Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Weekend Recap

Well, we didn't get to go to Geography Quiz Bowl on Friday -- boo! Winnie has been feeling cruddy, and then she started taking a nap, and frankly, I wasn't waking her for anything, so we skipped out. I feel bad, but the napping sick toddler won out on this one.

Zhara sold Girl Scout cookies with her troop on Saturday morning. Early. In a VERY dead Ace Hardware store. Yawn, there was not a lot of cookies sold. I will leave it at that.

Today we did the church thing, and Adam and I taught preschool UU Sunday school. We learned about the moon. It was fun. Then Zhara and I headed over to an art show where I was selling my soap.

Oh, isn't our life exciting! Ha.

We are getting pretty excited that we are leaving for the UWWG Unschooling Conference on Friday. We are driving to Ohio and spending 5 days at the Kalahari Indoor Water Park with close to 400 other unschooling families. It's my birthday present. I really am very excited. Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Very Busy Day

Science: Day 13

Science Club at the HMS Beagle Science Store

Today was our first Homeschool Science Club at the HMS Beagle Science Store in Parkville. It was good. The topic this month was electricity, so we were regaled with fun electric science experiments by a local electrical engineer. He brought a Tesla coil and we learned about Tesla, and conductivity, and much more. The kids had a good time and liked watching things pop and spark and catch fire. Heck, who doesn't? I spent the bulk of the time trying to keep Winnie from destroying several thousand dollars worth of fossils and science equipment for sale in the store, but what's new, really??? Up next month -- microscopes.

Zhara demonstrating riding a bike to turn an old computer motor, to make enough electricity to light a 100 watt lightbulb.

Later in the day, after lunch and recovering from Winnie in a shopping location, we went to our monthly American Girl Club meeting where they discussed the first Josephina book that they had all read, played games, learned some Spanish phrases, and made and ate tortillas. There were lots of girls there, including Zhara's BFF, Meredith, so she was happy.

Then we ran by grandma's school for a visit and to pick up some farm eggs. While there Angus showed grandma how he had learned to write 5:00 and put it on the wind around clock face we have. In fact, he spent much of the time at American Girl Club working on different times on the clock. He was really into it, and had me show him all different "o'clock times." Zhara spent much of her time at grandma's school drawing pictures of all the kids on the blackboard. Winnie ran around like a crazy person per usual.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Random Fun

Zhara has been working on making a skate park out of Legos. There is a skate park near us where we sometimes go to play and take the kids to watch the skaters and ride their bikes, so hers is modeled after that one. I find it intriguing that she chose to build a half pike and skate bars, etc, when she doesn't skate... but I love that her imagination is willing to run to whatever. It has been something of a battle of wits between her and Winnie, who is absolutely committed to ripping the skate park apart. Zhara is wanting a large flat Lego building plate now, so that she can build bigger things. Perhaps that will be a nice Valentine's Day present.

I am almost to the point of exhaustion with the game Uno Moo. Yes, Winnie, it is a lovely game, but mama can only say, "blue cow," so many times or , "do you have a blue or a cow, or a white wild card farmer?" before I want to run screaming from the room. We play it every day. Every day. Persistence. One day it will make me very proud of her, I know. She has been feeling kind of lousy, too, which for my children translates into pissy, but very active. Kind of like they're hyped on meth or something. They are not of the groggy and TV watching variety, which is the child sick type I would have prefered to have been dealt, but whatcha gonna do?

Angus has suddenly gotten into scrapbooking. I am not a scrapbooker. Nothing against it, I have plenty of art obsessions, it's just not my thing. Zhara learned the love of scrapbooking from our friend, and, as Winnie refers to her, "our other mama," Kerri. Kerri is a scrapbook diva. Zhara considers her a professional, though by day she is an administrative professional, so perhaps that is her second profession.

Zhara then passed the love on to Angus. Angus is now rather intrigued. Yesterday I took a bunch of blank pages out of Zhara's old baby scrap book (yep, only got a few pages into that one originally... tells you how good I am at it) and tied them together with yarn for him to make his own book. He is in heaven. He has been taping in random photos, few of which have him in it, but he finds them interesting, so why not. He has found stickers for it, cut out magazine pictures, and written his name on the back in foam letter stickers. Today Winnie and I went downstairs and found him a large plastic storage shoebox that he could keep "his" scrapbooking things in so they were separate from his sister's. Zhara even gave him some things that she wasn't going to use. So, look, they have an activity to do together. Sadly, they still scream and gripe at each other the whole time they are doing it, but you know, mama can't ask for miracles, now can she?

