Manic Monday

Phew!  Life has been busy these days!  Right this minute, Victoria is stirring my mushrooms for the best mushroom soup in the world (courtesy Tiffany, courtesy Moosewood Cookbook), Daryl is prepping the salad, the popovers are in the oven, Anna is watching Alex in the basement and Jack is… doing something clever and destructive I’ll wager!  😉

Victoria just informed me that I’d forgotten to blog so I should do it right away.  Ha.  Take that, now she’s on mushroom duty!

So…. what we’ve been up to, in 10 seconds or less:

  • We went to see “Ice Age 3” for free at the lovely old theater in Windom on Saturday.  The local businesses give it to the community every weekend during December.  The movie was surprisingly funny!  I recommend it, and I’m not usually a big kid movie fan.
  • The kids are doing tons of art.  Surprised?  Me neither!
  • Anna is re-reading the Harry Potter series.
  • Victoria is reading some new book that she really likes.  We ordered it from the library after it was recommended by one of you fabulous people in the comments.  I’ll find out which one and post it!
  • We have a new (to us) laptop, courtesy a fabulous friend from afar.  Daryl and the kids are so happy to have a working computer to use.  Victoria immediately wanted to use Microsoft Word to write a report.  That’s my girl.  😉
  • I wrote a review of the new Carschooling book.  I’ll share it later but you can skip ahead and read it here if you’re in a hurry.
  • The kids and I are reading the first book in the new homeschool series “Wright on Time” together.  We’re about half done and so far we’re learning about Arizona, caves, bats, stalagmites, stalactites and minerals.  I’ll post a review of that when we’re done, along with the kids’ reviews.
  • Daryl and the kids are still baking/cooking every day.  Today it was raisin oatmeal cookies with Jack.  Yum!  They doubled the recipe so Jack figured out what problems like 3/4 cup times two were.  He did great.
  • Victoria watched more of The Living Body DVD.  Jack and Anna have declared it too “gross” to watch since there’s lots of camera shots in people’s small intestines and such.  It’s very well done and the photography is amazing.
  • I picked up tea party stuff at the Salvation Army in Mankato — tiny saucers from various states and countries, mismatched teacups and a little pitcher that we store in a basket.  The kids have been having a blast having tea parties with it.  They’re learning a little bit of geography from the saucers (from everywhere from Barbados to Wisconsin) and since things cost 50 cents at the most I’m happy to let them play with it all.

No surprise, but I didn’t finish posting this while cooking my soup!  That’s a bit of what our day (and weekend) was like.  I really will post more soon with pics and deep thoughts and fun HS ideas….

A Trip to the Science Museum

We’re back from our Thanksgiving trip to see the in-laws and I’m back to catch up on what we’ve been doing lately.  Here’s some pics of our trip to the Science Museum in Sioux Falls with our fabulous HS friend Jeanne and her 3 fabulous kiddos.  We don’t get to see them nearly enough and love getting to spend time with them.  🙂

Here’s a bit of the fun…

This was so cool! Kids moved this ball with their brain waves and tried to push it all the way to the opponent’s space.  The more calm and relaxed you are, the more you can move the ball.  Tricky!

And don’t believe that guy.

Yes, it does hurt.  🙂

It’s not torture, but it’s sharp nails poking you all over.

I am not a fan.

Victoria still wanted to try, but mostly agreed with me

We survived though, and managed to have a super fabulous time even with our naps on beds of nails!

We’ve vowed to go more often.

Yay science!

New Book Series About a Homeschool Family

I am so excited about the new “Wright on Time” book series about the adventures of a homeschool family!  Not only does it sound like neat characters but the author focuses on showing how families can be close and they learn about geography and more with every adventure, since each book is in a different state.

I interviewed the author and you can read it here.

We’re off to Mankato for the Thanksgiving holiday so I will probably be gone for a few days.  Happy Thanksgiving!  See you in a few days!

Monday's Log…

… is full of grace?  Hmm.  Nevermind.  I should never compose blog entries at 1 a.m. when I’m sleepy, particularly when I’ve had to write serious things all day.  😉

Anyway, here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to.  No pictures except for the book.  I’m too sleepy for Flickr!


