Saturday Morning Coffee Catch Up

The coffee is excellent today – Billy made it this morning and isn’t it always better when someone else does the making? We are back to Post Alley, our favorite. Billy also told me the other day that my coffee is always made strongest on Mondays – hmm. I wonder why that could be?

It was a bit of week around here. In the overnight hours of Tuesday/Wednesday Wyatt woke up with some quick illness that came and go very fast, like within two hours. I really don’t know what that was about, but it was an intense two hours!

Then Wednesday was my birthday! It was extremely low key, with basically 100% laying around by Wyatt and I. I could have had worse birthdays, and in fact I have. It was actually sort of nice to be do absolutely nothing for a change and to spend the day with my little guy just chilling. I very, very rarely allow myself to completely relax and it was amazing. Billy gave me a book, my friend dropped off a gift, and my parents gifted me with money to spend on me. They were very specific that it had to go to me and not something for the house or a bill or Wyatt. We will see.

The other night I nestled up in bed with my cup of mint tea, my new book, and a cat and it was all very cozy. The wind was whipping outside and it was so cold outside, but warm and happy inside. And I am still loving our bedroom refresh! The other day was so grey outside but our room still felt so open and light.

I’ve done some online Christmas shopping this week and feel pretty good about where I am! I have one thing for Billy, two of my three nieces are halfway done, and for Wyatt, I need to get just a few things still. I still have more shopping to do but I like to know the kids are covered first, then I move on.

In all my relaxing time from my birthday I took an online quiz on my phone to see what my “booksona” is. It was actually a really fun quiz. It was interactive and different from most little silly quizzes. I mean it was still silly but it was fun too. And I have to say I agree with my booksona! It feels really accurate.

Tonight my brother Devin and his family are coming over here for dinner. We are using a recipe for pizza dough that Jeanie from The Marmalade Gypsy sent me that her partner Rick uses. We are all going to make our own individual pizzas. I think it will be fun! Last week we had a really laid back dinner at my brother’s house, soup and bread and homemade pumpkin pie. It was a very simple, perfect evening. Even though I had Wyatt dressed like Doc Boy from the Garfield Christmas Special. (well Wyatt is super cute in anything) And for a little bit of reality, that is Wyatt being sassy! Then, one second later trying to charm us. Stinker.

This weekend we have to do a lot of around the house stuff. Cleaning, getting groceries including the ingredients we need for our contributions to Thanksgiving and Wolfenoot, and work on the gifts we are making. Busy but also fun, with a nice break for pizza with family.

Next week is a little wild, and the introvert in me is freaking out already! Tuesday we have a get together with my cousin and his kids, my mom, and my brother and fam. Wednesday we have early Thanksgiving with Billy’s family, and Thursday Thanksgiving at my brother’s. It will be a lot of fun but Friday Wyatt and I will be doing a lot of nothing.

And that is about it for today! I hope all is well in your world!

Homeschool Journey: Dia de los Muertos, Frida Kahlo, Jose Posada and a Weird Pumpkin

Last week we continued on with our fundamentals like math and reading (which I never share about really because it’s not super exciting as one might imagine) and also dove deeper into Dia de los Muertos and especially into Frida Kahlo.

Wyatt and I are both loving art this year. I decided to just wing it, and it is working out really well for us. Since October is Hispanic Heritage Month, I thought it would be cool to focus on Hispanic artists. We spent some time on Diego Rivera, and then on Frida, and then a quick lesson on Jose Posada.

I introduced Wyatt to the art of Frida Kahlo the other week, and we talked about who she was as a person, how she overcame pain and obstacles to create her art, and how she eventually married Diego Rivera. We read about how when she was in bed overcoming an accident, she drew her feet – so Wyatt drew his feet while laying in bed. And if you follow these posts, then you know that he also put together a little Frida doll. Well this past week we took art a little further. We started by making a felt flower headband, which is super easy. (I will link the tutorial we used below in the resource roundup area.) I am always working with Wyatt on fine motor skills, which can be difficult for him with his cerebral palsy, especially with his right hand. Rolling is particularly difficult, and we work on it a lot. So this was a great project do with him even for OT purposes!

