A Few Good Reads

There’s some news stories and web pages that have caught my interest lately. Here’s a few of them…

Who Stole Homeschooling? This article talks about the history of the homeschooling movement in the US and how some groups have claimed ownership, made exclusionary rules and changed the spirit of the movement over the years.  I think it has an important message about our need to be there for new homeschoolers, to support each other and to speak for ourselves when organizations attempt to take our voice.

There are still good groups, good folks, good leaders and great support available outside of these heirarchical, exclusive groups, but they aren't always easy to find. Folks have to do their own homework and seek them out. I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that those who homeschool strictly for the love of children are probably never going to be as organized, as visible, or as powerful as those who homeschool for religious or political reasons...

Those of us who are inclined to be inclusive, relationship oriented, and concerned primarily for our homeschooled children will be less frustrated if we understand that regardless what has happened to the homeschooling movement itself, there are, in fact, still homeschoolers who are ready and willing to offer their support and encouragement without strings or agendas to families outside of the machinery and averse to it, who are still and only homeschooling for the love of their children. Just as we did in years past, we can continue to speak up every chance we get. We can let folks know we're out here, we can let them know which organizations do and do not speak for us, we can dispute questionable research and openly, publicly, reject the publicly-made statements of people when they do not really represent us.

Quake shifted Japan; towns now flood at high tide

I had no idea that Japan’s earthquake shifted the entire country so that it’s been literally pulled out and under the sea more than it was.  Coastal towns now flood twice a day, and the changes are permanent.

Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle…

As surrounding areas clear rubble and make plans to rebuild, residents in this section of Ishinomaki are stuck in limbo — their homes are mostly undamaged and ineligible for major insurance claims or government compensation, but twice a day the tide swamps their streets…

“Everyone here still has housing loans they have to pay, and you can’t give away this land, let alone sell it,” says Seietsu Sasaki, 57, who also has to pay off loans on two cars ruined in the flooding…

The article goes into the science behind the shift and also offers the dire news that summer rains will begin next month and in the autumn, tides will be higher.

10 Educational History Podcasts To Subscribe & Listen To

These all sound great.  I guess podcasts are in our future.  🙂

And a few of my latest yappings…

On the homeschooling front:

On the green front…

Tomorrow we have homeschool day at the Petroglyphs.  It’s art day, and the kids will get to make glorious messes with all sorts of art supplies.  I’m sure it will be a fun day!





I am a terrible blogger lately. I am also a terrible house cleaner, homeschooler, bedtime book reader, writer and general person.

I mostly hold my belly and groan.

Hopefully I’ll be done with my progesterone soon and perhaps that will help.  Next week I have my first prenatal appointment (the doctor won’t see me until I’m done with the first trimester) and if all looks good I should be able to stop the supplements.  Actually, if it’s all bad then I’d be able to stop the supplements too, so either way I should be done with those soon!

I’m trying so hard to do good mama things.  I’m just so sick and so tired and so weak, I’m not that good at it!  🙂

Here’s some writing elsewhere to make up for my quiet here…

Easy ways to give kids the gift of good handwriting

Sure, you could have your kids do endless copywork and penmanship lessons, but for many kids that’s about as fun as watching paint dry.  Luckily for parents, there are lots of sneaky ways to improve their handwriting that they’ll…

Free lapbook and lesson plans to teach children about Japan

In the wake of the tragedy in Japan last week, many families are focused on the country.  If you’d like to do a unit study on Japan, here are some great resources around the web.  Lapbook Lessons has a wonderful free lapbook on the country with…

Happy Saint Urho Day!

Sure, much of the world will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, but how about joining in with the Minnesota-born Finnish-American festivities of St. Urho Day today?  St. Urho is a mythical Finnish hero who was created by imaginative…

Review: iHomeEducator’s Wonders of Old Ancient Timeline app

iHomeEducator has teamed up with Knowledge Quest to present Wonders of Old: Ancient Timeline, a unique educational app that uses photos, links and facts to create a new kind of timeline…

Researchers find that attached babies grow up to be better partners

A new University of Minnesota study shows that attachment parenting doesn’t just help children in the short term, but also helps them in their romantic relationships when they are grown up.  Researchers found that young adults who had been…

12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Do you mulch your vegetable gardens?  If you don’t, you should.  The right mulch helps retain moisture, prevents weeds from getting a foothold and even enriches the soil as it breaks down.  Here’s 12 great sources of natural mulch …

Anti-GMO groups call for boycott of Land O’Lakes for secret GM seed company

Minnesota-based dairy giant Land O’Lakes has quietly created a company to team up with Monsanto and produce genetically modified alfalfa, leading sustainable farming advocates and anti-GMO organizations around the country to call for a boycott…

Review: Thugs, Drugs and the War on Bugs

Every once in a while, you come across a book that makes you question everything you thought you knew…

