Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tightwad Tip of the Day-Turkey season

Meat is extremely high in cost these days, especially beef. So it is that time of the year when you can reap some serious savings and put some meat in the freezer. Nope, I am not talking about deer season. I am talking about those 79 cent a pound turkeys. Think about it, 79 cents a pound for turkey vs. 4.99 a pound for the cheapest ground beef. I will take the 79 cents a pound. I have been buying 2 turkeys a week since thanksgiving and have a nice little bit of turkey in the freezer. Typically, I only put a couple of whole turkeys straight from the store into the freezer. I choose some smaller turkeys for this, since cooking a whole turkey feeds the 4 of us for a week. Then I buy the biggest size that I can find. I bring it home, let it thaw out if frozen, then I part it up. There are all sorts of ways that you can divvy up a turkey. I will sometimes keep the leg quarters for baking/grilling. Sometimes I will debone the whole turkey and grind it for ground meat. Then sometimes I will grind some, leave some intact pieces, and cut the breasts into cutlets. You can get a variety of cuts from a good sized turkey. Then when I have gotten every last scrap of meat I can off the bone I will make a large stock pot of turkey broth. I always put a few vegetables for added nutrition into our broth and a touch of vinegar to help leach the minerals from the bones. Then I simmer this on very low for about 12 hours. The result is a really nice rich broth, full of nutrition. I use a lot of broth since many times I will drink a cup of hot broth on a cold winter day or have a cup with a meal. So we really go through the broth. Yes, I would rather have my own turkeys going in the freezer. I know they are healthier, but right now for us not practical. This is a great way to add variety to our meat supply and stocking up now when it is so cheap just can't be passed up. So, a few more weeks left of cheap turkeys...don't miss out. Blessings, Kat

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Preparing your High Schooler for Adult Life

The one thing that I noticed when I went to college was the lack of preparation in many students for the responsibilities of adult life, or even the semi adult life of college. These kids were like kindergartners released on the playground and all the teachers had gone back inside the school. They were wild, out of control, and had no clue how to manage their time, money, or obligations. These also were not necessarily the typical party kids. These were just kids who had no clue and had always had someone to "manage" life for them. They didn't know how to go about it for themselves. So, here is my list of "must teach my kid" before she leaves home.

1. How to manage money and live within a budget. This is a big one! They always make jokes about the phone calls from college asking for more money, but truly it is no joke. I had no clue how to manage money or live on a budget when I graduated high school and boy did it show when I was in college and struggling to live on a small amount of money. I plan for Petunia to work with our budget as it is for a few months starting in January. Then this summer, when she has a summer job, to work within her own budget to pay rent, utilities, food cost, and other typical living expenses. Now, this money will go back into her account at the end of the summer, but it will give her the experience of working within a budget based on her earnings. I didn't know how to manage money at all and I fell into that deep dark hole of debt that so many people are in. It took years to dig out and I want her to learn early to live within her means and give her the experience of knowing how to do that.

2. Teach them the basics of managing their own home. Many kids leave home and don't know how to cook a meal or do laundry. These are important things to know. So basic home ec is important to teach your highschooler. Petunia does most of her own laundry and she does some cooking. It is basic and not elaborate or complicated, but at least she will be able to cook a few meals and follow the recipes that I give her when she is on her own. This will help her stick to that budget even more because she will be able to keep her food cost down.

3. Teach them to manage their time. This is not only for schoolwork, but for everything. If they need to make a daily list, or a calendar let them figure out what management tool works for them now. Give them deadlines, let them work a summer job and let them learn the consequences of their actions. You can't always protect them and cover for them. If they don't learn now to meet deadlines and work obligations then they will have a very hard time with adult life. If you set a deadline for schoolwork or chores, then there must be a consequence if they don't manage their time well and then miss that deadline. If they take a summer job and can't manage to get themselves out of bed and off to work then don't be their alarm clock. It is their job and their responsibility. If they get fired then they get fired.

