Just everyday life…

Recently I’ve been asked so many homeschool questions by both homeschooling mamas and schooling mamas thinking about homeschooling and mamas that can’t even fathom homeschooling. Seems like the universe is sending loads of questions my way. Maybe to remind me I have this severely neglected blog here.

Anyhow, here is a collection of recent pics and activities in our day. Which is what most people seem to want. A fly on the wall glimpse into our days.

Most of our days start off with groggy sleepy eyed kids waking up on their own terms. Typically my son is first, he will crawl into my bed, snuggle up and read the news on his iPad (News-o-Matic app for iPad, has current affairs in kid safe articles) while I check my email and surf the web. Eventually my super sleeper daughter will wake up, she loves her snooze time! And then the kids will often play games, Legos, or some other free choice activity while I feed the chickens, rabbits, water the garden, make breakfast, etc…

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Morning Lego time…I’m sometimes convinced they think they are clever and this is the perfect academic procrastination scheme, because as we get closer to anything resembling classroom activities, they get along super well, they start building amazing projects that a mother would never want to stop in exchange for book work! You’ve never seen such team work! ❤

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Right now Legos, robotics, digital design are all favorites. FYI – Lego digital design is a free download that my kids love! They can design ANYTHING using ALL Lego pieces on the computer, print off their designs and have step by step directions to build their projects. And in some cases give the directions to friends to see if their friends can build their designs.

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Some days the kiddos do their academics with ease, happy smiles, efficient flow, and all is blissful, but don’t be fooled. We have our moments when it comes to school like activities!

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Can you see her enthusiasm for today’s writing and math lessons. Haha!

We have been reading this book for a more interesting math experience in addition to our more classroom like math lessons.

A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe:

Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science
by Michael S. Schneider
Link: http://amzn.com/0060926716

You can see here, the kids were intrigued by a comment in the beginning of the book about triangle numbers, square numbers, rectangle numbers. Who teaches about shape numbers? What are shape numbers? Why are they mentioned? Well my kids played around with little disc markers, trying to find out what pattern was the book talking about.

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This is what they discovered:

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Seems like something simple now looking at it, but figuring it out on your own took MUCH MORE creative brain power then their classroom like math lessons.

Hands-on activities, project based learning is MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE in our household, but it can also be more difficult to document in the event one must prove academic advancement. So to make that easy on my record keeping, my kiddos are subjected to boring old paperwork as well as hands-on projects and an overall educational lifestyle.

Here is a hands on activity that wasn’t planned SCHOOL, but was very educational. The kids and I watched a documentary on sugar and the western diet. (THAT SUGAR FILM on Netflix)

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This spurred a family attempt to document and cut out as much processed sugar as possible. Day one, we decided to go with ZERO processed sugar grams, as we already eat a fairly low sugar diet compared to many families. (Any often times pretty colorful) here are some example meals: lots of raw fruit n veg! My son is VERY PICKY when it comes to foods, but he will eat raw fruit n veg any day, so I don’t worry about his health, just crack up when people talk about cooking. Ask me what I’m making for dinner. Long ago, I stopped cooking and started serving food types instead! Haha!
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So back to sugar intake, day one, zero processed sugars is the goal. UPS shows up, dropping off belated EASTER BASKETS FROM GRANDMA FULL OF SUGARY GOODNESS! Soooo to not be a complete kill joy on such an exciting shipment. We decided to limit daily processed sugars which lent a hand to MORE MATH! 🙂

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The kids had a limit of 15 grams per day. They needed to figure out how many grams of sugar were in PEEPS and other candies. How many can they have each day? Do they want two peeps or half a peep and half a box of butter cookies? They worked out every item in their baskets and labeled them with post it notes. Made charts to document their daily sugar intake.

AND THEN CAME CONSUMPTION…

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We definitely count outside classes as part of school. And we are loaded up this year with extra classes! Jazz, Ballet, homeschool PE, drums, guitar, ukulele, keyboarding, yoga, horse riding, robotics, scouts, and more…

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Planning to reach Eagle Scout rank takes years of prep work and a lot of learning…I definitely count scouts as school work!
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Earning Merit Badges is often a lot like classroom work as well as combining some hands on activities. Here our son is learning/earning and environmental merit badge.

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And of course there is always time in the day to discover too many ashes in the mini BQQ that need to become ash bombs! Which are far more powerful and messy then a dirt clod! Aka BOY HEAVEN!

