Cultures for Health

Shortly after Christmas break I started culturing our own water kefir. Instead of purchasing expensive probiotics that were challenging to get into the kid’s food and didn’t seem all that effective, I decided to try something new. I ordered live kefir cultures online, and then begin fermenting them with coconut water on the counter. After 24 hours or so, the cultures ferment the coconut water, and you can then store in the fridge to use as needed.

Cultures need warmer temps to grow. I keep ours next to the stove since it is probably warmer than the rest of the house most of the time. Cooler temps will still culture, but it takes longer.

Adding the kefir to juice, or making smoothies, was an easy way to get those healthy probiotics into our systems. It has also been a fun way to teach some basic science and nutrition to our preschooler. She is very interested in science and learning the “whys” of everything. At a very basic level, we talked about how the good bugs in our bodies help fight the bad bugs. And, she has also been able to watch the cultures grow and double to where we needed to split them into another batch.

Pitcher of culture water and new batches ready to ferment

After a dreaded winter virus hit our house, we used probiotics as well as other natural remedies to help shorten the length and severity of the illness. Illness presented a real-life example for our oldest about how bad bugs in the body can make us very sick. Caring for our bodies from the inside out has been a lifelong journey for us, and I am grateful we can spend time teaching these principles to our little ones.

Morning smoothie with all sorts of superfoods inside: dairy-free, sugar-free, probiotic goodness.

The Art of Equine

We have discovered that we can apply equestrian-related activities to several subjects in my homeschooler’s education. She’s 14 and in ninth grade, and homeschooled in the state of California, so some of these subjects may not apply to your situation, but I feel it is helpful in general.

How we apply horsemanship to homeschool:

  • “Physical Education, with emphasis given to physical activities that are conductive to health and to vigor of body and mind.” Riders will expend themselves physically when working with their horses, not only in basic care including grooming, but also in the ride itself. It is not possible to just “sit in the saddle.” There is a great need of the core and leg muscles, and you must maintain proper posture the entire time as to not confuse your horse, and to not injure yourself. There is a series of exercise that focuses on building the muscles required for riding. The areas of focus are balance, strength, and posture.
  • “Applied arts, including instruction in the areas of consumer and homemaking education, industrial arts, general business education, or agriculture.” Horsemanship is agriculture. One must learn how to properly care for the horse. This can also be counted for general business education as she learns how to manage a stable properly with the help of an instructor in all areas, including finances, care of the facilities, and care of the animals. 

  • “Career technical education designed and conducted for the purpose of preparing youth for gainful employment in the occupations and in the numbers that are appropriate to the personnel needs of the state and the community served and relevant to the career desires and needs of the pupils.” As stated above, areas of training work closely with trainers and owners to develop a sense of overall business health and animal health, how to work with the team, etc.

  • “Science, including the physical and biological aspects, with emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes of scientific investigation and on the place of humans in ecological systems, and with appropriate applications of the interrelation and interdependence of the sciences.” The place of humans in ecological systems is covered in how the equestrian center chooses to feed the horses, dispose of waste, and how they choose to leave their mark on the earth around the center. Included is recycle, proper waste disposal, where feed is manufactured, and conservation of resources.
  • “Visual and performing arts, including dance, music, theater, and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.” One area my student is training in is equestrian showmanship. She is training in hunter style jumping, and will perform in upcoming shows.

Links:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=EDC&sectionNum=51220

Boys and Caregiving

Late summer, I was walking our dog, a Great Pyrenees, in the yard and looking for a missing toy in the grass. As we were walking a rabbit took off and my dog tried to as well, pulling me into a divot in the grass. The result was one of the worst ankle sprains of my life. I required assistance just to get back to the house. The males in my life sprang to action. My husband helped me get into the house. My oldest son helped me wrap my foot; finished cleaning the floor, an interrupted chore; and picked a flower for me. My youngest son stayed nearby offering comfort. I thought as I sat there, my ankle on fire with pain, as the only female in my house, if a female is required for caregiving to happen, I would be in trouble. I thought exploring the topic would be interesting.

When it comes to raising boys, there are few discussions about boys and the role of informal, unpaid caregiver. In popular culture when a father cares for his child without the mother present, some have called his care “babysitting.” There is a counter movement stating father’s when left alone to care for their children are parenting, not babysitting.

