Monday, November 30, 2009

Homemade Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us, and the boys couldn’t be more excited. They were ever so eager to put up our Jesse Tree and to hang up the reindeer. They’re finding it so hard to wait to open up the first reindeer and see what fun is waiting inside for them. Their excitement is quite contagious, and I’m finding myself eagerly awaiting their bedtime so I can secretly fill up the

Christmas Craft Bags that will also be awaiting them this December.

We’re also having a homemade Christmas. Which means that all, or at least most, of our gift giving this year will be homemade. I wasn’t going to share all the goodies we’ll be making because I know that some of our family keeps up with us here, but I just won’t say what item is for whom and keep them all guessing.

Square Pincushions -- there will be a few recipents for these nifty gifts, and I think I might make one for myself too. Is that a tad greedy? The boys will enjoy picking out the material, ribbon, and buttons and helping stuff them. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to let them use my new machine, but they can help with the hand sewing.

Sewing Machine Pincushion -- there will also be a few multiple recipients for this little project as well. How clever is this entire idea? Again, the boys will be able to help with picking out materials and stuffing. Morgan will probably be able to sew them closed as well.

Head Bands -- the link there is for the pattern, and we’ll be using a mishmash of instructions. We have several recipients for these as well. There are so many simple and complex patterns for hairbands, but I really liked this one and felt that it was best suited for our recipients. Hopefully the boys won’t be dead set on the grandma’s needing these.

Harry Potter Robe -- I think I’m pretty safe saying this is for my kids. Remember the Harry Potter unit study we did? (Lesson plans coming!) Morgan still remembers it and has asked a few times if he thought we could find a costume in his size. I’ve had little luck, and when i found this free pattern.. I’m also pretty sure if I sewed it in brown (no lining) I could pull it off as a Jedi Robe too.

Boys Tie -- the Harry Potter costume wouldn’t be complete without a tie right? School uniforms and all that. So rather then spend a fortune buying one I’ll make one.

Bow Tie -- Jayden has taken a huge liking to Bill Nye. I purchased a couple of the videos and each time Jayden watches them he begs for a bowtie. Sadly I can only offer him regular ties and it never appeases him much. So a bow tie it is. If he’s REALLY lucky I’ll be able to find a white shirt that I can turn into a labcoat. He’s also holding out for a Gentleman’s suit. To understand that one you’d have to know that he’s head over heels in love with Teddy Roosevelt and Praiseworthy (the butler in By The Great Horn Spoon.)

Piano Bag -- I saw this bag earlier this year and knew exactly who was getting that for Christmas. Now I’m just hoping I can make it without too many issues. Funny thing is, I saw a guitar bag too and was highly tempted to make it, but the recipient I had in mind might not have been as grateful..

Doll Quilt Kit -- we have a couple of people in mind for this, and were hoping they will all enjoy it. Of course they don’t have to make a doll quilt out of it, they could easily make a throw pillow or something, couldn’t they?

Teddy Bear Kits -- this is one I’m making for the boys as well as a couple of other little boys who shall remain unknown for now. I thought that it would be a great way for Morgan to continue practicing some of those hand sewing skills. With patience I think Jayden will be okay with it too. They really love stuffed animals so I suspect they’ll really enjoy doing this during the summer.

Five Stones -- this is a game similar to Jacks and I thought a couple of older nephews might have fun with it. We will make them each their own set and then print out the instructions to go with them. We even have some stone material on hand. Here’s hoping they enjoy it!

Magnet or Ribbon Board -- we’ll probably go with the ribbon board because aside from the frame we’d have everything on hand to make this and it would be the most simplistic for the kids to help with. I gotta say though, I really love that magnet board!

We have a few more ideas up our sleeves too, but I think they’ll be better shared with pictures. So you’ll have to wait until we put them together! Stay tuned for lots of pictures of the crafting fun around here this month.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Corn Painting

I had this weird idea that corn painting would be fun. We had a couple ears of corn in the fridge that needed using up, and consuming them seemed like a bad idea. After all, the corn was looking dried out and the ends had turned funky colors. So I thought that letting the kids paint with them might be fun and that the end results would be cute to hang up for our Thanksgiving party. So I ended up printing out a corn cob pattern onto cardstock. I was able to fit two corn patterns on each piece of card stock and the kids each got two of those sheets to paint.

Because a normal paint pot wouldn't work I plopped paint on waxed paper for them to roll their cobs through. This worked well, but as soon as a drop of paint touched Jayden he freaked out. Don't ask, I don't know. This is the same kid who plays in the mud and drops his food on the ground and still eats it. Paint on his hands freaked him out. This is the same kid who once spilled a bit of ketchup on his fingers and screamed for five minutes because he was convinced it was blood. I had to actually lick him (yes, I licked my kid) in order to prove it wasn't blood and get him to stop screaming. You know what he said when it was over? "Gotcha didn't I Mom?" Jayden rolled his corn cob and also dipped it and he had some really cool looking prints on his paper, then his brother opted to give him more color and kinda smeared it up.