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I think our days are fairly average…some good….some not so good…but the best part about homeschooling is I get to experience so much of my kids lives with them. ❤

Our Week

Everyday we find time to laugh and on this day, we couldn’t stop laughing. My daughter was a crazy girl with the hose! She ended up bathing not only this horse but the three surrounding horses and all human beings in the vicinity! I think she might have a future career as a fire fighter! NO ONE was safe! We were all drenched!

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Horse care is a big part of her responsibilities! And she LOVES it!

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First Lego League http://www.firstlegoleague.org is a great group to become involved with. The kids learn so much more than Lego robotics. They learn valuable social skills, how to be part of a team and how to support not only your own team but the teams you are competing with.

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While at the park we stumbled upon a woman who was spinning yarn and her daughter was knitting. Both of these wonderful people shared their talent and craft with our children.

Another crafty person was making balloon creations for a donation. I did not have ANY cash on me, so my children were upset they couldn’t have a balloon. However, they didn’t waste a second sulking, instead they started to problem solve! Before you knew I they had found several coins on the ground at the park and made that donation and got their balloons! I was so impressed with this balloon artists creations, I had to share! Aren’t those swans too cute!

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More fun with friends…

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During tea time, the girls found these “eggs” on this plant. If you happen to know what kind of eggs they are, feel free to comment!

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Chess Club is another exciting adventure in our lives!

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After Chess Club our host family had a lovely fire and supplied the kids with good old fashion s’mores!

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This week our daughter tried her hand at the trumpet. She is very excited about this possibility, but I can’t tell if she’s excited about playing the trumpet or the homework of blasting her notes to wake up her brother in the morning?

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All little girls need a “friends forever” necklace to share with a good friend. Sadly this particular friend is moving away this summer. Thank heavens for technology, they can still keep in touch.

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More re fun with friends.

A great game of “dead man” on the trampoline…an all time favorite!

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An interesting thought on homeschooling…

…We were at an appointment this morning and the doctor asked if we were finished with school. He seemed half shocked and half concerned. I said we have already accomplished our math and language studies, why? Turns out he was a little shocked it can be conquered so quickly compared to traditional school.

This got me thinking about our days…

I’m not sure if the Spanish Vocab CD we were listening to in the car counts as our foreign language, or if our discussion and research on ancient Egypt counts towards history or if the ancient Egyptian picture my son drew counts as art, or if the books my kids read during their free time count as language…because those are just every day occurrences. My kids don’t count those activities as SCHOOL. They only consider WORKSHEETS and WORKBOOKS to be school…

…and they hate school!

But they LOVE TO LEARN!

We’re we finished for the day? Are we ever finished for the day? I don’t think we ever stop learning! Our entire lives are educational. We were finished with our worksheets for the day!  Yes!  TGIF! But we are never finished learning, it’s a homeschoolers life to love to learn! ❤️

Mellow Week

Well I started my blog post on Thursday and forgot to finish it….wonder if I will ever get into the groove of weekly blogging? I hope so! I used to have negative thoughts about blogs, but over the years they have been helpful in many cases. This means I have to conquer a sub-conscience negative feeling toward the process and a weekly goal. I must accept the fact I’m a blogger now! Haha!

This week has been filled with lots of love, snuggles and cuddles! Mostly a mellow week.

We celebrated Valentine’s Day a smidgen early with some homeschooling friends.

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The kids decorated cupcakes and ate way more sugar then they should have, but the mamas saved the kids from licking the frosting beaters….shhhhh it was Delicious!

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And I found lovely notes and chocolates around the house from a secret admirer. (Who happens to need admirer as a spelling word) haha!

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It was a quiet week over all, with a lot of sofa school (which translates to mama Lou reading educational books to the kids and discussing our new-found information.

My son, has been earning all his states on the app “Stack the States” during his free computer time. He loves that game and has learned so much about the various United States thru play.  Next up “Stack the Countries”

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Another fun way we’ve been learning this week is thru the tv show “Horrible Histories.”

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I love when education just happens in a fun and entertaining way! So much more fun then our boring old academic worksheets.

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However a “marshmallow test” is a good incentive to finish your worksheets! (Look close there is a marshmallow taunting him)

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We found a bush that was full of berries. I remember as a child being told to not eat the berries because they are poisonous; yet, a friend of mine thought they might be a berry you can make some sort of edible something with…

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….so this week we have been searching thru various herb and plant books to try to discover what plant it is, and whether or not it is poisonous or useful and in many case it could be both.