The next step involved Wyatt using watercolors to create a background – he opted for various colorful stripes which I think turned out beautiful. The next day, I took his photo wearing the headband, printed the photo, and cut it out. His background painting was dry, so it was time for the next step – painting on flowers using acrylics. While this was drying, Wyatt and I read a few books about Frida and all of her animals, and how she often included them in her self-portraits. I asked Wyatt which of our animals he would like to include in his self-portrait and he surprised me by saying Luna, one of our leopard geckos. I thought for sure he was going to say Miso, our fluffy cat! But nope, it was Luna who got the honor. I printed a photo of Luna, then it was time to put it all together. And I have to say, I absolutely love how it turned out!

I am 100% going to hang this in our house.

We also had a quick lesson on Jose Posada, who created the image of the calaveras. I also had picked up a mask kit and we put it to use.

In lieu of a state this week, we focused on the cultural traditions observed during Dia de los Murertos. We learned about the importance and symbolism of the monarch butterfly, and how it came to become a part of the celebration. We learned about the traditional foods that are provided on the ofrendas and also enjoyed by families, about the inclusion of earth, water, fire, and air which I hadn’t heard of before, and the reason for the sugar skulls. I love that I continuously learn as well, alongside Wyatt.

We carried our lessons on over to language arts as well. We read the book Our Day of the Dead Celebration, which I highly recommend, and Wyatt and I talked about our family members that have passed on and I shared funny stories with Wyatt about them, and talked about different things that they had liked.

Music is another area we are winging it, and while art is going awesomely, music is a bit more difficult. It is more like music appreciation at this point but that is ok. I found an incredible free resource online from the Phoenix Symphony which included a “concert repetoire” of music from Mexican folklore and also lessons about the Ballet Folklorico. Wyatt predictably enjoyed La Cucaracha the best.

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

Our Day of the Dead Celebration || Funny Bones || Viva Frida || The Remembering Day || A Parrot in the Painting || The Boy with Flowers in His Hair || Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos || Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herself || Danza!!

Felt Flower Headband

The Phoenix Symphony The Ballet Folklorico

Our Crafty World Dia de los Muertos Display Board

Oh, and that weird pumpkin? It’s sort of creepy… are you ready for it?

Allow me to explain. Last week (when this pumpkin was created) we were studying spores in science, and looking at the spores on ferns. Well, since I had already trimmed these fern pieces I decided we were going to do something with them. I had seen something on Instagram about botanical pumpkins, and I was like ok, we will try it. Instead we had glue and mod podge all over us, were we laughing hysterically because we 100% could not get ours to look even remotely like the ones I had seen, so I told Wyatt to just be creative and make a fern jack o’lantern. And frankly, I can imagine this creation scaring spirits from our door!

October was a great month of learning with fun activities to accompany our work! I am looking forward to moving on to our November studies.

Homeschool Journey: Took a wrong turn in Albuquerque

This homeschool update is a combination of two weeks – I just didn’t have time to write an update Monday. Plus, our house is a giant mess due to our bedroom reno and it seems to be affecting my productivity.

We have been hanging out in the Southwest the past two weeks, learning about Arizona and New Mexico in Social Studies. It is a part of the U.S. that I am fairly unfamiliar with, only having driven through it one time on the way to Vegas. Let’s see.. we read Dona Flor as part of our tall tales series for September, who was new to me as well. I really enjoyed her story, as did Wyatt. It is the tale of a giant woman who has an equally enormous heart, for her neighbors and for all the animals. She makes huge tortillas, sings to flowers, and solves problems for her community. Dona Flor is delightful!

We also read about the potter, Maria Martinez who is known for her amazing and beautiful pottery. We tried our hand at making a coil pot; this was a lesson in patience for us both. Wyatt wanted to just create whatever he wanted, and I usually encourage free creativity, but I really wanted him to see the process of coil pottery. It was a struggle but between the two of us we made it. He ended up rolling the clay into snakes and making the base, I helped him etch the coils, and then I stacked the coils. He also used water to smooth areas, like the base. It turned out pretty cute!

We started outside but some pretty aggressive wasps forced us back in. Wyatt absolutely loved this project – his grandmother is a potter so I am hoping to have him make a project with her that we can actually put in her kiln and everything. She is the reason he loved this by the way. He thought it was neat he was doing something like Grandma. I had originally planned for her to do this with us but she had COVID! (She is recovering and doing well)

We spent a lot of time on the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum website. It has so much content for kids and educators! Wyatt had told me his favorite fact about Arizona is that they have javelinas, so we learned about javelinas, including what they sound like. He loves pigs so I am unsurprised that he liked javelinas. I really liked the Gila monsters, of course – which sound crazy! Wyatt colored and decorate a picture of a Gila monster, and I love that is totally disco with gold glitter sprinkled all over it. Maybe one day we will get out that way and visit!

In science we were talking about vascular plants vs. non-vascular. We focused on moss for our desk work, and then since we had been visiting the desert, I ordered some Rose of Jericho plants for us to observe. They arrive like little dried out tumbleweed balls. You add them to a wide, shallow bowl of water, and they spring back to life over the course of a day. If you don’t water them, they revert to their dried out version but can be “resurrected” all over again! I thought they were so neat I ordered a few extra to give away to some people who I thought might like to watch the process too.

We managed to squeeze in a quick field trip as well! Since we had read John Henry, I thought we at least needed to ride a train.

Then, the following week, this week, we read Federico and the Wolf, a really fun retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, studied New Mexico (and now I am obsessed with that state – I didn’t know much about it before), and talked a bit about Diego Rivera. Our week this week was a bit pared down from normal, due to the renovations in our bedroom. When you have a tiny house and empty everything out of one of the rooms, it ends up everywhere else. We just didn’t have the right space for some of my planned projects. But we did have a good week of learning, just less hands on than normal, and few more videos than usual.

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

Shaped by her Hands || The Three Little Javelinas || Diego Rivera His World and Ours || G is for Grand Canyon || Dona Flor || Federico and the Wolf || E is for Enchantment

Next week we continue our southwest journey, as we mosey on down to Texas!

Homeschooling Journey: Paul Bunyan, Wisconsin, Photosynthesis, and Grant Wood

Last week was a crazy week! It was our second week back and we were still working out our rhythm and routine. We also added in the subjects we didn’t do the first week back, so we had a very full second week! Music, art, phonics, reading, math, science, social studies… we did it all.

Let’s start with..music and social studies. Wyatt is absolutely loving The Waldock Way’s Traveling the States curriculum. It is by far his favorite subject that we cover. I have to admit, it is pretty neat! I loved geography and history as a kid, and even in college so it makes sense. I was even in school to become a Social Studies teacher when they got rid of that degree and I had to choose sometime else (I picked History – I should have picked Geography) Anyway, back to Wyatt and our school! I have been starting every school session with a folk song or song that pertains to our lessons and this week we listened to the Wisconsin state song as well as songs from Bunyan and Banjoes, and Voices From Across the Lakes. Wyatt loves this – and was super pumped up by the Roll Loggers, Roll song. It also tied in with our Literary Arts for the week. We have been making our way through legends and tall tales, and last week we read about the mighty Paul Bunyan, and Babe, his blue ox. I asked Wyatt who he liked better, Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan, and Wyatt is sticking by Johnny Appleseed.

Wisconsin facts we learned: toilet paper was invented there, which for some reason was hilarious to Wyatt, and that the first ice cream sundae was made there as well. Those were Wyatt’s two favorite takeaways. My favorite Wisconsin fact though is that Laura Ingalls was born there.

Science this entire year is all about plants, and we started at the beginning, with photosynthesis and how we get oxygen from trees. It’s still such a perfect design, that we need to live hand in hand with trees, as they use our carbon dioxide and we need their oxygen. We also had a very simple observation experiment to complete. We took two freshly cut leaves (I used my pothos) and put them in two jars of water. One was to be put in the sun, and the other in a closet. After an hour we needed to see the difference, were there any bubbles, etc.

Art this week was about Grant Wood, probably best known for his painting American Gothic. We read a few different books about Wood, looked at pictures of his work, and then we were supposed to make a sculpture over the weekend – but it didn’t happen. Note to self: Do not save work for the weekend, at least until the weather changes. Wyatt loved Wood’s sculpture work which were made out of just anything he found. I loved his portraits best, especially the portrait of his mother holding her snake plant, called Woman with Plants.

The sculpture is named “Lillies of the Alley”, and I found this photo online at Antiques and the Arts, photo credit to Stephen Gassman.

