Category: Untraditional Living

A record of our twice a year date

My mom and stepdad took the kids sledding (outside) and swimming (inside) today so that my husband and I could use the Christmas present they got us–a movie gift card and money for my stepdad’s friend’s new restaurant.  We didn’t really have a plan about what movie to see, instead we knew we needed to stop at the comic book store (because that is what we do).

We went to the store first then headed the complete other direction towards the movie theater, making it there just before the movie started (it is a 30 minute drive and snowing–we did good.)  We had decided on Juno even though we would both like Cloverfield (because we like that sort of thing).  I was nervous about poor camera work which always gives me motion sickness–Juno was a much safer choice.

It was lovely and sweet and sad and funny and hard and soft all at once.  We both loved it as well as the soundtrack.  (I adore indie music and this was perfect.)   Both of us teared up completely at one point and every one giggled out loud at more than a few places.

After the movie we headed to the restaurant which was very good except that it was a sports bar and grill which meant huge tv’s with varying degrees of sports (from football to bowling to skiing)–which is weird–remember we went to the comic book store, not the sporting goods store.  Not really sports fans here. 🙂  The bacon swiss burger was excellent and Shamus says my french fries and his fish sandwich were very good as well.

Of course what married couple date would be complete without a quick trip to the grocery store to get what we were out of and pick up stuff we didn’t know we wanted. 🙂

Now we wait for the kids to return home and tell us excitedly about how wonderful thewir time with the grandparents was. 🙂

11 years

Today my husband and I have been married for 11 years. It is amazing how quickly it has gone and how much closer we are now than we were then. God is good.


Sunday we are going to attempt to see a movie and go out to eat (we got a gift card for each for Christmas and my mom and step-dad are taking the kids sled riding and feeding them.)


BTW–if you click over to his site you will see our wedding picture (he is ever so much handsomer now than when I married him.  Actually he is just taking better care of himself.   He is an awesome guy and a super genius to boot. :))

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. 🙂

Hummingbird Cake

Two weeks ago Esther, my one who LOVES to watch cooking shows with me, asked if we could get out a cooking show DVD at the library.  We all like to bake so we picked Martha Stewart’s baking DVD–assuming it would have someting more than the dozens of varieties we already know how to make.  We were right.  We watched two thirds of the DVD (the rest being things that were nearly impossible to adapt for our food allergy needs).  The favorite was the Hummingbird Cake–not so much for the inside–which had to be heavily adapted but for the outside–pineapple slices dried so they looked like flowers.  With Rachel’s birthday on the way and edible decorations for my preservative and dye allergic child rather hard to come by this was a winner.

They have been reminding me almost daily since then, asking when we would buy a pineapple.  Two days ago I finally did (too expensive for every day but no more pricey than  all the decorations for cakes).  The day before yesterday I sliced the pineapple and the kids laid them out to dry in the over overnight.  Yesterday we made the cake (we adapted even more than usual since Rachel can’t have cinnamon and I can’t eat pineapple–in fact in the end we went for a organic gluten free cake mix I had picked up instead although I have promised to try the original recipe–adapted of course. )  In the end it wasn’t really a hummingbird cake at all, more like a regular cake covered in icing, dried pineapple flowers, and walnuts but it was very much enjoyed (in fact all that remains are a few pineapple flowers which the kids have been nibbling on.)  We will definitely using the dried pineapple slices to decorate again, and likely trying some other fruit drying to see if we can get any other flower like decorations.

The slices were easy.

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper.
  2. Peel pineapples and remove “eyes” using a very small melon baller. Cut crosswise into very thin slices and place in a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake until tops look dry, about 4 hours. Using tongs or chop sticks, flip slices over and continue to cook until completely dried out, 25 to 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Saturday Photohunt: Important

(Yes, I have moved from to here. Welcome to my new home.)

I had a painting that I finished just in time to share but couldn’t get a decent photo of it due to poor lighting. Sigh. Instead I decided to share a most important event of this week, and one of my daughter’s most important dates so far–her tenth birthday. Yes, my oldest is now in the double digits and on her way to becoming a young lady.

She felt it was VERY important that we make a “Hummingbird Cake” for her birthday so we bought a whole Pineapple and dried the slices so it could be decorated just as she wanted. She was very proud of her heart shaped hummingbird cake. (The recipe is here.)

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. 🙂


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.