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  1. Car Tunes

    May 13, 2015 by admin

    It’s no secret that this TRFamily loves music! IMG_0766

    One place we always have the tunes playing is the car,  Nothing is more fun, or helps a long car ride, like a family sing-along.  So when we purchased our newest car and found its older radio was not compatible with iPod music players, we knew we’d pretty quickly have to swap it out for a different receiver.

    Why is this so important?  Well, for a couple of reasons:

    1.  We love the no commercials and no sometimes shocking news reports version of listening to music via our mp3 equipped phones.

    2.  Our iPod enables us to create long custom lists featuring songs everyone in the family likes.  We all know the words to most of the songs on the playlist, so everyone can join in and sing, or play an awesome air-guitar lick.

    After some internet research, we were able to find an inexpensive but reliable unit that would fit in our car.

    IMG_3057Then Bluey and TRDad got to work putting it into the car.

    Installing your own car stereo is a fun and worthwhile project.  Along the way we were able to cover a variety of topics including:

    Safety rules (like disconnecting your car battery before you start).

    Color matching while sorting wires for the adapter cables.

    The importance of reading instructions and proceeding carefully and methodically with a big project.

    Hands-on skills of using screwdrivers and wrenches correctly.

    And the all important value of Doing It Yourself

    Naturally, Bluey got to take the old radio apart.IMG_0786

    Our project took most of a Saturday morning.  It rewarded us with a great new stereo unit and the satisfaction of knowing we’d done it ourselves.  We know our Bluey will remember this for a long time.  Next time something breaks on the car, or some piece of electronics needs to be upgraded, he’ll be ready to take on the challenge.


  2. These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Reads

    May 1, 2015 by admin

    We love to read. And we love to read out loud to Bluey. Our evening culminates in reading before bed. And our day begins with reading while snuggled up on the couch.

    Bluey and TRMom have two favorite new series that we think you may like check out, too!

    IMG_3026Violet Mackerel is a series written by Anna Branford that follows an independent, quirky, and insightful young girl as she reacts to the world around her. The writer manages to capture the subtle genius of childhood thoughts and is never condescending towards her young characters. You can’t help but fall in love with Violet as she defends trees or attempts to save money to purchase a treasure.   The books are perfect for reading out loud to your youngster.

    Mighty Monty is another series but this one is written by Johanna Hurwitz. The books follow a young boy with asthma who is timid, intelligent, and thoughtful. His many adventures will have you cheering him on and wanting more. The writer’s style is simplistic without being patronizing to her young readers or exascerbating to read aloud for a parent.  Ms. Hurwitz also writes the Riverside Kids series, and we really enjoyed Super-Teddy which was our introduction to that series.IMG_3027

    What are your favorite books of late?


  3. Connections

    April 29, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2723A funny thing happens when you embark on the path of un-schooling.

    You start to see connections you didn’t anticipate.  By following the diverse interests of our young Kindergartner, we frequently find- voila!- something we are doing today is connected to something else we did the other day.  And no one planned it.  It is just the natural route of the unstructured pursuit of knowledge.  You follow your path and you find it crosses over where you have trod before.

    For example- Bluey was recently learning how to skateboard with some help from TRDad.  He’s just getting started, so we’re working a lot on keeping balanced on the board and putting our feet down in the right spots.  Later, Bluey headed for karate class.  In order to do a new spiraling kick move, he needed to keep his balance and get his feet in the right spot!  Another example- we’d previously discussed with his swim instructors that they were seeing more fluidity in Bluey’s swim strokes after he started karate, where repetitive arm movements are the norm.  And yet another example- we read a comic about ninjas at home and Bluey discovers the students in the comic call their teacher “Sensei” and practice their moves in the dojo just like he does in his own Karate class.IMG_9479

    The connections keep going.  Once you start realizing how everything is related, you start to see it everywhere!

    We’re reading a whole book about cats, and learning how cats are able to balance and jump as they do.  We hadn’t planned the cat studies to tie in with karate and skateboarding, but they do.  As we follow one trail of interest, it inevitably crosses or runs parallel to a different trail.  These crossroads and parallel strands serve to reinforce the learning and help explain why we’re so happy with our homeschool/un-schooling life!


