If I Were Going to Make Some Resolutions…

Y’all know how I feel about resolutions.  I keep them about as well as I keep my house clean, which I do almost as well as I speak Gaelic.  And nope, I don’t speak Gaelic!

If I were going to make some resolutions, I’d go all out though.  In my dream life, this is what 2010 would look like….

1.  My house is going to be spotless.  90% of our belongings will mysteriously disappear and there will be enough space to roller skate through.  I’ll come downstairs in the morning, take one look and just sigh contentedly at our beautiful, peaceful home.

2.  We are going to do way more homeschooling, and it’ll all be fabulously creative.  There will be hours of science experiments, lapbooks, homemade history games, Shakepearean plays, algebra art projects, you name it.  The kids will never be bored because there will be so much intellectual and creative stimulation.  Their brains will nearly double in size.

3.  I’ll keep myself up impeccably.  I’ll shower and do my hair each morning and even shave my legs.  I’ll put on makeup and look so fabulous that when Victoria starts snapping photos of me in the living room I won’t have to bribe her with chocolate to delete them off Flickr.  I’ll even wear a bra on days I’m not going anywhere.  Fancy, huh?

4.  I’ll put my book in order and send it to more publishers, submit those articles I wrote to magazines, write the Magical Homeschool book I’ve been wanting to write for years and do book signings at places like Barnes and Nobles in strange cities to captivated audiences.

5.  I’ll spend way more time with each child — marvelous one on one time.  I’ll make the day magical with each one, every day.  I’ll also find a way to help solve all of their problems.  I’ll also spend more time with Daryl and find a way to fix his legs, take away his pain and make his life generally more wonderful.

Yeah.  That’s why I don’t do resolutions.  I sort of aim a wee high.

I’ll add one more, though.

6.  I’ll do something about that tacky couch.  And the broken fridge.  And spay the cat.

Betcha I can fulfill one this year for sure!

10 Places to Visit…

Before they disappear.

This list from the Mother Nature Network has spectacular photographs and heartbreaking places on the list.  Venice?  The Great Barrier Reef?  The Alps?  Yikes.  This is beautiful, depressing, educational and just plain important.  And did I mention the photography?  Considering the pictures all seem to be via Flickr, they’re pretty amazing.  Flickr rocks.  🙂

Latest Writing

Just sharing some of my latest articles….

Homeschool stuff:

Homeschool Resolutions NOT to make this year

NASA helps educators search for free lesson plans, materials and more

Five fun math games to play today

Attachment Parenting stuff:

Taiwan to fine those who interfere with mothers nursing in public

Attachment Parenting 101: Ten reasons “crying it out” is bad for babies

Celebrity breastfeeding quotes

Celebrity moms (and dads!) help make slings fashionable

Fun Stuff:

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Icy Science! (Okay, not so much science as just plain fun)

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

We’re getting back in the swing of homeschooling around here.  Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to…

1. We’re reading book two (Utah) of the “Wright on Time” homeschool series.  (Geography, social studies, reading)

2.  We’ve been sledding, taking walks and playing in the snow.  (PE)

3.  The girls have been taking photographs like crazy.  They’ve taken some beautiful pictures and I’ll share some once we get them online.  I subscribed to an inexpensive photography magazine to support their new hobby.  (Art)

4.  Anna spent the day at her friend Addie’s house today.  Christmas vacation is fun because you can hang out with your public school friends during the day again.  🙂 (Socialization!)

5.  We played Blackjack.  Alex is a fan.  😉  (Math)

6. Victoria finished reading “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.”  (Reading, literature, history)

7.  We made up some matching cards for Alex, using index cards and pictures cut from magazines.  We’ve been making matching games to play with him, such as concentration.  He also likes to say the names of the objects since some of them are new words for him.  Each set of cards has two pictures of a type of thing (like dogs, eyes, balls and cars) but the pictures themselves are different.  (Vocabulary, memory, fun, art)

8.  Daryl has been cooking with the kids, as usual.  Some of the latest goodies– sunny day cheese biscuits and Scotch pancakes.  They’ve had to do some math to convert Scotch pancakes from the original recipe (in weight and different measurements) and we also learned about the differences between English, Scotch and American pancakes plus the reasons some countries did not have yeast breads.  (Home ec, math, social studies)