See the cool corn prints on the paper? That's what all the corns looked like. Then when I took an annoyed Jayden into the bathroom to wash the forbidden paint off his hands we came back to lots of purple corns. Morgan felt that we needed more purple. The end product is still cute, but for some reason I'm lacking a photo of it. I'll have to see if I can capture one with our Give Thanks banner. I ended up cutting them corn cobs out and we've strung them across a window in our dinning room.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Homeschool Black Friday Sale

Don't miss out on the sale!

Homeschool Library Builder's Sale started on Thanksgiving Day, don't miss out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

From the Pumpkin Patch, may you remember all that you are grateful for today.

PS: Mom & Dad

PS: I've decided to scrap the rolls too, cause we don't need rolls and mashed potatoes right? I know you won't think less of me for that right, Mom? The kids won't know the difference and since they're still busy oogling over the ice cream that they are not suppose to be eating until tomorrow I figure I'm safe.

Instead, I put my time to better use and took those dried cranberries I was lectured over and made cranberry sauce. I know, very "Little House On The Prairieish" of me, but it worked! It turns out dried cranberries still have enough pectin in them. I know you'll be proud that I found a way to sneak a science lesson into the days cooking, even if I was the only one present for it. Apparently cricket trumps cranberry sauce. Mind you, they all came running as soon as they heard me clapping and cheering at my own success. They were not, however very impressed to find out it was over cranberry sauce instead of ice cream or chocolate.

The corn pudding recipe has been found (thanks Mom, aren't you glad I didn't wait until 2 am to call or something dreadful like that?) Did you know that creamed corn has sugar in it? I know, weird, right? See, I snuck in another science lesson in the grocery store. It went over much better, except for the other shoppers who didn't understand why some American was freaking out over the label on the creamed corn. I was really beginning to think the corn pudding tradition was going to be canceled! If there is one thing I will always remember Buddy for it is most certainly her corn pudding and fruit salad.

So instead, I came home and I looked up creamed corn. After being totally grossed out, but not nearly as much as I was the time I looked up information on pasture fed beef.. I found out you can make your own. Please, do not drag out the blender. It turns out you don't need it! A bit of flour, butter, and coconut sugar later and another Thanksgiving tradition has been saved. I know you guys would be so proud!

I haven't been able to figure out a way to reinact the Macy's Day Parade though. I considered putting on our own, but I suspect if the police arrived it wouldn't be to join us. So instead I'm going to surprise the boys with a giant turkey balloon in the morning. Okay, so it won't be the same, but I'm pretty sure we'll think of something fun to do with him, don't you?

I wish you guys could be here with us, but I'm sure you're having loads of fun with everyone else. Give out extra hugs to the official in camo for us, and please don't ask him about the mashed potatoes. You'd be so grossed out! Tell his nearest and dearest if she gets too cold in her new home she can come visit us because we have lots of sun! I'm sure if you arrange it just right you guys might even be able to stow away in their baggage!

Don't forget to tell the littlest and the biggest we say hello and Happy Thanksgiving to them too. They'll have to eat a pinch extra fruit salad with yummy little marshmallows for us because we aren't having any here. In fact, if we don't keep an extra eye on Buster we might not be having any turkey either! Do you think he's sent a note to Nala to do the same? Remember the time she stole the whole pizza right off the counter? Wow, I'm never EVER going to forget that one!

Oh, and the boys took me seriously on the whole candlelight aspect. We now have 5 glass jars decorated in golden tissue paper complete with tea lights inside of them. The table is now covered in glue, and there's tissue paper all over the floor, but I'm looking at the bright side. I'm so thankful I can get away without providing my guests with cutlery!

All our love again,
Lawrence, Kendra, Morgan, & Jayden (Buster & Cookie are still refusing to sign under protest!)

A Thanksgiving Letter

Dear Mom & Dad,

Thanksgiving has creeped up on me again, but don’t worry I’m prepared this year! I made an entire list of fun things for the kids and I to work on. It’s been an experience and I’m sure we’ve learned a lot. Like how to get paint out of the school carpet, and that no matter how many papers you jam in the printer it will still only print one copy at a time. The projects are picture worthy and once I figure out how to get the smashed graham cracker out of the usb port I’ll send pictures.

The kids begged for turkey this year and I agreed to check on prices. At $65 a turkey I was willing to skip the traditional for chicken. Poultry is poultry right? The kids persisted and won out. Don’t worry, we didn’t break the bank. We simply traded in your Christmas presents, the kids were certain you wouldn’t mind! Fresh cranberries were out, and I received quite the lecture at the health food store about the flavor of cranberries when I picked up dried ones. I pretended to listen and smiled politely. You’d have been proud. I’ve settled for bottled cranberry sauce which I’m certain I can doctor up with a bit of maple syrup and fresh oranges.

I’ve skipped the sweet potato casserole, you know I’m not a big fan and besides the kids ate all the marshmallows so it wouldn’t have been as tasty. We’ll have white potatoes though, and corn pudding if we can locate the recipe. Why is it that the family recipes are the ones that always come up missing? Im pretty sure the mice are in on this since I don’t have a shoebox that eats them.

