10 Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

I’m enjoying a rare moment of quiet and calm and thought I’d pop over for an update.  Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to….

1.  Daryl and the girls are busy with rehearsals for the Wilder Pageant.  They have a week and a half left until opening night, and then the play will run for the next 3 weekends.  This year, the stars who played Nellie and Almanzo (how is that spelled again???) are coming to visit.  That should be fun.  Victoria and Anna both have a slew of friends on the cast too, so it’s especially nice for them.

2.  We had our town’s Fun Days last weekend and Daryl taught folks about old fashioned instruments like the dulcimer and the history behind them (which is actually pretty interesting!).  We toured the museum (which is the railroad depot that the town was built around 100 years ago) but it’s a no-touching kind of museum so we toured it quickly!  Anna wore her pageant costume and helped out, while Alex stomped in puddles off to the side.  Jack mostly drove me crazy.

3.  Victoria got some Tokio Hotel CD’s in German and has been listening to them nonstop.  She likes the German versions better than the English.  She’s still working on learning German so as to better understand her favorite band.  😉

4.  Jack and I talked about how the street names are designed and how to find your way based on what street you’re on.  In our town, the streets are named after trees in alphabetical order on our side of 1st Avenue — Ash, Birch, Cedar, Elm… Yes, they skipped D and didn’t think of Dogwood (on the other side of First it’s historic figures).  We talked about odd house numbers always being on one side and even on the other, and how to find your way from anywhere in town just based on knowing your numbers and your alphabet.  Of course, living in a town roughly the size of a Walmart parking lot makes that pretty easy too.  😉

5.  I’m STILL reading “The House of Dies Drear” to Anna.  Victoria likes it too, so when I accidentally read without her two nights in a row I had to read those chapters all over again and catch her up.  I secretly like the fact that my moody twelve-year-old really wants me to read to her too, but don’t tell her that!

6.  Jack passed swimming class, level one.  Way to go, Jack!

7.  Some old friends who moved away years ago came back to town this week for an anniversary party, so we got to visit with them again.  They used to homeschool but gave it up after the fourth child and put the kids in a Christian school.  The mom said she couldn’t keep up with curricula and I said neither can I.  It’s a shame when the “school at home” business drives families away from homeschooling.  They seem to be happy and doing well though, and Anna loved playing with her old friend Jessica again.

(I have no idea why Jack is scowling in this picture.  He had a ball the whole time but he has a propensity for looking miserable or mad in every picture!)

8.  The farmers’ market started up again.  I am now officially happy, happy, happy.  I loooooooooooove our farmers’ market. Today I scooped up cabbage, beets, snap peas, lettuce and rhubarb.  I bought extra snap peas from the Chinese booth because of how sweet they were, and the man tried to sell me some bark I could boil to treat “precancer.”  I love having a guy I can go talk to if I want bark to treat precancer but I’m a bit lost as to how a person would know to treat it.  “I have a feeling I’ll be getting cancer soon.  Do you have something for me?” I must be missing something.  On the bright side, it also treats kidney stones and several unmentionable things, so it’s quite duel purpose.

9.  Jack has been playing lots of physics games online.

10. Jack and Anna took part in pirate day at the library club.  I happen to think they make darling pirates.

There’s also been a billion books and squirt painting and walks every day and playing in the park and fireworks in the front yard (we live across the street from where they set them off, so friends come and sit on our lawn swings with us and watch the show!) and gardening and long talks and algebra videos and yapping on the phone with friends.

Next up this week… getting together with friends, getting together with some other friends, doing some more ant science, finishing Dies Drear, reviewing an educational science book I get to check out, recognizing some funny and serious July holidays, and cleaning the living room.  Maybe I’ll promise myself chocolate to get that last one done.

What are your plans?

