The Story of Slimy

Sometimes my kids ‘fall in love with’ things I wouldn’t expect…  Many months ago, Lala came across a wooden pull-along snail in the open toy bin at a small store we visit on occasion.  She played with the toy she named ‘Slimy’ the entire time we were at the store and was sad to leave him behind when it was time to go.  On subsequent visits, she always goes and hunts up ‘Slimy,’ even if it’s been several months since we have been to the shop.  I was shocked that she remembered one time when it had been about 4 months since we had been there last!  After seeing this happen several times over many months, Mic and I decided to get one for her to keep.  🙂

Slimy has been a hit since he arrived.  Lala and Tbear both love dragging him all over the house.  It’s just a simple wooden toy, but those are often the most fun.

To celebrate the beginning of our ‘new school year,’ we are hosting a give-away over on our Facebook page.  If you would like to enter to win your very own Slimy, visit our give-away post on Facebook by Sunday, July 5, 2015…  You will need to like Chansen Academy’s Facebook page (if you haven’t already) and comment on the post linked above about why you would love a Slimy!


What Have We Been Up To?

Wow!  It is amazing how time flies and life is always shifting!  Last week, we had unexpected visits from two family members… my mom, AKA Grandma, and Michael’s dad, AKA Papa.  One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that we can put most of our plans aside and have some fun when the opportunity arises. 🙂

The kids don’t get to see their grandparents very often, so they were tickled with the visits. The weather turned hot, so we stuck fairly close to home. With all the local public schools on summer break, ‘kid’ venues are pretty crowded right now. And we are really spoiled by getting to go when they are relatively empty. 🙂

We did venture out on one adventure to have lunch with Mic and visit our favorite park by the river. It was so hot we didn’t last long at the park though…  So, we did a lot of visiting and some planning for a family history project. (More about that later!  🙂 )

We were also supposed to spend some time with a friend of mine from high school who is also homeschooling and was on vacation nearby, but…  I had some sort of stomach bug on Saturday, so we weren’t able to go.  🙁  We ended up sitting on the couch and having a West Wing marathon.  I was so bummed and am hoping to see her another time soon!

In the back of my mind, I have been mulling over a few plans for getting our ‘new’ year off to a fun start. I have decided to ‘run’ our ‘school years’ from July to June, just for my own organization…  As I am catching up on laundry today, the ideas are starting to gel.  Add in some pink fingernail polish and colored spaghetti sensory play and…  🙂

Time to pull my thoughts together!  Exciting learning lies ahead!

Swimming Into Summertime Fun!

The kids and I got the chance to ‘tag along’ with Mic to a work conference recently.  It was a long drive, but the kids did great!  We had an awesome room at a nice hotel and rather than running around visiting ‘kid’ attractions, we decided to hang around the hotel and hit the pool every day.  I don’t think I have ever had the opportunity to do that before…  We had so much fun!  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures because I was quite certain that kids, water, and a cell phone WOULD NOT mix!

Though we often head up to the lake, the water is fairly cold so we rarely do more than a little wading.  We have only taken the kids to swim in a pool a couple of times.  It is definitely time for them to learn more swimming and water safety skills!  I am reluctant to start with swimming lessons until after they are used to the water.  As someone who is ‘afraid of the water’ due to some experiences as a young child, I want their initial experiences to be positive.  So, we are going to plan for some visits to our local aquatic facility and spend some time hanging out in the tot pool.  Then we will look into more formal instruction.  I have notice though that private swim instruction is really expensive…  I’d really love to find someone to teach me and the kids together.  I’m not a great swimmer and would really love to improve!


I recently came across some interesting information about water safety for kids.  This post from the Reno Mom’s Blog on Why Water Wings are the Devil was very enlightening!  I also came across some information on  Infant Swimming Resource Self-Rescue® instruction.  This looks really fascinating to me!  Unfortunately, there are no instructors in our area.  Has anyone enrolled their child in one of these programs?  I would really like to hear your feedback about it.

A little poking around on Amazon led me to several books.  (The links below are Amazon Affiliate links.  If you use these links to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.  Links will open in a new tab.)

