Bye Bye Little Miss Molly

Our beloved dog Little Miss Molly has passed away.

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She had a fantastic life!

Her younger years were thrilling. She was a fantastic therapy dog. She worked with kids in various preschools. She competed in agility. She was chosen to play the dog in the play ANNIE. She worked on some TV sets. She was featured on AFV. She made her way into a doggie calendar. She attempted sheep hearding for fun, and did well until she decided mutton might be a tasty treat! She was full of life and lived her life to the fullest!

And then came KIDS. Those darn kids stunted her fame and fortune, but not her fun! She adored being a family dog too. The kids adored her, their friends adored her and she adored the attention. She spent her days hunting lizards and rodents, occasionally playing a smidgen too rough with the chickens (oops!) always doing something ridiculously funny, like finding her way on to the kitchen table sipping tea from a fancy tea cup. Or sleeping on our heads. Often scaling the back of the sofa like a cat might do. On occasions she would bravely do something very scary like scale the second story trellis and chase a bird across the scaffolding!

Towards the end, her life was becoming not so fun. She was riddled with arthritis and some paralysis in her hind legs. She seemed too old to learn how to use her new wheelchair, and too weak to hold up the weight of a doggie diaper, so her mobility and comfort started to deteriorate quickly and at the ripe old age of 17 we had to make that horrid choice.

We tried to give her the best up until the end, but in the last week, she was literally being picked up and moved from one bed to the next using absorbent pads and doing a LOT of dog bed and dog washing (at least three loads a day!) She would wet herself, whimper, we’d wash her off and move her to the next dry clean bed and do a load of doggie bed laundry to make up the next dry clean bed for the future. Rotating the three beds all day long. Giving many medications to keep her comfortable. It wasn’t the adventurous life she was used to by any stretch of the imagination!

We made the appointment to have her put down and my daughter wanted to hold her when it happened, so I sat on the floor, she sat on my lap, Molly laid in my daughters lap and the boys watched from the side. It was a very tearful and sad day. We buried her and had a funeral for her. The vet was VERY SWEET…making this memorial plaque for us and giving us a very personalized card with all the employees writing a touching note.

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We were blessed with 17 years of Molly the amazing dog!!! We miss you greatly Molly Moo!!! ❤️

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 Annual Pumpkin Toss

Happy Thanksgiving

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Before we had kids, my husband and I both felt Thanksgiving was a terribly boring holiday for kids. We decided to make it a more kid friendly fun holiday and turns out it is one of our favorites now! One of the events we host is our annual pumpkin toss and the kids love it! As Joy from INSIDE OUT would say, it’s a core memory in the making!  The day after Halloween I buy anywhere from 75-100 pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. They sit patiently waiting for Thanksgiving Day.

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We try many techniques, under hand, over hand, left hand, right hand, kick it, roll it, smash it, catapult it, fling it, etc…and every year we think, that darn bush, my pumpkin would have won if that bush wasn’t in the way! Next year we should trim that bush back!

When the event is over, we hike down the canyon and smash all the pumpkins open, which is great fun! We are hoping to one day have our own wild pumpkin patch down in the canyon, but to date no random pumpkin plants. We also like to smash them open so the wild life can enjoy the Thanksgiving feast! We see rabbits eating the pumpkins and assume many other critters nibble away too, like wild pigs, coyotes, fox, birds, etc..

I think the kids are getting clever enough now that next year they might be building projects that start months in advance to really get the pumpkins flying! Maybe that could be a homeschool science project! Hmm my wheels are turning! Research project, building project, this could be good!

We hope everyone in the states had a nice Thanksgiving and are ready for the holiday season ahead, which is blowing right past at lightening speed!

Our Week in Pictures

Not sure how many of you remember my daughters adventures with pink hair a while back…

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The color stayed in her hair for over a year!

And stained a few things along the way!

