Monday, January 31, 2011

Egyptian Recipes

We participated in our support group's international festival on Saturday, and I wanted to share the recipes for the food we prepared.  Our country was Egypt, and I found, through a web search, two really easy and yummy dishes.

Egyptian Sweet Couscous
Serves 12
According to My Fitness Pal, there are 189 calories per serving.  It's a pretty generous serving, too.

1 box Near East original plain couscous
2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
3 tbsp butter
powdered sugar
candy-coated almonds (optional)

  1. Bring apple juice to a boil.  Stir in couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.  Allow couscous to set up for 15 minutes.
  2. Melt butter and chop nuts while couscous sets.  After 15 mins. pass, add butter and nuts to the couscous and stir thoroughly.
  3. Scoop couscous mix onto a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Decorate with candy-coated almonds if desired.  It can also be topped with fresh berries.  Serve warm or cold.
Egyptian Chick Pea Salad
Serves 12, 210 calories per serving

2 cans chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained
2 cucumbers peeled and cubed
1/2 sweet onion finely diced
4 celery stalks finely diced
1 large tomato diced
1 cup mayonnaise (I used Blue Plate light)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

  1. Once vegetables are diced, place them in a bowl with the chick peas, lightly salt and gently stir until mixed thoroughly. 
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar.
  3. Spoon about half of the dressing mix onto the vegetables and stir to lightly coat.  Add more dressing in one tbsp at a time until all the veggies are lightly coated.  I did not use all of the dressing and put about 1/3 of it in a storage container to keep refrigerated for later use.
  4. Cover salad and refrigerate for about one hour before serving.
This recipe originally called for an oil and vinegar dressing, but it did not taste good.  I substituted the mayo-based dressing.  To make this dish a little more diet-friendly, you could dress it with an oil and vinegar or other lighter dressing of your choosing.

I'm sorry for the lack of pictures.  I'm still without a camera, and any photos you see on this blog have been taken by my mother who graciously emails them to me later so I can post them.  I wanted to post this while the recipes where still fresh in my memory.  In a few days I hope to add pictures of our costumes and projects. 

Thanks, Mom, for being the official Olive Plants photographer. 

Happy eating, y'all!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Valentine's Day Soap Gift Set

I have a new gift set available in my Etsy shop,
just in time for Valentine's Day.

I have arranged two luscious bars
of heart-shaped Shea butter
in a glass soap dish lined with silk rose petals.
Each bar weighs one ounce.
One is scented with Rose-Thyme fragrance oil,
the other with Wild Berry fragrance oil.

This fragrant package comes wrapped
and ready to give to the
loved one on your Valentine's list.

$6.00 each plus shipping

For those of you waiting for my cold process soap,
it is still curing and will be available in another week or two.
These soaps were made from store-bought melt-and-pour bases.

Click either of the pics to be redirected to my Etsy shop.

Thank you for your business


Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 17

This week I lost 0.2 of a pound,
bringing my weight-loss total to 24.4 pounds!


I'm creeping toward the 25 pound mark and really thought I would make it this week.  But alas, it seems I must wait one more week.  I did the best I could do and trust that God ordained this small loss.  What pleases Him should not discourage me.  I am thankful that two more tenths of an unneeded pound are gone.

That was a little pep talk just for me, so now here's a little tip for you....

It was a busier-than-normal-week at the Olive Plants house and finding time to exercise was a challenge.  I almost gave up several times. 

Rather than give it up though, I divided it up. 

Usually my day starts to wind down around 7:30 p.m., meaning school work is done and graded, we have eaten and the kitchen is clean, we've finished our family worship and reading time, and things are in order for the next day.  That gives me a half hour to exercise before it is time to get the boys to bed (i.e. inspect their teeth brushing job and make them rebrush four times and then clean the globs of toothpaste from the sink and walls then crack the whip oversee the cleaning of  the disaster area  their bedroom then answer a dozen philosophical questions, say prayers, get them fifty glasses of water a small glass of water and remind them fifty times that if they drink too much before bed they might float away in the middle of the night and then lock them in their room with floaties nearby tuck them in their beds and give hugs and kisses).