I’m only slightly concerned about balancing the cooking jobs and making sure everything is done on time. Surely our guests won’t mind waiting until 8 to eat if I mess up, right? It’s tradition after all! It’ll be a chore to keep them busy though because it’s not like I can suggest they watch the football games and keep me informed on just how much Dallas and Detroit lose by. I’ve decided I’ll have to teach them American football, it shouldn’t be too hard.

I’ve decided I’ll serve everyone on paper plates, but it’ll have to be the super cheap ones because I’ve spent the rest of our budget on that turkey. I’m pretty sure the plates will hold up if I suggest that we eat like the pilgrims did and skip the knives and forks. Less dishes is always good.

I even made pies, including pumpkin! I had to go and pick out a pumpkin, which is quite the chore. They aren’t orange you know! I managed to bake it and then mash it with only minor difficulty. Do you think my guests will notice the orange on the ceiling if I stick with the candle light method?

I’m exhausted all ready and I haven’t even started cooking yet! I’m not worried though, I’ve given the dog explicit instructions on when to throw the turkey in the oven so that I can catch a few extra minutes of sleep on Thanksgiving. He’s enlisted the help of the guinea pigs so I can sneak out for a few minutes. I’m not sure I liked his enthusiasm at being left in charge of the meat, so the boys will be overseeing the entire process.

Our Christmas movie is still being debated in order to wrap up the evening in typical tradition. The verdict is out still but it looks like It’s a Wonderful Life is out this year. I can’t say I was surprised by that, but don’t worry I’ve wrapped it up in flashy paper to stick in their stockings instead.

I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, and so are the kids. After all it’s not every day I offer up 4 different deserts at one time is it? Don’t worry though, I’m sure there will be enough pumpkin pie left for breakfast the day after! It is tradition after all..

Everyone has said to pass on their love and tell you Happy Thanksgiving! You’ll have to let us know how badly the Cowboys and Lions lose by and who gets the grotesque turkey with 6 legs. Tell us who has the best float in the Macy’s Day Parade, did the Wiggles make it again this year?

All Our Love,

Lawrence, Kendra, Morgan, & Jayden (Cookie and Buster refused to sign under protest of not being left alone with the food..)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busy Working

When Mr Scarecrow "left" the office for lunch on Tuesday he returned to find someone else busily working away. As it turns out Jayden has collected the mail and discovered the K-mart ad which had Star Wars toys in it. So he decided to kick back and wait until Mr Scarecrow returned to work so he could pester him about a purchase.. or three. (And for the record, Mr Scarecrow likes his desk like that, and the office if a forbidden zone for me to clean..)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Addition & Subtraction Games

I recently purchased the book Math Games To Master Basic Skills Addition & Subtraction. I liked the idea of mixing in a few more fun and simple games that would work on the kids addition and subtraction skills. They fully get the concept and now it's a matter of practice in order to work on speed. Their confidence has really grown lately too because I don't see as much finger counting around here as I use to. This past week we played several of the games in the book and the kids really enjoyed them. They also learned a few new skills. For instance, we've discussed place value before, but not in huge depths. The Place Value Game is so much fun and we love playing it and the boys caught on really quickly how to turn the single digit numbers into something with more value. So I was pretty excited to see Spin-O in the book of games and I printed it out to play last week.

The idea of Spin-O is that you spin the Ten's spinner first. Then you spin the Ones spinner. After which you combine the two numbers together to see what you have. If you spin 5 Tens and 6 ones then you have number 56. You'd put a marker on 56. The idea is that you play until one person gets 4 in a row. This can take quite a while so sometimes we simply play for a time limit and see who has the most consecutive numbers. Playing this way was a great review for Morgan, and one he picked up on quickly. Jayden however, found himself in new territory.

To help him understand the concept I gave the boys each a couple of handfuls of the linking cubes. I told them to put them in groups of ten. Whatever they had leftover was suppose to stay in it's own pile. They did this. One pile ended up with 29 (see above), the other pile had 34. He was able to seen in a hands on way what a group of ten was and how he could count groups of tens easily and then pick up the rest by counting them by ones. For review purposes in their math journals I wrote: How many: Tens ________ Ones __________ 56

We also played a game dubbed Diamond Tens. This is similar to our Ten's Concentration, but played more in a domino fashion. Each domino can only be hooked on if the sum equals 10 (or whatever numbers you've chosen at the start of the game). The boys loved this idea and thought it was great. Have I mentioned that one of their all time favorites is Ten's Concentration? Morgan put on that nifty domino that managed to hook up on three sides, he was quite proud of that feat!

The fun thing about this game was that it gave us variations on how to play including using real dominos which we may do one day to shake it up a bit. The book is chock full of games that we'll be playing as Jayden continues to learn his addition families, and the practice the rest of us gets doesn't hurt anything either. Morgan, however, has progressed to triple or more addition. You should have seen the look on his face when introduced with them the first time. Pure horror. "Mom, I can't do this. I don't know what 346 numbers after 643 are!" Once he realized he only had to work with two numbers at once he flew through them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Camp Nano

Here at the Pumpkin Patch I've been up to my eyeballs in a whole lot of stuff this November. There's been all the Thanksgiving fun we're having, and really we are having fun. The kids are loving the crafts and falling in love with historical figures they've never met before. I can always tell when they really love a person we study because they ask if they can meet him and talk to him and ask him questions. There was also my birthday, in which my family blessed me with their normal crazy cards and a few fun gifts. I've been listening non stop to my new ipod nano. And yes, for your information, it is purple. What other color would have suited me anyway?! Then there's Camp Nano. Oh yes, I found time for camping this month. Most of which happened smack dab in the middle of my bed, or in crazy moments between when I should be sleeping and when I should be waking. It hasn't gone at all as I'd planned it to go.

