Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Great Santa Claus Mystery

I was reading a blog yesterday about when to tell your children the truth about Santa Claus. I know that some people think that if you tell your children that there is a Santa Claus, a Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny, you are lying to them. They believe that you should never lie to your children. Eventually they will find out the truth and they will hate you forever. I actually watched a tv program the other day where a little boy found out the truth about many things. You know, those silly things we tell our children when we know they are not true. “Don’t make that face, you will freeze that way.” Or maybe, “If you swallow that watermelon seed it will grow into a watermelon plant in your tummy.” He was quite devastated as he proved that each of these things were not true.

But for those of us who do tell our children about Santa, when do you tell them the truth. My son told me last year that he knew that there was not such thing as Santa. He knew that the presents came from Mom and Dad. We did not have to tell him anything. One of my friends said that she was telling her 8 year old this year. She does not want her school friends to tell her the truth. She wants to tell her herself. Another friend said that her child figured it out a long time ago, but has been playing along with the whole thing so the other kids in the family would not figure it out. It’s fun playing fantasy games. That’s what Santa is, a fantasy game. We all need a little fantasy in our lives.

So if your children believe in Santa, when are you going to tell them?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Holiday Time

December is here. I can’t believe how busy life can get this time of year. I am really struggling to find enough time to sit down and work on our curriculum. I’m actually thinking of declaring this whole month a vacation. Since we do a lot of work during the summer maybe I could get by with that.

A lot of what we are doing is learning related. Baking and shopping are definitely learning experiences. I was shopping a few days ago and saw a little girl hand the clerk her money. Before the clerk could say anything, the father asked the little girl how much change she should get back. It took her a couple of minutes and a little help from the clerk, but she was able to figure out how much change she should get back. What a great real life way to learn.

We are also focusing on some community service projects. One of young friends was in the hospital last year over the holidays being treated for cancer. He and his mother are collecting toys and decorations to take to the hospital this year to other children who are dealing with this horrible disease. We have purchased a few things to take to them. And we are collecting from our friends as well so we can have a few more things to donate to these kids.

Another project that we have been working on this year is to write cards to elderly people in nursing homes who never have visitors. We are sending them to a homeschool magazine who is collecting them to take to a local nursing home.

My son also made a very personal donation this year. He cut his beautiful long hair and sent it to Locks of Love. Locks of Love is an organization that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer or other diseases. To donate hair, you first braid it and then put rubber bands at both ends before you cut the braid off. My son’s braid was 14 inches long.

What things are you doing during this busy holiday season?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is This School Or Not

Sometimes I feel like we take a lot of days off school. Or at least off of working on our curriculum on the computer. It seems like we are on the go all the time. We spend a lot of time at the Environmental Center, the Art Museum, the Nature Center, or the Science Museum. But these are all educational events. And our Lego Engineering Class, Lego Lapbook class, and Geography class are definitely learning times. But is it really school when we go to Chuck E. Cheese or the park. I’ve decided that it is. The park is recess, right? And physical education. I mean how much more exercise can a little boy get than running around a park all day. Chuck E. Cheese teaches so many things. Hand eye coordination on those video games. Then the math skills that are required to add up your tokens. Do I have enough points to win that prize I want? How many more tickets do I have to earn before I can buy it? Yes, it is much more than just playing games.

I think one of the problems many of us have when we first start homeschooling is that we think of school as being Monday through Friday from 9 till 3 with weekends off. That’s what we are used to. But what’s wrong with doing school work at midnight. Or doing a special class on the weekend. That’s still learning. It still counts when you have to document your learning experiences for quarterly or annual reports. Many times homeschoolers are required to document the number of hours per day they spend on school. But do you count all those learning hours. Making cookies requires math skills. It also teaches some chemistry. Watching the bread rise is definitely a chemical reaction. But I don’t think most of us think to document those hours. Sorting laundry or sorting the silverware is also learning. I mean if it counts as math to sort the blue balls from the red squares on the computer, why not count sorting all the forks from all the spoons.

