On the Agenda: Plan, Party, Fight, Play, Plant, ID, Clean

On my agenda for the next week:

  1. Plan Jack, Alex and Victoria’s birthdays (Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday), throw one party, host one soiree, make three cakes, buy presents, survive.
  2. Take the kids to see the CSI director, who’s in our little town again, and perhaps fight with him again.  Last time, he told me I shouldn’t bring children.  Pfft.  In the first place, he doesn’t know my children.  In the second place, I would consider it nearly criminal to have a CSI director come and talk for free to a room full of people, give inside secrets, explain how special effects are done, and NOT bring my children.  In the third place, my kids loved it.  Okay, Anna fell asleep, but Victoria loved it.  🙂
  3. Have the kids try and play some educational games.  BTW, here’s ten educational apps that are free right now.  I also want to try this math game.  Oh yeah, and I want to print out this chemistry card game from the fabulous Ellen McHenry site.
  4. Plant some flowers to cook with. Here’s a list of 10 edible flowers I posted yesterday.  I’m planning on writing up a page of recipes for each flower and trying as many as possible this summer.
  5. Do some wildflower ID’ing with this wonderful Minnesota wildflower site.
  6. Magically clean my house. A lot.

In other news…

I am just too sick and overwhelmed right now to do anything this ambitious right now, but this homeschool mom blogged some great rock and mineral projects for younger kids.

I wrote up articles on Homeschooling through the seasons, 40 Ways to calm a fussy baby, and Homeschool 101: Where can I find standards and skills lists for every grade, among others.

And the morning/afternoon/evening sickness is still… making life interesting.   I am mystified as to how I can get sick this often and still have a belly this big.

Okay, the continous supply of chocolate truffles might have something to do with it.  😉



Victoria's New Photography Blog for Kids

Victoria has started a new blog to show off kid photographers. There are 14 photographers right now and it’s only a day old!  And it’s already had 500 page views!

Check it out here….

Opossum Sauce

She has it limited to kids she knows right now.

She’s also featuring weekly challenges.  This week’s is:

Snow White colours(red, white and black)
Take a picture with red, white and black as the main colours and send it to me(don’t blog it) by May 1st and the top 3 will be featured on this, and my other blog (with full credit)

Spring Peepers, Owl Pellets and Scat, Oh My!


We took a trip to a nearby state park last week and it was so nice! We had snow and dreary weather forecast for the foreseeable future, so we figured we should take advantage of the last nice day and really make the most of it.

The kids explored the woods, climbed trees, skipped rocks, hunted for cool bugs, took pictures, encountered wildlife, you name it.

We encountered various types of scat along the way and I challenged the kids to identify what animals they were from. I’m such a weird mom.  😉

Then, as Victoria and I were rescuing Jack from a tree, we spotted two owl pellets. Victoria scooped them up and started dissecting them right away at a nearby dock.

In case anybody doesn’t know what owl pellets are… Owls eat their prey whole, and then they cough up the compacted bits they can’t digest — fur, bones and such.  You can order owl pellets online and dissect them (you just get them wet and use any small tools to sort of separate out the bones and fur) and then compare the skeletons to those of typical prey animals to determine what animals the owl ate.  Once you have all the tiny bones separated, it’s a bit of a puzzle and mystery to try to determine who they might have belonged to.

These ones threw Victoria for a loop. Some were hollow, which she thought meant they were bird bones.  But then she also found a tiny shell and nut, which she thought might have come from the stomach of the prey animal.  And there definitely seemed to be fur, not feathers.

Jack observed a little while, but he was really busy upending large rocks and looking for cool bugs. Alex was busy mostly throwing rocks.

Anna took off with Daddy to go bird watching for much of the fun. They also watched a painted turtle wander about and finally ease himself into the water.  Mostly she just took pictures with her trusty camera.

The highlight of the day for me? Spring peepers.  I love that sound!

(The video won’t seem to embed for me the way it usually does.  I’m so technologically challenged!)

It was such a nice day! We’re usually the only ones in the whole state park, other than the wildlife (which included a wild turkey that day!).

The next day, it snowed, and we got days of snow and cold after that.  April is one of those months that definitely plays with your head and your heart!  No matter though, at least the grass was green under the snow and May and June are coming no matter what April pulls.  🙂

Latest yappings…

Natural recipes: Elderberry honey syrup

Easy, natural ways to perfect garden soil

Kids can do activity pages for free books from Scholastic!


