Monday, July 6, 2020


This gem came out of our discussion at lunch today: "I'm a terrible liar when I'm telling the truth."

Monday, June 22, 2020

She Can Read!

Yesterday my 4-year-old gave my father a Father's Day gift-- about 15 pieces of scrap paper with 4-year-old-appropriate decorations. The grandfather-granddaughter conversation went something like this:

Poppa:  Oooh. Very nice. Another piece of paper-- how pretty. Another one? Oh, thank you. What does this one say?

Anna: (looking carefully at it to read it) Dot, dot, scribble.

At least she can read her own handwriting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Out of the Mouths of Teenagers

I heard a bit of 14-year-old wisdom today. It went like this:

"Romance is the ice of entertainment: you want enough to keep your drink cool, but too much waters your drink down."

There's your food for thought for today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Another Overheard

Upset older sister to little brother: You know, lightbulbs don't grow on trees!

Can't fight that logic.

Monday, May 11, 2020


8-year-old daughter: (Lets out a long, wistful sigh.)

Me: What's wrong, Sweetie?

8-year-old daughter: I wish I had a monocle.

Well, then.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Lately (Few Words, More Pictures)

Bear vs. compost bin made of pallets

Just one step of fixing up the former guinea coop-- soon-to-be chicken coop

Soon-to-be chickens (I'm trying not to count them!)

Little boy fun

Little boy self-portrait

Warning-- if you have no interest in our new little bee endeavors, scroll no further. It's all bees from here on out.

Bee loaded with pollen

Wax comb-- a little wonky

Wax comb-- a lot wonky


Bees, a little bit closer, since you're brave

My son holding bees-- pretty stinking brave (I want to do it next time).

The replacement queen (the one with a bit of blue paint) and her attendants

The end. You made it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Unsolicited Homeschool Advice

I will be honest with you; while so many other people are struggling to find the new "normal," not much has changed around our house. We are still homeschooling, plugging along as best we can. 

With so many folks involuntarily homeschooling these days, I wanted to share some unsolicited homeschool advice. 

Here it goes.

Homeschooling doesn't need to look like it does at school. Sometimes homeschooling is assigned bookwork.

Okay, so perhaps something more than math was going on at this table. . . 

And sometimes the learning just happens without the teacher. Recognize those moments for what they are-- organic learning. Here are a few examples of what that looks like at our house.

I did assign a book for my older two boys to read-- Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. But I didn't ask them to do anything with that. Last Wednesday, one son found something in Burke that resonated with him, and he surprised me with a little note on our whiteboard. This led to an impromptu discussion. It was unplanned, but it was learning.

We have a sad little piano in our basement. It is somewhat broken and a little out of tune. We don't have a piano teacher or lessons. I don't know how to play. But lately my students have been plunking away at favorite tunes. A few have taught themselves to read music the last few weeks by reading a piano instruction book. All by themselves and because they want to.

Sure, I teach music and music appreciation, but this was something I hadn't planned. (I promise you, I did NOT plan to hear so many thousands of renditions of "Ode to Joy" each day for the last 2 or 3 weeks.) And it has been very good for the children.

The big deal this week at our house is bees. We got a call on Monday morning from the post office; they wanted us to come pick up those boxes of bees that were waiting for us. Imagine that!

So we picked them up, and with no prior experience, my eldest installed the bees in the two hives he built by himself (maybe with some help from his younger brother) with materials he bought with his own money. 

Why bees? I don't know exactly why, but he became fascinated with them from reading. So he read more and more and more. It wasn't an assignment; it was his own interest.

So this week our entire family has learned about bees from the hands-on experience. We've learned about how to install bees in a hive. And we've learned something about disappointment.

Hello, dead queen bee.

I'm not saying that while your children are home they need to pick up an expensive hobby like beekeeping or that they need to learn to play a musical instrument. But you should allow your children to explore their interests-- on their own. Learning happens all by itself sometimes, and overwhelmed parents who are trying to work and teach school from home can take comfort in that.

While learning happens on its own, don't completely ignore your children. If you notice an interest, try to give your child time and resources like books or craft materials or free rein in the kitchen to follow that inclination. And don't be disappointed if the interest only lasts one day. Learning happened. Really, it did. 

And if your child is more interested in laying out all those educational books Grandma bought him on the floor so the army soldiers can have a better surface for combat, so be it. Yes, independent play like that can be learning, too. 

So don't stress too much. Do what you can*, and then allow your children a little independence. Learning will happen without you. I promise. 

This picture is from almost 9 years ago when I was very pregnant and had 2 preschoolers. While the boys were outside for recess, I was inside having a meltdown because I hadn't planned a fun activity for the boys to make a model of the solar system.  The next thing I knew, the boys were running inside and dragging me out to show me their creation-- a sidewalk chalk model of the solar system. And they explained to me all about it using big vocabulary words and everything. The best part was that it was completely their own idea.

*Please make sure your children read or are read to (by you or by audiobooks or by Grandpa on the phone) while they are not in school. It can be assigned by school or it can be a newspaper or an old fairy tale. Keep them exposed to words!