Take some time this week to look at all the things you do with your child that actually are learning experiences and not just play. If you have to provide documentation to the school district or a supervising teacher, be sure you count those hours as well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I don’t know what it is about little boys and slime. But they all love it. It’s gross and squishy and makes a mess. Maybe that’s why they like it so much. I found a few recipes for slime online that I thought I would share with you.
Sewer Slime Put 7 tablespoons of cold water in a cup. Add 1/4 teaspoon of guar gum and stir it with a popsicle stick 10 times. When you stop, leaving the stick in. Dip a pinky into the cup, then rub it in your fingers. After it sits for 2 minutes to thicken, add the final ingredient: ½ teaspoon of the Borax Solution (Borax Solution: 1 teaspoon borax (sodium tetraborate) in one tablespoon water). Stir and it will form a gel that looks like real boogers!
Bouncy Putty Slime Combine ½ cup water with one teaspoon of Borax in a cup and stir with a popsicle stick. In another cup, mix equal parts white glue and water. Add in a glob of glue mixture to the borax. Stir for one second with a popsicle stick, then quickly pull the putty out of cup and play with it until it dries enough to bounce on table (3-5 minutes). Pick up an imprint from a textured surface or print from a newspaper, bounce and watch it stick, snap it apart quickly and ooze apart slowly. It’s just like silly putty.
Glowing Slime Modify the above experiment (Bouncy Putty Slime) just a bit to make glowing slime: substitute clear glue (or glue gel) for the white glue, and extract the yellow dye from a high lighter pen (called 'glow juice' The result? A slime that fluoresces under UV light.
Corny Slime Fill a large bowl with two cups of cold water. Mix in one cup of cornstarch. The faster you stir, the harder it is to stir. Go s l o w l y . Grab it with your hand - it should form a hard ball that you can't squish. When you relax your grip, the ball should melt and drip between your fingers as if liquid. If this is not what's happening for you, adjust the amounts of cornstarch and water you have in your bowl.
Squishy Slime Mix 1 cup sugar, 12 cups water, and 3 cups cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Place a glop in each of several bowls along with drops of food coloring in each. Place a dollop of each color into a plastic sandwich bad and zip it shut. You can squish and squeeze without getting your hands slimy.

You can find these recipes and more at:


Have fun playing with your slime. I know you will make a little boy very happy if you make some of this for him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What To Do For Physical Education

What do you do for physical education for your children? My son plays soccer in the Fall and in the Spring. In the Fall he plays on a league in our town. He also plays on a homeschool soccer league. And he has practice one night a week for the town league. So that’s three days a week with an hour and a half of pretty good exercise. But both of his soccer leagues have ended now for the year. He can play indoor soccer for the homeschool league during the Winter. Then they will start outdoors again in the Spring. But that still leaves long stretches of time with no physical activity. I know 8 year old boys are running around like crazy as much as possible. He rides his bike whenever the weather permits. And he plays with his friends outside when they get home from school. During the summer he goes hiking with his dad once in a while. That sounds like a lot of activity. But it is not on a regular basis. So I am trying to think of ways to incorporate more activity into my son’s life.

When he is not doing all these things he is happy to sit in front of his computer or sit and play with his Nintendo DS. He want us to buy him a Wii but that is not going to happen. That’s just another electronic devise to keep him from getting up and moving.

I’ve thought about enrolling him in Karate lessons. But they seem so violent. I’m not sure if that would be a good fit for him or not. I have also thought about dance lessons. He has expressed an interest in Irish Folk Dancing. But when I looked into this, I quickly became aware of how expensive it can be. Especially with the costumes and travel to perform.

So I’m back to my original question. What do you do for physical education for your children? Oh and it has to not cost a lot. And it shouldn’t involve a lot of travel. Oh and no expensive uniforms or costumes. Um, what else do I need to consider? I guess it should be fun too or he’s not going to do it. Any ideas?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Love Fall

I love the changing colors everywhere. The trees are so beautiful this time of year. The browns and purples and golds and reds are just awesome.

My son loves the fall as well. He doesn’t like to get too hot. But he doesn’t like to wear a coat or all that goes along with winter cold. So fall is just right for him. He can not wait until we finish school each day so he can be out in the yard playing. He loves to build huge mounds of leaves and then jump in the middle of them to scatter leaves everywhere. We had a great science lesson when we talked about why the leaves change color. The actually are showing their real color in the fall. During the spring and summer the leaves are full of chlorophyll which is needed to help the leaves use sunlight to manufacture their food. As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, the production of chlorophyll slows down. As this process slows down the real color of the leaves begins to show through. Different things can have an effect on the colors of the leaves. The amount of moisture in the soil or a series of hot sunny days in the fall can cause the colors to be different. A long spring or a delayed summer can delay the time when the leaves change color.

Another thing that I really like about fall is that I get to make soup again. My husband will not eat soup in the hot weather. But when the temperatures start to go down, out comes my soup pot. Potato Soup and Chili are two of my favorites. We will have these often over the next few months.

