You can call me Pink Yoshi

Fritz is totally into Mario right now. He adores Mario. He loves to watch people play Mario. He loves to attempt to play Mario. He talks about Mario. He “feeds” us magic mushrooms, ice power, and fire power.

For a while he had us call him Mario. He’d still respond to Fritz – usually – but he definitely preferred to be called Mario. My friend uses pseudonyms for her kids: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Baby Daisy. Her siggy on There’s No Place Like Home has those four characters. Every time Fritz sees it, he gets so excited.

About a week ago, he decided his father was Mario. He doesn’t call him Daddy anymore. It’s always “Mario this” and “Mario that.” He asks me “Where’d Mario go?” when Jamie is at work. Since his father was now Mario, Fritz certainly couldn’t be any longer. And so Fritz became Luigi. He will even correct us when we call him Fritz. He’ll say, “I’m Luigi!”

Eventually he decided I needed to be a character, too. He thought about it and decided I was Pink Yoshi. I’m not sure what that says about what he thinks of me. I’m a horse-like thing that is pink. He cracks me up, though, when he says to me, “Come on, Pink Yoshi! I have Green Yoshi!” (gesturing to an invisible Yoshi that he is pretending to ride on). He’s always trying to get me to eat apples and bad guys he has jumped on because, of course, those are some of Yoshi’s favorite foods.

And, of course, my mother needed to be a character. This one took a little more thought, but he decided she is Princess Peach. The funny thing about that is he refuses to call Princess Peach by her actual name. He insists she is Strawberry Shortcake. So he calls my mom Strawberry Shortcake meaning that she is Princess Peach. Personally, I think my mom got the better character assignment.

To Work With the Daddy

My older two kids count down the days for at least a month until Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. They absolutely love going to work with their dad. The exciting day this year was today. They got up (willingly) a little after 5 and were headed out the door by 5:30. We had thought they might sleep on the way to the office (it’s an hour each way), but Jamie said they were so excited they didn’t stop talking until just before they got there when Cameron almost fell asleep.

I think they had the most just fun hanging out in Jamie’s office. Cameron made a great friend in one of Jamie’s co-workers. He wants to go back to visit her again. They spent a lot of time talking about how they could create things out of other stuff. I love it when adults are willing to have real conversations with kids. Ani and Cameron did a lot of creating out of junk (wire, styrofoam, etc.) that was sitting around the office.

They got to go to the official program this afternoon. They said it wasn’t as good as last year’s, but they definitely enjoyed it. Cameron really liked the fingerprinting with an electronic scanner and Ani liked the trusted traveler passport simulator the best. After the program they headed home. That was about two hours early. Jamie had a nasty headache (darn allergies), but the kids were not very happy with him. They wanted to go back to his office to create more things with junk (I do think that is rather fitting that they spent so much time making things out of stuff that otherwise would be trash since today is also Earth Day). Even with the early end to their fun, they both said they had a most wonderful day.

Recycled Notebook

The kids and I went to a Spy Kids meeting today. There they made recycled notebooks. They are so neat and super simple. You need two empty Capri Sun pouches, one Capri Sun straw (pouches and straw need to be washed and dried), paper (can be used on one side), some yarn, thin but sturdy wire with one end bent into a crook, duct tape, and scissors.


Lay the pouches side by side with long edges touching. Tape them both on the inside and outside so they make a book. Fold the paper into quarters with the printing to the inside so you are left with four sides of clean paper. You can use more than one sheet. Just fold them individually and then stack them. You can add or remove sheets after it is finished, too. Trim the paper so it’ll fit inside the pouches. They’ll need about 1/2″ removed. Place paper inside the pouches to make the pages of the book.


Wrap the yarn around the outside and inside and then through the straw. To get the yarn threaded through the straw run the wire through the straw first, hook the yarn with the crook of the wire, and pull it back out. Lay the straw along the inside middle of the book (this keeps it from bending) and tied the yarn on the outside of the pouches. That’s it! Super easy and the kids thought their books were really cool. Fritz immediately used his to hold some of the stickers he was using to decorate his spy gear box.