She is finally back to a more natural color and all week she has been telling me she wants to color it blue now, or maybe purple, or possibly red…

Her friend who attends public school, told her she’s not allowed to color her hair until summer, it’s against the rules, then she remembered we homeschool…

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Few rounds of ping-pong took place.

imageSome attempts to find new planets, stars, etc…but something was “clogging the lens”, so now the telescope is collecting dust in my entryway, along with five billion coats no one wears!

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Reading…lots of reading this past week!

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Dreaded worksheets!

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Clay creations and sewing projects.

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I told her of a local homeschooling girl who made clothes for her dog; since this is one of my daughters favorite past times and one of our dogs most dreaded duties, she promptly decided she needs to go into business with this other girl, whom she’s never met! Haha!

We went on lots of walks!

Trying to identify plants, not so good yet at this adventure!

Anyone know what this flower is?

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Swinging stick weapons in our best rock star pose.

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Trying to steal sticks away from the dog.

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 Cruising up the road…we walked a ton this past week!

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We had friends join us on our walks.

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Of course we always have play dates with friends!

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Time for a make over! Boys included, most of the time he is the make up artist or desperately trying to convince them they are beautiful enough to play a game of dead man on the trampoline now!

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My son has been reading and creating a TON of these “mini weapons of mass destruction!

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I highly recommend this book! Amazon.com has several from the series. I think the ninja version will be making its way to our house in the near future!

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Comedy watching her attempt to saddle a tall horse! Especially with a western saddle! The english saddles are much lighter!

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Tricycles aren’t always for toddlers!

My son found this tricycle at the horse stables and attempted to go down hills fast enough then stand up on the seat. Think there is more practice needed…and maybe a helmet?

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Love our FLL opportunities!

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Lego Robotics is a favorite for sure!

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We also love chess club!

(Which ends with friends and s’mores around the fire)

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Sidewalk walk chalk is still a ton of fun!

Another past time that isn’t  just for toddlers!

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Adventure Time is a current favorite.

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Climbed a few trees, Have I mention I have a couple of monkeys?

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We ended our week with a Girl Scout camp out.

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And a great game of “Sharks n Minnows” on an air pad…because camping apparently isn’t all “nature” anymore!?!?

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Came home, took a nice hot bath to shed camping scuzzzz of our bods and are ready for a nice new week full of new adventures!

Horses, Swim, Performances and Playdates Oh My!

 This week actually felt fairly relaxed,

but we had plenty of adventures to keep us busy!

Trips to the museum and another chance to adore the horses!

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Practicing her “walking dismount” during a vaulting lesson.

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My fish love to swim, but their current lessons are driving me crazy! My kids WORK their teachers and get away with insanely basic level skills!

Like floating! Come on, you’re killing me here!

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And for the first few lessons they let my cannon ball jumper sit on the edge and flop in because she seemed “scared” ugh….she jumps in ALL THE TIME during free swim!

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Luckily my son switched classes and has a real teacher who is pushing him to perfect his strokes and teaching him the butterfly stroke!

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My son’s Cub Scout leader demonstrated “healthy eating” and made a smoothie with his bike. Of course an auditorium full of boys couldn’t stop making he’s pooping the smoothie jokes! So when it came to tasting it….there were too many eewwww gross, you’re drinking his poop! Jokes! Boys and their bodily function humor! Do they ever out grow it?

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We attended a fun play that sparked a reading fest in the house!

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We also spent a lot of time going for walks and identifying plants. I had no idea how many edible plants are right in our own back yard! Nature exploring to me is one of the best parts of homeschooling!

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And it’s always more fun when dad can join us!

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And of course lots of Playdates….a homeschooling family must prove to the overly concerned world that we are socialized!

(Do you detect sarcasm here?) 😜

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Fun Adventures with My Kiddos

This past weekend was full of travels and adventures. We had a whirl wind trip to southern California.

Day One we explored the Los Angeles Science Center. There are plenty of exciting exhibits as you can see in the photos like:

Wind tunnels that blow hurricane level winds all over the kids.

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which of course he must make it to the top to ring the bell and light the lights up…

then get his congratulatory slam down hug from his sis!