However, several once-per-month or once-in-a-blue-moon responsibilities collided into this week, and my days were not winding down until 8:30- 9 each evening.  That's late for me, and I am WAY too tired to exercise then. 

So, I broke my daily thirty minute session into three ten minute sessions.  Finding ten minutes here and there throughout the day was doable...maybe not as effective, but better than not exercising at all.  I look forward to a slower pace next week and will probably return to the old exercise routine. However, when a hectic schedule is unavoidable, I will stick to the strategy of exercising in smaller chunks.

What difficulties are you facing?  Have you found any good solutions?  If so, please share in comments or link in a Wednesday Weigh-in of your own.  I would love to have you join me!  Here's how to participate.

Please pray for me this week.  Here are my requests/updates:
  1. Michael and Wilbur have experienced less headaches this week.  The one migraine Wilbur had gave me a lot of insight into what I think is causing them.  I am still keeping a food journal and making some dietary changes; however, I think his main trigger is light/computer screens.  Continue to pray for them.
  2. That I will continue to make an earnest effort with a teachable spirit. 
  3. That I will continue to make baby steps and not give way to discouragement.
  4. For my friends who are dieting with me.
Happy Healthy Living!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Soapin' from Scratch

I made my first two batches of homemade soap today, one unscented, uncolored, just plain for customers with skin sensitivities.  The second is five pounds of lavender with added lavender botanicals.

I used this recipe that Kathleen sent me over a year ago.  I have felt a little nervous about working with lye so I just read her tutorial over and over again while I got my feet wet with melt and pour.

Not literally, of course.

That would hurt.

I only encountered two small problems today:
  1. It was windy outside, so when I took the lye and water out to make that solution, leaves kept blowing into it.  Seeing how you have to be very careful about not breathing in that stuff or letting it splash onto your skin, it was a challenge to get the teeny little pieces of leaf residue out.  I was tempted to leave them in and call them natural botanicals, but rest assured I want my customers to have only the best!  I carefully spooned out all things leafy.
  2. There was a learning curve with the mica colorant, and this was my first time to use it.  I think I may have added a little more than is necessary because it took me a while to realize I needed to use the stick blender to stir it in thoroughly.  My soap was brown even though I had added the correct amount and stirred and stirred and I added, ahem, a little more.  It is very purple.
Even with those glitches, I think everything went well and in a few weeks I will have new bars of soap in the shop!  Exciting!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Philosophizing with So-crates

Visit WUHS for more wrap-up fun!

Nearly twenty years ago (can I really be old enough to start a sentence with that?), I endured  completed my one and only college course in philosophy.  I loathed that class, mostly because the professor announced on the first day that the Bible contradicts itself, anyone who believes in its inerrancy is a fool, and he intended to prove both points by the end of the semester.

Almost every time I returned to my dorm room after one of his lectures, I gave my roommate a speech of my own...

This stuff is from the pit.  Why do I need to learn these people's misguided thoughts, anyway?

Well, flash forward twenty years, and here I am, a middle-aged homeschool mom, trying to get my logical, straight-shootin', black-and-white thinking son to read Plato's The Last Days of Socrates.

I tried to set the stage for reading with an attention-getting opener.  We watched a family-friendly excerpt from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure on YouTube.  We laughed 'til our sides hurt as Ted impresses So-crates with his philosophizing:

Dust, Wind, Dude!

I thought I had captured Orville's attention with the antics of the Excellent Adventure, and we were ready to party on delve into the most excellent arguments of So-crates which he delivered during his heinous trial and in the hours before his most non-triumphant death as recounted by his student, Plato.   However, after a few pages, Orville sighed and yawned and lamented....

This stuff is from the pit.  Why do I need to study some wrong person's thoughts anyway?

If only he had said dead dude's thoughts, then I could have fully justified my hysterical laughter.

So we plodded through the book, and I helped him grasp the high points.  Most triumphant!  And along the way, I learned three things (Whoa!):
  1. The apple does not fall far from the tree.  (Insert air guitar here.)
  2. I don't enjoy philosophy any more than I did twenty years ago, even if I have matured enough to see the value in the study and try to explain its worth to my son.  Bogus!
  3. If Socrates or Plato had been a student in my classroom, he would have spent much of his days in the corner for insubordination or just plain getting on my nerves.  But he probably would have liked that because it would have given him more time to think and philosophize.  Most Heinous!
Can you tell this book exhausted me?

