Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Readers' Choice: 38 Posts

Today is my birthday, and I am 38 which completely blows my mind. 

Wasn't I just 29 a few days ago?  Can 20 years really have passed since my high school graduation?  And 22 years since I got my driver's license?  And a quarter of a century since I turned 13 and got braces?

I actually have a scar on my knee that is 35 years old. 

And what an interesting pre-bday week I have had!  It is a truly rare and special occasion when one nearly blinds herself and then almost gets blown away by a tornado all in one week.

You already know about the accident that had me yelling EYE Carumba!  (My husband comes up with these, folks.) 

Well, the tornadoes that ravaged the South hit our home county hard between midnight and 2 a.m. Thursday.  By morning we were on our state's disaster area list.  Public schools were closed because of extensive damage and power outages. 

We watched the Weather Channel all day Wednesday as the tornadoes and storms moved across Alabama.  As the worst was about to reach Georgia, it seemed our home was going to take a direct hit. 

We decided to go to my parents' house because it looked like the storms were going to be less severe there.  However, minutes before the worst should have hit our home, it changed direction and basically missed us.  There were strong winds and heavy rain but nothing strong enough to cause damage. 

A different front, however, later travelled directly over my parents' house, and a tornado touched down in the woods directly behind us.  It ripped the roof off a house in an adjoining neighborhood and caused two huge oak trees to fall squarely on the house next to it, completely crushing the entire house. 

Then it moved toward my parents' subdivision but lifted just before it plowed over the house next door to them.  We heard it swirl over our roof as we hid in the closet.  We thought hail was pounding the roof but later realized branches and debris being swept away by the twister were slamming into it as they flew over.

Trees in the neighbor's yard were cracked in half.  There was a huge mess to clean up, but neither my parents' house nor the one next door were damaged.  Incroyable!  I apologize for the lack of photos but using a camera was outside my range of abilities this week.  :)

I considered writing a post listing 38 things for which I am thankful in honor of my 38th birthday.  I am truly thankful for God's protection this week.  It was a difficult one, but we were spared the worst outcomes in both situations.  My heart aches for those of you who suffered substantial losses, and you are all in my prayers.

Because a very popular meme dedicated to the topic already exists, I decided against the thankfulness post.  Instead, I have decided to share the many ideas that have bounced around in my brain this week as I have been unable to do little more than talk to myself.  Each conversation turned into a blog post that I could not write. 

What is it they say about genius and insanity?!

I did manage to scribble each title down on a sheet of paper, and, coincidentally, there are 38 of them! 
In celebration of growing older, regaining my vision, restored electricity and being able to use the computer again, I took the time to decode my scribbles.  Here are 38 Posts I Will Write One Day.

*hack, hack, cough, cough* 

Drum roll, please....

  1. Give your kids the best YOU can give.
  2. A Gracious Teacher
  3. Drawing Your Children Near
  4. Delegate!  (Yes, home managers can do this, too!)
  5. A Supportive Church
  6. Supportive Homeschool Friends
  7. Loaded Questions, Gentle Answers
  8. Curricular Choices for Kids
  9. Don't be kid-centric...
  10. ...but don't forget you're teaching kids.
  11. Homeschooling and the Gospel
  12. My Homeschool Philosophy: A Peaceful Home is More Important than Methodology
  13. When the enemy suggests you're not qualified to homeschool...
  14. Avoiding Cabin Fever
  15. Overcommitment Sucks...the life out of you and your family.
  16. One Day at a Time
  17. Taking Care of Mom
  18. Homeschooling Essential: A Good Day Planner
  19. Scheduling Your Day according to Priorities
  20. Can you really perfect your kids?
  21. Can you really make the world a perfect place for your kids?
  22. Creating a Print-rich Environment
  23. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
  24. Employ Your Strengths
  25. Know Your Child(ren)'s Strengths
  26. Compiling Work Samples
  27. Simplifying Record Keeping
  28. The grass is NOT always greener.
  29. Don't take a failed lesson personally.
  30. Independent Learning
  31. Pour Yourself into Your Mothering and Teaching
  32. Introducing Children to Different Cultures
  33. Immediate Feedback
  34. Real-world Experience
  35. Teaching History Chronologically
  36. Teaching Math Conceptually
  37. Stretching Their Brains: Make Your Children Justify Their Answers
  38. Essential Questions
So, what do you think?  Take a minute to vote for your favorite by leaving a comment.  I will write the winning post by... this time next year!  :)  Seriously, I will write it asap! 

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Eyes Have It

Actually, it's just one eye that has it, and according to the ophthalmologist, it won't have it permanently.

All damage is on the surface of the eye and the eyelid.  There was hemorrhaging which is a good sign.  If there had been no internal bleeding, it would have indicated damage to the interior eye, meaning dead cells and irreparable damage. 

He prescribed a steroid eye drop to be taken in addition to two other drops given to me at the ER.  He also prescribed a topical cream for my eye lid.  Ah...heavenly relief! 

There is one minor concern.  There is "fluid" under the cornea which is causing my vision to be a bit hazy.  He said it will most likely clear up on its own but could take as long as two months.  If it does not clear within two to three months, we will have to talk about further treatment.  This could involve surgery, so please pray for my vision to return to normal soon.

The good news is that the swelling and redness has decreased significantly.  My eye is starting to look normal again.  The eyelid feels better and the redness and scaring is clearing.  My vision is still a little blurry but improved. 

Overall, I am rejoicing and know that God has been merciful!  When I felt the soap hit my eye, I immediately cried out to Him.  I had done my homework before I began soaping so I knew the possible ramifications, among them blindness.  As I flushed my eye with water, I asked the Lord to make it effective and to remove the chemical quickly before it could "burn through" the cornea.  He was pleased to do so, and I give Him praise. 

I was not able to attend worship on Easter Sunday; however, while at home doctoring my wounds, I had plenty of time to contemplate the wounds of Jesus by which I am healed (Isaiah 53:5).  I am thankful that this perishable body of mine has been clothed with the imperishable.  (1Cor 15:53)

Thank you for your continued prayers.  Hopefully I will return to regularly scheduled programming soon!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Eye, eye, eye...

So I had an interesting Easter weekend.

My dining room has been a disaster area ever since the science fair.  The table is our work space for projects and soap making, and the boys have had a lot of projects to complete in the last month or so.  We've been eating in the office which actually suits us all just fine.  There are two rockers and t.v. trays and two computer desks.  It's actually a comfortable set up and makes for a nice place to eat and chat.

I decided on Saturday, however, that it was time for me to reclaim the dining room.  Project season is over, and well, the dining table needed to be restored to its original purpose.  Wilbur signed on as my helper, and we decided to tackle the soap supplies while we were at it, too.  I have two wire racks in the dining area dedicated to my soaping supplies, and it was, ahem, in need of a little attention.

It didn't take long to restore order, and we got all of the soapy gadgets neatly arranged in baskets.  I even alphabetized my fragrances!  It looked so wonderful that I felt inspired and decided to whip up a batch of cold process soap.  I had given bars from my last batch to the ladies on the science fair committee as thank you gifts, and they liked it so much that they bought more for themselves and to give to others.  I was sold-out and needed to restock!

Now, I am a safety-minded person.  You already know I am not a risk-taker because I am accident-prone.  I put on my rubber gloves and goggles and carefully began the process. 

Measured the lye.  No problem.

Mixed the lye and water together.  No problem.

Melted the oils.  No problem.

Poured the lye solution into the oils.  No problemo!

I had the batch almost completely done and was ready to pour it into the mold when I noticed a little glob of colorant.  Being the perfectionist that I am, I had to smooth it out.  I put the stick blender into the "batter" and switched it on. 

I missed one little detail, though.

I had taken my goggles off.


I don't know.

I leaned over the pot to get a good look at that clump and... guessed it.

A blob of soap jumped out of the pot and landed squarely in my eye.

I bolted to the sink and started dousing my eye with water.  Wilbur ran outside to get Dad who immediately called poison control.  They told me to continue to flush the affected area with water for thirty minutes and then go to the ER. 

Once at the ER, my eye was numbed and they put this plastic contraption under my eyelid.  It was like the biggest contact lens in the world through which saline solution passed and washed my eye (and my hair and neck and shirt and was cold!). 

People, I have a thing about my eyes.  I have never worn contacts because I just cannot stand the thought of putting something in my eye on purpose.  I struggle to use eye drops, too. I cringe any time a dropper comes near me, so every time someone came within two feet of me (and that was frequently), I jumped like a startled cat.  I think I may have karate chopped my doctor once.

Not really.  But I thought about it.

After testing my eye with litmus paper (there's something I never imagined in my wildest dreams would one day happen to me), the doctor determined that the lye was out.  He diagnosed a minor chemical burn and corneal abrasion and said that it would all heal on its own.  I will see an opthamologist today for a follow-up and continued treatment.

I'm feeling okay.  My vision is still affected (though there does not seem to be any permanent damage) so I apologize for any typos.  :)  Basically, it feels like a really bad case of pink eye...uncomfortable but not painful.  I appreciate your prayers as I recover and will keep you posted.

Oh, and pray for Michael, too.  He is the one who has to administer my eye drops. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Closing Out the 2010-2011 School Year

At the Olive Plants Academy, we are just a few weeks from the end of the 2010-2011 school year!

Before school began, I created a page on which I listed our plans for the year.  I just updated the page so you can read an overview of our year and how our curricular plans panned out.

Click here to be redirected to the updated Our Academy page and read all about it.

I will reveal our plans for 2011-2012 very soon!

Happy Planning!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Science Fair 2011

QuestionWhere has Dawn been lately?

ResearchSources indicate that Dawn has a tendency to overcommit get really involved in her community and to tell people what to do organize large events.  Satellites have tracked increased science activity in her hometown in recent weeks.

HypothesisDawn led her homeschool group's science fair committee this year.

There is no need to test this hypothesis because I have photographic evidence to verify its validity!

Okay, so I'm not in this picture of all the science fair participants.
I could not find a picture of me anywhere!
I guess I was too busy
giving orders
serving the group
to pose!

I worked with six other terrific moms to organize the first annual Super Duper Home School Association (SDHSA) Science Fair!  (FYI, that's what I will be calling my local support group from here on out.  I am tired of typing "local support group" over and over again!)

The SDHSA ladies and I started working on the fair in August.  There was a lot to accomplish: writing rules, holding registration, finding judges, gathering prizes, creating a judging rubric, providing a training session, etc., etc., etc.  However, from the start, we divided the work, and I cannot believe how well everything came together!

The competition was tight, and there were soooo many fabulous projects.  Take a look at these incredible boards!

On the home front, I had two participants of my own to manage.  I demanded the boys decided that they should work together on just one project since I had my hands full leading the committee.  Of course, the one topic the boys could agree on felt enthusiasm for was bird watching. 

Here is their project...

Question:  What color feeder will attract the most birds?

Orville (left) and Wilbur (right)
in front of their feeders of different colors.
Which one do you think will attract the most birds?

Research:  Their research indicated that birds' eyes contain "more cone cells" than humans'.  For this reason, scientists believe birds see colors in saturated tones.

This picture shows the cages in a saturated hue,
a guess as to what
they look like to song birds.

Hypothesis:  The boys believed their research indicated more birds would be drawn to the brighter colored feeders, particularly yellow and red.

Are the boys correct?
Will yellow and red win?

The Experiment:  Dad spray painted four suet cage feeders in four different colors: yellow, red, blue and black.  The boys decided to leave one cage in the original green color as a control.  They also hung the cages on the same tree to prevent environmental factors, like temperature, from skewing the outcome.  They also used the same brand of suet feed for each cage and filled each with the same weight of feed.

The Control Cage

They frequently observed the cages for one week and took note of how many birds of which species visited each color.  At the end of the week, they took the cages down and weighed the amount of uneaten suet.

They repeated the test on a different tree in a different part of the yard, keeping the controls in place from the first test.  Again, they observed for one week, took notes, and then weighed the remaining contents.

Data and Results
  • Test One (from lightest to heaviest):  yellow, black, green, red and blue. 
  • Test Two (from lightest to heaviest): yellow, red, green, blue, and black.
  • Total Ranking (calculated by adding the weights from each test): yellow, black, red, green, and blue

Conclusions:  Because yellow ranked first (meaning the most was eaten from it) in both tests, the boys believe yellow is a good color for feeders.  However, because red was 2nd in one test and 4th in the other, they cannot say with certainty that their hypothesis is correct.

Orville (right) is disturbed their hypothesis was not valid.
Wilbur (left) is just happy he participated in the science fair!

While collecting data, they also noticed that more birds ate from a feeder similar in color to its body than at a feeder of a different color.  They want to do more research and testing to see if there is a correlation between body color and desired feeder color.

SDHSA awarded participants medals based on their judges' rubric score.  Everyone who participated received at least a bronze science medal.  Those whose judges' scores were between 80 and 89% of the total possible score received silver medals, and those who received scores of 90% and higher earned gold medals.  Local restaurants donated coupons for free pizza, ice cream and sandwiches, too!

Orville and Wilbur (far right) won gold medals
and took first place in their division!

Good job, Orville and Wilbur!

Bronze and Silver Medalists

Good job, science fair participants!

If you are interested in starting a science fair in your area, I would be happy to offer support.  I learned a lot the hard way this year!  Just drop me a line, and I will get back to you soon.

Happy Experimenting!