Category: A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life 6: The Snow Fort

It is still a work in progress. The kids have been working on it over the last few, very cold days. Today it was warmer but we got lots of snow–now Rachel is out there building it up more so she can add a sled roof.

The hobbit-like door was pretty cute and now everything is covered in a carpet of white. (These pictures were taken yesterday when it was 7 degrees outside. Brr.)

A day in the life 5 + Photo Challenge: Letters

Mike Leonen has issued a challenge: we are to take a photo of letters someplace unusual and post it.

I was at a loss for this–I had hoped to use this to get me painting then realized that it just doesn’t work (I am thinking of doing a creative challenge of sorts–still working out the details. I need something to motivate me to paint when I have no ideas and a challenge of this sort would do the trick.) Plus I am feeling mopey and weird today and no thinky brain.

I had wandering around the house trying to come up with something that needed done that I was up to doing when the kids started fighting over the Gamecube. The rule in our house is no one plays until the work is done and after that a fight will get it turned off. Off it went. Of course that meant I had some activity-less kids on my hands. I needed a project and fast. Rachel immediately ran off to take her Cabbage Patch for a walk and Esther had cuddled up on my lap (she doesn’t handle grumpy mama well.) Issac was the real issue since he would start jumping on the furniture pretty quick if I didn’t think fast.

Out comes Boggle Junior. He is learning to read (he knows more than he thinks–once he gets comfortable and admits he IS reading we will be good.) Boggle Junior as Boggle Junior is boring but those letter dice are pretty awesome. We played for a bit with just rolling the letters and seeing what words we could find then Issac decided he could do it and started doing it himself and pretty soon he was on a roll.

Of course once we came up with the foods idea I had to get my camera. The plate really got him motivated to try and spell foods. He tried eggs but was short a g. Sigh.

After that things just got silly.

Then they got sillier.

And what was Esther doing during this craziness?

Continuing to figure out Silent Night of course.

And building more towers.

Of course seeing all the fun he was having the girls had to join in:

These were pretty tricky to get because the lighting in my living room is awful when we don’t have blankets over the windows to keep out the 7 degree F weather let alone when we do. But they had fun and now they are off sled riding in our frigid backyard and working on their snow fort. (Pictures coming soon.) Oh, and Issac now admits that maybe he CAN read. πŸ™‚

A Day in the Life 4(of some very busy kids)

One of the things I am going to attempt to do this year is make a weekly “Day in the Life” post. Knowing myself it will be rather random despite my intention but if I try to remember it will be a good way to remind myself of how much the kids are actually learning on a day to day basis.

I got Brain Age for my DS from my hubby for Christmas. I was mildly excited–not thrilled because I HATE math games (struggling with dyscalculia makes math NOT FUN, not even Soduko.) Anyway I tried it out and spent some time stuck at “walking speed ” doing math problem after math problem. Blech. Eventually, however, I figured out how to unlock new games, some of which were reading and spatial which are my areas of expertise.

The cool things is the kids saw me playing and wanted to try. Rachel and Esther both set up accounts and even attacked the 20 and 100 timed math problems and the reading aloud (which are taken from books I read in late high school and college–like The Turn of the Screw and The Warden.) Issac has even tackled the non-reading ones like number memory. This little game has done what I have struggled to do with the oldest two–both of whom struggle with dyslexia/dyscalculia. They are writing numbers as answers to timed math problems trying to beat their old times (yes you use the stylus to write the numbers and it misreads if you write the number backwards, meaning that Esther has FINALLY learned how to write her teens and higher numbers in the right order and Rachel has figured out the difference between 2 and 5 when writing.) Praise the Lord!

I should mention that I have spent years working on these things with them–I have tried doing daily practice, fighting with them about working, battling it out to get them to do a single worksheet. And along comes one little video game that keeps daily records, has them write and gives them incentives that they enjoy (persevering means that you get an extra large stamp and may be able to get your brainage lower (mine is down to 25 from the 80 I got when I started.) The girls are determined to get into first place against me and this stuff is NOT EASY.

