Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Want Fresher Laundry? Add This One Ingredient!

When I was a kid, my mom never bought bottled water. It was a new craze then and expensive, and she preferred to spend the family’s grocery budget on food we could chew.

One day, I noticed a large jug filled with clear liquid sitting on our kitchen counter. It looked like bottled water, and I felt so surprised, thinking she had finally caved to all my begging and bought me bottled water!

I carefully opened the jug and took a big swig.

Gross!

It was white vinegar. I never made that mistake again!

While vinegar tastes terrible, it does amazing things around the house. It deodorizes smelly plastic containers, cleans crusty microwaves and dissolves gunk in sink drains.

Vinegar

It also performs miracles in the washing machine!

Well, maybe not miracles, but it does make laundry smell fresher. I started pouring 1/2 to one cup of white vinegar in all my loads and definitely notice a difference.

What’s your favorite laundry hack?

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Disaster Falls: a review

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What a touching book about love and loss. I couldn’t put this book down! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I constantly felt ready to cry, hoping I never experience the same situation!

During a family vacation, the Gerson family loses their son Owen while white water rafting at Disaster Falls. Father Stephane spends the next months writing all hours of the day and night because he had “no words.” Meanwhile, Owen’s mother coped with the loss by moving constantly, expending the energy she would have put into parenting her son. Owen’s brother Julian sometimes made demeaning comments about Owen to preserve his authentic self instead of seeing him as a hero.

This book touched me as a mother. I cannot and do not want to imagine the pain of losing a child! But if I did, I would write about it, too.

Here are the most touching thoughts from the book.

When he was still alive, Owen thought his dad was a wuss because he was scared. Stephane wondered if an 8-year-old can understand the dangers of the world. “Can they grasp the burden of responsibility? Someone has to look after kids. Someone, I told myself, had to be scared a lot.””

Stephane questioned if he would have made a different decision on the rapids if he had learned as a child to trust his instinct, asset himself and say no when necessary. I question the same for myself and am doing the hard work of finding my voice so I can speak out when necessary.

 

he family vowed to stick together no matter what. Would we have strength to do the same? It’s too easy to blame, withdraw and handle grief alone rather than reaching out to your loved ones.

 

While listing likes and dislikes about Owen, Stephane sometimes learned toward strife because it is easier to mourn a difficult or tortured child than one who enjoyed all facets of life. I can totally understand this! We need to make sense of loss, even if we use irrational or false means.

 

The sadness kept surfacing without warning, but the sorrow evolved, the pain morphed and the body adapted. A grieving parent has the right to curl up and cry but cannot allow the grief to consume you. How would I do this?

While the last part of the book was a bit tedious with details of a lawsuit, I highly recommend this book and would definitely read it again.

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Tuesday’s Tip: Cut Credit Card Interest

Anyone else like to save money?

 

cash

I sure do! I cut coupons and use Groupon and Living Social for restaurant and entertainment savings. I even shop at thrift stores, discount grocery stores and the dollar store whenever possible.

My desire to save money prompted me to sign up for daily emails from Dollar Stretcher Tips. Almost every day, I learn unique tips for saving money on everything from groceries to home improvements.

In today’s email, I learned something new about paying off credit cards. It’s going to help me, and maybe it will help you too!

 

When should you pay your credit card bill? That depends on whether you carry a balance or not.

If you don’t carry a balance, you should wait until the last day to pay your bill. You won’t be charged any interest unless you miss your due date.

If you have a balance from previous months, you want to get your payment in as soon as you can. You’ll be charged interest until the day your payment is credited to your account. If you get the bill on the 20th and don’t pay until the 30th, you’ll add a third of a month’s worth of interest to your account…that’s no bargain!

 

Want more money-saving tips? Sign up for The Dollar Stretcher!

And as always, feel free to share your favorite tips here so we can all save a little dough! Thank you!

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Murder Is No Accident – a Book Review

Murder is No Accident

I’m a sucker for a good mystery, especially if it’s clean – no cursing, sex or violence. And that’s why I eagerly snagged a copy of “Murder Is No Accident” by A. H. Gabhart.

Indeed, the first page of this book captured my attention, and I stayed engaged for several pages. I wanted to find out who Maggie Green heard murder the local real estate agent!

But then the author introduced the townspeople, and I grew confused and bored. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and got the impression that I was missing important backstory that was essential to this book’s success.

It wasn’t until the second half that the plot managed to grab my attention again, and I appreciated the mystery that kept me guessing until the end!

