Siamese Genetics, Zombie Volunteerism, Homeschool Freebies and More

Sorry to be such a lax blogger lately!  Life has been frantic, as usual.  I’m still working on balancing the blogs with my columns with homeschooling 5 kids and all of my home duties.  At least it keeps life interesting!

Here are a few ways we’ve learned through life lately…….

1.  We’ve had our first real snow and cold of the winter.  Toria and Alex went out and built an impressive snow fort with blocks made from a 5 gallon bucket.  The walls are about 18 inches high now (it’s got a huge circumference, like igloo sized!) and I think they’re hoping for a huge snowfall and help make more snow.  I personally am not! Perhaps I’ll ask them to figure out its square feet once it’s done.  Tricky, eh?  ;)

2.  The kids all fell in love with a free math site online (I wrote about it here) and they all begged to upgrade to premium memberships, which would have cost a fortune.  I found out that there’s a group rate that’s far cheaper and ended up taking over a group buy that was a monumental amount of work but I was able to get all four of my big kids premium memberships.  Even my teenagers wanted in on it even though it technically goes to 8th grade (it’s a lot like Pokemon and they have fun doing it with their younger siblings).  I figure extra math practice never hurt anybody. They are now spending a ton of time doing math willingly so it was worth it to me!

3.  We went to Sioux Falls yesterday to look for new (to us) winter boots for the kids and to run errands.  We have a zoo membership, so Daryl took the kids to the zoo while I was at an appointment.

4.  Fiona napped in the car on the way home and that always means she won’t fall asleep at bedtime.  She was up until some insane hour (2 a.m. or so!) and Toria took her downstairs and read her dozens of picture books so that Daryl and I could sleep.  Bless her heart, she came down from her bedroom and held out her arms to our bouncy Fiona, and told me “I stay up later anyway, Mom, and you have to get up early.  This way you can get some sleep.”  Sometimes teenagers are pretty awesome!

5.  I suggested to Toria and Anna that they could each self publish a Kindle book for a homeschool project this semester.  It would give them writing experience but also work experience and a skill that they could use well in life to earn extra money.  I gave them the task of researching how to do it and left it completely open as to what sort of book they want to publish.  Anna is really excited and is planning on doing a book of her poems and may illustrate it with some of her poetry.  Toria is thinking of converting a public domain short story into a play.

6.  Toria and her dad volunteered at a haunted house set up as a fundraiser in a nearby city for most of October, every Friday and Saturday with lots of extra days thrown in.  It was an elaborate, impressive set-up in an old high school that is now a community center.  There were three floors of haunted areas and the basement was full of prom zombies.  Daryl played a homicidal principal in one of the offices, and Toria and a friend played dead girls (they would do things like twitch or suddenly turn and look at people as they went by).  They had a blast, and they helped with the clean up and the planning meetings for next year’s event.  Toria made friends, she helped a great organization, and she got some pretty crazy work experience.

7.  I’ve put out the art box again, and it’s been a big hit. The basic premise of the art box is that I keep a box or tray of art supplies that the kids can use to do anything they like.  Its contents change all the time so there are new things to do.  I also keep out a glue gun and the kids (other than Fiona) know how to safely use it.  Jack has made billions of adorable little creations out of odds and ends (he uses everything from little wooden shapes from the thrift store to knobs to broken toy bits).  I have to get some pictures of his creations, because they’re so fun. Toria made sweet little paper stars and multi-media collage projects, among a hundred other creations.  Fiona mostly sticks little foam stickers all over things and cuts everything up with scissors.

8.  We adopted a kitten and named him Boots.  Our other two cats were rescues as adults from a shelter, but this little guy needed a home and I broke down and said yes.  He is a real sweetheart, patient with all of the kids loving on him and playful.  His mother is a Siamese and we were surprised that he didn’t look Siamese at all, so we researched cat genetics and found out that the Siamese traits are recessive so a part-Siamese cat will almost never look Siamese (and will typically be black and white or all black no matter what the other cat looked like).  It was fascinating!  We learned so much and I had no idea about any of it.