Here’s to cool fall nights, a pot of hot soup, and a fire in the fireplace.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


There are lots of pick your own apple farms around here. Recently my son went to one of these farms for a birthday party. The kids had a great time picking apples and sharing them with each other. My son came home with a huge bag, over 25 pounds of apples. Now I like an occasional apple as much as anyone. I prefer red delicious apples. But do you know, in a bag of 25 pounds of apples there was not a single red delicious. There were big apples and tiny apples. There were red apples and green apples and even some spotted apples but not a single red delicious in the bunch.

I knew that I had to do something with all these apples. If they sat for very long I would have nothing but apple mush and a bad smell in my house. So I decided to make apple butter. I peeled, cored, and chopped apples for more than an hour. Finally I had enough apples to fill my crock pot. I added sugar and cinnamon and then just let them simmer. I left them in the crock pot all night and most of the next day. That next evening I put the apples in jars and processed them. I now have enough apple butter in the cabinet to last us all winter.

I still had apples left so I decided to try my hand at applesauce. I have never made applesauce before so I scoured the internet for recipes. Finally I came up with one that sounded so much easier than any of the others. You put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pot and then fill it up with chopped apples. I let it cook for about 20 minutes. Then I took a potato masher to the apples. They mashed up so quickly I couldn’t believe it. I put them in jars and processed them. I then added the jars of applesauce to the jars of apple butter in the cabinet.

We made apple muffins and a French apple dessert. And finally we hit the bottom of the bag of apples. So my son picked the apples and helped wash them. I turned them in to wonderful canned foods for the winter. My son’s favorite thing was listening for the jars to pop after they came out of the canning bath. The pop lets you know that they have sealed well. I’m sure his next favorite part will be eating them.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reading For The Third Grade

What does your third grader read? My son doesn’t like to read. In fact he doesn’t really want any part of reading. He says he can’t read. But I’ve discovered that it’s not that he can’t. He is afraid he will make a mistake and someone will laugh at him. I have done everything I can think of to help him get interested in reading. Before he was even born I had an entire book case full of books for him. As he has gotten older I have added more and more books. We have finally started to give away the baby books because we just don’t have any more room for them. Well, all except the “Hug” Book. He don’t think he will ever get rid of this book. Daddy has read this book to him every night since we got off the airplane from Guatemala. Even if Daddy is out of town, he reads the book to him over the phone. It’s not hard to read. Basically it says, “Hug.” Repeatedly throughout the book. As the poor lost elephant goes by all the different animals with their babies, looking for his mother. Finally he sees her, “Mama” he cries. “BooBoo” is her reply. That’s it you have now heard all three words in the book. But my 8 year old still loves to hear this story read.

I read to my son on a regular basis. I encourage my husband to read to him every night. He loves Harry Potter. Even though this book is way above his reading ability, I read it to him. Currently Daddy is reading books about the Greek and Norse Gods and Goddesses to him. We are still struggling to find books that he can and will read to himself. I just ordered the Captain Underpants books for him. I’m hoping the grossness of the topic will capture his attention. I also just ordered the beginning series of Percy Jackson books to help with his new desire to learn about all of the gods and goddesses. I’m really hoping these will be the books that will stir up that tiny light of reading good books deep inside him.

Monday, August 15, 2011


My son loves to play with legos. I think they are his absolute favorite thing in the whole world. He has at least two or three lego parts in his hand at any given time during his waking hours. I think he even has legos in his bed.

I decided to take his love for legos and turn it in to a learning experience. I came across a blog about legos. They had turned it into a lapbook project. I have never done a lapbook before but I thought this sounded really cool. I was talking to a few other homeschooling moms about it and they decided that they would love to join in the fun. So we are meeting once a month to work on our lego lapbooks.

The first time we met we talked about Ole Kirk Christiansen the inventor or legos. We learned that he was from Denmark so we found a map of Europe and located Denmark on the map. We learned that the word lego actually comes from the Danish words “Leg Godt,” or “play well.” (Appropriately, “Lego” also means “I study,” or “I put together” in Latin). Did you know that the first legos were actually made out of wood? The project for the kids to complete that day was to make the flag of Denmark out of legos. We took pictures of their flags so they can include the pictures in their lapbooks.

The second time we met we talked about the lego company. We learned what a mission statement is and we learned how the lego bricks are made. We watched a couple of videos about the process of making lego bricks. The project for the day was to build a ship without any directions.

