Today, after doing school, we got the supplies for Bethany’s science lab. I made everyone do it because, well, why not?

Safety first!

The lab is pretty simple, but the reaction of the liver to the hydrogen peroxide was pretty cool.

Also, lighting matches with the oxygen gas being given off was cool too…

which led to lighting matches just for fun.

Which led to Hannah asking why toothpicks don’t light from the match books. I asked her if she thought the toothpick was the same as a match – one is wood and one is paper, but they both burn. She looked at the matches and thought that the stuff on the match must have something to do with why matches light when you rub them on the cover and toothpicks don’t. The chicken liver that we used bubbled up so much that it kept overflowing the test tube.

It was fun to listen to the pop of the toothpick relighting when it got near the bubbles from the liver. Hannah’s piece produced some nice popping sounds.

The same experiment with apple, potato, onion and carrot wasn’t as neat.

The potato and onion foamed up, but didn’t light a glowing match. The apple and carrot did practically nothing. You can find one version of the lab here

Doing laundry and cleaning up liver fluid overflows took up the rest of my day. Next week it’s a photosynthesis lab, that one shouldn’t be as gross.

Park day!

I tell you, nothing beats park day. The kids get to play, the parent get to chat, the shade was nice, the water was cool – it’s nice. We had a huge crowd today, probably close to 40 kids ranging in age from 2 to 15 (with lots of 8 and 12 year olds in there.)

But first, school. Bethany worked on Driver’s ed today (don’t worry it’s just the book work side of it – though I don’t know why you’d be worried, you don’t have to drive with her…), some Government and some Music. Grace worked on a Math test and got a 100, even though she was pleading to not do it. Hannah has started working on cursive and it’s true – when someone wants to do something, they will do it easier than when they don’t want to and you force them to do it. This week she took her training wheels off her bike and is riding without them and now she’s learning cursive. Maybe tomorrow she’ll ask to learn Algebra (I doubt it.)

The park was nice, we found 3 picnic tables in the shade and set up there.

2 boys (twins) had a birthday today and were turning 12, they brought cookies to share. We got to chat about our trip, vent a little about lots of things (not just me venting, other people venting) and play.

There were so many scooters that looked alike it was hard to keep track of which one belonged to which kid.

We stayed until 4:30 and then headed home with an extra kid in tow. Bethany has youth group tonight and we’re taking the girls to the pool until it’s time to pick her up. Tomorrow we’re all doing a science lab (that’s really only Bethany’s), so we’ll see how that turns out.

‘A day in the life’ {Thursday}


OK, so I could have picked any day this week. Monday was full of school and Chinese class for Hannah. Tuesday was more school and a walk at Hudson gardens. Wednesday is always light because of Park day, so I chose today. Yeah, I knew that we had a concert at the library and I knew that we’d be picking crabapples, but this is a more representative day – school in the morning, fun stuff in the afternoon.

So, I woke up at my usual time 7:30 am. I know this isn’t early for most people, but the girls and I are not early risers (unless we’re camping), so just pretend that 7:30 is early. I strive to start school by 9 am, so this morning time is mine to read my devotional, check my e-mail and HS group board, walk outside (sometimes), and do laundry-dishes-clean up around the house. This is also time to check over school to-do’s and make a specific plan of attack for the day (in general the girls know what to do, but if things are due, or big items are coming up, I need to let them know how to accomplish those goals.)

By 9 am the girls were downstairs working on school. Bethany finished up a report for English and this brochure for Government. Grace finished her Math and then worked on a map for History.

Hannah wrote her Math problems out (rounding), worked on her cursive and spelling.

There wasn’t too much school because we had to be out the door by 11:15. Our read aloud is:


Right now we’re on Clara Brown – Angel of the Rockies. We usually read at lunch time, but today we did it early because we had a treat for lunch, music at the library. Today it was Songs Judica and snacks from Whole Foods.

This time I brought paper and colored pencils so the girls could draw while listening to the music…music+art+culture.

Have a listen…..

The library also had an exhibit about Steve Jobs; giant i-phones were filled with US patents for his technology.

We saw a patent for a giant 1983 bulky computer and a 2009 i-pod and everything in-between. Walking back to the car we had to stop and take a picture in the red phone booth, even though it’s not blue…and not a police call box (you’d think someone would have painted it Dr. Who blue by now.)

We ate lunch at Chick-fil-a and waited out the rain. Back at home we used the delay in rain showers to head over to a local crabapple tree to pick enough apples to make jelly.

We picked about 10 cups (sans the ones Hannah ate.)