Siamese cats have a unique coat pattern. The gradual shading of the extremities is caused by a recessive gene with temperature-sensitive expression. The resulting pattern is essentially a heat-map of the cat’s body…

The albino mutation in Siamese cats results in a defective form of tyrosinase which does not function at normal body temperature. Therefore, dark coloration can only appear in parts of the body that are cooler than the core body temperature. The extremities are always the coolest parts of the body. The face is also cooler because of air passing through the sinuses. The back is warmer than the extremities, being closer to the body core, but it is also exposed. The result is a medium degree of tyrosinase function, resulting in a medium degree of shading

You can read this article (read the comment too!) for more about the genetics and science of Siamese cats.

Wikipedia also has some interesting info like this:

All Siamese kittens, although pure cream or white at birth, develop visible points in the first few months of life in colder parts of their body. By the time a kitten is four weeks old, the points should be sufficiently clearly distinguishable to recognise which colour they are. Siamese cats tend to darken with age, and generally, adult Siamese living in warm climates have lighter coats than those in cool climates.

We will be fostering his Siamese mama for the next week before passing her on to some friends who are coming down for Thanksgiving and will be adopting her.

9.  I’m still involving the kids in as much cooking as possible, hoping they will enter adulthood really knowing well how to cook most foods from scratch.  We were talking last night on the way home from Sioux Falls about a conversation I had with a massage therapist earlier in the day about how she needed to switch her diet on her doctor’s orders and was going grain free.  I told her that soups and salads were good, easy meals sometimes where you didn’t miss grains and she said she couldn’t have soup.  I asked why not, and she said her doctor said it often has added flour.  I forgot that most people don’t make their own soup these days, but this lady is close to retirement age and had never made homemade soup!  I told her how to make an easy broth and she was excited to try it, and then I gave her tips on easy soups to make from there.  I consider cooking an essential homeschooling skill that is so important.  Homemade foods are generally ten times healthier, cheaper and tastier.  I have a Pinterest board of cooking and foraging with kids posts that Daryl has written up.

10. We got this free poster through the mail and I’m putting it up along the basement stairs.  I’m a big fan of sneaky homeschooling with posters.

And the kids have done lots of reading, watching documentaries, playing with friends, painting, photography, computer games, LEGOs, drawing, thrift store shopping, nature crafts, listening to music, blogging, decorating, researching, talking, and son on.

 

10 Ways We’ve Learned and Played Here Lately

July is flying past!  We’re so busy, as usual.  Here’s a bit of what homeschool looks like around here lately….

