Showing posts from April, 2018

Wasted food

How I feed all these people is one of those questions I get asked a lot, right up there with how I manage the laundry. I do not find these two topics all that riveting, but I guess they are, so I like to address the whole food issue every now and then.

Feeding a lot of people, and currently for us that is 12 people three meals a day, every day, has some odd quantities of scale about it. Because I can buy many things in bulk, I usually end up paying less per person than those buying for fewer people. So, while I do spend more to feed 12 people, it is not the budget of a four person family times 3. It just doesn't work that way.

I'm also realizing that I must buy a lot less food per person in general. This is based on a highly unscientific poll in a group I'm in about what types of food is most often thrown away. As I thought about it, I realized I just don't throw out all that much food. Sure we have the occasional left over that went bad because it got lost in the back…

Parks, bowling, and birds

I had some very tired children going to bed last night. It was a full, though somewhat exhausting weekend, with a couple of late nights.

On Friday, we checked out a new park near us. It was deemed quite fun, and the clamoring to go back has already begun. (All photo credits go to TM.)

Look at this! R. actually made it up this rope ladder. Not only that, it was her choice to try. It's a lot more volition than we've seen out of this child recently.
Then that evening, our church had a bowling night. 

See me in the back there with a blue-hooded child in my arms? That's how I spent a good chunk of the beginning of the bowling. There was a little bit too much sensory overload going on. She did manage to pull it together and get some bowling in.

H. turned out to be quite a good bowler.
How did I do? Well, R. beat me. In my defense, she was using bumpers and that roller thing where you can aim the ball. And it had been years since I last went. I don't remember doing quite as p…

Friday bullets, April 27, 2018

It's been a good week. Warm weather, sun, playing outside... ahhhhh.

We realized Q.'s birthday was last Wednesday. She is now a year old. We were a little worried about our little quail for a few days this week. She wasn't acting like herself, and was limping a bit. I am relieved to say that she seems much better in the past two days. She is moving better and chirping more. She even started to bark with the dogs this afternoon. I wonder a little bit if she was oppressed by chickens, too.P. and TM have decided to learn Esperanto, so they can have a secret language. For those who don't know, Esperanto is a completely fabricated language which is totally regular. There are none of those pesky exceptions to the rules which so plague English. P. will come down and share little bits of random Esperanto trivia with me now. I can now say 'fork' in Esperanto, though I'm not quite sure about the usefulness of this particular piece of knowledge.D. is working diligently…

Excellent adventures in the library

I had to run by the library last night on my way to my Bible study. It was one of those moments of being told I had a book due, that I was 99.9% sure I had already returned. The librarian was very nice, and found the book on the shelf, so all was good. As riveting as this is, it isn't really what I want to share. Instead, listen in to this conversation I couldn't help overhearing while I waited to see if the librarian could locate the book.

Youth (maybe late middle school or early high school) to another librarian: Do you read? What do you read?
Librarian: Yes, but I don't read Harry Potter, I mainly read from the adult shelves. (Pauses) But I did read a YA novel. It was called Code Breakers, and about the Navajo Indians during World War II.
Youth: Oh, did they break some rules?
Librarian: No, they were speaking Navajo so that the enemy couldn't understand them.
Youth: Was that the time when the Jews went to hide in caves?
Librarian: Noooo. (Changes subject rather abruptly, …

Wordless Wednesday

Well, as wordless as I get. The weather has been very fine, and aside from a brief stint paying bills yesterday, we've all been outside enjoying it. There's only so much I can say about relaxing and playing in lovely weather, so now I'm resorting to photos.

Adventures in gardening

Along with all chicken and duck related efforts over the weekend, I've also been doing so serious garden clean-up in the long flower bed along the drive. J. was building the coop. Various children were playing in various places, and I was happily weeding the garden. I pull out something that I thought was a stick, and instead of a stick, I suddenly find myself holding a toad by the back leg. Neither of us were amused. I shrieked rather loudly, the toad said nothing. I didn't shriek because I was holding a toad; I'm rather immune to reptiles and amphibians these days. I shrieked because I truly didn't expect to see a toad dangling from my hand.

The toad is now back in the garden, despite G.'s pleas for keeping him as a pet. I will look a little more carefully at what I am grabbing in the future.


