Category Archives: homeschool

So spoiled

I’ve written a few times about the epic pumpkin patch my mom’s cousin used to own just outside of Redlands, CA. We started going there when my now 8 year old was a month old. Being family we did all the activities for free and basically for the years before we moved here, I had all the fancy (and tasty) heirloom pumpkins I could stand for free. Well change comes to us all and we, um, moved across the country. Last year I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for a pumpkin patch, plus we were super busy so we just picked up jack’o’lantern pumpkins at Walmart and called it meh. This year a friend invited me to go with her and her son to a local Pumpkin Patch (one of about 87 in a 5 mile radius of our house…turns out when you can grow things like corn mazes, people do.) I finally got my spoiled self in gear and made peace with the fact that no it wouldn’t be the same, and yes it was going to cost me both my arm and my leg. Sigh. The munchkins were beyond thrilled with the experience so I’m thinking we may be back in the proverbial holiday tradition saddle once again.

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People either love these things or hate them. I hate that I love them. And the disembodied cow/sheep heads? fuggetaboutit.

I’m not sure if I can adequately express the magnitude of my gratitude, that my kids are both easily entertained and easy to please. Tire and dirt? We’re set for hours, Mom!

Not pictured is the huge silo fort with air cannons. Not sure how I was so negligent in my picture taking that I have no pictures of it’s magnificence.

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But the real star, the real icing on our fall extravaganza cake was this little barn thing filled with corn. We spent a solid hour in here and they probably would have stayed longer. True I had to fish corn out of pants and skivvies, but it was the best sensory exploration activity of the whole season for all the ages. All of the things we did just reminded me and threw into stark relief that 99.9% of the time, simple is the right answer (and not just for kids).

We rounded out the day with a haunted hay ride to a field of perfectly placed (if not exactly grown) pumpkins to find our Jack’o’lanterns. Corra had a huge (fake) spider almost land on her head and ghosts came out of the trees. It was pretty great.

So next on our tradition documenting docket: Halloween itself!

 

 

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Fall means tradition

And tradition means Ren Faire, a Pumpkin Patch, and Halloween. I’ll be breaking these classic Fall posts into three installments so that I can put more pictures into each one! Muahahaha! So without too much more initial babbling I’ll get to it…The Renaissance Faire. Better than last year because the kids were older although not without some good life lessons learned (like winning the best prize ever one year, does not really mean it will happen again, and Miss Layna Dawn hates noise. Oh wait, I totally already knew those. Right.)

Homeschooling wins everything, but we added another triumph to the list. Yes “Student Days” are sheer craziness with a capital CRAY CRAY, but this year we learned. We got there later (missing the opening rush) and stayed to close since we didn’t have to be back before any bell rang. When we meandered out it was all but deserted. It was so awesome.

(I’m really tempted to let my husband buy me a newer iPhone just so I can upgrade my camera. Sorry about the meh pictures.) Little Miss doesn’t do heat or noise. There was much to be had of both, I’m afraid. So we happily watched the jousting with me blowing on the back of her neck while firmly covering her ears. It’s mom-fu at it’s finest.

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I’m so glad I married a man who gets that you can cheer really loud and make a complete idiot of yourself and it’s ok. It means that I’m in good company at all the cheesy events I drag our family too. I love jousting, and this year it was so cool to listen to my big ones talk about the horses (wondering what breeds they were and comparing notes) and commenting on the saddles (our knight had an Australian saddle). Score one for riding lessons! They are now knowledgeable horse people (or something).

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Remember that thing about people not being afraid to really get into the cheesiness of an event? Another reason I love Ren Faire. Normal adults playing pretend for 2 whole months! This guy was great. He even let me video him wishing my sister a happy birthday so I could send it to her in Taiwan. How’s that for best random birthday text ever!?

Traditions are great because they get better with time. We saw so many of the same people from last year, including the Raptor rescue show with the same host. Neil chose a great seat and I took the coolest slow-motion video of an owl flying over our heads. If my tech savvy husband were here to make my computer behave I’d attempt to upload it. But alas he is working. You’ll have to settle for the hawk.

