UTCH eHomestyle News January 2019 Winter Edition

Also in this Issue:

UTCH 2019 Graduation Information

June 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Mountain View Baptist Church
2585 E 3300 N. Layton, UT
Everyone is invited!

Save the Dates

February 23 - Livestream of National Home School Day Seminars

March 16 - Mother Daughter Tea

April 13 - Father Son Barbecue

May 18 - Teen Program

Livestream of National Home School Day
UTCH will be live streaming of National Home School Day Seminars on February 23, at Intermountain Baptist Church, 4770 S. 1950 West. This event is FREE to out UTCH family. For descriptions of the seminars, please examine this link: https://thecreationtrail.weebly.com/national-homeschool-day.html

Don't Just Survive: Reclaim Your Space and THRIVE
by Heidi St. John

Have you ever noticed how quickly your home fills up with "stuff"?

Most moms I know are busy. When you're busy, it can be challenging to keep up with all the stuff that creeps into the car and house. I'd like to tell you I know how all our stuff gets into our house, but honestly, I don't. I just know that if I don't keep on top of it, before long, I'm surrounded by clutter and overwhelmed at the thought of what to do with it all. Can you relate? Clutter creates stress.

It's difficult to create a successful rhythm to your day if you are surrounded by a not-so-wonderful set of twins, I like to call Chaos and Clutter. Left unmanaged, these two will drain you of your time and energy. They are the nemesis of every busy homeschool mom. Along with their cousin, Excess, they are the enemy of a peaceful, organized home.

We tend to think of our things in terms of the money we spend on them. Did you know there is an emotional cost to the things that you own? Clutter takes up more than physical space. It costs emotionally as well as financially.

Here's what I mean: Clutter and disorganization in our homes can rob us of peace and restfulness, leading to feelings of frustration and anxiety. If you'be ever felt overwhelmed by all the piles of clutter at home, then you know what I'm talking about. It's easy to see how too many piles of unfinished business at home can steal our energy. I call my excess stuff my "de-motivation piles", because just looking at them makes me want to crawl under my covers and never come out.

Obviously, staying in bed is not going to help, but here's what will: Learn to get a grip on your stuff. I promise you that learning how to control clutter will translate into more hours in your day! If that sounds appealing to you, then get ready to purge and simplify. You probably don't need all that stuff you have.


Years ago, I learned that one of the secrets to a well-managed, peaceful home, lies in my ability to control both physical and emotional clutter. Physical clutter eventually results in mental clutter. The "overwhelmed" feeling you have is emotional clutter. You can't thrive when you're overwhelmed. It's time to simplify.

There is something deeply satisfying about simplifying life. We can simplify our things, our schedules, and our homeschooling. I like to start with physical clutter though, because clearing the clutter at home frees us in so many more ways than just physical space. It brings emotional freedom as well.

Are you ready to simplify and de-clutter your home? Before you can organize, you'be got to prioritize. You'be got to get rid of excess. We were created by a God of order. Therefore, it makes sense that we function better when there is order in our homes. If you are ready to THRIVE in your role as a wife, mom, and homemaker, keep these six things in mind:

T- Tell the Truth

Before you can start purging, you'be got to be able to tell the truth about your clutter problem. Let's start by defining what it actually is:

Clutter is anything that is disorganized. In our home everything has a place. That's not to say everything is always in its place, but at the end of the day we know where things go.

Clutter is anything you don't need or love. This is a big one. This is the question I had to ask when I did my first big cleanup. Training the kids to ask this question has helped them to define what they really want to keep, as opposed to what they feel they might want later. It has also helped us to define what we truly value in life. When a home is filled with things we love, rather than things we are just keeping around for a rainy day, it helps us to truly love where we live.

Clutter is too much stuff in too small a space. It frees us mentally and emotionally when we scale down. It's amazing how wonderful it is to come home to a clean, uncluttered house at the end of the day, or to wake up to a tidy kitchen in the morning.