Orville too.

Well, moving on... Orville finished Singapore 6A and will start 6B next week, learned how to use a semicolon properly, finished another IEW essay, and started learning to play Psalm 1 on the piano!!!

Wilbur received an A on an IEW essay for the 1st time!!!!!!  This is a HUGE accomplishment for him.  He was smiling from ear to ear, and his confidence received a big boost.

He also drew the pictures below which I think, granted I am biased, are excellent! 

Wilbur's drawing of Moses at the Red Sea
One of the locusts that plagued Egypt

Most excellent, if I may say so!

I am not a proud momma, am I?

Both boys worked together on a project for an international festival we will attend next week.  We also read a few chapters of Revelation together and finished The Silver Chair.  We will begin our reading of The Last Battle next week to coincide with our study of Revelation. 

And science fair project brainstorming is underway!

Laissez les bons temps roulez!  (Let the good times roll.)

Did I mention I am directing the science fair committee this year? 


What was I thinking??

Although, I would gladly teach science everyday for the rest of my life if it meant I never had to read Socrates', Plato's or any other pagan philosophizer's work again!

Except maybe Bill and Ted... nah!

Party on, Dudes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 16

I lost 0.8 pound,
bringing my weight-loss total to 24.2 pounds!

I am waiting with bated breath to hear your reports.  I have been asking the Lord to bless your efforts all week and so hope you have good results too.  Linky will follow this post if you want to join in.  Instructions are here.

For this week's tip, I wanted to share a little more about how I track calories.

I start with a menu plan which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and takes into consideration what's on each day's schedule.  I don't want to plan to cook a from-scratch meal on a night that we really do need to eat at Wendy's. :) 

I have been on this diet for four months now, and planning has been the hardest part.  At first, I felt really unsure about how to make a dieter's menu and shopping list, something I have to do to keep grocery expenses on budget, because how would I know ahead of time if I would be able to eat enough of what I was planning to be satisfied each day?  How many calories are in tater tot casserole anyway??

So I decided to do three things.

First, because I am all about baby steps, I kept our typical fare on the menu.  I have found that many dishes were okay as they were but have decided to eliminate some things from our diet or serve them very infrequently.  Others just needed some modifications, like adding less cheese or using fat-free chicken broth instead of regular.  Little changes really do add up and have kept tofu and sprouts off the table. 

No offense intended to those of you who enjoy tofu and sprouts, but I would have some really unhappy menfolk if that's what I served for dinner. 

Second, I have paid careful attention to portion size.  That's where My Fitness Pal has really helped.  On my food page, I can type in what's on the menu (or all the ingredients if it is tater tot casserole) and it gives me a standard serving size. I have to be honest and say that measuring out portions was a pain at first; however, over time, I have learned to eyeball it.

I have to do a little guesstimating when eating a multi-ingredient dish, like tater tot casserole.  (There is a way to add a dish to their database and be precise about it, but estimation has worked well for me and been less time consuming.)  So I count out the number of tater tots in a serving and that gives me about a serving-size each of ground beef, soup and cheese, too. 

Thirdly, each morning (if I'm doing what I'm supposed to do), I look at the menu plan for the day and plug in the main dishes for each meal first on My Fitness Pal page.  Then I add in the fruits and veggies for the day.  If there are enough calories remaining, I add in extras like bread with dinner or a snack or two. Which extras and snacks I select depends on how much of my calorie budget is remaining. 

I don't plug my foods in throughout the day as I eat but do this all at once in the morning so I can see how my plan is going to work.  If things don't add up, I can easily make changes to the plan.  If I log each food after I've eaten it, then I can't take anything back.  What's done is done, and I may not balance my calories well and be left hungry in the evening.

Once everything adds up, I complete my report for the day and jot down my food plan in a notebook.  I could refer back to the computer but think it is easier to have it in a notebook which I can carry with me and mark off items as I eat them.

Oh!  And my favorite MFP feature?  After I complete my daily report, it tells me what I would weigh in five weeks if every day were like today.  That is SO motivating!  I love to see that number!!

