Smart Gardener, Smart Water

Smart Gardener, Smart Water

Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children.
It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside,
and get digging.

We’ve all heard that water is crucial to our health, not to mention the health of the planet. But what are the best ways to conserve water in a home garden—ones that will actually make a difference? I mean, we can live without flowers and grass, but our fruits and vegetables need water to thrive (so that we may survive)!

Water Conservation Methods

Drip irrigation systems, compost, and mulch are the first line of defense in the garden when it comes to water conservation. Drip irrigation focu

ses water where it’s needed—a plant’s root system—so it won’t be lost to evaporation. Compost retains water while mulch assists in keeping it moist by preventing the sun rays from penetrating.

Compost can be created at home by combining old leaves and kitchen scraps. Mulch can be composed of pine bark or straw, black and white newspaper or cardboard, hay, or old leaves. You can also buy weed mats that provide the same benefits.

Know When to Water

Watering only when your plants need water and not according to a regular schedule plays an important role in conservation. In fact, not only does it save on water, but watering deeply and less often helps your plants develop stronger root systems. Another way to save is by watering in the early morning hours as opposed to middle of the day. This way, your plants can soak up every drop of water without competing with wind and sunlight. Morning is preferred over evening to limit the development of fungal diseases.

Make a Rain Barrel to Save Water

Rain barrels are another great way to conserve water and they’re super easy to make—especially if you have downspouts on your home from a gutter. First, you’ll need to find your barrel. You can purchase an empty barrel or make one from a plastic trash can. Next, you’ll need a spigot and a drill. The rest is simple. Drill a hole at the base of your barrel; size will depend on your spigot. Insert spigot. If the seal around your spigot isn’t extremely tight, you can use heavy-duty waterproof tape to seal it in the barrel.

If using a downspout from your home, place the barrel beneath the downspout so that water will dump directly into your barrel. If it’s an open trash can, this step is the last! If your barrel has a lid, you’ll need to drill holes in the surface area so that rain can penetrate the barrel. That’s it!

Tip: Place your barrel on an elevated surface so that you have ample room to collect your rainwater from the spigot.

Staycation Ideas

Staycation Ideas

Sharon Gamble is founder of Sweet Selah Ministries, helping busy women carve out quiet spaces to meet with God, to know Him and to love Him more and more. With stories, humor and biblical truth, Sharon speaks at women’s events and offers Sweet Selah retreats. The former USA National Director for Moms in Prayer International, she is a wife, mother of two daughters, and “Nina” to an ever-growing number of grandchildren. Learn more at www.SweetSelah.org or email Sharon at Sharon@sweetselah.org.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

Last week, I wrote about the fun we had with our family in planning day trips and discovering unique adventures. Here are some of the ways we spent our staycations over the years:

Beach day – picnic lunch or sometimes sub sandwiches from a local shop; beach ball for 4 square; ice cream on the way home

Mini-golf day – oodles of fun playing as teams; after several games, home for a video—yup, a video in the days before DVDs—all together on the couch, munching popcorn, and enjoying root beer ice cream floats

Board and card games day – each game chosen by the person whose “day” it was and included much glee in making the rest of the family play “their” favorite game. We all had fun, even if some of us initially thought we wouldn’t with the particular game chosen. ( !!! )

Boston Aquarium day – with a library pass for admission into the aquarium, we drove to a station and took a subway ride; relished our aquarium visit; and topped the day off with treats from an ice cream truck.

Roller skating – remember roller skating rinks? We all enjoyed skating, and when it was time for the “couples’ dance,” Ray took turns skating with each of his three girls – we all delighted in “our turn” at the couples’ dance.

White Mountains day – drive along a beautiful highway in the mountains with a cooler full of picnic food; stop by the Swift River to swim in an icy cold mountain stream that “slid” us into a pool of water—Brrrr! But fun!

Thrift store day – one of our daughters divvied up the money between the four of us, and we all went to her favorite thrift store. We each found treasures and compared notes, then went home, and watched movies.

You know, looking back, what really mattered was that our family was together. Having fun together. Enjoying each other. We were intentional about being with each other on those days, not hidden away in our own spaces doing our own separate activities. Whether we were amazed by the Alps during our “richer” days or comparing finds at a thrift store on a staycation … the best part was the contentment that came from being “us.”

