Happy Reformation Day & Halloween

Is it proper to hand out gospel tracts on Halloween? Yes. I’d say it is a precedent started way back in 1517 by Luther himself.

Today, the 31 of October, marks the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis on the door of a church in Germany. His goal was to spark scholarly debate within the Roman Catholic church. Instead, it started the Protestant Reformation. Now, in reality it is probably coincidence that his nailing the door happened on Halloween since I don’t think Halloween was celebrated in Europe then.

So if the effects of his one paper can still be felt nearly 500 years later, consider what effect your tract may have upon a hungry soul? Granted, many of them likely wind up in the burn pile, but if just one makes a child (or parent even) curious about the Gospel enough to find out more, it was worth the effort. So while I don’t believe Halloween is a holiday Christians should celebrate, rather than simply turning off your porch light, spread some Light.

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Learning to Read 3 month update

We finished lesson 17 of Christian Light Education’s Learning to Read today. We’re taking it pretty slow since she isn’t 5 yet. Still, she’s made wonderful progress and is reading already! Simple short words like pat, cap, and pot. They have some more advanced “sight words” like brown, some, and many but we haven’t been doing much with them. I think it more important that she thoroughly know her letters and sounds.

This week I started using the sound slider for review. It’s really neat. The consonants are listed in order of the lessons down a laminated paper. The vowels are on removable cards. One side has the vowel on the right. It is on the left on the other. You slide these cards down the letters. There is a clear square beside the vowels to go over the consonants. Then they read the blends that are made. This has really helped improve her reading speed since she can recognize the blends rather than sound out each letter individually.

We haven’t been doing school for her every day. Some days are just too hectic for me to deal with schooling both of them even with her brother fairly independent. Some lessons we take more than one day to complete. Still other days, we don’t do LTR, but do something else instead for variety. Yesterday we read part of Dr Seuss’ Hop on Pop.

The lessons have 2 or 3 pages of listening skills where they write either the vowel or beginning letter. We haven’t been doing every one. That’s just too much for her. Some days we do 2, but usually just one. There’s also visual discrimination where she has to decide which doesn’t belong or which are the same. She’s pretty good at those. The new Sunrise edition of LTR is supposed to have a better work load, but I have the old edition.

The rhymes are fun. Each new letter has a story about the rhyme. I read it while she colors the picture. Recently, there have been basic comprehension questions. Today was ordering 3 events that happened in the story. Yesterday was matching items with their location.

She’s been getting P B and D mixed up when reading them. She knows them on the flash cards, but when their in words she gets confused. She also has to spell her name KAREN to remember the name of n. Whatever works at this stage is fine.

At the rate we’re going, we’ll finish LTR early in the new year. Then she starts language arts and Reading to Learn 1. I figure we won’t finish those until next fall. Then she will spend the rest of the year reading literature with the First Favorites collection from Veritas Press and The World Around Me for science from Winter Promise. Then back to Christian Light for second grade along with American Story 1.

Sticker chart

A couple of weeks ago, someone left a soccer table (fooseball?) at the freecycle area. Wow! It was in good condition, so I brought it home. Richard had been having trouble getting his schoolwork done in a reasonable amount of time without tons of frustration and pestering by me and my husband. He’s also been wanting one of these tables. Aha!

Well, I brought it home. My husband had a small fit until I explained it’s purpose. Richard had to earn it. Until then, it stayed in the garage. If he failed to earn it, back to the freecycle it would go. Here’s how he earns it:

1. The next week he had to complete his school by noon 4 out of 5 days. If he did, we’d take him to the school supply store to buy stickers of his choice for a sticker chart.

2. After earning the stickers, he then has to get 15 stickers before the end of November. To earn a sticker his school must be finished by noon. If he still hasn’t finished school at 3pm he gets a strike. He can only get 3 strikes before he forfeits the game.

3. Time may be adjusted if our work interferes.

He started earning stickers last week. He choose little ladybugs. There are over 500 of them in the package. You can’t buy just one sheet of them. He made a chart on an index card and taped it on the wall near his desk. It still took some prodding. He only got 2 stickers last week. He also got his first strike. Still, he did manage to complete all his work at least.

This week is a little better. I noticed Friday that he’d been using a mechanical pencil he found somewhere. I told him if he earned 5 stickers in a row, that I’d get him a package of them.

Staying on task and getting started are still problems we’re working on. Giving him a deadline attached to positive reinforcement has helped somewhat. Monday he had his unit tests. I made the mistake of giving him a break. He had trouble starting again, but finally settled down again. Yesterday was lots of fresh snow. I let the kids have the morning off then did school in the afternoon. The times threw them off a little, but they got it done.

Today was a struggle getting started. He goofed around half an hour so my husband told him what to do first (language arts) rather than making a list. Richard started handwriting instead. My husband kept telling him do language arts. Richard threw a fit then made his own list. I got mad at them both and told Richard his list was fine. I wasn’t going to pester him but gave him a choice. Either he got busy or he could have the day off and another strike which would forfeit the pencils. It was now quarter to ten. He quickly got to work. Well, he squeaked by with less than 5 minutes until noon to earn his third sticker this week.

So, overall, the sticker chart has improved his work motivation. It gives him positive physical reinforcement for completing his work on time. It is helping in goal setting by tracking his progress toward the reward for completing the goal.

Согласен, что пост получился удачным. Хорошая работа!

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Winter Fun

Yesterday was the last day of our nice weather. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. We took advantage of it. Since there was still no snow on the ground, we went sliding on a couple of ponds. The ice was 4-6 inches thick. This was Karen’s first time. She was pretty unsure of the idea at first, especially when the ice started creaking and cracking. Everyone had fun sipping, sliding and falling.

