Roots and Shoots

Today was our first “Roots and Shoots” meeting at the zoo and we got to learn about the organization and then spent some time brainstorming ideas for projects for our group.  Our group will be following the plan of choosing 3 projects- 1 for animals, 1 for the community, and 1 for people.

We had a turnout of 13 families today and I think there are a few more interested in joining!

After the meeting, we walked around and got to see the animals with a few friends before heading home.

More Snow Fun

P>We have been struggling to start our days earlier so that the kids and I can participate in more of the group activities going on.

J. stepped it up this week, being much more active than usual with the kids earlier in the day so that we could hopefully get to bed earlier and make it easier to get up the next day.

Today he got the kids outside before lunch which is doing pretty great for a weekend in our house. I joined in and we had some good old-fashioned snow fun!


First Homeschool Co-op Meeting

Today was the first meeting of the local homeschool co-op. It is an informal group that will be meeting at the local library, setting up events and bringing in speakers.

Today’s theme was “games” and people were invited to bring their own board games along. Having a 3 and a 5 year old made me think twice about bringing board games, so I brought a tub of legos hoping it would ensure my son’s ability to make it through 2 hours.

Everything went pretty smoothly and the kids did actually play some of the games- Yea!  🙂 It was nice to get to see everyone and have a chance to try out some new games.

New Game in Town

Or at least in our house 🙂

“Nicktoons Unite” for the GameCube is the new game of choice lately and my son shared it with one of his friends today. It is a bit challenging because there is quite a bit of reading, so adult help is appreciated.

I thought this game was really lame, to say the least, when we first got it. I was suckered into it by a Target employee who had obviously never played the game and compared it to Super Smash Brothers, a game with absolutely nothing in common as far as game play. 

After an initial few plays with J. when we first got it, this game sat in the cabinet waiting patiently to be rediscovered. 

And what a discovery! This game is actually thoughtful and fairly interesting. You play as 4 Nickolodeon characters who must complete missions cooperatively using special powers (unique to each character). It is like a modern day 3-D “Lemmings” utilizing each character to complete separate small tasks within each larger mission. Cooler yet, it can be played 2 player with 1 of the players able to drop in and out at will (VERY useful when you have another kid and a house to keep an eye on).

For me, this is yet another time when the play value of a video game becomes much more clear after playing it myself and giving it a real chance.

Water Pouring in our Window turns into Water Soaking our Carpet

Well, not really.

In our haste to chip the ice off the roof and melt what was in the gutters, we did successfully use a hose attached to our hot water faucet. However, when we pulled the hose in the window to keep it from freezing overnight, we failed to notice that there was a slow leak from the faucet. By morning, we had very wet portions of carpet in our family room.

We pulled up the carpet and draped it over several chairs and aimed heaters and fans at it for 2 days to get it dry. Now it looks all rippled and isn’t really attached at the edges.

At least the water isn’t coming in anymore, we didn’t need to file a claim, and life is getting back to normal…

Science Question You Don’t Want the Answer To

Why is water pouring down my windows into my house?

Apparently when you have a huge, several inch thick layer of ice coating your gutters and your roof and the water runs out of places to go, it finds a way in through the roof. Then it goes into your walls and finds whatever happy openings it can, which for us was the big window in our family room and the window above our bathtub.

And I found out by calling the guy, who happens to be J.’s uncle, who had installed out *new* windows and doors last year. I called to complain and found out that basically we need more insulation and we should’ve kept our gutters clear.

I spent almost 2 hours today on a step-ladder pouring pots full of hot water onto the ice and adding some salt for good measure. After that I was exhausted and called J. at work for help. He came home a bit early and we decided to run a hose and try that. The outside outlet was iced over and nothing we did could coax water through it. Memories of the birth tub from my daughter’s birth send me looking for the connector to use our kitchen faucet. No go. “How about the washing machine ?”, we thought. We brought in a hose from the garage only to find it iced over as well. The kids helped us give the hose a nice warm bath to melt the ice and clean all the mud off of it. Then we tried again. Yeah! It worked. We are going in shifts as hot water replenishes trying to get the first gutter clear.

