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The Last Few Weeks of Summer…

School officially started for us yesterday. I suppose that technically means we have to hole up in the house and forget to have fun, but we’re still milking the last days of summer as much as we can. (We may have celebrated our first completed day by heading to the pool.)

Over the last few weeks we’ve spent time camping and doing some fun things together as a family – in short, life. If you follow my Instagram or Facebook feed you may have seen some of this, but here’s a quick peek at what we’ve been up to.


We wrapped up our summer swim league with a long day of swimming at the final championship meet. The kids all did AMAZING! Zachary broke one of the league records and two of the kids placed first in their events. It was a great end to the season and the kids were so excited to share in the fun with their team. You can see a video clip of Zachary in his backstroke event here.


We’ve watched a ginormous spider build a web right outside my bathroom window and even saw her enjoy a tasty meal (if you are brave, you can see a little video snippet of that here).

reading and snuggles

Each morning the kids come snuggle in bed with me, sometimes chatting, sometimes reading. It makes my heart so happy to see this (and makes me not want to get out of bed!).


In just a few short weeks we are headed to Universal in Orlando for the Family Forward conference. The kids are literally counting down the days until we leave. They have been busy saving their money and working hard to earn spending money for the trip. It’s actually been a great lesson in what is worthwhile to spend your money on, especially when you see how much a sibling saves when not making seemingly small purchases like a candy bar here or a soda there (life in action!).

monarch chrysalis

The monarch caterpillars are out in full force and we have several that have already gone into the chrysalis stage. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, there is something absolutely amazing and breathtaking watching the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. It never gets old.

night sky

Last week we took the kids to the top of a nearby mountain, laid out in the field, and watched the meteor shower together. SO much fun. Until one child had to repeatedly use the bathroom. Then not as fun. But watching it all was unbelievably awe-inspiring. (The above is my proof to the kids that a picture from my iPhone was not going to work.)

campfire building

Camping – ah, how we have missed it! We’ve had the chance to take two trips recently, Rick has been teaching the kids new fire-building techniques, and we’ve just had fun relaxing with friends.

catching crawdads

While camping, the creatures abound. The kids caught crawdads and boiled them for a little pre-dinner snack (I’d rather have lobster, thank you very much).

tree frog

At the pond/lake – little tree frogs everywhere. McKenna had one that wanted to stay with her. We also found tons of tadpoles and froglets (I may have wanted to bring some home with us), but Kaleb found many in different stages of tail development and that was so neat to see.


And last week I spent some time sorting construction paper by color (because it’s easier to grab what you need that way). The paper was a great deal and on sale, but hindsight – I am willing to pay a little extra so that I don’t have to spend 20 minutes sorting a small pack of paper by color. Dear Crayola – please consider sorting your paper by color otherwise. Thank you very much. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

Well, that’s our last few weeks in a nutshell – what have YOU been up to?

The Kiwi Crate Family is Growing!



Recently our family was introduced to Kiwi Crate. We had so much fun with the Rainforest Adventure kit even though our kids were arguing over who actually got to create the projects. Now I’m not one to promote fighting between the kids, but it was great to see that our 12 year old wanted to have some fun with the crafts and games with her younger brothers! In the end, everyone was able to take part and the games are still being pulled out to play together – with no fighting (usually).

Three NEW Additions to Kiwi Crate

Kiwi Crate just announced that they have THREE new brands that are available for pre-order and will ship mid-October: Tinker Crate, Doodle Crate, and  Koala Crate. There is one in particular that our kids will LOVE (I’m thinking Tinker Crate, but I know our girls would love the Doodle Crate!).

Here’s a little peek at the three new crates offered. I love that they have broadened the age base with these new kits (ages 14 to 16 now!).


Ages 9-14+
Hands-on STEM based experiments and projects that promote problem-solving.



Ages 9-16+
Fun craft inspiration for kids using a variety of craft mediums.



Ages 3-4
Monthly projects for preschoolers to play and learn.



Ages 4-8
Fun, hands-on activities to get kids creating and exploring!




Kiwi Crate Subscription Options


As with the original Kiwi Crates, these three new crates are subscription based. Choose a month-to-month subscription or choose the 3, 6, or 12 month subscription option. Prices vary from $12.95 to $16.95/mo based on your subscription choice.

We’re looking at the Tinker Crate for our kids, especially since they would be fun projects to work on together – and a certain mom doesn’t have to gather any supplies! Which of the new kits do you like?

Kiwi Crate Family Brands >>

Three Letters to Sum up the Week


someecards credit

Three letters can sum up this week so far.


Need I say more? (grins)

The Security Alarms at Mount Vernon Work

Mount Vernon Field Trip

The way I envisioned our field trip to Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington), may have been a little different than how the events of the day completely unfolded – but it was still a fabulous trip.

Mount Vernon Homeschool Field Trip-1

A beautiful day and four (mostly) behaving kids. Lots of friends along to wander the grounds, explore the various buildings, and learn more about a man who was instrumental in the shaping of our country.

And in case any of you were wondering, the alarms on the exhibits in the education center are working very well. And are very loud.

Well, at least the three that we managed to set off at various places in the center were working.