What else have we been doing? Watching a Martha Stewart Baking video together because the kids picked it out at the library (we have a slew of new recipes to adapt!) Watching some of my childhood favorites (Goonies and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and talking about the cultural significance of the films as well as all the historical characters that showed up in Bill and Ted. We have also watched the making of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at Rachel’s request–she has been trying to figure out how they make movies and so wanted to watch the documentary. This also led to some great discussion on how we learn and how movies are made.

Rachel was feeling a bit icky again (teeth are coming in) and watched a cartoon they got for Christmas–Around the World in 80 Days. This lead to an hour long discussion and questioning about how they lost a day. She explained to me her theory (she knows her Narnia and thought that time went faster and slower in different places) and then we discussed how it worked for real using ball I drew a map on and then later watching some live web cams around the world to see what it looked like at our time. (Another thing I had already “taught ” but which obviously didn’t stick although now she really gets it.)

The kids also spent several hours playing that they were farmers (we got Harvest Moon so they decided to play it in “real life” pretend play–I would explain but it was way to elaborate and included using Magnetix to make plants that “grew” each day). They also spent several hours playing “school” in the school room–Rachel was teaching Esther and Issac reading and some other subjects (Esther for fun–she reads better than Rachel, Issac because he wants to learn and is trying o figure it out.) They also played outside in the snow for some time (which I later found out they were walking and sled riding to and from “school” and that that was all part of the big, elaborate game), cleaned the kitchen up for dinner, did laundry, and worked on Esther’s new paint-by-number. It has been a busy day and lots of learning without “teaching” has occurred. In fact, a lot of things that I had TRIED to teach them when they weren’t interested were learned a few minutes because they wanted to learn it. Very cool.

Update: Just after I posted this I went to read to the kids (we just finished the last Elyon book , Rachel has decided to make her own way through the next series by the same author and is on chapter 5 so we are instead rereading the Half-Magic books after our Bible reading each night.) The kids were being awfully quiet so I went to find them–I found Esther doing the math problems on Brain Age, again (btw those are addition, subtraction, multiplication 0-9), Rachel reading the book Esther is pictured with, and Issac taking a bath because he wanted to.

About the pictures:

The only non-Esther shot is Rachel in the car yesterday right after she discovered that she did, indeed, love Almonds (our favorite car food). The rest are Esther while she showed me some of the things they had been doing today as well as a bit later when I caught her playing the math part of Brain Age, again. The 3 table tent was their farm house. The rake was part rake, part horse. The book is a new favorite from the library: Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat. Oh, and the crazy falling shot was her falling onto the old papasan cushion that they decided to keep after the chair broke and which was where they were planting their “garden” today. Oh, and don’t mind the mess–they were playing dress up for the farmer thing which required that the dress-up box be dumped in order to find everything. πŸ™‚

A Day in the Life 3: Unschool vs Traditional School– a Reminder to Self


This past few weeks have been a time of waffling in regards to various areas of our lives. Shamus and I both have been too easily tossed in the winds as far as our decisions have gone, making a decision we feel God pulling us towards only to second guess a day later. I long to work through them here but some of them I can’t because they are too personal or would border on gossip. The school question, however, I am willing to put out there although I know some will not understand and may even judge me because of it. Before I explain let me tell you that in all of these questions of decision we have been waffling internally yet God is keeping us head on–giving us instant reminders as soon as we begin to waffle. Today was just such a day.

As I have mentioned before, we have a classroom in the basement set up in the traditional classroom style. It is especially good for Rachel to know it is there–it is a reminder that we are responsible for her education and that we take it seriously–even if most of her learning does not occur there. In fact, we haven’t used it in a few months–other than as an art studio where they set up shop with oils and acrylics while I worked on an oil painting.

So, if they haven’t done their workbooks in a few weeks what are they doing with themselves all day? How can they possibly be learning if they aren’t taught? Shamus and I had this very discussion this morning because he occasionally likes them to bring him a workbook page so he can see what they are learning. He is very open to the new style of teaching I have taken on but is nervous because he hasn’t seen any evidence. I suggested he ask them what they are learning or listen to their conversations to see if they are learning anything new. He agreed and went in to have a chat with them. (Because I am under PA tutor law instead of traditional homeschool law I am considered their primary educator–it is because I have a teacher’s certification and 5 years of college that I can do this but it also means that Shamus is not considered their “teacher”. He recognizes this and holds me accountable instead of taking over teaching–though he will likely teach them programming and higher math as they show interest.)