Science: Day 12

Fun with Non-Newtonian Fluids

Ahhh, who doesn't love a gak experiment. That's what Zhara picked out of the Pop Bottle Experiments to do today. So cornstarch quicksand it was today.

Funnily her father and I have always had an inside joke about loving non-Newtonian fluids. Why, yes, we are nerds, thanks. :) To the best of my knowledge she is not privy to said joke, but nonetheless...

It was fun. Zhara LOVED the goo. I encouraged her (strongly) to start a science journal and write down the experiment, how she did it, what she used, her measurements, and her findings. She is not a fan of writing, but she did it with only minimal whining, so I will vote success.

We talked about matter and it's four states, and how the cornstarch and water mixture does not follow the scientific rule for solid or liquid. Zhara had fun adding more and less water to various parts of the mass, and seeing what happened and where the tipping point was. Wednesday had fun making a mess. Fun times all around.

Look, she's writing findings!

The more we mixed, the harder it got!

We turned it upside down to see what happened.

Wednesday liked making a mess the best.

Puppetry Field Trip

Despite snot, coughing, and illness (I'm sure we were popular) we went on the field trip yesterday to the Puppetry Arts Institute. Did you know that Kansas City once housed the world's largest puppet manufacturer? No, us either. We also learned about plastics and their widespread use only after WWII. Yay, it was good. We got a tour of the museum and then the kids got to use some of the original latex heads made by the now defunct manufacturer to create puppets. At the end they put on a puppet show. It was a good time.

Painting our puppet head

A Trip to the School Supply Store

We've had illness, so things are slower than normal, but we still have had a lot going on, as well.

Look, we went shopping at the school supply store! My kids are rather obsessed with maps. Oh heck, me, too. So I had been looking for a big world map for us for awhile. I finally broke down and went to the school supply store. We had fun. We spent like $16 and cleaned up.

We got this giant world wall map with time zones and country flags. Oh my, the kids love it and we have already used it to look up where Alaska is in relationship to Russia and Asia. Which led us into a discussion of the land bridge and pre-historic people. We're excited to get to attend Geography Bowl on Friday with our EDUCATE group. The kids sit around and look at maps and learn about countries and all the questions are created and asked by a teen unschooler in our group who is obsessed with geography. Fun.

Zhara has created a game with this map. It involves a suction cup ball and pitching it at this map. Whatever state it sticks to, she looks it up in the state flip book grandma and papa gave us for Christmas. Then we are regaled with information about our beautiful country. Zhara and Angus have already decided a trip to Montana is a must. Angus wants to dig for the dinosaurs he now knows are there and Zhara thinks any place with the same name as Hannah Montana is awesome. Sigh, well, at least she's interested in geography... I love Montana and actually looked into moving to Missoula for awhile, even interviewing at the PD's office there once. I think it's unlikely we will move there, but a vacation might be perfect some time.

We got some math things for Zhara, too. A couple of write-on, wipe-off math problem boards for Z to practice with if she wants. She did some of them yesterday. We got addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. My kids like games, so I thought, if she had something game like, that she could create a game with, she might do more math. So, we'll see. I also got a poster of multiplication tables for the wall, so she can look them up herself, if she needs some help.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Skating Away

Meredith and Zhara

Zhara went to the Cupcakes (her homeschool girl's club) Skate Party on Saturday. She had a blast, which is usual for any interaction with the Cupcakes. She and Meredith bonded even more. Today she's going to go hang out with Meredith for a playdate. I am so glad that she has found some close HS friends.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Science: Day 11

Dinosaur Digging and Exploration
at the T-Rex Cafe

Today was the Preschool Power Pals outing to the T-Rex Cafe. Thankfully, most of the preschoolers have older siblings, so Zhara had plenty of friends there to play with, too. They had fun. We took a tour and learned some interesting dinosaur facts, dug in the sand and fossil pit, explored some minerals, then ate with our friends. It was lots of fun.

Our tour guide

Winnie and James digging in the fossil pit

Zhara and Lily digging and talking. Lots of talking.