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We are having trouble identifying it as there are many plants with similar berries and leaves. We snapped off a bit of it today and will be taking it to the nursery for help with identification.

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We also had fun with friends, making artwork, getting beauty treatments, building Legos, playing with transformers, over all making a giant mess of the playhouse.

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Last but not least! Drum is always a lesson we are excited to go to and practice for!

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New Goals and updates

I have a few new goals this year.

We started a new routine to our day when we started back from the holidays. We are aiming to keep this routine for 100 days. So far we are forming new habits and it’s going well!

Now that is flowing I’m going to try a weekly post on this blog. I am telling myself there is no reason I can’t do this! I have a gap of time every Thursday, and if I make that gap of time blog time in my mind, it should work out.

As for a mini update, here are a few things we’ve been doing (or dealing with)

We hatched out 8 eggs (think I blogged about it in previous posts) well seven of the eight chicks were roosters! Yes I use “were” because a few of them became dinner.

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It it was difficult to watch. I don’t think I’ll be able to endure that again unless I saw something far swifter!

But once dead, I felt it was a waste if we didn’t eat them and honor their life in a way.  My daughter and I plucked them and discussed life and death. It was a nice opportunity to have a meaningful conversation on this topic.

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It was honestly THE BEST CHICKEN DINNER I’ve ever had!

A few lucky roosters have gotten to stay, because they were the least dominate and we weren’t interested in having a lot of cock fights or children being chased after.

Black beard and silver seven (grey one on the left, with his less dominant tail down) got to stay. The grey rooster with his tail up, Greyson, was given to a friend…his outcome is unknown and I don’t want to know because I have a feeling eventually he will be dinner.

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So far silver seven and  black beard are doing alright, but this spring we will need to get them some lucky ladies, as our current rooster Frosty is not sharing his flock what so ever! Not even one hen!

NEW DRUMS!

Another new addition to the family is my sons beloved drum set. He has put together his own “band” they are named “THE PIXELATORS” remember that name as one day he’s certain he will have a famous rock band!

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Best part of this electronic drum set is….drum roll please…you can play with headphones and it’s quiet! Haha! He can also play loud without the headphones, so best of both worlds!

Recently we had a band practice…it was priceless!!! The Pixelators Rock!

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Another fun adventure is seeing my children find their curiosity! I was worried it left the house, but recently while having free time, they are doing science experiments and art work again! Another good reminder not to worry too much,  life does truly come in waves.

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And of course we are still doing our school work…

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…nothing better than graphing CANDY!

we also attended an acrobat performance. The kids we’re very impressed with this man balancing on six chairs, on top of a stand…

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And this man riding a bicycle with eight passengers!

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This performance has encouraged a few acrobatic activities at home!

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Have a great week…hopefully my goals of working out 7 minutes a day (with the “SEVEN” app) and weekly blog writing will take place! Just a few goals at a time…once these are in place I will add more goals, or new habits!

Tech Time Plan Update

So often you get a great idea but a week later it fizzles…well I’m here to update you all on our TECH TIME CHART. It is still going strong and the kids are still loving it!

There have been a few alterations over time, but the general idea has stayed the same. Kids earn tech time during the week and spend it on the weekends. It is in their control, they decide how much they want to earn, how they want to spend it, etc…

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Here is a copy of our weekly log.

You can see listed two types of “school work” one is for every hour of HAPPY school work accomplished (no complaints, eager and efficient, etc) and another for minor complaint that slips out. They can earn 30 minutes per hour…but if they have minor complaints it bumps down to 10 minutes per hour and if they are unpleasant during our school work they get zero, zip, nothing, nada. Haha! Mean old mom doesn’t want to hear any complaints!

I also leave a category for BONUS TIME because some days they are just really cool kids and do some really cool amazing things that deserve a little extra bonus. Gotta save room for positive reinforcement. 🙂

Each spread sheet would obviously have your own personal tasks that applies to your family.

I tally up the tasks at the end of each day. Then on Friday evening before bed, I give the kids their grand total and they can start dreaming of how they will spend it on Saturday and Sunday. And I can start dreaming about sleeping in.

For example: if one earns two hours and twenty minutes for the week, I give it to them like this:

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And they cross off as they spend it. My kids found it more enjoyable to have it broken down into ten minute increments.