So what did he find out and what have they been doing?

They spent all of yesterday decorating their room for Christmas. I put up an artificial tree in their room with lights and Christmas balls and handed them reams of construction paper, glue, tape, and scissors. They spent hours cutting and pasting making tons of paper chains and other decorations and taping them around their room. While two were doing that the other one was playing Fate–a D&D type computer game with NO plot. If you have never played D&D and are a Christian you are probably nervous. Don’t be. Most of the game consists of trying to catch different types of fish, fighting evil creatures, and leveling up so you can get better stuff. You have to earn and save money, make wise spending decisions, choose different armor and other items based on percentage bonuses (yes, all three are reading what they need to do and understand percentages and how different percentages of different bonuses affect different functions of their character. Believe me this is tricky stuff that I can barely wrap my brain around–harder than figuring out percent off sales when shopping by a long run because you have to take in multiple affects.) They also had to keep track of how long each child had been on the game to decide who’s turn it was next and Rachel spent a long time helping Issac figure out the basic reading and how percentages work–this had him going around the house reading plenty of other things.


They also wrote me a grocery list of the items they felt we needed based on what each child liked to eat. They looked in each of the cupboards for things that were missing or that we only had one of and helped me plan the list by making their own. They had to look up spellings or sound out those they were unsure of. And if they wanted it it had to be on the list. (I am talking my big monthly shopping list here–not even a once a week list.)


We have also been reading about 4 chapters or so of the Elyon books per day–me reading aloud as they old laundry (we were a bit behind on the laundry and this has gotten us caught up.) Issac has also been helping me figure out the colors for a new painting and how they go on the paper. This goes far beyond “what color is this” and into “what color do I need to add to get this to the exact right shade of red.” Also, Rachel taught herself how to make pie crust by messing the first one up and then making the second one right because she didn’t follow the instructions the first time–she made a pie for herself and one for her brother and sister (small ones.) She also took on rice making and several other recipes because I was busy on a project I need to finish up.

Add to that them listening to old radio shows and my old records, playing board games (we played Where in the USA is Carman Sandiego yesterday which degraded into “how fast can you find the state”–I was amazed to see how many Issac knew.) They also watched “Mythbusters” online last night–Rachel just listened and we discussed their ideas of what would and should work and how they tested their theories. There have been many more goings on–including the girls playing Fate while Issac and I went shopping.


Issac and I had a huge discussion about God’s love for us and whether He loves us even when He allows bad things to happen–for a 6 year old he has a better grasp of this than many Christians. He also helped me keep track of the grocery budget, decide how many of each item we needed to last us a month, and loaded and unloaded the cart. When we returned home the girls put away what we had and helped decide what items we just weren’t eating and those will go to the food cupboard. Putting a month’s worth of groceries away is a big deal (especially for a family of 5) and requires much ingenuity of stacking and storing. :)) We are now off to visit our final grocery store and my grandmother, dropping things off at the food cupboard and picking up some work for myself.


Writing it all down is a wonderful reminder of how much they are learning and growing and living. (And don’t worry about the video game–they will be sick of it in a few days and have some other project they are working on–they always do. I write this up to them having the freedom to play for long periods of time without someone complaining about it–when you are free to do something as long as you like you get thoroughly sick of it. Believe me, I know. :))

Finally–you may be wondering how God reminded me that the kids are growing and learning a lot? After our discussion this morning I went out. When I got home I suddenly had a slew of unschooling sites in my feed reader with posts about the benefits, including one that linked back to my previous “unschooling” post.

Oh yeah, I forgot.


*The photos are all from this year–I haven’t had time to take pictures this week but these all reflect things the kids have done this week. πŸ™‚

A Day in the Life 2: Getting Geeky and Learning to Play


Today I set up two computers, with the help of my son. One is missing a sound card and a monitor but otherwise works–the other is all good. Yeah!!! We were suffering without a computer for the kids, and once we get a monitor (getting some through Freecycle–our extra is also on the blink) and I pick up a sound card we will have two computers for three kids, which is much better odds.


