Whirl Whirl Whirl

Oh my goodness, we’re busy!

Yesterday we drove up to Alexandria (3 hour drive) to see some HS friends before they leave the area.  They wanted to see the Runestone and we’d just visited it last month, but we’re always up for a mini-vacation with fun people (AND a little homeschooling!).

We spent the night in a hotel, the kids swam and swam and swam and swam together, we yapped in our room until the wee hours, we visited the Runestone museum, hung out at a scenic spot and then drove 3 hours home just in time to get to the end of the year pageant picnic….

The kids ate, played with friends, climbed trees, jumped from trees…

Then encroaching storms scared us off and back home, where I have to pack for 5 days in Nebraska.  Tomorrow we have four kiddos with dentist appointments and we leave from there for our journey south to Tiffany’s.

Pant, pant, pant.

This would all be much more relaxing if we had air conditioning in our van.  Or if it weren’t 96 degrees today……

This is what it’s like to be on a family trip in our family:

Drive down the highway with the windows down, wind blasting us all with our clothes stuck to ourselves.

Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, Avril Levigne, They Might Be Giants or the Pirate CD blasting, depending on whose turn it is to pick the CD.

Victoria:  Play number 8!

Anna:  It’s my turn to pick the CD!

Jack:  Play No!

All:  No!

Alex:  Hold me foot, Mama!  Hold me foot, Mama!

Victoria!  Mom!  Make Alex stop spraying me with Coke slushee and his fan!

Tomorrow we get to do 5 to 6 hours of that.  PLUS dental work.  Ooh boy!  But at the end of the day it will all be worth it.  🙂

Time Out

I’m taking a little time off from the computer for a bit.  Parenting a preteen girl is kinda sorta ripping out my heart and BBQing it at the moment and I am taking a week or so off.

I’ll be back soon…


Last week I was the grateful recipient of not one but two blog awards from two fabulous HS mothers I greatly admire.

In true blog award form, they came with instructions on how to properly respond and pass it on.

So I went to work compiling two lists of blogs I love, 10 words to sum up my blogging philosophy, 7 new things to reveal about myself…

And somehow crashed my computer and lost it all.

Apologies for not blogging for several days now, and apologies for not responding to the lovely blog awards.

Tomorrow I will start all over again, but for now I’m off to sleep.  🙂

Ten Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these posts, it’s going to be hard not to be 30 or 40!  🙂  Here’s a bit of what we’ve been doing around here…

1.  We’re reading Kayak Anna. I got the book Kayak Anna and Palindrome Creek (affiliate link) to review and started reading it to the kids.  I am so pleasantly surprised!  It’s a chapter book that deals with the environment, bullies, palindromes and trolls, just to  name a bit!  I am really enjoying the rich language and the adventure.  I’ll review it once we finish it.  We read a chapter or two per day so I figure we’ll be done around next weekend.

2.  We made fruit leather with blackberries and raspberries from our back yard and strawberries that we’d frozen from berry picking.  Oh my goodness.  Homemade fruit leather beats all, guys.  You must try some!


3.  The kids have all been reading. Anna read On the Banks of Plum Creek, plus a pile of other books I’ve forgotten.  Victoria is still reading young adult novels at an astounding pace, Jack has been reading A Crack in the Night (another that I reviewed and one that he really enjoys) along with picture books.  Alex has been listening to picture books, most noteably If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (the giant sized version), Where’s Pinky? and Llama Llama Mad at Mama.

4.  Jack, Alex and Anna went to the Walnut Grove festival in the park. They did crafts, sampled treats, met Laura Ingalls Wilder fans and helped their daddy teach people how to play the dulcimer.

5.  Jack has been learning about eggs, embryos, fertilization and chickens. We’ve been getting eggs from our friend Erica again, and Jack has delighted in some of the gigantic (and teeny tiny!) eggs that we find.  This one was enormous and had two yolks.

There was also an egg that was the size of a robin’s egg.  It had no yolk at all.

6.  Jack has me working on collecting printouts for him to make a reptile lapbook. He has started assembling mini-books and coloring, but is impatient to get to work.  He wrote up a book of facts he learned about reptiles, too.

7.  The kids have been doing lots and lots of art. Behold, a few examples…

8.  I got the kids new composition books for homeschool studies. We use these all year long — I leave them pages of silly math problems or write letters full of grammatical errors and so on.  Each child got an extra one for something fun.  Victoria wanted one just for German work.  Jack wanted one for art.  Anna wanted one for drawings and stories.  They’ve decorated the fronts and are having fun using them.