I do that, you know. I plan lots of my writing out in my head. Not because I'm lousy at note taking but because it give me the ability to discuss it with myself. Now, I know you're thinking that really pushes me over the cliff of insanity, but the truth is I'm quite harsh when it comes to the fictional things that I write. I'm always questioning it's believability and I'm constantly editing and researching. I think it drives those around me crazy because all they want is to read one measly thing I've written, and I just keep saying things like, "When it's done." or "Not yet it's total trash."

Did you know that when Emily Dickenson died (and I'm not comparing myself to her) that her sister found 1800 poems in her room. Seriously! They were bound together in 40 hand sewn volumes. I found that amazing. She wasn't big on sharing her work, but not out of selfishness but rather out of the shyness. I understand that. I respect that. (Sis, don't bother looking for 1800 unpublished written works in my room when I die though.. they'll be on my Macbook!)

When people hear that you write they except everything you write to be amazing and awesome. You begin to wonder if the silly note you scribbled down was good enough to leave on the counter or should you just ditch it now before a well known pack rat comes along and saves it for all eternity. Oh, that may be extreme but how do you think we know so much about history? All those diaries people kept, all the tales people told form generation to generation.

I'd rather not be known for my constant and consistent inept ability to spell marshmallow with an a instead of an e. Or for constantly mixing up the letters in calendar. Which, for the record I seem to no longer do on both words. I mean there's only so many times you can cross out the same letters and rearrange them on the shopping list before even your kids start to question your ability to read and write.

Anyway, here comes (and nearly goes) another November in which I've participated in National Novel Writers Month (Nano) and I know it won't be long before I get the wistful pleas from my family wanting to read what I've written. This year my intention had been to write a fictional piece of work about a homeschooling family, but my plans went completely awry. Why?

Because I write best about the things that I know, that which I've experienced and felt. It's quite difficult to write about these things without putting a piece of you and those that were with you in them. Which always opens the curtain of my vulnerability. When I write about people there's always a pinch of someone I know that makes that character believable, and a larger dash of who they are always seems to creep in. This piece that I was working on was no different. I found pieces of many people I knew scattered in it and then, in an effort to make sure they were portrayed nicely, so I wouldn't be hated afterwards, I found that I was making my story sickly sweet. It screamed of fakeness and too much good and not enough bad.

The funny thing is, the characters people create are often changed in appearance and by the roles in which they are given within a story, and chances are none of the people in my story would have been found by their real life counter parts. But, there's always that nagging fear that someone will find me out and know I've recreated them into my story. In the end, to keep myself going this year I started writing down things that have happened to Mr Scarecrow, the kids, and myself. Things that were funny, especially now that we look back at them, even if they weren't funny when they first happened.

While it wasn't the original goal of my story I think it's been a great experience. I've enjoyed it. I've found that the words come easily and I've even been ahead of schedule with my writing. I've noticed that if I do fall behind it's quite simplistic to get caught up and pull ahead. Which means I keep going with it. I don't know that the end product will remain as it is or if I'll use this funny experiences in various stories or stick with my original idea or a combination of all of it.

So, now that I've revealed a whole lot of raw scariness about myself and my writing, used the word "so" too much, deleted a lot this post and then simply rewritten it I've also decided to share a part of what I've written. It's raw, because in Camp Nano we don't edit. (Kinda sounds like a motto doesn't it?) That's hard for me. I like to work in bits and pieces and to constantly fix things, especially when I hit a writing block or hurdle. However, I agreed to play by the rules of Camp Nano which meant no editing. Excuse the grammatical and typing errors you may (or may not) notice, and try not to judge me too deeply by what I've written.

In Which You Learn To Shop In Foreign Country

Many things one does on a weekly basis is grocery shopping. It can be a simple task, if you exclude the other shoppers around you, in most cases. However, learning to find items in a new grocery store can often be a small struggle, but even more so when you are living in a country who spells yogurt with an h.

My first shopping experience here was nothing short of harrowing, stressful, and breath taking. Mostly the first two, but I lost my breath a few times when I was attempting not to shout about the idiocy of stocking things so weirdly.

You see you take a normal shopping list to the store and you figure you’ll be all set right? Wrong. Things just aren’t located in their proper places. I mean who looks for eggs down the bread isle? Isn’t a health code violation of some sort to store eggs on the shelf instead of the fridge? This country gets HOT in the summer time, what happens then? Are you sure the eggs are really safe and food worthy?

Seriously, I considered never eating eggs again when we moved here, but then it became normal and we now consume eggs regularly. So much so that I no longer blink or think twice when I see them on the shop shelves instead of in the refrigerator section.

