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‘Tis NEVER too late to parent BETTER

Sunday, 08. February 2015 by Renee Ellison

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If you are only just now seeing the big picture of raising godly seed, and a higher standard of parenting, do not despair about the years before now, that were not so well spent.  It is only the Enemy that tells us we are too late to really parent well.  It is never too late to bond well with our children and make a huge impact upon their lives.  Never too late.  You can begin afresh this very minute.

If you feel that the past has been a complete wash, start by focusing on what is most important: your own personal repentance and biblical imprinting on your children.  In prayer, tell God that you are sorry for your own misplaced priorities, that you didn’t “get it” about what a high calling this was and that now you want to make better decisions with your time and need His help.  Cry out to God for a turnaround in your own habits.  Trying to replace destructive habits without divine help is almost impossible.  Repentance opens up the heart to the working of the Holy Spirit—it grants Him permission to help you. 

On a practical level, replace the inferior habit (be it long phone calls, romance novels, TV shows, the idolatry of spectator sports, excess shopping, personal projects, or perhaps over-indulging a friend or relative to the harm of your own children who look to you but can’t find you because you are always preoccupied with someone beyond your immediate family) with a better habit that entices you.  If you can think of nothing else, replace all time-eaters /-wasters with family exercise.  This will start to turn your huge “ship of state” around in the waters.  Do it for 28 days straight and it will become a new, better habit.  Even if it is just a long robust family walk around the neighborhood, do it every day.  (Work up to three miles.)  This gives you bonding time with your precious children—positive emotional time not spent around chores or academics—and clears out the mental cobwebs for academic work when you get home.  Plus, it gets all of you into better shape.

Also, start massively imprinting your young children with the Bible by reading to them from Arthur Maxwell’s 10-volume The Bible Story and his set of Bedtime Stories.  Never skip a night.  Make this a non-negotiable.  We heard of one family who repeated this over and over for eight years; their children turned out phenomenally godly and holy.  This will serve as a third parent in its divine imprinting of your child.  It’s a great use of that special hour before bedtime.

Start there.  Then make to-do charts for each child and make them highly visible on a wall or door near you.  Delegate lots and lots of household chores so that you can keep your eye on the big picture of what each member of your family is doing, instead of you being down scrubbing that floor.  Have as many children as possible help you cook.  Don’t you be working in the kitchen while your children are hanging from the chandeliers.  Make them work with you.  Keep the speech upbeat and happy.  Pump the atmosphere with joy.  You want to give them joyful memories.  Was the greater bulk of the family atmosphere joy or harshness?  They’ll carry this impression with them for the rest of their lives, just like you do from your own childhood.

If you’ve completely lost control of the organization of your home, send your children and hubby away to your relatives for three days (if at all possible) and you stay home to get command of the organization of your house.  Work until you drop—‘til every muscle twitches—getting your house exactly the way you want it.

To recover lagging ineffective discipline with your children, start by saying the appropriate phrases and making loving comments with your own happy, cheerful voice.  If Johnnie is mean to Mary, you say the words Johnnie should have said—and be done with it.  For example, “Mary, I wouldn’t want to frustrate you.  I’m sorry, you’re my precious sister with whom I will rule angels in the next life.”  Then leave the room.  Johnnie will, no doubt, be left standing there with his mouth open.

Yadidahdidah—your objective is for your children to begin to feel a different energy in the home.  You, the mom, can be the example.  If the children are rude to your husband, run to him and throw your arms around him and say, “You are the best hubby and father a woman could want.  OHHHHHHH how I love you.”  Thus you indirectly correct your children by your own amazing loving example.  Start there.

The great surprise of homeschooling is that it not only conforms our children to His image, but conforms us (the parents) to His image, as well. Yup, homeschooling, done in the fear of the Almighty and by His grace, purifies two generations at once.

Tips for improving the functionality of your home

Sunday, 25. January 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Here are tips for tweaking your home accessories to enhance your ability to work and teach more easily.  Make your home and its objects serve you, rather than you serving them.

Lap boards:
It’s handy to have a few stiff lap boards (12x12”) to use underneath each child’s work, while sitting on the couch with mama.  We just jerk the covers of old large children’s books from the thrift store to use for these stiff boards.  Reinforce the corners with a piece of duct tape to keep them from fraying.

Slant boards for kids:
Setting these on the study table lifts the child’s work up at a slant which makes it easier to read.

Card table and booster seat:
With a smaller child, use a booster seat and a grownup’s card table.  Mama scoots the light card table up to the child as tightly as it needs to be for the child’s easy arm movement.  This is far easier than attempting to move the already seated child up to the tablet.  Mama sits at the card table with her child for good tight focused learning.

Because a homeschooling mom is often working in the kitchen at the same time that she is schooling—double-whamming her time—let’s look at two ideas for the kitchen, too.

