Thursday, April 30, 2009

Date Night

Some people like to spend an evening with their husbands over a bottle of wine. I on the other hand opt to spend our time over a good IV of fluids to help bring my rediculous fever down. I could have gone to the doctor's alone when they insisted over the phone that I come in right now. But he came with me trying to make me laugh under the blue mask they put on my face out of precautionary fear.
The outcome was only a virus that just hit me very hard. Nothing that time, Advil, and some Ben and Jerry's wont cure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Contact Information

Feel free to contact me for any reason-- general comments, pitches, ideas, questions...

Wordless Wednesday: Airborne

Nothing beats bouncing on a bed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quiet Contemplation

After an unusually rough morning, Meg got some quiet time to think things over while comforted by a double dip strawberry ice-cream cone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cooling Off and Reflecting On Homeschooling

We spent the day at a local favorite park today which has the most fantastic creek. Michael spent the day building a dam and waterfall. Meg alternated between playing on the playground and walking through the creek.

This creek always brings out the inner scientist in my kids as they probe for answers to questions like: What attracts and repels water bugs? How can I make the dam stronger? And what will the effect of the weather be on the dam over the next week? Often their own explorations and self directed learning outshines anything I could present from a curriculum.

Its days like this when I know homeschooling makes a tremendous difference in their lives. On the way home from the park today we passed a playground which was empty as recess was long over. The playground seemed so desolate, quite the juxtaposition of the park I just left which was filled with homeschoolers. It crossed my mind that it was such a waste of a playground; used probably only 30 minutes a day seasonally. Then I thought about the children and their fleeting childhood. I suddenly felt so proud that my kids are able to enjoy their childhood fully and without the time parameters of going to school. We did not need to wait for school to be over to experience this fantastic day in the creek--it was part of our school day. We played and learned simultaneously, effortlessly, and simply.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend RoundUp: Summer in April

What is up with the Syracuse weather?? Wow.

We started the weekend with Meg's softball which we had to leave early after 1 hour. The heat was so intense on the field and we were soo not used to warmth that Meg felt sick. Amazingly, Syracuse was sporting 80 plus degree weather at 10:00am- this after snow flurries just a few days ago.

We came home to a favorite activity-- a big BBQ of neighbors at our house. We do this very frequently and it was so much fun. We had about 30 people, Pete at the helm, BBQing and cooking his specialty: clams and mussles. The kids were roasting so we let them swim in the hot tub which got turned down to about 93 degrees. Our good time raged on from 3 until 1am. The Dads were hootin' and hollaring while playing dice in garage after the winds blew in long after the kids had gone to bed.
Today, we spent our day at Bass Lake Resort, checking out a camping membership and we are very excited. It is about 30 miles from our house and has everything a campground should have: pools, boat rentals, a bass stocked lake, tons of activities, mini-golf, and on and on. Better yet, they have RVs you can rent and even places for you to park one seasonally. We hope to get one next year so this will be its home. Until then, that new Coleman tent I got is going to get a workout!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Phase 1: Square Foot Garden

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Slight Redesign

I had been itching to redesign a bit here and spent the morning playing around. The result- some monkeys ( and a bit of a cleaner layout.) Thanks to Laura for putting the bug in my head after she did a redesign on her blog and to Lindsey for further fueling my blog redesign obsession by letting me help her tweek her new blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Job at Hand

Well, while we were off camping this weekend, my husband kindly tilled the gardens for me to get them ready for planting. The soil is rich and ready, the temperature finally seems to be at rest above freezing, and its Earth Day: the perfect time to plant the garden.

I will be following the Square Foot Gardening principle this year and am eager to see if it works as well as all say it does. The greenhouse will be reserved for tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and cucumbers.

