Monthly Archives: June 2014

Coronado Bridge Lesson

Coronado Bridge Lesson 

Coronado Bridge Design

After spending the day at Coronado Island, we were excited to create our own bridge design! Scroll down to print simple lesson plan!

For one day of our Family Camp this week we went to Coronado Island. To prepare for the day we also did a lesson on bridges, engineering, and structures. We discussed the Coronado Bridge before going and made it a point to make observations together while going over the bridge. Here is a reference link to the bridge if you would like to read more. We set out to enjoy our day of summer fun and learning as a family!

bridge design

We enjoyed the drive and made observations 



Coronado Bridge Lesson

“Look! There it is! Do you notice the curve?!”

After driving over the bridge we played. We enjoyed a lovely day burying each other in the sand and creating fun learning memories together. Throughout the day we would talk about the bridge, make observations from different angles, and think about how we could build our own.

When we got home, we got out our supplies and got to work! We had already made this beautiful homemade yellow play dough colored with turmeric from our kitchen science lab! Print the play dough instructions by clicking here to make your own! 

For the bridge design, we knew we had to work together. Everyone at first used the supplies to come up with their own design. Then we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each design, and compiled the best design methods together to build one bridge. (Skills: critical thinking, engineering, planning, communication, cooperation, structure design) We got to work!

bridge design

“Let’s measure between them because we will need to fit the wooden sticks evenly across”

Step 1: Decide support structures (Skills: Planning, Classification, Physics, Math)


Cooperation skills at work

Step 2: Work together to build the design. (Skills: Cooperation, engineering, math, physics)

We can curve it like the Coronado was, but not too much or it will be weak

“We can curve it like the Coronado was, but not too much or it will be weak”

Step 3: Cooperate for construction and evaluate each step of the way. (Skills: Hypothesis testing, critical thinking, cooperation, engineering, evaluating, envisioning). This phase was neat. They really had to exchange their ideas and work together to get the image they envisioned in their minds, into reality with their building materials.

engineering homeschool lesson

Putting it all together!

Step 4: Put the final touches on the project!

bridge design lesson plan

Celebrate a design well done!

Step 5: Evaluate and celebrate a job well done!

The family had a blast doing this summer learning Coronado Bridge Design project! Now it’s your turn! Print the Lesson Below and Get Building!  

Coronado Bridge Design Project
Use in conjunction with physics, engineering, design units. Make your own play dough and then design your own bridge!
Supply List for Coronado Bridge Design
  1. 4 Cups of Play Dough
  2. 20 Popsicle Sticks
  3. Black Paper represents land
  4. Blue Paper represents water
  1. Engineering, physics, math, measuring, critical thinking, design, cooperation, history.
I Believe in Joy!


Buckets of Fun Coronado Bridge

We had buckets of fun living this educational day with joy on the island, over the bridge, and right back into our own home. Thanks for coming along!

What has been your favorite structure to learn about and then create?





Invention Box

 Invention Box: The best invention I added to our daily routine.

There are days when I need 30 minutes to myself. Quietly. To do a few things I need to do. Like write this post for you.

For my children, I have a few high priorities. The first is definitely that they know the love that God and their parents have for them. The next is that they know their potential! I want my kids to know I believe in them. I believe they can create from within their own heart, soul, and mind. I want to be intentional about filling their hearts and minds with the belief that they can change the world!

I also do not believe in always doing FOR our children. I believe in facilitating the inventive spirit they already have! This is a HUGE passion of mine. I cannot hold their life forever. I can light a spark, but they must carry their own flame. I want to inspire them to think, create, be themselves – not a copy of me.

How could I combine all these prayers of my heart into one little box? It came to me one day and we created – The Invention Box!

invention box

Inside this little box is a spark that can change a child’s heart and our world – forever

 The Bigs were maybe 3 & 5 when I started doing this invention box. Now it is part of our family. They wrote the words Invention Box on it SO long ago and I cannot believe how much they have changed since I began doing this activity at home.

invention box creativity

Self-confidence, critical thinking, inventive spirit, courage, persistence – these are traits that I cannot buy my children. They must develop them individually.

As a teacher it is a passion of mine to develop the actual heart, mind, and inventive spirit of the child. So many times parents think they should be investing in expensive toys, learning programs, or the best “apps.” I tell them – let your kids create an Invention Box. Come back to me in a few weeks and tell me what you see.

Here is what I see:

Critical Thinking


Confidence with Unknown Elements


Inventive Spirit




Communication Skills

Confidence with Presenting

Pride in Accomplishment

The Visionary Skill = I Can Create Something From Nothing 

Love of Science, Engineering, Art, and Invention

These are just to name a few!

invention box

Never underestimate the power of allowing your children to do for themselves what they can only dream of at first. I am a visionary. They can be too. But not through my eyes. That makes a copy. I want them to have their own dreams.

1) What goes in it?

Variety of building textures: cardboard, fabrics, safe metals, papers, jars, and containers.

Old electronic parts like computer keyboards, old walkie talkies, monitors etc (batteries removed for choking safety).

