Happy Easter, From the Easter Bunny.

This year, the kids and I headed to my mom’s house in the California desert. My exBIL and 4 nieces and nephews (2 each) were also here, so it’s been one mad party for the past week. MAD, I tell you!

I made sure to bring up the bunny mask, figuring that maybe it wouldn’t be so eerie and out of place if we actually used it on Easter. Because, you know, it’s an easter bunny mask!

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Turns out, no, it still was pretty freaky! Even Golfer, who loves it, wasn’t sure about seeing it on someone with pink polka dot pajamas.

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My oldest nephew, who’s 14, was pretty unflappable.

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He’s always been that way. Totally cool as a cucumber and in control. I’ve been trying the last dozen years to do something, ANYTHING, to break through his calm exterior which makes me look even crazier than I am. One day I will succeed. But today was not that day.

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I told my almost youngest nephew a magical easter bunny story:

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and didn’t really say much at all to my youngest niece, I just let her sit and laugh at me.

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Of course Sassy just wanted to snuggle.

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And the littlest nephew, born last November just a week after my birthday (Go Scorpios!)….well, he has no idea what’s in store for him for the rest of his life in this family. If he did, I’m sure he’d be smiling and laughing a little more. It’s not every clan that gets visited by such a cool easter bunny!

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Happy Easter!

Love,

The Easter Bunny

(Last year, our Easter looked like this…)

“The World Is Just Awesome!”

Thanks for this, Discovery! Is there any wonder you are our favorite channel?

“What School Things Did You Do Today?”

Hubby came back from a business trip and settled in on the couch, looking to catch up to speed with what’s been going on here.

“So…what school things did you do today?” he casually asked.

I searched my brain. “Crap”, I thought. I’d forgotten to ‘categorize’ our experiences into school type subjects. I was caught off guard.

“Uhh…school things?! It’s like you don’t know me at all!” I stammered.

“You said they learn things by passionate exploration. So what things have they been passionately exploring this week?”

I racked my brain. Would beating ‘Heatseaker’ on Wii be an acceptable answer? Planting our garden? Finishing as many Warrior books in one week as humanly possible? Spending hours outside trying to make a sweet hook shot with the basketball?

Hubby, who is totally on board the unschooling train, hasn’t yet experienced it full monty style. Usually I translate what they do into ‘school speak’…cooking is doing fractions, going to the store is using money, playing video games is reading, etc. He has yet to appreciate the ebb and flow of passionate learning–the total focus in a particular area for a length of time, followed by complete unfocus for a length of time while their little minds veg out until the next wave of hyperfocus comes along. It’s in these moments of unfocus that Hubby starts wondering if unschooling is such a good idea.

Tonight was no exception, and I offered up some doozies on what’s been going on.

“Well, Golfer is focused on dribbling the ball continuously for as long as he can. I think he’s trying for a world record or something. When not doing that, he’s going for the record on ‘Heatseaker’. Naturalist is training lots of new dogs on her DS game, and reading Warriors books nonstop. I also think she’s going for a world record. She’s been developing some really amazing fruit smoothy recipes for me, so I don’t have to pay anymore money in Jamba Juice.”

Hubby waited for a moment and said, “So, one out of three R’s. Reading without ‘riting or ‘rithmetic.”

“Ummm…yes, that would be correct. But who needs ‘riting when you have such a sweet outside shot on the basketball court!” I joked.

I could tell Hubby was not finding my humor funny.

The kids went up to bed while hubby and I cleaned up, and then we went up to our room. When hubby came in he said in hushed tones, “They’re doing math in there together. Playing some sort of math game?”

I had to see this. Naturalist is a vowed math hater. Naturalist would not be doing math, no matter how much she hated going to bed. I stopped outside their bedroom and listened in.

“OK, Golfer” Naturalist announced. “Our sections are division, multiplication, double digit addition and double digit subtraction.”

