Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Like Weird People

Some of my favorite people are very weird.

They do weird things. Like bang their heads on the wall
and talk to their food,
or rehearse the same conversation over and over again.

They eat food off the floor,
and pick their noses,
and pee in their pants.

They save candy wrappings for future inventions,
turn their bedroom into pollinator museums,
and pay employees with pennies. Or stickers, or hugs.

They decide to put uncooked spaghetti sticking out of the cooked spaghetti,
one for each year they've lived,
like birthday spaghetti. Then they tell me to put it on Pinterest.

They jump on their beds,
turn sticks into swords,
and talk most of the day in character.

They don't match their clothes,
sing very loud and off key,
and dance ballet in leotards and fairy wings.

Some need help reading.
Some want to read the same book over 28 times in a row.
Some just pretend to read.

They make up spontaneous songs
about strange yet relevant subjects
like dipping chicken into milk.

Most of the weird people I like are children.
But sometimes I wish grown-ups weren't so scared of being weird, just like them.
I'd like that.

Cause I like weird people.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This post is not intended for defense in my decisions or to fuel the war on education choices. It's just my perspective.
Reactions from non- homeschoolers regarding my choice to homeschool vary. But there are indeed reactions. Here is a list of the top five.
5. "Oh, yeah. My cousin's sister in law did that. I think it was because she didn't want to get up early in the morning."
4. "Why would you homeschool when there is a perfectly good public school available?"
3."I believe that is the best choice now days. Good for you" (Usually coming from a semi-retired grocery bagger)
2. "How will they have any social skills?"
and finally, the most common answer is:
1. (somewhere along the lines of) "I don't homeschool because I want my children to be smarter than me."
 I simply don't know how to respond to this with any grace or eloquence.
Because what I've found is that children want to learn. It may take some (or much) encouragement, but they do. And when they want to learn, they will.
I am convinced that the best thing for a teaching parent to do is to develop a love for learning.... take time to be curious... be okay with not knowing, but eager to find out...
and they will follow. 

Its like planting one small seed that will grow, flourish, and produce more seeds. I can plant the seed, weed out self doubt, and water with more questions, more research, and more application.

 If one does not wish to homeschool, that's fine. But I would disagree with the assumption that there has to be seven hours of classroom learning in order to produce brilliant minds.
Because if one has a desire along with the freedom to find the answers, learning will not stop at 3:00. It will not stop at age 18 or 22. It will not be contained within the walls of a classroom.

It will simply be a challenge for the student and the teacher.

 And challenges are rewarding indeed.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My neighbor generously gave us apples in need of eating from their apple tree.

We love apple picking at the Suderman pond.. but we aren't there right now. Thanks to my neighbor, we still experienced our annual applesauce making.

If you have never made applesauce, it is the easiest thing ever, and a healthy way to use up a whole bunch of apples. If you have a sieve, you can cut up the whole apple and put it in the pot. I, however, did not,  so I peeled and cored the apples.

You can add water, but it is not necessary if you cook them on a very low temperature in order to release the juices slowly before the apples start to mush. If you think the sauce is getting too thick, you can add water in small increments to achieve desired consistency.

If you want to make applesauce with kids, there are some really neat things to talk about while cooking. Here is a recipe and some ideas:

  1. Wash and cut up apples. Place in large sauce pan, cover, and put on the stove on low heat.
  2. Wait. You can set the oven timer for 10 minutes to remind yourself to stir occasionally. It will take about an hour to complete the batch of applesauce.
  3. The next step is your choice. You can eat the sauce just the way it is, which may be the healthiest option, or you can add sugar and cinnamon or other fruits to add flavor.
  4. If you wish to use a sieve, mush it through the holes to get a nice even texture and to leave behind any unwanted parts of the apple.
  5. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Applesauce and apple facts:
  • Apples have natural sugars in them, so applesauce can be sweet without adding extra sugars. This is probably the healthiest way to eat applesauce.
  • An apple that is nice and crisp have strong cell walls made of pectin. When the apples are cooked, the cell walls break down and pectin is released. The apples get mushy, but as pectin cools, it forms a kind of gel.
  • Apples that are more ripe sometimes get mushy too, just like if it were cooked.
  • Pectin can be extracted from apples and other fruits to make foods like jelly so that they have a gel like consistency.
  • Apples have fiber, which is healthy for you. Cooking the apples and releasing pectin actually provide more fiber than a whole apple.
  • Apples also have plenty of juice within their cells. This juice is what is leftover when we get rid of the pectin, seeds, skin, and any other fibrous parts. You can get juice from your applesauce by letting it filter through a cloth.
  • Apples with different colored skin taste different, too. Some are sweet while others are more tart. It might be fun to have an apple taste test to see which is your favorite. My kids like red delicious best.
  • Applesauce can be used as a healthier way to cook some foods, such as cake. It is moist and the pectin can provide a nice consistency. It also has a good flavor.
  • Before making the applesauce, cut it in half to see a seed star.
  • Many times, it is more fun to eat foods that you picked with your own hands. Try to find a place to pick apples in the fall.
Fresh apples are fun to pick, yummy, and even kind of interesting. We love apple season!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Here is a new word for the kids to mull over:

We have had fun with it; they tell me when they were generous or when someone was generous to them, and I point out generous observations We use the word a lot. Oh, and I get to hear the My Little Pony stories of Rarity, the pony whose element is generosity.

