Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Because child rearing takes so much thought, especially when home educating.


vanilla ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis week I was researching homemade vanilla extract. I had previously learned that you can make your own vanilla at home by placing a vanilla bean pod in a skinny jar with some alcohol; vodka is recommended. Then it sits for several months in a cool dark place.

Recently a friend said she’d made alcohol-free vanilla extract and I was intrigued. She said she uses food grade glycerin and vanilla bean pods in her instant pot. Of course that made me wonder about food grad glycerin and sent me off researching.

Vanilla ~
By Hans Stieglitz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

My travels landed me on where I found out a most surprising truth: Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid! In the words of my son Sean, How did I not know this?

I was shocked! I also did not know that the orchid is the largest family of flowering plants, with over 20,000 species. There are at least 150 different varieties. To find more interesting facts, check out the FAQ at

If you want to give your hand a try at making your own vanilla, here’s some recipes I found:

Of course, no talk with young children about vanilla would be complete without pointing out that vanilla is not sweet. ;)

To complete this little foray into vanilla, make something that includes it in the recipe. It could be so many things but a good vanilla pudding from scratch would be fun. I’ve got a vanilla base pudding that I make for banana pudding here.

I hope you found this interesting. It sure surprised us!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

A Link of Links

Music and Art Links ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was checking out the website where I got the handwriting scripture planner and followed along to another of her sites, where I found some great links. She has a page with LOTS of interactive music and art links.

There are sites to play with sound, rhythm, melody and more. They work on a tablet, phone, laptop, or desktop. There are links to sites where you can practice instruments. It reminds me of the Wii Music game, which is another great offline option.

It’s worth checking out to give your children some art and music appreciation. There’s lots to check out so I’ll keep this short today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Handwriting/Copywork ~ Lifeofjoy.meI know I’ve written about copywork before but I recently came across an article, in the new IEW catalog, entitled “Low-Tech Teaching with High-End Results.” In it there were a couple of comments that struck a chord with me.

  • Writing on paper stimulates the brain differently than typing
  • Cursive writing offers significant neurological benefits over printing on paper.
  • People recall content better when taking notes on paper rather than typing

It was a good article which reminded me of another one I read where it reported that billionaire elites limit their children’s use of technology. (I wrote about it here.)

In light of all this, I recently found some handwriting calendars that has scripture verses for every day of the month. The cool thing is that the one from SweetBlessings is written for we adults and has a shorter amount to write for the younger ones, at least for some of the months. She even has a Spanish version, if desired. She has two version, one is topical and the other is not. I’ve downloaded mine. (Once you click on the word HERE on her page, it will open up a a google drive page, just click on whichever month or topic you want/need and download or print.)

I’m starting to be interested in lettering. I’m not sure what the difference is between lettering and calligraphy is though. I can anticipate using the calendars to practice lettering. God has me doing such different things, outside of my comfort zone, lately.

There is another, from My  Joy-Filled Life, which has a single verse every day all on one topic, different each month. It is a free download but you have to subscribe to her newsletter, but she does not overwhelm you with emails. I subscribed some time ago; if you have, you still fill in your name and email and press download, then a link will be sent to your email. Her copywork printable also has some cute writing pages you can print for your children to use.

The end of the article in the IEW has a link to a podcast. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’ll include the link in case it is helpful to you.  Paper and Pen

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Growing Crystals

Growing Crystals ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s winter and it may not feel much like winter where you are. Snow and ice remind me of crystals, so I thought it would be fun to share how to grow some crystals. The site I’m sharing with you today has several different methods for growing crystals. Some methods are very  quick, for those impatient little ones, and some take a bit more time, be it several hours or a couple of days. Some use readily available items you can purchase at the local grocery store and others require harder to locate ingredients.

I recommend the first four, as they use borax (found in the laundry section) or epsom salts, which can be found in the pharmacy department. The fourth one makes a geode, which seems pretty cool to me.

Growing Crystals ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis one uses simple salt and vinegar and gives a bit of explanation of how it works.


Here’s another collection of ideas.

Growing Crystals ~ Lifeofjoy.meYou could try several different methods and have your child/children log the similarities and differences in each method and length of time to form crystals. Don’t forget to have them look at the crystals with a magnifying glass or microscope. Or might be able to use a macro lens on a camera and zoom in to see it better on a computer screen.

Well, that’s enough for today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Pluto and our Solar System

Solar System ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was one that was taught that our solar system had nine planets. See that tiny dot on the right end? Pluto. Yes, the planet Pluto.

So, after doing a little research for my sissy, I found that from 1979-1999 Pluto was the eighth planet from the sun because of its odd orbit. This orbit is one of the things that has caused the controversy over whether to call Pluto a planet or not.

When they demoted it to a Dwarf Planet in 2006, I did not like it at all. I believe when we did anything with planets any time after that, I told the children that I’d been taught it was a planet and now they say it isn’t. I don’t believe we went into it too much because although I am open-minded, I am a bit stubborn. ;) But it has now been 10 years and they haven’t changed their minds, so I guess it’s time to bend. ;)

I found a good and informative but easy to ready website to help with this information. Here’s a link to the page on It’s really good because it puts the info about the reasons behind Pluto’s demotion right up front, followed by info about dwarf planets, and then a bit more down near the bottom with the information on Pluto itself. It also has a few details about each of the planets. I found it quite interesting.

I felt that was enough information but if this topic is interesting to your child, you might want to let him/her check out this website. Now, I will tell you that right on the main page it says that Pluto is the ninth planet. It was last copyrighted 2015, so I think this may be the reason why. However, it does mention that some don’t consider Pluto the ninth planet and talks about it more on the page dedicated to Pluto. I think it would be good to show this to your children because then you can talk about why it might have different information, how you cannot just take the word of one website, and show them how to look for the copyright (usually at the bottom of the page). All of this helps with critical thinking and teaching them not to take everything they read as fact. This website also has some coloring pages and a planets quiz.