Have I mentioned that I hate winter?

Weirdest Movie I Have Ever Seen

I have watched “My Neighbor Totoro” by Hayao Miyazaki a bunch of times and really enjoy the look and feel of the movie and so I decided to request a bunch of movies from the same studio/director.

Last night we watched “Spirited Away“, one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen. The characters ranged from cute to grotesque. The storyline was fairly straightforward…After a family takes a wrong turn into an abandoned town, the glutonous parents are turned into pigs by spirits and their daughter must save them before the spirits eat them. Beyond that, it is difficult to tell who is good, who is bad and basically what in the world is going on. In the end, however, all we wanted to do was watch it again!

Legos and Venn Diagrams

We started out sifting through the legos from one of the board games I picked up at the thrift store. We have never played it as a game, but it came with a bag full of pieces and 20 different model cards (4 each for five colors). I think it is pretty neat because for any given color of cards, you use every single piece to build the 4 models shown, but none overlap so each person can be building their own and won’t need any pieces that someone else is using.

Anyway, before we even started to build today, my son started sorting the Legos into piles. “Here are the blue ones”, “Here are the yellow ones”, “Here are the pieces that stick out like this”, etc.  “Wait this piece is blue too!” “Where should it go?” which led to me reminding him of a game on the Sesame Street website where you sort items into a Venn diagram and if they have things in common, you put them in a “shared area”.

I grabbed a brown paper bag and made up some rings for the colors/ special pieces and the kids sorted them out. This is what it looked like.

Afterward they decided to pick some of the cards and build the models. It was cool to see my son understand where each piece went, even when only part of a piece might be showing in the picture. My daughter picked up on it really quickly too and they wound up asking me to take some pictures. Thought I would share 🙂

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Well, I decided to make heart cookies with the kids only to find out we don’t have a heart cookie cutter. I was surprised considering the number of cutters we have, but…that’s life. I decided to make one so we could proceed with the plan. Here is my hack-job of a cookie cutter made out of folded up paper and plastic packing tape along with a few of the pre-baked cookies.

My daughter and I started out decorating.

By the time we were done, my son had joined in. Can you guess which ones are his? Think outside the traditional red and pink box 🙂

Over the Sickness

Well, we are finally moving beyond the sickness. We officially broke the staying home trend yesterday by heading out to not one, but two libraries. At our regular library, 3 librarians came over to check in with  me regarding the situation with the teenager (earlier post). At the other library (which I will admit we went to because of the incident), we learned they have a cooler, enclosed children’s area. I have promised the kids we can go back soon.

Today, we went to a birthday party at our friend’s house and had a great time! It felt so good to get to hang out with everyone. We also had awesome cupcakes which must have been drugged as my son is asleep almost 1 1/2 hours early. 

Well…my daughter is still up, so I guess I am not so sure about the cupcakes after all 🙂  She decided to take this opportunity to raid the clothes cabinet and put on her brother’s stuff, including his inline skates which were a Christmas gift. Wow! She has really good balance. She can get up by herself and doesn’t feel the need to hold onto me. We will have to get both of them to a skating rink and try it out for real…

These are pictures from the day after they got their skates:

Happy Pictures

Sickness is no fun. Thought I would post some happy pictures I just uploaded from the camera of the kids and me.

This one is me with my son in our bathroom. He actually asked me to get the camera and have J. take a picture of us because he was so glad seeing the two of us together in the mirror.

Lego blocks…what better reason to smile?

My daughter painting 🙂  (And wearing the tie-dye shirt she made with my dad and step-mom)


My daughter dancing around with her stuffed reindeer, Couch. She has a thing for the song “Happy Doesn’t Have to Have an Ending” by They Might Be Giants (Bed, Bed, Bed).


My daughter slept in today, recovering from the nasty bug that has been overwhelming our house. This gave my son and me a bunch of time together without distractions and the morning was really interesting.