4. Let them make choices and decisions within reasonable limits. Let them decide what social activities they will participate in, or sports they will play, or what clothes they buy (within reason). If you control every single thing they do then they won't know how to decide for themselves. I saw kids who were so excited to have so many choices of extracurriculars in college that they couldn't decide between them and were trying to do them all. This left no time for academics and their grades suffered. Kids need to learn to control their impulses and desires, and in doing so control/limit their choices. If we as parents do that for them then they won't learn how to say no and how to choose what they would like to do most.

Teens need to learn how to start being adults and the best way to let them learn the ups and downs is when they are safe at home with us. Then they will be as prepared as they can get for what life might throw at them. Blessings from the farm, Kat

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Overextended High Schooler

It seems like things really pick up in high school with our kids. There are social activities with friends, church activities, schoolwork, volunteer work, etc. It can be very, easy for the high schooler to become over extended. We have fallen into this trap a few times over the years and here is how we now avoid it. We have a calendar on the wall in the kitchen just for Petunia. This way it is easy for her to see what she has going on and she learns to manage her time. Assignment due dates are written in red, church activities in blue, social activities in black, other miscellaneous stuff in purple and college prep activities (scholarship application deadlines)in green. All of this is written on her calendar, so she can see before making plans what she has going on that week. If it is a busy week, then she can see that and decline an invitation for something if needed. Our kids don't have to participate in everything and it is ok to say no! Sometimes those volunteer things need to be limited, or they may not need to go to every football game with friends that are in regular school. Or they can plan their time so that they can get what they need done, and then plan fun time with friends or going with the church on another activity. They can also see when they might need to say no simply because they need to rest. For us this works out better than a planner because we can see the whole month and I can help keep track of what she has going on. When she had the planner I had to remember to ask her for it, or I had to ask if she had anything planned if I was setting something up for her. I try to let her decide her schedule and activities because she is at that age where she has to learn to manage her time herself. But I am still here to make suggestions and offer guidance and this is much easier when I can see everything at a glance. Hope this helps. Blessings, Kat

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Transcripts and Record keeping for High School

Many homeschool parents get overwhelmed at the thought of keeping records and filling out transcripts. Hopefully this post will take a little fear out of the process. I believe in keeping things relatively simple. So I have one chart that I started for Petunia. It has 4 columns of boxes. One column for each grade year of high school. The rows are for her subjects. Core subjects are first and then the rest of the rows are for electives. Each box is large enough for me to write in. I use this chart to document what books are used for what subject. That way I have a record of what material was used for when on one sheet. This chart stays in my Mom Notebook in the same sheet protector as her transcript. Now, for transcripts. There are many places to download a blank transcript for free. I got ours from our homeschool cover group. I like the ones that have some space to put in extracurricular activities and maybe a little box under each year to write in things like volunteer work or such. These things are just as important on a transcript as grades. I keep a paper copy of this in my mom journal and an electronic copy on my computer. That way I can quickly update the transcript and print a new copy when I update. If you can't find a transcript with a box on the front then you can simply write down dates/grade year and activity on the back of your paper copy. I know a mom who did this and both of her sons are attending the Naval Academy, so it works just fine.

Now, onto record keeping. For each subject Petunia has a folder. After I grade a paper or test then it goes back in the folder. At the end of the year I take all graded assignments, clip them together by subject and put them into their own folder. Any certificates for that year go in this folder as well. Then everything goes into a box labeled with the grade and her name. It takes about 15 minutes to do this and then the school year is complete and I am ready to move onto the next year. If I need to provide records of what she has done for college applications then all I need to do is pull the top folder from each box.

So you see there really is no mystery in record keeping or transcripts. I am sure it can be made more complicated, but I like to keep things simple and easily accessible. Blessings for a happy, drama free school year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting Started with High School at Home

High school at home seems to put so much pressure on the kids as well as the parents. I know for me when we first started I was a nervous wreck. I knew that if my child chose to pursue college after high school, the competition was tough. So, this month I will be posting my series of tips for getting through high school with the least amount of anxiety. We are almost done, Petunia graduates next year. Of course, I have a little while before Little Britches will be graduating so these posts might be helpful to remind me of a few things in a few years. If you are just starting high school then this post will definitely be for you and if you have already started then it will be a good check off list for you. Blessings, Kat

1. Make your plan early. Check out what you need to cover and how much you need to cover to be considered a high school graduate. Some states are very specific and homeschoolers are held to the same standards as public and private school students. For instance in my state, 4 years of the core subjects are required...4 years of math, English and science. Know what you need to "graduate" and plan accordingly. High school years go by quickly.

