April 27, 2012

Oatmeal as Face Cleanser

This post is highly irrelevant to homeschooling, but you know when you watch an amazing movie or read an incredible book and you just can't help but share your experience with as many people as possible?  That's how I feel about oatmeal as a face cleanser.

As a little background, I am a redhead and as such have very, very sensitive skin.  However, I've used Cetaphil for the past few years and have gotten by.  Unfortunately, this past winter (a difficult time of the year for my skin anyway) I switched to a mineral face powder and basically killed my skin.  I didn't know people with sensitive skin shouldn't use mineral make-up!  Nobody told me until after my face turned into one big rash.  Argh!

In desperation I searched online for ideas that might help soothe my poor face.  I came across a youtube video made by a cute Asian girl in her early 20s spouting the miraculous benefits of oatmeal as a facial cleanser.  She showed before and after pictures of her face, and it truly looked like a miracle.  Since I didn't have to buy anything to try to achieve the same miracle, I gave it a shot.

The girl in the video just used straight oatmeal, and I actually prefer that, but I was worried about clogging the sink, so I blended up some oatmeal in a blender--just a little bit.  I went for a course chop.  I didn't want a powder as the girl touted the gentle exfoliating qualities of the oatmeal.  Since I've never been able to use an exfoliator (even sugar and olive oil is too rough for my face--although I love it for my hands), I wanted to keep the exfoliating power.

So, I blended some oatmeal and put a bit in a small container, added a little water, stirred it around, and then brushed my teeth.  By the time I was done brushing my teeth the oatmeal had softened into a paste.  I washed my face and neck with it (messy), and rinsed it off.  My face felt AMAZING.  See, this is where I'm going to gush.  I have never had skin this soft.  I have never had skin this blemish free, I've never gone this long without a zit, and I've never had skin this even-toned (I'm prone to redness). 

I'm not saying I had terrible skin before.  I'm just saying I had to baby it along sometimes.  And I am also saying that I haven't had this nice of skin since I hit puberty. 

And it is just oatmeal.  Can you get a cheaper wash?? 

Now, I don't wear a ton of make-up, and I don't wear water-proof mascara, so I don't know the ins-and-outs of how it will work for you if you wear more make-up than I do.  Usually I wear face powder, blush, eye-liner, and mascara.  I don't use make-up remover.  My face feels wonderfully clean just using the oatmeal.

The oatmeal does exfoliate.  I rub it around and then let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute (depending on how long I need to wind down that night) and then rinse it off.  That's it.  I blend about a cup at a time, store it in a container, and then pour a small amount into an even smaller container to mix with the water.  A cup lasts me about 3 weeks. 

Try it.  I'm serious.  You'll love it.  Love it, I say. 

I'm ordering 100% shea butter this month to see if I can get rid of all my kids' skin problems (severe dry skin to eczema).  I'm hoping that I will like it for a moisturizer for me so that I'm not putting any chemicals on my skin (not because I'm "crunchy" so much as I have sensitive skin).  I've tried coconut oil, but it just doesn't keep my skin hydrated.  I did try mixing sugar and coconut oil to use as a hand/nail scrub and I liked it better than olive oil because the smell is so much nicer.  Yummy. 

Anyone else have any good hints for skin care? 

April 25, 2012

Rod and Staff Grammar: Curriculum Review

When my kids start grade 3, they add grammar to their daily routine.  I have strong feelings about the teaching of grammar and its importance to good writing and, by extension, good thinking.  Therefore, finding the perfect curriculum was very important to me.

I taught English to 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th grade public school students.  I've tried a variety of "exciting" curricula published very recently.  I wasn't impressed.  There are lots of bells and whistles, colorful formatting, and a lot of nonsense that tries to make grammar appear more exciting than it is.  Grammar is grammar and no amount of peacock feathers is going to change it into something else.  I found all the extras very distracting and time-wasting.

Then the teacher across the hall told me to teach my students sentence diagramming.  She promised me that it would do more good than anything else I taught.  She is an excellent teacher so I believed her and gave it a whirl.  Well, first I taught myself how to sentence diagram and then I gave it a whirl.  

The results were profound and outstanding.  It wasn't all rosy that first year because I wasn't that good at grammar (I'm one of those annoying picked-it-up-from-reading kind of gals) and so I had one student designated as a runner and if we (meaning me and the class--we usually worked as a team) couldn't figure out how to diagram a particular sentence the runner ran across the hall and asked the teacher there for help.  

We all learned more about grammar than we had ever learned previously.  I'm telling you, when it comes to grammar, sentence diagramming is where it's at.

Fast forward to me last summer, the homeschool mom trying to find a grammar program for her own darling student.  I combed the homeschool websites and talked with many homeschoolers about the pros and cons of various grammar options.  Many of them appeared to me as the bells and whistles variety of grammar instruction instead of the meat and potatoes.   

Rod and Staff is the meat and potatoes.  There are no bells and whistles.  No little thought boxes or cluttered pages.  It is just grammar in its true, beautiful, form.  I'm not saying it is boring (whatever boring means in relation to school subjects), I am saying it is complete, well done, and requires sentence diagramming from the very beginning.  

The first unit is pronouns.  Each section in the chapter starts with an explanation of what the section is about and some examples.  That is followed by student practice questions.  The sections are the perfect length to do one daily and Miriam needs very little instruction from me because the information is written clearly at the beginning of each section. 

On top of all that, the price is very, very reasonable.  $12.00 for the student textbook.  You can see some sample pages on the Rod and Staff website, here

In short, I am 100% thrilled with this grammar program.