Overall, this book is a sweet and easy read. While it’s a mystery, it’s not violent, and there is no cursing or sexual content. However, it contains several grammatical errors and not enough backstory. To really “get” it, you need to read the first two books in a series. It is possible to jump into the series on book 3, but I wouldn’t recommend it because the story is decent, and skipping the first two books will curb your enthusiasm for this book.

If you’re looking for a easy read and a mild mystery with a little romance on the side, I recommend this series – but start with number one rather than this book. You’ll appreciate this book even more if you start at the beginning of the series!

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Meet Julia, the Sesame Street Puppet With Autism

I’ve always been a Sesame Street fan. I remember watching the show as a child (Bert, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey were my favorite characters!), and I introduced my kids to it. We watched every morning. My daughter especially loved Elmo!

This week, I learned that a new puppet is joining the show. Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

Autism is a spectrum, and every child experiences it differently. That means Julia won’t represent every kid with autism, including my son. However, I am encouraged that such an influential show is including a puppet with the disorder that affects one in 48 children. And the other characters eagerly welcome her into their neighborhood and look for ways to include her as they play.

Want to learn more? Watch Sesame Street! Or check out these links.

60 Minutes

The Autism Daddy

 

 

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Are You Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language?

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Several times a week, I send “thank you” texts to my husband. Sometimes, I thank him for something special he did for me or the kids or I’ll share something I like about him. I know he won’t text back – even though he reads all the texts I send, he’s too busy working to answer – but I still send him regular texts.

As I sent him yet another text today thanking him for working so hard for us, I realized I’m NOT speaking his love language. I’m speaking MY love language!

love-languages

My love language is words of affirmation. If he’d send me all the texts I send him, I’d be in love heaven!

However, his love language is quality time and acts of service. He feels loved when I make his breakfast without complaining, sighing or rolling my eyes, and he appreciates when I sit and watch TV with him at night instead of working on my computer.

I am challenged today to take another look at my actions. Am I truly showing my husband that I love him? If not, what can I do to change? Sometimes, small tweaks to our actions can make a big difference to our spouse!

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and true love this month, may we give our spouse’s what THEY need rather than what we need.

John 15:12-13: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

 

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When Your Child Hurts

My daughter loves our local community theater group. It’s designed for kids from grades four to 12, and everyone, no matter how well they sing and dance, gets a part.

For the past two years, my daughter played a part in the chorus. She sings, dances and in general has fun on stage. This year, she was hoping for a speaking part and even joined the school chorus so she could become a better singer.

Since November, she’s talked about rehearsing for the audition, which involves singing a short song and sharing a monologue. Unfortunately, auditions yesterday did not go well.

Today, she found out that she’s a villager once again.

As soon as she discovered her role, her face fell. I saw the disappointment on her face, and she quickly excused herself to go to bed.

Before she retreated to her room, I hugged her goodnight and told her she’ll make an amazing villager. I felt her body tense and heard her softly start to cry. My heart broke as I held her.

What could I say to ease her pain?

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I silently prayed and then told my precious child that I am proud of her for auditioning – it’s a big deal to stand in front of three adults in a small room and sing and talk! I also told her that I’m excited to watch her and hope she can find joy in her role. Since she’s a villager, she’ll be in at least half of the scenes, and some of her friends are also villagers.

I’m not sure my words did much to make my darling feel better, but I pray she remembers her value. It’s not determined by the role she wins in a play! And I pray she continues to put her all into rehearsals and enjoy this year’s theater season.

I also pray that she turns to God for comfort. I can hold and encourage her, but I can’t heal the pain she feels. Only God can do that.

What about you? How do you comfort your kids when they hurt?

Prayer: “Father, please hold my child tonight. She’s hurting, and I’m hurting for her. I ask you to hold her close and remind her of your incredible love for her. Also, may she remember her worth. Thank you for entrusting her to me and for being her Father, and thank you for giving me wisdom!”

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Honesty Sets You Free

honesty-sets-you-free

As part of our family’s adventure in wellness, I attend a Celebrate Recovery 12-Step study. A small group of ladies meet weekly to discuss the steps, pray and find freedom from various hurts, habits and hangups.

One thing I notice as I work through the study is that recovery depends on honesty. After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem. To even work through the 12 steps, we must let go of denial and be honest!

But honesty is hard. It’s much easier to say that everything’s fine and cover up the shame, guilt, heartache and trauma in our lives. I know – I’ve done it for years!

And that’s why the devotional I read today (“When You Just Can’t Bring Cheerful”) resonated with me. We don’t have to be cheerful all the time and cover up what’s really going on in our hearts and lives. In fact, we find true healing only when we are honest, open and authentic. Think about it – God knows our hearts. We’re only lying to ourselves and hindering His healing work when we try to hide from Him.