A Confession

I’ve discovered that Full House comes on Teen Nick in the mornings, a whole bunch right in a row. I’ve been watching some of the episodes while working on laminating and cutting Fritz’s letter of the week stuff. And I’m really, really enjoying them. They are rather predictable and can be a bit sickeningly sweet, but it’s like comfort food for the eyes and ears.

Download N Go, A Review

A couple weeks ago we decided to try out the Download N Go unit studies from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. They are made by Amanda Bennett. I had gotten a free one on Amelia Earhart when I signed up for something so we decided to use it with Cameron. It was a huge success. Cameron learned about Amelia Earhart, The Wright Brothers, airplanes, and flying over the course of 5 days. We decided to get a subscription for a whole year of the unit studies. I’ve downloaded the available ones and they all look so awesome. Over the next several months, Cameron will be learning about everything from whales to spring to Ireland to soccer to pizza. Quite a fun variety.

The studies are not exactly download and go, but it is pretty close. They do require a little bit of preparation. Once it is downloaded, you need to print it out. There are a few things within the study that require cutting and pasting and then there are lapbooking bits that you may or may not choose to prepare ahead of time. Here is how I set it all up. The example study is the one Cameron is working on this week, Kite Capers.

I print the pages double sided and three-hole punch them and put them in a two-pocket three-prong folder (which by the way are super hard to find in any store around here currently). I write the name of the study and Cameron’s name on the front of the folder.

The study includes lots of links (those are in blue on this example age) and space for the kids to answer the questions. Cameron has trouble spelling and writing so he writes the shorter answers and I write the longer answers for him as he dictates to me what he wants to say.

I print the pages so the first page of each day starts on a new sheet of paper even if that means the last page of the previous day is only printed on one side.

Sometimes I print them in color, sometimes I print them in black and white. They are much prettier in color of course, but don’t absolutely have to be in color.

There is usually some science bits included in the study even if it’s not a science-focused topic.

For the studies that are more science-focused there is usually at least some social studies related bit in it.

Each morning I go through the day’s links and open them in my browser in order so they are ready to be viewed as soon as we get to them. The links range from fun videos like one of lots of people flying kites and this one of the song Let’s Go Fly a Kite from Mary Poppins…

…To various websites for more information to learn about the subject or activities related to it.

There are lots of recommended books to read for each study topic. I pick one or two for each day and check them out of the library. This requires a little bit of advance planning to be sure I have all the books I need when I need them.

Each day has extra activity options as well. Some are simple coloring pages like the one below. Others include things to make or recipes to cook. I pick the ones that I think Cameron would enjoy the most or get the most educational from.

Cameron writes the answers directly into the study booklet I’ve made. Once the 5 days are over the folder goes on the shelf where the lapbooks are stored and become a nice little presentation of what he learned.

Within the study there are occasional cut and paste activities. I cut the pieces out and paper clip them to the page they will be glued to.

Often there is a little bit on a state within the study. Cameron gets to learn a little about the state (Kansas in Amelia Earhart, California in Kite Capers, for example) and glue in the flag, bird, animal, etc. for that state. I cut out the pieces and paper clip them to the page.

Throughout the study there are lapbooking activities. I cut a file folder a little bit and three-hole punch it so it will fit nicely in the folder. Then I cut out and attach all the lapbook pieces so they are ready for Cameron to fill in as he gets to them.

Occasionally there will be activities in the Wolf Cub Scout manual that goes along with the topic of the study. I add those in to be done during school time making it easy for Cameron to complete the electives and earn his arrow points. An example is making this kite. Went perfectly with the Kite Capers study.

Completing a day of Download N Go takes anywhere from one to two hours give or take a few minutes. The days aren’t extremely well balanced as far as time required goes, but they are extremely well balanced as far as each day having a topic within the bigger theme for the study. I totally recommend these studies. They are aimed at K-4. I’d say they are perfect for about first to third grade. They seem a little hard for a kindergartner and too easy for a fourth grader. They certainly make it easy to do school. Just add language arts and math and you have your core subjects. They are very fun and interesting to my 8 year old 2ndish/3rdish grader. I couldn’t ask for much more.

The Download N Go studies sell for $7.95 if you want to get a single one, $30 for a four-pack making each one $7.50 (plus you get a free study on birthdays), one semester (19 studies) for $114 making each one $6, and $190 for a year (38 studies) making each one $5. If you purchase a semester or year you get a free study on birthdays, a free study on summer, and Amanda Bennett’s Unit Study Journal and Unit Studies 101 free.