What Does April Snow Bring?

Well, spring was nice.  Apparently it’s over though. We woke to snow on the lawn today and it’s been dreary and cold for a week.  The weather forecast is more of the same as far into the future as they’ll tell us.  Sigh.

I’m still in a bit of a pregnant fog.  The morning sickness (they really must come up with a better name for that, since it’s day and night!) is getting a little bit better.  I am still prone to holding my belly and cursing the heavens, but without quite the same level of ferocity.  😉  I’m not exactly peppy though, and tend to get about as much done per day as your average ball of lint.

Tonight I gave each of the “big three” kids a list of 10 chores to do in exchange for a Kit Kat bar.  They don’t get candy bars often and they pretty much raced through their lists.  I’m thinking chocolate will play a big part in my housekeeping routine in the upcoming months.

In two weeks we have our annual frantic birthday marathon.  Jack will turn 8 on April 30, then Victoria will 13 on May 1, then we’ll have a day off and then Alex will turn 4 on May 3.  I am not ready for this.   I want to find a way to make it all magical for the three of them.  On May 4, I’m totally collapsing.

Daryl took Anna, Victoria and Jack to the auditions for the Wilder Pageant on Friday.  Jack tried out for the first time and I hear he rocked it (he even sang!).  This will make the girls’ 7th year and Daryl’s 6th I think.  Anna started acting in it when she was four!   I’m excited about another year starting up, even though it’s so much time and work for everybody (even me and Alex, who have long nights alone for two months!).

Her’s a bit of what I’ve been yapping about online lately…

On the homeschooling front:

Science freebie roundup — 23 free magazines, curricula, classes, DVD’s and more

My Science Box offers free science curriculum

On the parenting front:

Artisan’s Closet holding art contest to win up to $40 worth of art supplies

Attachment Parenting 101: How can I parent without punishment?

Review: Amanda Soule’s “The Rhythm of Family”

On the Green front:

Get free glass reusable straws for taking a stand against plastic

29 Reasons to hang out your laundry

And with that, I’m off to finish my own list of 10 chores.  And moan a little.  It’s what I do!  🙂



10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Daryl says I have to start blogging again so he knows what we’re up to.  😉

Sorry for the long gap between posting.  Between morning sickness, other sickness and spring weather (gardening, yay!), I haven’t gotten much accomplished.

Here’s a bit of what we have managed to do though…

1.  We went to the International Food Festival at SMSU. It was a feast put on by various groups of international students at the college and we really enjoyed it.  There was food from Japan, Thailand, Kenya, West Africa, India, Mexico, Laos and Nepal.  Not only was the food really good (and there was so much of it!) but it was really neat seeing so many students in native dress.  The women were beautiful!

On the way back, we drove through a big thunderstorm and Victoria got this awesome lightning shot.

2.  We’ve been reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins as a read-aloud. We read it years ago when the girls were young but we’re doing it all over again.  It’s a fun book!

3.  Jack and Anna watched March of the Penguins because they wanted to learn more about penguins to go along with the book.

4.  Jack and I had a long talk about Columbus, early American settlers and the Revolutionary War. We tend to do history as a sort of long discussion and storytelling session around here, with me telling history like a story and it leading to rabbit trails of conversations, often about the moral issues that come up with history.

5.  We’ve been starting seeds indoors and out, preparing gardens and doing other spring outdoor work.

Jack also made me a LEGO garden.  He’s such a sweetie.

6.  Victoria built a fort. It’s a very strange fort.  It falls down sometimes.  There are now skulls nailed to it (we found them during various wanderings).   It could be called a dangerous eyesore.  The kids all love it.

7.  Victoria took a survey to determine what her political leanings are. Along the way she had to research concepts like protectionism, free trade and monopolies to figure out what her answers were.   It would probably not surprise anybody to find out that her leanings are towards libertarianism and the left.

8.  Daryl has taken the kids bird watching quite a lot. They have seen some amazing sights (ospreys snatching up fish and flying off with them, eagles and hawks hunting in the fields and such) and lots of varieties of birds like pelicans, swans and many bald eagles, among many others.  He often takes one child with him early in the morning just to see who’s out and about, bird-wise.  Other times he takes them all to a nearby park or nature area to explore, take pictures and play.

Here’s a couple of  pictures Anna took today of an osprey with a fish in its talons.