I take comfort in the fact that even though honesty is challenging, painful, embarrassing and scary, it’s also the source of true freedom. I pray we can be honest with ourselves, Jesus and others today. May we take time to be authentic and real with our Father today.

Today’s prayer: “Thank You, God, for loving us, even the ugly parts, and for gently drawing us to Yourself as You give us freedom and joy! Give us courage to be real with You and trust Your gentleness, mercy and grace.”

Titus 3:4-5a, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)

Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her … and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.” (AMPC)

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How a Sock Changed My Career

For over five years, I’ve made a living writing web content. When I started, I was homeschooling my children, and I needed a flexible career I could manage during independent work times or after school.

Three years ago, we finally enrolled both of them in public school, but my days were still busy caring for them. My son has autism with behavioral and anxiety challenges. I never knew when I’d need to pick him up from school early. I also had to be available for numerous therapy appointments, snow and vacation days, and other emergencies.

Thankfully, my son has finally turned a corner this year. He’s mainstreamed at our local middle school, and he rarely has a problem that requires me to pick him up early. I still have multiple therapy appointments each month for him, but overall I have more free time during the day.

That’s why I decided to branch out this year and try my hand at subbing for classroom/office aides in our local school district. I have a Christian Education degree and have worked with children of all ages in various educational settings. And of course, I did and continue to teach my own kids at home. Several friends sub, and they shared information about how to get started and their positive experiences.

I took the plunge and applied. I filled out all the required paperwork and clearances and attended job training. I even have an official badge! I also applied to sub for the IU-13 and Substitute Teacher Services. I can still write in my free time, but I can also begin a fulfilling career in a classroom.

My first job was supposed to be Monday morning at the elementary school my son attended last year. However, a sock changed everything.

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You see, because of his autism, he has sensory issues. If his clothes feel the least bit tight, scratchy or irritating, he feels anxious and won’t wear them. We haven’t had any clothing issues for months, but he sure did have an issue this morning before school!

For some reason, his socks didn’t feel right. He has successfully worn these same socks for months with no issue, but suddenly they feel weird. He complained about the crease and how it felt on his feet and in his shoes. In the past, he simply switched the uncomfortable sock to the other foot where the crease is not an issue, but today, no tricks he tried worked.

As he tried on sock after sock and realized it was uncomfortable, he simply tossed it across the room. And his anxiety grew as he realized he would be late for the bus if he didn’t find socks soon.

My son’s anxiety attack lasted about 15 minutes. He screamed, shouted, cursed and cried.  It wasn’t until the very last possible second that he finally choose a pair of socks to wear and rushed out the door to the bus.

Today’s sock incident used to happen every day. I’m incredibly grateful that it only happens rarely now! However, because he does still have anxiety challenges, I decided to reevaluate my career.

Most substitute jobs require me to leave for work around 7 AM so I arrive at the school by 7:10 and have time to find the classroom and get my duty assignments before the students arrive. My kids don’t leave on the bus until 7:06.

Those six minutes are short and long.

What happens if he has another sock incident? I won’t be home to coach him through it. And since my husband leaves for work at 6:30, he’s unavailable. I also committed not to give my daughter, who’s two years older than him, the responsibility of parenting him.

After my children successfully walked out the door today, I brewed a cup of coffee, took a few deep breaths and spent time in prayer and soul-searching. For the sake of my children, I decided to pass on any jobs that require me to leave in the morning before they do. I’m disappointed, but it simply doesn’t make good sense for me to put my career before my kids at this point.

Which brings me to how a sock changed my career.

Because of this incident, I have decided to branch out and find new writing clients. I even began outlining several ebooks (topics to be announced!). I’m exploring other options, too, that allow me to be home for my kids and earn a living.

I know that for me, this is the right decision. And I trust that God will bring me opportunities and courage to search for new opportunities.He has always been faithful and will continue to be faithful in providing all our needs!

And I’m thankful for socks, too.

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Happy New Year!

Welcome 2017!

How are you celebrating? I’ll be watching movies with my family and enjoying traditional pork and saurkraut with homemade mashed potatoes and biscuits, a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.

It’s also a day often set aside for making resolutions. I doubt I’ll do that because I usually end up falling off the wagon by the third day, but I did think it would be fun to learn something new today.

So what will I learn? How about how to say “Happy New Year” in 165 languages. Want to join me? Check out the list compiled by my freelance colleague Daisy Mariposa at http://hubpages.com/education/Saying-Happy-New-Year-in-165-Languages

Shana Tova!
2017
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