Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Smell Something Burning...

Tonight on the U.S.S. Bedlam. (Also known as Zaya's bed.)

Cast of characters:
Zaya - A little boy with a big imagination
Crimson - A plush dragon with a hot temper
Blankeet - A blue and white striped blanket that achieved sentience just this year
Lillian - A sheep and long time faithful friend
Mommy - A tired woman who has been convinced to come and snuggle before bedtime

Mommy: (crawling up onto the U.S.S. Bedlam to perform snuggling duties) Zaya, I see that Lillian has joined the crew. Do she and Crimson actually get along?

(brief silence)

Crimson: (deep, throaty voice) Well...sometimes I do dream about mutton...

Lillian: Eep! Help! Zaya help! He's a cannibal!

Mommy: He would only be a cannibal if you were a dragon. He's just a carnivore.

(Lillian slowly edges away from Crimson.)

(Mommy gives a Blankeet wrapped Zaya a hug)

Mommy: Whenever I snuggle with you, I'm automatically snuggling with Blankeet too.

Blankeet: Tssssst.

(Crimson comes and snuggles between Mommy and Zaya)

Crimson: Meep

(Lillian piles on top of Crimson)

Lillian: Maaaaa

(Mommy hugs the whole huge pile and doles out kisses. She clambers out of the bed and exits stage right.)

(Mommy then realizes that for most of the time, she didn't actually get to speak with Zaya. Who was, ironically, the one who requested the snuggles in the first place.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Here are more examples of the ways my children entertain themselves when they might otherwise be getting their school-work done.

Zaya saw a picture on the internet of words that were self-referential. (i.e. the word exit where the 'x' was a running man and the 'i' looked like a door) He was inspired, and decided to add a little extra fun to his Bible notes. These words are from separate sentences, by the way. I did not have him write notes about dead people.

Mim has a book which gives you a prompt and part of a drawing, then asks you to complete it with your own ideas and imagination. The text on this page was "What would you take on a desert island?"

She decided she would want to take a large house, on a large boat. I think she's missed the point in some way there, but at the same time it makes sense. If you're imaginng anyway, why not take a house, and a big boat. It means you're not really "stranded" per se, but I suppose that didn't appeal to her.

The thing I enjoyed the most was the "ocean-water filters" in the attic of her house, (There are also bottles of water there, she says.) and the pile of lemons and limes in the basement. She said those are included so that no one will die of scurvy.

Works for me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clip Clop? Sploorge?

This is what I found when I walked into the kitchen this morning. Mim has turned her big brother into a "pack amoeba." It's like a pack mule, but with fewer cells. A lot fewer.

I find it interesting that her special doll gets a bed of pillows and silks and a free ride while her much loved brother is used as common stock. Ah. Siblings. It's so sweet.

Frankly, she's lucky that she has such a laid-back brother. He doesn't do everything she says, but he certainly does a lot more than I would. One day he's going to assert himself and give her the shock of her life, but so far they play together very well, with only the occasional spat that requires parental intervention.

I do frequently hear things like, "But I don't want to be a Pokemon!" from Mim or "But I don't want to build with Legos!" from Zaya. By and large, though compromise is the watchword, and when it isn't, I go on my spiel about sibling love and getting along and not driving Mommy crazy. It generally does the trick in that they would rather play something with each other than listen to me lecture. Whatever works, really.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cabin Fever Cure

Yesterday, we had our one beautiful, warm day in a several week spread of lousy, coolish, dampy kind of weather. We had to go to the park, because it would have been criminal to hide away in the house when it was cloudy and warm and smelling like spring outside.

The ground was covered with wildflowers, which made me happy, as you can imagine from my previous posts. The kids took a little rest in a particularly soft patch. I didn't try it myself, because I might not have been able to get up and go on with my day.

We walked around the pond, tried to sneak up on all the sunning turtles, and sat in the gazebo (on an island in the center) to eat sandwiches and read about the Aztecs and the Incas. Ironically, we were reading about the city of Tenochtitlan which was a city that was built up in the middle of a lake.