The third class was about how legos are designed and what you can design with legos. We talked about words such as “Interference Fit” and “Friction”. When you press the lego bricks together the studs press against the walls and tubes and push them open a bit. This is what makes the bricks lock together. The bricks are resilient so when you take them apart they go back to their original shape. The building challenge for this class was to make a mosaic.

The last class used several different learning activities. We learned how to use the bricks to help with multiplication. Some bricks have two studs across and three studs down. Two times three equals six. We also learned about graphs. The kids each got a cup full of legos. They sorted them by color. Then they made a graph to show how many bricks of each color they had.

I think everyone had a great time with the lego learning group. We are looking for another topic so we can do it again.

Monday, August 1, 2011


We haven’t started a study of history as history yet. We have been attending a lot of historical sites. Mostly we have gone to places that depict life in the early 1800’s. I am very interested in this time period. So I try to get my son interested in it as well. I really can’t tell you if it is working or not. He seems interested for a while. But then he wants to go outside and play with his friends instead of listening to the speaker.

Some of the places we have visited include Historic Speedwell. We have attended their homeschool classes all summer. They started in the spring by digging in the garden of the Vail homes in Morristown, New Jersey. The next month they planted seeds in little paper cups. The following month the planted their tiny fledgling plants in the garden. Later in the year they harvested the plants. Another month they learned about making crafts. Everything was done as it would have been done in the 1800’s.

Another place we visited was Cooper’s Grist Mill. During one class the kids got to practice sewing on an old treadle sewing machine. Then they learned how to card wool and they got to see an old spinning wheel. They washed clothes in an old wringer washing machine and hung them on a clothes line. Many of the kids were amazed when I said that was the way I washed clothes when I was a child. A few months later we went to a demonstration of how they made candles over an open fire. The next month the kids got to help press apples and turn it into apple cider. Each month the class also included a tour of the mill and a demonstration of how to grind the wheat into flour.

We also visited Fosterfield’s Farm. There the kids each made a small bag on the treadle sewing machine. They saw how food was canned and preserved for winter. Another month they had a display of antique automobiles.

We went to Thomas Edison’s House and saw all the old cars there. One thing that really fascinated my son was the turn around. Cars did not have reverse. They only went forward. So they drove the car into the shed and parked it on a turnstile. When they wanted to take the car out of the shed, they had to turn the crank to turn the turnstile by hand. This would spin the car around so it was facing the door. Then they could drive it out. They also had a very old record player that used cylinder shaped records.

I don’t know what era we study next year. But it certainly was fun visiting all these sites this year.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Not A School Day

I usually do school all year round. It’s never been a problem for us because my son did not know when it was a school day and when it wasn’t. Now he has two friends in the neighborhood. Now he knows when his friends are not in school. Usually by 11:00 in the morning one or both of them are at the door wanting to play. It makes it hard to get him to sit down and work on school work when his friends are at the door. Some days I can get him awake and ready to do a little work before his friends show up. But most days they are at the door before he even wakes up. I’m not sure how we are going to change our way of doing school work. I’m not willing to do school Monday to Friday, 9 to 3.

We do a lot of extra work on rainy days when the boys can’t play outside. We also do some school work late at night. I have found that my son loves to read to me after Dad goes to bed at night. He really enjoys the private time with me. We have had many many long talks after 11:00 at night. I may try to add some more work online during those late night hours as well.

I think another thing that I may do is to just invite the other boys in to help with some of our work. I’m sure they would enjoy some of the craft projects or the messy science projects. Oh yeah, messy science and three 8 year olds. I wonder if the other boys have seen what happens when you drop mentos into diet coke.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gods And Goddesses

The other day my son came out of his bedroom and asked me if Zeus and Posiden were brothers. I told him that I didn’t know but we could check it out. So of course I went online to check these things out. I found a really cool lapbook on Ancient Greece. So I printed everything out for it. I also went to and ordered a handful of books on Greek Mythology and Norse Mythology. The next day we sat down to look at the lapbook that I found. Well, my son has absolutely no interest in Ancient Greece. He has no interest in the lapbook. He wants to learn about the gods and goddesses. So okay, we need to change directions here a bit.

I got out one of the new books that I bought and we started reading about Cronus. Cronus was the lord of the universe. My son was all ears and wanted to hear more and more. Then I came to the part where Cronus ate his children. My son was so distressed. He couldn’t believe that anyone would eat his own children. He was done with the gods and goddesses.