If you have an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited Subscriptions, these ones can be read for free in their Kindle versions:

Teach Your Kids to Swim by Karen Murphy

Teach Your Child How to Swim: A Parent’s Guide by Nick Stocking

Teach your Child to Swim: The Easy Way (Swimming Book 2) by Michele McGrath

A couple of other fairly low cost options are:

Learn to Swim: Teaching You to Teach Your Child to Swim by Benjamin Roberts

Come Swim With Me: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Their Children to Swim by Lee Rosenmiller and Carol Stone

I’m going to take a look at a couple of these and will let you know what I think about them…

The other thing I want to do is get the kids some life jackets for the lake.  I looked at a few options online, but have decided to go look at them at a sporting goods store.  I’m not sure what will work best and want to get my hands on some before making up my mind.

We are looking forward to a fun summer in the water!  Stay safe and enjoy!

Dishwashers, Driving, Rocks, and Tadpoles… Our Father’s Day Adventures

We had a quiet, relaxed day yesterday for Father’s Day.  No big plans.  Ironically, our dishwasher is on the fritz and one of the things Mic wanted to do was look into what we want to get to replace it.  We headed over to Best Buy and stumped the guy by the door when he commented on us being out to get something for Father’s Day…  and I said, ‘Yes.  A dishwasher.’  He chuckled when I told him Jeff Foxworthy’s joke…  “If you think loading the dishwasher means getting your wife drunk…  you might be a redneck…”  But, anyways…

We didn’t find anything inspiring on the appliance front, so we went for a drive around our local lake instead.  Tbear slept the whole drive and Lala fell asleep after a while too, so we didn’t end up stopping at the beach.  When Lala woke up and realized we were nearly home, she was not a happy camper.  But Mic and I had already agreed to stop by the ‘beach’ at the river.  It ended up being a great choice!

I grabbed my camera and Lala led the way from the truck, down the path to the river bank.  Since we are in a drought, the water was pretty low.  There were rocks for Tbear to throw…  (Sanctioned rock throwing!  Little boy heaven!  His delighted laugh was awesome to hear!)


Shells for Lala to collect…  (She chortled with glee every time she found another one!)


Giant tadpoles for Mic to catch…  (Daddy can I hold it too?  No.  I just want to touch it.  No.  I want to hold it.  Wait…)


Pictures for me to take…  (My favorite hobby.  Just like my grandpa…)

And water for everyone to wade in…


Truly fun for the whole family!  🙂

Lala found a stick to help lead us back to the truck…


And drew a map so we can return to the ‘beach’ next time…

We had an amazing time and hung around until the sun sank low in the west.  Then we headed home for bath and bedtime.  Happy Father’s Day Mic and all the other amazing dads out there!  We hope you enjoyed your day as much as we did!

To My Husband On Father’s Day

Today we celebrate your sixth Father’s Day since we found out we were going to have our first baby.  You are an amazing father!  Since our first child was born, you have proudly taken on diaper duty whenever you are around.  That in and of itself makes you unique!

You cheerfully head off to work every morning, often leaving me sleeping from the exhaustion of chasing our energetic children all day and dealing with them at night, whether you got enough sleep or not.  Although I know you hate to be away, you persevere through the challenges and heartache.  Our kids eagerly wait for you to come home, ready to tell you about their day and ask you to repair anything that is broken because Daddy can fix anything.  😉  They could hardly wait to give you the cards they made you for Father’s Day!

You have never missed a pregnancy or well-baby appointment.  You tell me I am doing a great job, even when the house is a mess and  the kids are still in their pajamas when you come home.  You comfort me when I cry and laugh with me when we celebrate.  You treasure our daughter, encouraging her to help you with home repairs and dance.  You are the model she will measure those she might choose to spend her life with against.  I fervently hope she finds someone who treats her as well as you treat me.  You adore our son, happily joining him in playing with balls, trucks, and babies.  You are confident this will help him grow to be an amazing man, and perhaps dad, just like you.