Kitchen trash can-ease:
Have two open trash cans in the kitchen, making it easy to toss trash in quickly without having to constantly open lower cupboard doors or mess with removing or tilting trash can lids.  The ideal size is 15x14x8.5”.  Why is that ideal?  Because standard grocery store checkout bags fit in these containers, saving you from having to purchase bags, and they are light enough for the children to carry to empty often (this teaches them responsibility at an early age) and to notice when it needs emptying, because it’s not hidden.

Set these two receptacles side by side on the edge between the kitchen and the adjacent work/dining/study room.  One of these cans is used primarily for kitchen garbage, the other for homeschooling paper trash and craft trash.  The secret bonus?  Both are available for either use, at all times.

“Easy-on-your-back” work surfaces:
Create three work levels in your kitchen.  One level is the height of a 5-gallon plastic bucket (actually use a 5-gallon bucket for that level, with its lid on; it will be 17” high).  Use this level to set your trashcan upon when in use to peel carrots or potatoes so that the peels fall right into the trash can; this eliminates the step of scooping peelings from the sink and it ensures that the peelings make it into the trash because it is right underneath you (impossible to miss).

The next level is achieved by using a little cart with wheels, ideally 26” high.  Place your blender upon this level.  This enables you to look down into your blender when you’re stuffing it with produce, and it allows your arm to fully extend downward when you’re hand-mixing a bowl of batter, for example—far easier and more restful on your arm than stirring with your arm bent at higher levels.

Your final work surface height is your normal kitchen counter, measuring something like 35”.  You’ll love transferring from surface to surface, depending upon the need at hand.

Any improvement that saves wear and tear on mama is worth it—especially when it uses something you already have or that you can find inexpensively, like these suggestions.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Remember the unborn—tomorrow, too

Thursday, 22. January 2015 by Renee Ellison

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The nation’s pro-life remembrance day has past—but the problem has not passed.  [picture: fetus at 14 weeks]

More babies will be slaughtered today, and even more tomorrow.  Even though we pride ourselves on living in a civilized nation, we are as barbaric in this regard as the pagans who slaughtered their children for the pagan god Molech.  We are still passing our nation’s children through the fire.

The habit of making rationalizations is all about supplying reasons for what our spirit knows is wrong to do.  As a result of our insistence upon rationalizations, we have become a nation that swims in irrationalities.  We are so messed up in our logic that we have convinced ourselves that abortion—killing babies—is actually a good thing to do.  Why, then, do girls come out of Planned Parenthood, looking pale and sober, if this is so good?  Where is all that supposed joy?  I’ve not seen any of them leave the act with a smile on their face.  They mistakenly believed that death would produce life for them—or at least freedoms.  Instead, they traded their babies for life-time emotional baggage and subsequent haunting hours they never dreamed of.

When has slaughter (in these magnitudes of numbers, let alone one) ever been a good thing?   56 million have been killed since the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision made abortion legal in the US, 42 years ago today.  Pharaoh slaughtered the young on the birthing stool.  Herod enlarged his slaughtering to include 2-year olds and younger.  This was not a good thing, historically, nor is it now.  There was weeping and wailing, then.  There is grief, heartache, relentless guilt and shame, now.

When we tamper with God’s divine order and creation we unwittingly create horrific unbalances.  Over the past several decades China has slaughtered their baby girls.  Look, now, at the imbalance it has created.  How is this a good thing?  Now they have millions of frustrated men who can’t find wives, channeling their testosterone into joining the ranks of the military.  What does a nation do with several million unmarried men?  Do we not see the formation of Revelation’s army, perhaps?  The testosterone will be used somewhere.

When we abort our nation’s babies, we defeat even our own selfish ends.  When Satan kills the baby, he takes with it all the full-blown fruit of what that person would have contributed to our own welfare and happiness as a nation.  All the things that that person would have invented or discovered or contributed are now gone from us—these potentials by the millions benefit us not at all, die with the fetus.  Even our tax base gets destroyed, so that now the elderly outnumber the young and the shrinking emerging work force cannot sustain us.  These are alarming dynamics.  We encounter economic fiasco by destroying the needed ranks of the next generation.  We do not even reproduce ourselves, and so we as a people shrink.

How is it a good thing for an ob-gyn doctor to slaughter a baby in one room and rush to the aid of saving a baby of the same age in the next room?  Huh?  What are we thinking?  Getting a college education, without an unwanted pregnancy, has become an idol to us—an idol worth murdering for.  We must complete the degree, but not the child?  Huh?  What has happened to us?

In the last analysis, the problem is not a childbirth problem; it is an unbridled irresponsible sex problem.  We refuse to take the moral high ground in this debate and admit that we are working on the wrong end of the problem. Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage always was and always will be the only real solution to this problem. A child belongs with committed parents.  A child is ultimately an emerging adult and needs a context in which to become as refined as possible for a chance at life, liberty and happiness—the same chance his mother had.