  • We read Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving (affiliate link) and it is fabulous.  It’s about the lady who was behind making Thanksgiving a real holiday and she was so cool!  She did so many awesome things — was the first female magazine editor, campaigned against spanking children and wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” among other things.  It took her 38 years and a ton of work to finally convince a president to make the day official and the book celebrates her tenacity and her spirit with a delightful tone.  Get it.  I insist.  Even if it’s after Thanksgiving.  What a treasure!
  • Victoria made a ton of tiny homemade clay creations and painted them in bright paint.  They’re darling.
  • Alex threw bits of homemade playdough all over the kitchen, dining room and living room.  Oh, and I think he may have played with it a bit.  But mostly the first one.
  • The kids have been having tea parties with apple cider, using little souvenir dishes from various states and tiny wine glasses that Victoria got at a thrift store for pennies.
  • Anna has been writing Ms. Rowling some more.  Now that she found out about the essay contest to write an author, she’s even more into it.
  • Alex has been talking more and we’ve been trying to write up long lists of every word he knows.  I don’t know why but I’ve done that with all of my kids and I love the lists!
  • I gave the kids challenges like finding all the words they could in the words “Thanksgiving Feast” together (cooperation, tricky, eh?) and played other language arts games.
  • I started reading “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” to the three older kids.  It ties in nicely with learning about Thanksgiving and the puritans right now.
  • I was the highest ranking examiner for Minneapolis for part of the day today and lots of yesterday because of an article I wrote about Melissa and Doug toys being recalled in Canada, which isn’t really being written about elsewhere in the U.S. so far from what I can tell.  It was cool being up above the big boys, but a shame it was for that reason.
  • The big kids are drawing like crazy and reading like crazy, as always.
  • Daryl has been cooking with the kids every day.  Today he made pumpkin scones from an Australian recipe and then he and Victoria invented an apple scone recipe.  It was very tasty and I recommended drizzling a bit of homemade glaze on it, which added a nice little touch.  It was a good collaboration!
  • I got complimentary copies of a magazine that published one of my articles.  That was nice.  They misspelled my web site and referred people to a store instead.  That wasn’t so nice.  But the art with the article is beautiful and it’s always nice to be published.
  • The kids played, went to the library with Daddy, watched TV in all different genres (from Discovery to PBS to Sponge Bob) and played and played.
  • At one point, Alex was napping upstairs and the rest of us were all in a noisy horde in the kitchen.  We were all doing our own things but all together, and in the midst of the noise and chaos I realized it was a really nice day.

And with that, I’m outta here.  Tomorrow we’re heading to Sioux Falls to meet our fabulous friend Jeanne and her fabulous kids at the science museum and I can’t wait.  It should be a great day!

Thanksgiving Science, Crafts and More

I thought some of you might be interested in the Thanksgiving themed articles I wrote for the Examiner this week…

Thanksgiving Science Fun is full of T-day facts, easy science experiments and cool info (know how turkey pop-up timers work?  it’s really cool and you can reuse them).

How Should We Teach Kids About Thanksgiving? talks about balancing our desire to teach accurate history with wanting to preserve a sweet tradition for kids.  I linked to good historical sites, lesson plans, serious stuff and plain old fun.

Tips, Crafts and Activities for Thankful Children has easy crafts, simple ways to encourage gratitude and other fun stuff to celebrate the spirit of giving thanks.

Thus ends this segment of self promotion!  😉

My Grateful List: The Homeschool Version

We made a thankful tree yesterday and listed things we were thankful for on the leaves.  I’ve been paying extra attention to counting my blessings lately and thought it would be fun to do a grateful list for homeschool stuff.

Here’s a few of the HS related things I’m grateful for…

  • The library
  • Netflix
  • Homeschool Days at the Petroglyphs
  • Homeschool ice skating
  • The MAHE group in Mankato
  • Fun area homeschoolers like Erica and Nancy
  • Getting to travel during the off season
  • Impromptu science experiments at the kitchen table
  • My HS email groups
  • Challenges like those at Unplug Your Kids
  • The internet
  • State parks and nature centers
  • HS discounts at places like Barnes and Noble
  • The freedom to decide how we want to educate our kids
  • The Minnesota Homeschool Alliance
  • Long distance HS friends to visit like Tiffany & kids
  • Medium distance HS friends to visit like Lonni & kids
  • Getting to study whatever we fancy
  • Afternoons of superheroes, wizard school and other imagation-filled play
  • No dress code, no uniforms, no keeping up with what’s “in”
  • Sleeping in
  • Closeness as a family
  • Long talks
  • Lapbooking
  • Art projects
  • Conferences for the kids
  • HS pajama parties in the park

That’s just a drop in the bucket, but a certain 6 year-old boy has just come in and serenaded me on his guitar with a song he wrote for me.  I guess I’m going to sit in on a concert now.  There’s something to be very grateful for.  🙂

A Typical Day?