We started off with a bit of the game Gobblet Jr. which is a bit like Tic-Tac-Toe, but with different sized pieces and the ability to move or “gobble” your opponent if your piece is bigger. He is getting the hang of it pretty quickly. He also had us play cooperatively so that we would BOTH get 3-in-a-row and win.

Then we played the “Blue’s Clues Game“, one of this week’s thrift store finds. Both of the kids really seem to like it. It is simple and fast and we have watched enough of the show to know all the songs by heart, so we make it more interesting by acting out some of the stuff and singing as we play. He and I played a few times.

Apparently this led to thinking about a Blue’s Clues book from my mom’s house and he suggested we make juice popsicles from orange juice. We used our water-bottle ice-cube tray for those skinny cylinders and he poured in the juice and added the sticks.

When he asked how long it would take for them to freeze, I said probably an hour, which led to a discussion of how long an hour is. I went looking in our pretend food stuff for the timer to show him. We tried out different amounts of time on the timer and also dug out the 2-minute sand-timer. Then we made pretend recipes with our kitchen stuff. We wound up playing some sort of guessing game with the scale to figure out which foods weigh more than others, like the egg or the onion, etc. Fun, but our scale maxed out on all the heavy foods.

I decided I wanted to look into getting a better scale for us and began to make a wishlist of stuff that can be used to measure (with pictures): a pan balance, a scale, a measuring tape. He asked me what I was doing and then helped me think up more stuff to add like a ruler and drew his own contraption that would measure anything you want 🙂 I added a cuisenaire rod track to the list (as I have been wanting one) and when he asked what it was, I got out the rods to show him and we started to play around. He decided that the rods could be money.  He started telling me how much each color should be worth. 65 cents, 600 cents, 10 cents, 40,000 cents, 600 cents (at which point he looked at the list, saw he had already used 600 and commented that now we had 2 colors worth 600), and then (of course) the last color was assigned the value of googolplex. He wanted to write all the zeroes, but stopped at 8.

Return to the discussion about how long until the popsicles would be done and how long an hour is. I decided to put it in concrete terms “3 PEEP episodes”, I said. “How long is a PEEP episode?” he asked. “20 minutes” I said. “There are 3, 20-minute shows in 1 hour” “Can I watch PEEP?” he said. “Yep!”

This led to watching an episode of “PEEP” followed by a “Blue’s Clues” that we had recorded with TIVO. On this episode, they were mixing colors and he decided to turn it off and ask for paints so we could mix colors. I used a suggestion from one of the other moms and put the 3 primary colors plus black and white paint in an ice-cube tray and we each used an eye-dropper to mix new colors in the empty spots. Then we made pictures from dropping paint with the eye-droppers. This led to getting paintbrushes and him further exploring the colors on paper.

Around this time, J. came home from work, SICK.

We moved on to getting lunch for all of us and eating popsicles. What a neat morning of connections…

Watch Those Preconceived Ideas

Sometimes my kids surprise me in the coolest ways…

I picked up a book for my kids at the thrift store called “4-letter words”.  No- not those kind of 4-letter words  🙂 It has 4 sets of all the letters of the alphabet in order on a spiral binding so that you can move each stack individually to the letter you want showing and can spell out 4 letter words. I thought they would like to play around with the letters since we have been writing lots of letters and words around here lately. Anyway, this is what I found in the living room a while back…

My daughter’s handiwork of self-centeredness (Well- she is 3!)   🙂

She also received a “My Little Pony” workbook from her aunt for Christmas. It had all kinds of counting and number writing exercises. This is how she is using it so far…

For the past several days, she has holed up in her room at night and been very carefully cutting out the ponies and the designs and storing them in a cubby in her closet. All on her own, she has been figuring out how to use the scissors more precisely. I could be frustrated about her “missing out” on the number activities, but then I wouldn’t be seeing all the work she HAS done. Some people buy those “Kumon” cutting books for their kids just trying to get them to practice cutting…