Tape: at least 3 different kinds of  duct tape, fabric tape, or electrical tape etc.

Pair of child scissors for each child. 

NO GLUE (that was a bad outcome 😉 

Blunt bars, soft wires, or sponges = as many different safe building items you can find around the house.

Don’t feel like you need to go and buy items! That defeats the whole purpose. There are so many supplies you have in your home and garage that will work. For inventing, it can be items the children see every day BUT you are letting them create a NEW VISION for how to use them. That is the gift of invention. 

2) What are the Rules?

We have 1 rule: *** You may invent ANYTHING using anything in the box as long as you clean it ALL up when you are done. ** 

That is IT. I am telling you. Do not doubt your children. They have made the hugest messes and cleaned them ALL up because they do not want to lose Invention Box Time.

3) What do we do with the inventions when finished? 

For the actual invention: we keep the inventions for a few days, and then decide to disassemble it, repurpose it, or recycle it so they can invent a new one.

4) When do we do Invention Box?

We keep the box in a cabinet. They can ONLY have access to it when: I need to do an important phone call, during “special time” (see our homeschool schedule here), or when they have earned it and ask for it! Most of the time if they ask for it, I say YES!

Putting it all together: A real life example

Putting it all together: A real life example

Real Scenario:

One time they were at most 3 and 5 and created a “web” from yarn that stretched the entire living room and it was a “web that could catch real people.” I asked how it worked and they had members of the family stand at different parts of the web. We discuss their inventions and talk about how it would be implemented in real life, being CREATIVE. 

Then, I make real life applications, for example, “Did you know that in technology we have computer networks that actually catch people / connect people through something called an internet? It is a way to build networks and circles of people that are connected by streams of data and coding patterns.” Your invention reminds me of the connections needed between people around the world!

After making the connection I affirm them! For example, “Wow! Your web that you designed could be used as the plans for a software invention!” I get super excited every time we do Invention Box because it is a reflection of their hearts and what is on their mind.

Nothing I buy them can give them what I have watched develop in their minds and hearts since I started doing the Invention Box. 

Before long, I saw my girls start inventing everywhere, not just in the box. It became a lens through which they process the world. What a gift we as parents can watch unfold when we let go, and let inventive spirit fly!

Play is a child's work. It is the framework for which they learn to process their world.

Play is a child’s work. It is the framework for which they learn to process their world.

 If you do an inventive activity, will you please share it with me? I LOVE hearing about children’s inventions!


Hives on body from allergic reaction

My Allergic Reaction Story

My Allergic Reaction Story 

Hives (warning, these photos are gross, but yes they are me)

Hives on arm chemical allergic reaction
Hives on arm from allergic reaction

Hives allergic reaction to my arms, legs, face, throat, chest, and body.

Hives on legs allergic reaction
Hives on legs allergic reaction

I need you to understand my story to understand why I am an advocate for natural living and nutritional, organic, real food eating, with joy!

My entire body was covered, swollen and burning...but that was not the worst
My entire body was covered, swollen and burning…but that was not the worst

Once upon a time………….I woke up one day, threw on some clothes, began my day and OHHH I forgot to switch the laundry. So I ran back upstairs, put the wet clothes in the dryer, and turned it on. I did not have time for breakfast so I grabbed a cookie from the fridge that I had made the day before. (This was obviously PRE Complete Transformation to natural living and eating, but it’s the truth and nothin but the truth!)

I had no idea a few moments later I would look like this – 


So what happened?!

Well, I snacked on that handful of cookies and ran around doing my normal day. I did a few loads of laundry, had another snack, drank some juice, changed a few baby diapers, and went back to doing laundry.

All of a sudden my legs starting itching. Then my chest. Then my back. Then my face felt hot. My legs, chest, arms, and face went from an uncomfortable itch to an excruciating burning feeling. I lifted my clothes and OH MY GOSH I was covered in bulging burning hives. They grew bigger and bigger. I realized they covered my entire body. Not only hives, but swelling started. It got insanely worse in a matter of seconds I looked twice my size and in burning swollen pain. I immediately jumped in the shower and washed my skin – thinking that whatever was in my new laundry detergent was causing a severe allergy. I tried to rinse off as much of the chemical as possible.

 I turned my head to call out for my husband, and that is when my voice went hoarse and I knew that swelling was not stopping and we needed emergent care.

The photos you are seeing in this blog are AFTER urgent care completely brought the hives and swelling down and sent me home. These photos are MILD compared to what it originally was.

I was lucky.

I went home alive.

On the first night back home my tongue swelled again and I had to return to urgent care.  I HAVE A PHOTO OF THIS BUT the tongue swelling photo is so gross – that  I will not publish it because it will seriously gross you all out. UGGGH it is horrible. Really, really, horrible. 

Once the allergic reaction was under control, we went to a specialist to see what happened. In a completely shortened version of a very long consultation this was the basic response.

Specialist: Do you know what is in the food and products on shelves now Joy? (Me- that naive at the time) “No.”

Specialist: Do you know how many chemicals have been created that are now in food, detergents, everything we put on our bodies every day Joy? (Me-that naive at the time). “No.”