H - Have a Plan

Start with zones. People ask us all the time how we keep our house tidy and neat with 10 people under one roof. Let me just say this right up front: our house is NOT always neat and tidy. We usually start our days with a clean and tidy house, but within an hour or two it seriously looks like a bomb has gone off in several areas.

Over the years, I'be discovered that the key to living peacefully, with a houseful of kids, is to have a plan to keep order, rather than an expectation that the house should look like a show home from Better Homes and Gardens all the time!

We have tried different methods for keeping up with housework during different seasons of life in our family. When all the children were very young, a schedule taped to the refrigerator door helped tremendously. On it, we had areas of our home divided into zones. Each child was assigned one of these zones.

A zone might be the hallway and guest bathroom, the entry way or kitchen. Even little ones can have their own zone. Our three year old loved tidying her zone ... It was her toy box!

The best thing about zones though, is that you can use them to tidy up for company in no time flat! This is because you're not trying to figure out which parts of the house need attention. Everyone just tidies up his or her zone.

When your home is filled with clutter, trying to tackle a mountain of stuff can be quite overwhelming. It's easy to get discouraged by a task that seems insurmountable when you're trying to raise a family, and homeschool at the same time!

R - Restore Order

So, here's my advice: Start with just fifteen minutes at a time. You can do just about anything in fifteen minutes a day! You can create a place for incoming papers, clear off a counter, or take fifteen things out of your house — for good.

Write down what rooms need your attention first. If you can write them all down in order of priority, you can come up with a game plan to tackle the job.

Once you have written down which rooms need the most attention, choose one to start in. Just getting one room done will motivate you toward success, and spur you on to your next room. It's much like being on a diet! Losing two pounds is good motivation to continue on and lose two more. Start small. One step at a time!

I - Insist on Teamwork

Here's the best way, I have found, to tackle large rooms: If you have older children, train them to work alongside you. Encourage them to offer their suggestions, as you rearrange and organize. Some of our kids are really gifted in this area. Allowing them in on the process has not only trained them, it has been a huge blessing to me!

Teach your family what clutter is. Teach them to help you keep it under control. After all, that mess didn't't get there by itself!

Before you start, set out four containers, either boxes or bags. One is for items you will keep, one for giveaway (whether you garage sale, donate, or whatever), one is for items you are not sure what to do with, and one is for trash.

Empty the room. I know this sounds crazy, but, if things have gotten out of hand, it's the best way to start. Empty the room as much as you possibly can.

When I am getting ready to organize things, I expect things to get worse before they get better. I warn the family ahead of time that it could take a few days before we are finished. Start sorting as you empty the room. BE BRUTAL about what you decide to keep. Ask yourself, "Do I love this?" If you don't answer yes immediately, it's time to get rid of it, or set it into a separate box to get back to.

Keep sorting, and take a deep breath, busy homeschool mom, 'cause you're going to feel a whole lot better when this is done!

V - Verify Need

Ask yourself: Do you need it? Do you love it?

Now you're ready to move back in. But before you do, remember, you want LESS, not MORE! So, verify with others who can help you decide if it's clutter or not.

Move Back In. Once you have taken all the giveaway and trash items out of your house, it's time for the really fun part—moving things back into the space you cleared out. I am a big fan of keeping beautiful baskets on shelves for organizing. We have baskets with scrap paper in them and baskets that are full of colored pencils. I believe that we even have a basket for storing extra baskets! Point is, EVERYTHING has a place. When you bring things back into the room, have a vision for how you want to display what you keep. For an item to come back in the room, it should:

  • Fit neatly into a designated space
  • Be something you truly love or use regularly
  • Not exceed a reasonable number of items

E - Ease of Use

Organize for ease of use: We should be organizing in such a way that it's easy to keep up with. Fancy charts and bins arena't worth the money you'all pay for them if they are too complicated for everyday use.

