Monday, June 30, 2008

Unplug Your Kids Group Project

Mom Unplugged has another Group Project going this Monday , as always.
Be sure to link over there if you join in
and check out all the participants while you enjoy your morning cuppa.
This week the theme is GARDEN !!!
Oh yes...we are so in.Princess and I love to garden. We have a family vegetable plot
in our backyard,
as well as at our local community garden at a nearby college,
we have flower beds, and a butterfly garden here at home as well.
We try to grow our own from seed as much a possible.
It has been one of the best "projects" we have ever undertaken as a family,
and I cannot tell people enough...GROW YOUR OWN FOOD!
Something, anything, it is so worth it. If you are really interested, you can check out
my garden blog here.
I think the recent food scares we have suffered as a nation only drive this point home further.
You can and should grow your own. You do not need a huge piece of property (we don't have one),
you do not need a location with full sun (we don't have one). You can grow something in pots, actually many
plants grow well in pots if you take the time to learn what it needs to survive (how much water,type of soil,etc).
Being in the garden together affords us so many opportunities for real learning, Princess is learning about all kinds
of insects (both beneficial and not) and other garden pests (just type in the word groundhog and you will see what I mean),she knows how to sow seeds and when and where to plant things, she can weed,water,harvest.

OK, for those of you with younger children, this may sound like a far off dream, but get them out there now anyway. Give them something to do (pick up all the rocks and put them in a bucket) show them a specific weed
to pull out and put in a bucket, and they will cause less damage. I am not going to lie to you..they will cause some.
But it gets better! Princess can now go out by herself and pick lettuce,green beans,asparagus and radishes etc
and bring them in for our meal. She can weed almost without supervision. This would not be the case today,if we did not include her when she was younger.You do not need a garden of your own to participate, so please do.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

National Backyard CampOut

was almost entirely rained out again this year.
We did get our tent up, and set up our campsite.
The thunderstorms came as we started dinner,
and we went inside to wait them out.
They stopped, the sun came out, and back outside we went
to make a fire for desert. S'mores? Mmmm, yes please.
Princess and Farmer Dad and I had a lovely time playing
Trouble and Uno in the tent. We snacked and laughed,
and the storms started rumbling again, so we headed inside.
By the time it ended, we were too tired to even go outside for our pillows,
so we stayed inside.
We did head out to listen to the birds early this morning,
it was lovely from inside the tent. I think we'll vacation here again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


and the living is least that is true if
you are the Prince and Princess of the Burbs.
We had dinner at my Grandmother's with some
of the family on Thursday night, and Friday was our friend's birthday,
so we went there for lunch and some splash time.
Her son,( known by my readers, as "the Prince")
and my daughter always play so nicely together. They will
tell you they are "best friends" and that they are getting married one day.
This was not one of those days. They were no in agreement in how to play
and so they bickered a bit more than usual for them.

They got over it just in time for it to be hard for us to leave,lol.
Princess fell asleep on the way home, and I carried her in to the house.
She stayed with Farmer Dad while I went to pick out some new "old" stuff
from a lady he met, and then he went to jam and we picked up dinner and hung
out at home playing and reading and watching the movie "Ant Billy".
It was a nice evening. This morning we had breakfast at my Grandmother's
before my Aunt headed back to Denver and then came home to set up our tent
for tonight's National Camp Out.
It was hot, so we came in for lunch. Our plan is to head outside after the Yankee game
the fire pit is ready to go and we have plenty of snacks on hand.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Great American Campout!

This Saturday, the National Wildlife Federation
invites you to join in on the 4th Annual
Great American Camp Out !!
We have our camp site set up...will you join us?
Here are some camping themed print outs,
Family Fun has some more here
as well as some great ideas for camping fun and recipes,
and here is another "get ready" guide for you.
Never been camping? Check this out.
It will probably be raining here in the Garden State,
but we will camp out in the living room if we have to.
Did I mention it's our 24th Anniversary?
Just think of the romance...the moon,
the stars, fire pit all aglow...smores over the fire..mosquitoes..
what..not your idea of romance? Well (WARNING..
it may not be for the faint of heart) , check this out.
I will post pictures of our camping adventures on Sunday,
assuming we are not attacked by Groundhogs in the backyard.;-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Organizationally challenged