Most TV episodes are twenty minutes (no commercials). If they watch an episode they cross off two tens…and they also are looking to see how long TV shows are before choosing them. (becoming more aware of how much time they are spending in front of the boob tube!)

They seem to use ten minutes and then go play outside for a while, come back in and spend ten more. It seems they are getting very serious and learning time management this way.

They like being in charge of their time and they don’t like to waste their time. (funny how that works when it’s THEIR time) I like seeing them work it all out in such a responsible way. It is fun to listen to them talk about how they will manage/budget their time over the weekend. It’s really cute!

And this plan does still allow for a midweek movie or ipad time “gifted” to them by mom or dad. The rules are clear, they can NOT ask during the week for tech time, if they do the answer is NO. If I feel like giving them tech time that is my choice and they can choose to take it or leave it.

Anyone that is having the tech time battles with their kiddos, give this plan a try. It’s worked wonders for our tech time discussions! ha ha!

Beetle Bailey Wins the War on Math Today

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While doing some boring old math drill practice…I notice the comic strip section of the paper has caught my son’s eye…guessing I will need to record more reading then math for this hour! Haha!

Tis The Season To Be Busy…Fa La La La La La La

I haven’t been keeping up on my blog, because life just has a way of speeding by during this time of the year. We arrived home from our vacation and came home to boom boom boom a long list of events…We start off with Harvest, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving (and Thanksgivukkah this year for our Jewish friends) and POOF Christmas is right around the corner.

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On this particularly busy day, it was a super crazy day. I was going all day and exhausted. The kids were off playing and I saw a window for myself to just have a calm quiet cup of tea. I made myself a cup of tea, got a book, a couple extra cushions for the patio chair, settled myself down. Look over and see this! Seriously! Really? You gotta be kidding me! Ever have days like this!?! Well you aren’t alone! 😉

Here is a photo blog of what has been keeping us so busy and hopefully that will release me of my poor blogging skills guilt! (there’s always hope right!?!? ha ha!) It should make the family happy to have current photos of the kiddos doing what they do. 🙂

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Harvest Time – We generally spend a little time in the vineyard picking grapes with the crews. They often will save us a small plot to pick, because to be honest the crews are MUCH MORE efficient then we are. They can clear three or four rows in the same time we pick our small patch. But it is still fun to be a part of the harvest, eat a few grapes, dodge a few bees, learn hands on what a harvest really is about.

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Horse riding lessons – Each week the kids have horse riding lessons with an amazing trainer. Each week they alternate between English, Western & Vaulting lessons. Their balance and spatial awareness is growing leaps and bounds! In this photo the horse is walking. She is learning various vaulting skills at walk and trot.

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Science Experiments – This was a science kit explaining quick sand. After this experiment I found a better recipe online and we created a larger bowl of “quick sand” that occupied the kids for days and sadly killed many small plastic animals. (no worries though, all were saved by the dishwasher!)

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Pumpkin Patch Farm With Homeschooling Friends – we spent about 6 hours at this farm enjoying every aspect of it. Seeing the fields on a tractor hay ride, running thru hay mazes, feeding the farm animals, shopping their fresh product, eating yummy treats in their restaurant. It was a great day and the kids (mama too!) were tuckered out afterwards!

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And of course we carved pumpkins…Jack O’lanterns are always so much fun!

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More BIG NEWS – “Mom Dad, come see” – sooo we head outside and there she is, riding her brothers bike without training wheels. Apparently big brother helped her learn how to ride his bike. We were able to see the first steps as he ran behind her on his bike, hilariously cute! So dad took the trainers off HER bike and she “relearned” on her bike…she is very proud of her new-found skills!

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And of course “SCHOOL TIME” – both kiddos enjoy desk work (believe it or not!) I have my theories on why my kids think school work is fun…pretty much has to do with the fact it’s THEIR CHOICE.

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“SURFING” on Grandpa’s back – I remember doing these things with my dad as a child and it’s fun to see my kids enjoying the same adventures. He would throw us up in the air, across the pool, we’d swim on his back and pretend he was a dolphin, Surf across the pool on his back. And it appears he still has the touch!

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Homeschool Park Day – Halloween party for the homeschoolers. Some people believe homeschoolers are unsocialized and they never get to play with their peers. I will tell you during this fun adventure I heard a lot of the kids using their words to say things like “please pass the stickers” or “thank you” I didn’t see any pushing, shoving or grabbing going on. I’d say they were very well-mannered and displayed great social skills.

