29 March 2013


My hubby ran across this volcano kit when looking around a little chain store called 5 Below. Not sure how big this chain is, I've only seen them around Columbus. Everything they sell is $5 or less. The kit came with a tiny volcano, baking soda, a dye pack, a pair of safety goggles, a tiny funnel, a set of plastic gloves, and a little back drop.

The girls opened it up the other day and had a lot of fun putting it together. It was still on the table when John got home from work. Thats when the real fun began. John and the kids proceeded to turn many items in the house into 'volcanos' and used up a cleaning size box of baking soda and  a gallon or so of vinegar. Oh, a little fyi here: if you run out of white vinegar while making a volcano, apple cider vinegar works just as well. Here are some pictures...

The volcano with the backdrop. The backdrop not to be confused with out table top which looks like a Capitan America comic book

Anara really liked the goggles. This was when she was fairly sick. I swear I have never met anyone that can stay as upbeat as this kid when they are sick.

Team work

Dad gets home and after a few runs with the volcano, a small vase is substituted in. The kit volcano was really small and kind of a challenge to work with. And there was a comment that went something like, "I wonder how big of a container I could make this work in? Babe, do we have any 2 litters?"

A larger container is found to house the volcano. Notice the 2 large bottles of vinegar on the table. Cameron joined in at this point and was really taken aback when what was inside started bubbling out.

Can you make out the huge grin on my little guy's face? After an initial freeze, he let out a squeal,  and went nuts over the little explosion that happened. I usually save things like this for his nap time, but I think I may have to change my attitude on that.

If you want to make your own volcano all you need is baking soda, vinegar, and a container shaped like an up side down funnel. Place it in a dish or something to catch all the liquid as it comes out of your 'volcano.' You can mix a little red food dye into the vinegar for the lava look. We found it easiest to place the baking soda into the volcano and then pour in the vinegar.

27 March 2013

A Quick Trip Home

When I think of home, I think of my husband's childhood home back in our hometown. His family moved into the house when he was in middle school. I love waking up in his old room. I should add here that shortly after my husband and I got married, my mother-in-law redecorated my husband's and his brother's old bedrooms. I'm fairly certain she did this so I, Nia, and future grandchildren would feel more comfortable and welcome in her house. The reason I'm certain of this is because she asked for and then used my all of my opinions on how to decorate the rooms. Also, now that I have known her longer, I realize the colors I picked out are some of her least favorite. My husband's old room is for grown ups and his brother's old room is set up for the kids. So, to set the seen for you at waking up in my mother-in-laws house...

The house is located on the Little River (actual name of the river) which winds through our little hometown. On the other side of the river is farm land and the river's bank has several large, old trees. As I wake up in the morning the sunlight dances through the lace curtains in only the way light can dance off water and through lush tree leaves. I'm in a room that has been loving decorated to specifically make me comfortable by the sweetest women in the world. The lace curtains came over with my husband's family from Germany. Although we didn't know each other at the time, my husband and I grew up in the same area of Germany, so the curtains add another touch of sentimental value. If I look out the window, I see the back yard and the river. If I stand up, I can see over the trees to the acres of farm land. If it's a Saturday, everyone will wake up to the smells of my mother-in-law downstairs making breakfast. Maybe it's becoming clear to you exactly why I think of this when I think about home.

This trip only lasted 4 short days, but we were able to pack plenty into that time. Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are not far away, along with Ft. Campbell Army base, Nashville, a zillion caves, and a ton of fun (and educational) things to do. We spent a day at the lakes and a day on Ft. Campbell.

The view from the pic-nic shelter where we stopped to eat lunch

The recycled glass counter top inside the planetarium. The planetarium at the lakes runs shows for only $2 a person on the hour, every hour. Because of it's rural location and frequency of shows, it's very likely to be the only ones in the auditorium for a show. When this has happened in the past, the person giving the show has always asked if there is any certain show we would like to see. He is also extremely happy to answer any and every question I've seen many kids through the years throw at him. I'm not sure if there is more than one person that runs the projector, but it has always been the same man when I have gone.