The back wall of the garden will be planted today with blueberry and raspberry bushes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our First Camping Trip of the Season Completed

It was a fantastic weekend in Highland Forest. We went camping with 5 other homeschooling families from our network. It is so nice to spend time with people who are like-minded and similar.
The weather was perfect! The kids had a great time hiking, letterboxing, building forts, and scavenging the pond for minnows and frogs. The views from Highland are spectacular. It was a great 2 1/2 days that ended all too soon. We cant wait to do it again!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Modern Family

What is a modern family? Is it the typical nuclear family? Is it the single parent? What about someone like me who is homeschooling? Am I a modern parent? The truth is...we ALL are.

I recently found a really cool website that offers a lot of good and interesting information for parents. Modern Family has many articles and resources that can be useful for a wide variety of parents. I loved their tutorial on How To Make Play Dough. And I was also a big fan of the article that detailed 8 ways to have fun for ... FREE!!
Their site is worth checking out for parenting advice and information. So for anyone considering themselves part of a Modern Family, go check out their site. You'll be glad you did.
Modern family

Dressed for Dinner

With creme eyeshadow in her lashes and glitter lipstick on her lips, she sits down to a fabulous chicken nugget and carrot dinner.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strong National Museum of Play

Strong National Museum of Play is a favorite spot for us and well worth the hour drive.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meg Takes the Softball World by Storm

Meg's first day on her softball team--it was 36 degrees for the whole two hour practice, hence the scarf.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How to Lose Your Child At The Mall For A Minute

First, take children to Cold Stone Creamery on a very busy day.
Next exit ice-cream shop with cups of ice-cream and head for the escalator.
Realize your kids shouldn’t be holding ice-creams on the escalator for safety reasons and offer to hold them for them.
Juggle three bowls of ice-cream in one hand and a bag of take-home for your husband and your four year olds hand in the other.
Tell your newly 6 year old to "grab on " to your shirt as you approach escalator. Get on the escalator and start descending.
Turn around to see your son frozen at the top of the escalator but not on the escalator.
Beg him to just get on, watch his eyes well with tears as you further descend unable to re-climb the escalator to reach him.
Have a heart attack.
Try to maintain eye contact. Panic the minute you lose sight of him as you reach the first level.
Go down the escalator and run to the up escalator.
Climb feverishly (but while trying to look calm) and see he has not flinched from his original position.
Embrace. Eat ice-cream.
Head for the stairs.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Children and TLC's "Table for 12" TV Show Collide at the MOST

What’s that saying about the best laid plans? We had a really nice day planned today. We were meeting about 5 other homeschooling families at the MOST for a morning of fun. We’d be leaving at noon so it would be a nice two hour block of time with friends. We were looking for something that would soothe our somewhat frazzled emotions with Dad out of town.

Well, saying it didn’t go as planned is really an understatement. After we paid for our admission (without anyone mentioning anything about a tv show) and started walking down the hall, we were greeted by a super cheery TLC producer who informed us that the TLC show “Table for 12” (described as a John and Kate Plus 8 spinoff) would be filming their season finally here and that we may end up on film and pointed in the direction of the little sign that if you enter you agree to be potentially on the show. Cool I thought-might be fun to see. Nope-not really.

So obviously there’s twelve in this family-fine, cool, good. But that wasn’t really the problem. It was the apparent 20 or so TLC camera men, audio people and producers that really mucked up the day. I do understand that you are filming a TV show, I do get that; however the little kids that are getting stepped on and pushed aside who actually paid to attend the museum don’t get that. About halfway through this I started getting a bit annoyed. We kept kind of moving to get away from the throng of camera people as Meg was getting increasingly scared of all the lights and the boom mikes and so on. We were in the cave section and doing some excavating when the entire production moved in and nearly swallowed my kids whole. The TLC people were so concerned with getting their shots that Meg got stepped on twice by camera men (who didn’t even budge I guess for fear of a shaky shot or something). My son got trapped in the excavation pit becuase the camera men all stood ontop of the stone miniwalls that surround the pit preventing him from exiting. He even said excuse me several times and nothing. I eventually had to lean in and pick him up and out over the camera man who didn't want to move since he was filming. Filming:fine--Blocking exit from scared kids not on the show: not fine. Then there were the two women who while following the clan stopped to have a conversation in between Michael and Meagan and the exhibit they were looking at (the kids were like three feet away so they could see it and they stood right in front of them). People stood in front of my kids while they were working on something , they stepped on my kids while filming and walking, and they bumped into and off of us like bumper cars.