  4. People In Your Neighborhood

    April 22, 2015 by admin

    65084_town_mdFinding a new home is as much about finding the right neighborhood as it is about finding the right house.  Maybe more.  After all, you can make direct improvements to your house- add rooms, change windows, even tear the whole thing down and start over again.  But making changes to your neighborhood is a much more difficult endeavor.

    So while you are driving around looking at different houses, pay attention to the neighborhood.  What do you see?  What types of activities seem common?  Are people out tending lawns and gardens?  Are kids biking and skating around?  Is anyone shooting hoops at the basketball court?

    Do your best to try to find a home in a neighborhood where the neighbors are doing the types of activities you’ll wish to do.

    Figure out what you like in a neighborhood.  Are you hoping for active and chatty neighbors and noisy kids?  Or do you want seclusion and the quiet of your own abode?

    For us, we are seeking out an active family-friendly place, where we and our kids can get to know the neighbors.  So when we drive through a neighborhood, like the one we are moving to, and see kids on roller skates and families working on the front lawn, and lots of homes with basketball hoops- we know we are seeing good signs that this is a place where we will thrive.

    You are buying a home to live in for many years- maybe decades.  Make sure it is situated in a neighborhood you like.


  5. Science Is Fun

    April 19, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0615 Our Plum recently went to a science fair hosted by our local University.  Among the various exhibits and presentations, Plum discovered Oobleck.  It’s fun to say and even more of a good time to manipulate!

    The recipe is super simple:

    • 1 part water
    • 2 parts cornstarch
    • a drop or two of food coloring if you desire

     

    Mix all of the above together until you have a consistency that works for you.

    IMG_0617Your kids will be fascinated by the Oobleck.  You can punch it and it will resist penetration.  You can scoop some up and form a ball.  But if you flatten your hand while holding the ball, the Ooobleck will slowly ooze from its original shape and drip back into your bowl.

    Let your kids explore and learn from this neat mass.  The clean up is a breeze as  Oobleck dissolves in water.


  6. Mac & Cheese: Variations

    April 15, 2015 by admin

    IMG_3001 Our TR family loves comfort food!  Our feel-good dishes bring a satisfying end to a hard day or a work great as for rainy day pick-me-up.

    One of our longtime favorites is Macaroni & Cheese.  Everyone in our family can dig deep into a piping hot casserole of cheesy noodles any day of the week.

    We long ago perfected a satisfying, quick and easy homemade mac&cheese.  It tastes fantastic and goes together in just a few minutes.

    TRMom’s recent shift to a vegan diet may seem like it spelled the end of mac&cheese night, but it did not.  We just reworked the recipe a bit and use two separate casserole dishes.  We can easily make two versions of mac&cheese: the traditional favorite and a vegan version that TRMom adores.

    First up, the Vegetarian Version:

    Ingredients:

    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    1/3 Cup Cream Cheese

    3 T Butter

    1/2 to 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs

    Process:

    1.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2.  Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3.  Mix in Butter and Cream Cheese, and stir until fully melted.

    4.  Mix in shredded cheddar and stir thoroughly.

    5.  Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.IMG_3002

     

    The Vegan Version:

    Ingredients:

    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    3 T Earth Balance

    1/2 Cup Teese

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs

    Process:

    1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2. Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3. Mix in Earth Balance and stir until fully melted.

    4. Mix in Teese and stir thoroughly.

    5. Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.

    We usually make a much smaller portion of vegan mac&cheese, since it is for one serving.  You can scale down or up as necessary to feed your hungry crew.


  7. Hit The Highway!

    April 12, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2935Our Bluey recently had a rough go of racing our slot-cars one afternoon.

    Of our two cars, he could only get one to go around the track much at all.  It would stop periodically and need an adjustment.  The other car hardly moved on the track.

    We were so excited to do some racing so it was a real disappointing time while we tried repeatedly to adjust the track and wiggle the wires trying to figure out why the cars wouldn’t work.

    Finally, while trying to clean the bottoms of the cars, we noticed that the contacts (where the cars touch the copper strips imbedded in the track) had holes worn through them.IMG_2931

    We didn’t know what to do, so we headed to our local hobby store thinking maybe we could buy new cars to race.