  1. Daryl and the boys just finished the second weekend of the Wilder Pageant. Attendance is averaging between 800 and 1,000 audience members a night.  The performances have been really good and the weather has held out.  Next week is a huge production with many of the cast members from the TV show attending.  Ticket prices are higher, reserved seating has been sold out for months, and we’re anticipating crazy crowds.  It should be fun!
  2. Jack took part in a 6-week day camp at a horse stable with other boys his age. They focused on crafts, woodworking, care of the horses and developing self confidence.  Daryl paid off part of the tuition with volunteer hours, including teaching the boys how to play the spoons and teaching a group of 150 senior citizens about old time musical instruments.
  3. The kids have learned all about the brain from my many medical procedures. Last week I had another EEG, this time after sleep deprivation.  The good news is that my MRI showed no sign of a tumor or stroke.  My neurologist is continuing to look into the cause of  the “sharp waves” and “lightning strikes” that showed up on my EEG and the source of my neurological issues.  Bonus:  I asked for a copy of the MRI on CD so the kids can see pictures of Mama’s brain.  ;)
  4. I printed out these Minecraft math worksheets for the boys. I thought they’d love them since they were Minecraft themed, but after an initial cheer, Jack got a closer look and asked what was Minecraft about them.  I had to admit it was just a graphic on the bottom of each page and neither boy was very impressed.  They did them anyway, but they weren’t pleased!  I have to see if I can figure out how to really make Minecraft math worksheets.  Maybe word problems?
  5. We’ve gone to the family festival in the park at Walnut Grove each Saturday. I love the family festival!  It’s free and full of fun crafts the kids can do, plus lots of demonstrations of old fashioned fun.  There is also lots of great food to buy (go to the Hmong stand! the egg rolls and sesame balls are awesome!), plus there are vendors who sell everything from handmade jewelry to old time bonnets to pottery. 
  6. The three big kids continue to do Khan Academy for math. It’s just an ongoing assignment around here — “Do some math.”  They do the subjects and amount of time they want and I get a report once a week telling me how much they’ve each done and what they’ve learned.  I congratulate whichever kid did the most minutes for the week (it’s almost always Jack).
  7. Anna is writing a book. She’s been writing for a couple of months now and is quite serious about it.  She’s on page 80-something and plans to self-publish it on Kindle.  She has been a writer all of her life but I have never seen her stick to a project for this long.  I’m looking forward to reading the finished book!
  8. The kids have been doing a lot of swimming at the city pool. We got a summer pass and Daryl has taken Victoria, Jack, Alex and Fiona just about every day for an hour or two.  Anna prefers lakes.
  9. I’ve had lots of long conversations with Victoria and Anna. Recent talks with Anna have included the topics of the Gulf War, transgender issues, Iraq, Afghanistan, women’s rights before and after the Taliban, abortion, contraception, medical marijuana, photography, endangered animals, killdeers, toads, college, careers, Facebook, personality types, Edgar Allen Poe and lots more.  Recent conversations with Victoria have included the topics of finances, relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, #IamJada, naturally healing sinus infections and UTIs,  single-celled organisms, LGBTQA issues and oodles more.
  10. We’ve been raising a baby praying mantis from birth! He/she is currently about 3 weeks old and about 3/4 of an inch long.  Praying Mantis (PM) lives in an antique mason jar with a paper towel and rubber band lid, with an assortment of fruit on the bottom of the habitat.  Every day or so, I tap the top enough to get PM to scoot off the top and then I remove the paper towel for a few minutes while we all watch carefully (we do not want a wild praying mantis living in our kitchen) and lure in some innocent fruit flies that are menacing my counter.  PM is speedy fast at catching them!  We’ll release our pet at some point into the garden, but it’s been a lot of fun to watch him/her grow.

Life is also full of gardening, sleepovers, park days, sprinklers, sandboxes, picture books, chapter books, photography, poetry, video chats, art, play dough, hair experiments (Toria is currently bleach blonde and awaiting a new crazy color and Anna asked me to chop most of her hair off into a bob that looks adorable on her), bike rides, homemade contraptions, berry picking, LEGOs, Minecraft, beading, nature documentaries and the usual mayhem.

Lots of that mayhem!  But it’s all good.  Wine helps.  :)

Another Nebraska Getaway

We were lucky enough to get to spend another week at the fabulous Baker house in Nebraska last week, and it was a wonderful break.

The original plan was for me to go down with just Fiona and Anna since Daryl and the boys have pageant practice, but Alex missed me so badly that Daryl brought him and Jack down to join us a couple of days later.

Tiffany is doing day care out of her home now, and it was fun getting to help out.  Most of her day care kids are around toddler and preschool age, so they were great fun for Fiona to play with.

There was lots of painting, lots of messes and lots of chaos (though still less than there generally is in my house with just my kids!).  :)

The big kids even joined in the day care fun on some days!

The theme for the week was dinos, and we did all sorts of dino-related fun such as……

  • Drawing the length of an apatosaurus on the sidewalk and marking its stride, and then seeing how long the kids’ stride was in comparison.
  • Having dino snacks (carrot sticks carved like dino teeth, hard boiled eggs, etc.).
  • Reading dino books.
  • Singing a dino song each day about herbivores, carnivores and omnivores (we considered it a great success when Kennedy was overheard singing “carni, carni, carnivore….” on Friday).
  • Cutting out life-sized T-rex feet and putting them on the dining room wall at the proper spacing for how far apart their footsteps were (it took up the whole wall!).
  • And so on!