Then there’s broth. Why isn’t the broth down the same isle as the soups? Doesn’t this make logical sense? Shouldn’t they be in their own little section in this area? I can find every kind of soup known to mankind from pumpkin to corn but can I find broth? No. I’m about to scrap broth and change whatever flimsy meal needed it when I decide I’ll just ask where the broth is.

It’s down the gravy isle. They say this with every mark of confidence as if that’s 100% normal. Excuse me? Down the gravy isle? May I ask why? That’s just where they’ve always kept it so it makes sense. Do you use broth to make gravy with? Of course not they use the drippings from their lamb roasts. Don’t be silly you wouldn’t use broth for gravy.

Okay fine, I can accept that, but why on earth is the broth down there then? At this point the store employee began to feel annoyed and walked away leaving me wondering exactly which isle contained gravy and wondering if the gravy was canned or not. Not being a fan of gravy I was highly concerned.

I find the broth, down the gravy isle. The gravy is mostly boxes of powdered mix that require water. Which still left me wondering why on earth the broth was down that isle. The mystery remains.

I manage to survive the canned goods with only a few more back tracks. I contemplate what treacle is and if it will be as good as molasses is. I decide I’ll try it and deal with the consequences, good or bad, later. I’m miffed because they don’t sell Jiff peanut butter and their natural peanut butter has no nutty taste to it. I’m undecided on what to do. I give up and decide I’ll search out a health food store later, but then I realize the kids can’t survive without peanut butter for another 24 hours and I grab something that boasts a roasted peanut taste and that has a very low sugar reading on the back.

I make it to the dairy section and begin to wonder why no one told the fool who made the yogurt sign that they spelled it wrong. I’m standing there staring at it when a few people ask if I need help. I realize I must look as though I don’t know how to read. I tell them no and start to examine the yogurt.

My husband turns up. I point out the sign with a bit of a giggle. He looks at it and shrugs. I figure he’s far more polite then I am. Then I realize that half the pots of yogurt on the shelf are spelled with an H too. My word is it a country wide miss spelling?! I point it out again and then my husband laughs. No, it’s not spelled wrong, it’s suppose to have an H in it. Don’t be daft, in all the years I failed my spelling tests it was never because I forgot to put an h in yogurt. Of course not, apparently when yogurt got to America the h had fallen off. This is what happens when you store your eggs on the shelf instead of in the dairy!

We move on to the milk department. There are so many milks to choose from that I decide to read the labels. Each milk takes the time to actually boast exactly how much milk fat is in each container. Wow, now that’s a new one. Where i come from they boast how little fat is in each one. We pick out milk and I’m struck by a new sense of awe as I see that the cream is boasting fat contents too. ‘No less then 18% fat!’

There’s cream so thick that when you tip the container over it doesn’t move. Cream comes in all shapes and sizes here. Thickened, sweetened, and evened whipped. But you won’t find cool-whip on the shelf. Nor will you find a vast variety of creams in aresol cans to spray either. I realize that cream is revered here. It’s on a pedestal far above other dairy products. Clearly eggs are at the bottom of that totem pole.

Next we hit the meat department. My word did I just see kangaroo meat for sale? I can’t decide if I’m grossed out or not. There’s more meat for dogs on display then any dog I’ve ever owned has had the pleasure of smelling. There’s mince with three different levels of fat content to them. Pork chops, chicken, and more sausages then you can shake a fist at. And it all stinks. I mean really stinks like raw meat. I suddenly feel weak and nauseated. I cover my mouth and my nose and attempt to push the shopping cart with my foot.

I discover that all four wheels on the shopping cart can turn in a 360 degree motion. Amazing. If only the blooming cart would go forward instead of sideways. I run into three customers who back away when they see my mouth and nose covered. They presume I have some deathly illness.

I uncover my face long enough to grab the cart and skip the entire meat department. I go straight for the veggies. My husband picks out a few pieces of meat and returns with them wrapped in brown paper.

“Why is it wrapped in brown?”

“What color did you want it to be?”

“I mean, why is it wrapped up?”
“That’s just what the butcher does.”
“The butcher?”

Yes, as it turns out most people buy their meat directly from the butcher. Oh, so how does that smell? Like raw meat. Only you get to see them chopping and cutting the meat and they look at you with great concern when you gasp for air outside their door and give them your order before darting back out the door for more fresh air again. They can’t decide if they should laugh at your behavior or offer to help you.

Produce picking isn’t any easier. Did you know there are like 100 different, or more, varieties of potatoes to choose from? I mean, I knew that, but I’ve never had that kinda choice before. You normally go into the supermarket and you pick what they have which is either red potatoes or Idaho potatoes. Now I have to choose between potatoes with names like Dutch Cream and Kennenbeck. Then you decide if you want potatoes that are fully washed, lightly brushed or still covered in caked on mud. After which you must decide how many kilos you want.

Kilos. Right. Exactly how many pounds is that anyway? You do the math and get confused. You start again.. a kilo is equivalent to two pounds two ounces so if I need five pounds of potatoes.. You give up and grab a bag of potatoes with your eyes closed and hope they’ll do the trick.

