Showing posts from May, 2018

"I don't know what to do!"

I can't think of a parent who hasn't heard these words. I know I have. And since I am also always on the lookout for blog fodder, it only takes one request to get me to write a post. In this case, the question was asking about our What to do binder. It's officially names the "I don't know what to do!" book. See?

It's pretty much a large binder that I filled with instructions for all sorts of activities. I came up with it as a way to store all the interesting ideas I came across, because I am an information hoarder. It also meant that my children could flip through it to find ideas to occupy themselves. As wonderful as Pinterest is for keeping track of good ideas, it is not so great for children to browse through.

Inside of pages and pages of ideas from magazines that I have saved over the years, sorted into sections.

There's general craft ideas...

activities sorted by season...

cooking ideas, party ideas, costumes, and science experiments.

We go throu…

Extra! Extra!

While I've been working around the house trying to get caught up on things such as laundry, the masses were busy at work. L. was looking in our "What to do?" binder (have I ever blogged about that?), and saw a page with the idea of creating a family newspaper. She was all over it. We had some extra large newsprint sheets, which were then turned into the newspaper. L. was pleased at having the accurate materials. I'll show you a photograph of it. I want you to do know I paid 3 cents to obtain this copy.

Since L.'s writing is particularly inventive in this endeavor (when she did write, that is, and didn't just scribble to fill up space), I'll translate some of the more exciting news. The name of the paper is Family Times, and on the front page, we are informed that thieves are on the loose, and that police are actively looking for Mr. Jones and Nefertiti, his accomplice.

Inside, we learn more about the thieves. Mr. Jones wears a tuxedo and carries a gun. Fa…

What happened to the day?

One moment, it's 10:45 and I am making a shopping list, and the next moment it's after 6 o'clock, and other than doing two and half hours of hunting and gathering, I'm not quite sure where the day went. I hate that. It was also a very expensive two and half hours of hunting and gathering. None of it was frivolous, either. Children have this tendency to grow, and some items that they desperately needed are also not things easily found second hand. Bleh. So other than mild kvetching about the cost of living, I don't have much to say. Instead, I will just bombard you with links and stuff.

First, I had two articles published in the past couple of days. I'm afraid that at least one of them has gotten lost in the holiday weekend, and it could use a little social media love. (This is especially true since I got my stats back for March, and my article was at the very bottom. I've never been at the very bottom! It's a piddly pay check at the very bottom. Humph!)…

They're not poppies

I don't actually have poppies in my yard, though I do have some seeds for poppies to plant. But until I do that, and when (if?) they actually grow, we'll all have to make-do with pictures of peonies.

In remembrance of all who have served defending our country. May we continue to make choices which preserve the freedom and dignity of all people who make this country their home.

Getting closer...

to having the chicken coop officially done. It is the project that definitely took on a life of its own.

All that's left: paint the trip, add a small overhanging roof, make nesting boxes, get construction sand for the pen, find a couple of pallets to put the food and water on, and wire over the top of the pen. That's all.

Friday bullets - May 25, 2018

I could probably just title this the gardening edition. You'll see what I mean.

First, A. took this picture of G. I thought it was cute, so I'm sharing it with you. I went to a huge rummage sale today. It was huge both in terms of items for sale, and in the amount of people who were there shopping. I was really glad I hadn't brought everyone with me, as it was difficult enough to walk through myself. I will admit to doing more than a little deep breathing at the same time, because it was a little claustrophia inducing. But, I ended up getting 28 items of clothing for five children for a whopping $14 dollars. I'm willing to take a few extra breaths for that.For older adopted children from hard places, receiving gifts, even in the form of rummage sale clothing can be difficult. This is especially true if you have expressive language issues and are a teen. I'll have to wait a while to see if the clothes I brought home actually do work or if they are as hated and despise…

Summer slide

This is evidently my week for being a little irritated at my fellow homeschoolers. For the non-homeschoolers among you, my apologies. I'm sure I'll be back to myself soon. So it seems along with posts telling me why I need to go to my local homeschool convention, I'm also seeing posts asking, with rather alarmist tones, how I was going to stop my students from experiencing the dreaded... summer slide.

Talk about writing things just to generate traffic, and a misuse of terms and ideas to boot.