Keeping School Records

Transcripts. Standardized tests. Record of work done. These words have struck fear into the heart of many a homeschool mom. The idea of keeping meticulous track of school assignments is daunting for a mom with one child, let alone four or more!

Like it or not, though, you need to keep records of your child's schoolwork.

We use a very simple method for keeping track of school papers and note-booking assignments. ALL of their assignments, love notes, darling drawings that I can't part with, and artwork, go in one box.

That's it! Each day, as the children finish their work, they know that they are supposed to write their name and date on the assignment, and put it in the "completed assignments" box. This keeps my table clear of clutter and my mind free from worrying about losing their work.

About once a quarter, we empty the box, saving their best work in sheet protectors. We put them in their notebooks in chronological order. Each child has a notebook. We throw away things that we don't love or need to keep. That's it! Simple and effective.

Maintaining Order

Here are some more quick tips for making sure your new, organized self stays that way:

  • File important papers — give 15 minutes a day until you get the pile down.
  • Sort mail as soon as it arrives at your house. Don't let it pile up.
  • Clean out desk and kitchen drawers regularly. Or, they become "junk drawers".
  • Make daily cleanup a habit.
  • Make sure the kids (not you) are responsible for tidying up their zones.
  • Create a space for everything from car keys to tennis shoes.

Since new things are always coming in — when they do, consider letting something else go.

Can't you just feel a more organized daylight coming? Life is made much easier, when you don't have to waste precious time hunting for something that's been misplaced because of clutter.

Remember, organizing your daylight hours is all about managing your time. Carve out some time in your daily routine for cleanup and organizing.

Being a mom is challenging, but you can do it! Don't just survive — reclaim your space and THRIVE!

Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. They have seven children and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference speaker, Heidi approaches homeschooling with humor and grace.



Telescopes and Eyebeams (STEM)
by Kyle Holton

We take for granted our capacity to see the world. But how does that actually happen? When we look out our windows and see a brilliant sunset with all its colors, a full harvest moon or the fuzzy, cosmic clouds of the Milky Way, can we trust that what we see is an exact representation of the external world? How do our minds make sense of the constant flux of images that pass through our eyes? Does vision extend outside of our eyes, or do images enter into our heads via our eyes?

The world of human perception is wide-ranging and fascinating. From ancient photons of interstellar space to the mechanics of the eye to optical illusions, there are numerous lessons and units that will offer an interesting hook for all types of learners.

But interesting questions remain. For example, why do we often feel the stares of others, even when our backs are turned? Further, though the eye works like a lens, this doesn't't explain our visual understanding of the world around us. Our eyes may provide the data to look at a tree, but how do we know it is a tree? Vision is a mystery that science is only beginning to fully understand.Getting a close-up look at this subject makes for a great unit study or research topic. Here are three ways to peer into the fascinating world of vision.

History of Vision: From Eyebeams and Lasers to Lenses and Telescopes

Any comic book fan knows that every superhero exhibits some superhuman feat. From super strength to flight powers, the heroes of Marvel or DC Comics are the stuff of fantasy, and many of them had special eye powers. From Cyclops to Superman, these heroes could use their eyes to cut through steel or suspend objects.

Such fantastical skills actually reflect the dominant paradigm in the ancient world for how vision works. Our modern description of the eye as a lens was not accepted until the work of Johannes Kepler in the 1600s.

Key Investigative Questions

  • How did our understanding of the eye help create the telescope?
  • What role do paradigms play in the development of scientific understanding?
  • How does the extramission hypothesis still influence modern cultural ideas?

Suggested Resources

  • Cultural beliefs about vision provide a wonderful entry into the world of optics. Check out the various resources of comic book heroes with optic superpowers. Students may also find beliefs about the "evil eye" to be an interesting introduction to the extramission theory of vision. BBC and Live Science have done in-depth reports on cultural beliefs regarding the evil eye—excellent resources for a research project.
  • For a wonderful overview of the history from extramission to intermission paradigms of vision (see sidebar), check out the entertaining, educational video on VRV.co called "The Science of Seeing."
  • Stanford's Early Science Lab, http://web.stanford.edu, also provides a brief page detailing the "History of the Eye."
  • ScienceNetLinks.com has a unit on the anatomy of the telescope called "Looking Into Space" which is part of a larger unit on optics that contains a wealth of information, activities and experiments.