2. Does your child plan on going to college? Technical school? Get your child to start thinking about what they might want to do with their life early. Parents...please realize that formal college is not for every student. Don't push your child in that direction if that is not suited to them. Plumbers/electricians/etc. make an excellent living at a respectable occupation without having a college degree.

3. If your child thinks they might be bound for college, then start looking at requirements early. It doesn't really matter if you have picked your colleges or not, most of them have similar requirements. Start working on meeting these requirements.

4. If you aren't prone to keep records, now is the time. I have a folder for each year of high school that has a good assortment of Petunia's work. She probably won't need it, but if she does it is there. Start a transcript now and put everything on it. If your child went on a mission trip with the youth group at church...put it on the transcript. Update the transcript regularly. Don't wait until your child's senior year to try and remember everything they have done and all those little extras that make a transcript stand out.

5. Start looking for scholarship money early...junior year at the least. There are many scholarship search sites online that will make a profile for your child with their graduation date and match them to potential scholarships. Competition for scholarship money is tough and gets even tougher the later you wait to start applying for them. Start early.

6. Don't ignore the small scholarships. Many people tend to see those large numbers on the big scholarships and only apply for those. So your child might be competing with 30,000 other students for that one scholarship. Those smaller scholarships can add up and can really come in handy. I once won a small 1500.00 scholarship which didn't seem like much but that one little scholarship paid for my books and lab fees for 4 semesters. So, in essence it was a lot of money because books are expensive and those lab fees add up, especially for science majors.

7. Start taking tests early. This is especially true if you don't live in a state that requires standardized testing. Homeschooled kids usually are not exposed to that type of test taking and it can be nerve wracking for some. Petunia was nervous when she went to take the ACT the first time and then the proctor was 2 hours late (yes 2 hours), so then she was mad. After all she had to give up a Saturday to go and take the test. So being nervous and then angry did not make for a good mindset and she didn't do very well. If you wait until the last minute to take these tests then you might not have another chance and it might affect your ability to get into college or at least put off your entry date.

8. If your child isn't going to take the college route then start thinking about internship/apprentice opportunities. Going back to the plumber/electrician or any other type of trade, summer jobs working in that field can be exceptionally helpful. You never know if they work for the same company year after year in high school then once they graduate trade school they might have a job position waiting for them or someone willing to recommend them for another job position for another company. Word of mouth and recommendations go much further in the trades fields than resumes.

9. Prepare your child for adult life. If you haven't already teach them to manage money, meet obligations/deadlines, etc. This is something they will have to do once they graduate even if they are in college or trade school. They will have to manage their scholarship money if it comes from sources outside the college. I knew kids in school that had won large amounts of scholarship money and blew through it partying instead of paying their college bills. When they were broke they either had to go home or rely on student loans to finish their education. Teach them to manage their money and time now. If your child is college bound then they will need to be able to meet deadlines. The professor will often issue a class syllabus at the beginning of the year and never mention due dates again. It is the students responsibility to use that syllabus and meet all due dates and prepare for scheduled tests.

10. If your child is college bound then prepare them academically. Don't choose the easiest courses and the minimum requirements to just meet high graduation requirements. Push them to write those hard papers, do the extra math, choose academically challenging courses, books etc. These are skills they will need to have to be prepared to enter a college classroom. It doesn't matter that the child is a math genius and plans on an engineering career. They will still have to get through those core classes in their freshman and sophomore years in which they will have to read literature or history books and write lots of papers or take essay type tests. If they fail those, then they will never get the chance to take those advance math and engineering courses to complete their degree. Everybody starts out having to take the same stuff, then you move into your chose field to finish up.