So, what tools can you use in this raging debate to help restore sanity on this topic, when caught in our nation’s debate about the unborn child?  Learn to supply rational reasons from Scripture and hard science, whenever you encounter this topic with individuals.  Here are some of the best arguments you can share.

Tools for logical debate:

Scientific tools:

Since the debate hinges entirely upon whether or not the fetus is fully human, ask your opponent to name the hour the baby becomes a human.  Let him (or her) pick the hour.  Then once he has planted his pole on that issue, according to his own whims, ask him: “What then was the baby five minutes before?  Also, what scientific chemical upset happened at that moment he chose to ascribe human qualities to, to make it so?  Is this cataclysmic collusion of supposed chemical activity verifiable under a microscope?

Next, ask your opponent what other animal or anything in all of nature changes its chromosome structure to shift from one thing to another at any time in all of its development?  You can’t name one.  A baby fetus sports 23 chromosomes; 22 sets are the same for both sexes—the 23rd set determines the gender of the child.  When did (or do) those chromosomes change from the moment of conception onwards?  The answer?  Never!

SLED is an acronym for your final strong debate points.  Nothing else is allowed life, i.e. spared from death, merely because of its S-ize, L-evel of development, E-nvironmental changes (living on the outside of the womb as a premie) or D-egree of dependency.  These are simply non-issues when it comes to whether a thing should live or not live.  [For more on this acronym coined by Stephen Schwarz, see http://www.caseforlife.com ]

Biblical tools:
The Bible gives us two outstanding tools to show that it was never God’s intent for us to view the fetus as anything other than a baby. 

One: Psalm 139 makes it clear that we were knit in our mother’s womb as a human being from the get-go.

And two: When Mary, the mother of Yeshua, visited Elizabeth, Yeshua was only recently conceived, perhaps the size of a pin by that point.  Yet the strength of his personhood was felt by John the Baptist who leaped in his mother Elizabeth’s womb at his presence, (himself being only six months old).  Yeshua was fully the Son of God and the Son of Man at conception.

The hour of our rationalizations has ended.  Judgment is leveled at us.  It is (and will continue to be) severe and irreversible.  Labor to withhold the scalpel in all of your discussions on the point.  Rescue the perishing.  It is a biblical command: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter (Proverbs 24:11).

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Instant simple one-minute speeches

Wednesday, 14. January 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Teach your children how to give quick-and-simple one-minute speeches.  Get ready for some super family fun with this idea.  Your little ones can do this, too.  Have a child stand on a stool and say a speech on any topic for one minute, out of his head.  These are even what are known as extemporaneous speeches—as are included in some speech tournaments.

The child draws a topic (which you have put in there) out of a hat and talks on it.  The stool is everything.  Via the stool the child is all of a sudden on stage and everyone is looking up at him.  He instantly feels super important.  The stool makes it—gets the child up out of the crowd.  The stool becomes the smallest most effective instant stage in the world.

‘Tis hilarious!  You may find yourselves rolling on the floor with laughter in the beginning.  Later (much later) you begin to refine their speech-making ability, teaching them how not to roll on the sides of their feet, fiddle with their hair, yank on their shirt, fidget, or say “um” too much, etc.  Order Learn to Speak with Ease for help conquering all that.

As a result of doing this over and over, children grow in their ability to think on their feet and to talk rapidly on whatever topic is handed to them in all kinds of social settings.

Start with easy topics like:
“brothers”
“red”
“chickens”
“water”
“love”
“angels”
“worms”
“how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”

...and proceed to more difficult topics like:
“Compare and contrast David and Goliath.  How are they alike?  How are they different?”
“Why should a person read the Bible?”

Have everyone in the family take a whirl at it, even the four -year-old and even Mom and Dad.  ‘Tis great after-dinner entertainment.  A sibling keeps track of the time with a stopwatch, sand timer, clock or cell phone, and rings a dinger to stop the speaker when the time is up.  Have the timekeeper hold up five fingers for a five-second-warning when the time has almost run out.

Get ready for some splendid unusually creative fun.  You may be amazed at what your child expresses.

Map attack!

Sunday, 11. January 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Here’s a two-year old who knows the world map!  She’s got it DOWN, baby!  (Suggestion: press mute ‘til you get past the foul ad at the beginnin.)

After watching the adorable little video clip of “Lilly: The World Map Master”—the two-year old who knows the locations of even the remotest and smallest of countries “whiz-bang”—and your children are now thoroughly inspired to gain such a grasp of the world themselves, proceed like this:

They all stand in front of the map—have them clasp their hands above their heads, arms outstretched—and say this little poem to learn directions while they swing their arms in those directions, like an elephant’s trunk.  Everyone says it together:

When facing a map
Directions are a snap—
North is way up high [trunk points to ceiling]
South is cold and low [drop trunk low]
East is to my right [trunk swings to right]
and west is opposite, you know [trunk swings to left]

Then go around once more, hands still clasped, arms outstretched, making a clockwise circle:
No
Eating
Soggy
Waffles!