Both children and adults at some point in life require caregiving. Statistics show the economic value of unpaid caregivers in the billions of dollars. According to caregiver.org, out of the 43 percent of the population that provide care to a child or older adult, 14 percent are males.

In an article by the New York Times, the risk of divorce when women are diagnosed with a chronic or terminal medical condition is discussed. According to a study published in the journal Cancer, “female gender was found to be a strong predictor of partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness.” Having a spouse for support when managing a serious medical diagnosisis an important part of improved mental health and physical health outcomes. The conclusion in the study from Cancer mentions this as well: When divorce or separation occurred, quality of care and quality of life (for women) were adversely affected.”

I believe valuing caregiving and care for the home are important to the health of my son’s future marriages. By investing in the training of my sons to run a household, care for children and adults, and complete house cleaning chores, my sons will be better prepared for marriage and parenthood.

A simple way to model these skills is to include children in daily work. In fact that’s what we do, we start with doing the work together. I’m not looking for the boys to pay attention to every detail I would, or in the way I would. I observe simply if the job is done, with increasing attention to detail as the child gets older. Yes, the boys fuss and argue, but often, with using some whimsy and playfulness, we are able to have fun together through the duration of the project. My 3-yearold has announced he hates laundry and loves to do dishes. My 6-yearold some days fights me, and other days initiates working on chores. In fact, setting the table is a specialty of his, with attention to detail and the comfort of the family.

The process of modeling these skills has provided opportunity for my husband and I to have discussions about who does chores around the house and when. This part of our lives continues to be a work in progress. Fortunately, how we handle these discussions can be helpful for our boys as well. Modeling how to have a conversation about chores, even using tools to help identify areas of improvement, can be helpful. In an article on the chore war, which includes a checklist to guide a conversation about chores, because couples who do the least arguing about housework are those who have talked about it and made choices together.”

I want my boys to be fully prepared to graduate into meaningful employment and relationships when they leave our home. I want my boys to realize the work in a home isn’t men’s work or women’s work; it’s the work that benefits everyone closest to them, benefits a wife, benefits their children, benefits their family.

“The work of making home happy does not rest upon the mother alone. Fathers have an important part to act. The husband is the house-band of the home treasures, binding by his strong, earnest, devoted affection the members of the household, mother and children, together in the strongest bonds of union,Adventist Home.

References:

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/men-more-likely-to-leave-spouse-with-cancer/

Glantz, M. J., Chamberlain, M. C., Liu, Q., Hsieh, C.-C., Edwards, K. R., Van Horn, A. and Recht, L. (2009), Gender disparity in the rate of partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness. Cancer, 115: 5237–5242. doi:10.1002/cncr.24577

https://psychcentral.com/lib/chore-war-household-tasks-and-the-two-paycheck-couple/

White, Ellen G. The adventist home counsels to Seventh-Day Adventist families as set forth in the writing of Ellen G. White. Southern Publ. Assn., 1980.

Waiting Despite the Push

In today’s world it seems everyone here in the U.S. is pushing to start their child early in school. Some even feel a parent should start some type of formal education before the age of three. Yet, is that the best for our children?

I cannot count how many times there are questions on the homeschool Facebook group about ways to start school with a child who is 2 or 3 years old. I’m not sure why there is such a desperate need to get started on learning, or I should say formal learning, today.

I remember when I started kindergarten. It was expected I might know how to count to 10 and maybe know my ABCs. I was not expected to know much more than that, except maybe my basic colors. Today’s 5-year-old starting kindergarten is expected to already know numbers, letters by sight, and even some basic reading words. What is the hurry? Are children graduating knowing more than we did in the past?

In reality, our graduating seniors know significantly less than 12th graders even 50 years ago. Our college entrance exams (ACT/SAT) have been “dumbed” down in order to keep the statistics high enough. So, why rush in beginning formal education?

There are important reasons why not to start. I will start by sharing the first one that comes to mind.

Seventh-day Adventists are given wise counsel not to begin formal education until a child is 8 to 10 years old. For boys, I would suggest formal learning later is better. We have wise counsel from Dr. Raymond Moore, also, in his book, Better Late than Early.

