Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No Damsels in Distress Here

One of the joys of having kids is that you just never know what awesome observations on life they're going to make...and you never know when it's going to strike. I live in a constant state of "hilarity preparedness." I can see the wheels turning in the minds of my little ones and every so often one of them comes up with a ridiculously insightful quip that just cracks me up.

Such was the case just last night. As we were winding down and trying to relax before bedtime, I popped a Scooby-Doo dvd into the trusty dvd player and sat down to chill with the kiddies. As often happens in the dramatic masterpiece that is the Scooby-Doo franchise, there was a dastardly fiend on the loose and a damsel in distress. In this particular instance there was something heavy falling from the ceiling and the aforementioned damsel in distress was standing helplessly directly under the also aforementioned heavy, falling object. At the last second, Freddie made a superhuman leap from across the room and grabbed the helpless damsel and pushed her out of the way. Heavy, falling object landed with a thunderous crash and surely would have squished the poor girl if not for Freddie's heroic heroism.

At which point my darling 8 year old girl looked at me and said (quite matter of factly) "Mommy, what's the matter with cartoon girls? If something is about to fall on you, you should just get out of the way."

So of course I cracked up and agreed wholeheartedly.

Then she added, "Maybe they're just waiting for the boy to save them."

My reply, "That might be true."

Ella, after giving it some thought, "Well, if something's about to fall on me, I'm not going to wait around for some boy to save me, I'm just going to move."

That's my girl!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stalking the Wild M&M

Last week, we finished our first science lesson of the semester. It was an introductory lesson on zoology and Ella loved it. She loves animals so she couldn't wait to start this new curriculum. In fact, I was waiting to start it until she finished her science report on Sea Urchins from last semester. The day she finished the report she asked to start the next book. Yay for science!

At the end of the lesson we got to do an experiment on camouflage. It was fun, educational and didn't require a huge shopping list. Plus it involved I'm in. I got this experiment out of Apologia's Land Animals of the Sixth Day: Exploring Creation with Zoology 3 textbook.

So if you're looking for a fun activity for your science days, here's an idea:

1) Dump out a bunch of M&M's (I went with dark chocolate flavored because, um, I'm the mom and I get to pick) and then sort them into color groups. You need to have the same number of M&M's in each group.

2) Create a wild M&M habitat. You'll need a laundry basket or other habitat container and construction paper in three M&M matching colors. We went with brown, green and orange. Yep, we pretty much set those blue M&M's up for failure. Tear the construction paper into strips and then crumple up the strips and toss them into the basket.

3) Mix up the color sorted M&M's and gently scatter them in the habitat. I say gently because if you just dump them in they will all sink to the bottom.

4) Turn your M&M stalker loose to search for as many M&M's as he/she can find in 2 minutes.

5) Count how many of each color M&M was found. Theoretically, your M&M hunter will have located more of the M&M's that didn't have matching construction paper for camouflage, thus demonstrating the important of camouflage for animals in the wild. Theoretically.

We actually had to do this experiment twice because the first time Ella didn't see this as an opportunity for scientific learning as much as she saw it as "Candy, candy, candy!" So the first time she just shoved the paper out of the way and scooped up all the M&M's that fell to the bottom of the basket. But, after a bit more explaining of the purpose of the experiment, and an assurance that she would in fact get to eat some of the captured M&M's, we did it a second time and lo and behold the numbers worked out.

The only downside...the sugar rush that followed. Note to self, Jack should not be given M&M's unless he's outside and has a very long distance to run.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Don't Believe in Paying Retail

One of the big benefits for us when we decided to homeschool was the fact that we would be saving a bundle of money in tuition bills. Ella was in a private Christian school before we started homeschooling and it was a good size bill every month. Money wasn't the biggest factor in our decision to homeschool, but it was definitely an x in the equation.

However, once we decided to jump in to the homeschooling pool, I quickly discovered that you can spend a lot of money on homeschool stuff. A lot. The good news with the growing homeschool movement is that there is a huge choice of homeschooling resources available. In a whole range of prices. So, being the cheap...uh, I mean...budget-conscious mom that I am, I immediately started looking for discounts, freebies and ways to save money on homeschool curriculum, resources and manipulatives.

These are some of the sites that I have found to be very helpful. There are certainly many, many more thrifty resources out there, so feel free to send some suggestions in the comments.

Christian Book Distributors I love this site. Their prices are usually the lowest to be found for new books, curriculum or dvd's. And they carry a lot of things doesn't carry. Their shipping can be pricey so it's worth it to sign up for their catalog because they will occasionally include free shipping coupons in the catalogs.

