Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How We Use Nature Study in Our Home School

While I did include some aspects of nature in our early home schooling experience, it wasn't until I read about Charlotte Mason that I began to intentionally make Nature Study a formal part of our studies. Over the last two years, nature study has become an integral part of our science curriculum.

"The child who learns his science from a text-book, though he go to Nature for illustrations, and he who gets his information from object lessons, has no chance of forming relations with things as they are, because his kindly obtrusive teacher makes him believe that to know about things is the same as knowing them personally." - Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series
Nature Study allows my children to focus their hearts and minds on the beautiful cycles that flow through our outdoor world. When they connect with nature, there is serenity, wonder, and joy.


Planning for Nature Study

To make Nature Study an intentional part of our schooling, I plan and schedule it into our school days. I schedule time for nature study at least twice a month. On days when I plan for us to do Nature Study, I make sure that we have at least 2 hours that will be uninterrupted by other events or projects.

In addition to our scheduled Nature Study times, I also watch the outdoors for Nature Study opportunities. For instance, since we live in the desert and have infrequent rain, I try to be flexible so that my kids are able to enjoy the rain and mud when they are present, and that we can explore the outdoors afterwards to see the changes that rain brings. I watch for seasonal changes that we can observe together, such as the budding of flowers and the changing of leaves.

I also keep Nature Study in mind for rough days, when the children are overly argumentative or are bickering incessantly. Nature Study can be a complete mood-changer on those days. It can bring us back to balance and peace.

Examples of Our Nature Study

Some days, our Nature Study can be very simple; other days we make it more complex and in-depth. A few ideas from our Nature Studies are the following:
  • grab our nature notebooks and head out to the desert where we can observe and journal about plants, insects, and animals
  • take short field trips to the arroyo (dry creek bed) behind our house, where we can observe the way that water shapes and reshapes the land
  • make leaf rubbings of various leaves
  • capture a bug or critter, which we can observe in a small terrarium for a few hours before setting it free
  • work in the garden, preparing the soil, planting seeds, weeding, watching the plants grow, and reaping the fruits of our labor
  • observe and collect wildflowers
  • capture and raise a caterpillar into a chrysalis and then butterfly
  • birdwatch through our windows, observing the different species and their variety of behaviors
  • use a microscope to study and perhaps draw samples of any of the above
  • use nature observations as a jumping off point for further study with library books


Just Get Outside

Nature study doesn't have to be formal. In A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola writes, "young children will discover toads, butterflies, beetles, earthworms, robins, thistles, squirrels, mushrooms, berries, and run into thorn bushes on their own, without any prodding from us."

Making sure that we spend time outside is one of my priorities. While my daughter loves to play outside, I find that my son often requires some gentle nudging to go outside. Once he is outside, however, my son thrives on the experiences of watching birds soar overhead, collecting rocks and leaves, and finding insects.

I also have to intentionally find time for myself to be outside; I can too easily stay indoors working, writing, and studying, but yet I find that I, too, benefit from spending time outdoors. Even simple things such as reading aloud in the back yard can make a difference in my mood and well-being.

Resources and Materials that Aid Nature Study

We can certainly explore nature without any special materials or equipment, and yet I have found the following items to be particularly useful in making Nature Study an intentional part of our home schooling.

Reference Books

Do you incorporate Nature Study into your lives? What are your favorite resources for Nature Study?


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Friday, October 3, 2014

How We've Improved Our Marriage This Year

My husband and I have been together for over 15 years, and have been married for nearly 12 years.  We have a strong marriage, but things have definitely changed over time as we became parents of one, and then two children. Daily life with young children is so busy that we can go along without putting any real effort or thought into our marriage, and over time that can take a toll on our relationship.

About 8 months ago, I stumbled across something that has changed my life, my relationships, and my parenting: Energy Profiling. Although I am always open to new information, I wasn't looking for a change when I found Energy Profiling. In hindsight, I can see that finding this information was a true blessing for me and my family.

What is Energy Profiling?

Carol Tuttle's Energy Profiling System is a way of understanding people and the way they move through life.  Carol breaks down the world into 4 Types.  These 4 Types are seen throughout nature and the natural world.

In her book, It's Just My Nature! A Guide to Knowing and Living Your True Nature, Carol wrote,
"The truth is, at your very core, you express a unique, natural energy that influences how you approach new experiences, relate to people, manage challenges, and move through life in general. The truth is, your life runs better in every way when you understand your inner nature and live true to it, rather than fight against it."

The Energy Profiling System is much more than just a personality profiling system. A person's Energy Type encompasses:
  • introvert versus extrovert tendencies,
  • how a person relates to the world (emotional versus logical),
  • body language and physical features,
  • the filter through which a person sees the world around them, and
  • where a person fits in the whole cycle of doing/accomplishing things, such as having the ideas (Type 1) , planning how to do something and working out the details (Type 2), getting it done (Type 3), and perfecting how it is done while looking at the big picture (Type 4).

What are the 4 Energy Types?