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My girls got to watch a show on historical heroines and then attend hero/heroine training. They took it very seriously.

Back to life lessons…Naomi waited 365 days to play the dragon egg hatching game to win a $80 puppet like Garyn did last year. Brought her own money and everything. She ended up with two kind of cool dragon eye necklaces and a whole lot of disappointment. But she soldiered on and took our advice to focus on experiences rather than things for her parent funded activity/treat/thing. And now she can say that she has ridden a camel.

Role models.

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By the end of the day this one announced that he wanted to spend all his time working with molten metal of any kind. When can kids start welding classes? Of course, molten glass was pretty captivating, too. I got another blown glass ornament for our Christmas tree and I figure by the time the kids all move out, I’ll have a pretty respectable collection to fill in all the gaps left by the ornaments they take with them.

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This one wanted her picture taken with every fancy statue there was (and I’m graciously sparing you the other 13 pictures of exactly that) but this one…I mean, how often do you get to grab a pirate by the dreadlocks? Best. Day. Ever.

 

 

 

 

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The rest of the trip…

[quick pause from birthdays for more catching up]

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Legoland was only one day of the six we spent in Orlando. The other days were filled with all this stuff…

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Not only does bowling allow for awesome foot gear it offers a chance to experience the vast array of human emotions. The depths of despair (for a gutsy boy insisting on no bumpers for the very first time), hope and perseverance (He’s such a good sport and didn’t fuss or fret. He just buckled down and kept trying…I love that kid), and of course the very peak of joy and elation:

Because Orlando is the theme park capital of the world and Legoland ate my theme park budget in about 1.3 seconds, we had to look for other options. Luckily, Grandpa found a super fun crocodile preserve (free admission) with all sorts of other animals to go visit. It was more than enough zoo for us and plus they had Swamp Freezes.

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7-11 day with the grandma who started the love of Slurpee’s young and paddle boats with the great-grands. (I found brand new muscles in my legs…oh joy).

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Coco Beach and local Splash Pads. Florida knows how to do summer right.

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The kids missed their Dad, and I missed my partner in crazy. Amazing Grandparents, a fun hotel/resort to swim at (and play mini golf, and go to the beach by the lake, and watch movies, and play with mini-figures, and do art crafts at), and adventures to be had helped distract us. We were all glad to get home and get back to normal. Well, as normal as we ever manage around here.

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Legoland

Almost without fail my long term plans change. Gasp! I know that phenomena comes as a complete shock and that it is an extraordinary occurrence only ever happening to me! [end sarcasm]. Back in January I looked at my blank calendar for the year and was content, nay excited, that it would be a non-traveling year. No big trips or excursions, just hanging out on the farm doing farmy stuff. Maybe even use the husband’s time off for a stay-cation to do even more farmy stuff! But then my sister-in-law invited us to an incredible beach house and the price of admission was playing with cousins. And then my grandparents invited us to an incredible resort down in Orlando and the price of admission was a few home-cooked dinners with stuff from the garden and pantry. Needless to say we did indeed travel to the Sunshine State and it was totally worth it. Now, Orlando is the the mecca of all epic vacation plans. As my husband had to stay home (he does still have a job and we do still have a lactating bovine tenant) I wasn’t about to tackle Disney anything. But Legoland…that I could manage. Not to mention their promotion for 1 kid free per adult ticket purchased made it financially feasible (we’ll go ahead and start saving now for the eventual Disney trip…I’m looking into the going rate for kidneys. Hey, I only need one, right?) Plus the more I read, the more I realized that my kids are the perfect ages for Legoland. Soon they’ll be ready for more (they’ll always be die hard Lego-ers but young adults do need more than duplo stations at somepoint). However, right now? This was just right. Few thoughts and lessons learned: Naomi is a roller-coaster, thrill-seeking fiend. Garyn needs more robotics in his life. I get why people think my little girls are twins. Lunch in air-conditioning is divine. Trading mini-figures actually was really fun. And last but not least, if they say on every sign possible on the ride that you will get wet…you will probably leave the ride drenched. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the eleventy billion that I took.