9.  Anna has a new subscription to New Moon Girls magazine and online community and she’s been writing short stories, leaving messages, making new online friends, drawing logos and artwork to submit, and reading through other girls’ submissions.  (Reading, creative writing, socialization, art)

10.  Jack, Anna and Victoria have been reading for pleasure.  They’ve read everything from Psychology Today to Us Magazine to Paddington Bear to The Magic Schoolbus to Harry Potter to an entire set of E.B. White books this week.  Daryl and I have been reading to Alex.  (Reading, social studies, science)

They’ve done lots of other fun stuff– tons of art and drawings, building elaborate creations with bristle blocks, making up songs, writing plays, calling friends, playing online, having snowball fights, asking questions, making playdough… and lots of fighting, complaining, bemoaning, bewailing, bickering and being crazy-making at times too, lest things sound too ideal!

It’s been a nice few days.  I’m hoping to do some really fun HS stuff this week too.  We might as well take advantage of this cold and do some fun homebody things!

Just a Little Snow

I took the boys for a walk today and pulled Alex in the sled.  It was bitterly cold but bright and sparkling white everywhere.  Jack had quite an adventure even navigating our front yard!

Here’s Jack giving Alex a hand to pull him into our yard.  🙂

I got quite a workout pulling Alex and sometimes Jack too.  Poor Alex’s face was bright red by the time we were done and he still kept saying, “No, more walk!  More walk!”.   He loves to go on walks (or rides!).

I’ve also been enjoying watching the birds at the feeder.  My computer desk is by a window looking down at them and I love watching the bossy blue jays chase away all the little sparrows and then watching them all flock back again.  It may be cold, but it’s still so pretty.

I am still not a fan of winter, but I have to admit it can be a tiny bit magical.  🙂

White Christmas

We had a lovely snowed in Christmas! Our area was in a snow emergency and they canceled Christmas church services, advised against any travel and basically told everybody to stay home with their families. What a lovely idea!

We had already opened our presents on the solstice but the kids each had a present from Santa to open on Christmas morning. I also filled their stockings with little things I could make and find, especially with an old fashioned feel. I printed out foldable cardstock toys and a gnome bowling game, gave them each a clementine and gathered up a few odd presents I had stashed for emergency gifts. They loved them all!

Santa brought each of the kids a camera, which made them all thrilled. Most of them, anyway. Jack was in a mood for the first half of the day but he eventually warmed up and loved his Sponge Bob camera. Alex’s was a toy John Deere camera that made farm animal sounds. Anna got a video camera for all of her songs, stories, plays and music videos. Victoria got a used Elph (an older version of my camera) and she’s taken some amazing photos with it.

We lost the internet on Christmas Eve and didn’t get it back until last night. I actually rather liked it, and it was a good way to force us all to do family stuff! We also lost phone service for most of Christmas Day. Luckily we have cell phones for emergencies, like calling Grandma and singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” 🙂

We had a fabulous Christmas feast, played dice games, read stories, watched bad TV (what channels we had that weren’t knocked out by the storm), did art and played.

Anna even ventured out in the snow to take pictures. She got bunches of wonderful ones and then accidentally deleted them all by reformatted her camera’s hard drive. Luckily she got some more wonderful ones the next day… and then accidentally deleted them a new way. We’re really hoping she doesn’t delete any today!

Yesterday the kids trekked the block to visit a friend who’s up from North Carolina. It took 20 minutes to make it there and back, but she wasn’t home. We went on a sledding walk instead and it was snowy and magical.

At some point we’re driving to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to spend time with them and open/deliver presents. The roads are still too bad today. Maybe tomorrow!

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A Change in Christmas Plans

We were supposed to be going
to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas
like every year.
But we’re getting a whole lot of snow
and some ice on top of it
and the roads won’t be safe for days.

We always have our family celebration
on the winter solstice
when we open our presents to each other
and have our feast
and then a few days later
we head to Grandma & Grandpa’s house
for Christmas Eve and Christmas.

We’ve already had our family celebration.
The feast is over.
The presents are opened.
We’ll have to wait to open the presents
waiting for us there
and skip the traditional
Christmas morning breakfast
of cookies and Czechoslovakian fruit soup.

Santa will bring one present to leave under the tree
for each child, just like always
(he usually comes when we’re away
and it’s very exciting to come home
to find that last, special present).
I think we will find some old fashioned goodies
to put in the stockings–
an orange each, some handmade toys…
and we’ll play games and we’ll figure out a new feast.

The world will be white.
The house will be warm.
We’ll be together.
It sounds perfect.

My Review of the "Wright on Time" Homeschool Book One

I reviewed the first book in the “Wright on Time” series at the Examiner today.  You can read it here.

I listed pros and cons, which was hard for me to do since I like the author and want the series to succeed  — and because I read the dozens of reviews other bloggers posted who received review copies and every single one is fantastically positive. I felt like a twit in comparison.

That said, I am just honest to a fault and can’t see much use in a critique that’s not 100% authentic.

I still recommend the series, more so because I can do it with my honest opinion.    Check it out and see what you think.  🙂

3 Cool Links and Solstice Fun

1.  The People Speak brings history to life by having actors read famous words by famous Americans, like Susan B. Anthony’s speech to the judge at her suffrage trial or Matt Damon reading the Declaration of Independence.

2.  This dry erase paint could transform a wall into a pretty cool schoolroom/playroom feature!  We put dry erase panels up for the walls of our basement playroom for this purpose (I think they’re meant for bathrooms, just shiny white panels that happen to be dry erase and were also cheap!).  Our kids LOVE to draw and write messages on the walls.   🙂  I also painted the inner panels on Victoria’s door with blackboard paint to make another fun surface to draw/write on.  I got that in spray paint for about $3.

3.  A friend asked for more story starters and I found a bunch of sites that have pretty neat ones, including one that even has a fun machine kids can use to generate the ideas here (sorry, examiner is long gone and the wayback machine doesn’t have this one so I can’t provide a link anymore).

Tonight started our family holiday tradition.  Since we celebrate Christmas with Daryl’s family, we have our private holiday on the solstice.  The night before (tonight), we open one present each, and the morning of the solstice (the shortest day of the year) is our Christmas morning.  We’ll open all of our presents ,  spend the day together and have our family feast.

Then we’ll have a day off and start all over again.  🙂

If you want to try our little solstice ritual, here’s what it is.  I found it online years ago and have no idea where it originated, but our kids have always loved doing it.  This is from a newletter I sent out years ago, when we only had two little girls….

red lighted candle

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

The winter solstice is the shortest day (and longest night) of the year.  This year, it’s December 21.  To commemorate it one year, we used a fun little ceremony I found online that we adapted.  After dark, we turned out all the lights in the house but one and gathered at the table.  We lit a candle, turned out the last light, and talked about the seasons, the sun, and how tonight was the longest night of the year.  The kids blew out the candle and we said, “But the light was still there” and lit the candle again.  Then we said that the days were now going to get longer and the sun was coming back, and we ran through the house turning on every light and shouting some nonsense about the sun.  🙂  It’s a fun little ritual that the girls enjoyed. Since I’m a garden nut and love my summers, it’s a nice reminder for me too that we’ll have more than 42 minutes of daylight soon enough.  <G>

If you want to expand on the solstice thing with the kiddos, look up the sunset and sunrise times for the past few days and the next few days and see what the changes will be.

And with that, I’m off to go downstairs and finish the last of the millions of homemade Christmas cards with the kids!  Talk about down to the wire!  Tsk!  🙂

Gratitude, Part two

To continue with yesterday’s gratitude post, here’s 10 new things I’m grateful for and the promised holiday pic.

1.  That my little guy is sleeping somewhat peacefully, despite being sick and feverish and having an all-around tough day.

2.  For getting to play and review the HS-family-created Bailout! board game today.

3.  For getting to play math games on the bed with my 11 y/o and 2 y/o in the middle of the day to finally remember those pesky 7 facts and having all of us laughing like crazy.

4.  For fresh baked Snickerdoodles.

5.  For the freedom to homeschool.

6.  For family friends who are coming down to see the kids because they miss them (and us!).

7.  For having so many children’s books that I keep giving boxes of them away on Freecycle (and still having too many for our many bookshelves).

8.  For the internet.

9.  For still having a freezer full of goodies like red and green pepper strips and sliced apples from the farmers’ market and bountiful trees last fall.

10. For online HS blogs and friends who inspire me, make me think and make me smile.

This was not the winning holiday card photo, but it makes me smile because it reflects the kids so well.

But not as much as this one.  😉