On Carol's Energy Profiling site, she gives the following brief description of each of the 4 Types. To learn more, you can access her FREE Energy Profiling Course here

"Type 1: The bright, animated person who has a gift for new ideas and possibilities. The natural movement of Type 1 is upward and light. A person with a dominant Type 1 expression is naturally an upward, light, upbeat person.
Type 2: The soft and calming person who has a gift for gathering details and making plans. The natural movement of Type 2 is fluid and flowing.
Type 3: The swift and dynamic person who has a gift for moving into action quickly to create practical and lasting results. The natural movement of Type 3 is active and reactive.
Type 4: The structured and exact person who has a gift for looking at the world through a critical eye and perfecting it. The natural movement of a Type 4 person is constant and precise."

How Energy Profiling Has Improved Our Marriage

I initially watched the free 6-part Energy Profiling Course on my own. I was excited about what I learned and immediately wanted to share it with my husband. He was a bit doubtful at first, but that changed once we watched the course videos together. We had (and continue to have) some profoundly insightful conversations as a result of learning about our Energy Types. 

Learning about our Energy Types has allowed us to come to a new understanding of each other. We understand better why we each do the things we do, and this understanding has helped our relationship in many ways. Some of the changes have been small, just little details, but others have been more meaningful.

For instance, knowing my husband's Type 4 nature has allowed me to understand and celebrate some of his traits that are often looked at as being "negative" in our society. Being a Type 4, my husband has a natural need for solitude and reflection. Before I understood this, I could easily misunderstand why my husband would often retreat to be alone for some time in the evening. As a Type 4, my husband also has an eye for perfecting things, which could be seen as pessimism, when in reality it is a gift for perfecting.  

My husband has been able to learn more about why I do the things I do, too.  He used to frequently say that I should slow down and relax.  I have a very hard time sitting still or even getting through a whole movie without feeling the need to get up and do something. It turns out that this is part of my dominant Type 3 nature. As a Type 3, I naturally feel the need to accomplish things, lots of things, every day.  When I fight against this aspect of my nature, I find that I feel tired and lethargic.  

Type 3's can also be very impulsive, springing into action very quickly and completing tasks.  On the other hand, my Type 4 husband looks at the big picture and the best way to complete a task.  My natural tendency is to push through and move quickly, whereas my husband naturally wants to work more deliberately and carefully.  Understanding this has made it clear why we can sometimes become so frustrated when trying to work together on a project, and now we are able to talk through these things to make the most of both of our gifts.  

Energy Profiling has allowed us to discuss aspects of ourselves that we may have never even quite understood ourselves. In doing so, our marriage has grown stronger and our family life has improved.

Did having kids change your relationship? Have you improved your marriage this year? What Energy Type are you?

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Energy Profiling has been such a fantastic resource for my family that I have signed up as an affiliate for the Energy Profiling System. The initial Energy Profiling Course is free, but if you go on to purchase related products, I will earn a small commission (while your price remains the same). Thanks for supporting this site!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pumpkin Crumble (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

Fall is arriving amid cool mornings and rainy days. We watch as the black-chinned hummingbirds become plump in advance of their southerly migration. The prolific doves, who usually move singularly or in small groups, are gathering in large flocks that swoop overhead.

We mist ourselves with lemongrass and lavender oils to repel the pesky mosquitoes; the lovely smell of this repellent has come to signal the winding down of the long summer days. The long-ripening winter squash are reaching fruition, and hence my children have garnered two orange globes from a friend's garden. Pie pumpkins have arrived.

Pumpkin Crumble
Serves 8
  1. One trick to making a crispy crumble topping is to make sure that the butter stays cold.  Keep the butter in the fridge until just before you are going to use it.
  2. Combine the pumpkin puree with milk, syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk or mix with a hand mixer until well-combined.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sucanat, 3 Tb coconut flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and spices. Whisk to combine. Mix these dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Grease an 8X8 square glass baking dish with a bit of butter.  Pour in the pumpkin mixture.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Chop the cold butter into approximately 1/2-inch cubes.  Place the chopped butter in the fridge to stay cold while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Combine the remaining crumble topping ingredients in a medium-large bowl and stir to combine.
  8. Add the chopped butter to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until there is a uniform, crumbly consistency. Note: a food processor does not work very well for this recipe, so use a pastry cutter or two knives instead.
  9. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the pumpkin mixture in the baking dish.
  10. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, until the topping has reached a medium brown color.
  11. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve warm or cold. Sweetened whipped cream (recipe follows) or vanilla ice cream are fantastic served alongside pumpkin crumble.
  13. Refrigerate any leftovers. 
 *You can read about why I use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour in this archived post.  

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  1. Beat the cream and salt together until the mixture starts to get thick and fluffy.  I like to use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, but you could also use a hand mixer.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, and drizzle in the honey while the mixer is running.  Alternatively, you could drizzle in the honey a little at a time and mix between each honey addition. 
  3. If you're using a stand mixer, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure you don't have any clumps of honey at the bottom.  I like to beat it until it gets a bit stiff since it will tend to soften up a bit in the fridge over the next few days.
  4. Store the whipped cream in the fridge in an airtight bowl.
**If your raw honey is very crystallized, place it over a bowl of warm water to make it a bit runny.


