Monday, January 30, 2017

Wisconsin With Kids {Free Fun in Stevens Point}

One highlight of January is Cranberry School.  It's basically a trade show highlighting cranberry products and services plus a number of seminars aimed at educating cranberry growers of all kind in the latest cranberry related research and practices.

It's been years since we tagged along, watching cable from a hotel bed, swimming, snacking endlessly while Warren learns all he can for the upcoming growing season.  It was mostly bliss until we had to check out 3.5 hours before Cranberry school let out.  What was I going to do with 4 kids in Stevens Point?  More specifically free things in Stevens Point.

Having gone to UW-SP I was familiar with their Natural History Museum located in the University Library.  It's been updated and is a really nice place to hang out with kids.  It's just big enough that you feel like you're at a real museum, but it's not so big that everyone's sick and tired of walking by the end.  Another bonus here - the kids can basically walk around the entire museum without supervision because it's small, not much chance of getting lost or stolen.  Because really, would a college student want to steal a pre-schooler who snacks every 10 minutes?  I don't think so.  

The museum starts out with this beautiful butterfly and other insect display.  Joe started counting 1, 2, skip a few 99, 100.  

Dinosaur artifacts - bones, teeth and more.

Looking at the temperate climate display.  There were scavenger hunt sheets available, which was fun and helped keep us their longer hunting for specific animals.  Remember we had 3.5 hours to burn.

Neat display of large cat skulls.  And a wall of cat puzzles, too.

3-D Wisconsin was interesting.  We looked for high points and flat lands and river valleys.  Joe said the glasses made him dizzy.

After visiting the wall of birds of prey where Peter took a blurry picture of every eagle, hawk, falcon and owl we sat down for a bit with the provided coloring pages and mazes.  There were also field guides and other books to peruse and the couch made a nice reading spot.

The museum is free, but if you wish, cash is accepted in a donation box.  Gift shop is available.

Next up was the Sculpture Park.  It's a loop off the Green Circle trail and completely new to me.  We weren't particularly dressed for the occasion - a winter hike, but we went with it anyway.  Wisconsin kids are tough kids.

Again, free, but donations are welcome.  This time in the duck bill.

Outhouse in the Sky #2 
I'll spare you the picture, but after all the potty talk that went with viewing this sculpture, I turned around to see Joe's pants around his ankles, doing his #1 business in the snow.


And this was my favorite of what we saw that day.  An Aldo Leopold bench - oversize edition.  Makes me want to read A Sand County Almanac again.

We didn't see every sculpture.  Wet and cold feet, numb fingers, much needed potty breaks (not for Joe, though) and a desire for ice cream had us running back to the van for heat.

Last stop was Culver's.  And because I'd saved Scoopie coupons, everyone got a free ice cream cone before picking up Dad from Cranberry School.

I'd love to see more suggestions for Free Fun in Stevens Point.  Leave a comment here or at Facebook.

Thanks for reading and have a great evening.  It's gray, snowing, and 16 degrees F.  It's also time to feed the natives.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up {the one with a Grove shipment and a birch log with eyelashes}

Time to edit photos and compose a coherent sentence worthy of typing has been limited lately.  I wake up and review my tidy daily plan and within minutes I find myself off course.  Something or someone (not on my list) needs my attention.  NOW!  And so begins the day.  A day of constant moving, constant doing, but never checking anything off that tidy little daily plan.  Blogging?  Making connections with readers?  It has to take a back seat to my family.

This morning, though, I woke up and knew I just had to edit and type and think and form thoughts.  It's good to look back at the week - the pictures tell a story.  A story of our family working and learning and playing together, and apparently getting things done.  Yeah for pictures.😊

Where are all the people who constantly take me off course?  Birthday parties, snowmobiling, ice fishing, listening to an audiobook - everywhere, but right here.  So I blog away happily.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Last weekend we enjoyed a few days up North ice fishing.  There was indeed ice, but there was also slush and 6 inches of water and rain.  Luckily our favorite rental cabin is just feet from the lake so we put out our tip-ups and then hang out in the cabin watching for flags.

Trying anything to keep the little one's feet dry(ish), I lined their boots with garbage bags reminiscent of the bread bag days of my youth.  There was so much water even this age old trick couldn't keep their feet dry.

We did bring home 4 northern pike, which made a great lunch last Tuesday.

Grove Collaborative is new company to me.  They specialize in delivering affordable natural cleaning and beauty supplies right to your door.  They had a Mrs. Meyer's special last week, and I do love Mrs. Meyer's products.  I picked up 2 kitchen sprays, 1 dish soap, 2 hand soaps, 1 hand lotion, 3 walnut shell kitchen scrubbies, 1 coconut bar soap, and 1 coconut lip balm for a grand total of $20.75.  Not bad and I didn't even have to leave the house.  Here's my haul.