We have had so many amazing adventures together, both before the kids and since they were born.  I am looking forward to many more with you!  I know we will encounter challenges and experience  wonder, together.  🙂

I am blessed with a home full of creatures to love and who love me, toys to step on, rolling objects to trip over, messes to clean up, laundry to wash, diapers to change, and more joy than I could have ever imagined possible,  I’m so glad I chose you to share my life and children.  They are amazing people, thanks in large part to the wonderful example you set for them in caring for both them and me. Hugs to the supervisor of bath time and kisses to the steward of the jammies!

Happy Father’s Day my love!

Fun and Flowers at Lala’s First Ballet Recital!

It’s been nearly two weeks since Lala’s first ballet recital…  I meant to post about it right away, but never got to it in the hubbub of the last couple of weeks. 🙁  First of all, let me say… she did wonderfully!  Waited patiently back stage and then went and performed with her class.  Way to go!  I think it was an experience for all of us…

The challenge began with a request for make-up and curled hair…  Two things I rarely, if ever, even do for myself. I didn’t even own any make-up.  (You can check out the post about my ‘angst’ here.  🙂 )  A dear friend read my post and made a couple of great suggestions.  She pointed out that this was an opportunity to learn about ‘standing out from the crowd’ and a chance for Lala to decide what she would like to do.  I was so hung up on the ‘make-up’ that my thoughts hadn’t gelled, so this advice was perfect.  Thank you!  I sat down with Lala and asked her how she wanted to look. She wanted make-up…

After giving it some thought, I decided the Dollar Tree store might solve my problem…  Lala and I ventured over and picked out the necessary supplies… Eye shadow, blush, mascara, lip gloss, and curlers.

We also found some cool nail polish and picked out one to go with her recital costume and a couple more for fun later. 😉

We did a trial run with the make-up the day before the big event…  And put her hair in curlers before bed…

And painted her fingernails… She sat patiently through the whole thing.

The next morning the curlers came out and a fancy dress went on…

Since we had a 30 minute drive to the recital venue, we waited on the make-up and costume until we arrived.  I think the final product was tolerable for a first effort from this amateur ‘dance mom.’  😉

After we got her all ‘done up,’ we ventured back stage to add her feathery hair piece.  She was lined up with her class to wait for her number, while I went out to join Mic and Tbear.  The mom who I had told at Lala’s class that I didn’t even own make-up happened to be standing there.  She made eye contact and said, ‘You did a good job, mom.’  🙂  I really appreciated the support!

Tbear did not find much of interest in sitting to watch the dancing…  Poor daddy!

I snuck out to take a peek at Lala back stage…  I couldn’t help myself.  I stayed where she couldn’t see me…  She was calmly waiting. Then it was her turn to dance…  The front row was open, so I slipped down to record her performance. She did awesome!

I went back stage to ‘collect’ her when she was done. She was supposed to go back on stage for the finale. I wanted her to see part of the show, so we went and sat in the theater for a bit. She didn’t really want to go back on stage, but I cajoled her into going.  And it was over…!  Whew!

Mic had gone to the store before the kids woke up and got a huge bouquet of flowers for her. She was tickled pink!  We nearly lost Tbear in the crowd, but Mic grabbed him.  They were both so excited they wouldn’t hardly even stand still for a picture!

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Lala told us she had fun. I think the giant bouquet made the experience even better. 🙂 I’m not sure what the future will hold with dance for us, but I’m glad Lala was able to enjoy a fun dance experience.  Another awesome living and learning experience for all of us!

Exciting Learning Ahead! – Updating the Reading Circle Schedule

I’ve gotten a little distracted from the Reading Circle for the past couple of weeks, but am energized to get back on track!  I got my copy of Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate M.D. and have started reading.  I’m really excited to learn more about orientation and attachment.  To keep things ‘orderly,’ I am planning to shift the reading of Hold On to Your Kids to July.  Here is a tentative schedule:

Tentative Reading Schedule for July 2015

  • Week of July 6 – Chapters 1-5
  • Week of July 13 – Chapters 6-10
  • Week of July 20 – Chapters 11-14
  • Week of July 27 – Chapters 15-18

You can get your copy of Hold On to Your Kids through this Amazon Affiliate Link.  (If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.  All links in this post will open in new tabs.):

To accommodate the changes made for June and July, the schedule for the remainder of the year will also be changing.  Here is what I am planning:

August 2015 – Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori McWilliam Pickert (affiliate link below)