You move on to bananas only to pass out when you see that they are more then ten dollars a kilo. Even after the math that’s insane. You suddenly feel the need for a banana right now. You refuse to give in and buy one and you wonder how long you can go without a banana on your morning oatmeal and toast. You wonder if you’ll ever have the pleasure of enjoying another banana and you stare longingly at the yellow fruit.

You move forward and see the cherries are dirt cheap. They are only 5.95 a kilo and even before the math you know that’s a great deal. You load up much to the shock of everyone around you who has plenty of bananas in the carts but no cherries. You smile cheerfully and pick up strawberries which are also pretty cheap at only a couple of dollars.

You move on to watermelon and are shocked to see that all watermelon is sold by the kilo. Good grief, can I return the rind for a refund? What’s a good deal on watermelon. How much is a kilo again? You stop and try to do the math. You give up and throw two large chunks of melon in the cart.

You grab some apples but are highly disappointed to see that they have no fuji apples for sale. What gives with that? If you can buy a New Zealand apple in America why on earth can’t you get one in Australia. You get no farther then New Zealand before a hand is clamped firmly over your mouth and you are ushered to a dark corner of the store. Your husband hisses at you not to mention the name of with the word apples attached. You think he’s gone a bit nutty and you decide this must be discussed further, but clearly from the signs of his stress you must wait until you are home again.

You pretend you fully understand and nod your head. Then you ask where the fuji apples are to which he shrugs. You return to the produce section and decide you’ll get a few oranges while you’re at it. Once done with that you look for romaine lettuce.

You can’t find any. You begin to wonder why, and you look around to see what kind of lettuce everyone else is grabbing up. They’ve taking bags of lettuce so you check the bags out. No way are you paying 5 bucks for a bag of lettuce. That’s insane! You return to the iceberg and spot something called cos. You think it looks decent and you grab it up. You’ll learn, a week later, that cos and romaine are the same kind of lettuce.

You think you are done, but you realize you have no black beans in the cart and you forgot cheese. You husband escorts you to the bean isle. He’s still on edge from the words New Zealand and apples and he’s worried to let you out of his sight. You’re beginning to get a bit creeped out by this behavior but you are soon distracted while you search for black beans.

No luck. You can get any can of baked beans you want. Spicy Indian ones, bbqed baked beans, and original flavor to name a very very small amount. Yet, there are no black beans. You question this theory and get a funny look. Of course there are baked beans what else would you eat for breakfast on your toast. Black beans sound burned and gross. You sigh heavily before you realize he said they eat baked beans for breakfast.

You question this line of thinking. Don’t you ever eat them for a picnic dish? That’s insane why would he do that. Because they are tasty that way and that’s normal, but eating them on toast for breakfast? That seems awfully heavy for a morning meal. Do they do this in New Zealand. Horror struck he looks over his shoulder and a few passerby’s hiss at you.

You move to the cheese case. You can’t find cheddar. Gobs and gobs of something called Tasty Cheese. you begin to think Australians are slightly conceded to call their cheese tasty. I mean shouldn’t you get to try it before someone deems it such?

You ask your husband what kind of cheese he normally use to buy. He didn’t. Cheese wasn’t his thing. Mm.. but what if you wanted a sandwich with cheese on it what would you buy? Tasty. Really? Is it tasty? I mean what makes it tasty, and what exactly does it taste like anyway? He doesn’t know, it’s just what he bought if he had the need. Interesting.

You inspect the package a bit more and discover that some of the fancier ones dub it tasty cheese but write in fine print that it’s cheddar. Oo, you agree cheddar is tasty cheese, but shouldn’t they say how old this cheese is? He points out the expirey date. I point out I mean I want to know if it’s sharp or not. They don’t put sharp objects in cheese, I consider whacking him with a brick of it. I decide there are too many witnesses. I make my cheese selection and throw it in the cart.

You remember you need bread and you spend ten hours looking for the bread isle. You discover there is no whole wheat bread but something called WholeMeal. You decide it will have to do and try to decide which loaf is best. When you finally choose one your husband points out that most people just grab a fresh loaf from the bakery. So you amble over to the bakery and try to pick out another loaf when he says that he meant the bakery on the corner. You pretend you understood and you stop yourself from whacking him with the flimsy loaf of wholemeal bread you’re holding.

We decide to pick up a pail of ice cream on our way out. I’m disappointed that with the amount of creams this country can offer there are very few flavors of ice cream to choose from. I’m horrified that they are over 5 dollars a container too. We decide that, despite the price, we’ll splurge on a container anyway. The kids will be overjoyed.

You pick something that looks decent and is suppose to be a top notch brand. You throw it in your cart and make your way to the exits. You pay for your groceries and are startled by the high price of your total. Your husband isn’t and you wonder if he was paying attention or not.

You go home unload all your groceries and fix dinner. You decide it will be sandwiches because it’s quick and simple and you’re tired. You pull out that loaf of bread that took two hours to select once you finally located the bakery that was on the corner.

You try the cheese and find that it’s not very aged but it will suffice. The mayonnaise is hideously sweet, and you are grossed out by it. The cos lettuce isn’t bad, and the watermelon is delicious.