They have enough pectin in them to make jelly without adding pectin, so that is good news for us – first time crabapple jelly makers. We cleaned the fruit, cut off the stems and ends and boiled the fruit after measuring out 8 cups of apples. We picked the red crabapples because I thought they would make a pretty color of jelly (as opposed to the green ones.)

Then we strained the fruit, reserved the juice and boiled it again, adding in the sugar.

Finally we poured the jelly into jars and did a hot water bath to seal them. I had Hannah measure the amount in the jars versus what we started with. Let’s see…cooking+math.

Dinner was BBQ courtesy James, so I had time to plan out some more of our California trip (we’re leaving on Sep. 2nd…yikes!) We ended the night with a some TV and reading (not at the same time.)

So that is a pretty typical day in the life, some days are more schoolish, some days are more fun, some days are crazy and some days are snowed-in-sit-by-the-fireplace days….but they’re all good days at home.

See more ‘day in the life’ posts here.


More school today. The schedule will go slower once we get back from CA, but this week (at least for Bethany) it’s work, work, work. She finished up a unit in Government, did some English assignments, Biology and Music. Tomorrow it’s more of the same for her.

After lunch, we went to Hudson gardens to see the frogs and maybe try to catch some.

We didn’t see any frogs in the small pond on the first try, so we headed over to the other pond. We found 4 frogs, but they were all too fast to catch. The girls went back across the creek to raid the plum tree.

Grace found ‘the sweetest plum ever’.

The bridge and creek.

Back at the small pond….well, who do we spy hiding by the potted plant?

He was just out of reach. This guy was also out of reach, just daring us to fall in the water.

We didn’t catch any frogs, but we did catch this handsome grasshopper.

A delightful time in the gardens. Back at home I baked some fish and spaghetti squash and then we went to the gym to swim and walk on the treadmill. Hopefully it won’t rain for park day tomorrow.


Park day yesterday was wonderful. The kids played in the water, Bethany got some friend time, we found some snakes, met some new friends, played and talked.

Today we started school by trying to catch up the on-line system to where we are at. Hannah’s course were wiped, History we reloaded, but I’m having to go through everything else and put tests back in. Grace has a totally different Math and History, so those stand as new courses. Bethany did a little bit of everything and we all helped with the Science lab because, well, it was fun. Bubblegum lab (I did this as a co-op once.)

Use the scientific method to determine which bubblegum blows the biggest bubbles and why. Pick two types of gum (one sugar free and one with sugar.)

Control your variables (use 1 piece of gum, chew for 5 minutes, etc.) After 5 minutes blow a bubble, measure the diameter, repeat 2 more time. Repeat with the other type of gum.

After blowing the bubbles, stretch each piece of gum out and measure the length. Now you can answer the problem with the data and see if it matched your hypothesis.

I thought the best part of the lab was blowing the bubbles, Hannah thought it was the stretching of the gum, Grace thought it was blowing bubbles and Bethany thought chewing the gum was the best part.

The world may never know.

Tomorrow it’s off to Elitch for Grace and Hannah, while Bethany stays home to write and do some school work.

More school pics

After a long day of school (for Bethany anyway, she’s working hard to be ahead so that when we get back from CA she’s not behind) I took Grace and Hannah to Hudson gardens for their school pics. It’s always nice to be there in the evenings, nice light, great water reflections, pretty flowers,

frogs and flickers,

and bunny rabbits who want to be in the picture.

Hannah, 3rd grade. We use K12 through a virtual school, part-time, which means we’re homeschoolers under the law.

I filed my NOI 2 weeks ago….even though we started this school year in March.

We do Music (drums and harmonica), Art, unit studies and random things through our HS group’s co-ops throughout the year. While taking pics we found sour cherries, crab-apples and plums to snack on.

Hannah likes reading and doing anything on the computer. She likes hands-on learning or out-loud learning.

Grace is in 7th grade, also using the virtual school part-time.

She does Language arts, History, and Math through them, we supplement Art, Music (piano), Biology, classes from Coursera that look interesting and random co-ops throughout the year.

Grace likes quiet during school and often retires to the study to read.

She hopes to start volunteering in a fish store taking care of fish, eventually she wants to be a Marine biologist.

So, there you go, school pics for 2014/15.


I decided to break my back to school photo session into two shoots, one with just Bethany. We started off at Hudson gardens.

Then I decided to go up to the Santa Fe art district to get some graffiti backgrounds.

You can find lots of different backdrops within a block.

So, Bethany is in 10th grade using the K12 curriculum through Insight (a virtual school.) She has English, Geometry, Biology, Government, Driver’s ed, Music and Finding your path.

