Park Day

We headed out to meet up with one of the local homeschooling groups today, but stopped for a bit at a pet store, “Aquarium Adventures” on the way due to pouring rain.  I was concerned folks might have left the park already because storms usually roll in from the west, precisely the direction we were headed.  We browsed the aisles for a bit, admiring all the different fish.  The kids could identify many, many fish and algae and coral, helped along by the Wii game they have been playing, “Endless Ocean”.   While we were there, I checked in by cell phone with one of the other moms and learned the rains had passed them by.  The store employees let each of my kids keep a beautiful rock from the tank supplies pile for free which made them incredibly happy and we got back on the road to go to the park.

We met at the same park as the family picnic last week and the kids got to enjoy the water again.  My son liked battling the current in the river and it took a bit to get him to come over by the fountain so I could keep an eye on my daughter too.  They played with the other kids for a while and got to know some we haven’t gotten to spend much time with yet.  It was a nice day.

Bandit Mask

After the park, my daughter was very into playing dress-up at home and she decided she needed a bandit mask.  She wanted black, but I swayed her into wanting leopard print as I had the fabric already cut out from last year sometime.  After about 15 minutes of finding elastic and stitching around the sides and eyeholes, her mask was ready 🙂

Then she decided to be a leopard.

Then a tiger.

Then a leopard.

Dangerous and Daring

On the way to gymnastics today, both kids poured over their books, “The Dangerous Book For Boys” and “The Daring Book For Girls“.  For half an hour I kept hearing exclamations about how cool each page was!  My son was particularly taken by the go-cart instructions and the pages on insects.  My daughter loved the section on birds.  We even identified the garden spider that the kids found outside a few days ago.

Thank you Scott, Elizabeth, Chloe, and Naomi! We are going to have a lot of fun with these 🙂

New Pets

My son caught a grasshopper today and decided he would like to keep it for awhile.  The neighbor kids came over to play so they helped out too, building an insect habitat.  In the end, we wound up with a grasshopper, 2 potato bugs, a caterpillar and a beautiful bunch of rocks, leaves, sticks, and decorations (including the shell from one of my daughter’s dead snails).  We have not had the best luck keeping grasshoppers alive in the past, so I am thinking we will try to release it soon.

Mamma Mia

Too many ABBA songs are songs are stuck in my head right now!  I went out to see the movie “Mamma Mia” with 2 friends the other night and the songs are sticking around. 

I was raised in the 70’s by parents who listened to plenty of ABBA and I still have 4 tapes in my collection (yes-tapes!).  The movie was campy as all get up, but I really had a great time watching it.  It was refreshing to see big name stars willing to make total fools of themselves and looking very unglamorous at times.  Aparently the critics didn’t dig it, but I’ve got to say I did.  I am sure I will wind up watching it again some day.

For any ABBA fans out there- Go see it!  You will laugh.


The kids really like mixing things together to see what new things they can create.  Last night, my son decided that he would like to gather up all kinds of things in a bucket and mix them together to make “a liquid”.  To help him in his quest, we went for a walk looking for interesting things to add.  He found lots of leaves, dirt, old juice drink in a container, and more.  When we got home, he wanted to see it all mixed together, so I brought out our mortal and pestle and showed him how he could grind it all together.  Then I brought out some piles of flour and a jar of water to help the consitency.  Both kids got into it and my son wound up with some interesting blue liquid and my daughter wound up making paste from the flour and water.


The New Partridge Family?

So J. went out to the store to buy batteries while the kids were finishing up their concoctions last night and he brought home this:

We didn’t have any batteries charged (he bought rechargeables), so it had to wait until today.  After an iffy start this morning (my son really, really wanted to be perfect at it the very first time), we played as a family tonight after swimming and had a fun time.  The kids rocked out on imaginary instruments while J. and I tried to unlock the songs by singing.

Here’s an action shot:

Healthy Fish

After posting about the anchor worms and all of our dead underwater life, I thought I should share some pictures of the remaining healthy fish.

My daughter’s tank (Copper and Lucy):

My son’s tank (Telescopey and Little Folk):

There are also 2 snails and an algae eater in my son’s tank, but they weren’t feeling photogenic 🙂  Oops, looking more closely at the pictures, apparently Dragon Eater (the algae eater) was inside the shark’s mouth the whole time.

In The Car

While driving to and from playdates, gymnastics, swimming, and other daily stuff we have been listening to more audio stuff in the van.  I picked up The Story of the World set on CD’s because it comes highly recommended as a basic history resource and because I personally adore Jim Weiss!  The kids and I have been listening to his stories on CD for years now and have always enjoyed his style and his voice.  These discs are no exception.  They are well done and the kids like listening to them.  Even when they appear to be playing with Lego blocks and chatting with each other, some of it is going in because they are making up knock-knock jokes based on the content and asking questions about things  🙂

I also picked up a new CD from the thriftstore- “For the Kids Too“, a collection of songs for kids.  There are a few favorites on it and we have been happily learning the lyrics and singing together.  (Of course there is a drawback- namely that I constantly have a song about starfish and coffee or cuttlefish running through my head)  Small price to pay in the grand scheme, LOL.  Our current favorites are 6, 8, and 10.  You can listen to clips on Amazon for free.

What Have we Been Up To?

Here are some shots of what the kids have been up to around the house lately.  (I don’t often remember to take pictures when we are out)


Money cards:

Lego blocks:

Plastic Animals:

Setting up a make-believe store:

40 Hats for 40 Cats:

Wii “Endless Ocean“:

Playing with stuffed animals:

Building with trains in secret (and surprising me when they were done):

Making concoctions out of kitchen ingredients:

Family Picnic

One of the local homeschooling groups had a family picnic on the Westside on Friday evening.  The park was really nice and had a fountain for the kids to play in, picnic tables, swingsets, a playground, and a rocky beach along the river.  If it hadn’t been for the mosquitos, it would have been perfect!  We found a frog by the water and the kids got to hold it.  The kids also got really wet and got to play with some of the kids we haven’t seen in a while.

Dave and Buster’s

Today, we headed over to Dave and Buster’s to celebrate birthdays for J.’s mom and dad.  J.’s sister also joined us.  We had a nice dinner (the food was great) and then played a bunch in the arcade.  The kids each picked out a big stuffed animal with the tickets they won and my daughter also chose a kazoo and entertained us with songs on the way home 🙂

Happy Birthday!


1 fish, 2 Fish, New Fish, Dead Fish

My daughter and I went to the pet store last weekend to buy a few more critters for her fish tank. Until now, she has only had one goldfish named Lucy since her birthday.  We enjoyed checking out the fish and wound up getting 2 snails, an algae eater, and 2 more goldfish.  The snails didn’t look so good, but after our success with my son’s snails, I thought it would be ok.


One of the snails was dead already by the time we got home.  The other one died in the night, apparently too sick to even move around.  The next day the algae eater bit the dust.  And the next, the goldfish named “Goldie”, leaving us with only “Lucy” and one new fish named “Copper”.  The snails and the algae eater were put in the flower bed, as my daughter wanted to keep the shells. (I figured after the sun and bugs and bacteria broke them down, we could retrieve them).  “Goldie” was solemnly burried by our front yard tree “Maple” so she could become part of the earth and live on forever as part of “Maple”.  My daughter was really sad and put flower petals on the grave and said some prayers.

The day after that, we saw gross sores on Copper and thread-like things hanging off of him.  After a quick internet search, we learned they were anchor worms, a kind of parasite that latches onto the fish through their skin and leaves them open to infection.

Update 7/24- J’s sister picked up some medicine for the fish on the way to meeting us at Dave and Buster’s for his parents’ birthday celebration.  We have been treating the tank and pulling off the anchor worms with tweezers and the fish seem to be ok at this point.  We have learned our lesson about contagion and will keep any future new fish separate in a quarantine tank for a while before adding them to the mix.

Gutter and Bees

Our front gutter has been pulling away from the house for a while now and J. decided he would take it down and fix it.  After seeing how things have been built/repaired in this house in the past, he was not all that surprised to see that they didn’t hang the gutter on an actual piece of wood, but on a left-over piece of panelling from the family room, maybe 1/4″ thick?  It had gotten wet and was rotting through, unable to hold up the gutter.

Here is the progress.

Behind it, he found a bird’s nest and a bunch of bee hives which he took down.

Being the cool mom that I am, I gave each kid one for their collections.  Being the naive mom that I am, I didn’t realize there were still bees in them…until my daughter said there was a bee in her room and I found this! 

Good thing the lid was closed ’till then.

We quickly took them outside.  For those who also didn’t know- if the hive has that papery covering still on it, there are bees in there!

Here is one I pulled out who was already dead.

Also, the new couch and table on the front porch were generously given to us by one of the local AP families.  I am going to repaint the black metal part and see if I can pull together some new cushion covers. 

Updated to add that I have since learned that these are not bees, but wasps (hornets to be exact). My bad!

Circuits Set

I picked up a circuit set called “Digital Recording Lab” at the thrift store and had to get it out after the kids overheard me telling J. about it.  It was only $3.95 and had all the parts!  Basically it is one unit that comes with a built in battery compartment, capacitors, resistors, LEDS’s, a circuit board, and more along with a bunch of wires that go into metal springs to actually connect the circuits you build.  I learned more as we built a simple circuit with 4 wires to light up an LED than I had understood from my high school and college courses.  The book that comes with it is fantastic and I think it will grow nicely with us as the kids get older. 

I did hook up one of the advanced ones myself for the kids to play with- it has a microphone that records you speaking when you push “record” and then plays it back when you push the “play” button.  Fun, fun, fun!  My kids are very silly 🙂

“I Spy” a Quilt

The kids and I have been hanging out with friends lately and while they play, I have been trying to work on some of my craft stuff.  Recently, I have been cutting out lots of fabric squares for an “I spy” quilt.  One of the homeschooling families we know just adopted a baby from Vietnam and I wanted to do something special to welcome her home.  Here is the quilt in progress.

Squares, squares, everywhere:

Finding out I am short a 9-patch:

My daughter testing it out and making it fluffier 🙂  :



I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it it and as much as the kids have been enjoying playing with it!

The book I made it from is called “Picture Play Quilts” by Ami Simms.  I changed the pattern slightly so that I could make it a rag quilt and avoid doing “actual” quilting.  Basically you just add a 1/2″ inch seam allowance to each block instead of 1/4″ and then sew all the seams toward one side of the quilt.  When it is done, you clip the seams and let them fray and get soft in the washer and dryer.  The book also has many suggestions for games to play with the quilt- from simple naming things and searching for them, to  “I spy”, scavenger hunt, matching similar items, telling stories based on the patches, and more.</