So, what's working for you?  Feel free to share your tips, too.  And don't forget to pray!

Here are my requests:
  1. I have experienced moderate pain this week coupled with poor sleep.  The silver lining: I am seeing a correlation between poor sleep and aching.  This gives me more info to share with the doctor.  However, please pray for better sleep and reduced pain.
  2. For wisdom and help as I take more baby steps in the direction of ridding our home of overly-processed, MSG-containing foods.  Grocery shopping has taken twice as long for two weeks; however, no one has had a headache for a week!  That's a praise which leads to...
  3. For continued relief from migraines for Wilbur and Michael. 
  4. For more self-control and perseverance. 
  5. For my friends who are dieting with me.  Please click over to their blog(s) and read their requests and pray for those who are remaining anonymous, too.
Happy Healthy Living!

Disclosure:  I have not been compensated for writing this post and linked to My Fitness Pal just because I have found it helpful and wanted to pass along the tip.

Disclaimer:   I am not a health science expert.  Truth be known, I'm quite the opposite.  However, I am hosting this meme to encourage Christian dieters to pray for each other.  Please do not expect your results to be exactly like mine or any other participant's.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Baby Steps

I've mentioned before that I struggle with an all-or-nothing mentality.

I'm that way with school.  At times, you can peek in our schoolroom window and find us doing 4 projects while prepping for 2 competitions while reading a lengthy book while....  At others, our heads are on our desks and we're struggling to get a few measly worksheets finished.

I'm that way with housework.  You can either eat off my floors or you have to enter my house at your own risk.

I'm that way with blogging.  Either I post twenty-seven times per week or there's tumbleweed rolling across my homepage.

I'm that way with most things really, but it seems I'm really that way when it comes to cooking. 

I've learned over the years to keep it simple when it comes to food prep.  My inner overachiever longs to put gourmet fare on the table every night, but I tell her to hush up because I know that if I get started in that direction, burn out awaits.  Before too long, my from-scratch, wholesome yummy-ness will make way for convenience food.

Sorry dear ones, I don't feel like making rack of lamb, so here's a Lean Cuisine.

Over the years, I have grown to love my slow-cooker and outdoor grill because they allow me to keep things simple and healthy at the same time.  And generally speaking, my keep-it-simple approach to cooking has worked. We eat a lot of home-cooked meals, fresh fruits and veggies. However, I have never taken the plunge into the world of organics and whole foods because my all-or-nothing brain has imagined that being a very complicated lifestyle.

My friend, Kathleen, wrote a good post recently about whole-food convictions that pretty much sums up what I have feared about a whole-foods lifestyle.  I completely agree with what she has to say about trying to keep meals as healthy as you can as often as you can. 

However, I also agree that there's nothing inherently wrong with eating a Twinkie now and again (even when trying to lose weight).

In recent months, however, both Michael and Wilbur have been suffering from migraines.  Imitrex has become a staple in our home, and there is barely a week when at least one of them is not incapacitated for at least one day from a migraine. 

In other words, migraines are severely effecting our quality of life.

This week I read the ingredients on everything I bought at the grocer.  Specifically I am eliminating MSG for a few weeks to see if it is triggering their headaches. 

That's my first baby step toward what may end up being a mostly whole-foods lifestyle.

I planned to cook a family favorite this week in which cream soup is one of the ingredients.  When I read the back of the soup can, guess what was there...MSG.  I was sure I wouldn't find it in anything I feed my family and was pretty shocked.  I fought the urge to kick myself and instead mosied on over to the organic section. There I found another cream soup...all natural, no MSG. 

I imagine many of you know how to make a homemade cream of celery soup.  If so, please, do share.  However, it may be a while before I try to make it from scratch myself. 

I'm fighting all-or-nothing remember and I need baby steps.

Well, I bought the organic soup and feared it would taste weird and no one would eat the casserole.  I even told Michael that I was making a smaller-than-normal batch so if it was awful I could throw it out, and we could have sandwiches or go to Wendy's.

I know, I know.  Baby steps, remember?

The jury is in, however, and drum roll please....

Everyone liked the dish better with the organic soup!


I will be revisiting the organic aisle next week to find my next baby step.

