Beware the Silver Soup Pot and Other Nonsense

Because of recent reports of a serious shortage of ridiculous nonsense on my blog, and lest you think it’s all doom and gloom in Crazy Land, I thought I would remedy the situation by telling you about all the silly posts I’ve thought about writing lately, but haven’t yet.

I thought about telling you many silly things, like how my house looks like a band of roving toddlers frequently celebrates raves in it, or that Santa crashed into it, with his entire sleigh of presents, and then left (not “Nice!”). But then I though I’d better clean up the mess instead of drawing cartoons of it.

One of my cartoons was going to be of me homeschooling the kids in the midst of the chaos. My husband would walk in the door and look a little stunned. Then my speech bubble would say, “Clean? Who me? I’m just the tutor!”

But I tried to make the right choice (at least a few times.) Scrubbing floor vs blogging. Ugh. Dirty floor, here we come. Hmmm, sometimes it’s no fun to be responsible. But don’t worry, I won’t let it happen too often!

I also thought about telling you about the incident with the soup pot. Sounds very innocent, doesn’t it? A pretty shiny silver soup pot. But you’ll see. It’s awful.

We walked in the door from an outing to be hit by a terrible stench. “Oh, yuck, I should’ve taken out the garbage with diapers,” I thought. So I did. No better. Must be something in the sink. Did dishes. No better. What is it?!

Then I checked the silver soup pot which had been sitting, looking pretty, on my stove all week, or possible since the Stone Age, I couldn’t be sure. Aaack! Broccoli from outer space with mossy tentacles , growing rapidly and certainly soon to be developing artificial intelligence, nourished by the primordial sludge of aqueous goop it sat in.

THE WORST SMELL EVER!!!

And I’m a mom, so I’m an expert in stinkage. I even feel sorry for the other nasty compost I rapidly dumped it on. It could be used as a deterrent for robbers. Just leave an open pot in front of your door. If the stench doesn’t stop them, they’ll trip on the pot, slip in the goop, and meet a ghastly demise in your entranceway.

…I think I may have watched “Home Alone” a few times too many as a kid. Possibly only beaten by “Ernest Goes to Camp” and “The Princess Bride.” All of which explains my highly refined sense of humour (i.e. the stupider, the better)…

So beware the covered silver pots sitting on your stoves. You never know what might be lurking within their deceptively shiny walls. And while we’re on the topic of animate kitchen utensils, you’d better watch this fabulous musical kitchen jam by the Muppets’ very own Swedish chef. Crank it up, and don’t forget to dance! 😉 It’s a very effective cure for moodiness known as “Muppet-Therapy.” But more about that another time…

The Muppets: Pöpcørn – YouTube

Fun With Felt: A Christmas Craft

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Here is our latest project, which turned our kitchen table into a rainbow tornado of felt, but was fairly simple and lots of fun for all of us! It’s a felt Christmas banner. We cut pieces of felt with sticky back to adhere to the larger piece, and glued on little foam decorations. Once it was hung up we pinned on a few more light decorations, and voilá: a Christmas banner.

See the little foam pieces? You can get them at the dollar store. My 4 year old helped with making the presents, and did a few by herself.

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My 8 year old cut out the letters herself—not bad! She made the snowman and the Santa, too.

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And my 6 year old made this snowman, except the hat; I helped with that. My little 3 year old decorated the Christmas balls.

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Here are some of the felt makers…

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The hardest part was getting the all kids to stay still for their picture! And of course cleaning all the little bits up after…so I recommend an extra coffee, but it’s well worth it for all the fun the kids have, and mummy, too! 😉

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Homeschool Ketchup

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So we didn’t make ketchup as a home school cooking project, I’m just inclined to love silly puns, so here’s a few photos to help you catch up on what the girls have been up to. A quick ‘ketchup’ post.

This is everyone with Grandma, who brought new school supplies…which always makes studying far more exciting, even for the little ones.

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It makes me happy to see the older ones helping the little ones…because isn’t one of the most important goals of education to help people learn to care for and take care of others?

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We also rearranged the furniture—another simple trick to make kids more excited about sitting at their desks to work!

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My little preschooler is picking up stuff by osmosis…look what she tried to write all by herself!