She takes courses through Coursera when they come up and fit what she likes, does art for juried gallery shows every so often, likes to be in character to write (which is why her hair is red and she’s wearing a black dress, it’s a Kingdom hearts character) and likes to wear sunglasses.

She is currently writing a piece about an archaeological team that meets a strange fate on an island, a Beauty and the Beast story with a twist and about 5 other stories.

She makes straight A’s and is compiling a packet for a paid internship at Children’s hospital to be submitted this year. Yeah, she’s pretty cool.


James is still in Houston, but he gets home tonight. Bethany started off school with Geometry, then Science, then English. Grace did vocabulary, Language arts and reading. Hannah did spelling and reading.

Grace’s glasses broke this morning, so we went to Walmart to see what they could do about it. We managed to find the exact same frames, on clearance, and they popped the lenses out of the old ones and put them in the new ones – $8. Grace got her hair cut, it looks so much better, the dead ends are cut off. Running around in the afternoon threw my schedule off and I totally forgot Hannah’s Chinese class at the library. Next week is the last one, so I will make sure that I get her there. Co-op listings went off well this morning, only a few conflicts and none of them were mine. I have a class on Shakespeare, Matisse, a cereal box puppet theater and t-shirt recycling into a fringe scarf and a bag. I had about 4 more ideas, but no time to put them on my calendar with everything else going on. Trips, clubs, co-ops, school, hikes, field trips, dance; it’s shaping up to be a busy semester.

Fun Friday

Bethany did some Biology, read an Amy Tan story for English, took her first Driver’s ed quiz and took a Government quiz. I think that our schedule for the next 2 weeks is going to be do something in ever class, every day. When we get back from CA she can move she classes around so that she does 4 classes M/W/F and 3 classes Tu/Thu. Grace is waiting for her History to get logged back on, someone messed up and wiped American History and sent us TX History….umm…..no, that won’t do. Hannah is reading Greek myths from this lovely book:


I have always liked the D’aulaires books and their pictures, Hannah will be doing some chalk and pastel drawings based on pictures in the book.

We went to the chutes and met a new HS’ing family, they braved the 58 degree water to swim and tube with us. A nice sunny day, until the rain came in and dropped the temperature to the high 60′s.

Wading in to get used to the water.

We brought C with us, she and Grace tubed once and didn’t like how far far down the river they got, so it was back to jumping in.

Grace’s favorite spot to jump in.

Here’s Grace diving in with some tubers coming down behind her.

J and D in the tubes.

C smiling, but cold.

Thumbs up from Grace means she’s good to go for jumping.

Hannah wanted a picture by herself.

The water was too fast and stained (it rained in the mountains last night) to try to dive for goodies at the bottom or to try to catch fish. We might get one or two more swimming days in at the chutes and hopefully the water will be better those times.

Tomorrow it’s peach festival time!

School room ’14

Sometimes we do school here – at the kitchen table.

If you looked closer you’d see glue, marker, paint, pen marks, scratches, hammer spots – it’s called ‘homeschooled distressed’. During the summer the reading books got stacked on the banister for easier access, it helped me keep track of which library they went to (we check out from 3-4 different cities/counties, so I want to take Denver books back to Denver, not JeffCo.)

They usually go in the reading bin and on the coffee table and…everywhere. I think we might keep using the banister to hold some books, it makes it easier to find one to read. One thing I always wanted was a place where all my school stuff could live together in peace and harmony. No more scouting the house looking for paper, pens, markers, scissors, books. When we moved into this house 9 years ago, I finally had it….a room for school and storing school related stuff. The configuration has changed over the years, but I’m done moving desks, those things are a pain to move and set up the computers. So, this time I moved the reading area to where the Wii/dog crate was and moved those. And cleaned…..and cleaned….I like to have a cheery room and obviously have lots of things on the walls. In fact, we had so much stuff on the walls that the world map was on the ceiling, I moved things around and now it’s on the wall. Coming down the stairs, art.

The new reading area with lights and lanterns.

Bethany’s area.

Grace’s area.

Hannah’s area (the colored bins on the left are for everyone.)

Storage, Wii, radio, dog crate and art.

Drum/scarf/music area, we like to take drum breaks, dance breaks and singing breaks during the day.

There are lanterns and paper rosettes hanging from the ceiling.

So, there you go, our ‘school room’ for the year.

There are other places that we learn, the museum, the river, the park, trees, trips, the bus and more – but this is just the area that we learn in at home.

Hop on over here to see more school rooms.