What are your favorite ways to use pumpkins?


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Top 10 Storebought Body and Hair Care Products

I love to use homemade body and hair care products, but my husband still prefers some storebought products.  And, since there isn't enough time to make everything, there are some products I have never even tried to make (such as soap). These are our favorite storebought body and hair products. I'll talk about my favorite homemade body and hair care products in a future post.

Skin Care Products

1. Coconut and Papaya Bar Soap
I always thought I hated bar soaps. All of them would leave my skin feeling stripped and dry. But then a couple years ago I was given a bar of Coconut and Papaya Soap as a gift, and realized I was wrong.  This soap has a wonderful, light scent, a smooth, foamy lather, and it does not dry out my skin!  Now I use this soap in my every-other-day showers and in the soap dishes by our bathroom sinks.

2. California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash 
My husband and son have rather sensitive skin with a tendency to eczema, and in the past they have had skin reactions to soaps and laundry detergents. It took a lot of trial and error to find California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash, which works for everyone in the family with no skin reactions.

We have been using California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash for over 6 years now. My son's chronic eczema has now been cured through homeopathy, and my husband's eczema has gotten better and better as he continues his homeopathic treatment.  Nonetheless, we still use this soap.

I use this soap as a gentle facial soap. My husband uses this soap as an all-over bodywash and shampoo. I also add a squirt or two of this soap under running water to make bubbles for my kids' baths, which they use to wash themselves with. This soap is sold at Target for cheaper than it can be found online.
3. Unrefined Coconut Oil
I love using unrefined coconut oil as a moisturizer. I coconut oil as a daily light facial moisturizer as well as for all over my body after showering. Click here to see my tips for using coconut oil as a moisturizer. My favorite brands of unrefined coconut oil (which I use for body care as well as cooking) are Spectrum and Dr. Bronner's, and the best prices for these are at our local healthfood co-op. 

4. California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion
My husband's preferred moisturizer is California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion. He has been using this lotion on his sensitive skin for over 6 years.  We used this lotion on our daughter when she was a newborn (back before we realized that kids don't need baths daily; now they hardly ever need to use lotion at all since they aren't bathing daily). I used this lotion as a facial moisturizer for years, until I started using coconut oil.  I currently use this lotion occasionally at times when I need a lotion that will absorb quickly.



My husband and I stopped using conventional antiperspirants many years ago, when we learned how unhealthy antiperspirants can be. Through lots of trial and error, we have both found deodorants that work for us.

5. Alvera Aloe and Almonds Deodorant
For some reason, my body chemistry has always reacted to scents. Back in high school when I first tried wearing perfume, I was always disappointed that shortly after applying perfume the scent would change to not smelling very good.  I have the same problem with many deodorants.

But I love Alvera Aloe and Almonds deodorant. I've been using this deodorant for over 5 years. The fragrance is fantastic, and it stays smelling good all day. This is not an antiperspirant (which is good from a health standpoint), so I do still sweat while using this deodorant. But it does make my sweat smell very good.

6. Bubble and Bee Pit Putty Cream Deodorant
My husband's favorite deodorant for the last few years has been Pit Putty Cream. He prefers the Spearmint and Tea Tree scent, and I love it's refreshing scent. (Being a short person myself, I do get to have a sniff of this deodorant whenever I hug my husband.) Pit Putty Cream contains arrowroot powder which will absorb small amounts of sweat, so I have used this deodorant occasionally when I needed to prevent sweat rings under my arms with dress shirts. 


Hair Products

I use homemade shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray (which will be included in my upcoming list of Top 10 Homemade Body and Hair Care Products), but there are a couple of storebought hair care products that I use as well.  

7. Argan Oil
Argan oil is renowned for its moisturizing properties. Even though it is an oil, Argan oil is very lightweight and does not leave any greasy sheen. Many people use Argan oil as a facial moisturizer, and it is reputed to be anti-aging.  I'm sticking with coconut oil for my face, but I do like to use Argan oil for my hair.

I use a very small amount (one or two drops) of Argan oil after my every-other-day shower. I simply rub the oil on my fingertips and then apply it to the ends of my towel-dried hair. Argan oil helps keep my hair shiny, moisturized, and smooth. Argan oil is very pricey, but I use such a small amount that I have used less than half a bottle in 6 months (and that includes the time I accidentally knocked the bottle over and spilled some).
8. Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion 
This is a very lightweight product that contains essential oils, and it has a watery consistency.  I use it because it reduces frizz and flyaways in my very fine, wavy hair. After applying Argan oil to the ends of my hair, I apply a small amount of Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion all over, and then I scrunch my hair and let it air dry.


In addition to the homemade tooth cleaners I discussed previously, we enjoy using the following two storebought toothpastes. Because my family is hypersensitive, we need to avoid using mint toothpastes as they can interfere with our homeopathic remedies, and that rules out most toothpastes on the market. However, these two options work well for us and are glycerin-free.