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dragons, and ghosts, and pigs, and fairies…oh my!

oI love Halloween, don’t you? Being a mom is what actually inspired this love. I stopped trick-or-treating when I was about 12 and being a rather awkward teenager I never really had much to do on Halloween and felt like the biggest loser because of that. But then a husband and kids came and all that mess changed. Now I’m a veritable rock star when I pull off costumes that impress and delight my children and I get to orchestrate fun lunches (mummy hot dogs) and Day of the Dead parties (complete with sugar skull sugar cookies!) This year was something of a wild card. Because of hurricane Matthew and our church’s commitment to help with the clean up effort, our normal trunk-or-treat was canceled. We happen to live just far enough into the country that I was fairly certain trick- or-treating was not going to happen in our neighborhood (“what? done after 3 houses? I guess we have hiked three miles…”). Luckily my brother and Sis-in-law graciously offered to share their neighborhood and they even fed us dinner before hand to build up the energy reserves for a thorough candy acquisition operation. Helps that their neighborhood is one of those where people give out full-size candy bars and a few couples even had a tent and were serving up hot dogs and hot chocolate! We know where we will be next year!

Unfortunately, when we kicked off the festivities with pumpkin carving, Neil wasn’t here. He is traveling back to Vegas for one week every month. Small price to pay for having him home 100% the rest of the time, but I’m pretty certain if his boss makes him travel over my birthday again, I’m going to refuse to drive Neil to the airport. Ever. This year was the first that both big kids did their pumpkins completely solo. Babies…Growing up…Sniff. And as an aside, as soon as the pumpkins started to cave in and get soft, Mei (our dairy cow) yummed them up for dinner. No waste on this farm!

Little Man is a fairly steady customer when it comes to costume requests. He knows months in advance what he will be and he sticks to it. This year he knew he was going to be “Steve” from Minecraft. About a month out, that changed to “a red dragon.” That was fine by me and it led to one of my favorite costume triumphs to date. Hi. I’m Lindsey, and I work in felt.

A study in contrasts. Layna, kind of out of no where informed me that she wanted to be a ghost (“Boo!”) and stuck with that for 2 months. Naomi went through this process: vampire witch, Princess Leia (until I semi insisted on a turtle neck dress…authenticity people!), mermaid, Pocahontas, and at last…Zarina the pirate fairy. I had a ton of fun with her costume too and learned how to shir. This made for a super comfy bodice that actually looked right. Plus she had a costume for Ren Faire! Win!

True to three year old form, Corra changed her mind daily for about 3 months. We were reading a magazine in which some kids went as pigs, and I reminded her we had the pig beanie (a white elephant gift from the work Christmas party years ago). She was sold, and double sold when I told her we would use Naomi’s old dance stuff to complete the ensemble. Win again! Also the full dragon costume. Yay for internet tutorials that made wings much simpler than what I was envisioning. How did people do things before the internet?

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Candy was acquired, fun was had, and life was good.

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The next night we had a Dia de los Muertos party for school, and later some friends came to dinner to help with decorating the cookies and eating the sugar skulls. These cookie cutters are giving my Ninja-Bread-Men cutters some stiff competition for my favorite baking thing.

Amazon also came through with these skull candy molds. So cool.

This was one of our better years for Halloween. For school the next day we did candy graphing and pumpkin measuring for math, and Halloween MadLibs for writing. This month we read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (the real one, and it was awesome!) and a book called “Little Witch“. It’s going to be tough to top this one, but challenge accepted for next year!

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the pond

On our trip to the UK we flew over it. When I was a teenager and we took a family trip to Florida, I put my feet in it. But until we ventured forth with our munckins in tow, I had never actually swam in the Atlantic ocean. And I’m sold on the whole idea. We had so much fun on our first trip to a North Carolina beach I’ve already planned out at least 4 more this summer. We have to find a favorite one right?

