Homeless Packs

The first Sunday of this month I taught all the young women (ages 12-18) at church. This month’s Come Follow Me lessons are on Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance. I chose to give the lesson on What is the Lord’s way for providing for the poor and needy.


We talked about refugees, sharing the statistics I’ve collected in my research (and fact checking) and showing a couple church videos. (Invite a Refugee to Dinner and Refuge from the Storm) We talked about ways we can help the refugees and immigrants in our city. We talked about how everyone can be poor and needy in some way and how even just a smile can make a difference. We talked about the homeless population in our city. And we made homeless packs to keep in their parents’ cars and give out when they see someone homeless when they are out and about. Ani and I each made a pack and within days had given both of them out.


Each pack is in a gallon ziploc. They contain a bottle of water, a pair of socks, small pack of tissues, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, three individually wrapped wet wipes, sample size shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, bar of soap, package of nuts and two fruit by the foot in a sandwich size ziploc, and a dozen Wint-o-Green Lifesavers in a snack size ziploc. I hope those 24 homeless packs have been useful to the few Starfish* we could help with them and that has helped the young women understand a little better what they can do to provide for the poor and needy.


*Starfish comes from the story about the child throwing the starfish back into the ocean and making a difference to the one. When helping everyone seems overwhelming, the starfish story reminds us that helping even just one is better than none.

Oil Lamp Ornaments

A month or so ago my friend asked me if I’d like to join in a Jesse Tree ornament exchange. I thought that sounded like fun. I chose Samuel and made ornaments with an oil lamp on them.


I got plain white 1/4″ foam sheets for the background. I traced around a jar with a mouth about 2 1/2″ in diameter to make the circles.


I made 36 circles. I needed to send in 29 for the exchange. I shipped 30 in case one got messed up. I pulled out the 6 worst after all 36 were put together.


I used an X-Acto knife to cut the circles out of the foam.


Most of them turned out quite nice.


I freehand drew an oil lamp shape on paper. I cut that out and used it to trace onto glittery black self-adhesive foam. Then I cut out the oil lamp shapes. It took forever, but at least I had The Crown on Netflix to entertain me.


I peeled off the paper back and stuck the lamp shapes to the circles. It’s pretty amazing how strong the adhesive on the foam is.


I made a pattern for the main part of the flame, but just randomly did the smaller part of the flame. I cut the main part out of glittery yellow self-adhesive foam and the smaller part out of glittery red self-adhesive foam. I attached the red part to the yellow to make the flames. I was a little concerned the glitter would make it so they wouldn’t stick very well, but I needn’t have worried. That adhesive is crazy strong.


I attached the flames to the circles so they look like they are coming out of the oil lamp.


I poked holes at the tops of the circles and pushed glittery white cord through them, tied knots to make the cord into hangers for the ornaments, shifted the cord around so the knots went inside the holes, and, after 4 1/2 hours, I had an awesome set of oil lamp ornaments to send in for the Jesse Tree exchange.


I can’t wait to get my complete set of 29 different ornaments back. I’m looking forward to seeing what other people used to make theirs. I am sure they will all be just adorable!

October Science Experiments

We leaned about DNA and made a double helix partially unzipped with a section being replicated with RNA. We used marshmallows (the different colors represent different amino acids), beads, toothpicks, and pipe cleaners to make it.

We extracted some DNA from Cameron’s cheek cells and then looked at it under the microscope. It was quite complicated and only worked so-so.

We learned about mitosis and made posters showing the life cycle of a cell. Those posters are now on the walls of our dining room (aka schoolroom).

We viewed a prepared slide of an allium (onion) root tip. We could see the cells undergoing mitosis.

We learned about the phases of meiosis. We made a flipbook showing each part.

We viewed a prepared slide of a lily anther undergoing meiosis.

We compared the genetics of the boys and their parents and three of their grandparents.

We looked at hair under the microscope.

We created our very own Qwuitekutesnute. We laid out attributes from the mother and father along with whether those traits were dominant or recessive. Then we flipped a coin to randomly assign those attributes. Using basic DD, rr, Dr, we applied those traits to our baby, resulting in our own unique Qwitekutesnute.

Frog Dissection

Today was the dreaded day. Today was the day we dissected a frog.


Fritz started out brave and made the first cuts.


Adrian was quite interested looking inside at the organs and identifying them.


Cameron, meanwhile, stayed across the deck as far away from the frog as possible. He is perfectly willing to turn in his Man Card if it means he doesn’t have to touch a preserved frog or see very much while it’s being dissected.


The dissection eventually got to Fritz and he couldn’t stop gagging. He’s now rethinking the idea of becoming a doctor.


It was fascinating. Somehow I never dissected a frog. Cats, sheep heart, cow eye, etc. in A&P in college, yes, but never a frog.


I think the boys (at least the older two) are glad that is over and they won’t be dissecting anything else this year.

Art in October

Blow Up: We took a picture from our deck and then spent three minutes looking at the picture. Then we went back and identified something we had not noticed the billions of times we’d been out there and took a picture of just that specific thing.

Caption Contest: We printed a picture provided by The Art Assignment and added a caption to it. Cameron wrote “Missing Man” in the shape of a man standing in the boots. Fritz wrote “Lonely boots that got lost in time.” Adrian just wrote “Hi.”

Constructed Landscape: We considered what sorts of things could be considered a landscape and then created some. Cameron used our dog and called it Dog Mountain. Fritz drew a picture and set it against the wall and then photographed it from several angles and picked the one he liked best. Adrian set up some Wii figures against a pillow, took a bunch of pictures, and picked the angle he liked best.

Present Perimeter: We learned about the Present Perimeter System (1 hexagon, 3 half hexagons, 3 rhombuses, and 3 triangles) and created works using those shapes. Cameron used paper while Fritz and Adrian chose clay.