The next day he decided that he still wanted to learn more about them so we went back to reading the book again. We read about how Rhea tricked Cronus into swallowing a stone instead of her last baby. My son was so happy when Metis gave Cronus the magic herbs that caused Cronus to spit out not only the rock that Rhea had given him but all five of the children as well. We’re still working on learning more about the gods and goddesses. But we’re taking it very slowly.

Oh and in case you’re interested, Zeus and Posideon are brothers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I don’t know what age kids really start to study music. When my son was younger we used to sing all the cute little songs and finger rhymes. But then he seemed to tire of them. When we’re in the car he likes to make up silly little songs. My car’s name is Jeremiah. I know, silly isn’t it. All of my other cars have had girl’s names. But my son decided this car looked like Jeremiah. We have made up so many silly verses to the tune of “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog.” He really likes that song.

We also listen to music in the car. While other moms are listening to country music, or rock, or folk in the car. I was listening to such great hits as “Dirt Made My Lunch”. Oh you’ve never heard of it. Well you have to learn this great little song.

“Dirt made my lunch.
Dirt made my lunch.
Thank you dirt
Thanks a bunch
For my salad, my sandwich, my milk, and my munch.
Cause dirt you made my lunch.”

We’ve progressed beyond that a bit now. We now listen to old remakes of Beatles music. Or the Bossy Frog Band.

So he is exposed to music on a regular basis but I’m not quite sure that counts as music education. Last year for the Winter Holidays I bought him a keyboard. I was going to sign him up for piano lessons until I checked the price. Wow, I had no idea they were so expensive. So I decided that I would put my years of piano lessons to use and teach him myself. So I bought a beginning piano book. I looked it over and decided I could do this. We got out the keyboard and plugged it in. We started the lesson. "Ohhhh, what does this button do? Oh listen to this mom. Oh let’s play with this for a while." Oh well, so much for mom teaching piano. Maybe we will try again in a few months.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Little House On THe Prairie

We have spent a lot of time over the last few months learning about life in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. We love going to Historic Speedwell. Every month they have a homeschool class to learn about life in the Vail Family.

One month the class was about where they got their food. As part of that class that kids planted seeds for the garden. The following month they took the tiny seedlings and planted them directly in to the garden while they learned about tending the gardens and the tools of the time period. Throughout the summer they learned more about gardening.

After the harvest, they learned about what school was like in that time period. They learned that girls probably did not go to school. Instead they learned from their mothers at home. Boys went to school until they were needed to work the farms or help support the family. Only the wealthy boys went to school beyond elementary school. Most recently, the kids learned about crafts such as tin punching and quilt making. They learned how every scrap of leftover fabric was used. They could not afford to be wasteful. The kids all agreed that it is a whole lot easier to go to the store and buy a blanket than to hand sew a quilt.

We also visited a Grist Mill where we learned about how wheat is ground into flour. We also learned about tools that were used in the 1800’s such as wool cards, a spinning wheel, and a hand turned ringer washing machine. The kids also each made a bag on an old treadle sewing machine.

We learned about hand dipping candles at another farm. The kids also made a small oil lamp. They watched as applesauce was made and then canned to preserve it for use during the winter.

It’s been an interesting summer and fall as we have stepped back into the past. I hope you have the opportunity to see some of these wonderful skills brought to life again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Science In The Third Grade

My son loves doing science experiments. His favorite thing to do is to drop mentos into diet coke. It has to be diet coke, not the super sugary kind. And it has to be somewhat warm, not cold. And you have to do this outside. You drop five or six mentos quickly in to a 2 liter bottle of diet coke and then run for shelter. I have seen it spray up to 20 feet in the air. Perfect for a little boy. What a mess it makes.

He also loves learning about rockets. How they fly? What makes them stable? He can explain how rockets fly using Newton’s Law of Motion. An object that is not in motion will remain not in motion until acted upon by an outside force. The motor exploding against the launch pad causes the rocket to lift off. Also, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Again, the motor exploding against the launch pad causes the rocket to lift off. Who knew science could be so much fun.

We also learn about science in some every day ways. How does the yeast make the bread rise? How does mixing a powder with water turn into jello? What makes the leaves change color? These are all simple ways to learn about science. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or cost a lot of money. Science is a part of our every day lives.

