Monday, January 13, 2014

Rockets and the moon.

Grayson's new interest. Rockets, astronauts, the moon, the planets, stars, and Abraham Lincoln. Yeah, that last one is a bit one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others.

He's still really into dinosaurs, but he got more into the space-themed interests on Astronomer's New Year (the day that the earth is closest to the sun in its rotation). Abraham Lincoln he picked out randomly from a picture list of the presidents. The man does have a stand-out beard.

Here are some cool resources we've looked at frequently over the last week.

The Ebb spacecraft, which has been orbiting around the moon, crashed into a moon mountain in December. This link, at Wired Science, has video footage as it comes in close to the moon's surface. Fascinating. We found it looking for information about the moon's craters.

This page (at has a great gif of the sun, good information, and some interesting videos. Grayson drank it all in.

This page (at has more information than you thought you needed about the moon and its craters.

This page has video footage of a meteor smashing into the moon in 2013. Very cool.

This Indian educational video about the moon had Grayson spellbound.

This video shows a rocket launch. Gray stayed tuned for the whole 11 minutes, but if you want the highlights, the rocket launches at 1:25, the first fuel tanks fall off at 3:37, and the rocket detaches at the 10:00 mark.

Now I can close all of my tabs on my browser and just come here for the links!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hannah's 2013 interview.

Inspired by Stephanie at Ordinary Life Magic, I did interviews with my kids this week. I used most of her questions, discarded some, and added some. Next year I'll drop some of these and add a few more.

It was hilarious and enlightening and not always comfortable.

Here is Hannah's transcript.

1. What is something I always say to you?
“Hannah is that what you want to be doing today? Is there anything that you want to do today? Or tomorrow?”

Are you glad I ask you those things?

“I’m glad you ask me sometimes and other times it annoys me.”

When does it annoy you?

“When it feels like you don’t see why I’m doing it – like when I don’t feel good – or sometimes you don’t see what is good in what I’m doing and I wish you did.”
(She’s talking about when she went through a phase of loving the Disney show Jessie.)

2. What makes me happy?

“People helping you out around the house and keeping the house clean.”
(This answer REALLY surprised me.)

What makes YOU happy?

“The right type of music. Pie. Cupcakes. Brownies. Brownies make you happy too.”

3. What makes me sad?

“When your dog dies. Staying up late. Well, actually it’s sleeping in because you stayed up late.
Sometimes when you’re wanting us to be into a craft and we aren’t you can get sad.
Stuff getting ruined 5 seconds after you buy it.”

4. How do I make you laugh?

“Scaring me. That’s always good fun. Good jokes. “

5. What was I like as a child?

“I know that you had nightmares about your mom. I know that your mom really liked Christmas.”

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

“Do stuff with your kids.”

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

“That depends. Well... Am I ever not around? Oh, once, years ago, Daddy took me to Grandma’s house and you and Ainsley stayed home and you took her to a museum and learned stuff about frogs. Other than that, I don’t know. I try not to snoop too much.”

10. If I become famous, what will it be for? 

“Probably the biggest personal library ever.”

If you become famous, what will it be for?

“Probably for violin or piano. But I need to practice a LOT more.”

11. What am I really good at?

“You’re really good at reading, spelling, and making boo-boos go away. You’re really good at making people happy.”

What are you really good at?

“I feel like I’m really good at music and cooking. I feel like I have a knack for it. I also have a big vocabulary.”

12. What am I not very good at?

“You are not really good at parkour. Like, you’re really bad.”

What are you not very good at?

“I am not very good with Windows 8 on my new computer. It’s my nemesis.”

13. What do I do for a job?

“You do medical transcription.”

14.What is my favorite food?

“Your favorite food is brownies.”

15. What makes you proud of me?

“Just you being you.”

But that’s not a thing!

“I know, but I don’t want you to think you have only one particular quality. But if I had to pick one it’s that you work really hard and try to complete stuff.”

16. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?

“You want me to tell you who Zander would be? The Sparky Sparky Boom Boom guy in Avatar. The one who blows everyone up.”

OK, but what about me?

“Speaking of cartoon characters, know what bugs me? Why Cookie Monster doesn’t eat cookies all the time anymore. Why they make him eat vegetables all the time now. He’s Cookie. Monster. COOKIE. Monster. Not Vegetable Monster, not Make Parents Happy Monster. He’s COOKIE Monster.”

*give her a look*

“OK, does it have to be a cartoon character or can it be any movie character?”

Anybody, I guess?

