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Thursday, July 25, 2013

All Because I Needed To Vacuum

My vacuum cleaner died a couple of weeks ago.  Well, maybe it might actually be on life-support, since it sits in pieces in my bedroom, hoping to be restored to usefulness.  Either way, I haven't been able to vacuum in a while, and the house was starting to look pretty sad.  My usual method of vacuuming is to wait until a particular room is not in use, throw all the stuff that is on the floor up onto whatever furniture is in the room and then vacuum as fast as I can before someone returns and dumps additional material onto the floor.  Then, I wait until another room is empty.  In this way all the rooms get vacuumed eventually, but the entire house is rarely clean at the same time.  Perhaps it is not up to the highest standards, but it works for me.  However, this method would not work when I was forced to borrow a vacuum, because I had to return the vacuum in a reasonable time period.  I had to think of some way to keep all the kids occupied long enough to vacuum all the carpeting (four rooms, 1 hallway, 1 closet).  Then it came to me.....
I have been informed by reliable sources that letting my kids paint without total supervision is a mark of insanity, and I tend to agree, but these were desperate times and they did call for truly desperate measures.  In addition, although my children seem unable to keep a cup of milk or water in anything approaching an upright position, they have never spilled a batch of paint.  Splattered it?  Yes.  Smeared it?  Yes.  Gotten it on their clothes?  Yes.  But never a major, requiring the repainting of walls, spill.  So, I took a calculated risk.  Or maybe I'm just nuts.  You can decide.
 Anyway, one of the things the kids like to do in the summertime is paint the little wooden birdhouses (here is the last time they painted some) that you find in craft stores.  They let me set them up in my garden, and they really hope a bird moves it.  I do not have the heart to tell them that no self-respecting bird will ever go near their creations.  They continue to paint and hope.  Is there any chance that birds might be color blind?
 They even do some interior decorating......
 Today, after the thick coatings of paint FINALLY dried, I gave them a couple of coats of varnish,
 attached them to some wooden garden stakes,
 and set them up in my garden.
They may be a bit garish for the birds, but they do add a cute bit of color to the greener portions of my garden.

Oh, and the vacuuming?  I got it ALL done without a single interruption.  I guess I need to come up with something else to paint if I have to borrow a vacuum again.

Happy vacuuming, Everyone!

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Six Sisters: Strut Your Stuff

Highhill Homeschool

Monday, July 22, 2013

Picking Raspberries

I LOVE fresh berries.  I enjoy going to a farm and picking strawberries because they just taste better straight from the plant.  I also think tromping through the woods on a hike and happening upon a patch of ripe raspberries or blackberries and then spending a while picking and eating them is great fun.  Some of my best memories of childhood involve collecting fruit of various kinds on different adventures, following my intrepid father into the bush.  But, I don't think I'm going to make it to the strawberry patch this year and slogging through a briar patch with toddlers probably isn't feasible, so I have to make do with my own little patch of black raspberries in the backyard.

I noticed several days ago that the berries were starting to get ripe, but I held back.  As sorely tempted as I was, I knew that if I picked the ripe ones every morning I would get about 15 berries each time, which is a nice mouthful but nothing more.  After 5 days of waiting, I braved the mosquitoes (which did require actual bravery, since even total immersion in bug spray did little to deter them), and picked this lovely bowlful.  Oh the deliciousness.
Then I made the mistake of sharing some with my baby.  He likes blueberries and strawberries, so I didn't think twice about giving him some of my precious produce.

He laughed at me as he squashed them into goo and then threw them on the floor.
It's a good thing I love my children, but this naughty boy is not getting any more of my berries.

Happy berry picking, everyone!

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Capturing Caterpillars - First Attempt

The other day my kids found out that during my childhood one of my siblings found a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar and brought it home and eventually we all watched it hatch into a butterfly.  They were fascinated by this story and immediately put "Hatch a Butterfly" on our Summer Fun list.  

Today we went on our first expedition to find a Monarch Caterpillar.  The infallible internet told me that this was a good time of year, but I was skeptical because I haven't seen any Monarch Butterflies floating around and if there are no adults then how can there be babies...?  My children, happily naive, did not see this as a problem, so off we went to the meadow behind the tee-ball field where I had spotted large quantities of milkweed plants.

Ian entered into the search wholeheartedly.
Cam was a little skeptical, but he was stuck going wherever I did and he didn't complain much.
 I've never really looked at a Milkweed flower before - they are actually rather pretty.
 The girls weren't quite as excited.  The weeds were over their heads and there were plenty of thistles and other weeds with pokey parts, but they managed alright.
 Eventually it became clear that there were no caterpillars of the type we wanted anywhere in that field,
so we headed for home....
 empty-headed, I mean "handed".
We'll try again next week.
Happy bug collecting, everyone!