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Trick or Treat – Halloween is always fun! This year we celebrated with some friends. The kids ran from door to door and then afterwards enjoyed a good old fashion candy swap. I think all the kids felt they came out ahead!

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School Math the next day included Candy sorting, charting, adding and the kids favorite SUBTRACTING (aka eating!)

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Homeschool Park Day – Each week we get together with homeschool friends for park day and it is always so fun to see the older kids helping the younger kids and all the kids having fun together just being kids! I love it! So much joy!

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We made a little road trip to see JACK HANNA in action! he brought a bunch of wild animals to share with us and teach us some interesting facts about animals and various areas in the world.

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Our reading tree is SLOWLY filling. We actually have read way more books, but we unfortunately keep forgetting to add them to the tree. Each item is for a different reading situation, the animals are for chapter books, acorns for readers, leaves for story books, etc…

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Rain Gutter Regatta – This is a cub scouts event. The boys build sail boats and then using their breath power they blow the boat in a race down rain gutters. Its great fun and the kids all design great vessels!

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More School Time – they love their desks and it cracks me up every time they happily work away at their desks asking for more work.

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Another opportunity to do some math, geography, foreign language and character work – each year about this time, Samaritan’s Purse puts on the OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD program http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ and each year I give the kids a budget and a list of approved items. I take them shopping and they can choose what they want to go into their shoe box. They need to stay within budget. They need to scout out items that are on the list and fit in their box. They deliver the boxes to a local church and see all the work people put into making Christmas special for others. They learn about giving. We purchase tracking codes so we can track what country our boxes go to and learn more about that area. And they HOPE a child will return a letter one day. This year we wrote our letter in a couple of languages hoping someone would translate for the receiver. We shall see.

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We read a bunch of books on nature and animal tracks. One of the books suggested looking for an OWL during the day. So we headed out in search of tracks, owls and owl pellets. (which is owl puke, some people think it’s poop. The owl eats a WHOLE mouse and then the fur and bones bundle up together during digestion and the owl pukes it out)

We did find lots of tracks, bobcats, deer, pigs, coyotes, birds, and our dogs! ha ha! At the base of several trees we searched for owl pellets. We looked at the tippy tops of many trees. No owls and no owl pellets. But lucky for us, Amazon.com sells owl pellet kits and has two-day shipping! ha ha!

The kits are great, because they come with little bone charts and the kids can pretend they are paleontologists, digging around for bones and then placing them back together to see if they have a whole animal!

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When it was all over the kids drew pictures and wrote about it in their nature journals.

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On occasion we get to do school with our homeschooling friends.

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and we also get to do pizza parties and arcade games with our homeschooling friends.

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We have a few family traditions that make our Thanksgiving one of our favorite holidays! For starters we eat venison instead of turkey. 1) we’re pretty sure they had venison at the first thanksgiving meal. and 2) no one in our family likes turkey, so who wants to spend all day cooking a big old bird no one will eat. We have a TURKEY SHOOT, which is great fun! The kids blow up surgical gloves and we decorate them to look like turkeys. Take them down to the shooting range and take turns shooting the turkeys. (We use both rifles and bows) And last but certainly not least, we have a pumpkin toss. And all of those pumpkins we collected are tossed down the canyon. We see who can throw the farthest, highest, funniest, etc… Then we hike down the canyon and smash the pumpkins open, getting any aggression out on the poor little pumpkins! ha ha! But this opens them up so nature can take its course and the pumpkins do their part in the cycle of life.

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And then comes the food coma! I couldnt eat another bite!

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We also have piano recitals that keep us moving and grooving!

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Before you know it, it is Christmas tradition time! Poof, three months has flown by! This year for the first time, the kid’s gingerbread houses don’t look like a candy/frosting factory puked on them. This is the first year they both decided to follow some suggested ideas in the directions! I was both impressed and sad to be honest. I was impressed with how well their houses came out (one is in the background, but you can still see it, lovely icicles!) But I was sad to know their childish glops of frosting and uneven gum drops were days of the past now. It has spurred a field trip. We are going to go check out a bakery that makes professional gingerbread houses and see how they do their amazing decorating tricks.

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And with Christmas comes the shelf elves! Meet Sir SugarSocks MacMistletoe and his lady elf friend. They get into mischief in our house on occasion, but for the most part they are decent elves that simply report to Santa how the kids are doing throughout the season!

Please forgive my lack of blogging lately, but as you can see we have been keeping busy with events, friends, family and school.