When I realized that the first computer was missing a sound card and why (we had cannibalized it for another computer) I began searching our boxes of old computer stuff–I knew we had an old shrink wrapped Soundblaster card somewhere. I was thrilled when I found it. A brand new Soundblaster sound card–an oldy but goodie. However I was shocked when I checked the specs–Windows 3.1 with floppy disks. Hmmm. Shamus thought it would probably work so I opened it anyway.


When I looked in the computer I realized we had a bit of a problem. This card was older than we thought–it had an Xt-bus instead of an ISA or PCI like the computer had. For those who have no clue what I am talking about–imagine trying to fit an old floppy disk in a cd rom drive or a European plug into an American outlet–no worky . This thing was OLD–an antique. Anyway from a geek point of view it was cool–awfully tempting to keep just because it was that old–from the late 80’s in fact. Instead I handed it to the kids and let them play with it. Yes, I let my kids play with an old Soundblaster card–they spent an hour pretending it was the map of a city and pretending that there were cars driving on it, etc. What is really funny is that someone is trying to sell one right now on Ebay for $135. It is nearly useless because it is such old technology (it cost nearly $100 new–no we didn’t buy it, it was given to us when a business was going to throw the old stuff out.) The kids had fun with it though and learned quite a bit about how and why it wouldn’t work with this computer.


Now all I have to do is pick up the monitors from Freecycle, see if the guy with the monitors has any newer old sound cards lying around (all geeky people do–if not I will ask my dad, I know he has a few), and set the second computer up! I had considered making a monitor out of our old dead laptop but think the components to make it work would be too expensive for right now–think I will save that for a cool school project.


The last leaves standing.

The kids had another geeky thing going on today. Aside from taking walks, playing board games, and reading aloud they made up a new game. It is based on the Zelda game but involved real children playing the characters and trying to sneak by while one child plays the guard. If you have never played a Zelda game this involves one person turning very slowly looking only forward as she turns and the other people trying to sneak around her and stay out of her line of site. I am sure it has some useful application–like if you are every trying to stay out of a searchlight, or um, well something. Anyway they had fun doing it and even made level cards to say what level the players had made it to. πŸ™‚ It was interesting to watch.


Our yellow fall.

This was especially interesting since Rachel and I had a huge conversation about gaining responsibility, God’s kingdom and His view of maturity, and play. She thought there was some written rule that adults couldn’t play anymore–she got this impression from the way all the girls at Sunday School were sure that it was NOT okay to play with dolls once you reached a certain age.


After a long conversation she began to understand that play changes as you grow and that children’s play is preparation from growing up–practicing adult behaviors, imagining solutions to various problems, and developing interests. This shocked her so much that she wanted to call all her friends and tell them–“someone has to tell them, Mom!”


Farm near our house.

After talking a bit more she understood that as adults we still play, it just changes because we are no longer practicing for adult things. The good thing is that suddenly she wasn’t afraid of growing up anymore since she knew that we didn’t mind her playing dolls and such for as long as she liked. The down side is that later in the day she fought with her sister because she was playing “baby games” on the computer and Rachel was offended because she found them boring to watch. Sigh.


Sheep on the hill.

A Day in the Life 1: Yet another list of what I did today (because you can’t get enough of them. ;p)

For some reason I seem to be doing a lot of “lists of things we did” posts. Probably because writing it down proves how much I accomplished even when it doesn’t feel like I did anything–and it also is a good reminder that “yes, the kids learned quite a bit today”. Frugal post coming later.


  • Today I was up at 5:30 am, no real reason, just because my brain was full of all the stuff that had to happen today.
  • Spent about an hour reading everyone in my Google reader–I think roughly 65 posts and listening to Rachel chatter while trying to talk to my husband (morning is our talky time.)


  • I got the kids up because we had to be at a meeting by 9:30am.
  • Had to help Esther and Issac find clothes that they liked and which fit (they are all in growth spurts and nothing seems to fit just right.)