Did you hear the angels singing yesterday? That was to celebrate the relocating of the chickens from the kitchen to the chicken coop. J. worked for nearly the entire weekend non-stop, and just has a little more to do this afternoon. He got enough done that the chickens were evicted. They'll get the run of the run by tomorrow. It's probably just as well they had to chill inside the coop for 24 hours to get settled. They were a little overwhelmed by the experience.

And then the ducks arrived. While all this coop building was going on, the ducks were having a grand time out in the pen with their wading pool. Not much upsets a duck. Well, except it seems, when they are surprised upon returning to their suite after a dip in the pool to find it infested with chickens.

I peeked in the window at one point to see how things were going. It was like the poultry version of West Side Story. Well, with less dancing and a bit more quacking. The chickens, all 21 of them, were squeezed as tigh…

Creating a high school transcript

It was not so warm and sunny today, so you get a real blog post.

I discovered when someone asked me about making transcripts, that I have never written about how I go about creating one. Since this is a topic that I feel as though I repeat myself over, it is perhaps a good topic for the blog.

First off, transcripts can be organized in different ways and still be valid and communicate the information they are intended to convey. Many high school transcripts are organized chronologically by school year. I don't actually like this method, though, because it is very difficult to fit a non-traditional school experience into a very traditional box. I find it much more useful to organize high school transcripts by subject instead.

Under the headings of various subjects (i.e. Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Art and Music, etc.), I will list the coursework that my student has completed. For a non-traditional student, this format is simpler to use because it requires less explanation. …


I did not write a blog post today.

I sat and dozed in the warm sun.

I read a book in the warm sun.

I watched the ducks swim in the wading pool in the warm sun.

I watched my children play baseball in the warm sun.

I watched J. put in posts for the outdoor run of the chicken coop in the warm sun.

There is supposed to be more warm sun tomorrow. You may or may not get a blog post then, either. It's difficult to see computer screens in the warm sun.

Eschewing the limelight

I am not actually a fan of attention being focused on me. I know that might seem a little odd, given that I write a blog talking about my family and do some public speaking. But the former is because it's therapeutic, a way to keep track of what my family has been doing, and (I hope) can help other people not make the same mistakes I have. This is also why I speak to groups. If I can make use of the things I've learned over the years and perhaps help other people along the way, then I'm happy to do that.

So when a friend approached me asking if she could do a documentary on our family, I was torn. We are really not ideal documentary subjects. (I think our friend would concur... I think we have been a trial to her over the past five or six years.) My children don't care for cameras, and I can be, um, crotchety and uncooperative. As she has heard me say over and over and over, we are not really anything so special. We do not have super powers. Truly, anyone could do what…

Equal time

After I posted L.'s poems yesterday, G. reminded me that she wanted to be an artist, and decided it would be best if I put a picture that she drew up on the blog next. So that is what I'm doing.

Super Panda
Let me tell you a bit about Super Panda. In his tool belt, he is armed with (from right to left): Silly Spray which makes people stick to things; a candy that makes him turn so cute that other people freeze; boomerang; more silly string in case he runs out; a hot dog for a snack; another snack; a hook gun which hooks onto things so he can climb them; a baby bottle for his drinks. He's holding a bamboo sword. 
Here is Super Panda next to Pandy, who is never very from from G.

This girl adores pandas, can you tell? _____________
I have another new article published: This is Why Photolistings are Important

Free verse - A dog triptych

In the midst of All Math, All the Time, L. (age 8 1/2) has decided to write poems. Here are her latest works. (Well, technically, these are the translations of her latest works, her spelling is still on the more inventive side, though she can now read it back consistently.)

The Sunset Dog One puppy, alone and scared In the mist, as thick as fur, And bone that stared with icy eyes A glimmer in the dark. And then he strayed And was never heard Again. His sharp bark cried out, "I'm done."

Kenzie Kenzie, the nicest dog His fur is gold, his head is soft He really is the best.

Olive Olive the dog She can run as fast as a fox. Although her brain is tiny She really is smart.
____________ And in other animal news, if you are in the horrible never-ending ice age of the north, you might not know that along with your being miserable, small birds are in a critical state. Read about the Bird Emergency and the simple things you can do to help these animals survive until spring actually ar…


February 75th,

Dear Diary,

Every morning I wake up and realize that I am still in this alternate universe. I spend most of my day trying to figure out how I got here, and more importantly how to get back to the place I belong. I have yet to find an answer or solution to my questions.