Tomorrow we are going to see what happens when you mix boric acid with water. We will bend a few pipe cleaners into shapes and hang them in the boric acid solution. In a few days we should be able to see the beautiful crystals appear on the pipe cleaners.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Little Boys and All Things Gross

What is it about little boys and gross things? Well, I guess I should say big boys as well. My husband and my son are watching Dirty Jobs right now. And I’m watching them. It really is a pretty tame show tonight compared to what they usually show. Tonight they are repairing the pin setters in a bowling alley. Whoops I mean bowling lane. I found out that they don’t call them bowling alleys any more. They now are Bowling Lanes which you will find at a Family Fun Center. Like I said, the show tonight is pretty tame. Oh wait a minute, my son is now cracking up. Apparently there are five men hovering around the end of the machine that sets the pins. Mike Rowe, the star of the show, is inside the machine with his back side sticking out towards the faces of the other four men. Apparently his lunch did not agree with him. You can hear certain noises coming from inside the machine and suddenly the four men around the end of the machine are disappearing quite quickly. My son is cracking up at this. Little boys and gross things.

They just showed the previews for the next show. It looks like they will be digging out shark poop and testing the sand under it. Hum. Looks right up their alley. Yep, the dvr is already set to record it.

The two men in my household also love to watch Mythbusters. The wilder the show and the grosser the idea, the better they like it. Actually my son has learned a lot from watching programs like this.

I am depending on my son’s love of all things gross to help with his reading skills. He hates to read. He doesn’t want anything to do with reading. In fact, he hates reading so much that he doesn’t even want me to read to him very often. So I recently bought the Captain Underpants series of books for him. I am hoping that they will be gross enough that he will want to read them.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mom, The Computer Won't Work

Those were the first words I heard this morning. I swear that boy is so addicted to the internet and he’s only 8 years old. He cried. He carried on. He was sure the world was coming to an end. His computer was not working. I was in the middle of something that I could not stop right at that moment. So he had to find another way to entertain himself for a while. When I finished what I was doing I told him to was time for school. Again I heard, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. You would have thought he was dying. “I can’t do school until my brain wakes up.” “I need my computer to make my brain wake up.” “Well, we are doing school on my computer, won’t that help your brain wake up.”

Finally he decided I wasn’t going to look at his computer until he did his school work. We did Social Studies first. He is learning about the Inuits right now. He really loves learning about them. I don’t have the heart to tell him we are almost finished with that unit. Then we did language Arts. He was learning about Cause and Effect in Language Arts. When we finished school for the day I went in to his bedroom to look at his computer. Now I had already asked him if it was unplugged. He insisted that everything was plugged in. When I walked in his room, the first thing I saw is that the light is not turned on on the power strip. I flipped the switch but it still did not come on. So I looked behind the computer and there was the cord laying on the floor.

Cause and Effect. If you put too much stuff on top your computer, it will fall off and knock the plug to your computer out of the wall. Okay Boy, the computer works now. So go clean your room so it won’t happen again.

Friday, April 1, 2011


My son loves rockets. When he was about two years old, he woke up in the middle of the night. My husband was watching the movie, Apollo 13. He thought that our son would watch a few minutes of it and then fall back to sleep. Instead, he watched the entire 3.5 hour movie. Ever since then he has said he wanted to be an astronaut. About a year and a half later my husband bought our son his first rocket kit. They sat down together to build the first rocket. At that time the building process consisted mostly of Daddy telling him to “Put this piece right here. No right here. Here let me do it and you can do the next part.” Then the next part would end up the same way. Basically Daddy was building the rocket and our son was watching him. Well, fast forward about 5 years. Now my son doesn’t use a rocket kit most of the time. He can design and build his own rockets. He knows about things like how important it is to find the center of gravity and why you have to put fins on the rocket. He knows what will happen if the rocket is too big for the size motor you are using. Occasionally my husband will send me out to buy motors or parts for rockets for him. I always have to take my son along because I have no idea what it is that he really needs. So I just let the boy pick out what they need and I pay for it.

I actually did build one rocket. I spent a great deal of time carefully cutting out tiny little flowers and hand gluing them in place on my frilly little rocket. We went to rocket club. It came my turn to launch my rocket. At that moment I learned why they say to beware of the rocket eating tree. My beautiful rocket that I worked so hard on, lives forever now in the top of one of the tallest trees on the edge of the rocket field. I never built another rocket again.

Now when Daddy teaches a rocket building class to our homeschool group, my son can assist the kids who are building their first rocket. Last year when he had just turned seven, he became one of the youngest kids to achieve a level one certificate for children through the National Association of Rocketry. I think I really may have a budding astronaut on my hands. One of the biggest thrills of my son’s young life was when we were at NASA in Florida and he had to go to the bathroom. He came running out of the bathroom screaming, “Mama, Mama, do you know who is in there. Mama, I got to pee with John Blaha.” He was thrilled to be that close to an astronaut.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It’s been a long hard cold winter. Did I tell you I hate winter? I hate the snow. I hate the ice. I really hate the cold. This morning I looked out the window and I saw a bird fly by. A bird, that’s encouraging. Then I saw a tiny green bud on the end of a branch on the bush in front of my window. Then a second and a third. There really are signs of warm weather coming.