Sure enough, they made up their own nerdy math game which of course superseded bedtime. They played for an hour and even asked me to join them. By the end of the night, they had decided to set up a math club. MATH CLUB?! The only involvement I thought Naturalist would have with a math club would be when the straw broke the camels back and she’d egg and toilet paper anyone having to do with math.

So, hey…two out of the three R’s aint bad, considering what full days we have had lately!

And, I’ve been holding my tongue about this new vedic math stuff we’ve been doing, just to see if it will work or if we all hate it. I’d say, after hearing Naturalist tonight exclaim “Math is SO FUN!” that I must blog about it sometime soon. It’s been a complete success and I’m even loving it as much as the kids are. Coming from a mathphobe, that’s really saying something!

What We’re Watching–Food Fight

An abridged history of American-centric warfare, from WWII to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict.

For the official cheat sheet (breakdown of the foodstuffs), visit:
here.

For a breakdown of the actual battles portrayed in the film, visit:
here.

I’ve learned not to underestimate the power that fun and humor has on my kid’s learning. So, I present our very loose study on American-centric warfare. We came across this on YouTube, where we have supervised time all together searching for different things. We favorite the ones that we want to watch again on our youtube page here. I don’t even remember how we happened upon this, but it’s our favorite now.

We haven’t looked at the cheat sheats yet, we’re still trying to reason it out by the clues…what foods are allies, what foods are from which region, etc. Some, like the croissants and the sushi rolls, are easier than others. (What is a hoagie? Triscuit? Shishkebob?) Luckily, Golfer has been reading a lot about WWII, been playing a lot of WWI & II video games, and watching a lot of the show “Dogfights“, so he has a lot of input for us.

Enjoy!

Air Pressure and the Jar of Death

I have so much fun watching my kids pick science experiments to do together. I, personally, never liked science in school–not because I didn’t like doing the experiments, but because I didn’t like doing all the exhaustive worksheets and essays afterwards. So, when I hear the word ‘science experiment’ I have this feeling of boredom sweep over me.

However, I’ve noticed that because worksheets and essays are not required here chez Child’s Play, that the kids are free to simply experiment, experience, and wonder. This isn’t boring! They have no negative associations like I do. Sometimes they do an experiment and let it go, not thinking of the ‘who, what, when, where, why’ of it all. And then sometimes they really stop to wonder just what the heck is going on. In those cases, they research a little more into it. They write out a script so they can share it with the internet. They practice until they get it right (but the bloopers are the best, so I included them at the end) and add some of their own flair while doing it.

When all is said and done, they do a lot of work…but it’s so fun they don’t notice. They are teaching me how to learn about science, and really like it.

The Battle of New Orleans.

Lego style…

When I charge/load songs onto my kids ipods, I always slip a song or two on there that is of my choosing. At one point I was slipping in songs from Johnny Horton..someone that I wasn’t familiar with until I started dating Hubby. With him being in the Business school, and not being a very English/History focused person, and me being an American History major, we had very little in common scholastically. Except for the times hubby would start crooning a ballad by Johnny, that genius of American History folk songs.

At first, when my kids discover random itunes songs, they react with confusion… ‘What the???? What am I listening to? This isn’t on my playlist?!’ but the power of the ipod soothes them and pretty soon they can’t help but belt out random verses like, “WELL, in 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip…” (keep an eye out for the alligator in the last third of the song/video..it’s Golfer’s favorite part of the song and he loved seeing it reenacted with Legos.)

Other gems I’ve put on there are some Monty Python ‘Holy Grail’ snippets, some 80’s top 10 that I just don’t think kids are being exposed to enough today, assorted ‘Teacher and the Rockbots‘ songs, Princeton Review Vocab minute songs (nerd alert!), Billy Joel songs (What??? He’s not cool anymore??? Not over here!), and always something by U2. Recently, for MLK, Jr. Day, I added “Pride (In the Name of Love)”

They indulge me in this, bless their hearts, and some of my songs have ended up on their top ten! I keep telling them what great taste in music I have…maybe one day they’ll believe me!