But, in the meantime, do Twinkies contain MSG???  LOL!

Happy Cookin'!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Jää Jää Vauva

For more weekly wrap-up fun, visit WUSH!

That's pronounced "yah, yah, wah, wah."  At least that's how my high school friend from Finland told me to say it, and it's Finnish for "ice, ice baby."

Cause that's how our week started. 

You probably saw ATL on the news with all the trucks sliding around the interstates like they were skating rinks.  I don't live in metro Atlanta, but close enough that we had some skating rink streets, too.

Michael was home Monday and Tuesday, and given that we had the flu which developed into bronchitis for the duration of Christmas break, we decided that two days off while all members of the family were healthy wasn't such a bad idea.  Plus, I wanted my kids to experience what it's like to get to miss school because of snow.  That doesn't happen often in our part of the world!

We watched Prince Caspian and some Food Network shows we like.  We played games, especially the new Shut the Box game that one of the boys received from his aunt and uncle for Christmas.  It is such a simple but very fun and addictive game!

It finally felt like Christmas for us!

And I had just packed up the tree and decorations the day before!! lol

On Wednesday, Michael headed back to the salt mines zoo high school for work, and I cried as I waved goodbye.  Then I cracked open the lesson planner to find that we were a week and half behind schedule. 

When Orville broke his arm on Dec. 10th, I canceled school for the up-coming week.  Then there were the snow days....  So I made some quick adjustments to my plans and cracked the whip rang the school bell as my darlings groaned and moaned whistled while they worked.

I am teaching Omnibus this semester instead of Michael and have lived to recount the first three days.  Fortunately, Orville's assignment this week is Sophocles' Theban Trilogy which I actually read... 23 years ago.  After laughing about how I knew these works so well because I went to high school with Sophocles, Orville and I straightened up and had productive discussions.

And I learned something, too.

I had been required to read the three plays in the wrong order.  Antigone makes a lot more sense when you've previously read Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus

Michael has taken over the study of Narnia in the evenings as an exchange for Omnibus.  I would rather it remain the other way around, but alas, his schedule requires otherwise.  However, we have had a blast reading the Silver Chair together in the evening. 

And my friend, Molly, gave me the book Roar! for Christmas.  We've been using it as a fun comprehension guide and for conversation starters.  We are really enjoying it, and it has added a lot to our study.  Thanks, Molly!

Other than that, it's been a week of math, grammar, spelling, reading, history (we're finally finishing our unit on Ancient Egypt and planning our project for our homeschool association's international festival.  Be on the lookout for an Egypt post!), and NO SCIENCE!

I decided to drop General Science.  Teaching two different science curricula is just not something I can do, and I don't think GS offers enough practice work for good self-teaching.  Orville was making good grades on the tests, but he could not do the hands-on unassisted.  I was struggling to find time to help him, so he was just reading and taking the test, reading and taking the test.  I decided it would be in his best interest, and mine, just to drop it.  I am considering either teaching both boys GS next year, finding a paid class for Orville, or finding another curriculum that will fit our science needs a little better.  For now, I am supervising science fair projects which is still leading hands-on, but at a much slower pace as not to drive me up a wall.

That was our week.  How was yours?

Happy Schoolin'!

Disclosure:  If you click the links to in this post or elsewhere on my blog and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.  I was not compensated for writing this post.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 15

Drum roll please....

I lost 2 pounds this week,
bringing my weight-loss total to 23.4 pounds!

It was a pretty normal week.  I counted calories using My Fitness Pal.  I exercised twice on The Gazelle.

She exercised on what, you ask???





I stand on the ski-like foot-thingies and hold on to the handles and then move as fast as I can without making myself dizzy as to avoid falling off. 

Because that has never happened.


I'm far too graceful to fall from an exercise machine.  ;)

Really and truly, this machine has been such a blessing.  I can exercise with zero impact which prevents the BIG pain episodes.  (For those of you just joining in, one of my reasons for wanting to lose weight is that I suffer from chronic pain and most exercises trigger that pain.)

Which leads me to my tip for the week...find a form of exercise that you can accomplish.  Be reasonable.  Know your limitations.

However, don't be an excuse-maker. 