Now onto teaching the equator:
Draw a strong permanent wide red line all the way across the center of the map at the equator.  The children step up to the map and tap it twice (like it is a hot potato) and say: “Equator—hot! hot!”

Then progress over the next few days with learning the seven continents; they all begin with “A” but one!
Africa
America (North)
America (South)
Antarctica
Asia
Australia [together with Oceania]
Europe

Have them point to and saw them until they can do it rapidly with no help.

Next, draw a line on the floor—or masking tape a line there, far away from the map—and line the children up by twos and have them run in teams of two to the map and slam into the wall, pointing to the country you name.  See who can get there first.  Children absolutely love this game.

Then proceed to the four major oceans:
Pacific
Atlantic
Indian
Southern (the waters surrounding Antarctica)

Then proceed to the major rivers:
Nile
Amazon
Mississippi
Tigris
Euphrates
Thames (London)
Yangtze (China)
Seine (France)
Danube

Then proceed to more and more countries until the entire map is eventually known.  Tis a great after-dinner lively fun/learning family game.

Constructing your home’s “Wall of Education”

Friday, 02. January 2015 by Renee Ellison

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You’ve heard of the halls of education?  Well, here now, we’ll be constructing the wall of education smile : a wall dedicated only to home schooling materials.  Nothing else is allowed to even be set there.

Assemble it simply with long boards and cinderblocks.  Create a headspace of about 12 inches between shelves and build it only about 3 to 3.5 feet high.  This whole structure is totally portable; you can move it whenever you have to.

Now this is what you put in, on and above it:


In it:
Set each of your Sterlite™ box totes into a cubby hole assigned to each child with his name labeled on that shelf.  He is always to return his box exactly there.  Nothing else is to be kept in these cubby holes or totes—only immediate academic materials and their current reading book and bible.  Underneath each tote, slid directly under the tote spine-side facing out.  (This tilts their totes slightly upward and inward—an added plus.  In these notebooks will go all artwork and writings.  No free floating papers in their totes!

On it:
• The clean long surface on the top of the bookcase which ends up being about waist height—will now be filled in with this stuff:
• A box of the EXTRA paces, that they aren’t currently working on—all labeled according to subject and grade levels with taller stiffer paper between each section.
• A three-hole punch
• A box of scratch paper
• Spare pencils, colored pencils, scissors, tape and markers.
• And multiple approved recreational reading books, with bookends (covered bricks hold them nicely).

Above it:
• A large flat paper map of the world
• A large clock
• A large wall non-gloss calendar that can be easily written on
• A schooling chart (made of 1/2 inch graph paper) with all of the children’s names down the left side and all the topics across the top—a red marker tied to a long string and nailed next to it to mark off their work as they do it each day.  This frees mom up from keeping track of it all.  All she has to do is look at the large chart and presto she knows what each child has done and not done.
Zoom-Type• Little yellow art book (ask me about that)

(optional—but a really good idea, as described in an earlier post—a visible progress board (just a section of that wall…no actual board) dedicated to Mom and/or Dad’s progress on their big projects.  You put up Post-it notes directly on the wall of what is left to do—one item per Post-it note—written in large print with a marker—(no pen or pencil—can’t see such writing a foot away)—when you get an idea, or remember another next step that you’d forgotten, you write it down and post it up there—all future steps are written out up there—then as each step is accomplished it is taken off the wall and put at the bottom of the wall—so that you can see the stack grow at the bottom of all you accomplished.  This is a simple, marvelous, easy tracking system.)

Nearby:
A piano keyboard set nearby that has headsets—sparing the mama and papa from hearing beginning practicing by the younger set.  A practice chart directly above it with all the children’s names on it, and what they are to practice next.

Voilá—more academic organization than you ever dreamed—now in place—you’ve got your “horse to ride” sitting right in the stall—and YOU DID IT!

Filed Under: Home management tips

15 power tips for organizing your home

Friday, 26. December 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Organizing your home deeply and thoroughly has some hidden pluses for your emotions. Decluttering and arranging helps clarify you.  As you do it, you discover where your subliminal goals are headed: “There’s no time for [this] or [that]”, or “I’ve lost interest in this or that”.  The action of organizing takes people who are struggling with depression, out of that depression in a hurry.  Gaining order in your home makes you feel on top of things (instead of under them), and moves your life forward, positioning your past where it should be—in your past—defined and drastically pared down.  Further, you just plain feel happier sitting down in the midst of a very organized home, tickled every time you open a drawer or a cupboard.  An organized environment is invigorating.  Your entire family feels its effects.