The kids beg for ice cream so you break it open. You scoop up a large scoop of vanilla ice cream (chocolate wasn’t available..) for everyone and you dig in. For a country with cream as high in fat as they boast their ice cream is pretty icky. It’s got ice lumps in it and you can’t believe you just paid 6 bucks for this container of it. Then you see the instructions on the side of the box. Best if left to soften for 10 minutes first.

But if I wanted soft warm ice cream wouldn’t I just drink milk? Probably not because the gang has all ready downed 2 of the 3 liters you’ve purchased at a horrific price. You decide you’ll need to invest in a cow in order to have enough milk, and the added bonus is you’ll be able to make your own ice cream.

You decide to discuss the New Zealand topic, but your husband rushes around the house closing windows and pulling the blinds shut before he’ll even allow you to utter another word about them. You think he’s making a big fuss for nothing. I mean it’s only New Zealand right? Then he says on word which brings full comprehension down on me, “Canada.” I helped him fasten the blinds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Changes and Happenings

There's been a lot of changes happening around here, but I don't know that they've been very noticeable. Mr Scarecrow gifted me with my own web page, but don't panic the blog isn't moving! You can still get here with the same address you've always been getting here with, but as it loads you may notice that the address changes. Still no need to panic, it's still the same cozy pumpkin patch! It just means that all our printables and recipes will be a bit easier to locate. Plus we have another fun surprise coming up in the distant future, and we'll tell you more about it when it's closer to happening. In the mean time you can find quick links for the recipes and printables by going here. Yes, the recipe button at the top of the blog will still work, it'll just take you to the new index. The home button on the blog now takes you to the homepage of the main website, and the blog button will take you to the start of the blog.

Don't panic, all the fun stuff, pictures, and goodies will still be posted on the blog. Recipes and Printables will still be blogged about when they are posted. The new website is just a way to organize all the things that we keep posting to share with everyone!

This also means that all the pdfs have been moved over to the new website. If you have an old one bookmarked it will still work for now, but may be changing in the near future. This would include the Five In A Row planning charts in the lefthand sidebar. If there's a download you can no longer find please let us know because we might have missed it in the move.

Lastly, the Planning Pages have all been cleaned up. I've also added a shopping list to them as well, and it can be downloaded here. Any questions? Feel free to ask away!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Chance To Vote

This is the final day for voting over at the Homeschool Blogging Awards. If you haven't cast a vote yet you'd better hurry. Ballots close at 11:59 PST (that's in the US) on November 21st. Amazingly enough, the Aussie Pumpkin Patch is running in second place in Best Variety. You guys must really enjoy my blog; Thanks Guys!
PS: stay tuned for some fun changes to the Aussie Pumpkin Patch this week!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Jayden has really fallen in love with Squanto. He's full of questions about him and gladly sat down to listen when I pulled out Squanto's Journey (awesome artwork and story for the record..) so this evening I did a quick search for Squanto. Mostly I was looking for a picture, out of curiosity kinda thing. I stumbled upon a Weekly Reader story that one can read themselves or have read to them. Afterwards you can answer the questions online if you want, or you can print them and the story out. Jayden wanted to do both. He's now requested a Squanto costume as well as a Teddy Roosevelt costume. You can also read an interesting piece on Squanto here if you're interested.

We also had fun making a Fact or Fiction cootie catcher today. The boys have had a blast with this thing, and ironically, learning funny little tidbits about the pilgrims. I really must make one of these for math! The boys go nuts with these things each time we make one up.

PS, don't forget voting ends on the 21st, better cast your vote while you can!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr Whiskers

While schooling today we read about Mr Whiskers, a loveable character from the Cranberry books put out by the Devlins. I was reading Cranberry Thanksgiving to the boys while they colored some paper pilgrim puppets we were making. Once the book was over and the boys had finished their coloring Jayden asked Morgan what he'd name his boy pilgrim. The conversation that followed was quite interesting:

"I'm thinking Mr Whiskers!"
"Oh, what are whiskers anyway?"
"You know, hair on your face."
"Okay, so why don't you call the girl Mr Whiskers then?"
"Uh, she's not gonna get whiskers Jayden."
"She will when she's bigger!"
"No she won't, Mom doesn't have any whiskers and she's not getting any soon."
"Morgan, you're wrong. Girls will get whiskers when they get bigger it's how it works."

"No, Uncle Damien told me that only special girls get whiskers. Like Angela. She's a very special girl, she got to have a whole beard. I know, he showed me the picture on his ipod!"

I have no idea what happened after that because I left the room to avoid laughing. For the record Special Angela only has a beard when she's dressing up. Morgan just doesn't realize that, and I'm afraid when he sees her next he's probably gonna ask where her beautiful whiskers went..

Monday, November 16, 2009

We're On..