If you're like me, that may take some work.  You may have to try several different activities before you find a good fit. 

Avoid mimicking others, too.  For years I have failed at this, in large part, because I have thought I had to make myself suffer to do the dieting thing right.

No pain, no gain, right?

Well, yes and no. 

I have tried getting up at 5 a.m. to start my day with a walk many, many times.  There's nothing inherently wrong with that.  I admire people with that kind of self-discipline.

However, my pain is worse in the mornings.  It takes a regimen of stretching and easing into the day to get me going.  Early morning exercise is a shock to my system that I just can't do.

So I exercise at night.

And walking...agitates my sciatica pain, sometimes so greatly that after two laps around a track, I can't perform my regular duties well. 

That's no help, so I ditched the early-morning walks.  In fact, I refuse to walk around the track.  Period.

I also won't go near a gym because exercising in front of others causes me terrible anxiety.  As a child, I had orthopedic problems, and gym class was a form of torture that created lasting emotional damage.

With these things working against me what I have done many times, which is just plain wrong, is allow these things to be the excuses for why I don't exercise at all.

It causes me too much pain.

I'll look like a dope, and people will laugh at me.

I just can't do it.

Oh well, too bad.

But look where that has gotten a very unhealthy place.

A few months ago, God convicted me about these things, and I am not just exercising because I want to lose weight or look a certain way, but because I want to please God with every aspect of my life.

He has kindly provided the Tony Little Gazelle but more importantly, He has provided His grace abundantly.  Apart from Him I can do nothing.

For me, exercising is an exercise in faith in which I must humble [my]self under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt [me], casting all [my] anxieties (including exercise anxiety) on him, because he cares for [me].  (1 Pet 5:6-7, changes mine)

And I'm learning that I don't have to be an athlete or walk around the track or start my day with exercise or join in on the latest-and-greatest work-out-routine. 

Rather, in faith, I put one foot in front of the other and do the best that I can.

And by God's grace, it is working!

What is the Lord teaching you as you work toward a healthier lifestyle?  Please link in and share.  You can find the Wednesday Weigh-in Rules here.  Linky will follow my prayer requests.

Here are my prayer requests for this week:
  1. For the Lord to continue to give me a teachable spirit.
  2. For my continued sanctification as He works on this particular area of my life.
  3. For continued success in counting calories and exercising on the Gazelle.
  4. For those who link in to this post and who are dieting with me anonymously.
  5. For God to be exalted in my life and through this blog meme.
Happy Healthy Living!

Disclosure:  I was not compensated for adding in the link to or for blogging about the Tony Little Gazelle.  I just wanted you to see what I was talking about!  However, if you do click that link and buy anything from Amazon, I will receive a commission.

Disclaimer:  I am not a health science expert and am only blogging about what has worked for me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Visual-Spatial Learners: Tip Number One

In 1981, Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., coined the term visual-spatial learner (VSL) and in her book, Upside-Down Brilliance, she describes the characteristics and learning needs of VSL's.
I bought this book upon the recommendation of Barb, a.k.a. Harmony Art Mom, and have found many useful applications for one of my sons who is most definitely a VSL.

In a nut shell, VSL's are right-brained people who tend to be artistic, intuitive, musical, excellent problem solvers, and a long list of other brilliant traits.  However, they do not always demonstrate their brilliance in the traditional educational setting (this includes many homeschools as well) largely because of two traits- thinking in pictures rather than words and processing information from whole to part instead of from part to whole (at least those are the two main applications I took away from my reading which have had the greatest impact on how I now teach my son).

As I read Upside Down Brilliance, I realized the concept of thinking in pictures seemed to hit the nail on the head for one of my son's biggest struggles in school, Latin vocabulary.  He understood the grammar concepts- could identify parts of speech, case and declension.  However, he struggled to memorize the vocabulary in every single unit.  (According to the book, this is another VSL trait- being able to do higher-order work easily while struggling with rote work.)

I had tried games, relays, drills, testing, retesting... lots of interventions, lots of reteaching.  But they had all dealt with words- writing words on the the board, flashcards, reciting, hangman, fill-in-the-blank...

But no pictures ANYWHERE!