I’ll try to post some examples after I download the pics from my camera.

I’m inspired to do some themes around here each week now, even for the bigger kids.  Some of the ideas I have are seeds, space, fire, continents, oceans, mammals, fish, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, weather, the periodic table, colors and senses.  I am thinking of having a different general theme each week, and maybe doing lots of science themes too — magnets, electricity, evolution, etc.

As always, Tiffany’s house has inspired me to try even harder to get organized too.  Hope springs eternal.  ;)

 

 

Bad Blogger

Hello there!  Sorry to be MIA for so long.  I hereby pledge to start showing up and yapping far more.  I miss it.

I know that one of the problems is that sites like Pinterest have really changed the blogging universe, and it started to slowly change me.  Blogs used to be personal ways to record our days and help each other out, and then they became flashy monetized ways to try to lure people in for ad revenue.

They all started to look like colorful magazine layouts with fantasy families.  They were full of professional looking photos with titles that used 8 fonts to promise life-changing information if I only clicked in and read on.

And I started to feel pretty plain, posting my black and white words with random links and musings, grainy photos and personal accounts of our little life in our messy house.

Okay, and I also just got really busy with life.  Five kids, a few writing gigs and way too much housework will do that to a person, too.  ;)

But no more!  I am pledging (once again) to commence yapping.  Because there are already plenty of flashy blogs that promise to help you teach your kids every president in order over breakfast, and even if hardly anyone else is out there, I still kind of like showing up and talking about our life here.

To start, here’s a super-fast catch-up of 10 things we’ve done lately….

  1. We made violet syrup and violet candy — and even made the violet syrup change colors with chemistry (violets are pH indicators).  How cool is that?!  (And yes, I hope to write it up online soon.)
  2. We signed up for a new CSA and are excited to get our first veggies soon.
  3. We found our first foraged morels and found out why people pay crazy amounts of money for them.
  4. We made slime out of water, food coloring and psyllium husks (hoping to write that up soon, too).
  5. We registered Victoria for her fall classes at Perpich.  Eek!
  6. We played with friends.
  7. We’ve seen handfuls of doctors and specialists to deal with various ailments and injuries.
  8. We’ve done tons of hiking now that the weather is nice again.
  9. We discovered lots of new book series and put together lots of puzzles.
  10. Daryl and the boys are once more taking part in the Wilder Pageant (Daryl is the Doc this year instead of the usual reverend).  The girls are all home with me this year.  It is the bittersweet end of an era for me, with no little girls in braids in the pageant, but I’m happy that my boys will be part of that magic once more.

There have also been the usual talks, puns, walks, photos, art projects and so on.  And the house is still a wreck and it’s still chaos here.

And with that, I should go switch the laundry and find some books to read some little people.

Till tomorrow!  I hope!  :)

Look What We’ve Been Up To….

We took a family vacation to St. Augustine, Florida!

It was Daryl’s first time to ever see the ocean, and our first big family vacation all together — ever!

We rented a very affordable condo on the beach for a week and it was all kinds of heavenly.

We celebrated Victoria’s 16th birthday, Jack’s 11th birthday and Alex’s 7th birthday.

Of course, life had to resume soon after we made the long drive back, and this week has been filled with sick kids, too much laundry, squabbles, cold Minnesota weather, a temperamental washing machine, an epically messy house and a bit of this…

It turns out I’m crazy anemic and need four weeks of IV iron.  It also turns out that my veins are as impossible to stab with a pointy thing as ever.

But all in all, life is good.  Give me access to a real beach once every two or three years and I remember how to breathe again.  :)

I can’t wait to share more, but for now I have laundry to switch and messes to clean and some teenage drama to sort out….

Well, I’m glad that’s over!

Is it sacrilege to admit I’m happy the holidays are done with? :)   We don’t even have stressful holidays.  They’re rather nice and low key, but the whole tone of the world is so frantic and annoyed this time of year, and you can’t go anywhere at all because of the masses of people out shopping day and night.