  • Made the kids toast and eggs while making myself some coffee and eating a small bar of low sugar dark chocolate with all natural crunchy peanut butter–breakfast of champions I know.
  • Got the Rachel to get the lunch basket and enzymes and help her brother and sister find shoes that suited their clothes (believe me, finding shoes is ALWAYS a big deal in our house, even though there are only two places where they are supposed to be stored.)


  • Gathered my things for the meeting, updated Shamus on the plans for the day, had Rachel callGRandma and let her know we would visit later.
  • Got kids packed in the car and headed to the meeting 25 minutes away. Did I mention it was COLD!


  • Got 5 minutes from the house, realized Rachel had forgotten the enzymes, which the kids can’t eat without so drove back home and got them.
  • 10 minutes later back on the road and headed 30 minutes south toward the meeting.


  • Spend an hour working out the plans for the new Lighthouse website that will match their new brochures while the kids read books and sorted change to help them out (they are a non-profit ministry and always have little jobs the kids can help with while I work on the site.)


  • Head 10 minutes north to the other job I have to get done in the coming weeks, picked up the cd of images I need for the site and discussed the images for the other part of the site–which I will get next week.
  • Head south again to my grandmother’s. On the way there we discussed how driving works, which led to how the steering wheel works and then how combustion engines work.


  • Once there we helped Grandma with some house work.
  • Got a call from a dear bloggy friend–one of the only people I know who’s daughter has similar issues to Rachel. So nice to know I am not alone.


  • Ate lunch with Grandma.
  • Allowed Issac and Esther to watch some cable tv (they never see it unless at a grandparent’s house. They chose to watch Between the Lions which is right where Issac is in his reading.)


  • While they watched Rachel read comics, did a puzzle with grandma, and we talked about how things were when when she was a girl. This lead to a discussion of how people traveled then (she was one of 13 children and was born in 1929). We talked about how hoboes used to come to her door and how her mother (widowed when my grandmother was in 8th grade) would feed them and give them a room for the night. This lead to discussions of how social programs that force people to give money to the government to help people have freed people from feeling an obligation to help one another out of their own unselfishness.


  • Rachel threw a temper tantrum (she isn’t feeling great) so instead of going and buying a joke book as they requested we headed to the grocery store to pick up some things for Rachel.
  • On the way home stopped to take a photo of my grandparent’s old house, which just sold to a nice young couple. I need to do a painting of it for my grandmother for Christmas–this is the house she had lived in since she was 6 years old, then off and on while married.


  • The kids took crazy pictures of the fall foliage and a lot of vehicles and power lines on the way home.
  • Got home and read emails while the kids watched daddy play a game and helped him solve problems.


  • Realized the craft show was in two days and the kids wanted to make some things to sell so they could use it to buy each other Christmas presents and send some cool stuff to our friends who are missionaries in Burkina Fasa.
  • Took Rachel to Michael’s, leaving Issac and Esther watching a movie they can’t watch when Rachel is home: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


  • I had forgotten that it was rush hour–the drivers were INSANE. I had one guy sit on my tale the first part of the drive, then another pull out in front of me, all kinds of other craziness. A definite reminder that the Christmas season is coming–every one starts driving like lunatics (since I usually do all my running in the day time I am seldom out after 5:00pm so I don’t often see masses of people in a hurry to get somewhere.) One the way there Rachel and I discussed the types of things people are likely to buy at a craft show around the holidays, and what types of things the kids could make that might sell.


  • We got to Michael’s, spent some time looking at what was on sale–we decided that in order to make something worth trying to sell and still make any money she needed to buy things that supplemented what we had at home and which she and her brother and sister could make and have it look nice. She decided on getting some vintage style buttons to make a button bouquet and some ribbon to try to make some angels like the ones ME sent us. She also decided on some chocolate since she can help me make some of those to sell (I have some really cute coffee mugs I got on clearance that will look adorable full of chocolates.) I also picked up the paint and brushes I needed (did I mention oil painting is EXPENSIVE?) and the whole point of the trip, some 2.5 x 3.5 frames to put my little art cards in for the show.