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imageWind poppers that are irresistible to my drum player!

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…and of course MY kids were hoping they could create gas that showed up on the screen!

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The science center also has a fantastic aquarium/touch pools.

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There were ICE (real deal COLD) walls

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Quickly my son discovered punching ice, isn’t quite the same as punching snow!

(ouch!)

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lots of opportunities to push, pull, feel, examine, etc…

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and last but not least…the Endeavor Space Shuttle has a home at the science center.

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My kids were thrilled to touch wheels that have ACTUALLY BEEN IN SPACE!

“mom seriously these wheels have been in outer space! touch them mom, they were really in outer space!”

Day Two we met up with some friends and conquered LEGOLAND!

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Day Three we celebrated with my childhood friend and her daughter at her daughter’s “Fancy Tea” themed birthday party.

I can remember as kids thinking when we grow up our kids will play with each other and we will all live happily ever after! ❤

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Well it’s true minus a billion miles between us…amazingly our daughters are really close regardless!

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I was cracking up watching these girls attempt delicate moves! One little girl had a tea-cup airborne giving the host a heart attack,

another nearly ripped her dress trying to break dance and my own sweet daughter ended up ripping off one of the roses on her dress…

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Graceful they were not, but beautiful and happy they were!…these girls loved being fancy for a day!

 It’s great when homeschooling gives you the freedom to learn on the go and share such fun memories with close family and friends!

Kids and E-mail

I have set up email accounts for my kids…only our family has the addresses…for now….they will branch out in due time.

I send them video clips and links to educational apps or games to discover. Example: a specific link to a video clip on “thekidshouldseethis.com” web site..then ask questions about the video, so they reply, get practice in reading, typing, emailing, etc…but in the relative safety of our family.

I also send them links to various apps to download and explore and tell me about the game or info they discovered. They had a lot of fun with a stop motion app. They created lots of stop motion videos with their stuffed animals.

I emailed the new electronic drum manual’s PDF file to my son and told him to read it by Wednesday. He replied on Tuesday letting me know he was finished. He also let me know he learned a bunch of cool things his new drum set can do.

Recently I allowed them to download a trivia game which we play together, against one another. Again only family, so no playing online with strangers. And the trivia questions are history, science, art, geography, etc…it is fun to see how much they know! And it’s good for them to “wait their turn” on a game that can take days to finish.

Turtle diary web site has educational games. I will send them links to these games and ask them to reply to me with their score.

I downloaded the natural reader app, and showed them how to link a web site to the audio natural reader, allowing me to send them links to pages of information they can listen to as some of the scientific words are too advanced for their reading level at this time…and then we discuss the information via email.

The kids love it!

They typically crawl into bed next to me and put on headphones and check their emails, which is great because I still need a bit of quiet time and they are waking up earlier now! (I just need to train them to make me a cup of tea, since the cup my husband brings me before leaving for work is typically gone by this time! Haha”)

All of this is IMHO, teaching them to navigate a world in which they will inevitably have to work in someday. It is encouraging them to explore educational information and discuss it with me. It’s encouraging better typing, spelling, reading, etc…and what I love best, is seeing their wheels turn, they are thinking about what they are learning, putting pieces together, finding humor, facts and safe solid life skills.

I got an email from my daughter out of the blue, asking if we can go to a specific church she wanted to know more about (where her Girl Scout meetings are held) and one from my son out of the blue asking if we can have one on one time and go to get frozen yogurt together.

This morning I got an email from my son explaining how smart the atoms are in H2O because no matter what, they know what they are supposed to do…I replied, and you are a bundle of atoms that knows exactly what you should be doing….and he replied with a bunch of laughing smilies and said, you’re funny mom! Hahahahahahaha!

These interactions are priceless! And I vote instead of fearing the Internet and technology, teach the kids what to do, how to do it, what not to do, what to avoid, why, etc…we limit tech time each day and now a large portion of their screen time is educationally productive! They aren’t spending their time “killing bosses” they are instead watching educational clips and interacting with one another.