Handmade Christmas, Part 1

The tree is out, and the ornaments are being put on. I love doing this with the kids because they’ve made most of what we put on the tree, starting with the Naturalist all those many years ago! (11! Can it be?) I remember making ornaments with my mom, and look forward to continuing the tradition with my kids. Here’s what we do for Salt Dough Ornaments:


Classic Salt Dough Ornament Recipe
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup hot water

Directions:
1. Mix salt and flour.
2. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water.
3. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.
4. For flat dough ornaments roll out the dough on baking paper…or be creative and make odd shapes and wreaths (takes longer to bake)

Create: Use cookie cutters, cut-out templates, or just use your hands. (I used the cookie cutters that add the detail lines into the dough when you press it down, just ‘cuz that’s what my mom used when I was a little girl!) This dries out quickly and doesn’t save well–so work quickly and only make as much as you’ll use. I’m not sure how many this recipe makes because it changes with the size of the cookie cutters/shapes used.

Don’t Forget:Use a straw to make a hole so you can hang the ornament!

Temperature: 325 degreesTime: 1 1/2 hours – or until dry

Decorate: Let cool before you begin. Paint with acrylic paints. Glue on beads, buttons, or any fun accessory. This is the fun part…look at the concentration! It gets so quiet when everyone starts painting!

The older kids give it lots more detail…

The younger kids just glop it on!

Preservation: Coat with mod podge when everything is dry.

Charades

We have, in our arsenal of games, one called “Charades for Kids“. Since we find games much more fun to play without using the actual rules of the game, we quickly tossed aside the rules and game board. Eventually, we also tossed aside the game cards. Now, we don’t even get the box out of the closet. But, boy do we play a mean, fast and furious game of charades!

In our version, talking and making noise are definately allowed. Hints are also acceptable, especially if you’ve decided to be ‘a button’ for a few minutes with no one able to guess anything close to it. Really, anything goes.

some of our most favorite charades have been the ones that are extremely obscure, that take a few minutes and hints to figure out.

‘Thinking outside the box’
‘Kamakazi fighter’
‘Einstein’
popcorn
snowflake
musical cleft note
button
bomb
Golfing Tornado

Yep, there’s some crazy stuff going on around here! Subversive, anarchic charades without rules or silence.

Happy Halloween!

Well, almost Halloween, but I think I’ll be so busy tomorrow I won’t have time to post. So, I’m wishing everyone a fun and candy filled Halloween a bit early.

I’m looking forward to the mad dash around the neighborhood, trying to keep up with the three kids. The Naturalist and Golfer set a pretty grueling pace, and last year we had to tote The Sassy Princess around in a wagon. She didn’t like that one bit, and crying ensued. Of course, it could also be that she didn’t like the big pumpkin costume I stuffed her into. She was too little to really make herself known…definately not the case anymore! This year, I predict she’ll be right at their heels. She’s so excited! I’m looking forward to chatting with my neighbors while the children parade by in a sugar-high induced frenzy, and I can’t wait for all the kids to unload their loot onto the living room floor so we can commence with ‘The Great Candy Barter’ to get more of what we like. Plus, I get a kick back from each of them as thank you for walking them around. Not bad!

Last year, we were still homeschooling pretty rigorously, and I made them sort, count, and graph their candy. This year, I think we’ll just eat it as fast as we can and go read a book or something. My So Called Homeschool posted about the decline of fun, spooky halloween, which ties in nicely this little clip from the folks at Escape Adulthood that helps remind everyone to lighten up and enjoy this one night of kid anarchy.

I wish you lots of tricks and treats!

A Great Moment In Our Familyness

This is the day that hubby has been waiting for since starting a family.
The day when all his time and energy raising our kids really starts paying off.
The day when our kids start contributing in a meanful way to our family.
The day when they show him what they’re really made of.
The day when the Naturalist and The Golfer start playing ‘Risk’.

I am whipping up dinner, with the soft chatter of world domination and global superiority in the background.

Life is good.

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