But even more disturbing was the apparent attitude of the production crew that this was their day at the museum and all the other people (us) were in their way. I don’t blame the kids of the show because they are kids and they were being shown that this was their gig and there’s no reason not to step in front of another child who is doing something and take over because the cameras follow them as they do so and help further nudge any *non show* people right out of the exhibit. (Unless it made a good shot then the non-show people could stay). In the pics below Michael and Meg are excavating and then --WHAM!! tv show swoops in
So we left early. Meagan in tears frightened of the scary camera and light people and Michael frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t seem to escape the mayhem and enjoy the museum.
My message to the MOST and any other establishment taking part in reality television filming: Please… let the paying patrons know of the disruption before they pay so they can make an educated decision **or** allow a free or discounted fee for those patrons who may have their visit impacted by a television show filming.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Newest Addiction: The Library

There was a time when my kids thought the “library” was Barnes and Noble. You go, pick out a book, mom swipes that handy plastic card and –viola!--You have a new book. When they were younger I didn’t want to ever take them to the real library because I didn’t really think they could handle it. I mean think about it from a toddlers point-of-view. "Here Honey, Have a new book—do you love the book—isn’t the book great—what a super book—ok lets go give the book back!" Too much emotional drama for me, so I waited.

I’m glad I did. They now understand the idea of lending, borrowing and sharing. They have the necessary responsibility to care for and not lose something we are only borrowing. They understand it too as a way of economizing.

Michael is hooked on Judy Blume (as I was) and we just blew through the Pain and the Great One series. We are now venturing into the Cam Jansen Mysteries. Meg on the other hand enjoyed the Pain and the Great One but is a sucker for a good-old-fashioned SpongeBob book. Me? I'll take a good gardening book anytime.

Each time we go, they are in charge of checking out their own books which is all done through a great computerized self-check out at our library system. We are currently going weekly, or as soon as Mom can read the books at bedtime. Michael is usually begging for me to read 5 chapters a night which goes against my whole chapter-a-night offering. But I cave in, it is after all learning to love reading.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

To CSA or Not to CSA....That is the Question

It’s a big question too. For those not in *the know* , CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you join a CSA, typically you pay a set block of money for a season to a farmer. Then each week, you are provided with a large bountiful bag or basket of varied produce and herbs all hand selected by the farmer. You in turn get very fresh produce, eliminate the middle man and all the mark ups, and actually build a relationship with the person who is growing your food.

CSAs can vary greatly and some include eggs or dairy too. The downside, if there is one in the CSA program, is that you get a variety of produce whether you like all varieties or not. This leads me to my dilemma: Do I join a CSA or not? This question has taunted me for two years.
We don’t have the most varied tastes over here and while I want desperately to join a CSA I fear wasting good food. I wonder then how much additional will I pay at the farmers market to supplement my CSA membership with extra amounts of the things we like. So should I join a CSA or do I just commit to weekly adventures at the Farmers Market (which I do love anyway).