Oh, Father God, thank You for the gift of family. Please give us the ability to be content with what we have, knowing that You are always with us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Joys of a Staycation

The Joys of a Staycation

Sharon Gamble is founder of Sweet Selah Ministries, helping busy women carve out quiet spaces to meet with God, to know Him and to love Him more and more. With stories, humor and biblical truth, Sharon speaks at women’s events and offers Sweet Selah retreats. The former USA National Director for Moms in Prayer International, she is a wife, mother of two daughters, and “Nina” to an ever-growing number of grandchildren. Learn more at www.SweetSelah.org or email Sharon at Sharon@sweetselah.org.

When “making do” turns into “that was really fun!”

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

When my husband retired from the military, he decided to teach at a Christian school. I was supportive, and very excited for him to serve in this way. The downside to this wonderful decision, however, was a huge income drop for our family. Suddenly, Switzerland for Christmas was no longer an option. (We had been stationed in Germany during his last tour.) In fact, going away anywhere was not an option. What was our little family to do? How would I be “content with what we had” as Hebrews 13:5 commands?

We decided to save our change. Every penny, nickel, dime, and quarter went into a big jar sitting on the kitchen counter. I know many families save $5 bills, but, at that time, loose change was all we could save. (And we were grateful for that—some folks need every penny. Literally.)

At the end of each school year, our big savings jar would contain about $120. Not a lot, is it? We divided it up between the four of us, and each family member could choose a daylong activity to spend however they wished with their $30. Oh, the ideas we had were endless. It’s amazing the vast choices available for $30 a day! Our daughters loved being the ones “in charge” for a change, and planning a day was filled with joy.

Looking back, the decisions about what to do have blended together. I can’t remember who chose what which year. What I do remember is that our family had fun—fun planning and fun discovering unique adventures together for our little staycations. The time we invested with each other, the opportunities to cater to one another’s desires, the fun in learning what each member had chosen, were good for all of us, good to learn to follow another’s lead.

Next week we will take a look at some of the ways we spent our staycations over the years.

Oh, Father God, thank You for the gift of family. Please give us the ability to be content with what we have, knowing that You are always with us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

New Study about Struggling Readers

New Study about Struggling Readers

Liz Sedley, the creator of Dyslexia Gold, a suite of neuroscience based computer programs to help your dyslexic child read, write and spell. Liz has 3 children with combinations of Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Aspergers. She spent 10 years researching these conditions, and what caused them, before creating her first computer program to help her daughter to read. She’s now created 4 programs to help children with dyslexia, and is very proud to say they all get fantastic results.

The latest study found that 98% of struggling readers have poor eye convergence. This means they can’t focus both eyes on the same letter and don’t ‘track’ across the page.

When we read, our eyes track across the page, from word to word. When struggling readers read, their eyes jump around the page, with both eyes looking at different letters. This makes reading almost impossible and causes eye strain/headaches.

When children with poor convergence read, each eye looks at a different letter. This may make words look blurry or letters appear to move as the brain alternates between images.

Students with poor convergence will find spelling hard. They don’t see the letters clearly when they read, so they can’t visualize the word later.

Comprehension is also difficult. Their brain is overloaded, trying to decipher what is seen. There’s very little processing power left to remember or understand it.

Poor convergence also causes erratic eye movements. Eyes wobble when reading, so they can’t track smoothly across the page.

How would you know if your child has poor eye convergence?

Children with poor convergence may:

  • Reverse ‘b’s and ‘d’s

  • Skip lines and words

  • Say that the letters move or are blurry

  • Read slowly

  • Have poor spelling

  • Have difficulty copying

  • Refuse to read out loud

  • Not understand what they have read

  • Get tired, headaches or sore eyes from reading

  • Need coloured overlays to read

Dyslexia Gold’s latest research tested eye convergence in children who are behind in reading. The results clearly show that this problem is widespread amongst struggling readers – 98% of them could not converge their eyes.

The great news is: eyes can be trained to converge using daily exercises. Dyslexia Gold has created an online program specifically designed for this called Engaging Eyes. Pupils play for 10 minutes a day for a few months.

The History of Our Nation’s Independence

The History of Our Nation’s Independence

This country, the greatest on earth, enables its citizens to live freely under certain guidelines of law. However, those of us who live in the twenty-first century often forget the lives that those American soldiers gave up in order to pass on that freedom to our generation. As we approach the anniversary of our nation’s independence, we ought to remember those who put their lives into the hands of their enemies in order to save this country. Since they sacrificed so much for us, it is only reasonable that we take time to teach ourselves and others about the history of our nation’s independence and the utter importance of keeping this country free.

After the new world was colonized, the pilgrims had little governmental regulations. When the French and Indian War ended in 1763, however, unpopular British policies began to plague this new country. Here is a list of things that spurred on the War for Independence and eventually brought about freedom in our nation:

  • In February of 1763, after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the British still continued to fight Indian rebellions. As a result of the costliness of these wars, Britain imposed taxes and produced other regulations that began to anger the colonists.
  • The following year, the British passed the Grenville Acts and the Currency Act. These aimed to raise revenue owed from the French and Indian War and prohibited the colonies from issuing paper currency respectively.
  • In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which greatly angered colonists. This new act was the first direct tax placed on the colonies. By the end of the year, the citizens of the states utterly refused to use and purchase stamps, which stopped business almost entirely.
  • Next year, the Stamp Act was repealed, and the colonists continued to fight against other unpopular acts.
  • 1767 was the year in which the Townshend Acts were passed. These produced many more regulations which further angered the colonists.
  • In 1768, Samuel Adams and the Massachusetts Assembly sent a letter to the British Parliament protesting the Townshend Acts, and many other legislative assemblies promoted it also. However, Parliament continued to enforce their acts of taxation.
  • In March of 1770, the infamous Boston Massacre occurred. This action was later held as propaganda against the British government with the death of five colonists and the injury of six.
  • Later, in 1773, the angered colonists reacted by dumping a shipment of tea into the harbor, also known as the Boston Tea Party.
  • In 1774 and 1775, more and more actions of Britain angered the colonists. These events were at a climax when Patrick Henry said in his famous speech, “give me liberty or give me death!”

As you can see, these events would anger anyone under the authority of a government. The colonists of the New World knew what was going on would eventually lead to more aggravation and injury. In order to protect the rights of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, those who lived in the new-found land of America followed the path they believed to be right, even when those who had power over them were not. As we celebrate Independence Day, never forget from what you have been made free, and always remember to fight for those freedoms which cost the lives of so many Americans in years past.

Happy Independence Day! We at EverBright Learning wish you and your family a happy and blessed Independence Day! We’ll return to you next week with more educational and inspirational content to assist you through your homeschooling journey.

God Bless America… Land That I Love

God Bless America… Land That I Love

Hey Mom, Happy Fourth of July!!! I’m speaking at a Family Camp in Nebraska over the holiday. A few of my kids are a little bummed that we’re missing the Fourth at the Family Lake Cottage where all the cousins willbe, but a few bounces on a giant lake blob should ease their pain. There’s just… Read More

Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes

Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ever wondered how to sun-dry a tomato? I mean, the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes is exquisitely intense, wonderfully versatile and makes an awesome base for “uncooked” tomato sauce—perfect for anyone living on the raw diet. Until my family and I tried to go “raw” for a week, eating only food that’s uncooked, I never wondered… Read More

How Can You Teach What You Don’t Know?

How Can You Teach What You Don’t Know?

Here’s a question you are certain to hear during your time homeschooling: “How can parents offer the same level of high quality, single discipline instruction as is available from board certified teachers in the public and private schools?” After coming to terms with my own similar concerns I realized that parents must first overcome their… Read More

Don’t Judge a Bucket by Its Size

Don’t Judge a Bucket by Its Size

Hey Mom, Hope your summer has gotten off to a great start… the school books are packed away and the winds of adventure and relaxation fill your sails. Today I was asked to talk about bucket lists. Just so we’re on the same page a bucket list is a “list” of things you plan to… Read More

7 Ways to Make History Come Alive

7 Ways to Make History Come Alive

History as a subject involves a lot of reading and many facts to remember. When homeschooling your kids, it may become difficult to create an interest in the subject. However, it’s possible to liven it up and make it more interesting and very easy to learn. There are various ways of achieving this and making… Read More