9. Lemon EarthPaste
Earthpaste is a non-foaming toothpaste based on Redmond Clay (which is rich in more than 60 trace minerals that may aid in tooth remineralization). I had heard of Earthpaste before, but only ever saw flavors such as cinnamon, which I am not fond of. However, I randomly saw lemon-flavored Earthpaste in the children's section of our healthfood co-op a few months ago, and decided to give it a try.  We love it!

10. Coral Kids Toothpaste
On days when I would like to have the classic foaming-toothpaste experience, I use Coral Kids Toothpaste.  We used Mint-Flavored Coral White toothpaste back before we started our homeopathic treatment, but with out mint sensitivity that option is currently ruled out.  But now we can use the Coral Kids version instead. It tastes great, and people who want something more "normal" will like it just fine.  This toothpaste also contains minerals such as calcium which may help in tooth remineralization.

What are your favorite storebought body and haircare products?

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

3 Essential Homeopathic Remedies For Cold and Flu Season

As cold and flu season arrives, there are three homeopathic remedies that are crucial to have on-hand. When used properly, these remedies can quickly stop an illness from worsening and, in many cases, completely cure the illness within a short time period. Homeopathic remedies work by stimulating the body to cure the underlying cause of the symptoms, and they do so without side effects.

These three remedies are useful at the beginning of a cold/flu, when the symptoms are still developing. In my experience, most colds and flus can be completely aborted with the use of one of these remedies if given within the first 24 hours of the illness. Once the illness has progressed past the initial stages, these remedies lose their wide applicability. After the first day or two of the illness, success through homeopathic treatment relies upon choosing a remedy that matches the specific signs and symptoms each ill individual, as discussed below in the section titled, "What About After the First 24-48 Hours?"

Three Remedies to Have On-Hand

When choosing which of these three remedies to use for a cold or flu, it is important to match the illness to the remedy based on the characteristics described below.
  • Aconite (Aconitum Napellus) 30c is the remedy to use for an illness that is coming on rapidly with strong symptoms. Often (but not always) this type of illness comes on after exposure to cool winds and/or fright. Sometimes the symptoms will also include fearfulness (such as being scared of death, darkness, animals, etc). When I've had this type of illness, the symptoms seem to become fully developed in about an hour, starting from breathing normally to being completely stuffed up and sneezing in that short amount of time. One or occasionally two-to-three doses of Aconite are all that have been required to make the symptoms completely resolve with no further illness. When used in this way, Aconite is very effective if used in the first 24 hours of the illness. 

  • Ferrum Phos 30c is the remedy of choice for a cold that is not coming on so strongly or quickly as the Aconite-type illness. (If there is fearfulness, though, I always go with the Aconite instead of the Ferrum Phos.) I've used Ferrum Phos successfully for the type of cold that just comes on throughout the day, starting with perhaps some sniffles or a mild sore throat, and slowly progressing over multiple hours. Most commonly, I find that the illness will resolve within 2 to 4 doses of Ferrum Phos, taken every 1-4 hours (depending on the severity of the illness, remedies can be taken more or less frequently). This is another remedy whose beneficial action is most effective if used during the first 24 hours of the illness. 

  • Oscillococcinum (also known as Anas Barbariae) 200c is the remedy to use when the illness has flu-like symptoms, such as body aches, fever, or just a general feeling of being “off” and not quite right. This remedy is sold differently than the others; it comes in a white box that has several small tubes of remedy inside. Although the box says to take one full tube as a dose, that is generally much more remedy than is necessary. We can easily get 5-10 doses from just one tube. Oscillococcinum is also sold in a higher potency than the others as it is usually sold as a 200c (instead of the 30c as with the others). The rule of thumb on 200c potencies is that they need to be used less frequently than 30c's. I use 200c potencies no more than 2-3 times a day, and if there is no obvious improvement within two doses, I stop using the remedy. Oscillococcinum is for use during the first 48 hours of illness only, after which it loses its efficacy.


Proper Dosing

One of the biggest mistakes that people often make when they first start using homeopathy for acute illnesses is taking remedies too often.  Homeopathic remedies should not be used in a mechanical fashion, such as "take this every 4-6 hours for 7 days". With all homeopathic remedies, the least number of doses is always the best plan.  

Anytime there is obvious improvement happening, the best policy is to stop taking the remedy and then watch-and-wait.  Taking too much remedy can actually interfere with the curative action of the remedy, or in some cases cause a full relapse. Once the remedy has stimulated the body to cure itself, and the body is showing signs of definite improvement, the remedy should be stopped. No more remedy should be taken unless it is indicated by a regression in symptoms or a plateau (where the symptoms stay the same for several hours).


Antidotes and Handling

Whenever homeopathic remedies are being used, certain substances should be avoided because they can antidote the remedies.  The following are best avoided while using homeopathic remedies:
  • mint (including mint tea and toothpaste)
  • camphor/menthol (including Vick's VapoRub, Tiger Balm, cough drops, etc)
  • coffee or decaf coffee (tea is fine to consume in moderation)
  • any substance that causes a change in the nervous system (such as alcohol, recreational drugs, etc)
  • over-the-counter and prescription medications (always talk to your doctor before stopping any prescription medication)
  • skin medicines (such as cortisone cream)
Additionally, homeopathic medicines should be taken with a neutral mouth (no taste or smell of previous food/drink), which usually means at least 10-20 minutes after eating.  No food or drink should be taken within 10-15 minutes after taking each dose of the remedy.

