Category: Untraditional Education

Day in the Life 12: Breakthrough and some Pod People

I just stopped what I was doing (working on my doodle-a-day–almost finished and ready to post) because I had made the kids a smoothy and realized that I needed to fill the blender with water (I had left the kids with the full blender drinking their little hearts out.)

I expected to see a table full of empty smoothy glasses and a blender.

I found the blender, and glasses, in the sink, all full of water!

I asked who did it and they replied, “We did!”

Not only did they remember to not leave everything to turn into smoothy cement but no one took credit!

Who stole my kids and replaced them with *pod people?

On the other hand, sometimes pod people is a good thing.

*When I was a kid, when my parents did the weird jeckle and hyde thing I imagined that aliens had come along and zipped on parent like skins–I thought of them as pod people and imagined that if I looked hard enough I would find the zipper marks.

IF: Blanket


Just playing around with some on the spot sketching–the kids were huddled up under a blanket watching a movie. Got a new watercolor block–4 by 5 inches–much smaller than I usually work with–also picked up a pen to try some outlining. Not sure I am happy with it but it was fun, which is the point. 🙂 Spent more time trying to photograph it than I did doing the painting.

Our Favorite Breadmaker Bread

I posted this recipe in my original site: The Kitchen, and later on Graced by Christ. We still use this recipe often, in fact it is the recipe I use more than any other. My girls both know how to make it themselves and Issac is well on his way.

This recipe is our favorite breadmaker bread recipe. We use it for everything from the standard loaf to bagels to pizza dough.

My kids love to help measure for this, get out the ingredients, and watch the bread “dance” as my middle child calls it.

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A Day in the Life 11: Sisters

It has been a rough week for my girls. Issac has been little helper boy and helping anyway he could “so I would feel better”. The girls, on the other hand, were stressed and showing it by hitting, punching, biting, snarling, shrieking, and whatever other nasty behavior would allow them to release their frustration at each other.

Shamus and I do not come from families with two girls. It comes as a bit of shock to find that girls are nastier to each other than boys. Mind you all three spend most of their time together, you may even call them best friends, and in general they get along. Just not this week.

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A Day in the Life 10: Chaos Central Revisited

Welcome to Chaos Central, please hold on to the railings lest you go sliding across the ice and land in the puddle under the computer desk. Also, please be wary of the mommy because she is rather uncomfortable and liable to bite your head off on the way out the door. Oh, and no sled riding because it is so icy you may slide into a tree.

Um yeah. Things are crazy around here. The roof is leaking immediately over Shamus’ office desk–where the huge tangle of wires can be found. It is also leaking over his chair, dripping on him as he tries to work.

Outside all is ice. Everything is covered in half an inch of ice with a puddle on top.

I am rather uncomfortable due to the “issues” I have been having and the doctor insists I go and get bloodwork done, today.

We need to move Shamus’ desk out from under the drips but can’t because it is old and falling apart, not to mention the issues I am having which mean carrying heavy things is bad.

So, we are off to get my blood-work and purchase Shamus a much needed new computer desk so we can put it up in a spot where there is no evidence of previous water falling from the ceiling plus put the check in the bank which, praise the Lord, came today.

The kids have been out helping spread ice melt while Shamus stood on a ladder with me holding it, pouring boiling water down our ice encrusted gutters and freezing his hands off trying to remove the slurry of leaves and slushy. When finished, Issac attempted to sled ride and ran into a tree doing it. The girls each fell at least three times each trying to walk across our ice encrusted yard. It was very educational.:)

How is that for an untraditional home?

Pictures to follow.

A Day in the Life 9: Bento Kids

My kids LOVE making bentos. Ours aren’t quite the traditional rice, fish, veggies but they are fun.

Today they were inspired by some cute artistic bentos and decided to make some of their own. They weren’t in thew mood for rice so we went with the traditional meal in our house, peanut butter and honey with almonds, cheese, and carrots. I made them each one then they made their own. (Rachel’s was Tetris with a flower, the other two had smiley faces with cheese and almond hair and accessories.) Here are the kids’ versions (beware of the blur–the kids took the pictures). This is also a very frugal way of making kids meals–use what is on hand–even if it is something the kids don’t like, and get creative (they ate the whole thing, and Issac doesn’t like cheese, Esther doesn’t like almonds, and they all ate the crust.

A Day in the Life 8: Deep Fried Brains

As mentioned I have been feeling “off”. In other words my hormones have been very confused, enough that I finally went to the doctor and now have a slew of tests to have done by next Thursday. (I, in general, don’t go to the doctor so this is a big deal–in fact I had to find a doctor to go to.)