Interior Design & the Science of Cast Iron

We were in a thrift store last week and Victoria and I spotted the perfect design book to describe my decorating style…

And in order to make this homeschool related…

On a related homemaking note, here’s the science behind seasoning a cast iron pan!  Do you know which oil will produce the safest, healthiest, hardest, most nonstick finish — and why???  Handy AND educational!  🙂

When Do We Get to This Homeschooling Business?

Egads, life gets busy with the pageant and summer craziness!

I keep meaning to finish this algebra curriculum I’m reviewing and days pass between times we get to it.  It’s a shame, since Jack was rocking at it and I really need to hurry and post the review, but summer is so chaotic.

What happened to lazy summer days?  Daryl and the girls are busy with the pageant every night from about 5:30 on, which means we have really early suppers.  We just finished Jack’s swimming lessons, which ran daily from noon to one (he passed!) and there’s library club and events we’re helping out at and all of these little things that eat away at the days.

Tomorrow is the start of our town’s “Fun Days,” which means it’s a sort of carnival atmosphere (minus any rides or real attractions).  Daryl is teaching old time instruments like dulcimers, spoons and washboards at the museum.  There will be mayhem in the park and fireworks across from our house in the evening.

There may be a parade.  I hope not.  I absolutely loathe the Minnesota tradition of hurling small, stale, cheap, junky candy by the fistful into the street for children to gather up like beggars as tanks, tractors and fire trucks roll towards them.  Is that just a Minnesota thing or is that all over now?  I am not a fan.

Fun Days will continue Sunday.  That will be plenty of fun for me.  😉

Then Monday it’s back to rehearsals, as opening night nears and the frenzy heightens.

Somehow we’re going to do some of the following anyway:

  • Run in the sprinkler
  • Do science experiments outside
  • Watch some more of that algebra video
  • Do art
  • Finish Dies Drear
  • Make goodies
  • Play outside
  • Finish cleaning out Daryl’s den, paint it and convert it to Victoria’s new bedroom
  • Fill the sandbox with more sand so the kids can properly play in it
  • Make more goodies
  • Read “A Little History of the World”
  • Fill the wading pool with fun stuff
  • Ride bikes together
  • Eat salads from the garden
  • Relax outside in the shade.  Lots.

And now, there may be some tornado-like action coming so I’m going to go batten down the hatches.

Where Have We Been?!

Sorry to be so MIA lately!  We took a whirlwind trip to Nebraska for a few days and have been insanely busy.

In the past few days we have been….

  • To Tiffany’s house
  • To the Audubon Center near Lincoln (lovely place!!!!)
  • To Pioneer’s Park near Lincoln (ditto!)
  • Down the footpath and the streets on a million walks with Tiffany and gang
  • Back to Minnesota
  • To swim class for Jack’s final swimming class (he passed level one!)
  • To pageant practice for media night tonight — Daryl and the girls are dressed in full costume, playing the most exciting scenes for the local press and then posing and be interviewed afterwards

I’ll blog all sorts of fun things very soon, but right now I must go and pant a bit and go sit in the room with air conditioning with my boys and a giant box of tiny legos.  🙂

Good Books for 6th Grade Girls

Hey Victoria (and anybody else in search of book recommendations for girls of this age), here’s a list to check out.

(And yes, Victoria, I know “Millicent Min, Girl Genius” was one of the only books you’ve ever hated and they made fun of homeschooling and I think you’ve read at least two of the others, but I thought the others would still be worth a try!)

Mythical Creatures and Udder Painting

(Boy, with a title like that, I bet you’re afraid to read on!)

Here’s a really fun article with pictures of 12 animals mistaken for mythical creatures.

And I love this idea from Highland Homeschool for filling an old rubber glove with paint for a fun art project.

We’re off tomorrow to Iowa for our niece’s wedding, and it looks like we’re leaving Sunday for a mini-vacation to Nebraska to see Tiffany and gang.  We need a Nebraska fix.  🙂

And various yappings…

Math, Math, Math

Just sharing a few sites I’ve bookmarked lately to dig into for math goodness….

