Korean stop sign, photo taken by my son because he knows I like stop signs in various foreign languages.
New local bakery where my daughter and I shared a pecan caramel roll and cherry turnover, good coffee and sweet conversation.
Blueberry muffins galore, made by my daughter and gratefully consumed on ski day morning.
Time alone on a chairlift– beautiful and peaceful silent time. Short and sweet and high off the ground, but I’ll take it.
Trying to walk regularly outside because I should, not because I really want to, so I grit my teeth and lean into the wind.
God frosted the trees for us, beautifying our homeschool ski day with His creative handiwork plus cheerful sunshine and no injuries.
My husband drove this cute little Mazda Miata down to Florida for a friend recently. It looks like a toy car, but he sure got lots of applause / envy from strangers along the way. The admiration sat well with my husband 🙂
I am sad to say goodbye to a wonderful audiobook trilogy about Crispin by author Avi.We finished the last of the three books this week.
From beginning to end, these stories about a young orphan growing up in the Middle Ages are adventurous, suspenseful, and touching.
Avi is a talented and prolific author and his first Crispin book is a Newbery Award Winner.
A new puzzle. This is our third Mudpuppy puzzle, and it’s Kaleido-Beetles! I like Mudpuppy puzzles because they have three pictures of the finished puzzle for reference as you go, making it easier for 3 or more people to work on the puzzle.
I live in Minnesota, where snowy forecasts threaten and chapped lips are a way of life.
Despite a desire for a little more elbow room, I simply cannot bring myself to banish my children out to the frozen tundra on restless January afternoons.
So, I, with many other hearty Midwest parents, have been forced to plan creative indoor activities, thereby saving our kids’ eyes from electronic combustion.
Here are three indoor activities to offer your children — and if the parents play along, the fun rate exponentially increases…
Puzzles may look like a simple, slow activity, but working jigsaw puzzles is actually a brain-building, skill-building pastime. Jigsaw puzzlesenhance problem-solving skills, improve learning, support social interaction, and generate a feeling of accomplishment.
Puzzles are an absorbing, therapeutic activity that can last days or weeks. If you have a spare table where a puzzle-in-progress can stay available, this is optimum. (We don’t; we just let the puzzle take over the dining room table until it’s completed.)
Jigsaw puzzles are great for many ages (but not all — watch those tiny pieces and keep your babies away.)Puzzles are beneficial for older people, too; they stimulate the brain and may delay the onset of dementia.
Kids can listen to audiobooks while they draw, build, or work puzzles. Audiobooks are also great for car trips — long or short.
Young readers can listen to an audiobook while they read along with the print version and reluctant readers who aren’t enthusiastic about print books can be wooed into a love of reading with audiobooks. (True story.)
Audiobook narrators are usually awesome, and they transport a child right into the pages of the book. Some of our favorite audiobooks for kids include:
Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries
Chronicles of Narnia
Mysterious Benedict Society Series
Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Note: We listened to three (Hardy Boys) audiobooks while we worked the Ocean Life puzzle shown at the beginning of this post.
Okay, this one was dredged up from my childhood math class (thank you, Mr. Kesti) and it’s more educational than it is pure fun. But, approached creatively, Krypto can be a pleasant addition to your indoor arsenal of activities.
There is a commercial version ofKrypto, but this is how we play it at home, without buying the game:
Choose 5 cards from a joker-less deck of cards.
Write those numbers on a white board.
Choose one more number and write it at the bottom.
Everyone looks at the board and tries to find a way to use all top 5 numbers to get the target number at the bottom.
You can add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers until the target number is reached.
This uses all of the numbers, and the result is the target number (2) at the bottom.
When someone arrives at the target number, she yells, “KRYPTO!” and demonstrates how she got the answer.
We keep track of points and play it regularly as part of our homeschooling routine.
If your kids take to it, you can plan a lively Krypto tournament.
With or without competition, you’ll have some fun and keep math skills sharp over the holidays. Krypto is also a great low-key summer activity – a great way to stay math-savvy over school break. For more explanation, here’s a Krypto video.
Whether you live where it’s cold, or just need some rainy day ideas, hopefully you will enjoy some of this indoor fun that keeps Minnesotans snowbound but smiling until March.
The Hillstroms from church needed a babysitter and my daughter couldn’t do it after all. She wouldn’t export her runny nose and annoying cough into the already stressed Hillstrom home.
Linzy was going to meet her husband Matt for marriage counseling, and their six active kiddos needed energetic supervision.