We’ve been cooped up inside for so long now. Finally we can go outside without ten layers of clothes on. No more hats and scarves and gloves. Just a jacket and we are good to go.

I think one of the best things about spring is that we will no longer have piles of wet clothes in the bathroom. My son will go outside for ten minutes and then come in because it is too cold. But that ten minutes is enough to get him soaking wet. So off come all the layers of clothes and he pulls on dry ones. Then an hour later he decides to go back outside. But of course he is back in the house ten minutes later. Again he is soaking wet and needs another complete change of clothes. He doesn’t own 25 pairs of pants so I now have to do extra loads of laundry. Every towel bar and the shower bar have wet clothes hanging to dry. With the warmer weather, there will still be wet clothes in the bathroom because he will insist that it is not raining when it really is. But at least it won’t be so many layers. And it won’t be every day.

I’m really glad it’s spring. I’m glad the temperatures are getting warmer. I think we’ll go outside and play.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I have an eight year old son in third grade. We have recently started working on multiplication. After about ten minutes of working on multiplication my son announced to me, “This is stupid. I will never ever have any use for this. I am not going to learn it ever.”

First I tried to explain how much multiplication will make his life easier. I talked to him about how he can figure out how much it will cost to buy five packs of rocket motors instead of buying just one. (Rockets are his most favorite thing ever.) But he said he could just add them up. No matter how I tried to explain things, he just wasn’t buying it. Multiplication is just stupid. I decided to let it settle for a few days.

We were riding in the car the other day and I said, “Let’s play a game.” How much is 1 times 0? He thought for a minute and said “One.” I told him 1 times 0 is 0. I explained, “If you have nothing and you have one of it, you still have nothing. No matter how many times you have nothing, you still have nothing. So then I asked him, “How much is 2 times 0?” He thought for a minute and then said, “O”. I praised him for having the right answer. Then I started asking him, “How much is 10 times 0?” “How much is 27 times 0?” “How much is 359 times 0?” “How much is 9,387 times 0?” He kept saying 0 every time. He finally understood that 0 times anything is 0. So we moved on to 1 times 1. Then 1 times 89. 1 times 8,362. Every time he gave the right answer. I think he may be starting to understand this multiplication thing.

During our actual School time, I have skipped multiplication. But we practice it in the car. When he has a little better grasp of it, we will go back to it during School time. So far he understands 0 times, 1 times, 2 times, 5 times, and 11 times.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


We go to monthly art classes at a local art museum. We have been going there for about 4 years now. I will never forget the first time we went. After the class was over and we were on our way home, my son said to me, “That was soooooooooooooooooooooooooo verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy boooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnng. Do we have to do that again?” Well, I thought about it and I decided we would try it one more time. So we went back again.

Every month Ms. Peggy picks out a certain part of the museum to check out. After a tour of the section of the museum that they are discussing that month, the kids all go back to the craft room and work on a project related to that section of the museum. One time it was the Native American section. For their craft, they created moccasins out of paper, beads, feathers, and suede lace. Another time they studied portraits. For their craft they each had a mirror set up in front of them and they painted a self-portrait. When they studied sculpture, they used wire and ribbon and cans to make a sculpture of their own. Each month they study a different aspect of the museum and then bring it to life in the craft room.

Like I said, we have been going to the Art Museum for about four years now. My son no longer talks about how boring it is. When I tell him it is an Art Museum Day, he gets all excited and wants to know what we are going to learn about that day. One day a couple of months ago he told me that he thinks he wants to be an artist. He said he can take his art supplies with him when he goes in to space. He can paint or draw the things he sees there. After all, one of his favorite artists is Neil Armstrong.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I love candles. I burn so many candles that my husband finally bought me a candle making kit. Since then I have made a batch of candles almost every week. I give candles for gifts. I sell candles online. I have sold candles at a few local craft fairs. I love to burn candles. But I wonder what it would be like if we had to burn candles. My son recently took a class called “No Electricity, No Problem”. They talked about what life was like back in the days before electricity. People used oil lamps in their homes and they used candles. They didn’t have the fancy oils that we have today. They used kerosene, which was pretty smelly. Today we can buy beautifully scented candles for our oil lamps. I have a lamp that belonged to my grandfather that is over 100 years old. Last spring when our power went out, we used it for light. It still works after all this time.