Care should be taken handle the remedies properly by:
  • not touching the remedy with your hands
  • storing the remedy away from sunlight, strong odors, and heat
  • not opening the remedy in a room with strong smells (such as herbs, cooking smells, etc)


What About After the first 24-48 hours?

The three remedies listed above work wonderfully in the first 24-48 hours of illness, but after that time homeopathic remedy selection is not quite so simple. Homeopathy can still work wonderfully after the first 24-48 hours of an illness, but the remedy has to be selected to match the very specific symptoms that have developed.

For instance, some remedies work better for burning heat and high fevers, whereas other remedies work better for low-grade fevers; some remedies work well for illnesses that feel better while lying down, while others work for illnesses where the patient feels best outside. Being able to select the proper remedy at such a time requires a good knowledge-base or at least some very good reference books on-hand. Some of my favorite reference books for relatively quick remedy selection in acute illnesses are:

 Have you tried homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Hot Fudge Sauce (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

As a special treat, my husband requested hot fudge sundaes. I was excited to develop this recipe for hot fudge sauce with simple ingredients that I always have on-hand. The results are fantastic: rich, creamy fudge sauce that is perfect on vanilla ice cream. This recipe is so delicious that you'll be licking the spoon and trying to find other things to dip in chocolate. Yup, it's great on strawberries and bananas too!

Hot Fudge Sauce
  • 1 cup soy-free chocolate chips
  • 4 Tb whole milk, preferably from grassfed cows
  • 3 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
  • 1 Tb sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp organic or homemade vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Melt over very low heat, whisking frequently. 
  3. Continue to whisk occasionally until the sauce is velvety smooth. 
  4. Drizzle over ice cream or fruit. Enjoy!
  5. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Re-warm gently before serving. Consume within a week.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Homeschooling Desert Walk

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the freedom to throw the plan out the window. This morning, we awoke to a cool, moist morning after rains last night. Since we live in the hot, dry desert, a cool and moist morning is a real treat for us at this time of year.

Instead of our planned schooling, we went for a walk in the desert. We observed many different wildflowers and the proliferation of plants where a few weeks ago there had been just sand. We descended into the arroyo (dry creek bed) where the moist sand was perfect for the kids to build little castles and volcanoes while I journaled in my nature notebook and drew a few plants. 

We saw ladybugs mating, which spurred an impromptu discussion of reproduction. My daughter sighted one jackrabbit bounding away while my son played with a little black beetle. Then we collected a few of the numerous flowers, watched cactus wrens hopping and screeching, and returned home sandy but happy.

Once home, we learned more about ladybugs: life cycle, anatomy, and reproduction. By this time little brother was ready to move on to his usual car play, as big sister and I practiced drawing ladybugs with increasing levels of detail.

I love homeschool and the freedom to create our own curriculum that goes with the flow of life.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Changing Facial Growth by Changing Oral Posture

The following is a guest post by Brian Hockel, DDS. After I wrote my post about Alternatives to Conventional Braces, Brian contacted me to inform me about an orthodontic method called Orthotropics®. Because Orthotropics® is so relevant to the topic of using orthodontics to encourage facial growth, I asked Brian to write a guest post about it.

When the facial growth of a child is not keeping up with the genetic potential, both jaws tend to be down and back from their ideal positions in the face. The appearance and the airway function are both affected. This isn't really caused by genetic factors so much as by environmental factors - specifically the posture of the mouth when at rest. Normal mouth posture is: lips together, teeth together in or near light contact, and the tongue firmly against the palate from front to back. When this optimal posture is present, the face will grow forward horizontally, as opposed to downward vertically. What's more, the airway will be more open, the teeth will be straight, and the teeth will have plenty of room! Historically, the problems of too much vertical growth, insufficient room for all 32 teeth (even the wisdom teeth), and the small airways which are prone to sleep apnea are ALL more recent developments. Before the Industrial Revolution, these problems were mainly limited to the aristocratic classes whose food was more refined and cooked. It is also thought that the move away from on-demand breast-feeding and the use of mushy baby food, bottles and pacifiers also contribute to the development of poor oral posture and muscle tone.

This is where Orthotropics® comes in. The goal of Orthotropics® is both to improve oral posture and function, and to convert adverse vertical growth of the face into optimal horizontal growth. This is good for appearance, good for the jaw joints, and especially good for the airway. John Remmers, MD, the sleep specialist who coined the term, "Obstructive Sleep Apnea" (OSA) said that it is a structural disease, and that if the jaws grew to their proper position in the face we would not have the disease. There's lots of other science to support this.