“OK, then it would be Annie. She has a hard time but she thinks about other people and tries to help them out and works toward her goal of finding her parents. Well, you know who your parents are, but you work towards your goals"

17. What do you and I do together?

“Out of all the things we do together, we probably go to restaurants on Mommy and Daughter dates and do crafts together the most."

18. How are you and I the same?

“We have a lot of the same temperament. We have the same hair color. We’re both human, so we have the same bodies. “

19. How are you and I different?

“I guess I have an easier time with my temperament because you’re helping me while I’m growing up and you’re having to learn it yourself at the same time.”

20. How do you know I love you?

“You give me hugs and kisses.

You know who Zander would be if he were an animal? A rhinoceros. You know, because he charges around everywhere.

Oh, sorry, what was your question?

That’s another way we’re the same. My brain keeps bouncing back and forth.”

How do you know I love you?

“I guess I just know. It’s hard to miss. It’s just in my cells.”

21.  What is the greatest thing about your life?

“My life.”


“My life. It’s just great.”

Can you pinpoint anything? Close your eyes and picture the best thing.



*giggles hysterically*
“My family. Bella. (Starts tearing up.) She’s still a good thing about my life even if she’s gone.”

22.  What is something in your life you'd like to get rid of?

“Our small house. I’d really like to get into a big house.

If I could get rid of something else, I’d probably try to get rid of Dad’s farts. Are you with me?”

23.  If I could be with you more, what would you like for us to do?

“We’d probably have way more Mommy-Daughter dates. I’d really like that.”

What do you like about Mommy-Daughter dates?

“We get to be just the two of us and bond more. “

What would you like to do on the Mommy-Daughter dates?

“Just be together.”

24.  Would you like to do more fun things, or less fun things than we do now?

“I think I’d like to do more fun things. I think I’d like to do crafts and stuff like that.”

But a lot of times when I suggest crafts, you don’t want to do them.

“It’s because the craft room is so unorganized and cluttered. It saps my will to live. I mean create. It saps my will to create.”

25.  How is your life different from other people your age?

“I don’t go to school.”

26.  How would you change your life, if you could?

“I’d change it so Bella would be back. I’d make our family rich.”

Why would you make our family rich?

“Well, because we have a few limitations on our homeschooling because of it, so I think if we were rich, we’d be able to expand ourselves.”

What would you do if you were rich?

“I’d get some cool craft supplies. Dad wants to get a motorcycle, so I’d get him that. And he wouldn’t have to work, so that would be great. I’d travel to Paris, France. Plus, I’d be going to Hawaii and Ireland and searching for the famous Loch Ness Monster.”

27.  What's the greatest thing about your family?

“We laugh together a LOT. We don’t fight very much at all. I’m not saying we don’t get upset with each other, but we treat each other nice and my friends have a lot of problems in their families and they love their parents but they don’t LIKE them and that makes me sad.”

28.  The worst (thing about your family)?

“The fact that our attitudes are totally different. Well, that’s actually a good thing because we see things from different angles which makes us all have a better life. But sometimes it can be bad when we clash like when Dad wants everything clean but Ainsley and Zander are like “CHARGE!!!” and spreading mess everywhere. But he is good at keeping the house clean, so that’s not too bad.”

29.  If you had more love in your life, that would mean....

“I’m not so sure if I COULD have more love in my life. You and Dad already love me to the limit.”

30. Is there anything you’d like to change about homeschooling?

“I’d really like to live somewhere that I don’t feel so cooped up. I’d like to live where there are more homeschoolers. That would be nice.”

Is there anything I can do while we’re in this house to help you with homeschooling?

“Give me a chore.”

Give you a chore?

“Yeah, like give me a chore that I’d have to do.”

How would that help homeschooling?

“It would help me get off my bed and get moving.”

Last words?
“Goodbye and this is the end.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

From poison confetti to mosaics.

Thursdays are the days we spend most of our time 'in town', a 45 minute drive away, for Hannah's violin lesson, library run, shopping, seeing family, going to the (only) museum. So we don't have much to say for these days, but today we:

1) We went to Hannah's violin lesson.

2) We played games for hours with a cousin. Pipe cleaners, yarn, and lace were made into guns, swords, poison confetti, smoke bombs, sleeping powder, handcuffs, and probably at least 3 other deadly items that I've forgotten.

3) We took Ainsley to a bookstore to get an early birthday present with the coupon they sent her. She used it to buy a stuffed puppy.

4) We survived a near-atomic meltdown from tired-growing-nothing-is-feeling-good-right-now toddler. Poor baby.

