My favorite things

Skipping School
This blog has rapidly become my number one source for homeschooling inspiration. It’s written by a girl named Kate who was unschooled, along with her brothers, for all her growing up years. She is passionate, opinionated, and articulate about unschooling, and she pulls it all off with a gracious maturity that far exceeds her twenty-odd years.

But then, I’d expect no less, seeing as she’s homeschooled and all.


Seriously, it’s rare, too rare, that we get to hear homeschooled kids-grown-up reflect on their experiences. Her candor and insights are refreshing.

Whirley Popped Popcorn
I don’t have one.

I want one.

I’ve been scouring the thrift stores (or rather, thrift STORE, because I only go to one) and telling every other thrifter I know to keep their eyes peeled for the innocent looking pot that makes such fabulous popcorn.

I used to always make my popcorn in a stove-top kettle, but then my popcorn popping skeelz took a turn for the worse and I had to give it up and go with the tasteless, dry variety (but at least it’s not burned) that you get from an air popper.

No, she hasn’t turned into a Simpson. Her hair is just wearing a blue towel.

We borrowed my friend’s whirley popper for the family reunion and I spent a good 45 minutes communing with the little contraption while I turned out batch after batch of the crispy kernels. Now the guests are gone but, despite having washed it clean and set it aside to tote back into town, we have yet to return the popper. And somehow, every night it makes it’s way back to the top of the stove.

Do you think my friend would notice if we returned an air popper instead of the whirley popper?

Our water pressure
For five years we’ve had horrible water pressure. It would trickle so slowly that we could wash stacks of dishes without the sink ever filling up, and it would take entire minutes before the hot water would start to run.

Then this passed weekend my uncle went out to the well with my husband, jiggled some gauges and knobbies, chanted a few incantations (walawalawalaBAM), and now the water thunders out of the faucets. It’s glorious.

This post on homeschooling
It’s the exact opposite of Skipping School, but still, I loved this post. Ann thoughtfully and carefully speaks about her family’s decision to homeschool. She is so NOT bumbly and loud and sarcastic like Yours Truly. People like her are easier to listen to than people like me.

This little nook
The kids spend hours here.

It is one of the smartest decorating choices I have every made.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with this never ending selection of mini-seminars that cover such a wide-range of topics. It’s a great source of entertainment for the bored or curious and an excellent resource for the homeschooling family.

Yesterday we watched one about a National Geographic photographer (and, qué sorpresa!, it actually overlapped with a National Geographic movie we had watched earlier in the day). (It was a rainy day and rainy days warrant excessive National Geographic screen time.)

Another fun talk we watched awhile back was about a guy who tried to make a toaster from scratch—as in, he had to go out and dig up the ingredients to make the plastic. And so on.

Here the kids are watching a show on juggling while John and I race around the house doing
last-minute clean-up before our guests arrive.

Making cookies on a rainy afternoon

I had my oldest son mix up the dough and then we ate them fresh from the oven with cold milk.

My daughter’s quotes

Here’s one: “When we were riding down the road we passed some goats and sheep and they were all having a little church service.”

If you are at all familiar with Biblical references or this book, you’ll get the humor (not that she got the humor).

Read Alouds

I’ve been reading a book to the kids called Remarkable Children by Dennis Brindell Fradin. Each chapter is dedicated to a young person who did something incredible, be it a discovery or an intellectual or physical feat. Some of the young people are Shirley Temple, Anne Frank, Zerah Colburn, Mozart, Hilda Conkling, and Cassius Clay. It’s inspiring. And I find it intriguing that many of the great kids turned into more-than-normal adults. Something to ponder, no?

I’m also reading The Hiding Place to the older two children. It’s such an incredible book and I look forward extra much to our night-time reading. But, at the same time that I’m loving it, I’m also feeling all heavy and sad because I am choosing to teach them about the horrible side of humanity. It is a weighty thing, this ending of their innocence.

Of course, they already know about a lot of unpleasant stuff (rape, eating disorders, poachers, suicide, the ozone, etc), but the horribleness of the Holocaust is on such a monstrous level that it leaves us reeling. The children are shocked, I think. And indignant, too.

When I was reading about Anne Frank in that first book I mentioned, the one about remarkable children, I sobbed my way through it. I cry a lot more when I read to the kids now than I used to. I think it’s because I’m finally reading stories that really hurt.

So to sum up, when my kids grow up they’ll remember our nighttime readings as one big ol’ sobfest. Boo-hoo.

Leftover donuts
We had two bags left over and every afternoon I faithfully trot down to the basement to fetch a donut to go with my afternoon coffee. After 20 seconds in the microwave, it is almost as good as fresh.

While we normally dig into the donuts while they are still hot, many of the adults (not the kids, though—the kids were like sticky-fingered vultures) waited for their salad to settle before indulging.

We all agreed that the donuts are best eaten fresh, as in within first hour after frying, but after—and this is key—they’ve had a chance to cool completely.

When the donuts have had a chance to set up there isn’t need to wildly contort your face while you wonder whether or not they are under-done or just very squishy soft, and the glaze hardens up into a thin shell that shatters with each bite….

Oh my. I do love me some good donuts.

My mother being alarmed that perhaps her donut isn’t fully cooked.
Isn’t she cute?

My son getting weepy over his piano lessons

Not because he hates to practice, but because the melody for the new song he is learning is so hauntingly beautiful that it moves him to tears. So sweet.

Mud Babies

It’s been ducky around here lately and my kids have sprouted webs between their toes to go with the weather.

They splash and slip.

Mud oozes between fingers and toes.

Then mud balls get thrown and kids start to beller and I call it quits and loudly issue a proclamation that NO ONE MAY GO NEAR THE MUD HOLE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

And then they all come inside to get baths before lunch, but even after showers and hair washes, I still find mud in their ears and clinging to their hair.

Tis the season…

This same time, years previous: Garden tales, part two, talking points rained out, cinnamon tea biscuits


  • Margo

    I love this post. so fun.

    My mom has a whirly-pop but guess what? I like my popcorn made in my cast iron dutch oven BETTER. more flavor, still fluffy and all popped. huh. I should do a post on that. It's such a staple around here and everyone raves about it, even, GET THIS, my mother.

  • judy

    oh-that last picture did it for me.what a doll-mud and all.i just wanted to find some mud some where to play in. have you ever heard of a children's type poem about raising children,i will tell you some parts of it,maybe it will come to mind since it seems you read a lot. if you teach your children—–they will learn contempt-if you teach them—,they will learn honesty,—it goes on and on a bit-i also once say it on a card the size of a holy card. maybe one of your readers will know what the hack I'm talking about. i tried Google it but just can't remember much of it. i wanted to re-introduce it to my daughter who has 5 children.

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