Daffodils also known as buttercups to many Kentuckians. We picked these on the way home for both grandmas.

A creek the girls played in and got water for the daffodils from.

Photos I snapped on the way back from the lakes. If you look into the water of the bottom picture, you can see a little crescent shaped island. As a kid, my dad would take me camping on that island. We would head out on a little boat and set up camp for a night or weekend.

At the lakes we also went through the antelope and bison reserve. We went just after lunch time, which we already knew to be the worst time of day to go. The best times are morning and dusk. Animals sleep during the warmest parts of the day and head to the areas of the reserve that humans can't see. So we were only able to a few antelope and they just weren't in good spots to get a good photo of. We saw many horse back riders at the lake and had to promise Anara that on our next trip to Kentucky she would get to ride. John has actually never been riding. Not exactly sure how one grows up in Kentucky and never rides a horse, but somehow it happened.

John's father worked on helicopters when he was in the Army, so no trip to Ft. Campbell would be  complete without viewing at least a few aircraft.

This amazing drawing Nia did is of a friend that she has known for many, many years. The friend lives a few houses down from John's mom.

All of us began this month with some icky respiratory crude which quickly turned into pneumonia and RSV for Cameron, Bronchitis for John and me, and a sinus infection for Anara and me. The warm southern air was just what we all needed to clear out the last bits of what was lingering in our lungs.

26 March 2013

Health Update

I have great news to update you about my health. I mentioned a couple of post ago about being on doctor ordered rest and feeling like the walking dead. To make a long story short  I was having a few issues with my heart that was being exaggerated by not being able to get enough of certain nutrients into my body. It was causing me to black out several times a day and generally fell absolutely horrid. I was talking to my chiropractor about the whole thing and he suggested taking pro-biotics. He said people with celiacs (which I have not been diagnosed with, but do have wheat issues) should take them for about a month so their stomachs will be able to absorb all the nutrients it can. For kids and women that pregnant or nursing he recommended Activa yogurt twice a day. Others he recommends taking a supplement that runs about $13, we picked up some of this for Nia. After a few days of the yogurt, I stopped blacking out. After about a week and a half, I was feeling almost normal.

It's been about 3 weeks and I feeling much better! I'm back to doing normal things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and baby nesting. I haven't been brave enough to drive yet. I think it may take a bit of time before I am comfortable getting behind the wheel after blacking out so many times.

Early Baby Scare

Yesterday we had an early baby scare. I was sitting at one end of our couch and Caneron had repeatedly been running across the couch to kiss my ever enlarging baby belly. Cute huh? Well, he suddenly switched from super cute mode to mischievous mode and instead of an adorable belly kiss he took a flying leap and landed knees first right on top of my tummy. This sent me into about a 12 hour stint of Braxton Hicks contractions. The first ones were very close and very intense. Thankfully, yesterday was a day John got to work from home and he I was able to get to my doctor's office very quickly. As we drove there, the contractions got less intense and less frequent. After a through check of baby and myself, we were able to return home. For the rest of the day the contractions would get stronger and weaker. At one point we considered heading to the hospital, but finally around 1:30 or 2 a.m. they had eased up enough for me to fall asleep.

This morning I woke up a little extra tired, but contraction free!

This is a fairly recent picture of me. Not the best, but since I'm the one that generally takes the pictures around here, a shot of myself in the mirror is about as good as it gets.

12 March 2013

Moon Phases With Cookies

Science is my favorite subject, but it generally requires a mommy that is not on bed rest to execute properly. So, our science projects these days have been few and far between and have all been very simple and easy to do. My plan is to put science on a back burner until summer. Then, after the new baby comes and I can get out of bed, we will being tackling this year's science. However, this is a project that  can be handled from my easy chair and done mostly without my help.

It's a given that if bribed with sweets, you can get kids to do just about anything. So, this is a science lesson that has been done many, many times by many, many teachers both at home and in traditional school settings. My kids are gluten free, so they only see these kind of cookies maybe once every year or two.