Anyway, my brain has been fuzz for two weeks now. This means the kids have been doing more fending for themselves in the kitchen than usual. That’s fine–all three know how to make basic meals that are healthy and the older two both can follow recipes (well, at least try–dyslexia makes that interesting, I let them make mistakes becuase that is how I learned the difference between a cup and a Tablespoon, confectioners sugar and regular, flour and powdered sugar. Making mistakes in the kitchen is a great way to learn, especially when it doesn’t get you in trouble. )

So, this morning Rachel was making eggs. Usually they make fried eggs and destroy all my pans. However, all the skillets were in the running dishwasher and the kids are afraid of the dishwasher when it is turned on. 🙂 Issac suggested that she make hard boiled instead.

She came to me and asked how instead of consulting a cookbook. This is a bad idea. I can make many things but hardboiled eggs is not one of them. I wracked my brain for the times, remembered, and told her.

Ten minutes later I realized my mistake. I had given her the recipe for corn on the cob not hard boiled eggs! Start with cold water, bring to a boil, cover, turn off heat and let sit for 8 minutes. Gack!

I caught her and told her to bring the water back to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes more. Oops–those were soft boiled eggs. She decided to let the rest boil a little longer and let Esther eat the soft boiled one–she likes them that way.

Sigh. Yes, when it comes to eggs don’t ask me. I don’t eat eggs. I got sick of them when I was Rachel’s age and wasted tons of eggs while making mistakes.

A Day in the Life 7

Still feeling cruddy which means trying to find ways to keep the kids entertained that do not include me specifically so I can crawl off and read a book or watch a movie.

Yesterday we made a trip to the library and picked up 8 interesting educational movies–two IMAX and a pile of PBS. We are WQED around here and the library has tons of Pittsburgh made WQED movies including Kennywood Memories, Things that aren’t there anymore and the sequel. We also got Lewis and Clark and an Annie Oakley story for kids (Rachel’s choice.) Rachel also chose a book which she started reading as soon as we returned home–YEAH! Esther is usually the one who does the reading around here and insists on a book at the library. We had to cut back because she kept misplacing them. I swear that we pay at least one of the children’s librarians salary with our overdue fines.

I spent yesterday evening watching the Pittsburgh history movies as the kids wandered in and out. This morning I woke to find Rachel devouring Kennywood Memories. Later I put on Lewis and Clark and Esther spent the next few hours enthralled.

“So Esther, is this a good movie?”

Esther slowly shakes her head, eyes glittering, smile wide.

“Have you learned anything?”

“Wow Mom,” she looked up ginning, “they did all sorts of stuff. Did you know they found an antelope type creature with a hairy butt?”

“Um. Yeah. “

This morning all three cleaned their rooms then the girls cleaned the kitchen and folded laundry for me while Issac and I went shopping for our once a month groceries and daddy’s meds. While out Issac spent quite a bit of time in the pharmacy trying to read what was on the bottles–I had to redirect him a few times as Rite Aid keeps their feminine hygiene and intimacy products right by the pharmacy line. This meant it was time for “can you look on the other side of the aisle and find the medicine you take when your stomach hurts, etc.” in order to redirect his attention and keep him from sounding out T-r-o-j… and then asking what it was. He also helped me buy groceries, deciding how much of each item we needed to last us a month.

After we returned home the kids put the groceries away and made off with the boxes I had used to pack the groceries from Aldi. There were two boxes and they had to decide how to make those two boxes work amongst the three of them. After some battle they painted an ice cream truck and a race car and found another box for a train. Later I heard them upstairs playing burrito with a new twist. (Burrito is a family game inherited from their daddy and uncle. It consists of rolling one person inside of a blanket and pretending to eat them.) In this case the new twist had the filling of the burrito calling out for other ingredients–Simon Says style which the other players had to find and then say a rhyme to include. For instance tomato meant find something red, mustard find something yellow, etc.

They then decided to make carob candy. This meant a lesson in not burning carob when it is melting in the microwave. The second batch worked. They also made peanut butter filling for them and shaped them in silicone heart shaped ice cube trays. I guess they are good (I don’t eat carob, blech.)

Issac has been spending a lot of time trying to figure out the harder Hooked on Phonics books because he doesn’t feel like working through the work book. He will get back to it eventually or figure those big words out with all his trying.

Now they are all hyper and running around like loonies and it is cold and rainy and dark out so I can’t send them outside.

Esther’s take on the new pencils

Esther is having a rough couple days.  I am not feeling just right and she, being my empathetic child, is taking it very hard–which results in much hitting and kicking and in general beating up on her siblings.Sigh.

The one thing I have found that really helps her is asking her to draw something.  When she draws she gets all the feelings out and treats her brother and sister better.

After my own experiments with the watercolor pencils I thought I would let her give them a shot.   She is an artist at hear, always drawing or singing, and her drawings are full of little stories that she can tell, always very entertaining.  The following image is what resulted from her experiments with the pencils (the paper, not being a block, warps pretty easily but I will iron it later. :))


After this I told her she was welcome to use them anytime.