What We Used: (contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Living Sunlight // B is for Badger // American Gothic // Grant Wood: The Artist in the Hayloft // Paul Bunyan

Bunyan and Banjoes // Disney American Legends

I am sure a lot of these resources can be found either available online for free or at the library.

We also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root.

I am hoping to get my blogging situation with timing of posts, replies to comments, and visiting you all and commenting under control this week!

Homeschool Journey: The First Week Back

Well, we made it through our first week back! Wyatt had a fantastic week. We had our moments where we struggled, both of us, but overall this was a great first few days back!

The first day I got up way too early and got started. I tried to make a special back to school breakfast of french toast but, I totally screwed it up somehow. Lol. I wasn’t awake enough maybe? So we had just a breakfast of buttered toast and we were happy because Wyatt and I are superfans of toast, which I know sounds funny. I gave him his little bin of supplies, some that he had chosen and some that were surprises, and he ate breakfast while exploring them.

After breakfast, we got ready and took back to school photos. He opted for his new lizard shirt – and told me that he was looking forward to learning about geckos. I guess I need to get a unit study together!

I can’t get over how much he has grown since even last year. Where did my baby go?

Then we headed in and got straight to work. I had a week that was structured to let us ease back in. We only tackled reading and language arts, social studies, music, and art last week. Next week we will add math and science back in. We need to form our new routine, get used to the new schedule, figure out how to work around therapy, all that good stuff.

And in the middle of our first day, I discovered we had a runaway caterpillar! I was crawling around the office looking for it everywhere! I finally found it on the baseboard behind my desk. (This is a giant swallowtail caterpillar)

When we finished up our work for the first day, we went outside for a much needed break. Wyatt played and played while I sat in my new yard chairs by the zinnias, enjoying the cool of the day and listening to Wyatt playing. It was a tiring but wonderful day.

What We Learned:

Our week was all about Johnny Appleseed, the state of Michigan, and the artist Thomas Cole.

Our Language Arts curriculum is one that I designed so I was excited to try it out! I need to fluff it out more with some projects that correlate with the book, etc but the actual work and how it went made me very happy.

We are learning about the states this year using a program from The Waldock Way, and we had a blast with it last week! I added in some Motown music, of course, and I had found the book Voices Across the Lakes on Amazon for $6, when other copies are selling for $40! It is described as “Beautifully told and illustrated stories about the Great Lakes region. Historical content, written around 10 authentic songs.” It is really cool, and we are probably going to use it with music class for a few more weeks.

I was also really excited to start our art program. I am not using anything formal, but I have a list of artists I want us to learn about this year and I am sort of making it up as we go along. This week we learned about Thomas Cole. I found an awesome picture book called Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art, which we read together. I also visited the Thomas Cole National Historic Site website and they had some wonderful free downloads available to use. It would be an excellent field trip for anyone living in that area too, with free outdoor explore kits for students to use while visiting. Plus that view from the porch!! We are going to complete our art project later this afternoon as a family, by sketching the view from our porch. Not quite as scenic, not by a long shot, but it will be fun to do.

What We Used:

(contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

S is for Sleeping Bear Dunes // M is for Mitten // Voices Across the Lakes // Picturing America // Seed by Seed

For a look at what we are using for our curriculum this year, check out my post here.

We ended the week with a crazy road trip – but that is a story for another day!

Homeschool Update: Coyotes, Turtles, and a Failed Field Trip

This week was a doozy! I was super excited about it – we had so much material to cover that I absolutely loved and couldn’t wait to introduce to Wyatt. For the most part, it all worked out very nicely. Except for that field trip…

This week we took a mini-break from math to work on a special focus topic based on the book We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. It was so comprehensive, including bits of social studies and geography and science and nature. We read the book first, then “dove” right in. Wyatt learned about the importance of water (back to that whole idea of how all things are nature and all things are connected) – how it is important to all living things, to our planet, to every part of our bodies. About how the amount of fresh water compared to salt water is vastly different, and how we need to protect these resources, to be good stewards of our world. We talked about different bodies of water, and of course created a few art projects as well. We did not manage to get to it all, but I hope to include the rest next week. I am actually in love with both paintings Wyatt worked on this week – he did a mixed media watercolor of a pond, and then later in the week we did a similar project with coyotes. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about warm colors and cool colors!