I don’t know if we’ve had a typical homeschool day in our lives and I don’t know if anything could be typical for us since it’s always different.  Today may not have been typical but it was an “us” kind of day…

hydrogen peroxide experiment

  • We did a hydrogen peroxide experiment on damaged cells to test a hypothesis, which involved everything from potato slices to crushed leaves to cheese.  (Yes, I’ll write it all up and share it when I get a minute!)
  • We watched part of the “Inside the Living Body” DVD until I got too tired of Jack complaining it was boring and Anna complaining it was gross and I went upstairs to write.  🙂
  • Daryl took Jack and Victoria to the library.
  • Jack and I shot hoops in the kitchen with his new portable basketball hoop.  When Alex lost his ball we made one out of a rolled up sock.  We had many rematches and competitions.
  • Anna asked me to narrate sentences for her to write, like “I would really like a hamster.”  She wrote them in cursive and printing.
  • Victoria discovered a new blog she enjoys, which is passive aggressive notes about children.  She loves blogs like Inappropriate Parentheses, Cake Wrecks and other reader-contributed blogs.
  • Anna finished the first Harry Potter book, with much shouting and celebration.  Apparently she had never finished book 1 because she got book 2 and was too excited to finish the first.  Now that she is about to finish book 7 she wanted to go back and finish the very first book.  In any case, she’s about to be done with all of them and who knows what will fill her days and nights then.
  • I read new library books to Jack, and Anna and Alex gravitated over to join in.
  • The kids watched various PBS shows (and non).
  • Anna made potions.
  • Victoria played on a science and math site called Brain Cake.
  • The kids did chores, but not as many as they should have.  Same goes for me.  🙂
  • Daryl and Victoria drove to Windom to see “New Moon” on opening night.  Victoria briefed Daddy on the first movie on the way.  They had popcorn for dinner and Victoria came home quite happy.
  • Annalee made dinner, which consisted of fried eggs and Spaghettios.  Anna is a great short order cook and can do eggs perfectly, “sunny side up or runny side up.”
  • It’s nearly midnight and Daryl, Anna and Victoria are on the bed behind me playing Anna’s new Monopoly card game.  This is round three, since they had so much fun the first two times.

I don’t know if it’s typical and it certainly isn’t normal, but it was a good day.  🙂

Update from 9 years later:  I just found this post and I never did post about that hydrogen peroxide experiment.  I barely remember it now, and that it had something to do with knowing that hydrogen peroxide reacts to damaged cells and then seeing how various natural items (cut potato, intact leaf, hot dog, etc.) would react in various states. We’ll have to recreate it with the younger kids and try again to post about it!  Here are a couple of photos of it, though.

hydrogen peroxide potato

hydrogen peroxide hot dog

(Further side note:  My present day health nut self is slightly horrified at how we ate that day!)


Shady Drive-Inn Snapshots

After our busy day at the Petroglyphs on Monday we stopped at the Shady Drive-Inn in Storden (population over 200, thank you very much) on the way home so I wouldn’t have to cook supper.

The Shady Drive-Inn burned down a couple of years ago and the new digs are fabulous.  We loved it before but we especially love the new look.

We had all sorts of great midwestern diner food, from fried cheese curds to Wisconsin cheese soup to fried cauliflower with (you guessed it) cheese sauce and even a few non-cheese items.  The kids got pop (Alex was fooled by a pop can of water) and we all left stuffed and happy.

I had to share this picture, which looked sweet at first glimpse when I downloaded it.  Then I saw the look on my boy’s face.  He is the king of goofy looks!  🙂

Today we had a fabulous playdate at Erica’s house and then a rather horendous shopping experience in the big city of Worthington to get groceries and run a billion errands.  I developed a massive migraine that nearly downed me but we all survived.

I can’t think of a single educational thing we did today, but the girls found ice skates for a dollar and pretties at a thrift shop while the boys and I played at Erica’s.  Alex got to play with his little buddy Oliver and big brother Clay and the Jacks got to play together.  And I got to yap with Erica and brought home truffles from the grocery store, so I guess it all turned out okay.  🙂

Now if you’ll excuse me, a certain two year old fell asleep on the way home and in my migraine-induced insanity I let him sleep, so I’m on night shift with a manic toddler.

Wish me luck!

Homeschool Day at the Petroglyphs

I wrote up a news bit about our HS day at the petroglyphs and included a slide show of lots of the fun stuff we did here.  We had a relatively small turnout (13 kids) but I think everybody  had fun and I got good feedback.  In the slide show you’ll see the kids even assembled a tipi themselves!  This was the first time they did that with the kids and they tried out the program on our group.  The kids also got to flintknap their own arrowheads so they got to do lots of really authentic stuff, which is one thing I love about events at the petroglyphs.

I’ve been doing these events for years now and part of me loves to run them and part of me is discouraged that local HS families just don’t turn out.  One mom traveled 3 hours with her 2 daughters and 2 HS friends and said she’s interested in taking part again, yet most of the local families have never driven the 20 minutes to check it out.

I guess I’ll continue to run them as long as even one other family shows up and as long as the petroglyphs lets me (they often lose money on the events because they bring in staff that would otherwise be off since they’re closed).  I really think we put out wonderful programs and it’s worth the trouble.  🙂