I chose honeysuckle scented Mrs. Meyer's products, except for the 1 lemon verbena dish soap.  The honeysuckle scent reminds me of a warm spring day, something every Wisconsinite needs a reminder of in January.  Excuse me while I take a minute to moisturize.  Mmmm!

I love ALL things coconut, and this Yes to lip balm delivers in a big way.  It's creamy and smells oh so good.  Peter and Maria have been sneaking it every chance they get.

Why am I telling you about Grove Collaborative?  Because if you click over through this link you will receive $10 off your first order. (referral link)

In homeschooling news, Joseph's been making progress with his writing.  I mostly use Handwriting Without Tears, but just ran across this homemade workbook from his last year's Virtual Learning Friday teacher.  It got buried under this year's curriculum until Monday when I was doing a little organizing.  When I set it on the table, Joe said, "Ms. Teresa coming?"  I had to remind him that Ms. Teresa's in heaven, but we could still work on writing skills.  So, anyway, he was learning the letter "i".  

Last year I had to use special pencil grips, but this year his hand is bigger and stronger so he typically doesn't use them anymore.  Progress - it's a good thing!

On the top line, I hand over hand a couple of times, then guide him by saying the description:  down, dot; down, dot; down, dot.  He uses a pencil on the top line.

Poses for a quick silly picture.  Keeping this boy on task can be exhausting.  Keeping him in a shirt - impossible!

On the 2nd line of i's I let him choose a marker for writing.  Markers really glide and put down a lot of color without much pressure.  Joe doesn't like to press when he writes so as a reward for pressing with the pencil, I let him do the 2nd line of writing with a marker.  He's so much happier the second time around.


We're having some beautiful January weather including a true January thaw a couple weeks ago.  This day was so perfect we just had to get outside.  After baking cookies we bagged up a few to take out to dad, who was cutting firewood.  But first, we filled the bird feeders.

And then we decided to join in on making firewood.  It was late in the day, but we did what we could.

Joseph, of course, found a stump, sat down and shot all the deer he could.

Hide and seek is a good way to pass the time while dad dumps the load of wood.

In case you're dying to duplicate the above fashion statement, it's easy.  Pull neck gator over head and then stop long before it reaches your neck.  Sometimes we call it a chimney.  Sometimes we call it ridiculous.  But, this fashion statement has been going on since I first sewed that rectangle of fleece into a tube.  And if I'm not mistaken, a certain oldest son does the same thing.

And here you have it, the birch log with eyelashes.  Nature never disappoints.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for the Weekly Wrap-Up.

In case you haven't done so yet, please Like Camp Homeschool over at FB to keep updated on new posts and other Camp Homeschool news.  Thanks.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Teaching Kids to Cook {Making S'mores}

Do feel like you do, do, do for your kids all day?  Yes, as a mom that's what we're called to do.  We're here to serve our family, but there's a huge difference between serving one's family and waiting on one's family.  Serving is done with love without strings attached.  Waiting on harbors resentment.  When I feel like I'm waiting on my family I find myself thinking:

Maybe you could say 'thank you' once in a while!
Why do even waste my time helping them?
When do I get some time for myself?

Can you sense the sarcasm and anger?




Seems my kids want food all day, every day.  There's never enough food.  Never enough snacks.  Never enough time to make all the food and snacks.

My solution is to teach my kids to cook.  I've included my kids in the kitchen since they were babies.  I've prepared many a meal with a baby in the Ergo, talking to them about what I'm doing and sweetly telling them how when they're old enough they'll be slicing the celery and cracking the eggs, mixing the meatloaf and washing the grapes.

There are so many tasks that can be done by young children, and cooking doesn't always involve the stove.  Think Cuties and grapes.  The youngest child can wash and stem grapes then put in a bowl.  Voila!  They just became a kid in the kitchen, and not one under foot causing you to trip.  Peeling Cuties is another great beginner task.

Recently, Peter has been into s'mores.  He had Sam making them for him and me making them for him, and all he did was eat, eat, eat.  Enough of that, I thought!  It's high time for him to learn to make his own s'more.  I mean really, he's 5 already.

Since he'd been watching us make them he already knew the process.  Graham cracker half, chocolate chips.

Balance marshmallow on top.

Carry to microwave.  Then what?  

I taught him how to set the microwave for 10 seconds and watch for the marshmallow to get big and puffy.

He removes it carefully and places the other graham cracker half on top.

Squeeze and enjoy!

And enjoy s'more!

To make it easy on him, I grabbed an ice cream pail so he could keep all the ingredients together on the pantry shelf.  Now, as long as he asks first, he can make a s'more all by himself.

Obviously, this isn't life sustaining, brain food for his first adult years of apartment living, but it's a good start.  And he's so proud of his accomplishment, which is the goal of these early days in the kitchen.

What have you taught your kids to cook?

What's holding you back from letting them in the kitchen?

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Here's the pinnable image.