Other countries such as Denmark and Finland delay their children’s entrance into formal schooling. They do have some early pre-school programs, but they are play-based and child-centered. This means the child is allowed to play and learn instinctively in a natural manner. THIS is how our children learn and how the brain best develops. This type of play-based early education is what builds better brains and better learning skills in later years.

Research has also shown that children who delay formal schooling have less behavior problems. They are better able to sit and focus when their bodies are ready for learning. Early formal schooling has not shown any advantage in later reading scores.

I realize that in today’s world it is often necessary for both parents to work. Daycare costs a good deal of money. If we can send our children to school earlier, it is less money out of our pockets. Is it worth it in the long wrong? And, we are choosing to homeschool, so this “save money” reason to send to school early is not even considered.

Another argument for early education is the effect of poverty on child development. This is the stated reason for Headstart program. Some others use the reason that children with neglectful parents need to be in the school system so they will not be penalized academically. Again, neither of these would give a cause for those homeschooling. I’m hoping for those parents who need help in improving parenting skills that they will seek help.

Do we feel our children will be behind if we delay formal education? At the end of this article, I’ve listed some of the research on the benefits of delayed academics. Hopefully this will help a parent give a good reason if they do not simply wish to follow the counsel we have been given over a hundred years earlier, in addition to Dr. Moore’s research.

I wish to share a bit of my own personal experience with my youngest. Even though I had read all of Moore’s books and Ellen White’s recommendations, I had a child that was born with some challenges. I thought this warranted the need to begin formal education early. Yet, no matter what I tried, nothing was learned. In fact, the early push produced nothing but frustration and anger.

After I wised up and decided to wait, I began some formal education about age 8. Things were moving slowly, but I did not push. He did not learn to read until age 10. I had all types of professionals threatening me with legal action because I was not putting my son into public school and he was “behind.”

By the time he graduated, he had learned the basics and had developed a more well-rounded education than many of his public-school friends. Nothing was pushed. We tackled topics when he proved ready for them. Delaying formal academics allows your child to learn when they are ready, not when the public says they should be ready.

Each child is different. Those who are wanting to learn to read at 4 should be allowed to do so IF THEY ARE LEADING. Teach by informal methods, using games and fun activities. By keeping learning fun in the early years, the child will develop a love of learning that will extend their whole lives.

A closing thought is in reference to an article I read about the gifted/talented. We lose many of our G/T children by pushing early formal learning. By allowing our children time to play and learn naturally, we foster the brain’s ability to develop more synapse connections and increase creative thinking.

We homeschool our children so we can help them become all that God wishes them to be. I hope each parent reading this today will realize that it is not important to “keep up with the Joneses” in our teaching. Allow our children to be children. They grow up fast enough.

Resources:

Memorize More Scripture!

In our home we are resurrecting our memorizing muscles! They have atrophied with disuse lately, I am ashamed to say. Life goes that way. Important things get squeezed into the background by other duties that scream louder for our attention.

But, quietly, the Holy Spirit keeps whispering, “You need to hide God’s word in your heart. You need to teach your children to do this too.” And, I am determined to listen and work little by little on fortifying the fortresses of our minds with Bible verses.

Why bother, in this age of instant apps, smartphones that hold the entire Bible in our pockets, and every imaginable tool to study the Bible? The only answer is BY FAITH. We are so lazy. We would rather click our phones than unzip our Bible cover and find a page. We’d rather search any app than search for a topic in the Word. And, our minds are shrinking with all this instant access to everything. I think that it makes us lazy spiritually. We just shrink from any hard work. But, by faith we have to override all of this ease, and remember that one day we are quite likely to have our Bibles taken away from us. What about when we lose power permanently for standing strong for God’s law? If we have only made the habit of clicking on the EGW app or the Bible app and not downloaded them into our permanent memory banks, we will be empty in many ways. We need the Bible to help us fight against temptation, so that we can meet Satan with “It is written,” and not just our own strength.

So, we must make the habit of memorizing the Bible. One verse at a time. We are told that our minds will strengthen as we put forth our efforts.

In light of all of this, I thought I would share a few resources that have been helpful to our family as we have worked on Scripture memorization. Currently, we are working together on Matthew 4:1-11, or how Jesus met temptation. I chose this one because we want to know how we can follow His example and succeed in our areas of weakness.