There were also several methane bubbles trapped in the ice. Growing up, my husband used to “play” with these bubbles by chopping a small hole then quickly igniting it into a fountain of fire out of the ice. You never knew ice could burn did you? Anyway, we brought a propane torch and lit several of the bubbles. Most of them made small flames less than a foot tall. However, one was a fairly large gas bubble and it shot up about 4 feet tall. They all lasted less than a minute.

Also, we ran out of heating oil sometime Friday night so we’ve been heating with firewood again. I’m having to do all the work though because of my husband’s neck. Oh well. It’s good exercise. I split and the kids haul it inside. They won’t be able to haul it when we start using the one downstairs, but for now we’re just using the little stove upstairs. The wood pile is fairly good wood that’s easy to split. There are more downed trees to be cut up still out in our woods. It will be a relief to get them gone before forest fire season next summer. Our maintenance man seems to like doing it so I may ask him to spend some time building up my woodpile better.

Today it started snowing. The roads are a mess but the kids are loving it. They are able to go sledding on our new back driveway toward the house. Between hauling firewood and sledding, they’ve spent most of their free time outside today.

Our fertilizer grows on trees

The last few days we’ve been taking advantage of our unseasonable Indian Summer. Last year there was 8 inches of snow by this time, but none is on the ground now. We had some a few weeks ago that melted.

Our garden is low in organics which is part of the reason it didn’t do very well this summer. We added some peat to the far side that helped dilute the clay and silt but it needed organics to make into really good garden soil. A few years ago we added a couple loads of horse manure. However, that brought in a lot of weed seeds including some invasive plants we’d just as soon not have. So this year we got a box of fish bone meal but didn’t have enough to properly cover the entire garden.

This year we’re adding leaves. Everyone has been busy raking the leaves from our driveway into piles. We live in the woods so our driveway gets lots of leaves. Then they get shoveled onto a large tarp and dragged to the garden. So far we’ve covered a third of the garden in about 4 inches of leaves. We also left the plants after we harvested the vegetable parts. Today the kids helped rake, load, and haul 3 big loads of leaves. Plus there is a load on the tarp ready to haul.

The best thing about using leaves for fertilizer is that they are free. It’s good exercise too. You don’t need any expensive tools, just a tarp, flat shovel (we’re using a snow shovel) and leaf rake. They are a renewable, natural, and sustainable form of fertilizer for as long as we have trees on the property. It does take a fair amount of work to rake and haul them though.

So rather than bagging your leaves for the landfill, consider dumping them on your garden instead.

Cleaning the microwave

This is a subject I don’t post about very often, basic household cleaning. However, I do come across a tip from time to time that works so well I just have to share. Today is such an occasion. This tip relates to cleaning the microwave.

I don’t like harsh cleaners. I use them to clean apartments between tenants because they are quick and effective for thoroughly cleaning unknown crud. But at home, I prefer mild soaps and hot water. In my bathroom I do use a bleach cleaner in the toilet. For the sinks and tub though, I use a powder without bleach, perfume, phosphorus, or dye called Bon Ami (works just as well as Comet or Ajax but without all the harsh ingredients). Usually just a wet cloth is enough to clean the counters. In the kitchen I use a bleach cleaner occasionally inside the refrigerator to keep away mold, but usually just warm water.

I use regular dish soap on my dishes, but not bleach or antibacterial. I can understand the need to bleach dishes in a commercial setting such as a daycare or restaurant when you don’t know what kinds of germs are on them. At home, I know who’s sick and with what. The germs are in the air and from coming into contact with the person most of the day. Chances are if one of us will catch it, the dishes aren’t the most likely reason.

Also, recent studies have shown that children in homes where antibacterial products are used (including dish and hand soaps), the chances of getting asthma and other respiratory illness increases. The homes are actually too clean so that the kids can’t build up immunity. Plus, the small percentage of germs left become super germs resistant to antibiotics and therefore are more dangerous. So anyway, that’s why in a nutshell I don’t use them.

A side note here since it’s flue season. Along with regular cleaning, vacuum more often when someone is sick. A recent study shown that germs are killed as you vacuum due to the harsh action, especially upright ones.

Still, I like a clean kitchen. After washing the dishes, I use the rinse water to wash my counters and stove. Sometimes I have to let water sit on a stubborn spot for a few minutes, (especially applesauce or oatmeal) but it will eventually rinse off. A friend occasionally washes my counters. She smears dish soap on the rag then washes them. Unfortunately, she doesn’t rinse them, so we have soap residue left on the counters. Ugh. She does the same at her house only she uses the antibacterial soap.

Often I forget to wash inside the microwave, or only do a quick wipe to the tray. Especially since we don’t use it very often other than heating water to make bread. On Saturdays, I try to do an extra good job cleaning the house. Today that included cleaning the microwave. While the bottom tray was clean, there was a lot of bits of dried on food stuck to the sides and top. (It’s amazing how many people never clean the sides and top inside.) A hard wiping with a wet dish rag got off about half of it. Now, I can’t exactly soak the sides or top like I do the table to get off the stuck on bits.

Instead, I filled a shallow dish about half full of water then turned the microwave on high for 5 minutes. This got the water to boil for awhile and filled the inside with steam. After a few minutes, I opened the door and wiped it clean including around the bottom edge under the tray. Finally, I left the door open for it to dry. Easy and clean with no harsh cleaners.

Save 8 cents

I realize some companies are offering more discounts than others, but this sale was a real puzzler.

We were in Office Max tonight when we saw a paper shredder on sale. It was out in the aisle with a large sale sign. It listed the sale price then the amount of savings, 8 cents. Hmmm. Sure, that is a lower price, but how many people are going to rush out and buy a $35 paper shredder just to save 8 cents? We got a good laugh out of it. Plus it gave me a teachable moment on value versus gimmick.