Well, hopefully these few tips will help many parents out there who just simply don't know what they should be doing. Happy high school!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Beginning Steps to Living with Autoimmune Disease

What is an autoimmune disease? Autoimmune disease is basically when your own immune system attacks your own body because it has gotten completely confused and no longer functions like it is supposed to. Apparently there are over 100 autoimmune diseases, so far. The key to living with an autoimmune disease is learning what you can do to protect your body, regulate the immune response, and learn everything you can. However, there are some relatively easy steps to begin to take control of your autoimmune disease and live a healthy life. Here is what I have learned in dealing with my own autoimmune disease (hashimoto's thyroiditis).

1. Read and learn everything you possibly can about your disease and autoimmunity in general. You really have to become pro active in knowing about your disease. Doctors don't know everything and in maintaining a practice it is very difficult for them to truly stay up to date on research. You need to be a partner in your health and take an active approach to your own healing. Don't miss the free autoimmune summit taking place now online.

2.Find a doctor willing to work with you. If your doctor is one of those that thinks they are the end all be all and won't discuss your disease and possible treatment options then find a new doctor. I have gone through 14 doctors in the past 10 years with my disease. I have a wonderful GP now who listens to me and talks with me, not to me. unfortunately she doesn't have much confidence in her own abilities and I admit I am a complicated case, but I consider her a treasure.

3. Take a proactive approach to your diet. Diet definitely has a role in the immune response for many people with AID (autoimmune disease). I highly recommend trying an autoimmune or elimination diet and seeing if you notice a difference in the way that you feel or if your particular antibody numbers get lower. For me, grains raise my antibody levels and I notice I suffer much more if I am exposed to wheat especially. You may not think you have a problem with foods, but you really don't know whether you do or not until you stop the exposure and then re-expose yourself. Things that can cause a problem are grains (especially wheat), dairy, and legumes. This is a big one that most people tend to balk at, but really a few months out of your life eliminating some of your favorite foods to see if it improves the quality of your life is not that big of a deal. I love bread, hot fresh bread dripping with fresh homemade butter...yum! However, I don't tolerate wheat. My pain level goes up, I get a migraine headache, and I suffer for days if I am exposed to wheat. I have the same reaction with corn. So for me, the response is not worth it. The is simply too much to justify that slice of bread or piece of cake. You might not have the problem that I have, but isn't it worth it to find out.

4. Heal your gut. Consider probiotics, fermented foods, and other things that will help to heal your gut. This does go along with the diet above.

5. Detox your liver and your life. Our world is so full of toxins. Chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, cleaning products, clothing, furniture, etc. etc. etc. all work to trigger an immune response and damage our immune system. If we have an autoimmune disease then we don't need any extra help in damaging the immune system, it is already wonky. So, make a conscience effort of ridding your life of all those unnecessary chemicals.

6. Optimize your vitamin levels, especially Vitamin D and your B vitamins. Be cautious of using herbs that stimulate the immune system because you will stimulate the attack on your body.

7. Avoid stimulating your immune system when possible. If you know that someone is sick, avoid them if possible. A typical cold can take me a full 6 months to completely recover from, whereas a normal person can recover in a week or two. I avoid sick people like the plague. If I go to the grocery store, I am meticulous about washing my hands and wiping down the handle on the cart. I try to limit my grocery store trips. I don't go around sick people. If I know someone is sick or might possibly be coming down with something, I stay away. I also try to get all my regular doctor visits done when it is not cold and flu season. You will not find me at the doctor's office during that time if I can possibly help it. I am not saying live in a bubble and go over board being a germaphobe, but there really is no reason to overly stimulate your immune system any more than necessary.

8. Exercise to tolerance. Get up and move around. It does help. I don't mean that you have to start training for a triathlon, but a walk around the block or a morning yoga routine will help keep your body healthy and happy.

To live and thrive with autoimmune disease you have to become proactive to your own health. There is no miracle pill or cure. Some steps to healing are hard, but isn't your health and your life worth whatever it takes to be healthy and happy?

Blessings, Kat

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Free Autoimmune Summit Online Now

The Autoimmune Summit is free online now here. Each day is full of several talks from doctors and experts about causes and healing with autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are on the rise. I myself suffer from Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. The one thing that I never understood was that having one autoimmune disease greatly increases your risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. There is loads of great information about controlling the immune response, things that will trigger an immune flair up, etc. Blessings, Kat

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