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The End of a Hoarding Career

My oldest son is at that age where every item he touches IMMEDIATELY becomes a MOST TREASURED POSSESSION which must be maintained at all costs.  These treasures have been known to include empty mesh apple bags, expired coupons, mail-order postcards, and gravel.  I know, I know, he's a little boy and they do that sort of thing.  I don't mind so much the collection of stuff as the storage method - for which I have only myself to blame.  You see, a few months ago I let the boy set up a card table in his room so that he could play with his legos out of reach of his baby brother.  That table soon morphed into a desk which, as desks usually do, soon become more of a pedestal for piles of "stuff" than an actual work space.  The organizational nut in me screamed to sort and categorize and purge but the mom in me melted when my little boy pleaded for his treasures.  But in the end, I finally had to act because the growing piles started to become unstable and were threatening the safety of the smaller members of the family.  Somehow, I failed to take of a picture of this archival wonder - you all would have been impressed, both by the sheer volume and by the breadth of material included in the collection.

On the day I chose to deal with this crisis the kids had dentist appointments.  I don't know if it was the happy gas wafting through the building or what, but it occurred to me that if I had a small desk I could fit it into the second closet (don't hate me - my house is lacking in many areas but I do have an abundance of bedroom closets) and Ian could keep his junk..err treasures...there and close the closet door to keep it all safe and out of sight.  A second sniff of happy gas gave me the reminder about a thrift store located on our route home.  Taking four kids into a Goodwill store is not exactly a fun thing for me to do, but I decided to risk it anyway. Wadda ya know, they had a desk.  The desk cost $2.99.  Yes, two dollars and ninety-nine cents, plus tax. AND it fit in the trunk of my minivan.  AND if fit in the closet.
 The excitement over the new desk encouraged Ian to start things off with an almost clean slate, and he let me discard an amazing number of former treasures.  He was also motivated "to keep the desk more clear so there is room to work at it."  I encouraged him in this.
 With the monster cleared out of the middle of the bedroom, I was further motivated (and Ian was compelled) to tackle some of the other problem areas in the room.  We sorted and purged books and toys and returned them to their proper shelves.
The costume box was also emptied and all the non-costume pieces were returned to their various homes.  From now on, whenever I am missing something - like plastic silverware or a telephone book - I will check the costume box first.
When we were finished, the room looked fantastic.....until Cambo toddled in two minutes after I took these pictures and started pulling stuff off of the shelves again.  Oh well, as they say: boys will be boys.

Happy collecting, everyone!
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Monday, July 8, 2013

4th of July Wind Socks

Did you have a nice Independence Day?  I really enjoy all the fun and family time that surrounds this summer holiday, but it always sneaks up on me.  This year I didn't put up any decorations until July 3rd!  The afternoon of the 3rd wasn't the nicest in terms of weather, so we finally got around to making a project I had in mind.  I found the instructions for a Wind Sock made from an aluminum can on a blog I follow, Echos of Laughter, but as usual I didn't have all the "proper" materials on hand so it has my own twist.  I should also point out that the blog is Canadian, so I switched up the theme from Canada Day to Independence Day.

First I emptied out and cleaned out three aluminum cans, and then punched two holes in one end to thread the hanger (yarn) through.  The kids decorated strips of white paper with red and blue crayons.
 Then we glued the white strips around the outside of the cans, and "sqweezded hawd" until the glue dried a bit.
 Next we cut long thin strips of red and blue construction paper to use as streamers.  Ribbon or tissue paper might have been a better choice, but I didn't have any on hand.
Last, we took the strips and glued them inside the bottom edge of the can (watch out for sharp edges).
The weather was too damp to try them  outside right way, so Ian created his own wind and was pleased with the results.
Then they were hung up in the kitchen window until the weather dried out,
 which it did on Independence Day.

I hope you all had as much fun at parades and fireworks as we did this year.
Happy Independence from Britain!

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Highhill Homeschool

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Days Instead of Project Days

With summer in full swing, our days have been too full of playing outside to do many official projects (we'll save those for rainy days).
The boys have been playing in the dirt,
and eating it too.
Blair found a way to play outside and color at the same time.
On another day we united two of Ian's big interests: The Red Baron (WWI flying ace) and kite flying.
And of course there has been plenty of pool time,
summertime snacks,
and park days.
Happy summer, everyone.  We'll do another project one of these days.