We started our lesson by going over the phases of the moon. There are several sites online you can do this with. We used this one by gwit.org. I couldn't get the intro video to work, but the site has several other interesting facts and little demos about the moon. It even has a spot to type in your weight to see what you weigh on the moon.

I started by drawing 8 circles in a circular pattern then labeled the small circles with the 8 phases of the moon shown on the site. I used the lid to a gatorade bottle to draw the circles. Gluten free sandwich cookies are generally a little smaller than their original counterparts, but the gatorade bottle lid was the perfect size for us. The girls used a case knife to pry open the cookies and then scrape and spred the cream in the desired positions. They looked at the chart on the above site to see the order and how much of the moon was showing in each phase. Then, they put the cookies in order. After they were done, they got to eat the cookies. Finally, they used their papers to draw in the moon phases.

11 March 2013

Bed Rest Changes Things

Surprisingly, I am actually finding stuff to keep me busy while on bed rest. However, I have deep routed desires to get out of the house. I'm not on total bed rest. I am allowed to sit up with my feet up, and probably do so more than I should. I do get out every once in while, mostly to church and occasionally a dinner. I have made 2 very short trips to the craft store, hence the reason I have a few things to keep me busy. There have been many changes in our house hold to accommodate the rest of the family and myself while I spend so much time laying down. We are normally a very green, cloth diapering, healthy food eating type of family. Since a lot of the cooking, cleaning and laundry have fallen onto John and Nia, we have more throw away items and more fast food. We have paper towels for the first time in years and Cameron is in disposables. I have to continuously remind myself that I can't expect my family to do things the way I would do them, Especially with items such as cleaning and cooking.

School in this season of our lives looks a bit different also. I'm focusing on language arts and math (that really hasn't changed). Our multiple times a week field trips are totally gone for a while though, along with play dates, my coffee Mondays with other moms, extra curricular activities and the two homeschool groups we joined this year. I have decided to put science on hold until our new little bundle arrives. History is done mostly through videos right now and we haven't been doing to many projects to go along with them, just worksheets. Instead of using the table to work with manipulatives, Anara uses  a tray on my bed. She actually seems to think this last one is kind of cool. The kids are in charge of what they do for art and P.E. Previously we have always tried to be done with school work by around 4 or 4:30. Now we do it at any time I feel up for it, even if that means we are making fraction pizzas on my bed at 10 p.m.

We have also had to move things around a bit. It was to challenging keeping Cameron out of all the homeschool stuff while it was in our one large main room. It is now all in the master bedroom so little fingers will leave it alone. We also invested in a few more organizational items so I can tell the kids exactly where to get things. Our furniture in the main room has been moved around so I can keep a better eye on Mr. Mischievous when I'm in the living room.

Lately we have started hosting a few more things than usual at our house. The thought is that if I can't get out, then we will just have to have people in. It's been fun. We have one set of friends that is at our house at least once a week and often more. This has been a huge blessing to me. They haven't told me, but I know this is a conscious choice on their part. Since meeting them a couple of years ago, they have always been very busy people.

My children are learning things through this that I would have never even thought threw exactly how to teach them.

They are learning compassion and how to truly be helpful. I need so much help right now and they are the ones providing most of that help. Sania is the main cook for the house right now. Through the week she makes sure everyone has breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks. Anara is usually my go get'er. She fetches nearly everything I could possibly need from books to bottles of water. This is on top of keeping up with school work and chasing after Cameron all day.

They are learning the importance of seizing the moment. More and more often lately, I feel like the walking dead. However, sometimes I feel almost normal. At those times we try to do something a little more fun. Within the confines of my bed rest rules that is. Today, John took me out for breakfast then this afternoon he drove us all to the park and I watched the kids play as I sat in car. This may not seem like much, but when doctors orders keep you confined to the only the ground floor of a small townhouse, any excursion, even ones where you don't leave the car, are exciting.

They are learning how to work together. It takes real team work for the girls to keep an eye on Cameron and get a gluten free lunch or dinner ready. It also takes a tremendous amount of effort and teamwork to keep little Cameron entertained while school work gets done.

