Life Here Lately

Life has been busy here lately! Here’s a bit of how we’ve been learning and playing…

  • Playing element bingo (Anna won the prize — wacky glasses!)
  • Visiting the railroad museum
  • Getting Victoria back from visiting friends in the Cities
  • Experimenting with our new telegraph machine
  • Gardening
  • Hanging out with fun friends
  • Finishing testing for the year
  • Doing tons of art
  • Learning about currents, conductors, etc.
  • Finding four leaf clovers
  • Losing teeth
  • Taking pictures
  • Reading “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”
  • Bike riding, swimming, scootering and climbing trees
  • Rehearsing for the play and the Irish dance scenes
  • Memorizing elements
  • Baking bread
  • Planting flowers
  • Calling friends
  • Watching campfires
  • Bird watching
  • Playing with LEGOs
  • Playing Wii
  • Going to the lake
  • Playing educational apps
  • Reading

We’ve started Friendly Chemistry and did the first experiment and activity today.  It was great fun.  We had 6 white substances (all edible) and the girls had to determine what they were by using their senses and then by seeing how they each reacted with water, vinegar and iodine.

Do you know how to tell the difference between baking soda, corn starch and baking powder with nothing but vinegar and iodine?  I didn’t!  I don’t know if I should admit that, but one of the nice things about homeschooling is that I get to learn things along with the kids that my schools didn’t teach me the first time around!

I’ve also finally begun writing my Magical Childhood book, and have 98 pages done so far.  I’m quite happy and keep pushing myself even on the days I really don’t feel like writing.

This next week will be busy with our CSA starting up, play practice continuing each weeknight, our chemistry classes continuing and some baking and cooking.  I’ve been moving towards cooking most of our staples myself (or helping the kids do it).

Foods to make on this week’s list (involving a child in each one, if possible):

  1. Sandwich bread
  2. Whole wheat buns
  3. Rhubarb iced tea
  4. Rhubarb jelly
  5. Apple jelly
  6. Mix and match quick bread
  7. Mayonnaise
  8. Mix and match granola bars
  9. Ranch dressing
  10. Grape juice kefir (with grape juice from grapes we picked and canned ourselves!)

I was brought up so far from this life and these skills that I love knowing how to do them now — and being able to teach them to my kids.  It also saves buckets of money, especially since we make organic goodies in most cases.

We’ll also be making most of our supper elements from scratch (refried black beans from dried beans, homemade alfredo sauce, etc.) and I was going to try homemade tortillas again but it turns out I have some in the fridge to use this week so I get a week off before I attempt those again.  🙂

Do you make any of your own food staples?  If you have any favorite recipes or tips, please share them!


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.  😉



Off to Florida

We’re leaving tomorrow for Florida. It will be me, two family friends and my four kids, packed in our minivan.  It should be a wonderful trip but I imagine there will be more than a few moments that will age me a few years.

I’m going to desperately miss Daryl, and I so wish he could come.  His legs cause him considerable pain and that long in the van would be torture, but at the last minute on Monday he decided he was game to come along anyway.  He’s never seen the ocean, much less Florida or the South, so we were really excited at the thought of sharing that with him.  It would  mean taking two vehicles though and the others we’re traveling with absolutely don’t want to do that, so it’s not to be.  Maybe someday…

We have a pretty laid back trip planned — no Disney, only one day at the Harry Potter park for the girls with our friends, and most of our time spent at the beach, parks and Val’s parents’ home.  I just want to find some shells, get some vitamin D, see some cool stuff and experience the ocean as much as possible.  I miss it so much in landlocked Minnesota!

Okay, and I hope to sneak in educational opportunities left and right too. 😉

See you soon!

Five Fun Ways to Learn This Week

(Annalee reporting the news at the Lincoln Children’s Museum, age 6)

It’s been a while since I posted one of these lists so here goes….

1.  Play “Where’s it from?”. Grab some pantry staples and put them in a box.  Gather the kids and ask them, game-show style, to guess where various items are from.   Make it multiple choice style for younger kids, and pull out the really tough ones for teens or other grown-ups you rope in.  Some good foods to use include dried pasta, fruits with stickers and canned goods.  Keep it fun (no need to keep score unless the kids want to) and give them hints to help them figure out the countries.  When you’re done, make an international snack with some of the ingredients.

2.  Play the periodic table game.

3.  Watch some schoolhouse rock multiplication songs like this one.

You-tube has tons more too!

4.  Play math ball. You can get the instructions and other math fun here.

5.  Have the kids report the news. Give them a copy of the local paper (or look it up online) and assign them the task of reporting on top stories.  They can refer to highlighted text or notes, but they should look at the camera as much as possible.  Have them pick subjects like local news, national, world, weather and science.  They can switch off between newscasters and reporters and work as a team if you have more than one child.  If you like, videotape it and play it back on the TV.

The Civil War, Shooting Stars and Cipro

We’re still insanely busy here.

We took Annalee to the doctor today, since she’s had an ear infection since Nebraska that just will not quit.  She was at the ER with a high fever and terrible pain down there, and 10 days and two prescriptions later she still can’t sleep well at night.

Anna is now on Cipro and a couple of ear drops.  The doctor said she’s been seeing antibiotic-resistant staph infections in kids’ ears lately, including one earlier this week.  Yikes.  Hopefully this will kick it.

In other news….

We’re heading to this Civil War reenactment tomorrow.  It sounds like a blast!  Literally, with the cannon fire and all.  😉

Usually, we take part in a knap-in in Lake Benton for this weekend, with Daryl teaching the atlatl, free camping and ooga-booga ceremonies galore (don’t ask, it’s super secret and I couldn’t tell!).  But Daryl’s legs are just too bad right now so we’re taking it easy and being tourists for the weekend somewhere else instead.

Daryl took the girls out to the country to see the Leoneid meteor shower last night.  They counted dozens.  Daryl came home and said “I love small-town living.”  While they were parked by the side of the road, a car pulled up and a man asked if they needed any help.  Daryl told the driver, “No thanks, we’re just looking at the meteor shower” and the voice from the darkness said, “Daryl?”.

It turns out it was Dave, one of Daryl’s local friends and the father of one of Anna’s best friends.  They chatted and watched shooting stars for a bit before Dave headed home and my brood went back to watching the skies.

It’s kind of nice living somewhere where not only will passing cars stop to offer help if you’re parked by the side of the road, but they’ll recognize your voice in the darkness (and know you’re probably the only guy who’d haul his kids out to the middle of nowhere at 2 a.m. to watching meteor showers).  🙂

It’s a crazy life but I kinda secretly love it.

As long as there’s occasional chocolate and wine!

When Do We Get to This Homeschooling Business?

Egads, life gets busy with the pageant and summer craziness!

I keep meaning to finish this algebra curriculum I’m reviewing and days pass between times we get to it.  It’s a shame, since Jack was rocking at it and I really need to hurry and post the review, but summer is so chaotic.

What happened to lazy summer days?  Daryl and the girls are busy with the pageant every night from about 5:30 on, which means we have really early suppers.  We just finished Jack’s swimming lessons, which ran daily from noon to one (he passed!) and there’s library club and events we’re helping out at and all of these little things that eat away at the days.

Tomorrow is the start of our town’s “Fun Days,” which means it’s a sort of carnival atmosphere (minus any rides or real attractions).  Daryl is teaching old time instruments like dulcimers, spoons and washboards at the museum.  There will be mayhem in the park and fireworks across from our house in the evening.

There may be a parade.  I hope not.  I absolutely loathe the Minnesota tradition of hurling small, stale, cheap, junky candy by the fistful into the street for children to gather up like beggars as tanks, tractors and fire trucks roll towards them.  Is that just a Minnesota thing or is that all over now?  I am not a fan.

Fun Days will continue Sunday.  That will be plenty of fun for me.  😉

Then Monday it’s back to rehearsals, as opening night nears and the frenzy heightens.

Somehow we’re going to do some of the following anyway:

  • Run in the sprinkler
  • Do science experiments outside
  • Watch some more of that algebra video
  • Do art
  • Finish Dies Drear
  • Make goodies
  • Play outside
  • Finish cleaning out Daryl’s den, paint it and convert it to Victoria’s new bedroom
  • Fill the sandbox with more sand so the kids can properly play in it
  • Make more goodies
  • Read “A Little History of the World”
  • Fill the wading pool with fun stuff
  • Ride bikes together
  • Eat salads from the garden
  • Relax outside in the shade.  Lots.

And now, there may be some tornado-like action coming so I’m going to go batten down the hatches.

Birthday Madness

We’re off in a couple of hours to the Mankato area to spend the night with the grandparents and buy a new (to us) van.  Tomorrow is Jack’s birthday, the next day is Victoria’s birthday and Monday is Alex’s birthday.

I’m baking cakes from scratch for all three.  There are at least 2 parties.  I still have to finish buying presents and party favors.

I’m tired.  🙂

I’ll try to check in occasionally in the tornado that will be the next 4 days.

In the meantime, this (not that first part) makes me grin…. A lot.  😉