While I was looking for a picture to post with this post, I found some other interesting pictures. Some of them would make a great picture for your children to make up a story about. You can put whatever requirements you want on the paper/story they write or you can just let them go wherever their imagination takes them. Maybe they’ll just use the picture as a basis for some imaginary playtime later, or maybe they’ll want to use several of them. There really are some nice ones here.

I hope you enjoy and I hope this helps, Little Sis!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Music Can Be Helpful in Other Areas

Music ~ Lifeofjoy.meI read this interesting article about how music is helpful to other areas of learning. Evidently learning to play music helps the child be more well-rounded. It may even help ADHD.

It didn’t specify any particular instrument, just learning to play music. This doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve purchased recorders from Dollar tree before, complete with the cleaning rod. :) A simple ‘learning to play the recorder book’ is all that is really needed. I had never played the recorder before but found an inexpensive book and learned with the kids one year. If I’d have read this article way back then, I probably would’ve made it more of a priority.

It’s a short article. Give it a read.

I’ll leave you to it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Benefits of Reading

Reading ~ Lifeofjoy.meI recently came across this article that shared eight benefits from reading. I thought it was a good reminder. I thought I’d shared something like this before but cannot find it, so I’m sharing this link with you today. It is a fairly short read but should encourage you to encourage your children to read a bit more.

Technology Good? ~ LifeOfJoy.meWhile looking through my previous posts I found a couple on the same basic subject that  were worth bringing to your attention. The first is about how we read differently on electronic devices than paper format and shares how some of the people that have enough money to purchase the top of the line electronics limit their children’s use of them and some go so far as to send them to schools with no screens at all. Pretty interesting to me.

PS119:11Finally, I wanted to remind you of this post about how reading the Bible should be taught to every individual, not just Christians. I also share some about how the brain is helped by memorizing scripture.

I hope I’ve given you some valuable information to consider and it blesses you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Spoiling Children

Spoiling Children ~ Lifeofjoy.meI just have a short post for you today because I am sharing two links. The first is about how “spoiling” children does them a disservice. It is a really good article. I recommend you go read it here.

The second is a fifteen minute video about Millennials and what a challenge it is to work with them. Millennials are anyone born between 1982 and 2002. Although all my children are Millennials, I sincerely hope I raised them in a manner that makes them the exception to what he shares here. It is enlightening.

I hope these two links give you some food for thought and something to think about for next year.

Until next year, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Make a “Snowglobe” and Soother Bag

I have a couple of quick crafts for you today. It’s only a few days until Christmas but you either need a gift idea or something to keep the kids busy.

Snowglobe and Ice Pack ~ Lifeofjoy.meFirst up is a cute little snow globe with no liquid in it. You use a clear punch cup and some of that plastic shred snow flakes. Now the tutorial on this webpage suggests you use a picture of your child or grandchild or such but for an easier craft, you could use any small item you like. You secure it to a piece of cardstock or cardboard the size of the cup opening. Place some “snow” in the cup and attach the bottom.

The other is a hot or cold pack. There are directions to make a cold pack or hot soother bag on this webpage. You cut two pieces of material, flannel is suggested, sew up three sides, fill with rice, and close the last side up. Keep in the freezer for a cold pack or heat in microwave for 30-45 seconds for a warm soother bag. (I know there are better words to explain this but I cannot seem to figure them out right now.)

Well, I hope you have a wonderful holiday celebration with your family!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Music Study: Handel

Thanksgiving and Big Stuff ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy daughter Tiffany’s Christmas book has been published! It is a murder mystery surrounded by the fun and festivities of the Christmas holiday and a budding romance. Get it on Amazon

Music Study: Handel ~ Lifeofjoy.meSeveral weeks ago I saw a picture of a stack of children’s books that Crystal Paine, the Money Saving Mom, had gotten from the library for the holiday season. One book that caught my eye was Hallelujah Handel by Douglas Cowling. I didn’t know anything about this book but have enjoyed Handel’s Messiah composition since my days in high school when we sang The Hallelujah Chorus.

I decided to look into this book because I figured it might be a good springboard into a composer study on George Frideric Handel. I also thought it might be good to study during the holidays since it is prevalent at this time.

It was interesting to learn about his views on orphans and what he did to help them. Our library system even has a copy of this book and the audio cd as well. I’m not sure, but it looks like the story is told with Handle’s music in the background. It seems like a really neat book and complementary cd.

Some Links
  • If you choose to check out this book and/or the audio, you might want to do a little composer study as well. I found this nice unit study by Cindy Downes with informational links and links to printables.
  • There is an interesting book available from HomeschoolFreebieOfTheDay entitled, Music Talks with Children which talks about Handel some in chapter XX. I found it by googling the website and the title of the book (just in case it disappears) but click on the title and it should open up the book pdf.

Speaking of HomeschoolFreebieOfTheDay, they have some really good looking free audios available now. One such freebie is Old School ebook and audios!  Another is The Story of the First Christmas Tree audios and ebook. Oh! and one more while you are there, “All Is Bright: The True Story of Silent Night.” Don’t forget to click on “Older Posts” to see what else may still be available and to your liking. :)

  • Over on YearRoundHomeschooling, there is a small free unit on Handel with some free printables and about 4 book suggestions.
  • EnrichmentStudies has some good links too. There are some podcasts, videos, and printables among other things. They have a listening map for the Hallelujah Chorus. I’ve never heard of that before . . . interesting!
  • HomeschoolGiveaways has some good links too! There’s also a link to a free kindle book, near the bottom of the page.

Well, that’s it for today! I hope you have a fun study on Handel!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº