We just got back from the annual homeschool gathering at the Kalahari Waterpark. It was busier than ever for us with both kids attending lots of stuff.

Swimming in the wave pool.

Carnival with face paint and hairspray. Zombie tag was that night as well.

Playing in the room. The kids took turned being “stuck” in the trash can until the other kids tipped them over so they could get out, lol.

Minecraft funshop.

Monday was the opening speaker. my son and I went and we met several people there, including the family who ran this funshop.

Hula hooping funshop.

Gangnam Style Just Dance funshop.

Lots of water slides! Everyone has done the toilet bowl ride now but me.

Henna night.

The marketplace. My daughter sold over 25 of her things and both kids eagerly supported the other vendors!

Birthday party for a friend 🙂

The dance. It was dark, lol.

We also had lots of good food, visited the arcade, played games, and hung out with wonderful friends.

Can’t wait to do it again.

Here are 2 more pictures from the sale:

Lego Land

One of the big reasons we went to Florida was to check out Lego Land. It was ridiculously expensive, but it was a perfect fit for our kids. The Lego structures everywhere you look are fantastic and the rides, especially the coasters, were just right for our kids’ thrill-seeking level as well as their waiting in line tolerance level. The lines were incredibly short!

Mini- land was incredibly detailed and cool. The food was pretty good. We could have easily stayed a few more hours to see more, but the park closes at 5:00 in the winter.


“There are corpses everywhere!”, “It’s a giant graveyard!”

That is what my kids had to say the first day we hit the beach in Florida as a family this year. And they were right. Lucky for me, corpses and the circle of life didn’t seem to bug them too much!

Huge clam shells

Horseshoe Crab remains



Part of a stingray


Bones and shell keepsakes

More shells being sorted

Sea shell guide from the condo


Book 4 of the Magic Tree House books is about Pirates, so we have been doing Pirate-y things.

The kids worked together with me to build a giant cardboard pirate ship and a rowboat from cardboard in the basement. It is based on some creations we saw on the internet along with one of my daughter’s drawings. They also made weapons, dug out costumes, and started thinking up the plot for a pirate play we will write.

We played Pirate-y games.

We learned about pirate words and about maps.

There was pirate art.

There were pirate books and magazines.

Pirate websites.

We saw videos about maps.

We got to play pirate mini-golf!

And we got to see Lego pirate ships!

My daughter liked seeing the British uniforms.

We also listened to Treasure Island on audiobooks as well as a pirate Geronimo Stilton book.

We watched all 4 Pirates of the Carribean movies.

We also saw a History Channel production about pirate ships and some of the most famous pirates.

Renaissance Festival

Yesterday we went to a Renaissance Festival south of Columbus. The site where it was held was magnificent- several acres of stone and wooden buildings, roadways, games, and human-powered rides.

We started off with games and rides.

The costumes people were wearing were spectacular and many folks stopped and chatted with us and showed off their claws, swords, helmets, etc.

The shops were full of unique finds. The kids settled on wooden swords and shields for mementos.

Here are some of the buildings and a yarn-bombed tree.

The kids ran through a giant maze that ended with a slide and folks shared some funnel cakes.

My son met an early death.

And had a magical reawakening.

J. and I became royalty.

And we exited the castle with plans to return.


A friend posted a link on Facebook a while back about a Lego Kingdom exhibit At COSI in Columbus. We headed down to check it out with some friends.

While the pre built Lego displays were really cool, the hands on parts were not that exciting for my kids as we own tons of Legos. Lucky for us, the rest of the museum was great and they found lots to explore and do. The 5 kids checked out the “Adventure” puzzle exhibit while us adults had some time to chat. Inside were obstacle courses and codes and helpful volunteers. All of the kids came out jumping and happy and wanting to try it again sometime.

We had beautiful weather to hit the courtyard.

The “Space” section was well done, especially the remote control rovers and mechanical arms. The kids worked together to gather up little balls.

We saw how particle size changed the way iron bits were affected by magnets. The nano particles acted like a liquid, flowing in blobs and jumping from one magnet to another.

The kids were happy to make fun of the things us “old” people grew up with in the section on the past.

We stayed till closing time and then headed out for dinner and then back to the hotel for a swim.

PA Trip Day 3

Today was our final day. We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. We spent 4 hours checking it out which is way more time than I expected based on the zoo map. The lemurs were super active which was exciting after passing by the large cats, giraffe, and elephants that might as well have been sleeping. From there, it was all uphill! Exhibits that the kids could climb through were very well done, especially the touch tank for the rays and the tunnel network for the meerkats. The aquarium in general was much better than I expected and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The polar bear and the sea lions were active and we got to see and hear a baby sea otter (ouch my ears).

The kids loved our trip and want to go back!

PA Trip Day 2

Today we got up early for the hotel breakfast and headed off to the Carnegie Natural History Museum and Art Museum. We spent over four hours at the Nat. History Museum and were too tired to check out the Art Museum half. The Museum was really great. The kids both enjoyed checking out the exhibits and we got lots of one on one attention from the staff as the place was nearly empty.

Both kids agreed that this hands-on paleontology pit was the best attraction in the museum. There are replica skeletons of ancient mammals and dinosaurs encased in soft rock that the kids actually got to work on with chisels and brushes. They learned that it isn’t as easy as it looks!

The staff shared lots of specimens with us and we got to look through the boxes that are normally sent out to schools. We got to touch and compare lots of different animal pelts. It was amazing how soft the sea otter fur was. I expected it to be more coarse, like a beaver’s.

We took a break for lunch and then checked out animal exhibits from around the world, the Egyptian display, Native Americans, the Polar regions, and finally the hands-on Discovery Room in the basement.

Heading out through the sculpture garden. My son wanted to be “The Thinker”.

Pics from NC

I didn’t put these up during the week, so here they are in one post.

The weather was stormy for most of the week but we managed to hit the beach a few times. 6 of us went jet skiing and our kids loved it even though it rained on us a bit and 3 of us got dumped into the water! A few of us checked out the outdoor pool and made up some games to play in the pouring rain. Lots of board games and card games were played including Timeline, Dominos, Texas Hold ‘Em, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Eucher, Boggle, 5 Crowns, Set, and more. The pool table worked for Billiards and as a place to solve jigsaw puzzles. The kids played games, built with Legos, used their iPods, played Minecraft, and in general hung out together and with us. People worked together to cook and clean up and the food was terrific as usual 🙂

Entertainment Away From Home.

We walked to the local Target and made a trip out to a dollar store to pick up a few things to keep us occupied while in the hotel.

Legos, Play-doh, art stuff, a puzzle, and some cheap play sets did the trick.




My daughter’s picks, LOL (she had the guy in the dollar store smiling):


Also- hotels rock for our kids simply because they have a swimming pool and hot tub.



Garden of the Gods

We went to the Garden of the Gods together as a family today. It was a bit chilly and windy, but we got in a quick walk. Things have definitely changed since I was there a few decades ago. Most of the rock faces are fenced off and you are not allowed to touch or climb them. We found a few small spots we were allowed to explore and saw some trained climbers going up and down in a few high spots.










Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

We had a blast today at the zoo with another homeschooling family. They have a 9 yo daughter and everyone got along well. We got to see animals that aren’t in the zoos back home. I even got to feed the giraffes! The kids were taken by the wandering peacocks and even got to touch one.






It was in the 70’s and I wound up getting a little sunburned. Colorado definitely has the sunshine in the “plus column”.

Our Home Away from Home

We got to the hotel around dinner time last night and got everyone settled in the suite while we ordered food from the restaurant next door.



Today was a busy day. We dropped J. off at work, found a thrift store to get a sweatshirt for my daughter, hit the grocery store to set up the fridge, and went to a homeschool gymnastics “Open Gym”.

My daughter trying on funny hats at the thrift store:


Here is a video from the Open Gym. The kids had a blast doing flips and jumping on the trampolines, flying on the trapeze bar and other gadgets, and jumping into the foam pits.

Possible Relocation

On Valentines day, J. was asked if he would think about relocating to Colorado Springs for his job. Not quite the gift I was looking for, but it was an idea worthy of attention and discussion.

After we talked and decided we might actually consider it, his company arranged a trip out to Colorado Springs for our whole family for the first half of March so we would have time to explore the sights, check out neighborhoods, meet some other homeschoolers, etc.

We got in yesterday and had time to hit the Denver Aquarium before driving to the hotel in Colorado Springs.

Airport pictures after traveling for 7 hours.



Pictures from the aquarium (which was awesome by the way):

There was a long line, but the folks knew what they were doing and had a bubble machine to occupy/distract kids while parents bought the tickets.







My daughter took tons of video with the Flip camera.
Here she is shooting video:

Here is a link to her actual video!



These are the brightest sea stars I have ever seen.




There are tigers at this aquarium.




Cool viewing windows in the floor.



Touch Tank.