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Something that can be a bummer about southern California beaches is the complexity of the excursion. I know that’s my total lack of experience (my cousin lived in San Diego for years and she is a beach professional) but choosing a beach then finding parking then lugging your stuff to the spot can be a bit much. This time we drove 2.5 hours through rural farm land, then crossed a bridge and were magically on the shore. We parked (for free) then walked up and down these stairs and set up less than 200 yards from the water.

In about 3.7 seconds after being slathered in sunscreen (not that it is acutally necessary for my bronze babies, but maternal paranoia) They were in their respective happy places. Kids and sand is a beautiful thing. Well not literally…sand in a mouth isn’t pretty at all and it’s worse when they don’t even notice!

Selfie, lest posterity think I missed my childrens’ complete childhoods. Also the little girls took turns going into the big waves with Daddy, and would have happily spent the next 17 hours jumping into waves and getting splashed full on in the face. They are 3/4 fish.

Picnics at the beach are something of a logistical nightmare for a mom. There is the actual menu (tasty and healthy, but easy to make, haul and eat), keeping sand out of the food (I gave up) and bringing enough, but not too much (no one wants to lug sandy, warm food back to the car, am I right?). Recently I’ve been on a crazy canning kick and I found a woman’s blog that I’ve been stalking for about a month now. This post of hers was gold.

Fudgesicle Frosties and Homemade Fudgesicles (Fruit or Agave Sweetened)

[wordpress is not cooperating with me and my wanting to add pretty embedded hyper links, sigh]

The frosties were a solid victory. Also seaweed adorned sand castles. And sandy babies sleeping all the way to get pizza on the way home. Mostly we all love that beach going will now become part of what we do. I can’t wait to be a professional.

 

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Milk Bucket List

I told the kids that they needed to start a check list of all the things they want to do and places they want to go before we move. Finally after nothing was done, I started the list on my phone. When they told Daddy about it, he said we should call it our milk bucket list. In preparation for this post, I asked him what he meant (as I had forgotten) and he couldn’t remember either. But it is the title of the to-do list in my phone list app so there you go.

Bucket lists are fine. I don’t generally keep one, and as a rule I think most people do it wrong. But done correctly I think they can be worth while. It’s when people put completely unattainable, truly impossible things on their lists that I get annoyed (ex. climb Mt. Everest – 37 year old dedicated couch potato who doesn’t actually like nature). If it is something that either is a life long dream that you are committed to accomplishing (learn new language) or an easy check-off-the-list, fun addition to your life experience (attend underwater hot yoga class) (<—does that exist??? if it does, I’d so do that)…you should add it to the list and then rock it hardcore.

We have started on our list. Our milk bucket list.

The Children’s Discovery Museum. Generally I’m not actually a fan. It is a great place for exploring little bodies but highly stressful for the adult tasked with keeping eyes on those bodies. Collectively, though, we all love the water room. Tables and fountains and Lego dams and machines and hundreds of plastic balls. Oh and the piece de résistance? Rain coats with ears.

My girls found their happy places. Not shown are their other happy places: Layna making me a smoothie and salad at a pretend Jamba Juice and Naomi working her magic in the pretend vet office. Since I’m short on picture space, I’ll just tell you about my little man. He loved everything, and that’s something that I love about his personality…he genuinely has fun doing anything, from the toddler room to the more complicated science floor. He is a life saver on outings like this and is my favorite nine year old, hands down. Baby girl was content to push all the buttons and wear all the hats:

Next we went to the Dinosaur Park. It is known throughout the land and is The dinosaur park. Here’s why…

A triceratops skull that is probably 30 feet tall! And the rest of the park (totally enclosed by a fence, by the way. The designer must have been a parent of munchkins) is themed accordingly.

Fun was had by all…Except when Little little girl went down the huge twisty slide and it turned her around so she came out head first and then landed on her head. But otherwise it was a lovely day and turns out weekday mornings around 9 are the perfect time to hit up parks if you want to be alone.

We have more to do before we move and I’ll be toting the camera everywhere (for another project we are working on). Now back to packing the kitchen.

 

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