Philosophy of Vision: Do We See With Our Eyes or With Our Minds?

Investigating the history of the eye expands our understanding of visual perception. Although the cultural beliefs about the evil eye may seem bizarre, extramission allows us to see how some people may operate under a different paradigm of visual perception. Indeed, vision is a powerful sense that we trust to make sense of our lives. But can we trust everything we see?

Imagine having to wear glasses that made everything you see upside down. Would you be able to drive a car? Eat a bowl of cereal? In a now-famous experiment, Professor Theodor Erismann used glasses that inverted the visual landscape upside down to test how we make sense of the world. After ten days of wearing the glasses, his subject, Ivo Kohler, began to see the world rightside up.

Key Investigative Question

The experiment raised key questions about our visual experience of the world: When we look at the world, are we seeing an objective, realistic representation, or are we seeing a world altered by our own physical and cultural filters?

Suggested Resources

  • Watch a 12-minute silent film on YouTube documenting the upside down glasses experiment. Search "Erismann and Kohler: Inversion Goggles" and see the comments where one viewer translated the German film captions to English. For a more modern video and discussion of the experiment, check out Good Mythical Morning's video "Upside Down Glasses Challenge", also on YouTube.
  • Would you like to run the Erismann experiment yourself? Making inversion goggles is surprisingly easy. All you really need are a handful of Legos, a few rubber bands and two right-angle prisms. Check out "How to Turn the World Upside Down" at PopSci.com to make your own (type "Popular Science" and the article name into your internet browser)!

Can You Believe Your Eyes? Educational Fun with Optical Illusions

The world of optical illusions also provides a unique way to engage this topic. Why is it so easy to trick our eyes? For example, take our experience with color. Is the sky blue because it is blue, or because we call it blue?

Key Investigative Questions

  • Can we be confident that our visual perception is in agreement with everyone else's?
  • What physiological aspects of the eye result in optical illusions?

Suggested Resources

  • The University of Washington (https://tinyurl.com/ybwvbav5) has assembled an excellent curriculum for exploring the biology of optical illusions. The resource offers activities, investigative questions, optical illusion examples and assignments.
  • A few years ago, the infamous "blue and black or white and gold" dress photo went viral. People disagreed with the color scheme of the dress, causing hours of debate and confusion. In his article "Lessons from ‘The Dress': The Ambiguity of Visual Perception", Dr. Pascal Wallisch explored the problem of visual perception and how our visual sense is more than just an optic machine.
  • For further exploration in color, check out the popular podcast by RadioLab on Colors. The program explores the biology of color but finds surprising mysteries along the way. For instance, it may surprise you to realize that the animal with the most color receptors lives at the bottom of the ocean in darkness.
  • Finally, for older students who want to ask deep philosophical questions (even diving into quantum theory), consider reading, "The Sense of Being Stared At" by Rupert Sheldrake. Although trained from the elite schools of Harvard and Cambridge, Dr. Sheldrake is a controversial scientist who thinks the extramission hypothesis isn't completely wrong. A chapter from his book (which is provided on his website Sheldrake.org in the article "Sense of Being Stared At") gives a wonderful overview of the history of vision, but also delves into the philosophical problems of human perception. In particular, check out the last section of the chapter where Sheldrake explores possible modern developments in quantum theory that may help support the veracity of a modified extramission theory.

Kyle Holton is a writer, educator and father of three kids. He is a member of the Liberated Learners network in New England and works with self-directed learners at the Beacon center.

This article is reprinted with permission of Texas Home School Coalition and the author. It originally appeared in HEQ. Visit THSC.org.


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