And the disparity among the children — my kids have some teenage friends who got new cars and computers, and others who got next to nothing (some family friends weren’t going to be able to have any Christmas at all but that has been remedied).  I’m always acutely aware of how tough it is to be a really poor kid the week after Christmas.

Not to mention the friends who are dealing with grief this time of year — death, divorce and so on.  The only thing harder than dealing with something devastating is dealing with it while everybody else seems to be blissfully happy.

In any case, we had a nice holiday (or set of them).  We celebrated the Winter Solstice and opened our presents together Solstice morning, then Daryl took all of the kids to the matinee while I cooked and visited with a friend who stopped by.  We had an evening feast that night.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa, braving quite a lot of snow and terrible roads to get there.  We had a lovely feast there too, and the kids got to play in the snow and spend time with family.

 

And now, I’m preparing for the new year and all sorts of goals and resolutions.

I am not at all the type to make New Years resolutions other than ones like these better homeschool resolutions for 2014 but I am looking at the new year as a time to try to implement some fun schedules and changes.

They go along with the new winter schedule that I posted recently, wanting to have some daily activities (reading aloud educationally and for fun, math each day and so on) and some weekly ones (messy art on Wednesday, field trips and literature on Friday, and such).

I am still trying to figure out how to balance it all better… homeschooling such different ages, spending quality time with five kids, keeping up with four columns and two blogs, cooking, chores and so on.

I think it ought to be one of my personal goals for 2014 to be completely caught up on laundry even one day:)

In any case, I’m working on it and will report back on anything that works well.

In the meantime, here’s a few odds and ends that might be of interest…

Bradshaw & Sons: how to make snow lollies...  Maple syrup, snow & a stick. Looks fun!

How to make snow lollies (boiled maple syrup, snow & a stick)

Homeschool 101: What can we do for PE when it's cold outside?

Cold weather exercise ideas… Homeschool 101: What can we do for PE when it’s cold outside?

Cold weather science!

Vaporize hot water in the air, blow frozen bubbles, testing the freezing points of various liquids and more… Cold weather science!

Waldorf ~ 3rd grade ~ Math ~ Vertical Subtraction ~ main lesson book

An interesting (Waldorf-inspired) way of doing subtraction (I couldn’t find a link, just the graphic on someone’s Pinterest page from their iCloud, but it is pretty self explanatory)

Fabulous New Years activities for families

Fabulous New Years activities for families

Fun ways to ring in the new year with children

And more… Fun ways to ring in the new year with children

Graphing with sponges from teachertipster.com (no more info, just the pic)

And a nice little set of goals…

Now on to that laundry…..

 

 

Hiking Monday

It’s fall, and that means we ease into the fall season of homeschooling. I love homeschooling by the seasons, and even though I am always so sad to see summer end I have to admit there are things to love about fall.

One tradition I love is hiking.  We generally plan for hiking every Monday, and we aim to go to a different place every week.

Last week we tried out Kilen Woods State Park for the first time, even though it’s barely more than a half an hour away from us.

It was a wonderful visit.

We had it to ourselves, and had so much fun.

Daryl announced when we got there that it was important to mark the start of fall with an acorn fight, and the kids had an immensely wonderful time ganging up on poor Daddy with acorns by the hundreds.

Even Fiona grinned and grinned.

Then we left our oldest and youngest behind (Daryl’s legs are still not up to hiking and Fiona is not quite old enough for the amount we wanted to do) and we headed down the wooded paths while they stayed behind to gather walnuts and acorns and play.

It was a wonderful trail, full of meandering creeks and treasures to find.

There was even a section that met up with the Des Moines River, and it was a beautiful spot to rest.

When we got back, we played with caterpillars (we ID’ed ours thanks to the ID books in the little cabin at the site but I’ve forgotten what he was!) and water pumps and sand boxes.

It was a lovely way to do our nature studies and PE for the day!