To accomplish this, a person must say no to other activities for a brief while to provide more time to do it.  We all make time only by prioritizing time.  Action clobbers negative emotions.  Motion creates e-motion.  Here’s how to start that motion:

1.  To conquer that overwhelmed feeling, just move in that direction.  Take a baby step.  Sort and organize some little corner, or some little box of something, and you’ll find you take off like a rocket.  Unfortunately, that overwhelmed feeling may remain an obstacle each time you start.  Overcome it by applying the same strategy tomorrow: just “go”, move, vamoose, and soon you’ll have a trail of finished organization—in your wake—behind you.  Even 15 minutes of “organization attack” a day will work wonders in your home.

2.  Visual clarity is the goal of all organizing.  You must be able to see everything at a moment’s glance.  No more rummaging for anything.  For example, according to this line of thinking, you don’t want to stack t-shirts, you want to roll them so that you see the spine of all the colors at once.  You don’t want to put cans of food behind other cans of food, you want to make risers for cans so that you see all three rows at once.  You don’t want to stuff scarves or belts into a drawer, you want to perhaps clip them on a hanger so that you remove one hanger and see them all at once, or roll them.

3.  Files are most often just stand up trash.  Purge your files.  Label well the ones that survive.

4.  Label all boxers and containers on the end that you see first, as you approach.  Label everything.  When labeling glass jars, get a large roll of white electrician’s tape to use as the base of all of your labels.  Put a piece of this down first, on your glass.  Then attach your lettered label on top, making it slightly shorter than the white electrician’s tape, or write right on the electrician’s tape with a black marker.  Cover it with a shorter piece of scotch tape, too, to keep your writing from smudging off.  Then whenever you want to change the label you pull off the electrician’s tape and it all comes right off easily—no time wasted picking and poking off an old paper label.  For cardboard boxes you can attach 2 strips of electrician’s tape about five and 1/2 inches apart. Then scotch tape your 3X5 card label on top of that; that way when you go to pull off your label it doesn’t pull off a patch of cardboard box with it.  The scotch tape that you have on both ends of your card is only attached to the top of the electrician’s tape.  Or just use 3X5 cards and don’t care if they pull off a patch of cardboard smile .

5.  Overcome reaching obstacles.  If you have to move things to get at things, put things that are seldom needed in those areas, or re-hang a door (of a room, fridge, or cupboard) to open in the opposite direction if that would make access more convenient.

6.  We use 20 percent of our stuff 80 percent of the time.  Therefore, put hot things in hot spots.  This one tip alone will revolutionize your home.  Store your most used stuff efficiently, within optimal reach.

7.  Think about your containers.  Corral your stuff into pleasant looking containers.  Records boxes (no larger than one cubic foot) are the best.  They are inexpensive at only $2.00 a box—cheaper than most plastic containers by far.  The lids are super easy to take off and on.  And the uniformity of how they look all stacked up or spread throughout the house makes you feel neat and organized.  This is far better than an assortment of random cardboard grocery store boxes with four-flap lids; those look messy and are a pain to open and close.  Then proceed to little containers within containers—all labeled.  Little containers in all drawers and cupboards will organize things beautifully.  Under the bathroom sink, use the space on both sides of the drain pipe by using narrow containers lifted up higher than your front containers.  To achieve this, put your “to-be-used-containers” on top of other “not-to-be-used” containers turned upside down, as stands for the top container.  You can also use bricks or narrow cardboard boxes or old plastic storage containers for these unseen risers.

8.  Obtain more instant space.  You can purchase plastic bed risers to put under the legs of each bed, thereby obtaining instant increased space to organize into, there, as well as install a ceiling shelf around the top of a room in your house or down a hallway—these fit neatly over your door jambs and provide enough space to tuck scores of additional records boxes up there.  Use shelf boards that are 12 inches deep.

8.  Put like things together.

9.  Purge books that you will never read again or that are easily obtained from libraries.  Purge old college textbooks and notes.  Purge jars and unneeded dishware.

10.  Use only plastic hangers in your closets, for a uniform neat look.  Pitch the wire ones.  Put containers in the bottom and top of your closet so that you can see everything at a glance.  Obtain a little two-step folding ladder to use to retrieve all your high-up storage.

11.  Re-think your outfits.  Don’t have 13 outfits that all say the same thing.  Make your outfits different enough to merit keeping those clothes.  Think only 8 (maximum) nice (well thought-through from head to toe) outfits for “public”; having 8 (instead of 7) puts you ahead one day each week in your rotation so that no one ever sees the same outfit for 8 weeks (two months) if you attend the same gathering/meeting every week.  (Perspective: when George Mueller clothed 10,000 orphans he had only three outfits for each child: their Sabbath outfit, one to wear, and one to wash during the week.)

12.  In with the new; out with the old. When one new thing enters the home, one old thing has to go—whether it be a purse, a magazine, shoes, a serving dish, etc.

13.  Mat both the outside and inside of both your front and back doors.  The more dirt that is trapped in these mats, the less dirt there will be on the floor.

14.  Use command hooks anywhere you need to hang things for easy retrieval—i.e. extension cords, bag of clothes pins, etc.  These are super easy to apply.

15.  Pack your cupboards with more food staples—food that is stable, that is good for you, and that you like to eat.  Food is only going to get more expensive and more difficult to find.

In conclusion, remember that the goal of organization is visual clarity.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Finding the best mattress for your health

Sunday, 21. December 2014 by Renee Ellison

Has your mattress lost its zing?  Is one of you slumping toward the center of your bed because of the weight of the other one in bed at night?  Are your arms falling asleep or tingling in the night?  Is your mattress reflecting heat back at you all night long?  Are allergens and chemicals in your mattress giving your immune system fits?  Do you feel the effects of metal in your mattress and box spring?

When you lie on memory foam (e.g., ComforPedic® by Beautyrest®) is it comfortable but toxic smelling?  Studies are revealing health problems that seem to be coming from metal and petrochemicals in bed mattresses.  One such report is an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola.  Perhaps you yourself have experienced increasing problems sleeping on the traditional mattress with its coil springs, fire-retardant chemicals, and petrochemical-produced gels and foams.  If that’s where you are, we have saved you mega-hours of research, if you want to a solution that will have no side-effects.

Bottom line: SleepEZ.com is a third-generation family business in Phoenix that produces one of the best mattresses in the marketplace today.  From our considerable research, we think they offer the best value for the money, too.  Plus, by spending your money with this company you are directly supporting families that operate a U.S. factory.

Here are the key findings from our mattress research:
Choose organic/natural latex from a company that will answer your every question with promptness, honesty and clarity.  There are scores of competitors out there, and there are many variables.  Is it necessary for it to be Certified Organic; will it suffice to know that the latex is natural, grown and produced by a source that does not include the use of pesticides and petrochemicals?  What are the differences between memory foam and latex foam, and how could the two be combined (as some companies claim to do—apparently falsely so)?  Is the company marketing aggressively?  You’ll know: you’ve been doing Internet searches and suddenly your screen is blotted with recurrent excess ads from an aggressive company.  Is the company making claims that are getting it in trouble with the law, or that lie to you (claiming to be the only seller of a certain type of mattress), or charge too much, etc.? 

What is the flame-retardant the company uses (to meet federal safety requirements)?  (The MSDS for Kevlar, for instance, states that fibrils of the material, if inhaled will cause lung damage; moreover, it would release some toxic gases if it burned.)  Is the sales/marketing department separate from the people who make the mattresses?  Are they rude to you, unresponsive, and unpleasant to deal with after you’ve made the sale?  Are glues used in the manufacture of the mattress?  (Avoid those, too.)  Do you want the Dunlop processed latex or the Talalay method of manufacturing the foam?

We feel confident that we have at last obtained the best solution for the bed that is best for our health.  Our choice is confirmed by scores of testimonials at themattressunderground.com.  The moderator of that site noted that he believes SleepEZ “compete[s] well with the best in the industry in terms of their quality, value, and service.”

One of the many things we like about the SleepEZ mattresses is that they are modular.  You build your own—and you can order a queen or king bed mattress with separate side-by-side segments, enabling you to have a firmer combination on one side and softer on the other, plus the ease of moving the smaller sections as opposed to hefting one heavy mattress.  You might like to get the top layer as one piece; you could always cut it apart with industrial scissors or an electric knife, later, if you want to.

Shawn, the President of SleepEZ, personally answers phone calls, and talks knowingly about every aspect of the selection.  (Read what customers are saying about him at http://www.sleepez.com/testimonals.htm.)  He asks 3 questions about each of you—weight, height and sleeping pattern (side, back, front sleeper)—and then designs the layers to fit that.  From our many phone conversations with him, each of which he answered patiently, helpfully, and with integrity, we discovered there would be little benefit in having four 3’ thick layers rather than three.  He explained that you wouldn’t actually feel down to that fourth layer unless you weigh 300 pounds or more.  People pick the four-layer mattress more for the visual appeal—a more commanding presence in the room.  The same effect could be gained by lifting your bed by putting its legs on inexpensive plastic bed risers.

These foams are made from trees, not from petrochemicals, and are not glued (which could introduce toxic chemicals); instead, the core substance was washed and rinsed several times, and then the the latex was baked and frozen.  In these beds there are absolutely no allergens—no VOC’s—and the bed feels super comfortable.  Further, if you choose a variety of firmness levels for the layers (soft, medium and hard) you can keep rearranging the hardness of the three layers even after the mattress is in your bedroom.

