A Little Halloween Math

When we got back from trick or treating Cameron and Ani emptied out their bags and Cameron immediately began sorting his candy by type. Of course Ani decided that sounded like fun, too, and started sorting hers as well. Ani got 9 Snickers (including mini ones) and Cameron got 8 Smarties after Ani gave him hers (she’s not fond of them). Sorting candy turns out to be very useful both for comparing differences in what they got and for trading to get the perfect bag of candy.

Exciting Encyclopedias

Our encyclopedia Britannicas are in the basement. It’s a half finished one and the kids are down there a lot. But the shelf they are on – that was in our bedroom in our old place – is warping terribly so I decided that’s not a good place for the books to be. I was trying to decide where to move them and I thought Ani’s room would be a good place. So I asked Ani her opinion on moving the encyclopedias to her room and she got extremely excited and said “I could read them any time I want!” Now, she can (and sometimes does, particularly the children’s set) read them any time she wants now, but I guess in her room the access would be easier and they’d be more like “hers.”

Sick Day

Yesterday we were all sick. Baby, big kids, and me. So I told the big kids to pick a show on iTunes. They picked Cyberchase and I downloaded all four episodes that were on there. I opened out the pull out love seat and they laid on there annd watched the videos. Later Cameron decided to watch some Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals episodes we already had. He really enjoyed those and insisted he could smell the food she was cooking.

So we had a sick day. That’s a nice thing about homeschooling. There’s nothing to make up. What we were going to do yesterday moves to today and what we were going to do tomorrow moves to Monday and so on. We did read the rest of Gulliver’s Travels (great illustrated classics) but nothing else since we just didn’t feel good enough to do school. I think Ani did some math, too.

Learn to Swim Class

I signed Ani and Cameron up for a homeschool learn to swim class at a county rec center near us. Although we went to the community pool every summer for the last three years neither of them know how to swim. They both love being in the pool, though, and both want to learn to swim. This class is a half hour a week for 6 weeks starting early next month. The age range is 5 to 14. The kids are both very excited about taking the class. Ani was a little confused as to how she could take swimming in the winter and was very intrigued when I said the rec center has an indoor pool.

Finding his own solution

When we moved to this townhouse the lower kitchen cabinets already had child safety latches on them. For my older two that’s not necessary anymore and for Fritz they are not necessary yet but will be in a few months so I was glad they were there. I showed Ani and Cameron how to press on the latch to open the doors. Well, I guess Cameron got tired of doing that. The other day he went and got Jamie’s screwdriver and removed the latch from their snack cabinet. Cameron never said a word about it being a problem nor about his solution. He just matter of factly got the screwdriver and removed the latch and that was that.

The Zen of Butter

Last night I made butter. There is something amazing about making butter. You start out with this white liquid. After some time whipping it it turns into a white cream – whipped cream. Of course at that point I must stop the Bosch and have a taste of the whipped cream. Continuing on the cream turns slightly yellow and starts to have tiny clumps. Soon it turns more and more yellow and the clumps get bigger and smoother and then all of a sudden there is soft yellow butter and clearish-white buttermilk. After beating out as much buttermilk as possible (and saving it for yummy buttermilk pancakes), adding cold water washes the newly formed butter. A few washes and it’s ready for salting. A little salt mixed through and scoop it into a container and freeze or refrigerate it and you are done. Clean up is very easy, too. Hot water and a little dishwashing liquid. I love watching the whipping cream go from white liquid to white whipped cream to yellow solid plus buttermilk.


The great post you don’t have to spend a lot of money at The Learning Umbrella got me thinking about toys. My kids don’t have a lot of toys. They have a lot fewer than most of their friends. But they still have too many! They simply don’t play with their toys.