Xtra Math is a free drill program that allows parents/teachers to track kids’ progress.  Looks simple and helpful, if not thrilling.

Number Nut has lots more math topics and a bit more pizzazz.

Math eBook has free video tutorials of all things math-ish.  Want to explain imaginary numbers or Binomial Theorem?  Here ya go.  To be honest, the table of contents makes me want to go find a whole lot of wine coolers but that’s probably just me.  🙂

We have now officially lost our new set of Mythmatical Battles cards, incidentally.  We got in two half games.  Sigh.  Victoria was enjoying it too and Anna was complaining about how unfair it was she didn’t get to play yet.  Blarg.

Ah well.  I always say that spills are the only way my kitchen gets mopped and losing things is the only cause of cleaning getting done so I suppose some good will come of it.

And now, I was supposed to be headed for a long-awaited bubble bath but instead am off to deal with a small boy who’s woken in a very foul mood.

A Trip to the Science Museum

Life has become so busy!  Summers are always crazy for us.  They balance out the serenity of winter. I’m not sure which I like better.

I have so much catching up to do that I was going to do a “Ten Ways We’ve Learned…” post but I figured this one would take a whole entry.  We took a trip to the Washington Pavillion (Sioux Falls’ science museum) with Thom and his family on Saturday.

Here’s just a few of the billions of pics I took.

Victoria biked 2.91 miles and burned 177 calories while Jack and Aiden played virtual hockey, basketball and more

Alex loved wheelchair racing!

We all took turns using our brain waves to battle each other.  Here, Anna and Galen tried to use their calm Alpha and Theta waves to move the ball to the other person’s goal.  I played Victoria twice and was embarrassingly defeated.  It turns out I have a remarkable shortage of calm brain waves!  😉

Anna and Galen's brain waves (Galen won)

Jack is quite good at climbing the walls

The boys love this crazy ball machine

Alex could have played here all day

Here too!

Anna and some of the other kids built cars to race down ramps

Jack and Aiden played side by side all day long

We had so much fun we bought a family membership for the year.  Now we have no choice but to travel to Sioux Falls more often!

We’re all quite sad, since it’s pretty certain that Thom’s family is moving far away.  Jack adores Aiden and the girls feel the same about Galen.  I really click with Thom and Linda, too, so it’s a big blow for all of us.  It can be hard out here to find other families we really click with, much less homeschooling ones.

As a result, we’re doing as much as possible with them while they’re here!  Tomorrow’s plan:  strawberry picking.  Let’s hope it finally stops raining.   🙂

A Clever Snake

We went to Devil’s Gulch in South Dakota with friends on Saturday and during the hike we came across this clever snake.

He’s a bull snake and like every other snake in Minnesota, he’s not poisonous.  He didn’t want to let us know that, though, and he knew how to make us wonder.  He did a fabulous job of mimicking a rattlesnake, right down to shaking his tail in the dry leaves to make a rattling sound.

Victoria took this video of him.  That’s Anna’s voice (no, nobody was going to hit the snake) and our friend Thom talking.

Isn’t he clever?

The rest of the day was super fabulous.  More on that soon!


Here’s some nifty things I’ve found lately….

  1. A chart you can graph teaching kids how much sugar is in different things.  Educational on two levels!
  2. Should you ever feel compelled to give your children standardized tests from Texas schools in a wide variety of subjects, it wouldn’t cost you anything.  Here they are from about grade three on up.
  3. On a completely unrelated note, have you been to Tastespotting?  Oh my goodness, they can make you gain ten pounds just looking at the pictures.  I could waste way too much time there.  🙂
  4. And in other food news, if you’re vegetarian or even like to cook vegetarian occasionally, there are some insanely tasting recipes here ~ Budget Friendly Fare: Vegetarian for a Day.   Mmmmm….

I’m sipping homemade mint lemonade and looking down at my newly redesigned front garden, complete with a new cherry tree.  I love June!

And now I’m off to teach something, learn something, clean something or just have fun.  Any advice?