Specialist: There are not even tests to show the amount of chemicals that exist now in all the products on the store shelves, the packaged foods, the drinks, the soaps, detergents, lotions, make-ups, products -there are manufactured chemicals in everything. Yes Joy, this reaction seems to have been triggered by the laundry detergent. But the continued allergic reactions points to your body alerting you to more allergens in your environment.  We can run some tests. I also want you to start paying attention to your body. What you put on it. What you put into it. Have you stopped to read the labels on the foods you eat? For this one chemical (we were discussing a preservative that could be causing my allergy as well), there are 16 different names it is listed under. 

I will never forget sitting in this allergist specialist office and looking at this man sitting across from me, (who spent a compassionate 1-2 hours with me), and hearing the chemicals I was putting into and on my body every day. I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed. I felt betrayed but not sure at who – who do I blame? The food companies? The chemical manufacturing companies? The educational system for not telling me this? The advertising that I drive by on the road every day saying, “Run for the Border, Golden Arches, TGIF?” The moisturizers, the cleaning products, the chemicals marketed every day on commercials and media that we are “supposed to need?”When I sat there pondering this, the realization came to me as he spoke, that my health is my choiceI wanted health with joy. And then he said the words that I will never forget.

Specialist: Joy, you need to go to real foods. You need to go to whole fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains or seeds. You need to start there. See how your body adjusts. Slowly introduce things one at a time and watch how your body responds. If you have to read a label to find out the chemicals in it, then don’t eat it. If you can see the whole food ingredients right away, then eat it. Here are a few more prescriptions to keep your body from reacting so strongly to the allergens right now. We will continue running tests as needed. There are natural ways to benefit your immune system using nutrition that I also recommend looking into.

I went home.

I have a family of 5.

I have 3 daughters depending on me.

I have a husband I adore and want to grow old with.

The food industry, media, and chemical manufacturing are not going to stop what they are doing today just because I had a life threatening reaction. 

HAD to make the change.

The allergic reaction may have nearly killed me, but it gave me the motivation I needed to fully live with joy.

After meeting with the specialist I decided, I will do whatever it takes to be as healthy as possible, using natural living, organic produce, real foods, and eliminating as many chemicals from our daily lives as possible.

That was the start of my new life. 

food plate

Every day I eat as close to 9-13 organic fruits and vegetables as I can. We cleaned our house of processed snacks and chemical full foods. Every day  I drink water. Every day I take a brief walk. Every day I pay attention to what I eat and what I put on my body. Not just myself, but my whole family. Not with the intention to stress, with the freedom knowing that I am living naturally with joy!


We have a family motto – “We Don’t Give Up.” As parents we have spoken this motto to our children over and over. Whether it was for homework, trying a new gymnastics skill, or the pain of moving and making new friends for the 6th time in two years. This motto we repeated over and over to our children. But for the first time, one of them said it back to me….

I came home from that specialist visit and was crying at the kitchen table because I had no idea how to switch our family to more whole foods, avoid the allergens,  avoid the laundry soap chemicals and avoid so many chemicals all around me. The world suddenly seemed like a new place. There were unrealized enemies in my cupboards, fridge, and cabinets. I was overwhelmed. I put my head in my hands and cried.

“Mom”, my 4 year old said, “We do NOT give up.” Her eyes, the window to her soul, spoke only truth. She needs me. She is counting on me. I do not care if I have to turn this home inside out. I will do what it takes to live with joy – healthy and complete joy – again.

This started my journey to wellness with joy.

Welcome to my life.

I am not just a nurse.

I am a Mom who went through an allergic reaction myself and I found joyful wellness through nutrition.

The day I had the allergic reaction could be considered awful. I now consider it the road to something more beautiful. My mission for my children is to share the joy of natural living and organic, real food eating, before the chemical overload. Before the body cries out for help. Before perhaps obesity, or poor nutrition, or disease steals a life too soon. Before the 4 year old looks up at you and says do not give up Mom, please do not give up.


For me the journey past the allergy reaction and into nutrition and natural living has been life changing. I was not setting out to lose any weight, but I lost 20 pounds. Holistic health with joy was my goal, transformation was an added gift. I cannot remember the last prescription I have filled for my children for antibiotics, they miss far less school due to illness, and they have had extremely healthy immune responses since they have been on this journey with me. My husband decided if I were doing this, he would to. He has also lost over 50 pounds and gained energy, strength, and joy.

I Believe in Joy!

I can still hear her little voice that day…..

“Mom, We Don’t Give Up.”


There are so many people who need to hear the same message no matter what they face. If I can write this journal entry, and just ONE person reads it – if ONE person hears me say to them right now –

“You CAN do this, DO NOT GIVE UP!” 

Then everything I went through is worth it. I am here right now, writing this post for you. Don’t give up. Whatever it is, I believe if we have breath in our lungs, it is for a purpose and we can choose joy. I am rooting for you!

Joyful Learning with my 3 Girls

This story was personal. May the blessings reach far.

From our family to yours,  

Joy @