Appliances used for Orthotropics® (either the Biobloc or the Adapt-LRG) are very different from pre-formed or custom Functional Orthodontic Appliances. The Functional Appliances attach the lower jaw to the upper in the often misguided hopes that the lower jaw will move forward.This would include all appliances, pre-formed or custom-made, which bring the lower jaw forward by means of connecting together the upper and lower teeth/jaws, allowing a "head-gear," or pulling backward, effect on the upper teeth/jaw. This isn't to say that Functional Appliances appliances won't work to straighten teeth. They can actually do that very well. But the cost of straight teeth using these appliances is often an adverse reciprocal effect of pulling back on the upper jaw and teeth. And the result of such movement can be a risk to the airway - a risk that many doctors refuse to take. Research and experience both show that these appliances risk pulling the upper jaw even further back from its (most likely) already-too-far-back position. This only compounds the original problem, and does not address either the underlying cause of the adverse growth (rest oral posture) nor the resulting structural damage. If the lower jaw comes forward with Functional Appliances, it is a minimal amount, and the upper is sadly pulled back in a way that ultimately limits the potential for forward movement of the lower jaw - even if these appliances would bring it forward. In contrast, Orthotropics® treatment brings both jaws forward when the child fully cooperates.

Orthotropics® treatment uses the appliances as only a part of the overall treatment regimen. Remember, the goals of Orthotropics® are twofold: modify the skeletal structure AND optimize the oral posture. Accomplishing these goals encompasses much more than simply a discussion of the appliances.

Orthotropics® is among the most difficult treatment options because it requires serious cooperation on the part of the child. It's also a challenge for the parents. I know, having done it for seven of my eleven kids. For example, the child must wear an appliance that guides his jaw into a correct position, without forcing him or her to do so. It is by voluntary formation of a habit that the child learns to hold the closed-mouth posture. Except for eating, brushing, most sports, and singing, the teeth should stay in contact. Even while speaking, the habit of keeping the teeth together must be formed. So it's not going to ever catch on as the "next greatest thing," especially when the motivation of many practitioners is to minimize necessary doctor time.

Even still, thanks to the teaching efforts of Dr. Bill Hang (, Orthotropics® has not, and hopefully will not, die out. Dr. John Mew of England is the originator of the principles and the practice of Orthotropics®. He and his son Mike teach the technique in London and around the world, and Mike has put together the website Almost everyone you see in the North American map of practitioners on the website for our North American group, the NAAFO, ( was trained by Dr. Hang. The Biobloc is the name of the training appliance developed by Dr. Mew that is used most commonly, but a newer appliance called the Adapt-LGR has recently been introduced by Dr. Hang. There's no magic wire in any of the appliances, and the principles can be applied without having to use only certain appliances. Until the Adapt-LG, however, no appliance beside the Biobloc has fit the requirements.

Dentists and orthodontists might be misled into thinking that, if they only order the right appliance, they will be able to do Orthotropics®. This would be a huge mistake, as extensive training is required to avoid the many "beginner" mistakes that would follow such an approach. Many doctors have done exactly that over the past forty years that John Mew has taught Orthotropics®.

Before the ages when Orthotropics® is appropriate, and after the age when it's no longer possible, there are few alternatives to accomplish similar goals. Breathing and Myofunctional Therapy are options that can help. While the British practitioners say, "Eight is too late," most practitioners treat until later than that. By the time a child is ten, eleven or twelve, the ability to cooperate begins to diminish exponentially, and the treatment results are often not rewarding enough to justify the heroic efforts required. If sleep apnea is present beyond this point, surgical interventions may be the only way to optimally position the jaws in the face and eliminate the airway restriction. Given that alternative, the challenges and rewards of Orthotropics® are often the choice of motivated parents and their children.

Brian Hockel, DDS

Sunday, August 24, 2014

WINNERS of Raw Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil

There were 99 entries to the giveaway for the Raw, Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil! "Rosita EVCLO is real Norwegian cod liver oil that is fresh, raw & handcrafted from wild livers using a very rare ancient extraction technique which uses nature to separate the oil from its liver.

I used a free random number generator to select the winner.  The winners are:

Rebecca Turner in Waverly Hall Georgia

Stephanie Larsen in Silver Springs Florida 

Congratulations, Rebecca and Stephanie!  Please e-mail me at nourishedandnurtured[at]gmail[dot]com no later than August 30th. Send me your mailing address so I can ship the EVCLO to you pronto.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2014-2015 (with a 3rd grader and a preschooler)

This post is the second in my Back-To-School Series for 2014-2015. If you didn't yet enter for a chance to win a bottle of Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, there is still time to enter the giveaway.

Leadership Education is our overall homeschooling philosophy.  Since my kids are 4 and 7, they are still in the Core Phase of development, where I am not pushing them academically. That does not mean that we don't do any academics, just that I don't force or pressure anyone to do academics. In keeping with the lessons of Core Phase, I do make it a priority for my kids to learn how to be helpful, responsible members of our household through chores and working alongside me.