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Sometimes doing math together, with little silly drawings and stories, really helps supplement the workbook problem pages, and turns repetitious math questions into an opportunity to bond. Snacks help, too! You’d be amazed how much better my daughter learns math when she is using crackers to count with, and to keep her blood sugar up! Double whammy! 😉

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It seems that cutting paper in funny shapes, like a seashell for example, makes kids a lot more interested in writing in them! Here’s a page from an under the sea creature book. The ghastly deep water angler fish…

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Look what I found to my delight on the white board…promise I didn’t bribe my daughter to write it! 😉 But I agree, while it can be a logistical zoo at times, homeschooling is such a beautiful way to bond as a family while learning about the world. It is truly “awsome” (yes, we’re still working on spelling!)…

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Fall Forest Scavenger Hunt

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A simple homeschool or weekend outing with the kids is a fall scavenger hunt. We found a list in a forest book of seasonal items to look for, put on out coats and boots, and took our camera for a walk. We found gorgeous mushrooms, multicoloured leaves, chestnuts, a strange moss nest, a squirrel too quick for our camera, and various bugs.

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Of course, taking along a Pumpkin Spice Latté is also a great idea; after all, it’s very seasonal!

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And if you can bring along a willing uncle, that helps, too!

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They tend to prefer truck spotting over squirrels…

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A play at the park is always a good prize at the end!

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You can do a walk like this any time of the year, and chat about the seasons, nature, plant growth, animal migration, etc! Easy science lesson, plus exercise! Doing drawings or paintings if your nature pics is another way to extend things. We did a collage.

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Hope you enjoyed joining our little walk!

Academia Nuts

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Tonight my oldest daughter and I were cleaning up the kitchen while the second oldest, ever studious, worked on her homeschool. She had us guess words starting with the same letter:

“A is for apple, armadillo, Australia…”

“Academia nuts!” chimed in my cleaning helper. Hearing me laugh she said,

“Mummy, it’s a good thing you got married and had kids, cause your job is blogs, and otherwise you wouldn’t have much to write about.”

True enough! 😉 So what have we been up to lately in Crazyland anyway?

We’ve been reading lots of books from the library. Here they are reading bedtime stories with their uncle. The big girls also like reading to the little ones, which is great practice for reading aloud and with expression. They also get to feel like the teacher, which pleases them…imparting their greater wisdom as the little ones snuggle up to listen.

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The kids have been colouring pictures and practicing letters.

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And making crazy drawings just for fun. Who can this crazy coffee monster be?!

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They all love stickers but these googly-eyed mermaid and pirate stickers were a special hit with my preschool crowd, who love the mermaid show Bubble Guppies. Three kids kept very happy for half an hour for $1.25. Not bad!

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I finally found the half-blank, half-lined journal notebooks I wanted at Shopper Drug Mart. I told the girls they can draw and write about anything. Not just what happened yesterday, but anything special they did before, read about, learned, etc.

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We’ve enjoyed making shapes on our geoboards. Mouthfuls like ‘parallel’ and ‘perpendicular’ are less intimidating when you get to make them with elastic bands! And we discovered times tables are much more fun when you recite them in silly voices. I’d do my best Gollum impression:
“Threeeee plus threeeee is NIIIIIINE!”
The girls would copy me then say, “Do it again, do it again!” Then they’d have turns choosing the silly voice themselves. Drama and math in one easy package.

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Nanna came and baked this birthday cake with my girls. They practiced math by measuring fractions and doubling the recipe. They sure love baking! I have many kitchen helpers pushing up chairs to stand near the counter, whether I like it or not! 😉

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We have been making cloth dollies and clothes with felt from the dollar store. Very fun, and great way for them to work on fine motor skills with little scizzors.

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This was our easy birthday party craft…even uncle and grandpa got into it!

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Our days have been very full…all this can be exhausting, especially if you only just turned three! 😉

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For a very interesting article featuring retired UBC prof Bob Steele on the importance of spontaneous drawing for the development of self-expression and literacy in children, check out the link below. It will make you happy for all the “scribbling” your kids do, and help you see that in drawing and expressing things they can’t yet put in words, they are learning to communicate, bond and interact in ways essential to developing later literacy skills.

Raise-a-Reader: Is childhood art key to developing language literacy?

Laying the Foundation for Homeschool

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This summer I’ve been busy working to organize our home and lay the foundations for homeschool. While I prefer a flexible, creative approach to homeschool, rather than a workbook only style, I realize that having an orderly environment where we know where all our great books and supplies are is conducive to achieving this. So in this spirit we’ve been clearing out our junk (over 7 garbage bags have gone to the thrift store, not to mention all the garbage and recycling we’ve cleared out). And we’ve been organizing our homeschool books and supplies. My oldest daughter has had lots of fun helping write labels for them.

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She is actually, unlike some of my other kids, quite naturally orderly and loves all this house beautifying. We spent one morning hauling apart our overcrowded kids book shelf, giving away or recycling some, and putting the rest back in categories like stories, French books, reference books, science books, pre-school, arts and crafts, etc. After I took this picture we got out our dollar store labels and wrote all of these and put them on the shelves.

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My 8 year old was very satisfied:
“I’m so proud of us, Mama! Here, tell me to get a science book.”
“Ok, grab a science book.”
She ran and got it and showed me.
“See, we look at it and then we put it back where it goes!”
I’m so glad she gets excited about this; as order is not my natural forté it helps a lot!

We labeled our binders with partitions for our different subjects, too.

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I recently read a great post on the blog “Capturing the Charmed Life” about homeschooling:

The Art and Science of An Education

It’s a beautiful testament to the benefits of a flexible education tailored to your own children specifically. I like her broad vision of education as something that helps us learn how to live, not just how to pass certain exams. Definately worth reading for anyone interested in education or child-rearing.

Here’s a wonderful quote by John Taylor Gatto she included in her piece:

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist: it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges: it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing; wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die”.

This is what I hope to do: expose my kids to great works of art, literature, science, etc and help them to develop a life-long love of learning. I also want to teach them to think for themselves, to care for others and to become the best people they can be. It’s a big goal; wish me luck!

The Glories of Butter and Sugar

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This morning my 8 year old woke up before everyone else and whispered enthusiastically: ” Mummy, let’s make muffins while it’s still quiet!” I was so happy she woke up eager to start the day together, and that I didn’t have to go commando mode and rush her off to school. I’m loving the freedom of summer, and the fact that it won’t be taken away in a few weeks, because we have decided she is going to be homeschooling with her younger sister, instead of returning to school. I get the best parts of her again…her eagerness, helpfulness and joy, instead of her exhausted moodiness after a long day away.

We had wanted to bake the day before but were out of too many things, and would have had to substitute almost everything but flour and lemon in the recipe. I’m all for ground flax egg replacer, almond milk instead of cow’s milk, apple sauce instead of oil, brown sugar instead of white, etc, but we were missing even our replacements.

So while my two oldest girls went on an outing to a horse ranch with friends, the three little ones and I went shopping. For once we bought all the stuff actually in the recipe…lovely butter, creamy milk, nice brown eggs. We even used white sugar instead of granulated because friends had given us a big bag of it. Almost a sin in my hippie herbal veggie family… 😉

The result, lovely fluffy muffins that were proclaimed: “The best ever! Just like ones from a restaurant!” And this even with sneaking in a little less sugar and half whole grain with bran and ground flax flour with the white…can’t totally deny my background! We also squeezed in half the lemon juice of the lemon we grated for the peel, and left out the lemon preserve filling. It would likely be super yummy, but would risk being perceived as an actual fruit by my two picky food purists…

Here’s my quick and easy way to share the recipe with you:

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We made a double batch with some plain lemon mini-muffins for my girls who say, “Mmmm, that so plain!” and mean it as a compliment, and some mini-lemon blueberry loaves for the rest of us.

So here’s three cheers to our glorious friends butter and white sugar…and while they might not visit us that often, it’s pretty fun when they do!

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Corn Pops Are Good For Your Brain

“What!?” exclaim health-conscious parents everywhere. “Sugary cereal good for your brain?!” Well, they’re good for counting anyway, and therefore perfect for homeschool math lessons, on the days when workbooks won’t cut it and your kids need something tangible to help them compute.

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It happened to us the other day, that after getting stuck on a math problem in her book, my eight year old wouldn’t budge. “I’m not doing it! I hate math!” I remember feeling the same way in school myself. So I had a few options. Give up, force the issue and make a fight, or find a more fun way to teach the same concepts.

A great homeschooling mom blogger called Bonnie Landry quoted Plato on this dilemma:

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”

“Honey, want to grab some corn pops and one of those kid’s divider plates? We can do some math that way.”
Her eyes brightened. “Ok, Mummy!” Off she scuttled.

So using our handy three part plate (good for more than preventing food groups from touching, apparently), we used corn pops to add, subtract, multiply, divide, count by twos and fives, and do word problems. With a smile! And this for the supposed math-hater!

Her little brother, who is just over one, loved corn pop math, too. Especially subtraction…his expertise!

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Later that day we baked peanut butter cookies, and practised reading fractions and measuring (1/2 tsp this, 1/4 cup that, etc). Who knew math could be so yummy?!

Bonnie has a great little book called Chocolate Chip Math which gives more examples and the theory behind this fun, relationship-oriented approach to learning. Check it out:

Chocolate Chip Math

Or read more on her blog:

oh, that’s simple