First, for those who don't know, the summer slide is the term for students who lose academic skills over the course of the summer. The misuse of terms and ideas comes with what the summer slide actually is. It is mainly aimed at low income students. Those students whose parents need to work and cannot be home, and who cannot afford the various summer enrichment opportunities that so many other children are able to participate in. For a child unsupervised for the summer months and …

Unpleasant jobs

There is one job that I dislike more than any other, yet it is vital to the functioning of the household. It's not laundry... it's not cooking... it's not grocery shopping... it's not even dusting or emptying litter boxes. No, it's the paperwork and bill paying. If I had the option of hiring out one household task to someone else, it would be to hire an accountant/secretary to do all the paperwork. Doesn't that sound blissful? I could happily just hand over the bills and receipts and registration papers and insurance stuff and never have to think about it. Ahhh....

Sadly, I do not have a personal accountant/secretary, and it is too bad. Today I spent nearly the entire day organizing checkbooks, paying bills, and moving paper off my desk. It feels good to have it all sorted out, but I know it won't last. There are just so many other things I would rather think about and spend time on.

So tell me, if you had the chance to permanently hire out one household jo…

We went a Viking

One of the things I love about living in a new area is exploring the places that I wouldn't have otherwise known about. We found one of those places yesterday. I had seen a notice on one of the homeschooling pages I belong to about a field trip to see the Viking ship in Geneva. First, I thought, "A Viking ship in Geneva? Who knew?" My second was, "That's so cool!" and signed up.

So, yesterday morning, through heavy rain, we went to see the Viking ship. I had no idea what to expect, and really, other than it was a reproduction of a Viking ship, I didn't know anything about it. I am now more than a little fascinated by the whole story.

In 1880, a 9th century Viking ship was uncovered in a farmer's field in Norway. It is known as the Gokstad Ship, and is on display in Oslo. It was also the model for the reproduction Viking ship which was made, and then sailed, from Norway to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Named 'Viking, she was, acco…

Why I'm not going to my state's homeschool convention

I've been seeing links to articles about why you (meaning you, homeschooler) should attend your state's homeschooling convention. Right up front, I will say that I haven't read any of them. I've gone to a homeschool conference every year I've been homeschooling; I don't really need a reason to go. I've enjoyed learning new things, meeting friends, shopping for new resources, having a day or two away. I used to love it all.

This year, after the bust of last year, for the first time ever, I'm not going. It's not that I have become a homeschooling expert and can learn nothing else. It's not that I don't think there are nothing new resources for me to look at. And it's certainly not that I no longer enjoy a day or two away. No, there are definitely reasons why I have chosen not to go this year.

Here they are:

1. I'm tired of the lack of joy. You would think Chicken Little was in charge of the conference, because the overwhelming message …

Two blue ribbons

P. competed in her first schooling show at the stable she has been riding at. She had done other schooling shows before we moved, but this was her first one here. Since I usually drop her at the stable, go do the grocery shopping, and then come back to pick her up, I don't usually see her ride. Boy, she has improved a lot over the past year. She deserved the two blue ribbons she one. One ribbon was for over fences, and the other was for equitation on the flat.

J. took videos of a couple of her rides, and as soon as we figure out how to upload them, I will share them with you. (Dratted lack of WiFi is sometimes a pain.)

G. and L., saying hi to some of the horses. It's a rather swanky stable.
(I warned you I would hound...) Since I'm talking about P., don't forget her Go Fund Me page. And a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and shared the page!
Phoebe Curry Go Fund Me

Friday bullets, May 18, 2018

You know I write these posts the night before and schedule them for the next morning, right? If any of you think I am up and functioning enough to write a post and publish it by 7 am... well, when I stop laughing, I'll explain I'm not really a morning person. All this to say, this might be a short post because I am very tired.

I am tired because I spent the entire day outside, planting things in the new vegetable garden. When I got up yesterday morning, I blithely thought that by spending the entire day doing this, I would be able to plant everything vegetable-wise that I wanted to get planted, and even had plans for what I would do the rest of the day once I was done. Ha! If only... after all day on my hands and knees in the garden, I am not quite half done. Starting a garden from scratch is no joke. Planting was the easy part. It was the chopping, turning, sifting, business that I had to do in order to plant that was the time consuming bit. I just keep telling myself that nex…

Doing some mom bragging and begging

Take a look at this picture.