For our coyote study, we covered their anatomy, diet, habitat, and listened to a few videos online of their yips and howls. We finished up with his research notebook page, and the other mixed media-esque painting. (Note – I drew and cut out the coyote silhouette for him, but that painted background is all him. As is the placement of the coyote. Also note- I am not an artist. Lol)

I was also excited because we read three Indigenous/Native American based books this week. It actually just worked out this way which was a cool coincidence. In language arts we read When Turtle Grew Feathers, which is the Choctaw tale of Rabbit and the Hare. I let Wyatt inspect and handle my turtle shell that I found a few years ago, as part of the lesson. We also imagined different animals wearing the shell, as turkey did in our story.

Books We Read:

(Contains Amazon affiliate links)

Coyote Sings to the Moon by Thomas King || Blast Off Readers Turtle or Tortoise || Blast Off Readers Coyotes || When Turtle Grew Feathers by Tim Tingle || We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

So… lets talk about that failed field trip! On Wednesday the plan was to head to the nature center at a local metropark early in the day to work on science and nature. The nature center has turtles and tortoises, a stuffed coyote to view, a river out back, a display about the local indigenous peoples who once lived there – we were going to cover all the bases! My mom was going to come too, as she hasn’t really been out out in a while and I thought it would be fun. And it still was, just not what we had planned! We got there to find out that school year hours are different than summer and weekend hours, and it was closed! We decided we would just take a little walk on the overlook, check out the river, then head back to the car. Which we did, and it was a grogeous view, and all the leaves – it was such a perfect fall morning. Until the mosquitoes found us! My poor boyo was covered in welty mosquito bites, he has such a bad allergic reaction to them. I felt horrible! I hadn’t put on insect repellent as we were literally out there five minutes, and that was really all we were going to be out there, so I didn’t even think about it. Plus, it is October! So we left as fast we could. Somehow in all our hurry, my license slipped out of my back pocket onto the trail, unbeknownst to me. We were about fifteen minutes away when one of the interpreters whom we have known for years texted me that my license had been turned in. So, I turned back around to get it. I got it from her, and on the way home drove thru McDonald’s for some much needed coffee and french fries! So all is well that ends well!

Next week is all about wolves and skunks, Little Red Riding Hood, Ninjas, and subtraction! It should be an interesting week!

Field Trip: Fossil Park, OH

One perk to homeschooling – being in charge of your own field trips. So if we felt like packing up early and driving to Ohio to check out a fossil park on a Monday morning, no big deal. Bonus – going at that time pretty much assured we would have the place to ourselves. Which we did.

I had been looking for some places to take Wyatt to introduce him to the idea of fossils and rocks- we are about to begin a whole rocks and minerals unit in science and when I can get him outside or hands on, I do. I found one north of us, about four hours away, and then my brother sent me the link to another, this one only an hour drive south. This is where we ended up going – Fossil Park, Ohio.

I will admit at first look it is a bit underwhelming. Like a place teens would go to have fires and beers or like a crumbling parking lot somewhere. I was like, well, regardless of how this turns out, Wyatt will have gotten out to play in an environment that is unlike any other he has been to before. There wasn’t too much to see, just gravelly ground, a large container of water, and a few little tables and benches. Pretty simple set up.

We were optimistic, as we generally are. I had read the website and printed out a few materials before we left, including an information sheet that had illustrations and descriptions of the types of fossils we could hope to find, which we had reviewed in the car on the drive. Fossil Park is the remains of a shallow sea bed from the Devonian Era, 375 million years ago. No dinosaurs. We had our milk jug with the top part cut off, also suggested per the website, to use to keep our treasures in. After a brief glance around, we plopped onto the ground and started searching.

I found a piece of a trilobite right away, and I felt very victorious. Giddy almost. Billy was systematically combing through the dirt, I was sort of attacking things a bit more energetically and also trying to teach Wyatt, who was busy stuffing his overalls full of rocks and fossils, neglecting the milk jug in his excitement. He was pretty proud of his collection.

Let me stop a second and talk to you about these overalls. This is not an ad or affiliate or anything, I just really love them. I bought them for him in the spring – as Wyatt scoots a lot right now while we work on walking, he literally goes through pants like crazy. