, didn’t always reach for it with great joy.  :-/

But, recently, some friends of mine, who own a health food store, gave us a pre-made charcoal poultice.  We didn’t actually have a need for it at that time, but she told me to freeze it and it would keep nicely.  I put it into the freezer and pretty much forgot about it until I needed a poultice last week.  I remembered the frozen one, and defrosted it, and I found that way that this poultice was made was SO NICE to use!  It was not messy at all–in fact, I could literally cut off pieces from the large poultice  appropriate to the area I needed to cover, and the poultice DID NOT STICK to the wound or the skin, which made it amazing to use.

So, I am sharing the method and recipe, and I hope that this will encourage someone who may have tried charcoal in the past, or someone who never even thought of using it, to give it a try.

The Method:

MIX together carefully (so as not to puff it up in your face)

  •  1/2 cup activated charcoal powder
  • 1/2 cup ground psyllium husk powder

Then add slowly while stirring

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water

Mix until all of the liquid is absorbed and the mixture looks like a quivering ball of black goop.  It will actually look like play dough, but will be more shiny and gel-like.  If it is the correct consistency, when you knead it into a ball, not much of the mixture will stick to your hands at all.  If it is too wet, it’s kind of tricky to get more powder to work into the ball, but it can be done if you’re patient and just keep kneading it like bread.  It would be better to add the water slowly and not add any more if the ball reaches the correct consistency before you’ve added all of the water.

Next, you place your ball on waxed paper or plastic wrap, cover with another layer, and roll it out like a pie crust.  It should be about 1/4 inch thick or thicker so that it holds its shape.  This will roll out to a large area, at least 12″x18″.
You may use the whole poultice as it is on a very large area (abdomen, back) or cut it into smaller pieces to fit your need.  Then you may roll it like a jelly roll, seal it into a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for a week, or place in the freezer to store longer.
This is a very clean poultice and can be peeled off when you are done with it.  It really does not stick to the skin, doesn’t ooze, and is very handy.
My notes–when I made the recipe above and took the pictures, I had a little help in measuring.  Ours turned out a tad stickier than it should have; I attribute it to a generous measuring of the water.  When I rolled it out, it still felt like it needed to be drier.  And it left some residue on my hands.  So, I added 1 T more of both charcoal and psyllium, and that did the trick.  So, measure carefully, mix the powders well first, or the water will not all absorb, and check your consistency.  It should be able to hold its shape when cut, and not flop around.  It should be slightly moist on your hands but not leave them with gel.  You can kind of shape it somewhat (squish it into shape).
I place the poultice directly onto the affected area, cover with plastic wrap, and if it’s a limb, wrap with an ace bandage.  If the skin is broken, you may place a thin piece of paper towel or cloth between the skin and the poultice to avoid the tatooing effect that charcoal sometimes leaves.  However, I have found that with this recipe, the black residue is negligible; I do not think it would leave a tatoo, but it never hurts to take precautions.
Try it and see what you think!

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A Little A’s Taffy Pull! Sweet Learning!

We are loving A2’s math this week! Overall, I had been very pleased with our choice of a math curriculum for all of the boys. It emphasizes gentle learning experiences for the early years, and incorporates many hands-on projects, especially at this age, which is second grade.

My idea of hands-on projects for boys are real-life, practical experiences that will relate to useful knowledge. So, this week as he’s been focusing on temperatures, he’s been taking temperature readings all around the house, in various places! We found out that under the lamp in his bedroom, it gets up to 111• F! We now know the freezer temperature, plus how cool it is in the windowsill, under the bunkbeds, and several other locations. This is really the type of learning that he thrives on, and I enjoyed watching him take his measurements! Seeing someone love to learn is very encouraging! (And it doesn’t always happen, so we gladly take it when the spark comes on!)

Today was more temperature measurement fun! We borrowed a candy thermometer so we could measure water temps. A2 was really anticipating this–pretty simple–the parent was to boil the water while we measured the rising temps. We actually found out that the rather ancient candy thermometer registered out water boiling at 115•F! Oops!

Little A2 noticed the next part of the project gave instructions for salt water taffy–a recipe to make together!  We didn’t have all of the ingredients for that, and I wasn’t sure I could find non-GMO corn syrup, so I thought we’d skip that part.  But we found a substitute, with ingredients that we had!   And I loved the reference to this taffy being made in the book, Farmer Boy, which we will read when we’re done with Little House on the Prairie.

I found the very simple recipe that we patterned ours after on a site called littlehousebooks.com, but right now it doesn’t seem to be working.    There are hundreds of recipes out there, all similar.

We have trouble following a recipe exactly, because it’s always fun to add things–like PEANUT BUTTER!   So we did!

Here’s how we made ours, anyway.  *****disclaimer*****this made WAY MORE taffy than I thought it would, considering that you can’t eat much at a time.  You might want to cut the ingredients in half.   I just got tired trying to snip all of the candy into little pieces.

1 cup blackstrap molasses   (it’s what we had)

1 cup honey

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 or so peanut butter

3 T Earth Balance margarine

We put all ingredients into a saucepan and brought it to a boil.  We let it rise to 145 degrees F and cooked it there until it made a soft ball in cold water.   This took 15 minutes or so.  Then we poured it onto a shallow pan lined with a silicone cookie sheet (or a oiled platter) for it to cool.  It was snowing outside a little, but we put ours out on the railing and watched it.  When it had cooled enough to handle and not burn, we started pulling!

The pulling was the funnest part.  Everyone got a blob and pulled!  You’re supposed to pull it until it changes color and feels like, well, taffy!  The boys said it was like edible silly putty!  I have to agree.  The taffy really does feel like and stretches like silly putty.  From the pictures, you can see that the boys tasted a bit of the taffy before it was quite all the way done.  A messy face tells many secrets!  😉  In the olden days, two people would take a side of the blob and pull together, stretching it across the room.  We tried that too, but with energetic taffy stretchers, that can get out of hand kind of quickly, resulting in floor taffy, which nobody wants to eat!  😦

Ultimately, we ended up with LOTS of delicious, rich, peanut-buttery candy, slightly reminiscent of caramel or something I can’t quite put my finger on.  Everyone here likes it.  Banana Man wasn’t too sure it looked edible when he got home and saw the taffy log sitting there, but once he tried it, he was a believer!

We ended up with so much that I finally gave up snipping and wrapping each piece individually (did I mention that I’m lazy?) and wrapped the remaining log in saran wrap and stored it that way.  We can snip as we need it!  My hand was getting tired, because it’s pretty stiff taffy.

So….math can be fun.  It was this week!  Just ask Little A2!   And while we need the days of more routine math instruction and drill, these kinds of projects are the moments that will stand out in our homeschool memories.  Definitely sweet learning!

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Wonder what our curriculum for this year looks like?  It’s called Math Lessons for a Living Education.   This project was taken out of book 2.  http://angelaodell.com/math-lessons-for-a-living-education/book-2/


Thirteen years and counting!

2001-2014–Thirteen years married to The Banana Man!

It’s a milestone that has sparked much scheming and planning by the Little A’s. If we weren’t fairly sure they do love us, I think Banana Man and I would start to feel kind of hurt about the way our boys are so eager to be rid of us! :-/ Especially our littlest A has been on a campaign since the beginning of the year–“When are you going for your date?” He asked it multiple times per day, then hourly and more as today drew closer. I heard that A1 and A2 were up in the middle of the night planning our day away. The boys may have had an ulterior motive–that of getting a day at Grandpa and Grandma and Aunt Peg’s house. Just maybe.

Well, it’s kind of funny how God works, sometimes, isn’t it?  I planned that our day away would include checking out the nature park in Knoxville, but my logical husband pointed out that we might want to check that out when it was not raining!  Hmm…logical it was, but I didn’t want to hear it.   However, soon common sense kicked in, and I realized that we could try it on a nice day.  We switched gears and headed to Asheville, hoping to find a vegan pizza joint.  When one was closed, one was $25 or more for one pizza, and the other one was combined with a beer brewery, our hopes of finding a pizza joint we felt at home in started to dim.  😦  Nice plan, anyway.

Next idea was Mexican.  We can always find something yummy at a Mexican restaurant, so we headed for one located right next to Earth Fare.  Turns out our luck wasn’t so good that day, because that place was surrounded my police tape and cinder blocks–under construction!  We weren’t really worried about finding somewhere good, since Asheville is probably the easiest place in the world to find good vegan food, but we did start to wonder how many stops we’d have to make!  Since we were already at Earth Fare, we decided to go in and see if we could find a treat for dessert, anyway, even if we’d have to eat it first!  🙂  As we approached the door, I was just opening my mouth to ask Banana Man who he thought we might see inside that we knew, when we heard a car drive up and familiar voices shouting, “Banana Man and Red Head!   What are you doing here?”  Our good friends from our previous church family waved excitedly, and so we chatted with them for some time.   We headed inside, and the first thing Banana Man and I noticed at the hot bar was freshly made pizza!  Made to order, so that worked out nicely.  And vegan.  We’ve never done this before on our anniversary, but we invited our friends to share our pizza, and they were happy to oblige!  We kind of had a potluck of sorts, with huge salads, hemp seeds which I’d never tried before (and liked), and various other things.  Our friends treated us all with some kind of coconut ice cream bars that were quite decadent!

We ended up chatting away the whole afternoon and evening, and even had another couple join us in the conversation!  The more the merrier for sure!  Just think–if I’d have had my way in Knoxville, we’d never have had the chance to catch up with Dennis and Nancy, or to meet the other couple either!  We just had a silly time towards the end of the evening, and ended up dashing over to Trader Joe’s with Dennis and Nancy to see what they had to offer!   We almost felt like we were young and unmarried again, since we didn’t have to get the boys home to bed.  Kind of a different feeling, but a nice little break also.  🙂  It really is nice to have friends with whom you can just pick up where you left off the last time.

After a  leisurely morning (another rarity), we spent our day in quiet activities, coming together now and again to talk, then just allowing ourselves a little quiet alone time.  This may sound like a strange thing to do, but we found that this alone time really did rejuvenate us and enabled us to enjoy our together time even more.  With three energetic, growing boys, homeschool, cooking from scratch, running a business, living a country life, complete with wood chopping and gathering, and just the round of life, parents–especially moms really do not often take enough time just to breathe and sit a spell.   I thoroughly enjoyed this luxury.  Did a little catching up on my reading, crocheted a little, and, yes, even did a bit of laundry.

About lunchtime, which was also late and leisurely (and I had forgotten how easy cooking for two is), it suddenly hit me just how QUIET our house had become.  No one asking for help, no one playing around and needing a reminder to focus, no singing, or yelling outside; well, no nothing!  And I missed that noise!  Funny, when the noises are constant, I long for some mental quiet, but I’d had my quiet tank filled, and although I won’t admit that I craved the noise, I did crave the life that accompanies it.  I do love those wiggly, active, sometimes exasperating but full-of-life Little A’s.

By the end of the day, I was ready to reclaim our treasures, and I knew that Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Pet just might be ready for a little quiet on their end.  😉   The boys, naturally, would have stayed longer on their “vacation”, as they called it, but it was nice to have all of us back together again, and for me to tuck little bodies into bed.

We are blessed in many ways.  I feel refreshed and content after our little day off, and look forward to many more days, months, and years growing together as a couple and a family.


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Motivation Monday

This really impressed me as I read it today. It puts our work as parents into perspective, doesn’t it?
Our pastor pointed out that John Muir memorized the entire New Testament, as well as 3/4 of the Old Testament–by the time he was ELEVEN years old! That has really been food for thought for me! Now is the time to invest in our children’s spiritual future, and our own as well.

I hope these thoughts will make someone else think, too.


The Adventist Home Educator

“The neglect of home religion, the neglect to train your children, is most displeasing to God. If one of your children were in the river, battling with the waves and in imminent danger of drowning, what a life ringstir there would be! What efforts would be made, what prayers offered, what enthusiasm manifested, to save the human life! But here are your children out of Christ, their souls unsaved. Perhaps they are even rude and uncourteous, a reproach to the Adventist name. They are perishing without hope and without God in the world, and you are careless and unconcerned.

What example do you give your children? What order do you have at home? Your children should be educated to be kind, thoughtful of others, gentle, easy to be entreated, and, above everything else, to respect religious things and feel the importance of the claims of God. They should be taught to…

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