I am not affiliated in any way with the Download N Go studies nor am I receiving anything for writing this review. I simply am a happy customer who bought the full year pack and am looking forward to doing the remaining 40 studies with my son, as well as with my younger two sons once they are old enough for them. (Forty studies are remaining for us because we have completed Amelia Earhart, bought 38 and got two more free – birthdays and summer, and got Autumn Treasures free last fall as well but never completed it.)

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged)

Last night my parents, the big kids, and I went to the fine arts center at the College of Southern Maryland. It’s always fun to go there since that’s exactly where Ian and I met back in 1995. We went there this time to watch The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged). That’s all 37 Shakespeare plays, plus the sonnets, in about 90 minutes.


Cameron almost didn’t go. He didn’t think it sounded very fun until he realized that they would be performing something he’s seen before and thought was hilarious. We have The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) performed by the Reduced Shakespeare Company on DVD.

We laughed so much. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Cameron laugh so much. He pretty much didn’t stop the whole time. He just loves physical comedy and really enjoys being entertained. And there’s just something about Hamlet performed super-fast, and backwards, that really strikes you as funny.


Of course I couldn’t take pictures during the performance, but I did take one during intermission. During the histories football game, the Burger King crown they were passing got a little bit broken. It was on the floor and Cameron picked it up, hooked it together tighter to where it wasn’t broken, and put it on his head. He wore it for the entire second half.

Speaking of being able to wear the Burger King crown, that is because the set was facing the rear of the stage and the audience members were seated right on the stage facing the actors. It was a very interactive performance. I’m really glad we went. We all had a wonderful time.


Field Trip to Historic St. Mary’s City

On Tuesday we went to homeschool day at Historic St. Mary’s City in southern MD. It’s been a long time since I last went there. A lot has been added.

The chapel was not built last time I was there. It’s not quite done still, but it is very pretty. They can be pretty sure that this is what it looked like because although there is almost nothing in the way of contemporary descriptions of it, every chapel of its kind from that time everywhere in the world looks pretty much the same.

There are many skeleton buildings around the recreated city. They show where the buildings were and their size. Last time I was down there, pretty much all the structures were skeletons. They are slowly building real buildings in their places.

The kids had a lesson in spinning wool. Cameron was fascinated by it and we even ended up bringing home a drop spindle and come carded wool for him to practice with.

The kids all took a rest on a bed at Farthing’s Ordinary (Hotel). Travelers would share a bed like this.

Ani and I played a game of grace. We tossed a ring back and forth, catching and throwing it with pairs of sticks.

The Maryland Dove replica. The original Dove sailed in 1634.

Ani helped make a print on the printing press. A good printer could print a page every 25-30 seconds.

A Yaocomaco Indian longhouse. The Yaocomacos were a friendly tribe who helped the settlers.

Cameron helped work on a canoe. The Indians would burns the canoe a bit and then scrape it using a seashell.

Super fun game!

We recently got the game Bananagrams. I had been looking at it for a while, but never bought it. I’m glad I finally did!

The game is a bunch of tiles, kind of like Scrabble tiles, packed in a case shaped like a banana. You put all the tiles face down in a pile and call that the BUNCH. Each person takes 11-21 tiles depending on how many people are playing (2-8 players can play at once). You turn over your tiles and start playing.

It’s really fun because everyone plays at once. There’s no waiting for your turn. You basically use the tiles to build what looks like a crossword puzzle. To play, you make words until you can’t make any more or you run out of tiles in front of you. If you can’t make any more words, you put one back, face down, in the bunch and say DUMP. Then you take three tiles to replace the one you put back. If you run out of tiles, you say PEEL and every player, including yourself, has to take one tile from the bunch.


You continue playing until all the tiles have been taken from the bunch and either no more words can be made by any player (this seems to be what happens to us most often) or a player uses all their letters. If a player uses the last letter in their pile and there are no more in the bunch, they say BANANAS and are the winner of the game.

It’s really fun and goes really fast. This is a game I wholeheartedly recommend, especially if you like to play Scrabble.