And I'm just theorizing here, but I imagine he was constantly trying to translate those words into pictures but he already had words attached to those pictures- English ones.  When it was time to produce the new Latin word, he pulled the picture from his mental file and there was the English word attached to it, and he had to process that before he could get to the Latin....

No wonder Latin was exhausting him to the point of tears.  I'm tired just thinking about it.

So, I tried a very simple modification...

I asked him to draw pictures containing his Latin vocabulary words within the pictures themselves, like the example below.

As you can see, he did not create intricate or elaborate drawings (although as a VSL he was inclined to do so and I had to prompt him not to spend too much time on the assignment), just a simple representation of the the word which also included the word itself within the drawing, and guess what happened?

He remembered his Latin vocabulary! 

That's just one way Upside-Down Brilliance has helped me as a teacher and my son as a student, and I recommend the book with one caveat.

As with most books that deal with cognitive science, there are elements of Upside-Down Brilliance that do not mesh with Christian worldview or practice.  Therefore, I skipped some sections and took others with a grain of salt.  However, I would not throw the baby out with the bath water here.  There is some valid science within and knowing that my son sees the world in vivid pictures has helped me teach him better.

If you want to know more about teaching a VSL, you can also return to Olive Plants.  I plan to share more tips soon....

Happy Teaching!

Disclosure:  I have not been compensated for writing this post.  I am an affiliate for and if you purchase Upside-Down Brilliance from the link I provided above, I will receive a commission.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 14

Well, I'm a little short on brain cells today.  I caught the flu four days before Christmas and have been sick ever since.  Yesterday I went to the doctor for the second time since it all started and tested negative for any strain of the flu...that's gone.  Phew!  However, I have developed upper respiratory infection and bronchitis. 

I have many medicines flowing through me and am having a little trouble remembering English at the moment, so please forgive any typos, misspellings, ramblings....

However, for those of you with more brain cells than I me I me I...

Oh... if you have had your cup of coffee this morning, you may have noticed that my weigh-in skipped from Week 12 to Week 14.

No, I'm not superstitious, like the hotel people who refuse to have a thirteenth floor and then the buttons in the elevator count from 12 to 14.

That really annoys me.

Just thought you needed to know that.

Ahem, anyway... I missed checking in last week because I was in Tennessee celebrating a second Christmas with my husband's family and wasn't near a computer.  This is my 14th week on the diet, and I wanted my entry to reflect that even though it is only my 13th entry.

Got that?


I knew you had more brain cells than me I me I...

Oh, whatever.

Here's what you really want to know....

I lost 0.8 pound
bringing my total weight loss to 21.4 pounds!

Woo Hoo!

Now, let me tell you, with that having been over a period that included travel and two Christmas celebrations, my weight went up and down, up and down, UP and DOWN.  But, I got back on track on Saturday.

Which just goes to show that getting off track for a few days doesn't mean the diet has gone up in flames.

That's an all-or-nothing mentality that I wrestle with constantly.  So, if you're doing this with me and the holidays got you a little off track, don't despair.  I've slowed the wagon down a bit and am reaching out my hand for you.  Grab hold and jump back on!

You can link up today, too.  I know one of my co-dieters wants to link in, so Linky is back and you can find it after my prayer requests. 

  1. Please add the url for your specific weigh-in post.  Do not link to your blog in general.  Please email me if you need help with this.
  2. Include my Wednesday Weigh-in graphic in your post.  Grab it from the top of this post.
  3. Link back to Olive Plants.  You can either link with the graphic or within the body of your post...completely up to you. 
  4. Share with your readers how much you have lost this week.  Whether you share any goals or totals or more specific info is completely up to you.
  5. Share at least one prayer request in your post, too. 
Here are my requests this week:
  1. That I will recover from bronchitis soon. 
  2. For the Lord to continue to grant me more of the fruit of self-control and to be my constant help as I diet and exercise.
  3. Praise- my pain levels have been low for about a month.  Please pray for continued relief.
  4. For my friends who are dieting with me.  Please feel free to visit the blogs of those who link in and get their specific requests, but also know that there are some who want to remain anonymous and need our prayer support, too. 
  5. For God to be glorified through this blog meme.
Here's Linky.  I look forward to reading your posts!

Happy Healthy Living!