  • We went through the line 3 TIMES!!!! First for the stuff I went for, then Rachel found some cat and dog masks on clearance (she wants to be a cat next Halloween and they all play dress up a lot) and had to buy those and a jingle bell for her self–don’t ask. (Okay she convinced me by explaining she wanted it for her sled–they have been sledding on the wet leaves in the dark and her brother and sister keep not getting out of the way and since we need to be extra careful that she not hit her head, well she is sure this will help. I am not sure but it was $1 and she bought it herself.) Finally we went back and got some Wilkins chocolate because the candy store was already closed so I couldn’t get Merkins. (Did I mention that at the grocery store they gave the kids Marburger hats? They did, and RAchel wore hers until she got home–and then wore the cat ears the rest of the night.)


  • We then ran to the mall (another place full of lunatics and it will only get worse in the coming weeks) and picked up a few joke books. The kids LOVE to tell jokes and often make up their own (much to my dismay. Here is a free sample: why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to go eat at the restaurant over their in his pajamas. Yes, that is what I have to deal with. The good news is that my three are all visual learners and remember what they read–joke books are a good thing. :))


  • When we got home we made some angels from a pile of handkerchiefs and doilies I had.
  • The kids got snack and I wrote my Laced with Grace post for today.


And my plans for today? Write my frugal post, finish a painting, start a new painting, clean the kitchen thoroughly so th kids and I can bake some cookies and make 2 and a half pounds of chocolates. I also need to get a few packages to the post office, pick up some thrift shop vases. Plus start work on two additional web pages, supervise the kids making some crafts for tomorrow, have them figure out how much each cost to make so they can price them. Get my things together and get the car packed for tomorrow and my Saturday Scavenger hunt up, maybe visiting some pages since I won’t be back till tomorrow afternoon. And yes, I just made a list (I hate lists) and I made it here for you to read so I can hold myself accountable. πŸ™‚


All pictures in this post were taken on the drive home by my three kids –I had to straighten the ones Issac took, and turn them right side up but otherwise they all took some great photos–too many for me to share.

Confessions of a Homeschool Mama


I have been thinking a lot about homeschooling and our style lately. Because of Stumbleupon I have met a lot more homeschoolers than I typically meet in Bloggyland. It is fascinating how meeting all these lovely ladies (because so far they are all ladies sharing their experience) has caused me to redefine our style–not because we have changed our style but because I have met more and more people who school like we do. I didn’t know that we weren’t the only ones who avoided curriculum, who did what worked with each child based on when they needed it instead of on set standards. I have always considered us Charlotte Mason with a twist, or maybe eclectic. I have come to a realization, however, I realize that our lack of formal studies except where needed (for instance Rachel desperately wants to learn piano so I am working through a book with her, she found she needed to learn to spell and do multiplication so we are studying those, and Issac desperately WANTS to read–so Hooked on Phonics works for him) makes us not quite either of those. We do have a school room but that is for Rachel’s sake–she needs to know it is thee so she can focus when she needs to. But really and honestly, if I am being totally truthful with myself, most of their learning comes because they are interested and they choose what they are interested in. There are a few things we require and otherwise we go with the flow. Dare I say that we, despite our plans and ideals, are unschoolers? I am not sure I am ready to give it such a name but judging from the unschoolers I have met I am finding that they are the ones I am most comfortable with, they are the ones who train their kids the way I do, and I have an inkling that maybe, just maybe, that is where we fit in. I say this with trepidation–because, you know, I am a former public school teacher and I never would have thought I would consider myself an “unschooler”.


That confession out of the way, I would like to share something with you, some of our experiences which may explain what I mean. Over the last few days, since I have been under the weather I have allowed the kids freedom from their few workbooks (what they call their official homework but which is only a tiny bit of their school day.) Saturday they don’t do those books anyway unless they want to (sometimes they do). However this Saturday they opted not to. Instead they had an elaborate game of dress up and some other pretend play, played with Only Hearts Kids, watched daddy play a computer game–discussing physics and how it work sin the game engine and solving elaborate puzzles that stump adult gamers, they then went with me to pick up some paint brushes at Michaels. While there they discovered a lady demonstrating cake decorating with Fondant. They stood for 45 minutes watching her and asking all kinds of questions about how she was doing what she was doing , what fondant was made of, etc. They then planned to try the experiment with Play-doe and later to et some Fondant to try it on. They were the only ones in a full store interested in stopping and learning. They were so interested that after helping me pick the best brushes for the best price they went back and watched her work while I checked out.