Homeschool Classifieds Love, love, LOVE this site. Did I mention that I love it? Cause I do. This is a site where homeschoolers can post new or used curriculum or supplies for sale. They have an excellent search feature so you can easily find just what you need. The prices for used items are usually really good, but some of the new items can be found cheaper at Christian Book Distributors so you want to compare prices. And most of the sellers include shipping in their prices so that's a bonus. I've bought numerous used books and curriculum through sellers listed here and every transaction has been great. I've even sold some used items and that was great too.

ABC Teach has a ridiculous amount of resources for just about anything you can think of. This is a paid site so you have to become a member to get access to everything.

There are a ton of free resource websites too. I get a lot of Ella's math worksheets from The Teacher's Cafe. They have a large selection of free games, resources, worksheets and more in a wide range of subjects from Preschool all the way to High School.

So that's just a snippet of money saving options. Please, please, please send me your best money saving tips and resources in the comments.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Guy in the Bread Aisle

So two days ago I packed up the kids and headed off to Giant. Grocery shopping with my kids is always an adventure filled with Indiana Jones-like dodging and weaving and an endless string of "'no, we're not getting that.' 'Stop touching things.' & 'Stay next to me.'" Good times.

Anyway, we were facing a drastic shortage of milk and Cheerios (and possibly cheese) so we bundled up and headed out to Giant. Now, I didn't think this was going to be a big deal since it was morning, on a weekday and we weren't anticipating snow or nasty weather. I have discovered in my almost 9 years of mothering that it's best to hit the grocery store during the week when a lot of people are working or taking their kids to school. Fewer people = faster shopping trip = happy mommy.

Little did I know this was not going to work on this particular shopping trip. That's right, unbeknownst to me, I had just entered....the Superbowl zone. Dun, dun, dun.

Yep. Apparently there is a big ol' sporting event happening this weekend. And also apparently it can only be celebrated correctly with copious amounts of chips, salsa, frozen pizza and cheese. And further apparently men do not trust their wives to purchase the correct quantity and quality of Superbowl snackage. So, this one week of the year men descend upon grocery stores like hungry bears preparing for winter.

Which I would find really, really humorous...if they weren't all in Giant at one time and if they understood the basic etiquette of grocery shopping. That's right, boys, there are rules to grocery shopping. For example, a grocery aisle is like a road. You drive your cart down one side of the aisle...not down the middle. And when you get to the end of the aisle you must stop and look both ways before don't push your cart full of Cheetos and Budweiser right into the path of oncoming cart traffic. And you don't chit chat (or whatever the appropriate male term for chit chat is) on your cell phone all through the store. Distracted shopping isn't cool, dude.

So, all of that is neatly presented to my friend, The Bread Aisle Guy. The guy who parked his cart on one side of the aisle, then stood in the middle of the aisle, chatting away on his cell phone while he bent over, thus taking up the other side of the aisle as well, to study a box of muffins like it held the answer to life on Mars.

Do I sound bitter? I'm not bitter. Honestly, if I had been kid-free I would have immensely enjoyed the slightly dazed look on the faces of all the men who, when they said they were going to get supplies for "the Game," were unexpectedly handed an additional shopping list from wives and know, "since you're going anyway."

So consider this a friendly warning about Superbowl week. Treat it like a blizzard...stock up before the testosterone driven chip frenzy strikes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Excuses, Excuses....

So I wasn't deliberately hiding from you guys. Honest. We got hit with the cold/flu/sneezing/coughing/feeling rotten/wish we lived someplace warmer/why haven't they invented the cure for the common cold/who ate all the chicken soup kind of bug. Yeah...not a pretty picture.

So I thought about blogging. I even tried a few times. But somewhere between the pile of tissues and the NyQuil and the drippy, sneezy kids, I just gave up. The only thing I wanted to write about was the perfect proportion of bubble bath to hot water. Actually that's what I really wanted to research...extensively. But again, two sick kids doesn't always equal quality bubble bath time.

I'd like to say we're all back to our cheerfully chipper and healthy selves, but I just spent over an hour at the pediatrician's office waiting for eye drops for Ella's brand new case of pink both eyes. Woohoo, let's hear for conjunctivitis. On the bright side, Ella's response to pink eye (after tearfully asking if she had to have surgery) was to say, "well, at least pink is my favorite color." Gotta love my silver lining girl.

So now I'm trying my best to keep Thing One and Thing Two (aka Ella and Jack) from playing with the same toys in order to hopefully keep Jack from catching pink eye too. But of course the only toys they want to play with are whatever toys the other sibling is currently enjoying. Ah, the joys of infectious diseases.

Anyway, with the exception of engaging in some tactical germ warfare, I'm better and hopefully back. I have some wonderful tidbits to share about working from home and men in grocery stores. Guess which one is more frustrating.