Here are some other highlights:

Zander was very proud of the helmet he made for when he rides his bike in the house. You can tell how much movement he can actually achieve on the bike - my border collie is asleep with her nose in front of the tire.

We've got these little piles of yarn wherever the girls have been sitting for the last 3 days. Hannah's loved braiding for years, but Ainsley just barely learned and she braids every time she sits still enough to hold three strands of yarn. So it's not often, but when she is sitting, she is braiding.

Ainsley and Hannah and I have been taking an art course (Bloom and Shine, Beauty Seekers) for the last two weeks, with daily assignments. It's been so fun to sit down with them each day for 10 or 15 minutes to do something that stretches me creatively. This time we were doing a mosaic from magazine pictures.

Mine was from National Geographic magazines.

Hannah's (on the left) is from a violin magazine, and Ainsley's (on the right) is from a girl scout magazine.

Zander's is just a big ol' pile of glue and paper.

It wore him right out. At 6 p.m. Which is why I have time tonight to write a blog post. I'm sitting here awake, waiting for him to get tired again after waking up from his nap at 9 p.m.

Our swimming pool is open until 10:30 p.m., and it's right across the park from our house, so when he woke up I took him over to see if he wanted to get in with his dad and siblings. Ainsley now has no problem passing the swim test to get in the deep end, Hannah can hold her breath almost 3/4 of the way across the pool, Grayson's practicing swimming on his back and can swim past where his feet touch, and Zander is jumping in whether you're ready or not. At 9:30, everyone was ready to come home and go right to bed - that's the good thing about swimming at night - everyone except for Zander.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In the deep end.

Today was a hot day. That didn't stop Gray from wearing his superhero long-sleeved shirt. I need to get him a short-sleeve one.

We ran through our library book list to see which books need to go back to the library, so a lot of the day was spent reading.

And playing with trains.

And setting up cello lessons for Ainsley.

And working on fashions.

Hannah said she had an idea that was 'too big for one piece of paper. I'll post the finished picture when she's done.

And cleaning the craft room. Which led to finding white t-shirts for the boys that were to be tie-dyed at the same time as the girls and I tie-dyed our Color Me Rad 5K t-shirts (which only looked brightly colored at the race and now look very dingy after having been washed). So we tie-dyed all of our shirts.

 And I realized that I bought my boys white shirts with cap sleeves. *sigh* I just won't tell them.

Tomorrow we get to rinse them out and see how they look.

We cut up a watermelon which caused lots of rejoicing.

Ainsley wrote a love letter to her daddy.

We went swimming. Twice. And Ainsley passed the swim test and is allowed in the deep DEEP end! (6 feet, but to them - and to their mama watching - that is deep!)

More books and bed for everyone but Ainsley, who played fashion games, mostly of the fairy variety. And then bed for her. And then bed for me.

Today we made a boat. It wasn't terribly seaworthy.

Today was a low-key kinda day. It started out slow and easy with reading and drawing and cars and trains ....

and the jump house. Ainsley used it as her fortune-telling tent with her kitty tarot cards.

Then Zander and Gray and I went to the pavilion across the road to practice scootering (Zander) and riding a bike without training wheels (Grayson). When the girls joined us with balloons, an hour-long water fight began.

Then it was back to the jump house for Ainsley, bike practice for Grayson, and playing with cars in the camp trailer for Zander. Hannah and I worked on one of the MAKE Summer Camp projects for this week, a soda pop bottle boat.

 We took it over to test in the swimming pool. We need to make some adjustments.

While we worked on the boat, Hannah and I talked about random things and had a really interesting conversation about what our country might look like if the Civil War had gone the other direction, or if it hadn't happened - if the Southern states had been allowed to leave and form their own country. We talked about me not meeting her daddy because I likely would have had to have gotten a passport to move to Idaho, whether or not slavery would still exist in the Confederacy, whether I would be racist, having been raised in the Confederacy, whether *I* would have even been raised in the South because my parents are both from Idaho, whether the Confederacy would be a lot richer than the Union due to the Southern states having the majority of the oil (this thought came about because I told her my family moved to Oklahoma because of my dad's job with an oil company).... it was a really interesting discussion.

After the pool, we had dinner, went for a walk with the dogs, read books, made sugar cookie dough for tomorrow morning, and everyone but Ainsley (my night owl) and Zander (who took a late nap) went to bed.

Ainsley and Zander played quietly outside while I read on the porch in the cool night air. One lovely thing about Idaho is how cool the evenings get, even after very hot days. Then Zander curled up beside me for 'hug time' and Ainsley sat beside me drawing in her ideas journal - a picture of us sitting on the porch. It was one of those moments when life just felt so good.