This is P. when she was about 2 1/2. It is one of my absolutely favorite pictures of her. We had gone with the H-S Family and the P. Family to see the tall ships which had come into the Kenosha Harbor. We had a lovely day of touring the ships, having a picnic, and enjoying the company of each other. Well, except when I was changing D.'s diapers or trying to find a comfortable place to nurse him. D. was only a month or so old. I do remember wondering at times why I thought that outing was a good idea. But I did end up with this picture of P. on one of the tall ships.

Now this child is nearly all grown up and will be graduating from high school. When you have a graduation coming up, the all-consuming question becomes, "What are you going to do next?" For P., this was not an obvious answer. She wasn't sure college right away was what she wanted, but she didn't quite know what the other options were. And then she found a program out of Ca…


The trouble with having children who make progress at such a slow rate is that you can go for weeks and weeks and feel as though nothing is happening. This is where we have been with R. for much of the spring. It is a little dispiriting to feel as though nothing has changed, especially when you deal with the same behaviors over and over and over. I spend a lot of time telling myself it is really OK if this is where she stays. We knew she would be with us for the long term from the start, and are committed to her regardless. But it is not really about me and J. that makes me sad, but about her. I want so much more for her. I want her to be able to do things, to participate in her own life, to have an inner life, to find interest in things. Some days I'm nearly driven wild with the desire to be able to reach into her head and unlock the door she has hidden herself behind. But that door is so well-hidden and so well locked, some days I despair that we will ever be able to do that. As…

Duck herding

Just in case you might have forgotten that my life is a good part farce, I will share this afternoon's adventures. As you read yesterday, we are now starting to let the chickens and ducks out of their pen in order to meander around the yard in order to eat dandelions and bugs. The chickens, once we herded them out the first time, quickly caught on, and enjoyed their freedom immensely. The ducks on the other hand, couldn't figure out what was going on. The first day, B. went in the pen and encouraged them to move towards the door. Actually, only one was encouraged to exit, the others required being picked up and put out of the pen. Once outside, the little amoeba of ducks happily quacked and waddled and nibbled their way around the yard. Then it was time to put everyone back in. I bought a bag of cracked corn and dried meal worms to encourage the fowl to come home. On Sunday, this was not quite successful. It took a multi-person effort to heard all the animals back into the pen…

What I got for Mother's Day

I had nearly everyone home. A. had to work, and we missed her. We pretty much spent the afternoon playing and working outside. So along with just enjoying my family and a chocolate bar from Y., I got...
A new vegetable garden

The zip line put up

To watch the chickens and ducks explore the yard for the first time

But the best part was just to be with my family and enjoy their company. 


Every so often, after we've been happily going along, I discover that one of my children missed something somewhere along the line. This usually happens when a new concept is introduced, and suddenly that child doesn't seem to be able to manage it. Or the child just melts down repeatedly when we pull out that particular book. That second choice more often is accurate. So, I spend  more time than I should cajoling that child into doing that work. Eventually, when even cajoling doesn't seem to work, a light bulb dimly starts to glow in the recesses of my brain, and I start to wonder if something else isn't going on. It's a little embarrassing how long this realization can take, especially given how long I've been doing this.

For the child in question, I have now pulled out a different math book. This book is a little bit less advanced than where we were in the other book, but this way I can try to figure out where exactly the child got lost. And sometimes it isn&…

Friday bullets, May 11, 2018

Life has been pretty calm around here, which is extremely nice. One of the loveliest things about homeschooling is the lack of May craziness. I like a nice, calm May.

I realized I forgot to share something last Friday. Look who's back!
Yes, it's Gomez. M. was moving studio supplies to our crawlspace, and since Gomez has been living in M.'s studio, he had to come to. This is why I went grocery shopping with a skeleton buckled into a van seat last week. Gomez is now happily residing in our crawlspace since some children are not amused by his presence.  We received our property tax bills in the mail recently. Now, if you have been reading here for any length of time, you know that property taxes were a HUGE issue when we lived in the Big Ugly House, and a very large reason behind us deciding to move. So, it was with no little trepidation when I saw the envelope and realized I should open it. Sometimes in our old house, we would just let the unopened envelope sit there for as lo…