That moment when you hear an alarm go off and are looking around trying to figure out who set it off – and then realize that everyone is staring in your direction. Yeah – that. Times THREE.

Just keeping it real, folks.

You apparently can’t even slightly TOUCH the railings in a wrong way – not the exhibit or anything in it – the RAILINGS. You would have thought we’d learn after the first one, but it took two more times until we high-tailed it out of the center and went for some wide open spaces.

Making History Fun

Adventure Map of Mount Vernon

Truly though, there is a lot to do and learn at Mount Vernon. The staff  – fabulous help who try to make it fun and educational for the kids – provide scavenger hunt maps for the kids to search for clues all over the estate. There’s even a fun prize when the maps are completed (secret decoder pens for the older kids and a stamped penny for the younger ones).

Mount Vernon field trip-11

George Washington’s final resting place

We toured the extensive gardens, visited Washington’s final resting place, walked through the house where George and Martha lived, visited the slave quarters, and took in the views of the Potomac from the back porch of the home. There’s just something absolutely amazing about walking through a huge piece of our American history – and imagining what it was like when Washington was actually there.

And (aside from screeching alarms) the education center was equally as fabulous – giving a glimpse into the details of Washington’s early life up through his sudden death. This week we’ll be working on some follow up history lessons thanks to the Mount Vernon website – they have some handy pre-visit and other go-along items for teachers to use. You can even take a virtual tour from your home, in case it’s too far to visit in person!

Quite honestly, it’s a place I’d love to visit again someday (shhh…with no kids) and soak in all the history and tidbits there are to offer.

Minus the alarms. 


Note: In our defense (in case anyone from the Mount Vernon staff is reading this), nothing  was touched, damaged, or otherwise compromised. (grins)

And p.s. – this post was in no way sponsored by Mount Vernon.

Our School Year So Far – Three Weeks Down…

Three weeks down in our school year and we’re back into our full routine. So far, it’s been good with a little bit of attitude thrown in one day {grins}. Want a peek at how it’s going?

Picture Smart Bible

Everyone is loving the Picture Smart Bible so far. Kaleb is using the set of printables that are already filled in and having a wonderful time bossing telling the other kids the words that need to be filled in the blanks. The coloring – well, that’s enjoyed by all.

Nancy Larson Science 4

This past week we added history and science back into our weekly schedule. About two minutes into our Science 4 lesson on microscopes, I remembered that I was supposed to get batteries for said microscope last week. We only spent about fifteen minutes trying to find the mini screwdriver to open up the bottom {sigh – I love it when I forget to write things down}.

Kaleb is LOVING his Science 1 program. We’ve been talking about human development and the peanut gallery in the rest of the room is not always helping when they chime in with answers. While I am so glad that they remember the answers, sometimes it nice to hear the one who is supposed to be working on the lesson {big sigh}.

In history we’re learning about the War of the Roses and also Ferdinand and Isabella. Am I the only one that doesn’t remember much of this from my days in school? Makes me all the more determined to find ways for our kids to embed this info in their brains. {grins} Do you know what two houses fought during the War of the Roses and how it ended up being resolved?

Home Art Studio

That’s just a bit of what we’ve been learning. We’ve also working on handwriting, math, language, spelling, and reading. This week we’re pulling art into the mix – there’s a little first grader who keeps dropping the Home Art Studio DVD in front of me and begging.

All I have left to do is finish up a reading list for the girls that goes along with what we are studying in history. While I love that they are reading on their own, I really want to make sure that they are reading some quality books during the year in addition to the ‘fluff’ reading {please tell me I am not alone in this?}. On the same note, it reminds me that I need to pick up a few of those non-fiction books in my pile and put down some of the fluff reading I have next my bed too {grins}.

How is your year starting out? Are you back into your routine?


Be sure to stop by Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and join in her Weekly Wrap-Up post!


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Koolaid Playdough Recipe

Koolaid Playdough Recipe

One of my favorite recipes for playdough is one that goes back to my days of being a preschool teacher – Koolaid Playdough. The scent and bright colors make it even more fun to play with.

The recipe itself can be pulled together in about ten minutes – even if you have little ones helping out! When we made the above batch of seven rainbow colors, it was right around $5 – so inexpensive and something fun to make.

This recipe also makes great gifts for others, so double up your batches and drop some off at your friend’s houses as well. We bring extras over every now and then to the grandparents too!

How to Make Koolaid Playdough

Want to make a few batches of your own? Here’s what you will need to pull together for each batch:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 envelope unsweetened Koolaid
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, Koolaid and water in medium saucepan. Stir in oil.

2. Mix over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until mixture forms a ball in the center of pan. Dough will start darkening in color.

3. Remove from pan {caution: will be HOT}. Knead until soft.

4. Store in airtight container or ziploc bag.

Koolaid Playdough 026

We used a variety of Koolaid flavors to make our batches. The lemonade was the only one that I added a few drops of food coloring to so that it would be a little brighter in color. Here’s a list of the flavors I used:

  • fruit punch {red}
  • orange {orange}
  • lemonade {yellow}
  • lemon-lime {green}
  • berry blue {blue}
  • grape {purple}
  • pink lemonade {pink}

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