    Instead, we found out that if you’re willing, you can replace these worn out parts yourself.  Rather than spending $20 or more on new cars- as much fun as that would be!- we were able to get replacement contacts and springs for just $3.IMG_2934

    In a few minutes of repair time back at home, we were  in business and tearing up the track!  The process of repairing the cars was fun for our Bluey, who loves to know how mechanical things work.  Even though he lost part of a day of racing, he still had a great time.

    So here are some tips:

    1.  When in doubt, ask the experts for advice.

    2.  Many things, even your toys, can be repaired rather than replaced.IMG_2932


  8. House-apalooza!

    April 8, 2015 by admin

    house_3_mdHouse hunting is a full-on task.  It takes a lot of energy and organization to find a new home.

    Spoiler Alert:  We found our new home and we are happy to share our path to picking the perfect place.

    Our process included seeing over a dozen houses before we could really zero in on the best one for us.  In our case, we were working with a short time frame so we saw fifteen houses in two days, and then went back the very next day to see six more!  But among all of them, we found our house.

    Why so many houses?  We needed to see the range of options available to us in our price range.  The geographical area we were interested in combined with our price range left an awful lot of homes to choose from- homes in many different styles and conditions.

    To make sense of all these visited houses, we made a chart showing the various attributes we most desired.  Our chart included the number of bedrooms, dining space, yard space, neighborhood and a few other categories.

    Note:  Your chart for Your House will be different.  Think carefully about what you want in a house.  Is location your prime consideration?  How badly do you need a deck?  Or a garage?

    The more houses we looked at, the more clearly we were able to identify which ones held the most interest.  We looked at a house we loved: great price, great location, cute layout.  But as we compared it to other homes on our chart, we saw that it’s lack of a dining space really mattered to us, despite its other clear benefits.

    By seeing so many houses in a short period time we were able to figure out how some houses just didn’t measure up to want we wanted.  By the time we’d seen all of them, the winner was pretty clear.  And we made the call to put in our offer.

    It takes a lot of work to find the right house for you.  Be prepared to see many homes, including some that don’t even look that good on paper.


  9. Spring Crafts

    March 31, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0390We recently stumbled upon a pinterest post on making Peep houses for Easter.  Inspired by the pin, we gathered up some materials to make our own version of a Spring Peep home.

    We used:

    • graham crackers
    • Peeps
    • construction paper
    • vanilla icing
    • chocolate chips
    • sprinkles

    We cut our green construction paper into long thin strips that we then further cut into 3rd.  This would be our Peep grass.  We used the orange construction paper as our house base.

    IMG_0361

    Plum and Bluey each had their own equal amount of supplies for construction and a butter knife for the icing.  They got to work executing their vision of the perfect Peep house.

    Tip:  An angled roof was quite the challenge and needed two people working together to make it work.  A flat roof is much easier and required no adult assistance.

    Plum and Bluey had a fantastic time and were more than happy to sample the supplies as they worked.


  10. Tired

    March 23, 2015 by admin

    sleep_18991_mdLet’s talk about exhaustion.

    Not the kind that occurs when you’ve gotten into a book and just couldn’t put it down, so you only got 5 hours of sleep before heading off to work.  Not even the kind that happens when your kid was sick all weekend and you’ve barely managed 4 hours of solid sleep before Monday makes an appearance.

    Instead, we’re discussing the sort of exhaustion that builds up over time.  This bone tiredness is an accumulation of years of parenting.  It began when that lovely little infant first made her/his appearance and magnified steadily over the years.  Even if you were lucky enough to get a full night’s sleep (more than 7 hours) here or there throughout your parenting life, it did not manage to push away the overpowering exhaustion.  Trying to rest up is like digging in sand.  And no one really seems to talk about this epidemic very much.  We feel as if we haven’t slept in 17 years and we know we can’t possibly be struggling alone!

    We beseech well rested parents to tell us their sleep secrets.  Do we really just continue to hold on by our fingernails until our kids leave home?  Are you taking vacations without your kids in tow?  If you feel rested, refreshed, and energized – how are you achieving this feat?  And if you are as tired as we are now, know that you are not alone.

    We have lived with under eye circles for so long now that we can’t remember what we looked like without the deep blue rings.  We have distant glorious memories of drowsy morning sex and then falling back to sleep for a few hours.  We think we remember naps.  And we’re pretty sure that we’ve slept passed 7am at some point in our lives.

    We love our kids but we’re damn tired of being tired.