After we finished there we headed to Target to buy a new CD player for them –they had saved up and decided to go together–trying to choose the best one for their money (they listen to audio books anytime they are in their room, that and Beethoven or swing praise). Instead of going for the fancy ones they went for a better one and chose some cell phone decoration stickers to decorate it (Target had them on sale). When that CD player didn’t work they decided to try the cheaper one instead of buying the same one or one of the cutesy ones.


Sunday they played all day after we had church together, doing many pretend games, so many that I couldn’t keep track of them all. Today they helped me clean up the yard (we are supposed to get snow tomorrow and needed to get all the summer toys into the basement.) When my mom showed up needing help (her car battery died) we stopped, ran her to

Walmart where we returned the broken CD (Rachel explained to the lady what was wrong with it and asked for their money back so she could decide on a different one) and chose a new cheaper one and some more cell phone stickers. We also perused the 75% off Halloween stuff looking for Christmas presents for each of them (cheap dress up clothes are a great Christmas present).



When we returned home we attacked the back again, burning all that needed burned and putting the rest of the stuff away. This prompted an impromptu lesson on fires and how they burn. The kids spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out how best to keep the fire burning without making it blaze. If you recall earlier this summer our neighbor died in a huge gasoline fire that took his house-sized garage as well as all the equipment he stored there. Since then the kids have had a great fear of the house burning down (they saw the fire–they couldn’t help it, our yard was full of onlookers and the firefighters were everywhere). However, they used this fire to experiment, testing to see how long it took different types of sticks to catch fire, what worked best, what caused a blaze, what smothered it, how to put out a fire (kick sand on it–just like on Rescure Heroes where they learned quite a bit about fire safety including how forest fires worked–you wouldn’t believe what they explained to me about forest fires during the California fires). They collected fire fuel from from our yard, from our garbage bins, from the neighbors yards, from the collection of cardboard boxes they had stored in the basement (they used them to build all sorts of buildings, race cars, whatevers). They kept at it for several hours until it started to pour down rain and thunder. Now they sit drinking hot carob and listening to Adventures in Odyssey and eating some supper they made themselves. I know Rachel plans to work on her Young Nanowrimo this evening, as does Esther. They also paused a bit to peruse the Target toy gift catalog, found a doll house that was perfect for their Only Hearts Club dolls and called Grandma, telling her they had a $10 off coupon and would she consider getting it for the two of them as their only Christmas present from her and Pappap–they knew about how much she usually spent on them and that if they shared it would be about right. They had already made a request for another Cabbage Patch doll to add to their collection from the other grandma.


They also played several board games, including Scategories, Blockus, and Perpetual Notion in there somewhere, built several projects with their wooden marble game, last night we practiced swing dancing to Benny Goodman, read part of a Wishbone book and part of William Bennet’s Treasury of Heroes, and they did a whole lot of drawings and wrote several letters to friends. They also carried clean and dirty laundry to where it belonged, sorted the laundry, helped put the clean laundry away, cleaned up the kitchen, and did several other normal chores. These kids lead busy lives. πŸ™‚


Occasionally it is tempting to feel bad that they aren’t doing “real” school, that our classroom in the basement sits unused. If they are working in their books they would rather do it by the fireplace or on the floor of their rooms. And when they aren’t, they are learning to use real money, to cook real meals, to buy groceries, to clean up after themselves, to love the Lord, to love each other, to serve one another, to help their neighbors, to deal with uncomfortable situations maturly, to perevere if they want to learn how to do something, how to get over their fears and solve problems. It might mean the house is messier than it would be if they spent their time working at the school desks doing “real” school, but all of our lives are richer and fuller because of it, they get to learn by living and grow in the process, they learn things you can’t get out of books–especially problem solving, how to be social in different settings, and develop character. They learn how to stay out of smoke, how to smother and build a fire, how to serve one another. Is my house a mess, more than likely. Is it worth it, absolutely.