September 2015 – Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash (affiliate link below)

October 2015 – The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori (affiliate link below)

November 2015 – Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne & Lisa M. Ross (affiliate link below)

December 2015 – A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine M.D. (affiliate link below)

I plan to use the other books that had been considered for the Reading Circle for our math and science work:

Math from Three to Seven: The Story of a Mathematical Circle for Preschoolers (MSRI Mathematical Circles Library) by Alexander Zvonkin (affiliate link below)


Science Notebooks, Second Edition: Writing About Inquiry by Lori Fulton and Brian Campbell (affiliate link below)

I am really enjoying the Reading Circle and hope you are too!


Please feel free to comment on this post or contact me with any questions or concerns.  I’m so excited to learn more about learning!

Prepping for the Rest of June 2015 – Father’s Day and Summer Solstice

Between crafts for Father’s Day and some fun activities for the Summer Solstice, we are looking forward to the next couple of weeks!

Alphabet – We will be finishing up the alphabet with the letters Y & Z using  the printables from Crayola’s Free Coloring Pages website. (All links in this post will open in new tabs.)

Numbers: 19 & 20
We’re still working with the number book I put together.  For more info, see the post: Binding a Book of Numbers.

The Summer Reading Program at our local library started a couple of days ago.  I get ridiculously excited about this every year!  Unfortunately, because of our trip last week, we weren’t able to go to the annual pancake breakfast kick-off.  Oh well!  It looks like the reading program will be managed online this year.  One of my tasks for the next couple of days is to figure out how to get us signed up.  I’m looking forward to the special story times planned for the summer.  Libraries rock!  If you haven’t participated in a Summer Reading Program, there is likely one at a library near you.   They have all sorts of fun activities and prizes.  Last year, Lala won a backpack full of art supplies and a friend won a tablet!  Go check it out!

Father’s Day falls on the Summer Solstice this year.  How fitting that Daddy’s Day is the longest one of the year!

Father’s Day Activities
I found quite a few cool ideas for Father’s Day crafts…   You can check out some great ones from Martha Stewart under Kids’ Crafts for Dad.  Now I just have to decide what to have the kids make…

  • Dad Libs
  • Spinning Greeting Cards
  • Cut Out Frame…

Hmmm…  😉

Summer / Solstice Activities
I am going to utilize this information from Universal Preschool under Celebrate Summer With Fun Activities!  There is a nice age-appropriate discussion of the Solstice and some awesome crafts.  I am really excited to try the Suncatcher!

I recently saw a post on Facebook about building a solar oven and the idea has stuck with me…  I think we will try it!  I found some instructions over at Home Science Tools under Build a Solar Oven.

Ongoing Activities

Check out our posts about these ongoing topics…  🙂

Spanish – Aprendamos español – Let’s Learn Spanish!

Gardening – Dirt, Digging, and Dreams…

Safety – Safety Series

We are looking forward to a couple of weeks of some fun activities, wrapping up a few things, and getting organized for a new ‘year.’  We hope you have some time for some learning fun too!

Where Did the First Half of June Go?

Wow!  Today is the 15th of June!  I haven’t posted a blog update in two weeks!  It’s amazing how time flies…  Mic took a few days off for our anniversary, we started a house project, Lala had her ballet recital, then we headed out of town, tagging along with Mic for a work conference…  Whew!  I sat down to write several times, but kept getting interrupted or distracted…  I have missed posting!  Mic headed back to his office today and it’s time to get back in the groove!

I am planning to spend the remainder of the month wrapping up a few things, organizing the house a bit, and getting ready to start some new things in July.  Though I plan to homeschool year round, I have decided to ‘finish our year’ in June and start a ‘new year’ in July – whatever that means…  hehe…  It makes no difference to the kids, but I need some sort of routine/schedule/plan for my own sanity.  I have discovered that I don’t get anything done if I don’t have a plan laid out for myself…  as shown by two weeks without a blog post!

I’m excited for the ‘new year’ and will be looking to add a few things to our activities.  Stay tuned for more about violin, Minecraft, French, family history project, and…  who knows!  Yay!  So many fun things on the horizon!  I hope you will join us on this continuing learning journey!