08 March 2013

Invisible Ink

For social studies this year we are studying U.S. History. John was a double major in college and one of those majors was history, so this is a subject we don't have a curriculum we follow. Part of what we are doing this year is watching Liberty's Kids (Click here to find out more about Liberty's Kids). We rented these videos a few years ago from the public library and this year we found them on Netflix. Today's episode was entitled 'Postmaster General Franklin' and we did a little project to go along with it. Invisible Ink!

With simply baking soda and water it is easy to make invisible ink. We used about 2 spoonfuls of each, but then poured off a little of the water. The girls used cotton swabs to draw with the solution on printer paper.

Next let the paper dry.

There are a few different ways to make the invisible ink become visible, a heat source such as a light bulb or candle, grape juice, or lemon juice. The show used a candle as a heat source. I wanted to  stick with using a heat source, but a light bulb instead of a candle. I just imagined our whole house going up in flames at the thought of the kids holding paper over a candle. Using a light bulb, you still have to be careful. The paper can still catch on fire. This was the plan, however, all of our light bulbs are the low heat, energy efficient variety. They just don't emit enough heat for this project, so we went with lemon juice. Anara used her fingers to spread the juice on the papers. By the time Nia got back to the table, Cameron had already finished her paper for her.

Here are the results, which were only a little easier to make out in person than by this picture. They must have used a better medium or tools in Franklin's day or the messages would have had to of been really short. These didn't turn out great, but the kids got an idea what it would have been like to use invisible ink. It's a challenge writing something when you can't see what you are writing.

04 March 2013

Maternity/Due Date Count Down

You may have noticed the little maternity counter on the side of the blog that counts down how many days remain until my due date. On day 101, I decided to take a little break from the norm and make a counter of our own for the house. We also watched 101 Dalmatians. If this had not been so impromptu, I may have planned a few more activities for the day.

This is the latest image we have of the newest member of family!

I find it really exciting and very sweet how the kids interact with their pre-born sibling. Every time Cameron is on my lap he lifts up my shirt and talks to my stomach. This is really cute unless we have company. He also pushes gently trying to get his little brother to push back, which actually happens more often than not. Both of the girls also talk to my belly. Nia generally says something short like, "Hi, baby," "I love you little guy," or "I can't wait to hold you and get out of doing school work while I take naps with you." Anara has a different approach.  She is determined to make herself this baby's most favorite person. She thinks the key to this is to be the person that spends the most time talking to him. I can usually expect 2 to 5 conversations or stories from Anara to the baby each day that last anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes.

03 March 2013

Homeschool Opposition, The Nay Sayers

One of the most challenging parts of being a homeschool family is dealing with those wonderful people that feel you shouldn't. Of those people, family members are the absolute worst. When in the general population, if someone disagrees with homeschooling, they tend to just roll their eyes and keep their comments to themselves (or if they do comment, you can walk away). However, have a family member, oh say a grandparent or aunt that feels homeschooling is done only by weirdos and you get an ear full on a constant basis.

Every once in a while you may run into someone in public that doesn't agree with homeschooling. We have only had this happen a few times. I've been ready to dish out a quick, "It's our legal right to make this choice for our family." However, what I have found is that my children are very assertive and capable of defending their right to be homeschooled all on there own.

Our household really only has one opposer. We have a huge extended family, so I think only having one is extremely lucky. She lives 6 hours away so we don't see her very much, but she does call often. The conversation generally takes a nose dive when she asks the innocent sounding question of, "So, how is homeschool going?" Coming from anyone else in the world, I'm happy and quick to answer this question. Coming from this relative I know it's her spring board for lecture on socialization, learning discipline by sitting in a classroom all day, my incapabilities, well, the list will go on and on if I let it. The conversation always ends with her asking me exactly when my husband and I will allow our kids to go to school like normal children.

So, how do we deal with this relative? At first we repeatedly told her the reasons why we homeschool (which you can find here). Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to resinate with her or she just feels her opinions should change our mind. So, now we simply tell her we are not having the discussion again. If she persist, we get off the phone.

How do you or would you handle those people that disagree with you homeschooling?