Knowing what we do about fabric frequencies (as noted at LifeGivingLinen.com), we like the option of an all-organic-cotton cover for the mattress and for the wooden frame beneath it, rather than mixing cotton and wool which would cause the signature frequencies of the materials (plant kingdom and animal kingdom) to cancel each other out.  Instead of a cotton/wool blend, a better option in our opinion is their cotton/rayon cover (all in the plant kingdom; something general research has not caught up with yet; a bonus insight smile ).

In summary, uncovering and settling the bed problem is a great way of improving your health odds.

In exchange for our extensive research on this topic, which saves you time, if you go with SleepEZ, do us a favor and say that Renee Ellison referred you and they will give us a wee cut for bulk orders.  It costs the very same to you, whether you mention our name or not.  SleepEZ will treat you very well; their customer service is extraordinary. Other mattress companies we dealt with were downright irritating.

Our own results of sleeping on a Sleep EZ Talalay 9” foam latex mattress?
Thanks to SleepEZ, we have had the best night’s sleep in a long time.  AND we had fun in setting it up.  The day our mattress and foundation arrived, the two of us had a blast assembling it.  It was so good to see what is actually inside the bed we’re sleeping on.  No doubt it would be fun to watch a video of a couple unpacking and setting up their bed—lying on each level of mattress softness as they laid it down, and oohing and aahing about how nice it is, how soft, how it doesn’t smell, how ingenious its design is, how it breathes, how flexible it is in terms of adjusting the level of firmness and softness, etc.  We doubt that anyone sets up one of these beds in silence!

The SleepEZ organic bed is amazing—dreamlike—everything we ever wanted in a bed—superb in every way.  We sleep soundly, and don’t awake with a metallic taste in our mouths as was the case when sleeping on a prior purchase of a new coil-spring mattress.  The foundation, too, is made in the United States, and is equally ingenious in its design and in the ease of its assembly, using no tools.  You simply can’t go wrong with these mattresses—and this company!

Filed Under: Home management tips

Why bother educating your child?

Sunday, 21. December 2014 by Renee Ellison

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If you’re homeschooling, but some of the aspects of your children’s general education have been falling though the cracks, here are some reasons for powering-up the academics a notch or two.

Why hone in on general education:
You want to be committed to the academic endeavor in increased measure, because gaining a large general knowledge in all subjects is what I call growing a conceptual alphabet with which to understand life.  This augments children’s total view of life—gives them an intellectual confidence in navigating all social conversations and in hearing all world news—because they can pin new information into the context of something they already know.

Further, a large general education increases children’s worship of God incrementally as they grow in their awareness of the intricacy and complexity of what God hath actually wrought.  It is the uneducated who think life is simple or that they totally understand it all.  Gaining increased wholesome knowledge grows real humility: “The more I know, the more I realize that I don’t know.”  Becoming aware of how God shows forth His complexities—not only with physical matter but with designing systems in which it all works together—creates further respect for God.  And then, of course, being vaguely aware (as it happens to us) of how God makes and disciples the human being on top of all of that is mind-blowing.

All wholesome knowledge complements (as in: completes, rounds out, gives insight to) all other knowledge.  There is no downside to having our children know too much of God’s world in all of its glorious detail.  Knowledge gives a person a leadership edge, a kind of natural authority; you can’t lead other people if you know less than they do.  We want our children to be the head, and not the tail, as it says in Deuteronomy 28:13, and achieving this requires building mental muscle.

Why we don’t get to the academics routinely:
When we examine why academic education doesn’t happen, it is in invariably because the logistics, structures and routines of education aren’t settled, and the type of education we have chosen is too mother-dependent; she just can’t get to it all.  No woman is super-woman 24/7.

But, happily, there is a way to make this happen easily and largely, without a heavy demand upon mama and papa, by using the A.C.E. curriculum.  When your children read the English, Social Studies and Science ACE paces they will begin to teach you (the parents) at dinner time every night!  You’ll be amazed at how much they learn and retain. They will grow to be happily conversant in all sorts of topics, wowing the socks off of you.

Second, academics falter if there is no habit of studying.  We want to give our children a lifetime habit of continued study—of continued curiosity and of continually being well read and articulate both in speech and writing.  It has been said that “reading makes a large man, speaking a ready man, and writing an exact man.”  There is no downside to that smile !!!

A third reason is that the years of childhood and child-rearing pass all too quickly.  This is the season of life to do the lion’s share of laying the academic background for all future mental superstructures one wants to build upon that.  The remainder of life never again affords this opportunity to do it this fully.  Therefore we want to make hay while we have this chapter opened up, via a childhood that was God-given for that purpose.

A common mis-assumption about basic learning:
Here’s a final point about why educate: it is so easy as a parent, myself included, to assume that our children know everything we know.  But, sigh, they don’t; it has to be re-taught to every generation.  Children are devoid of all sorts of knowledge that we take for granted.