9. We did science with friends. That’s all I’m saying.  😉

10.  Daryl and the girls are busy in the pageant. The boys and I went and watched a dress rehearsal last week and got to sit in the front row for the show.  When Mary went blind, she was “looking” right at us (Jack cried for her!) and it was neat being so close to all the action.  We went again the other night with Grandma and Grandpa.  The boys played football on the hill before it started and then sat so nicely for the whole show.  Alex was enchanted with the singing, dancing, fire and so on.

Last night, there was an enormous crowd because the actor from Little House on the Prairie who played Almonzo was there and it was part of “Laurapalooza,” a huge multi-day conference about L.I.W. that took place in Mankato.  A huge storm passed through before it started and the audience was instructed to wait in their cars while it passed through.  The cast all waited in the barn while lightning flashed and thunder boomed, and when all the rain had passed they dried off all of the chairs and the audience came back.  By then it was around 10 pm (the show generally starts at dusk, around 9) and almost nobody had left.  They estimate around 1,400 people stayed in the dark and the rain and then watched until past midnight to see the show.  🙂

Above, Anna is dancing by Nellie Olson while Daryl plays the spoons in the background. You can see a lot of pictures here.

I am so proud of Daryl, Anna and Victoria for their part in the pageant, and of everybody involved in it.  This year is the best ever that I’ve seen.  They’ve added so much more music (Victoria even plays the spoons and Daryl plays a couple of lovely dulcimer duets in the background of certain scenes) and they’ve really fine tuned the script.  The sets, the special effects and the whole production are just amazing in my not-so-humble opinion.  🙂


And now, I am really late in starting supper and rescuing Daryl from a certain 3 year-old, so I’m off!

An Unexpected Homeschooling Conversation

Today we took Alex and Anna to Worthington to hit the farmers’ market and 3 different grocery stores.  One of those was Walmart, and they were having back to school sales so I stocked up on markers, composition books, glue and such.

The young woman who checked us out looked up and asked, “Are you a school teacher?”.

I smiled and told her no, we homeschool.  I explained that we always stock up this time of year since the sales are good.

She told me she’d been homeschooled all the way until 8th grade, when her mother thought she ought to go to public school.  She said, “I hated it and dropped out of school.  Never do that to your kids!”.

I smiled and said we intended to homeschool all the way through.

By this time, I had paid and our assortment of wildly colored cloth bags were stacked in the cart.  She kept talking though.  Her aisle had been closed down so she could have lunch and instead of leaving, she went on about her family.

She said her mother tried to send her little brother to public school too and he hated it.  “After a year, she let him come home,” she said.  Then she said her youngest brother wouldn’t go at all so her mother didn’t even plan to try.

She told me it can get lonely for homeschooled kids, so I should put them in open enrollment.  By law in Minnesota, schools have to let homeschooled kids take part in classes or activities if they want to.  She rattled off those that she took part in and her brother’s choices.  Her little brother wanted no part of any of it, though.  Her little brother made me smile.

Anna and I enjoyed the conversation and relayed it to Victoria when we got home.

It’s always nice to talk to homeschoolers who have grown up and hear their side of things.

And now, my pageant stars are finally home at 1 a.m. and I’m going to listen to stories of their wild stormy night. Such excitement!  More on that later!


Here’s a few nifties I’ve been meaning to share….

Right now you can download Dan’s Doodles for free from CurrClick.  They look like some really neat designs for coloring with the kiddos!

Freely Educate (which you should follow if you don’t!) has their favorite freebies for elementary ages here.

Manga High’s math games look pretty cool and they’re free.  Has anybody tried them?

And now, I’m being summoned downstairs to teach a 10 y/o how to set the coffee pot so she can make fresh coffee for me every night for the morning.  There’s no way I’m interfering with that plan!

New Secular List for MN

I have a dear homeschooling friend who is leaving Minnesota mostly because his family has felt so ostracized being a secular homeschooler in SW Minnesota.

I have a homeschool friend who signed a statement of faith that didn’t match her beliefs (left leaning Catholic) in order to finally get some HS opportunities for her kids in the Twin Cities.

I have a homeschool friend who’s “in the closet” in her local group because she’s pretty sure she’ll be shunned if they know she’s not religious.

Lately, I’ve been hearing from so many HS friends that they feel so alone because of being secular here.  It’s something that’s weighed on me too, ever since we started this homeschooling journey here all those years ago.  I have plenty of depressing stories of my own.

So tonight I made an email group for secular HSers in MN and surrounding states.  I am hoping to coordinate actual get-togethers periodically throughout the state, since it’s wonderful to find support online but every so often it’s even better to get to sit on a park bench with fabulous people who accept and like you and watch a whole herd of happy children playing together.  🙂  If you’re not in MN you can join too (I don’t like exclusion!) but then you have to promise to try to come visit us once!

If you know anybody who’d like our group, please pass it on!