Stem Cells 101

From Biocomicals (creative commons license).

And from Ask Kids:

What is the Definition of Stem Cells?

Glad you asked…
They do cause a lot of fuss. Basically stem cells are cells that don’t have a predetermined function. Which means they can become anything. They can also do repairs, because they are able to divide endlessly as long as the organism they are in continues to live. They are marvelous little things. You can find more information here:…

Here’s some stem cell research myths.

And here’s a video that explains about stem cells, where they’re found, what they do and more…

A Magical Homeschool

Just a heads up that I created a homeschool-related Facebook page, A Magical Homeschool.

I kept coming across neat little educational cartoons, activities, pictures, crafts, articles, etc. that I wanted to share, and the page seemed like a good way to do that.

Feel free to join me.  I’ll keep posting here (and there and everywhere!) as well.  🙂


Anna's New Book

Anna wrote the first chapter of a fabulous new book today. Here’s the very start of it….

Samantha looked over her shoulder at the lake.  Fog hung over it like a velvet curtain.  She knew it would lift soon and she would see her enemies running at her.  She dashed through the trees.

If it wasn’t for her situation, it would have been beautiful.  You could see the brilliant colors of the sunrise through the trees.  Wisps of clouds floated lazily across the pinks and oranges.  The trees around her looked gold under the light and the dew sparkled like glitter.

But despite the beauty of it all, it was playing against her.  She could trip over roots, slip on the dew, fall into the mud.  She knew not to get distracted.

She stopped.  She could hear footsteps behind her but she knew, 1 step too far and she would plummet over the rocky, pine tree covered cliffs.

The icy water under her glittered from the quick-rising sun.  She heard water rushing from far off, most likely a cave with rapids.

She looked behind her, the outline of men in black outfits were slowly getting sharper.  She ducked and crawled along the edge.  Hopefully the fog would mask her figure and the stream’s gurgle would hide her slow breathing.

Next to her a rock the size of her thumb fell.  She stopped to watch it drop out of sight, then remembered who was behind her…..

Pretty good, huh?  🙂

Anna's Olympic Report

Anna felt like doing a report on the Olympics today.  Here’s her final report after a few minor corrections.

The Olympics

A report by Anna Bayer

Most athletes dream to go to the Olympics.  To all athletes, from gymnasts to competitive swimmers, the Olympics are one of the most important events in the world.

The 2012 Olympics were hosted in London, England, this year.  Over 10,800 athletes participated from over 200 countries worldwide.

The Olympics are split into two events, summer and winter, which rotate. Each event happens once every 4 years. The 2016 Summer Olympics are going to be held in Rio De Janeiro and the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia.

Home Again, Home Again…

Oh, we’ve been busy again! Egads.  We have a few days off now and I’m so happy to be able to putter around the house, read books and play outside with my kiddos.

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to!

We took part in Civil War Days…

Daryl taught the telegraph to people, Jack and Anna taught old fashioned games, and the rest of us were dressed up for atmosphere.

Somehow I managed to avoid taking any pictures of myself, but I was dressed up this time too.  Our dresses were borrowed from the Wilder Pageant and I felt decidedly frumpy compared to some of the gowns on other reenactors, but quite a few little girls came up and complimented me on my dress so it must have done the trick!  I loved my hoop underneath!

Even Fiona dressed for the part!

They put us up in the historic Calumet Inn, which was absolutely delightful.  It’s over a hundred years old and full of ghost stories, period furniture and other whimsical extras.   The food at the Calumet restaurant is also incredibly good, should you ever find yourself in Pipestone, Minnesota, and in need of a bite to eat!

We went to a ball downtown, strolled the streets reading the history on the buildings, watched two epic Civil War battles and much more.

Jack and Daryl took part in a Flim Flam event. Flim flams were basically old time scams that came to town, full of people working hard to swindle you — gamblers, gypsies, fortune tellers, snake oil salesmen, etc.

This one was at the historic Hubbard House in Mankato.  Daryl played the part of J.D. Wyatt, riverboat gambler.  Jack was our pickpocket!  He even pretended to pull pocket watches from people’s pants and approached people with hands dangling with watches, saying “Hey mister, wanna buy a watch?”.  He’d take off running when a plant would shout, “Hey, that’s my watch!”.

Great fun!  (More pics to come, this is from the historic society’s Facebook page and I haven’t downloaded my own yet).

We went to Tiffany’s and looked after her kiddos while she was having her new baby!

Anna and Jessie went on a billion walks and picked up bags and bags of trash in the woods.  Jack and Jack hung out in the new tree fort and played games.  Daryl and Victoria went exploring and helped keep everything running, while the littles just happily played and I cooked meals and did my best to keep everybody happy and things relatively tidy.

Meet Miss Millie!  She was 6 pounds, 10 ounces, 3 weeks early and absolutely healthy and adorable.

We made a play kitchen on the side of the house with pallets and such.  We’ll add more as we go, but it’s great fun already and it’s stocked with fun stuff like old utensils, spice and parmesan shakers, dishes and so on.

Anna and Jack have been making plays and movies with their friend Logan. They tend towards scary movies.  The one they’re currently working on is entitled “The Doll” and involves a very creepy toy!  🙂

Here’s a scene from the end!

In other news….

Victoria is spending a week with friends in the Twin Cities.  Another friend is flying in and the family is taking them all to Duluth, which should be great fun.

Fiona is talking (she says Daa for Daddy and Ta-aa for Toria, plus perhaps a few more like dog), crawling, standing and growing up far too fast!

We’ve been busy with harvesting and putting food up.  We take care of an elderly neighbor’s apples from her apple trees for her, picking up the duds from the ground each day and taking home the good apples for sauce and crisps and such.  We also buy up canning (blemished) tomatoes from a local farm family and roast them for sauce, put up dozens of red peppers in frozen slices for cooking throughout the year and so on.

Here’s tomatoes and onions roasting for Daryl’s simple roasted tomato sauce, which is such a tasty way to take advantage of fresh, local tomatoes this time of year.

Anna finished reading “The Secret Garden” and has moved on to another historic book (I can’t remember which).  Victoria is still reading like crazy, and Jack has been happily checking out lots of library books too.

Alex is learning more sight words, and happily doing addition problems for fun.

I’ve been reading a mystery novel!  I can’t tell you the last time I read a fiction book, but it’s been quite a few years.  This one (“The Witness”) is massively long but I’m nearly to the end.  I’m really enjoying it!

That’s a bit of what we’ve been up to, and I’m tired of typing. 🙂  I’ll try to post some helpful and fun stuff soon and get back to regular blogging.  I miss it, though I have to figure out how to make time for everything I want to do in a day…

Book List Progress

The new school year hasn’t started yet, but Victoria has already read two of the books on her 9th grade reading list and she loved them both.

Read so far…

  • Farenheit 451
  • Lord of the Flies

Recommended reading for 9th graders is so chipper, isn’t it?  😉

She’s also been reading a ton of regular YA books for fun, but I think it’s cool that she’s so gung-ho to read from her list so often.  She tends to read these books very quickly (getting caught up in them for hours at a time) and really likes them so far too, which is a great testament to books that stand the test of time.

P.S.  Don’t let your kids read the introductions to classic literature!  Our library copy of Lord of the Flies told about the biggest events of the book (in the last chapter) in the introduction.  They quoted the very end before the book starts.  Pfft!

August Homeschool Fun

Happy August! Here’s a round-up of ideas I’ve written for ways to work some hands-on, educational fun (and just plain old fun!) into homeschooling this time of year…

Water balloon math, tracking and graphing temperatures, comparing apples and oranges, nature angles…

Sprinkler rainbows, sunflower sun dials, finding micrometeorites at the beach, campfire colors and bird watching

Ice melting, dead bug dissections, story stones, temperature comparisons and nature photography

Diving for math answers, trivia obstacle courses, sidewalk whales, making salsa…

Strew messy science experiment ingredients outside, make nature prints, do weed experiments and other open-ended science explorations…

Glow in the dark bead constellations, toad houses, timed track running, hammock reading nooks, cave exploration…

How many can you knock off in a month?  Climb a tree, memorize a poem, press flowers, write a review on, learn how to build a camp fire…

More things that are too good to skip!  Ant science experiments, produce taste tests, footprint painting, license plate maps, nontoxic weed killing experiments, rock painting, time capsules…

Estimating temperatures with kitchen ingredients, melting contests, cooling methods…

Lots of just for fun ways to stay cool, like ice necklaces, sponge balls and tarp slip and sliding.

My favorite list.  We MUST do the waterbed trampoline before the summer is up!

What’s on your to-do list before summer ends?