Ani rarely played with toys when she was little and almost never does now. Cameron never played with toys. He always had Ani. They are 19 1/2 months apart and the best of friends. Fritz is a child who likes to play with toys. I remember playing with toys all the time as a kid. I suspect Fritz will be like me. At barely 3 months old he enjoys putting every toy he can get his hands on into his mouth. He gets very, very happy when we make his blue dog play the lullaby or the duck toy play Ernie’s Rubber Duckie song. That duck was already well used when it came to us in a box of hand-me-downs from my nephew. My nephew is a child who loves to play with toys. He is three and will spend hours playing with toys. My two big kids just aren’t that type of kid.

My two big kids spend hours in the world of imagination inspired by a book we’ve read or a TV show we downloaded from iTunes. The fairy scarves I made for Ani one Christmas are very well used, especially by Cameron. A golf ball that was found during a walk once is a treasured toy. Arts and crafts supplies are consumed rapidly. But regular toys are largely ignored by them. Last night they spent 30 minutes taking turns sitting on the upside down big plastic tote we use to bring the clean diapers upstairs while the other laid on his or her back kicking the tote across the floor. They had a great time. We taught the kids to play Rock-Paper-Scissors last night. So much fun for them and nothing but your owns hands needed.

Yet, my older two children insist they need more toys. We remind them they don’t play with the toys they have. They say they don’t have the “right” toys. When asked what the right toys are they have no answer. The reality is they don’t need toys to have fun, but, somehow, they know they are “supposed” to have toys.

I’ve often threatened to get rid of everything I refer to as “plastic crap” and I am getting very close to following through on that. I really prefer wooden or cloth toys. I went on eBay last night to see what types of wooden or cloth toys there were and I fell in love with various auctions of knitted food. They are adorable. All are from the UK. Now, the wooden food we have is one toy that does get played with so I daresay the knitted food would be, too. Ani’s quite interested in getting some of those.

Cameron is beginning to see he doesn’t need to play with things sold as toys. Jamie has gotten some pallets and taken them apart and now there is quite a little wood pile. Cameron counts it a good day if he has spent time hammering wood together. Sometimes he works on making shapes or projects, other times it is just random hammering. No matter what he is doing it makes him very happy and the best part is the total cost is the nails. Not a big expense for hours of enjoyment.

Christmas is coming and my children will not be getting the latest “must have” toys. They don’t even know what the “must have” toys are. Between homeschooling and not having a TV they don’t see the ads that would tell them what they want. Really, my kids won’t be getting toys at all. Since we have always planned to have at least 4 kids, we started out limiting Christmas to three things each. A Christmas ornament (made by me), a personalized book, and something else. This year the something else is a scrapbook kit for Ani, a science kit for Cameron, and a texture ball for Fritz. All of those are put together or made by me and geared toward their abilities (for example, most of the science experiments Cameron can do on his own).

I’ve come to the conclusion that even for kids who like to play with toys, it is very possible to have too many. As a child I thought I had a lot of toys, but looking back I didn’t really. I had my Little People and a couple dolls and some stuffed animals and then various odds and ends. I spent hours playing with those dolls and those Little People. It was all I needed. A few well-loved, well-played with toys (even if they are not sold as toys) is all any kid truly needs.

Fritz is 3 months old

Fritz is 3 months old now as of yesterday. In a way it seems like he just arrived and in another way it seems like he’s always been with us. Either way, we’re definitely glad to have him. He’s 15 pounds 2 ounces and 25″ long. He’s finally started slowing down in his weight gain, but then today he’s been nursing pretty much all day (thank you, 3 month growth spurt).



And here we have two pictures of the little guy. The first only took 6 tries to get. He’s a baby that smiles pretty much all the time yet he refuses to smile for the camera. The second I like to call “Why are you making me wear this hat?” Note the crocheted blanket behind him. My sister made it. I was totally convinced Fritz was a girl but she suspected I was having another boy. She almost made his blanket out of blue yarn but decided not to just in case he really was a she and went with the light green. She mailed the blanket at some point after my due date but before Fritz was born and amazingly it arrived in the mail just a few hours after Fritz’s arrival! Since he was born at home we were there to get the package and wrap him up in his blanket right away. It’s one of those things that we couldn’t have planned to work out any better.