The candles they used were usually made of beeswax. Beeswax has a wonderful scent. You can almost smell the honey still in the wax. In the class that my son took, the kids all made hand dipped beeswax candles. The smell in the room was wonderful. They had a pot of hot wax at one end of the table and a pot of water at the other end. The kids formed a circle around the table. As they walked past the wax pot, they dipped their candles quickly in the hot wax. Then they walked around the table and dipped them in the water to help cool them a bit. You could tell when the wax level started to drop in the pot. The kids were not able to dip the candles as far into it. So their candles were more like very fat teardrops than like tapers. Nevertheless, everyone was so proud of his or her finished product.

They also made a tiny oil lamp. They had a small metal tealight candle cup. They twisted a piece of wire around so that it would stand up. Then they threaded a piece of wick through the wire. They sat this wire down inside the candle cup. The teacher said to fill the tiny cup with olive oil. She said this would burn for two hours. We have not burned ours yet.

Candles have changed so much since the days of dipping beeswax. The candles I make today are made out of soy wax. Soy is much more environmentally friendly than paraffin was is. And it burns cleaner and for longer periods of time. Well, I think it’s time to go make some more candles.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


My son is starting to learn about Geography. Every Monday afternoon we go to the home of another homeschooler. Each week she brings in a speaker from another country. He or she talks to the kids about the country they were born in. Usually they bring maps of the world and maps of their country. Often they have pictures of the people who live there. When the speaker came from Poland, he brought pictures of his birthplace. And the farm that he grew up on. The kids are able to ask questions of the speaker and they usually do. “What do people eat where you come from?” “When was the last time you went home?” “Why did you come to America” They always ask very good questions considering the ages of the students range form 4 to 10. I think the favorite part of the class is when the speaker brings out the cookies or candy that they loved when they were children.

Last week the organizer of the event told me that next week would be on Belarus. Well, I didn’t want to appear totally ignorant so I did not ask her where Belarus was. Instead I came home and looked it up. Oh you think I’m going to tell you. No, you have to look it up yourself.

We have also been studying Geography by joining in a postcard club. This is a yahoo group which is made up of homeschooling families who trade postcards with each other. If some one on the list is looking for a postcard from our state, I send them an email letting them know that I have postcards from our state. They send me their address and we mail a postcard off to them. Usually we write a few short facts about the state on our postcard. Then in a few days we get a postcard back from them. We then look that state up on a map to see where it is. We talk about the capital of the state, the state bird, the state flower and what the state is most famous for. Then we put the postcard in a notebook to keep so we can look at it again and again. My son has a small map of the United States. For each new state that he receives a post card from, he colors that state in on a map. That way we can look at the map and tell which states we still need. We also have a few cards from other countries. Sometimes people will want a specific type of card, such as one with the state bird on it or one with a map of the state on it. Then we go searching for a postcard that has the information they are looking for. This has been a great way to learn about Geography.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Homeschooling In THe Garden State

I love homeschooling. Most of the time. I often wonder why they call it homeschooling. Take this week for an example. On Monday we went to Lego Engineering Class. We spent a total of 3.5 hours in the car that day. On Tuesday we had a play date. We actually only spent about 40 minutes in the car that day. On Wednesday we did stay home. On Thursday we went to Homeschool Soccer. We spent 3.5 hours in the car that day. And on Friday we stayed home. On Saturday we went to visit the Potter which has nothing to do with homeschooling exactly. But my son had a birthday party to go to right after our trip to the Potter so he went with me. We spent 3 hours in the car on Saturday. So we have spent 10 hours in the car this week. Looking at next week’s schedule, it looks like we will spend about 10 hours in the car again next week. Maybe we should call it car schooling instead of homeschooling.

So what do we do during all those hours in the car. This week we spent a lot of time going over times tables. My son does not really like multiplication. So it is a lot easier to work with him when he is captive in the car. He is really interested in the Greek and Norse gods and goddesses right now. So we talked about some of them. Sometimes we do spelling words. Other times we talk about the different countries we have studied in our Geography class. He is really excited that his friend’s mother is coming to speak to Geography class next week.

We don’t work on his online program when we are in the car. We don’t read books in the car. But we do read traffic signs, road signs, signs in store windows. He is getting really good at reading directions from the GPS and helping me navigate when traffic is heavy.

I think I like car schooling. I know we will be doing a lot of it in the future.