Preparing for ‘Mommy’s First Ballet Recital’

Today I watched Lala’s final rehearsal for her first ballet recital. She’s only been taking classes since February, so her skills aren’t earth shattering, but it’s still very cute to watch her dance.  We received a sheet with all the details for the performance this Saturday. I followed up with the teacher after class for a ‘mini-tutorial’ on how this will go, since I have never gone to a dance recital, whether as a child, parent, or spectator…

Lala is excited. She has a new leotard and tutu. When we were talking about the recital earlier and I asked her about performing on stage, she said ‘Yes, like I did at the other place,’ recalling her first public performance a few weeks ago. I think she is going to do great. Me, on the other hand…  😉

Growing up I didn’t participate in many ‘typical’ extracurricular activities.  I played piano in a couple of recitals, but that was about it. We skipped the performance for the kids’ Parent and Tot gymnastics class last year. It was going to cost close to $100 for them to participate…

I am uncertain about this recital, but have laid out the cash for the recital fee and the appropriate outfit. I am struggling a little though…  $60 for a 4-year old to flit around on a stage for a few minutes seems a little off to me. But, maybe it’s just me…

I knew the costume info we received a few weeks ago included the instructions that hair is to be curled…  I rarely curl my hair, do not own curlers, and don’t know that Lala’s fine, straight hair will even hold a curl. (Mine won’t… though I do recall a few interesting perm experiences when I was younger…)  I asked a couple of the other moms what that meant before class today.  They indicated the girls’ hair should be left down, curled, and pinned back on one side, prepared for a headpiece.  When I expressed my concerns that this wouldn’t work, they recommended a curling iron or ‘pink curlers.’  My grandmother had some of those.  I have a vague recollection that my mom did too.  I wonder if she still does…  I really doubt it.  She doesn’t live close enough for me to get them from her for this though, even if there were still some around her house.  For some reason, I am really surprised people still use them!  A quick Amazon search reveals there are many options available…  uh-oh…  😉

Today, the info also included instructions that all dancers should wear make-up. I own a couple of lipsticks…  that’s it…  My mom has rarely worn make-up and I was never taught about it, so I have probably worn make-up twice in my life (thank you wanna-be teen make-overs).  For my wedding, I wore only lipstick and nail polish…  I have absolutely no clue about make-up…  I chuckled about this with another of the waiting moms and she explained that the lights wash out the girls’ faces, told me what she uses for her daughter (Thank you so much for the tips!  Like I said, I’m clueless…), and advised ‘Time to go shopping.’  I’m certainly not upset about any of this and understand the reasons for it all. I’m just not sure that buying make-up for this event makes sense to me. I think I am just in a different place…

I am delighted that we have been able to provide ballet classes for Lala and tickled she is having fun.  Her teacher is wonderful and provides a great ‘princess’ experience every week.  Watching her dance brings tears to my eyes.  I sit in the crowded little waiting room with the other parents (yes, mostly moms…  but there are some dads!), and watch my daughter as best I can.  I feel joyful.  And I wonder…  Why do we sit here, craning our necks to see through the narrow doorway?  Paying for our kids to get some exercise, but sitting motionless…  (Though when I bring Tbear along I often spend the time trying to keep him off the ‘dance floor’…)  We have an obesity problem in this country…  why don’t parents and kids participate together?  Wouldn’t that be cool?  I try to make small talk with the other moms.  Some are friendly, but many seem a little stand-offish…  I kind of feel like I did in junior high when I wasn’t one of the ‘cool kids.’  It’s strange to me that watching dance class brings back that feeling.  Do other people think these things?

I am also a little confused by the costs for the end of year performance.  We have to buy special outfits for the class.  And then buy other outfits that will only be worn once for the recital.  It’s the ‘worn once’ part that gets me.  It’s bad enough with a wedding dress, but for a recital…  I understand it, but I don’t….   I guess it is just another of the many conundrums of adulthood.  I think it’s obvious that I am out of my element.  I am looking forward to the recital on Saturday.  We’ll have to figure out how to smuggle a little bouquet of flowers to the venue for our little dancer.  Now I’m off to buy some make-up…  and maybe some curlers…  🙂