Common Subjects for Both Kids

Although my kids are three years apart, a significant portion of our homeschool lessons are for both of them. This is one way in which homeschooling often differs from conventional schools which are separated by grade and age. In our homeschool, to a large degree everyone is learning about the same things, though certainly my daughter often digs into things more deeply than her younger brother does.    
Responsibility, Integrity, Good and Bad, Right and Wrong
  • Both of my children are learning the most important lessons of Core Phase (good/bad, right/wrong, responsibility, etc) through working alongside me and through doing chores.  In our home, I need to have a routine and very clear expectations in place in order to facilitate my children's completion of their chores.
  • Both of my children are expected to:
    • put away their own clean clothes when I do laundry,
    • put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket,
    • take their dirty dishes to the sink after each meal, and
    • clean up their toys and the messes they make.
  • In addition, my 4-year-old son is expected to: 
    • wash lunch dishes once a week (which are then loaded into the dishwasher by myself), and
    • work alongside me on Once-A-Month Cleaning Day.
  • In addition, my 7-year-old daughter is expected to:
    • wash breakfast dishes twice a week (which are then loaded into the dishwasher by myself),
    • feed and water the chickens daily,
    • collect and label eggs daily, and
Family Read-Alouds of Books Which Teach Character and Beauty
  • Daily, I read to my children from a classic book. This reading time has become an integral part of our day, a time for us to connect while we read and discuss the valuable life lessons that are illustrated in the books we read. 
  • My children and I also participate in a monthly Classic Book Discussion Group with some friends who are also implementing the Leadership Education philosophy. In this group, the parents read the books aloud to their own children, and then we all get together to discuss the books.
  • I am not using a traditional math curriculum for my children. Rather, they are learning math in the context of everyday life, through games, and through Life of Fred.
  • Everyday math includes learning math through activities such as:
    • baking, which teaches measuring and fractions,
    • grocery shopping, including price comparisons and weighing of items,
    • setting the table for dinner with the right number of napkins and utensils, and
    • earning money for pulling weeds, then counting their money and saving to buy specific items.
  • Life of Fred is a series of math books that my kids LOVE. These books tell stories about Fred, a 5-year-old math genius who teaches classes at a university. The chapters are nice and short, and the end of each chapter gives a chance for us to practice math from the chapter (which we usually do on a lap-size dry erase board). In addition to teaching math, Life of Fred also teaches much more. For instance, we learned about the Orion Nebulae in Life of Fred: Butterflies. Our new Life of Fred books for this school year are Edgewood and Farming.
  • Math games are a wonderful way to learn math while having fun. Since my son isn't advanced enough to play many of these games yet, I modify some of the rules for him. Currently, our favorite math games are: 
    • Sum Swamp - teaches addition, subtraction, odd and even
    • Yahtzee  - teaches addition, number recognition, and writing
    • Monopoly - teaches larger numbers and the concepts of buying/selling. Since it can be such a long game, I typically limit the game to one hour long and we each start the game with two properties. 
    • Milles Borne - teaches addition of larger numbers and an understanding of which numbers are greater
History and Science 
  • Because I like to have some overarching themes of what we will focus on from year to year, I am using a 4-year cycle for History and Science. (I read about this 4-year-cycle in The Well-Trained Mind; I don't recommend following the overall schooling methodology laid out in The Well-Trained Mind as that is what led us to have total school burnout, but I do still like to use some of the ideas from that book.) The cycle starts with 1st-4th grade, and then gets repeated again from 5th-8th grade and again in 9th-12th grade, with more detail and rigor each time. Although my son is still in preschool, he chooses to join my daughter for most of these studies.
  • History
    • For 3rd grade history, we are using the audio book of Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern Times as our history backbone. I love using the audio version of these books since they allow us to listen to the history lessons while driving around town on errands.
  • Science
    • Nature study is an integral part of our science studies. It can be as simple as collecting and studying Fall leaves or paying close attention to the changes in our yard throughout the seasons. We also take nature walks, looking at the flora and fauna in our own yard and desert landscape. Each of us has a Nature Notebook, where we can write about our observations or draw pictures of creatures and plants we encounter. 
Circle Time
  • One new thing for this year's homeschool is weekly circle time. This is quickly turning into a special time in our home, when we sing songs, read poetry, and act silly together.  
Arts and Crafts
  • Although art is the subject I am most likely to forget about, I try to make sure that at least once a week my kids have the opportunity to do arts and crafts. Sometimes, art is as simple as freeform painting, and other times we do full-blown craft projects. 
  • For this school year, my kids were given a large tub of Modeling Magic so they may make sculptures and various creations. They have been loving the vibrant colors of Pelikan Watercolors (which are not washable, but they are really fantastic compared to the Crayola watercolors we've used in the past). My daughter also likes learning to draw on her own using Draw Write Now.
Free Play



Preschool Curriculum for 4&1/2-year-old son

Preschool for my son looks quite different than it did for my daughter.  My daughter is very eager to please and malleable, so I was able to push her academically from a young age.  I didn't figure out how much of a mistake this was until we were a couple years into homeschooling, when we both ended up stressed out and burned out. It is a very good thing that I figured all of this out before it was time to start homeschooling my son.