Angus wore his lab coat (AKA dad's old dress shirt) for the science-y occasion

We all packed in to a giant table under a glowing jelly fish to eat. Cool, and a fun way to eat with your friends.

An eclectic day

Yesterday was fun. We are making a concerted effort to spend at least one day a week at home just interacting, playing, reading, and having fun. It's better for our psyche, our house, and we tend to find all kinds of fun things to do.

We talked about Martin Luther King, Jr. and read a book yesterday. We talked about how people are treated and Dr. King's history. What he went through to achieve better equality, and that we still have a ways to go.

We also played lots of board games. It's a favorite these days. Spellominoes, that grandma got us for Christmas; another epic round of Monopoly that was brought to an end by a toddler more interested in playing with the shining pieces than the game; and Uno Moo, we play an almost daily game or two of that -- Angus and Winnie LOVE it. The kids are really having fun with the board games, and they learn so much from each other playing them together. It is really a teaching moment between kids.

The kids made an elaborate restaurant and used the cardboard "castle" that Adam built them from old shipping boxes as their restaurant. And Zhara has been doing a creative writing project that I proof read for her yesterday. Look for that coming here in the next few days.

Then in the evening, after Zhara's guitar lesson, we used foam letters to make alphabet letter boards so Angus and Winnie could learn their letters, and because they are foam, they can feel the letters and practice tracing them with their fingers. Angus knows some of his letters, but he's not great at them. He wants to learn, though, so we thought this would be good. Winnie knows some of the letters and has to do everything her brother is doing anyway.

Science: Day 10

We started reading this children's biography on Charles Darwin. The kids were interested to learn that Darwin and I share the same birthday day. In fact, reading about Charles makes me realize that today he would very much be labeled an unschooler. Since the kids are so interested in him, science and nature, we may have to make him our Patron Saint of Unschool Science.

Science: Day 9

This weekend the kids helped Adam put together a Christmas present that they gave him. It is a wind-powered turbine, albeit a small one. The boys especially had a good time at it. Now we wait for our traditionally windy spring days to try it out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Science: Day 8

Meeting a "Real" Paleontologist

Anyone who knows Angus, knows his complete obsession with all things dinosaur. He would cut off a limb to meet a "real paleontologist." So yesterday I thought, why couldn't I just contact the Paleontology Department at KU to ask about meeting with a "real dino hunter." So, I did. And, on February 2 at 10 am in the morning, Angus and several other families from KC Homeschool are going to meet Larry Dean Martin, the Director of Vertebrate Paleontology from KU, and then tour the Natural History Museum, one of Angus's favorite places in the world to hang out. Now, that was a homeschool parenting science coup, if I do say so myself.

More Library Fun

Winnie got to be a snowflake this week at library hour. And, of course, my little ham loved it.

The Afternoon Downtown

Monday we forgot to mention that we spent the afternoon downtown. In a former life I was an attorney for the Public Defender's Office, so I still have many friends there. We headed downtown, which Winnie loves because she LOVES the skwhy-swrapers. And we traveled to the 19th floor of my old office building to visit the PD's office (and drop off girl scout cookies that Zhara had sold to an investigator and soap to my friend, Molly). Then we went to the federal building (another skyscraper) to visit the kids' old day care providers and deliver more cookies.

Then we decided to do a little community service. As a PD I spent many many hours in the detention center meeting with clients. Everytime I went, there were loads of kids there waiting to visit their parents. To visit someone in jail you have to be there 45 minutes in advance. So there are kids sitting there for almost an hour with nothing to do. We took two giant bags of old toys (most of them Little People) down to the jail and donated them to make a play area for the kids. I talked to my friend, Molly, today who said that she has seen tons of kids playing with them every time she's been over to visit clients this week. I am so glad. I think it's good for the kids to help other kids, especially ones that people don't necessarily think of.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We ran away to the swimming pool today mid science project. Mmmm, nothing better than soaking in warm water while staring outside at 2 feet of snow. It totally makes the money we pay for the Community Center (Matt Ross) worth it, even though we don't use it all that often.

Science: Day 7

Science Day 7: Dinosaur Dig

Well, the dinosaur dig kit went well. It held Winnie's attention for about
3 minutes. She liked the spraying of the water. But she wasn't disruptive for it. Angus came and went, but seemed to enjoy it. Zhara worked and worked at it and did the majority of the digging, picking, and scraping.

Angus thought he needed friends.