So I approached their country home, not knowing what to expect. I had never been there; never helped out. I was a little sketchy on all their names and I was out of my comfort zone.
First, we plunged into backyard hide-and-seek. Between games, we paused for show-and-tell breaks, like when Riley showed me his recent bow-and-arrow injury and Jojo pointed out the onions poking up in the garden. Then we returned to our crouched positions under the pine tree or behind the bikes in the shed. I huddled with the little ones, who squirmed and rustled and ruined the hiding places. Then we started all over again.
Suddenly, everyone grabbed their bikes, trikes and scooters and soared freely along the dusty, rural road. I strolled the baby, ready to redirect the parade if a car came along.
I employed my former public school teacher’s voice and relied on 20+ years of motherhood to cope with minor scuffles and occasional sibling rivalry.
“Linzy is a good mom,” I thought as I served the meal on the stove to her happy, helpful kids. The able dish-doers scaled a wooden bench to reach the sink and finish the cleanup.
Next, Annie informed me of the house bedtime rules with a serious, spaghetti-stained face:
“You read us stories. And we can snuggle with our blankets. And then we brush our teeth.”
As we wrapped up the bedtime routine, I thought:
“When was the last time I just played and read stories with my own children for 3 hours?”
It had been a busy, but pleasant evening.
When Linzy arrived home, I thought it was over.
But the next Sunday, I was assaulted with warm embraces and surrounded with sparkly smiles.
I was suddenly the famous, beloved babysitter of just one evening.
I had run around barefoot in the backyard.
I had read books and given hugs.
I had learned their names and the house rules.
And for these small things, I would be paid with loving looks for the rest of my life.
That’s a pretty good deal for a substitute babysitter.
Bowls cover breakfast eggs, lovingly scrambled by a repentant Mama. (She had barked at her little boy when he asked her three times if she remembered her promise to make him an egg in the morning.)
Ms. Road Construction looked so fetching in her hat and trousers that I had to snap a photo. What else was there to do for ten minutes while we waited in line?
My dear daughter is celebrating her 23rd birthday tomorrow. “Where has the time gone?”
We invited some dear little people to play with us last week while their Mama went out to lunch. Back when I had my babies, I didn’t have such an awkward time getting up & down off the floor. Back then, I didn’t have to grab my reading glasses to see what the puzzle looks like. I have missed these little happy little folks who give you the opportunity to get down on the floor and make animal noises.
(I had the idea to write this as I labored with dirt-encrusted toes in a 90 degree garden yesterday. In retrospect, the scene was so unlike who I am in the winter. If you ever write a seasonal look at yourself — please let me know. I’d like to read it! )
Every Monday or Tuesday, I view the WordPress word prompt and offer it up as an assignment to my little band of (homeschooled) students.
I know it sounds crazy, but most days, they really like this.
I’d like to think it’s because they love the writing process and the literary satisfaction of creative thoughts being visually voiced.
But, it’s probably just because I bribe them with the promise of skipping the usual boring workbook pages.
Either way, I guess it’s productive and beneficial for many reasons:
It’s good writing practice.
It’s good speaking practice.
It’s good practice being a gracious audience and
It doesn’t always come easy, but it’s good practice giving positive feedback to others.
One child sits in front of a computer, busily typing. One child eeks out words sparsely, with a pained look on the face. Another is scrawling words with a pencil so fast, the work is barely legible. Spelling doesn’t matter at this point — just write what you are thinking.
After about 20 minutes, we share our pieces. And, I have to say…it’s incredible what they come up with. Everyone has something unique to offer.
My standard response is: “That sounds like the start of a great story! Next time we do a word prompt, why don’t you continue the story?”
But they never do.
Today’s word was “identical” and today’s excerpt is from 13-year-old Mo:
So begins the adventures of Leopold Larry. Larry Hillenburger was born on Leopold street in southern New York City. He was an only child. And it was true that if he wanted to, he could take over the world with several clicks of several buttons. However, Larry did not carry out such a task due to his strong morals. Larry could only do such a thing due to several impressive computers. He had found a way to hack into all of the wireless nuclear defense & offense systems.
Now, enough of all the talk about Larry’s scheming. Larry, at the time our story takes place, is 14. He has just finished a grueling year of self-tutoring. The reason that it had been hard for him was because he was acting as both teacher and student. As the teacher, he had to deal with a stubborn and rebellious student, and as student, he had to adjust to the strict teacher, dull sessions and much else besides. Also Larry had no siblings; much less a twin, much less still, an identical one…