Implications of focusing (or not) on conquering the 3Rs:
Soooo, what are the implications?  Having this high vision of the benefits of a strong general education might reduce the temptation to have a capable young adult focus on work to the exclusion of his basic education.  Even your most hardworking child would do well to always allow for an hour or two of daily study (in addition to Bible study), even during the summers.  Just think “Abraham Lincoln” to help keep it all in balance.  Young Lincoln worked during the day and flung himself down by the fireplace light to study aggressively every evening.  He never quit the learning for the physical labor, or for developing his financial base.  He grew them both together.  William Holmes McGuffey, godly author of the McGuffey readers of the 19th century, was passionate about preaching the Good News (he memorized entire books of the Bible) and educating young children.  He declared that we must “teach our children to become lifetime lovers of learning.”

The value of establishing good educational habits:
If your home’s daily routine is often shattered or your family travels a lot, you have little hope of maintaining this academic habit unless you get organized with portable thin academically assigned storage boxes—one for each child with their name written in large print on both the top of the box and on the ends.  That way if they are grabbed and stacked in the van on the way out the door, each child can quickly open his own box and make good use of ten minutes while he is out and about with his parents.  This box is an extension of his head.  It is the very first purchase I would make.  It will be used not only for travel, but in the home, as well.  The children will tote these boxes to a more quiet room to study, or take them outside under a tree.  (Train them to always tuck the lids directly under the box each time the box is open, so no one trips on lids flung all over the floor smile .  I recommend the $4 Sterlite™ 6.2 qt. boxes with the green handles.  Having these school boxes is a must in order to successfully tote around and keep track of the A.C.E. paces and other academic materials, to not lose momentum, to keep each child organized without you, and to keep a grip on what comes next!

At home, the boxes are then to be put back in exactly the same place every time—on your learning wall set of shelves (read about that in the next blog post).  If such a system does not get put in place, much time is wasted hunting for academic materials that could be spent actually doing the academics.  Making optimal use of momentum time is the organizational principle here.

Grab the time; make the time!
We were often on the road while we were raising our daughter.  She studied year ‘round, grabbing snippets of focused time wherever life halted enough to squeeze them in, and progressing while the wheels pounded the pavement.  She accomplished volumes of study in this manner.  We constantly used the adage: “Use small minutes wisely to grow your brain; this is your life that you are building!

Feeling overwhelmed? Use a visible project board to get more done with less mental effort

Monday, 15. December 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Feeling overwhelmed as a homeschooling mom?  Here is an instant project board idea that will free up your brain from having to carry so much.  This idea works in and through your zooey schedule and your constant demands for multi-tasking.  For most of us, sometimes it is hard enough just to make it through the day, let alone progress with any additional projects we would like to accomplish ourselves.  In just a few seconds you can set up an easy, do-able project board that can help you get going.  This wall-board will enable you to visualize what you need to do—but you don’t have to actually do any of it until you feel like doing it.

After hearing about the unparalleled success rates of using a professional project board, I recently started a homespun version on the back of a bedroom door, using Post-It notes and my door—that’s it—no other surface—just the door.  I stuck my sticky notes under a number of category headings all over the back of the door.  I put them on the back of that door so that no one sees them, because that door is usually open.  So, the list is against the wall until I want to see it, privately.  My door is now covered with little mini-tasks.  At first I was tenuous about writing notes for it—but now I recklessly throw all kinds of mini-tasks up on there.

You can often find Post-It notes on sale, making the financial toll almost nil—one-tenth of a cent per Post-It note or so smile —not bad for a tool to get yourself wonderfully organized.  For the clearest visibility of what you write on them, I find that the light yellow ones work best; if the paper is any darker, you can’t see your lettering from a distance away.  You could use the more flamboyant-colored Post-Its for your headers at the top of the door, noting each category you want to move forward in.

I’m finding this system more successful than anything I’ve ever attempted as a tool to “manage me”.  It gives a visual oomph to get tasks done.  If you are super tired, or have only five minutes, you look at the door and you may not have energy (or time) for a big task, but you can spot a little something on there and think “Oh, E-Z-P-Z, I can just whip that one out.”  This enables you to “limp when wounded”—eventually accomplishing an amazing amount.

To give yourself a wee reward when you’ve completed a task, transfer the Post-It note to the bottom of the door and watch your accomplishments stack up “down there” (if you need this sort of motivation smile —and some of us do).  Otherwise, pitch them in the trash as you do them.

Here are a few little additional tweaking tips I learned while doing this:

    + Write only one task on each Post-It note (this saves rewriting lists of details over and over).
    + Write out your note with large letters, using the whole Post-It note surface for your short phrase.
    + Write with a marker instead of pen or pencil; it comes out much bolder; you can see it further away.

Happy enhanced brain power, and stacks and stacks of accomplishments to you!

Filed Under: Home management tips