But here's my experience:

I can be angry, insecure, jealous, scared, pitiful, hopeless, and/or weary. Or, I can take whatever I've got, give in hope, and know I am victorious in multiple ways. Generosity brings life- to the recipient and the giver. That is a promise from God who will provide. And that is what I wish for my daughters in contrast to my history.

Here are a few opportunities for giving:

Forward Edge- I found this charity on the Sevenly website, featuring relief for families living in a dump, which is their source of survival. If you are willing to hurt a little, watch the video that Sevenly has on this cause.

Child Sponsorship through Compassion- Compassion is having a push for sponsorship this month, and would be a tragedy if I didn't share, because I love child sponsorship! And if you are not currently involved, I think you would love it, too. Compassion is a great way to reach someone you would never even think of, and make them a permanent name in your mind, and a child to keep in your heart.

Of course, generosity isn't limited to giving in money. It is time, patience, honor, inconvenience, and words of blessing. There are so many that need to receive, and many more that need to experience giving. Generosity is contagious.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Run

Yesterday was Summer's first 5k. I didn't run 3 miles until I was 17, and that was because I didn't want to play volleyball, and I didn't want to go home. So I joined cross country as the worst long distance runner in HHS history. I didn't run to win, obviously, but I had a darn good time!

Thankfully, my husband likes to run. Savannah is a natural, but Summer I wasn't so sure about. She complains when we run together...I preached to Savannah that she needed patience with her since everyone has different gifts... and Summer ran the whole way, finishing with a sprint.

Remind me to never underestimate my children again.

And the kid's run....
On your mark,

Get set,



I always put the numbers on the back, and it's supposed to be on the front. I never remember that.

It was a great family day, and a first for my eight-year old.

The letter from the Church of the Resurrection, the church that organized the run, said this money was going to orphans, women, children, and young adults in sub-Sahara Africa, specifically the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are learning about deserts, so we found the Sahara, and then the sub-Sahara on the map.

And the verse on the back of the shirts, which I covered up with the misplaced numbers says:

"I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith." -2 Timothy 4:7

This was the verse that the girls had learned at church on the Wednesday night before, and one of the verses on our family mission statement. I love God's timing. It made the verse so much easier to hide in their hearts.

Activity, family time, geography, faith, giving, and growth on a Saturday morning. That's how we roll. Or try to, anyway.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I have a vague memory of bark rubbings in my preschool years and leaf identification later on, all done somewhere on the section that my parent's farm rests It was instigated by my mother, possible with the help of 4-H. Although the memory is vague, I am certain that these experiences sparked a curiosity of tree identification that won't go away. There is just something about learning along with an enthusiastic parent.

I love to study plants because it is awe-inspiring how they are so different for specific reasons that are seemingly out of necessity, yet so artistic at the same time. Add the amazing fact that they take carbon dioxide and make oxygen to help them and us, and I'm super excited about my relationship with trees and plants!

Yesterday, our trip to the Arboretum was to identify different trees. Many of them were labeled, and we had discussed different aspects of trees in advance. For instance, that some trees are conifers and some deciduous. Also, you can identify a tree by looking at the shape of the leaves, the bark, and the seeds or cones, if there are any.

I am not saying that it was necessarily easy to sit them down and start studying trees. We would go on walks and I would point to a tree and say, "Is this coniferous or deciduous?" And they would usually say the wrong answer at first. It was out of obedience at this point but as things began to make sense, it turned into detective-like research, and almost a game.

And everything is more fun if you can draw or take pictures.

This was one that we had already researched at home- and someone remembered it!! Happy Day!

This beautiful conifer was a great conversation piece...Why is it called "blue spruce?" How is it different from other conifers? (A pine was directly across the way)

We decided that this tree had pretty shaped leaves.
Look at that texture!

Fun to draw.

Love the bark.

Kansas and hedge apples...

White oaks have rounded leaves, red oaks have pointed leaves.....

and live oaks are different altogether. This was a guess from my research. I didn't see identification.
So today, we looked at some trees in our yard. I am not sure about these, so if anyone can identify the, please let me know!
This tree we ordered from It was $10 for 10 trees, which were really small sticks. After five years, it is almost as tall as the house. However, I lost track of which tree was which. It looks like a pear tree to me, though...and it bloomed in September! :)

Based on what I read in this website, I believe this is an Ash.

This tree has always stumped me. It looks like a seedless cottonwood with birch-like bark. I'm guessing it is a poplar hybrid.
We also enjoyed looking at the floor of the arboreedum....

And the pretty flowers... refreshing since mine didn't last the summer heat.

We talked about how they support ecosystems
And critiqued nature art.

The biggest miracle of all was that no one went home tired, but energized. I am thinking of making a tree photo book with the kids, but might wait on that to see what else we can find.

Friday, September 21, 2012


My brain may be different than most- or, at least different than a prize pupil. Learning in a classroom was typically a chore until I was sitting in the Spanish classroom, right outside the Moorish style courtyard fountain in Granada. I was there, living it. And even though my Spanish is very poor today, I did learn so very much, and loved learning it.

The funny thing is, my mother was an excellent teacher- I just never knew I was learning. Most of my ideas stem from her influential parenting.

Even now, my love for learning has exploded. Therefore, I am biased, bent on teaching with as much enjoyment and immersion as possible.

For example, the Overland Park Arboretum:

"Let's take a picture under the willow tree!"

Breaking for art

Super fancy poses

Counting stepping stones

A quest to find blue flowers

Daddy giving Max a hard time

He made my day


"This was the second best day of my life!"
"What was the first?"
"Uh, I don't know...."
And what did we learn? It's 2am. That will be my next post :)