Here are some of the CSA programs I am looking at.
Common Thread Community Farm
Wyllie Fox Farm

Stones Throw Farm

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thank Goodness I Wasn't Slated to Win a Good Parenting Award Today

Did you ever have one of those days where you thought—Wow-- I REALLY sucked at parenting today. That summarizes my day today. We started off the morning saying good-bye to Dad, who is off to Arizona for the week for business and ended the day somewhat crying ourselves to sleep because of all that happened in-between.
I won’t bore you with the details but it involved Dad going on a trip, tent shopping involving five stores and 3 arguments, tent assembly with incorrect directions, three cats sitting atop said tent, an unexpected drop in visitor mid tent-assembly, tent repackaging (how did they get it in this carry bag in the first place??), a messy house, and three loads of laundry waiting desperately to be folded and put away.
All in all the kids were emotional disasters and I lacked the necessary parenting skills and patience to help them through the day. Instead of helping-I added to the turmoil with what was my own emotional garbage.
Yuk—what a day. I’m actually embarrassed to recall the details of my poor behavior. I know tomorrow will be another chance, a chance for me to do better, a chance for me to redeem myself. Now if I could only get to sleep so tomorrow could come.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our New Home Away from Home-Set Up in Our Home

Seriously--it didnt look this big in the store. After looking at a ton of tents in super-sized super stores, they all start to look of average size until you bring it home and set it up in your family room.
This darling little tent is the Coleman Max Cabin tent and measures 10x14 and it 7.5 tall. Believe it or not--I was able to set up this beast by myself and the "help" of a six year old and a four and a half year old. But yes, I broke a sweat and will count it as my cardio for today.
The tent buying process was way too long and way too hard. I wanted something spacious (obviously) but I was really hooked on the superior weather features that seemed to go only with Coleman. I read every review known to man and think I made the right choice. I will just to be on the safe side, buy an additional tarp for the top to "help" the rainfly if needed. However if weather is that bad, we'd sleep in the back of the minivan on the air mattress which is where we camped before owning a tent.
We plan on doing about 10 trips this year in this tent (not counting our first camping experience in it tonight in the family room). Lets see how tonight goes....

A Sunday Post to Honor (or make fun of) You, Our Readers

One of Michael's favorite things to do is to log on to SiteMeter and see who's been reading our blog. Its fun because they provide a world map and dot the places your readers live in. He loves to hear the various countries and states all over that have found our humble little blog. Its fun , and a little creepy too. Because--wow--there are alot of you out there reading about us. I mean hey- I knew we were interesting ... but not that interesting!

Another fun little feature of SiteMeter shows me how you found us. Did you link in from Twitter, Facebook, my homeschooling group? Did another blog send you my way? Or did a Google Search light the path to our blog. The Google searches usually end up being the most "unique" visitors out there. Here are the top 5 Google search terms that people actually typed in and tried finding a website on: "Free Monkeys", "Monkeys in a Cage", "Voyuerism and Monkeys" (what??), and "Freezing Bread Dough".

I am thankful that my little searcher looking for information on freezing bread dough found me and the information she was looking for. Its the others that I find a bit concerning-- especially the interesting little bird looking for "Monkey Voyuerism"...isnt that available --at a zoo??

So anyway, thanks for reading. The kids and I enjoy the fact that you tune in to see what we are up to. We'll keep the blogs coming and I'm sure that we'll see more interesting Google Searches that lead the weirdos--I mean readers, right here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring is Getting Closer to Making a Permanent Appearance in Syracuse

(Sung in my best "It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas" voice...)

Its beginning to look a lot like springtime...
Everywhere you go,
Take a look at Home Depot, a shovel and a hoe
Lawnmovers and tillers on the go..

Its beginning to look a lot like springtime,
Seeds in every store,
But the prettiest sight you'll see is the bulbs that will be
Spoutin' by your own front door.

(ok, maybe I inhaled some of that fertilizer I was spreading today...?)
Well, while I worked my tail off outside today pulling dead wood from the woods again, fertilizing the lawn, and prepping the vegetable garden, two monkeys had an impromptu picnic on the front lawn (before the fertilizer thank you) sponsored by McDonalds (chicken nuggetts and apple dippers and milk).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to Beat the Blues on A Cold and Dreary Spring Day

Simply dress up in a pink frilly costume with a tutu and play Candy Land (Dora Edition) with yourself.

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