Every time we walked past a large rock or group of rocks, the kids had to clamber around on them for a while. They are irresistibly drawn to rocks of all shapes and sizes; maybe there's some mountain-dweller blood in the family line, or maybe they're just adjusting to living in southern Missouri instead of the plains of Oklahoma.

Today it is cold and wet. The wind is blowing, and the sky is covered with clouds. It's supposed to be that way for a while again, so I'm glad we took advantage of our one day of spring time. My sunshine battery is charged and that should get me through the cold fingers and sweater-wearing of the next two weeks.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Theobroma Cacao - Educational and Delicious

This week we're studying the great Native civilizations of Central and South America. We read a book today about chocolate, which is related, right?  It talks about the history of chocolate, and how it was used by the Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs. We also got in a little explorer talk, since they were the first to bring it back to Europe. (The kids love learning about the explorers, because we get to feel all smug and superior since we know what the world looks like, and they didn't. They just laugh and laugh.)

We learned a lot about Cacao trees and Cocoa pods, which have to be pronounced differently, and are very confusing. The kids decided they desperately needed some hot chocolate after we finished our book, and I couldn't argue that need.

We did some Mayan math today too, learning how to use a base 20 system, and how you would write your age, or do a story problem. They wrote their numbers up to 50 and did some tricky math problems without realizing that's what they were. Ah, deceptive math is so much fun.

This is the kind of day that makes homeschooling so special. It's a little too chaotic to be an everyday method, but it works well for those cloudy days when noses are runny and coughs are creeping in, and everyone starts out a tad cranky.

Unfortunately, now we need to go do English, Spelling, Vocabulary, Science,Writing, Bible, Spanish and etc. I suppose we could write and diagram some sentences about chocolate? Maybe I'd better just stick with the books. There's only so much side-tracking I can handle before the guilt becomes too much.

Must produce well-educated children to prove my worth to the world!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Defense of my Wonderful Weeds

I sent the kids out with my camera and instructions to take pictures of all the different types of weeds we had growing as ground cover. Here are most of them.

The strange purple flower heads of these plants look like Henbit, but the leaves and stems are a different shape and much taller. (Aunt B says they're from the mint family. Who am I to disagree?) I think they look like they're wearing Edwardian capes with multiple cloaks, or maybe like tiny green Daleks on sticks. Pollinate! Pollinate!
We have lots of clover, some small like these, and some with much larger heads. It's thick and bushy, and Mim says you can't see your feet when you walk through parts of it. Imagine how nice and un-grass-like that feels on little toes!

Try not to think of this as a weed. Isn't it lovely? I mean, yes, it's a Dandelion, but still, look at that yellow!

Now these next two were planted with intention, but I liked Mim's pictures anyway. The Peonies are just starting up. They will have big, gorgeous pink flowers in May. Bless the green-thumbed, grandma who owned this house before us.
This tulip was from a bag full of bulbs that Grandma Lilibeth gave us last fall. We planted them all around the tree-house before the winter, and are now being rewarded for our bit of effort. This particular tulip has been damaged by either the cold or the teeth of the furry visitors to our yard. We have a few rabbits, many squirrels, the occasional deer, and the fattest, furriest groundhog I've ever seen. Mim named him Dirk.

These are river reeds that grow beside the water of our on again-off again creek. We've had lots of rain this spring, so the creek is certainly "on" right now. There are many other plants around and behind the creek. We didn't even try to catalog all of them.

I have no idea what kind of plant this is, but the leaves are thick and cool. It must be a kind of succulent ground cover. It grows all along one side of the house, up near the wall. It feels fantastic to walk on with bare feet, all crunchy and soft and dry and moist at the same time.

Patchy bits of wild chives grow all over the yard. Mim loves to come running in with a handful saying, "Mom! Smell! Doesn't it smell great?!" Yes, smells exactly like the last time you stuck them in my face, Dear.

She also pulls them out of the ground and adds them to whatever mud/plant stew she's cooking up in one of her many "forts."
These tiny blue flowers are smaller than a ladybug, but found everywhere when you really get down and look. They're like a reward from God for taking the trouble to get down on your hands and knees.