 

Nature Studies Last Week

A big part of our “curriculum” this time of year is nature. We spend as much time as possible outside and much of our life in general is dictated by nature. We are harvesting in the garden, “putting up” produce like non-GMO corn from a nearby farm and homemade pickles with farmers’ market cukes, cooking like crazy with extra zucchini gifted by others, watching wildlife, spending days at the lake, foraging, climbing trees, playing and eating nearly every dinner outside in the back yard at our new farmhouse table.

(Daryl and Victoria built it for me.  Isn’t it marvelous?!)

This week was a pretty great week for nature studies. Here’s some of what we did….

  • We watched a cicada emerge from his alien-like skin with his new green wings.
  • We watched a monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis right by our back door, pump its new wings until they were dry, and fly away.
  • We swam at the lake many times and played with sand, water, driftwood and water bugs.
  • Victoria found some neat rocks and an arrowhead artifact at the lake, and was with Daryl when he found another fossilized shark tooth.
  • Alex and Jack helped Daryl forage for acorns, walnuts, apples and crab apples.  The boys always excitedly gather any acorns or walnuts they come across to bring home to process, which tickles me since 99.9% of the world considers them nuisances for the lawnmower.
  • Daryl and the kids “foraged” for apples and crab apples by getting permission from various owners who said they would not be harvesting them and who gave us permission to pick them.  These were all organic apples since the owners didn’t plan to harvest them and therefore didn’t spray them.
  • Alex helped Daryl made applesauce from the apples and crab apples and we canned many pints and quarts of it for the winter.  We talked about why our new pressure canner can safely preserve low-acid foods.
  • Victoria helped Daryl process the acorns and turn them into acorn flour(Here’s how our family does that.)
  • I made gluten-free apple cake with acorn flour (and other gluten free flours) we made from acorns Daryl and Alex gathered at our UU church, then we brought the flour for everyone to see and smell (it smells divine).  We’ll be bringing them baked good samples and printed instructions on how to do it themselves, too.  (Here’s the recipe I used for the apple cake, substituting acorn flour for the soy flour.) The apples were also foraged ones, and the eggs were from a homeschooling family down the highway (we buy 5-10 dozen eggs from them at a time from their free-roaming chickens at $1 a dozen), so a lot of the ingredients were locally sourced.
  • Jack and Alex helped Daryl husk walnuts and put them in big mesh onion bags in the garage to dry.
  • The kids helped husk non-GMO corn from a nearby farm to blanch and freeze it for winter.  We buy enormous boxes of ears for $6 each and spend a day at a time putting it up.  It’s a lot of work but it’s well worth it for many reasons!  (Here’s how Daryl and the kids process it.)
  • We watered and tended our gardens.  I use wine bottles for drip irrigation, and Jack helped me fill the bottles.
  • We made gluten-free zucchini breads and cakes like crazy, and froze extra shredded zucchini for use in recipes later in the year.  (These are our favorite recipe so far to use extra zucchini — Easy triple chocolate zucchini mini donuts and Chocolate zucchini bread, which tastes like chocolate cake to us.) We also made lots of grilled zucchini and zucchini everything else!  :)
  • We saw hundreds of dead carp by Talcot Dam, littering the shore.  We believe the combination of hot weather and low water just killed them off.  It led to more talk about weather and climate change.
  • We saw great blue herons, vultures, sandpipers, cranes, pelicans and other beautiful birds at the lake and in the wetlands that we pass when we head out of town for groceries.
  • Toria, Alex and Fiona found a frog after church and played with him before letting him go.
  • We talked about our funny sunflowers that don’t usually turn to face the sun at all the way they’re supposed to, but rather stick their faces in all directions.  Incidentally, if you want to know why they turn to follow the sun, ask.com says, “Sunflowers face the sun due to their ability of ‘heliotropism’ or sun-tracking. Sunflowers have a hydraulic system in the stem which enables them to turn in the direction of the sun. Water builds up on the shady side of the stem, leading to pressure which causes the head to arc toward the light.”
  • We read from One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! and the kids used their biology knowledge to try to solve the mysteries in the life science section.
  • I made the mistake of wandering into the Nature Bats Last blog and following rabbit trails there until I was left an utter basket case in the middle of the night and had to email a friend whose wife is an environmental science professor to talk me off the ledge.  If you want to feel despondent pretty quickly, google “near term extinction” sometime and take a look at the amazingly short number of years some scientists are giving humanity and pretty much all life on earth.  (Note:  I had Nature Bats Last hyperlinked for you but I really consider it a public service announcement not to send any poor unsuspecting souls there.  I prefer hope.  Yes, climate change and climate chaos is real and getting really bad really fast, but paralyzing us with fear isn’t going to inspire the kind of change that’s needed to save ourselves and our world.  For goodness sake, we all need to get serious about making real changes, though.)
  • We are starting an in-depth family study of ways to convert our house to more sustainable energy, along with various tools we use (for instance, we bought a push reel mower a couple of years ago to use instead of the gas powered one).  We are also going to see how far we can lower our utility bill from September of last year and talk to our minister about starting a community garden at our UU church next year (the church is already wind powered, which is pretty awesome and shows their commitment to sustainable living).
  • I made up a batch of elderberry honey syrup to beat a bad summer cold.
  • Jack, Alex and Fiona took part in the Think! challenge to make mandalas from natural objects.  The boys made fantastic ones (Fiona just played) and they were posted on the Think! blog.  Unfortunately, the blog owner posted Alex’s twice and didn’t post Jack’s at all and she apparently doesn’t read her comments, so you can’t see Jack’s!  It was awesome and I’m going to try to contact her again to see if she’ll put his up because I know he’ll be proud to see it online.
  • We have been taking walks, climbing trees, visiting with friends in the back yard, eating outside, grilling out (mostly produce and veggies… stuffed portabello mushrooms are our all-time favorite but they’re about 1000 calories apiece!), making refrigerator pickles and scrap apple juice and peach pie and a hundred other things to use up excess fruits and veggies, trimming trees and bushes, loving on pets, talking about the jet stream and weather, photographing bugs, pulling weeds, checking on wild edibles (grapes, elderberries and plums are ripening soon, among others… here’s what’s in season in September in the midwest)…