...that's me. Or maybe, just maybe, Farmer Dad is correct,
and we have too much stuff for our little house.
The answer is unclear (to me) so I did the best I could,
and moved the abundance of stuff around.We moved the play kitchen
out of the kitchen and into the porch/schoolroom/3 season room.
I would like to sell it, but Princess is not ready for that.
We also moved the table and chairs into the living room.
We'll see how it all works for a while and then maybe move it some more.
I can live with the "stuff" she wants to keep for a bit longer.
We did discuss some of the stuff she is willing to part with, we'll be posting them on
Craig'sList this week. I try to get rid of something when we bring in something,
but it doesn't always work out. I indulge my Princess with toys from Freecycle,
when she is tired of them, we re-freecycle. If I find something good in the trash
or at a garage sale, we try to re-sell it when we're done with it (Farmer Dad will
tell you that's only so we can buy more). I love that her first thought when she wants
something is "can you find it for me on freecycle?" not "can we go to the store?"
Now there is room for the kitchen table we bought in the kitchen..
I still need to move a cabinet or two out of the kitchen, but I'm unsure where I should put them/it.
I have big dreams about how this will all pan out, but the reality is going to be with us for a while,
so I will not waste any more energy waiting. I will just do.
Sounds grown up..right?
I will get a new kitchen floor this is not too lofty a goal right? I don't want anything fancy,
some vinyl tiles...they are the same red as my table edging, which is why I had to have the table.
I would also like to rip out the soffits and remove the cabinet doors and paint the cabinets,
but we'll see. I do not need new cabinets, fancy counter tops and the like. I have found,
mine work fine. Would I like new? Maybe, but that is different isn't it? Do I like the idea of new so much that I would contribute to the landfill to get them? No. I really don't.
I would like to tear down the soffits to get that space to display my pitchers and such.
It felt good to make a bit of space and Princess and Farmer Dad played with her Lincoln Logs
most of the night. They started with this....and then ended with this.
Here is Pumpkin wondering why I moved "his" chair.
We did manage to do some "school" stuff this week, reading, spelling, maths...we baked brownies.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Book Post

Ella Sets the Stage

Ella wants to be a part of the talent show,if only she could figure out what her talent is.
Princess really enjoys the Ella books, and we had a lot of fun reading this together.

Tracking Trash
Flotsam,jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion
This book chronicles the development of scientific studies done
by Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer which follows trash found in the ocean
and how scientists are using the information to help preserve the oceans.

An Egg is Quiet
We have been waiting for this book to be available in
our library for quite some time.Princess has been enjoying looking at all the different types of eggs.
She especially loved the pictures of all the egg laying creatures in the back of the book.

Andrew's Angry Words
Andrew's sister trips over him and sends his toys
flying everywhere.He gets really angry and yells
the ugliest bunch of angry words anyone has ever
heard at her. She makes a call and yells the angry words
into the phone, Andrew (who regretted the angry words the moment they were shouted),
runs over to the friend's house to try to stop the words, and the story unfolds with him chasing
the ugly angry words all over.He finally finds a wise woman who puts an end to the ugly angry words,
and shows him how to retrace his steps and spread nice words instead.

Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree
Way up high in a rainforest tree, there is lots and lots to see.
This was a fun rhyming book filled with rainforest animals
From the same people who brought us
Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea, the book ends with the little girl
snug in her bunk bed surrounded by her stuffed animals.
We love using our imaginations around here,
so this is right up our alley.

One More Sheep
A great counting book.
O n a wild windy night, Sam brings home his sheep and tucks them up tight,
he starts to count them, but keeps falling asleep. Then, a knock on the door brings
one sheep more, or is it? The sheep try to keep him awake long enough to count them all and realize
this is a dangerous and cunning stranger..not one more sheep.

When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm
A cartoon prehistory of life long before dinosaurs.
We enjoyed going back to Pennsylvania 430 million years ago,
and then speeding up 80 million years to see how things changed.
Princess thought this was a pretty cool book.

FOLLOW THE LINE through the house
This was a fun book. We stepped inside a house and followed one long continuous line.
Picking a snack, trying on clothes. Scattered among the toys etc, are questions that
invite the young line followers to count, match colors, and types, identify shapes,
and use their imaginations.

This is a story about a father and a son and a big, raspberry-colored,
fun-loving, troublemaking best friend who brings them closer together.
Princess loves her imaginary friends, and we enjoyed this book.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Unplug Your Kids Group Project

This week's theme from Mom Unplugged,
is OLD.
I have been missing the projects a lot lately
for various "we've been busy" reasons,
but I stopped by Heather's blog this morning,
and saw her post, and thought "we are so in this week".
We love old around here. Farmer Dad and I enjoy collecting
"old" stuff. Furniture, dishes,glassware, books.
We use our "old" stuff every day.Princess is really starting to get into it too.
She loves checking out yard sales and keeps her eye peeled for the garbage
piles at the curb as we drive by, for the "good garbage".
This past Friday Princess and I stumbled upon an old kitchen table
here in town at a garage sale. The people had a battery powered ride on trike
near the curb, and Princess has been asking for one, so I stopped to find out the asking price.
The people had things inside as well, and while I waited for the gentleman to finish talking to another customer,
I noticed the table underneath all the coffee mugs and vases and picture frames before me.