Another plant that I don't know the name of at all- they looks to me like violets, but they're the size of a fingernail. I wouldn't call them shy, exactly, but certainly meek.
This tall fernish plant is threatening to block the light from some of my tulips down near the creek and the tree house, but they looks so spring-like and green and lively that I haven't had the heart to pull them out. I'll just wait until Art mows them over, I suppose. He's a Philistine when it comes to my lovely weeds. (Love you dear, but you know it's true.)
Yet another tiny wildflower that probably has a real name. In my head, I call them daisies. Mini-daisies.

Not all the plants are welcome, of course. This surly monster up by the front drive will have to go. What a prickly fellow! He's all spikes and nasty looking hairs.

 There is a nice snowflake sort-of shape though, from a distance. I suppose even he has his charms, be they ever so limited.
Now how could anyone want to trade all these incredible things for boring, everyday, flower-less Bermuda grass?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

All God's Creatures Got a Place in the Choir

Mim likes to make me bouquets from the flowers growing around our house. Previously she used any flowers from anywhere, but in the last couple years she has finally grasped that flowers are not free to anyone regardless of where they are growing. However boring and arbitrary it might seem, you cannot go pick any flower that might strike your fancy.

What I love about this bouquet is that, along with the Daffodils, she has included some weeds and wildflowers. To a child, they're all beautiful, so why not?

Actually, I agree with her. This is one of the reasons I will never have a perfectly even, green lawn, or beautiful, well-manicured flower beds. I think the purple haze of henbit that covers the lawns is much prettier than Bermuda grass. Why not? They're all plants? Why do we have to pick favorites?

Our lawn here is mostly "weeds" of various kids, clover, tiny wild strawberries, wild chives, patches of crab grass, henbit, and things I don't even recognize. It's beautiful and soft and always a botanical adventure.

Art keeps saying that he's going to Round-Up the yard to get a more uniform, grassy green. I keep distracting him until it's too late in the season. I like my flowers and patchy greens. I must defy convention in at least this one tiny area of my life.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Sunshine and Chocolate

The beautiful spring weather has finally arrived! We've been waiting a long time for the sunshine and warmness, so Mim has decided she and Zaya should have a picnic. The compromise to get him to attend was that he could bring his book. A girl has to do what she can to get the men in her life to cooperate.

You'll notice that the picnic is fairly candy-centric. She used my picnic cloth weights to good effect, and added a cheese stick for each participant for health purposes.

You can also see that Zaya has put his toes to use as book holders while he unwraps a chocolate. He has his mommy's ability to continue reading no matter the surroundings or the other demands on your attention or brain-power.

The key, from my point of view, is that the kids are:

a) happy
b) quiet
c) getting along
d) outside

Everything else is just bonus. Now I can work on the house. (That's code for waste time on the internet and listen to podcasts.)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Intro to the T Classroom

I redesigned my classroom a bit to eliminate the sunshine sleepies that have been plaguing the students almost every morning since we began our endeavor. The fact that it took me almost two full years to think of this is sad, and probably a commentary on my own ingenuity, or lack thereof, but I won't cover my deficiencies in this particular post.

The white table there is my desk. I didn't have one previously, but used space on the kids' desks for my lesson book. Again, I can't believe it just now occurred to me to use our extra card table for this purpose. I can claim nothing but intellectual weakness or possibly laziness.

I also can't explain why Mim is wearing a gymnastic suit. It must have been just the inspiration of the moment. Zaya informs me that it's because she can "run better" with it on. I find that debatable, but I will be the bigger man (so to speak) and refrain from debating.

Here is a little bit of our P.E. class. Each of those yellow straws has an exercise of some type on it, such as "15 leg lifts" or "Run for 5 minutes." We each draw three straws, put on some peppy music (Doctor Who Soundtracks are popular), and do our exercises, one straw at a time, putting them each in the Done cup when they're completed. I'd like to tell you that we have faithfully used this idea over the last year, but that wouldn't exactly be true. OK, it wouldn't even be remotely true.

We have used it, though, quite a few times, and it's been a lot of fun. I need to add new exercises so that we have a little more selection, but otherwise it has worked just as I hoped it would. With a little persistence and the formation of better habits, it could even be called "a good idea". Thank you, Pinterest, for almost validating all the time I spend looking at you.