And that’s why we don’t start “doing school” in late August just because the local schools have started up again.  :)   Not that we ever do school anyway, but this is just not a sit-down and study kind of season for us.  We do homeschooling through the seasons and I love this season.

In other news…

Here’s some free science notebooking pages you can download.

Here’s some articles I’ve published lately…

Daryl read somewhere years ago that September is the month of winds and magic.  Since it is the month of his birthday and our anniversary, it is a special month for us.  Happy September!

 

5 Unusual Things We’re Doing Today

Well, it’s never a dull moment here! Here’s what we’re up to today (well, five of the things)….

  1. Victoria showed up at a nearby farm at 5 a.m. for her first day of field work. She’s hoping to save up for a Nexus.  I figure this should count for PE for a while too.  ;)
  2. Anna is at the hospital getting fitted for an “event monitor” for her heart.  She’s been having chest pains and the doctor suggested wearing it for a short time just to see what it shows.  We’re fairly sure she’s fine, but it will be interesting to be able to track what her heart is doing and I’ve learned that it’s never a bad thing to be thorough about medical issues with my kids.
  3. We’re processing bushels and bushels of apples. A wonderful homeschooling friend let us come and pick some of their plentiful apples the other day, and we really loaded up.  This time of year is great for finding organic apples since so many people don’t spray their trees and they often have more than they can use.  We’re making applesauce, Dutch apple pies, faux cider (I use the peels and cores, simmer them in water until the water is really infused with the apple flavor, strain and add sugar and a dash of cinnamon), and so on.
  4. There’s a whole lot of canning going on. I have a new pressure canner and have been canning applesauce like crazy.  Next is pickles and apple pie filling, and soon will be salsa.  This is my favorite salsa recipe of all time to use with fresh tomatoes (it’s the type you get in authentic Mexican restaurants instead of the vinegar-based jarred kind and it takes about 30 seconds!) and I want to make a ton to put up for later.
  5. To be announced! I’m not sure what we’ll do for number five so I’ll report back tomorrow.  :)

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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!