I cherish these unexpected moments with just one or two of my children.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lions and tigers and .... lemurs?

This morning we had a neighbor boy over who made a comment about how many stuffed animals we had.

Of course that led to us throwing all of our stuffed animals on the couch on top of everyone ...

and then sorting them to see what we had. How many kids can you see?


As you can see, 'mammals' won. Poor insects only had two - a caterpillar and a ladybug. (We use this website to create our graphs.)

We do have an odd assortment of animals. I wouldn't think most people would have a stuffed lemur, but we have four. I think we have a problem. Also, four turtles. And two walruses. A rhinoceros. Two coyotes. A hedgehog, an elk, five deer, a lobster, three crabs, and a manatee.

When you break them all down, we have more dogs than anything else.

After putting them all back in their hammocks, we went for our daily swim.

Then we pulled out our jump house and after a few hours of playing in that, Ainsley set up a bed.

There was a tea party.

 and hooping.

 Then we went for another swim. Our city pool is right across the park.

Then baths and books and bed.

Except for Ainsley who needed to study more of her Chinese words.

 I need to learn the Chinese word for 'sleep'.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Viewing the animals that came *before* dinosaurs.

A few months ago Hannah decide that she was interested in sharks. One of the shark books the librarian helped her pick out was actually about the Megalodon. When Hannah learned that sharks and their ancestors have been around longer than dinosaurs, she was hooked. We read everything we could find out about them.

This week we went to Wyoming to check on a job opportunity and were going to drive right by Fossil Butte National Monument, 'America's Aquarium in Stone'. We couldn't just drive by.

When you pull off the highway, you start to see signs along the road leading to the Visitor's Center. The signs announce different milestones in the history of life. As you get closer to the Visitor's Center, you get closer to the present time. So cool.

 Once you start on the sidewalk to the Visitor's Center, the signs get more frequent and more detailed. This goes all the way around the Center. It really brings home exactly how long this earth has been turning and how incredibly short our time on it has been.

This national monument is built with children in mind. Kids can go help on digs in the summer and the Visitor's Center has signs that say "Please Touch" everywhere. Hannah was in heaven.

This was a flannel wall that had dozens of different fish parts that you could use to make prehistoric fish.

Don't be fooled by his unimpressed expression. He asked me to take this picture.

There was a wall of turtle fossils, from tiny turtles (and babies) all the way up to a turtle that dwarfed me.

 The ranger on duty was fantastic - she said she loves being stationed here because she gets to talk to kids all day. We were the only ones there that day (yay homeschooling!) so Hannah got a personalized tour while the other two focused on what they were interested in.

For Ainsley that meant the souvenir shop and this fossil that she kept coming back to. She finally dragged me over and said in her proudest voice "I've figured out what this is, Momma! You know how leprechauns are magical creatures? So they have lived even longer than dinosaurs? This is a fossil of a leprechaun's butt."

When I stopped laughing I took the picture. So there you have it - proof that leprechauns have been around a long time.

Gray just walked around inspecting the paintings on the walls. He was fascinated.

I love this fossil - so many frail bones captured in stone. Beautiful.

And this crocodile-ish skeleton was a big hit.

This, however, was my favorite. This fossil will never not make me laugh. Poor little bird-ish thing. Caught running.
While I was buying a few things the kids did some crayon rubbings and got stamps for their National Parks Passports.
We only meant to stay a half hour - after all, Matt was waiting in the car with Zander who was napping - but we ended up staying for over an hour. We want to go back next summer if we still live close enough and participate in a dig. It's not the most exciting place for a dinosaur crazy kid, but for Hannah who is more into the pre-dinosaur sea life and for Ainsley who is apparently an expert on prehistoric magical creatures it was perfect.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What we've been learning this week:

The Great Fire of London.

More Pokemon games - a lot of math and social skills and risk-taking and risk-measuring and calculated thinking going on there.

Diet - learning about how different foods affect the different bodies in our family, about the tastes of different family members, about what foods blend well together, about matching what we want to eat to how much money we have.

I've been learning about Ainsley's constellations. They're quite different from the ones I know. Funnier. Better stories.

Costuming - figuring out Halloween costumes. Printing inspiration pictures, figuring out fabric yardage, shopping for patterns.

The size of an atom:

That's just cool.

More about Indy Cars than I thought I'd ever want to know. More to come, I'm sure.

Reading - proud girls reading whatever they can get their hands on, trying out their skills in every area of their life. Figuring out the little idiosyncrasies and funny tricks in the English language.

Conspiring with their Uncle Dale to find people that need our help.