Here’s a few bird pics by Victoria (I don’t know where to find her cool eagle shots though!)…

9.  Spring weather has allowed for lots more playing outside. The kids have been riding their bikes, climbing trees, playing with friends, riding their scooters, going on walks and otherwise enjoying the new season.

The kids even staged a spelling bee in the backyard with friends!

10. Victoria taught me that ground squirrels have such a complex set of noises that they use for language that they can be categoried as nouns, verbs and adjectives. I love when my children teach me things!

The kids have also been… watching Meerkat Manor, reading billions of books, talking on the phone, chatting online, researching things on Wikipedia, playing educational games on my iPod, blogging, taking billions of photographs, building with LEGOs, doing chores, writing stories, doing math with me, playing physics games online, doing Wii Fit and so on.

And now, there’s a small boy who’s far overdue for his bedtime and I have a belly ache that’s in dire need of some sort of attention (or at least a bit of moaning and griping).

I’m signing off with my latest yappings online…

Share the news daily with your kids — from 150 years ago

Watch eagles taking care of hatching chicks on live eagle cam

Teens can hone English and math skills with the SAT question of the day

Youngzine brings news and more to kids online

19 Foods to naturally detox radiation

40 Fruits, vegetables and herbs that will grow in partial shade

Attachment Parenting 101: How do I defend my AP practices in a custody battle?

Couple pleads guilty in “No Greater Joy” beating death of child

30 Days of fun and simple toddler and preschool activities

55 Illnesses that breastfeeding helps prevent or minimize

Blog helps connect parents and teens through popular technology

10 Items to raid from the recycling bin for fun toys and experiments




Lesson Number One of Homeschooling

I’ve been talking to a lot of new homeschoolers lately and while there has been lots of excitement, I’ve also met up with so much fear.

If you are new to homeschooling, I have something I have to tell you.

There is absolutely nothing to worry about.


Do you know what you need to have a successful homeschooling environment for your children?

  • Enthusiasm
  • Access to a computer
  • Nature
  • A public library
  • Love of learning
  • Love of your children
  • Curiosity
  • Some good people to support you (even online)

Really, that’s about it.  And even some of those are optional.

Think about it…

What did you need to teach your child how to walk?  To talk?  To ride a bike?

How many things do you teach your children as a natural part of their lives…

How to make pancakes

How to swim

How to use the lawnmower

How to set the VCR

How to use the computer

How to fix it when you hurt a friend

We teach our children every minute we spend real time with them.  When we tell stories, answer questions, read books, take them to new places (or old!), play games, give advice, talk about that TV show we just watched together…

Homeschooling is no harder and no easier than parenting or living.

It is simply an extension of both.

Listen, there are about 85 million free resources on the internet alone that will help you do anything from explaining reproduction to teaching algebra.

There are web sites, email groups, local coops, books, newsletters, magazines and Facebook pages devoted to nothing but helping you find more than you could ever need to homeschool.

There are historic sites, parks, nature centers, science museums, art galleries, trails, beaches and other places to discover that can teach your children more than any classroom.

If you cultivate an atmosphere in your homeschool where learning is fun, it will be easier than you’d ever believe.

Treat it like the adventure it is.  Let the kids take the lead.  Go places.  Do experiments.  Make messes.  Follow rabbit trails.  Be a team.

Last week, my friend Tiffany told me a mother put her small child in time-out at their gym day care because the child had one of her arms inside her coat against her body instead of inside her coat sleeve.

If you are that sort of parent, I guarantee your child will hate homeschooling.

If you make it a battle, try to force a school atmosphere, dictate, punish, nag, belittle and create absolutely meaningless rules, then it ain’t gonna be easy.

So don’t do those.   🙂

Relax, moms and dads. You probably felt much the same when you first brought these children into the world.  And you’ve handled that pretty well, without anybody from the government having to come and teach you how to do it right or do it for you.

You are about to embark on an adventure.  It won’t always be easy (what adventure is?) but it is something you are absolutely capable of.

This is an opportunity to reconnect with your kids, to spend real time with them, to pass on some pretty amazing bits of knowledge that only you possess, to learn along with them, and to show them that education is actually a pretty fabulous thing.

Have faith in yourself.  Have faith in your children.  This is going to be fun.

Okay, most of the time.  😉

Want to read more of my yappings?  Here’s my most recent post over at Examiner.com:

20 Ways to put more joy in your homeschooling day

Happy weekend!