Listen to this talk first! 

The talk above is by Chad Kruezer, and it has been a real inspiration to me. I’d also recommend reading the chapter in Great Controversy about the Waldenses if you want to get inspired. Check out how many chapters Fanny Crosby had memorized — five chapters per WEEK!! She could recite the entire Pentateuch, all four Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and many Psalms chapter and verse. All this being blind! Makes me wonder what’s wrong with my memory! Disuse is the only excuse.

Another resource we have found inspiring is the book, Ten Peas in a Pod, by Arnold Pent. It tells the amazing story of a family who homeschooled before it was called that, and who made Bible reading and memorization such a part of their everyday life that several of the children memorized many whole chapters and books of the Bible. It is a great read-aloud for your family and it will entertain as well as inspire!

If you need another inspiring account of a family who got their children into memorizing, here is one. The author/mom shows how she helped her children to successfully memorize the book of James.

This is a good book about scripture memorization that will give you tips, reasons, and stories to inspire you. The book is on sale for only $3. I paid more several years ago, but I think they just want to get them out to people!

If you have a Kindle, or any device where you can install the Kindle app, then there is a book that we have found to be quite helpful. You can find it in the Kindle Store. The reason this particular book is helpful is because it contains the entire Bible, divided by book, which is not so rare; many online Bibles offer this, I know. But, this book has the advantage for memorizes of offering an option where, once you have your verses on the screen, you can may either read the typed out verses, or click on the number of the verse to change the text into first letter only (see the photo below). This way you can jog your memory of the verse or passage without seeing the whole words, which gives your mind a chance to remember what’s coming next.

Here is the option of first letter only verses.

It works similarly to the way I memorize without the book. I write my verses on one side of an index card, and on the other side I just write the first letters. Then when I review them, I have cues, but not answers.

Scripturetyper.com This app is such a wonderful resource!  You can use the website online or download the app. You can add verses/chapters and join groups if you want. It saves your verses and gives you a reminder to review them at intervals. This is good for everyone! Our boys like to practice their verses often when we get into memorizing! You have several options for how to memorize and review your verses. You can just type the whole verse out, you can type using just the first letters, or you can have certain words blanked out on your screen so that you have to remember those words, while the words typed in will help you as you go along. It remembers your speed, and you can challenge yourself to keep improving your speed and accuracy. PSST…don’t tell your kids, but this also sneaks in a little typing along with the Bible memorization! We have the Scripture Typer Pro, which allows us to install it on five devices, so we can all be using it at the same time, wherever we are! It is well worth the price.

Thy Word Creations produces nice books that help you to memorize whole portions of scripture or whole chapters. They have well-known chapters set to music with a CD. These have been invaluable in our home. Every song that we have learned in this way we still have memorized years later! I am including the product webpage, and an amazon.com link, since it looks like many are not in stock on the webpage.

Thy Word Creations website—children’s projects

Teen and adult products

Amazon link

The following website offers a phone number to obtain Bible memory verse songs that go along with the My Bible First Kindergarten and Primary lessons.

My Bible First

This link is a resource for memorizing the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I do not have it yet, but have listened to the samples and they are very nice! This is my next project! Our son started memorizing Psalm 119 and almost had it down, with no ”help” like this CD, until he got sick. With a little brushing up, I know he will have it mastered. You can download the album or purchase the audio CD. I am always amazed at the talent that some people have to be able to set these passages to nice music.

There is an app that last I knew was free, and used to be available for both iOS and Android. Now I am not seeing it updated on the App Store, which makes me sad. I am including it here, on the chance that they will decide to update it, since it is a wonderful app. This app is put out by Fountainview Academy, and has hundreds of songs from the KVJ Bible put to music. Lovely music. The app is Scripture Singer. I really enjoy it and still have it downloaded onto my old phone.

There are probably hundreds of resources and tips for memorizing the Bible. I have just listed ones we have used with success from time to time. One of the best ways to have success is to join with friends who also want to memorize, because then you have accountability. Our best times memorizing have been when we had a little group who met weekly and memorized together. So much easier than when you feel like no one will know whether you succeed or not!

Feel free to share any ideas you have as well, because we are all here to help each other!