Sixteen ways to save money on organic foods

Yes, organic foods do often come with a higher price tag.  The more you’re willing to work and be creative, the lower that price can get.  Use these strategies and you can eat delicious organic meals at less than your neighbors spend on drive-through…
Goals for tomorrow:
  • Get outside and puddle stomp with the kids.
  • Do a fun craft.
  • Order neat sounding books through interlibrary loan for Daryl to pick up, so I can still read buckets of books to the kids.
  • More laundry
  • Finally remember to get the beans soaking in the morning so we can have Mexican for supper (I may be unable to stand up, but I’m still going to make refried organic black beans from scratch for our burritos!) .  😉
  • More writing.
  • Brainstorm creative HS assignments and projects to throw at the kids.
  • Serve some green things!
  • Be gentle with myself, no matter how much I get done.
  • If all else fails, lots of snuggling.

Wish me luck!

HS Journal

Oh, we’ve been busy!  I’m still sick but quite a lot is going on nonetheless.  Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to.

Maple Syrup Tapping

We took part in an annual tradition of having a big community breakfast and then learning about tapping maple trees at a nearby camp.  The girls know it by heart by now but we always have a ball.  Jack made a new friend and they played together outside.

Microscope Ecology Trek

The kids took part in an activity where they learned the history of microscopes, trekked through the woods collecting cool samples and then looked at their bounty under microscopes.  They drew and identified the goodies.

Prairie Grammar

Daryl made up a bunch of pages of grammar lessons based on Anna’s favorite book series, the Sadie Rose books.  She’s over it, though!  LOL  Anna much prefers to learn organically through writing, reading and doing.

Pirate Grammar

Victoria is still doing the 60 or so pages of pirate grammar that Daryl got for her.  She likes it and always finds a way to make the answers silly.

Computer art

Victoria has gone to town taking pictures, finding images and then creating new images by splicing things together.  She’s doing optical illusions, wacky pictures, you name it.  She created a unicorn with Alex’s head for Anna to use as wallpaper on her computer settings.  Anna and Jack have started doing computer art of their own with special effects like oil painting looks.  They’re already able to do things Daryl and I can’t.


Still plodding away at the tests.  Yesterday was too busy but Victoria did the reading comprehension test this morning.  I’m planning on doing one or two sections with each girl later today.  They like to gleefully point out how ridiculously easy it is.  Snort.  Show offs.  😉


I am reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to Anna as a bedtime book.  Victoria just finished the next Molly Moon novel and is impatiently waiting for the next to arrive via interlibrary loan.  She loves that series.  Jack just gets piles of picture books read to him.  One current favorite is No Matter What.  (I am reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and discussing it online, along with a pile of decorating books and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, which is not nearly as fun.)

100 Birds

Daryl set a goal for seeing/identifying 100 birds this season.  He has started a list and we already have a good number of interesting birds on it, from bald eagle to grackle to kestrel.  Victoria is enjoying helping him look new specimens up in the bird book.

Snow and mud

We’ve had spring mood swings galore over here, with balmy days followed by snowstorms.  The kids have been able to play in snow, mud, slush, grass, ice and gigantic puddles.  My kitchen floor reflects this.  😉


Jack and Anna have been making money, making stores and trying to do commerce in any way for days.  Annalee is simply destined to go into retail or fundraising.  She just loves to make, buy and sell things and to rack up money.  I’m trying to find new and creative ways to meet that need, since we’re all getting tired of her trying to charge us for art, carnivals, beads, favors and anything else she can think of.  I’m thinking of signing her up for Girl Scouts next year since around here the cookie drive is huge.  That always bugged me but she loves selling things so much (whether she gets the money is secondary) that it might be a good fit.  I was also thinking of some sort of charitable fundraiser or walkathon.

Bird & animal ID

Jack and I looked around the ecology center yesterday while the girls were doing their microscope workshop.  They have a lot of mounted critters like owls, fish, racoons and other native birds and animals.  They had a Great Blue Heron and we looked at it up close and talked about how we’d seen one flying nearby on our drive over.  Then we used their specimen sheets and crayons to draw our own funny bird and animal breeds.  Jack quizzed me on them, saying things like “Okay, which one do you think is the most complicated?”.  <G>


The girls didn’t  have Japanese class last week but I bought some neat Japanese books and they’ve been looking at those.  Victoria has been reading a book about the right thing to do in different cultural situations in Japan, and she loves it.  We also got a Japanese picture dictionary and she noticed some disparities between the words Kenai has taught them and ones the book mentions.  We’re bringing the book to ask her about it Friday.

Imaginary numbers

Daryl taught Victoria about the meaning of i and imaginary numbers.   She has started to quiz Jack and Anna about things like the square root of -25 and so she’s now taught them about imaginary numbers.