My son is very independent and determined, yet he is also sensitive.  When he has decided (or decided not) to pursue a course of action, trying to change his mind is like trying to move a mountain. Pushing my son academically would have been a complete disaster!  One of the beauties of homeschooling is that I am able to tailor my approach to the very different needs of my two children. In addition to the Common Subjects listed above, I also focus on the following with my 4-year-old son.
    • I encourage a love of reading in my son with by:
      • reading picture books aloud to my son daily,
      • reading my own books daily, so he can see that reading is something that everyone enjoys,
      • reading aloud quality chapter books to both my daughter and son daily, and
      • allowing my son to select library books about his own interests (usually vehicles of all kinds, especially cars and diggers, insects, and animals).

    • When he chooses to do so, we have formal reading lessons. This typically happens about twice a week. Currently, we are using the following early reading resources:
    Fine Motor Skills
    • About once or twice a week, my son chooses to do some work on paper. This builds his fine motor skills, which will be necessary once he starts writing. I primarily use Kumon workbooks for teaching fine motor skills. I've used Kumon workbooks for both of my kids, starting when they were two years old. Both of my kids have loved using these books.
    • Kumon books are great because they use a very gradual progression to teach basic coloring, pencil skills, cutting, and gluing. I love the Kumon workbooks for preschool work; I don't like them at all once they get into grade-school type work as they are too repetitive and suck the fun right out of school.
    • My son's workbooks for this year are:

    3rd Grade Curriculum for 7&1/2-year-old daughter

    It's been 16 months since I started implementing Leadership Education into our homeschooling.  In that time, my daughter's attitude about school has changed dramatically. She used to dread math work in particular, and was starting to exhibit a general dislike of school. Now, she loves school and loves to learn. In addition to the Common Subjects described above, I also focus on the following with my 7-year-old daughter:
    Transitioning into Love of Learning Phase
    • My daughter is transitioning into the next phase of development, called Love of Learning, so she is becoming increasingly interested in learning about a very wide variety of subjects.  
    • According to Leadership Education: the Phases of Learning, "Love of Learning Phase naturally follows the establishment of a solid core. During the Love of Learning Phase, the student falls deeply in love with learning, studying, knowing and learning even more... each young person has the opportunity to freely fall in love with the joys of learning and to experience first-hand how wonderful learning can be. These are the years when children dabble with learning, getting to know 'what's out there.' If they have come from the Core Phase in good order they are usually fearless, feel almost everything will be interesting and believe they will be able to do whatever they set their minds to."
    • Because she can read very well on her own far ahead of her grade-level, exposing my daughter to new ideas can be as simple as checking out a variety of books from the library. My daughter loves reading, and she typically chooses to read for a minimum of 1-2 hours each day. To meet her needs as she moves into the Love of Learning Phase, I make sure she has plenty of new things to read, and then watch to see which subjects she becomes particularly enamored with so that I can encourage her in those interests.
      • My daughter is not required to do any writing; nonetheless she chooses to write about twice a week. I encourage my daughter to write by in the following ways.
        • I make sure that my daughter sees me writing in my own notebooks on a regular basis. This makes a huge difference in the amount of writing my kids choose to do themselves.
        • I provide many writing options, such as writing in a Nature Notebook, writing letters to friends/family, and writing poems.
        • We play writing games, such as:
          • Hang-Man - One of us comes up with a word or phrase, and the other person has to guess the right letters to solve the puzzle before the man gets hanged.
          • Writing Conversation - We pretend we cannot hear, so that we write to each other to have a conversation. To make this work, my daughter uses a chart of words that help her if she gets stuck on spelling out what she wants to write.
      • In addition to the math resources described above, my daughter also has a couple of math workbooks for this year. I do not require her to do any work in these books; she is free to use them when she wants to. She chooses to do math work on paper an average of once a week. She sometimes goes several weeks without doing any, but then she will have a random week where she does math work every day. The math workbooks my daughter chooses to use the most often are:
      Bird Watching
      • Recently, my daughter has become very enthusiastic about bird watching and reporting her observations on Although this was not part of my original "plan" for the school year, I am encouraging my daughter to pursue this interest as far as she wants to take it, even if it displaces some of the other things I had planned. In the Leadership Education model, the child's own interests take a high priority in schooling, and the parents must be willing to lead the way by increasing their own education if necessary to effectively mentor their children.
      Egg Business

      • Nearly a year ago, my daughter decided to start an egg business to earn money.  Starting a business can take awhile, especially if you are only 6 years old!  My daughter tends to have many, many new ideas, but she isn't always so good on following through with them. So I wanted to make sure she was really serious about this before she got into the egg business. 
      • In the last year, my daughter has:
        • saved up money to buy chicks, 
        • proved to me that she could be responsible for taking care of the chickens by being responsible for our two laying hens, 
        • called the local feed stores to determine which breeds of chicken were available locally, and
        • purchased her seven chicks.
      • My husband and I agreed to invest in our daughter's business by providing housing and whole-grain food for the chicks. Now our daughter has been tending to her babies for a few months, and in about 6 weeks, she will start having eggs to sell. This is a fantastic homeschooling opportunity that is teaching my daughter about business, finances, and marketing. 
      That's our plan for the year.  In a following post, I'll describe our weekly and daily homeschooling routine.

      What changes have you made to your homeschool for the coming year?

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