It was marked $60.00, and I just thought...."I have to have this".
I asked how it opened, and the man showed me,
he also told me his wife would gladly take less money for it.
It belonged to her parents, and she had a picture of herself with her 1st b-day cake on it
and she is 70. As we went in search of his wife, he told me a dealer was just there, and told them a bit about the table (made in Newark)but said he didn't have room in his shop for such a big piece.
His wife told me she would sell it to me for $40.00, and they said we could pick up that night or on Saturday,
we loaded up the trike for Princess, I paid her and we exchanged numbers so I could arrange pick up.
I worried a bit when I arrived home that Farmer Dad might not like the table, but that feeling passed.
We picked it up Saturday afternoon, and the man told us the dealer had come back to buy it and was really ticked off that he had sold it. He offered them more money. The man said "sorry, it is already paid for."
He got quite a kick out of the dealer being upset. He told him that had he said he wanted it, he would have gladly held it, but he said no. Oh well..his loss, my gain. It will need to be cleaned up a lot, and it has a horrible paint job,
but Princess and I spent a couple of hours cleaning it on Sunday while Farmer Dad worked at the community garden plot.The chairs are in the garage to be cleaned and re-glued.How does this make it an "unplugged project" you ask? She turned off the T.V. to help me clean it up.
And isn't that the whole point of the "unplugged project"?
It is going to look great with our old dishes when it's done.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This week around this little Garden State Homeschool..

Friday found us Great Grandma-sitting.
Cousin S. dropped her off in the morning,
and we paid her bills, brought her to the bank
and stopped at a yard sale around the corner
after picking up lunch.We bought a trike for
princess, and an old kitchen table and chairs.
After we brought her home, we went to Target
for a few items, milk, cookies, gummy worms.
Princess and I spent the afternoon playing together
until Farmer Dad got home from work. He had plans
to jam with his friend, so we made plans to see our friends.
It was a nice evening filled with tree climbing,Wii playing,
bike riding and laughter.Today, we spent time up at the
Community Garden plot picking green beans,watering
and visiting with other gardeners.Farmer Dad went with me to
pick up the kitchen table (photos to come soon)
and another friend stopped by for some more jamming.
We had a nice dinner of green beans and pirogies, while
princess napped on the couch.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We have been pretty busy the last day or so, we had our homeschool play date on Tuesday,
and Wednesday we had friends over for lunch and lots of free play.We also painted, read lots of books,
did a science experiment/ tried to capture the ground hog/wood-chuck terrorizing our garden,
and just hung out enjoying the sound of the rain.

Today, we will try to keep an eye open for the ground hog and either deter or capture him
before he destroys again. We will also pick more berries and maybe drive up to the C. garden plot
to pick beans there.Princess wants to go sort laundry now, so I'm off. I hope to visit you all later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Book Post!!

I just couldn't get to it last week, so to make it up to you all (lol)
I will make this a longer book post than normal.

Hugo&Miles in I've Painted Everything
This book asks the question, "what happens when a very creative artist runs out of things to paint?"
Hugo, the artist in question, is in an elephunk, so he joins his friend Miles as he leaves their hometown
for a whirlwind trip to Paris (Princess was sooo into this idea).
They visit museums,parks and landmarks, and the very creative artist begins to see things in a very different way.
This was a very fun book!

Whale Port
Long before the invention of electricity or the discovery of
underground reservoirs of fossil fuels, people depended on whale oil to keep their lamps lit.
Through the fictional village of Tuckanucket, this book explores the history
of towns that sprung up around the harbors as demand grew for sailors,blacksmiths,rope makers, and many other craftsman needed to support the growing whaling industry.
Filled with detailed illustrations and informative narrative, we found this book interesting,
although Princess was a little upset that people killed whales.

Close to the Wind the Beaufort Scale
In 1810, British naval officer Francis Beaufort developed a 13 point wind scale,
creating a common language for stating wind force that is still used today.
This book brings the world of a nineteenth-century midshipman to life
by creating a diary that a young boy at sea might have written, showing us how
the wind affected the day to day life of a sailor.And the illustrations are gorgeous!
Princess is interested in both boats and wind, so this was a no brain-er for us.
I am sure we will take it out again when she is older to really delve a bit further into the subject.

The Rainforest Grew All Around
If you enjoy the song "The Green Grass Grew All Around "
you will love this version.Use the sidebars and the "For Creative Minds" section
to delve even deeper into the jungle.There are so many things to learn here,
we may have it out quite a while.