Vocabulary is currently the trickiest thing to navigate in this particular universe. When I say the word 'spring', I have in my head warming days where I can feel the sunshine. Of course there will be rain, but it is a warmer sort of rain that makes the plants grow. Here, in this universe, 'spring' means something different. Spring seems to be what they say when cold weather isn't in the negative digits. There is still snow and cold, and while I see the sun in the sky, I certainly cannot feel the warmth of it on my skin. I miss that!

So far, in my quest to figure out how to get home, I have tried wishful thinking, clicking my heels together and saying, "There's no place like h…

An actual phone conversation

J.: Is there anything you need me to pick up from the store on my way home from work?

Me: Spring. Maybe a couple of boxes.

J.: I think the stores are all out of stock. We'll have to wait until they get a new shipment.

Thus, many children (the ones who are not sleeping) are spending their Saturday doing math (their choice) and I'm working on the checkbook and bills. Saturdays don't get much more fun than that, do they?

And the chickens are still inside my house.

I love the photo-bombing chicken in the background.

Friday bullets, April 12, 2018

Yesterday was beautiful and warm as promised, and we spent nearly every minute of it outside.

I spent most of my day trying to free some more of the trees that had become overgrown over the years. Here's a couple transformation photos. From this...
to this. There really was a tree under there. I also worked on this one.
After Why does something that takes hours to do, always look like such little progress when it is all done?Y. adores math, and did over 20 pages on Wednesday.TM needed a photo of himself to go along with his auction basket, so he took this one. Isn't it cute? D., by all accounts, is having a grand time visiting the H-S Family. He has been to the ocean, ridden a ferry, explored Seattle, learned to ride an ATV and a dirt bike, gone hiking, and seen otters playing. Real life is going to come as rather a shock, I'm afraid. He returns very late tonight.I finished the last book in the Invisible Library series. It was a sad moment. Now I can only hope the auth…


"On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakened very early. The sun was pouring in slanting rays through the blinds and there was something so joyous in the sight of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window itself and a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her. The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if something Magic had happened to it. There were tender little fluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scores of birds were beginning to tune up for a concert. Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun.

'It's warm -- warm!' she said. 'It will make the green points push up and up and up, and it will make the bulbs and roots work and struggle with all their might under the earth.'" from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Assuming the weather forecast is correct, this will be everyone in the household this morning. Well, minus the moor, of course. You can't have everything. Th…

Artist in Residence

TM is going to Mexico with a group from our church's youth group this summer. In order to help raise money to pay for this, each student is asked to provide a basket to be auctioned at the service auction this Sunday. TM decided to make an art basket and include an original piece of art.

I kind of love it!

All math, all the time

If there is one word that defines my homeschooling journey, it is reactionary. Reactionary in that I am usually focusing on remediating whatever area my over-active imagination has decided to fixate on and worry about. These worries can run the gamut from feeling the need to do daily nature journal entries to deciding I have failed the lot of them if they do not know Latin and everything in between. I do tend to veer wildly in what homeschooling here looks like. Watching my older children be successful adults makes me think perhaps I did okay, but that doesn't stop me from obsessing about the current crew.

As I was thinking about the spring and the time we've lost watching, caring for, and cleaning up after our household barnyard animals, I decided yesterday morning that too many times math had fallen by the wayside. I made the decision to call in the big guns.


Hey, it does have its place. Here was my offer. Every child who could complete the math book they were curre…

I am thrilled to announce that....

the ducks have left the building. Our house, that is. They are now safely ensconced in the new chicken coop. The coop is not fully complete and ready for chickens, but it is finished enough to house the ducks. Given that I found a duck walking around the house a couple of times today, it was none too soon, either.

The first step to move them out was to get them out of their wading pool. We decided that since their water needed to be inside the coop until the outside pen is done, that we needed to do everything possible to keep the inevitable splashing to a minimum. The best way to do this would be to put the food and water inside the wading pool inside the coop. They'd already proven they could get in and out of the pool, so reaching the food and water wasn't going to be an issue.

But how to contain the ducks without their wading pool while we set it up in the coop?

Enter... the baby pen!  That would be the baby pen which I bought for G. and L.  [I couldn't find a picture …