Math quandaries

We got into a discussion in the car yesterday about why Anna will not always be double Jack’s age.  It was really confusing Victoria that it could only be true sometimes, so we got into a deep discussion of why that was.  We ended up figuring out what ages each of the kids would be double each other’s ages and talking about ratios and such.

And now…

The kids are cleaning the table downstairs so we can do a little art.  We’re going to look at some Picasso and then the kids are going to try their hands at painting in his style.  I also have to put some laundry in, vacuum, clean the front porch and play with a baby.  Maybe not in that order.  🙂

HS lately

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately in various subjects….


  • Reading “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” together
  • Reading classic poetry to Jack and Anna at bedtime
  • Victoria just finished a novel (can’t remember which one) and has been reading old magazines.
  • We’ve been reading lots of books to Jack.
  • Daryl is reading another Sadie Rose novel to Anna.
  • Anna has been reading old Highlights magazines and various books and comics.
  • Both girls enjoyed the “New Moon” magazine for girls that I printed out.


  • Victoria and Anna have been doing workbook pages. I go over them with each girl afterwards.
  • Victoria has been answering math questions I email to her.
  • Victoria, Jack and Anna have all been playing Timez Attack on the computer.
  • Jack is still playing his other math computer game, and still insists on keeping it at 3rd grade level and having his sisters help him. 🙂
  • Victoria and Anna have done various math problems figuring out when birthdays are coming up and other calendar-related problems.
  • Victoria, Anna and Jack have been solving money problems while running their play stores, selling art to each other and such.
  • We all studied Fibonacci and talked some more about the Fibonacci sequence.


  • Victoria and Anna have been blogging and emailing friends.
  • Anna has been writing lots of letters to friends and relatives. We have been working on her penmanship while she writes and it has led to lots of spelling improvements.
  • All three kids have been making art projects that they title, label, etc.
  • Victoria has been writing in her garden lapbook.
  • Jack has been writing in his travel journal.


  • All 3 kids roller skated in the grocery store parking lot while Daddy watched and I went grocery shopping.
  • Anna and Victoria have been able to start riding their bikes now that the weather is nicer.
  • Anna and Jack played floor ping-pong today. 🙂 They also bowled for water bottles, played ball and were basically monkeys!
  • Anna and Victoria have gone on walks.
  • We have all danced inside.
  • Anna, Victoria and Jack have all played outside.


  • Victoria and Anna made ATC’s for our wonderful friend Barb, using oil pastels, markers, ribbon, glue and stickers.
  • I made tanagram sandwiches for lunch today and everybody made designs and patterns before eating. 😉
  • Jack painted with his hands and feet.
  • Victoria has been making really lovely computer art by copying images she finds in programs and incorporating them into her pictures as patterns and such.
  • All 3 kids have been drawing billions of wonderful pictures, some of which they offer up for sale to each other.

Social Studies/languages–

  • Victoria and Anna made sushi in Japanese class. They continue to learn new words and phrases. For next week I asked Kenai if the kids could each bring questions for her about her childhood and life in Japan, so they’ll do that next time.
  • The girls and I played a geography game where we had to land a plane in various European cities (and know where to find them!).
  • Daryl has been teaching the kids all about pirates and pirate history. Of course, this also meant that pirate games were invented and the dubloon (sp?) is our current household currency.


  • Anna and I have been comparing temperatures and talking about what is typical for various kinds of weather.
  • Victoria is planning her garden and working on her garden lapbook.
  • All 3 kids have been playing Pet Vet on the computer and taking care of the daily needs and medical needs of horses, rabbits and more.


  • Victoria wrote her first programs on Scratch.
  • Jack has been busy creating shortcuts, choosing backgrounds and arranging his desktop on the kid computer.
  • All 3 kids have been playing educational (and fun and creative) computer games.
  • Victoria has been making really cool computer art with Neopaint and ACDSee.
  • The girls have been blogging, e-mailing, etc.

Coming Soon–

  • We’re hosting a preschool night tomorrow night with a St. Patrick’s Day/green/spring theme.
  • We’ll be having a spring theme all next week with fun spring projects.
  • Anna and Jack are starting gymnastics.
  • Victoria is signed up for a club called “Joyful Girls” in a nearby town.
  • All 3 kids are taking a 2 hour ettiquette class at a historic mansion (once the home of the Dayton family who started Daytons and Target!).
  • We’re going to get to work on our gardens and start some seeds.
  • Victoria may spend a week up north with friends again.

Learning Japanese

Today the kids start their new Japanese lessons.  We’re so excited.  A homeschooling dad set the class up at a college about an hour from us.  The teacher is a Japanese student at the college and she’ll be teaching the kids not only the language but also culture.  It’s a small class of just 5 kids total right now.  It’s a long drive but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity!