So Much for Posting Every Day….

Well, right after I resolved to try to post every day for the rest of July, I went and got myself into a funk and then took off to the wilds of Nebraska with Fiona and Toria to visit Tiffany and family.

So here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to since then…

We went and saw a Scottish homeschool family band (Jiggerypokery!) at a little hometown event.  Mom and Dad each had a baby strapped to their backs and four bigger ones! 🙂

We went to the library twice, went walking, read books, made gluten free goodies, visited with friends, went swimming…

Oh yes, and Tiffany helped give Toria a more exciting haircut!

We also took the younger kids to the zoo…

And we got Tiffany caught up in wild foraging, with some tasty mulberries and other goodies.

And we watched Sherlock, drank wine, ate chocolate, had lots of tea, talked and relaxed.

While we were gone, my actors all carried on in the Wilder Pageant, performing for another couple of thousand people (nearly) over the weekend.  They also did lots more foraging and I came home to a freezer full of black raspberries, mulberries and raspberries, each labeled with contents, dates and where they were harvested.  Those should make for some good jellies, syrups, ice creams, cakes and other goodies later in the year and I hear they made for many smoothies over the week we were gone.

I am working on getting my head in order, battling this funk and also figuring out how to juggle all that I want to juggle this year — homeschooling 5 such different kids at different stages, doing crafts, reading books, homesteading, cooking, editing and completing two books, keeping up with blogs, keeping up with my columns, having a social life and support system, getting us all exercising more, getting the house in order…

Yep, feeling overwhelmed again!

Ah well, I’m working on it.  The break gave me a bit of breath to dive back in.  At least it’s never boring!

Gearing Up for Pageant Time

It’s that time of year again.

Opening night for the Wilder Pageant is in two days.

The next three weeks will be crazy.

  • Most of my family will be at the pageant every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night until after 1 a.m.
  • Every evening there will be the frantic search for clean costumes from the dryer, missing shoes, bonnets, etc.
  • My kids will walk around during the day with smudged black “fishtails” around their eyes from stage makeup.
  • Thousands of people will be filling the hillside by the banks of Plum Creek in Walnut Grove to watch the show every weekend.
  • For two hours each performance night, the stage area will be transformed with real fires, horse drawn wagons, a grasshopper plague, singing, dancing and drama under the stars.
  • My cast members will bring Sharpies every night to sign programs, t-shirts and the occasional car (!) after performances.
  • My kiddos will fall asleep exhausted within minutes of getting home in the wee hours, and sleep late.
  • Our lives will be transformed in the frantic, exciting, magical annual passage back to the past.

This will be Anna’s 9th year in the pageant and Daryl’s 8th.  Victoria is sitting out this summer, after doing it every year starting when she was six.  This is Jack’s 2nd or 3rd year and Alex’s very first.

Click here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or especially here if you want to see pictures or read accounts of some magical memories from earlier years in the pageant.

Let the exhaustion begin.  🙂

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these updates.  Here’s a few of the ways we’ve learned and played in our homeschool recently…….

  1. Jack, Alex and Daryl dressed up in old time clothes to volunteer at Pioneer Village in Worthington for Independence Day.  Our friend Nancy and her son Logan dressed up to join in, and Anna joined them all in modern clothes.  Alex, Jack and Logan taught kids how to roll hoops and Nancy was dressed as a prairie woman.  Daryl was a riverboat gambler in the saloon and he taught visitors card tricks and old-time gambling games like chuck-a-luck.  He even made the local paper!  
  2. We stayed with some fabulous homeschool friends near the Twin Cities so Daryl could take part in yet another historic event (a Civil War event commemorating the First Minnesota’s amazing sacrifice at the Battle of Gettysburg).  While there, Anna’s friend Ryker taught her how to use a blow dart and throwing stars!
  3. Victoria’s friend shared this video about infinity on her Facebook wall, which she loved and went to learn more about.
  4. Victoria is learning how to build websites via sites like Code Academy.
  5. The kids went to our town’s “Fun Days” and bounced in bouncy houses, met zoo animals, watched the parade and had other festival fun.  Anna got this picture of Fiona meeting Luna the skunk. 
  6. Daryl and Toria went and collected cattail pollen, which I incorporated into homemade GF pasta.  It is a vibrant yellow gold and it’s full of nutrients.  This is a continuation of our summer of learning about foraging and wild edibles, and it’s the second way we’ve eaten cattails (the lower part of the spring stalks are wonderful boiled and served with butter and salt and pepper).
  7. Anna, Jack, Alex and Daryl are in the last week of rehearsals for the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant, which opens next week.   Family friend Logan is in it for his first year this year, too.  It should be a great show again this year and it’s always exciting! 
  8. We all went and visited Great Grandma Lueck (Daryl’s grandma, who’s nearly 97 years old and still beautiful!) at the nursing home with Daryl’s mom.  It was wonderful to see her again, since we hadn’t visited her since she moved from her own home into the nursing home earlier this year.  We also talked to a man who brings in his therapy dog to visit with the patients. 
  9. Alex and Fiona had lots of fun sheet painting and then getting clean in the sink. 
  10. I’ve been working on handwriting with Jack, writing out lines for him to copy.  We’re also working on spelling.  One of our summer HS goals is for him to get one grade level of spelling improvement by the end of the summer.

The kids have all been doing lots of other things as well…. gardening, biking, walking, playing, skyping, writing stories, doing art, reading books, watching educational (and non-educational) TV, cooking, helping with the little kids, doing pet care, hanging out with friends, keeping up on current events (the political unrest in Egypt, the fires out west, the Texas filibuster and its aftermath, DOMA and other news), bird watching, learning about the Civil War, having deep talks, doing educational games, taking photos, making videos, shopping, climbing trees, playing ball, going to the park, snuggling and enjoying life……..

And in case you need it, here’s over 50 free curricular resources for your third grader that I wrote today.


Finding My Voice Again

I’m resolved to try to post close to every day for the rest of July. I really miss my voice, especially here where I have always felt comfortable really being myself.

It’s hard feeling pulled in so many directions.  I frequently feel like I’m failing at just about everything — homeschooling five kids, keeping up with housework, keeping a steady stream of healthy food coming in our tricky household (mostly natural, organic, gluten-free, dairy free, vegetarian, tasty and cheap for a family of seven????), my writing, my blogs, projects around the house, the gardens….

I’m firmly in a new stage of life right now, with two teenagers in the house plus the boys and little Fiona.  We’ve had to change a lot of how we homeschool and generally live because the kids just have such different needs and interests.  I’m grateful that there’s still so much we can all enjoy together, from heading to Dutch Charlie Creek to have a campfire at dusk to hanging out with fun homeschool families to tromping around the Badlands.  Daryl and the four “big” kids even all had fun watching Monster University together last night.  I’m glad we all find so many things we still love to do together, despite our family’s diversity.  🙂

Life is good here.  It’s hard to believe that only one year ago we were reeling from Victoria’s cancer diagnosis and surgeries, struggling to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it through the summer.  The kids are in good places.  We have lots of good things going on.  There are stresses, but they are everyday stresses like tires going bald and kids bickering.

I’m excited to get back to blogging regularly, to have my little corner of the world to sit and ramble.  Let’s see if I can stick to it!