While looking around the web today for something I stumbled upon a new to me website called United Teaching Discoveries, which is loaded with lots of fun crafts and learning ideas. Much to my surprise our 30 Days Of Thanks & Giving was featured on there, as well as our Indian lanterns. We were also mentioned again on Free Homeschool Printables which has a large variety of printables. Our 30 Days of Thanks & Giving has been a huge hit amongst viewers, we noticed the other day it had been downloaded 450 times. Wowsers, we're glad someone out there likes it so much!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

FFWW: Thanksgiving Fun

So last weeks plans went out the window when the kids spotted their Plymouth Colony History Pocket books and wanted to know if they could work on them. So we did. Which means we didn't end up working on Cranberry Thanksgiving as planned. This week we're back to our originally scheduled plans as well as some fun new math games tossed in too, and more Thanksgiving crafts from our 30 Days Of Thanks & Giving.


What about you, what do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes? Blog about it and then come back and link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along? Just leave a comment telling us what fun things you have planned for your workboxes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Steve Irwin Day

Have you got your khakis ready? November 15th, is Steve Irwin Day. Put on your khakis, go for a nature walk, build a bird feeder, make a toad house. Plant a tree, start a garden, pick up liter. Go to the zoo, walk in the woods, explore the beach. Spend time with your family, donate, watch a show. Rent the movie, study an animal, make a lapbook. Think green, ride your bike, build a bird/possum house. Watch it live, make a cake, buy the shirt. Tell your friends, spread the news, enjoy the day.

Another Fun Math Site

As you've probably noticed by now we kinda have a math obsession thing going on. It's true, and yes it's kinda freaky and weird, but it's harmless. Recently on a homeschool message board I frequent someone mentioned that if you had an internet connection you could play some educational games on your Wii. We checked it out. It's true you can, and while we might do it that way I think playing them directly on the website has so much more to offer for our family.

The site is called Arcademic Skill Builders, and it's loaded with math games. I like to try out all games before the kids play them for school purposes, just to verify that it'll fit the bill for us. This site took the cake! The kids can play against each other or the computer. In some games they can have up to 8 players! You can set the game rooms to private with passwords so no one else can join you, or so only select people can join you. If all that weren't cool enough I like that I can pick what numbers are used, all though that's not as clear cut as it sounds.

You can select numbers from 1-whatever to be used in the math games, which is neat. Unfortunately you can select say 2 to be added, subtracted, divided, etc to say 1-whatever. That would be even cooler, but it can help me limit how frustrated say my six year old gets while he plays. By selecting small numbers for him at first it continues to build his confidence and speed at answering the problems while allowing him to have fun.

This site isn't just for little ones either, there's games for adding, dividing, multiplying, subtracting, percentages, fractions, ratios, and even language arts games. I think this will be a regular visitor in our workboxes for school. Yesterday, the boys were delighted when we played Joey-Joey and then I told them I had another cool computer game to play. I also really enjoy the fact that I can leave them to it and then go back to see which problems they've missed. For the most part problems they missed yesterday were to do with a "happy trigger" finger pushing the mouse too quickly.

Morgan managed to answer 50 some odd questions right in the Tug Boat Addition game before his mouse finger went nuts and started pressing too hard. He was quite perturbed to have lost over an itchy finger!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Addition Facts

One of the math games we use every day around here is Joey-Joey. I like to keep one math family at a time in the jug and then after we've learned a few math families well we'll have a review period where we mix them all up. The thing is, the kids know their math facts a lot better thanks to this silly little game. However, I like to give the kids clues on how to find answers to math facts rather then just drilling them to death over what an answer is. I also wanted to work on odds & evens with Jayden because it's not something we covered too in-depth. Thankfully, despite the fact that I forgot math manipulative rule #1 when I tried to hold a math lesson with Indians, he at least remembered the information taught. (Oh, and for the record, rule #1 is always let them play with the manipulative first if they've never had a chance to use it before..)

We've been working on our +2 family this week, and I wanted to help the boys find a pattern to quickly answering the problems. So before explaining the "secret pattern" to answering the +2 family I wrote the problems on our white board like this. Then I told them we were going to answer each problem and then we'd notice a pattern to help us.

I specifically used a different marker color for answering the problems on the left hand side of the board vs the right hand. Once all our answers were written down we then looked at those numbers and decided if they were odds or evens. They had no problems remember which numbers were odd and which ones were even, all though we did demonstrate how 11 was odd with a few linking cubes.. Once the kids realized that each side had all evens or all odds we labeled the top of the board. Then, we discussed quick ways to find the answers, which drew upon their ability to count by 2's and their ability to count the odd numbers from 1 upward. So we circled the addend and then discussed what the next closest odd/even number would be.

Then I gave the kids their hundreds charts which they'd started coloring odds and evens on last week. They were able to use the hundreds chart if needed to work on their math sheet. After we play Joey-Joey, especially after the kids know their facts I usually print a math sheet off from The Math Work Sheet Site. While we don't do a lot of math sheets, the kids enjoy these and they love trying to beat their best times.

This little number line is a "cheat sheet", but it works like a game. To be sure Jayden is understanding the concept of adding I gave him the number line and game piece. I called a number, 2 (see top picture), and then I had him add 1 (see bottom picture). Where his playing piece lands is going to be his answer. Funnily enough, when he was given a larger problem like 2+9 he said how he wished it had been 9+2 instead. It was a great opportunity to point out that 2+9 and 9+2 are going to have the exact same answer! This number line was also a great way for me to remind them both that they were looking for the next odd or next even number too..