We loved this beautifully illustrated book,filled with
orangutans,chimps,bonobo and gorilla.
Princess enjoyed learning about groups that are trying to
keep the great apes safe as well.

Behind the Museum Door
Billed as an exuberant poetry collection on the many wonders contained in a museum,
we would have to lived up to the hype.
We can't wait to go back to a museum near us after reading them.

Today at the Blue-Bird Cafe
Princess and I have been enjoying these poems tremendously.
They make a nice compliment to our bird study.
Today at the Blue Bird Cafe'
It's all-you-can-eat at the bluebird cafe',
a grasshopper-katydid-cricket-buffet,
with berries and snails and a bluebottle fly,
a sip of the lake and a bite of the sky.
by Deborah Ruddell

My Backyard Garden

Another book we really wish to own. Written by a noted botanist, Carol Lerner, this easy to follow guide will take you from planning your garden and starting seeds to harvesting your crops.
The illustrations alone are worth the price!

A Day in the Salt Marsh

This is our favorite type of book, a science themed picture book.
Princess and I can spend hours pouring over them, and have a hard time
not adding each one to our personal collection.This book even has a "For Creative Minds" section, which includes a Salt Marsh Animal Matching Activity in it, that we had fun doing.It also has a nice rhyming verse (we are huge fans of that)
that introduces the reader to the hourly changes in a salt marsh, as the tide comes and goes.
Princess's favorite animal was the horseshoe crab (she still remembers finding one left on the beach at SandyHook and returning it carefully to the ocean with a grad student from the NJ Marine Sciences Consortium).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Farmer Dad woke up early and headed out to McDonalds
to pick up breakfast for Princess.They colored together
while eating.They are outside now picking cherries and beans together.
He was not a big diaper changer, he did not stay up late at night
to rock her to sleep, or wake up early and occupy her so I
could "sleep in", partly because I nursed, most of the late night,
early morning stuff fell to me. I used to joke that parenting was
a lot like the old joke about commitment and breakfast, you know the one,
..You sit down to a plate of eggs and bacon for breakfast,
the chicken was involved, the pig was committed.
You can guess who I felt the pig was.

Princess is now five and a half, and she needs her Daddy far more than me
most days, maybe because I am always here, and he goes off for work
before she gets up most days...maybe she has her own reasons.
One of the highlights of my day is seeing them reunited when he returns home from work each day.
Oh, how my little girl loves her Daddy!
He is her prince, her king, he can fix her bike and he is replacer of all batteries
in our house, as well as the changer of light bulbs.
He also thinks Sponge Bob and Mr Bean are funny.
He is her partner in crime and favorite companion on her swing set.
He reads Mother Goose like nobody else can.He is a rock star!
He grows food..right there in our backyard...just in case she is hungry. ;-)
He will sit for hours watching her play at a play gym without complaint
and color alongside her while watching NOVA. He knows how to open the
"child proof" snack cabinet. He knows a lot of stuff, like what a red blood cell
looks like, or what constellation we can see on a clear night. He can tell her the
name of the cloud up above her, but never lets that stop him from pretending it's a lion
or a tiger or a bear (oh my!) and he will watch the Wizard of Oz or Willy Wonka movies
over and over and sing along happily to the whole thing!
He can play The Lion Sleeps Tonight on the piano.
He is a very serious scientist by day, and a big goofball at home (sometimes), and we love him.

"Any man can become a father,
but it takes someone special to be a Daddy"....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday the 13th

Were you scared?
I completely forgot to post my Friday wrap up.
I also completely missed my book post this week.
I promise to get back on track soon....sometime
soon. Any how, here are some pictures from our week..
we did some science, some math,some art, some gardening,some cooking,
some swimming, celebrated Princess's favorite Prince's
graduation from preschool (with ice cream cake).
We spent time with Cousin A, Great Grandma,
our homeschool friends, our play group friends,
we had quiet times with a stack of books in Princess's bed at night,
and snuggles with the kitties in her bed in the morning.
We danced and sang (especially to the Phineas and Ferb theme song).
We managed to get a lot of free play in as well.
Today we picked cherries and golden raspberries with Farmer Dad before
heading out for a little shopping for him and then chillin' together at Chilis.
Now they are napping together, which means I can update the blog and maybe visit a bit
around the blogsphere. I did let her sleep in this morning so I could run to the library alone.
I got a stack of wonderful books that I can't wait to share with you. Something for all ages
I think.

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My homeschool buddies and I are all posting pics of our "home schools" as part of our idea sharing.

Plato said...

Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child's natural bent .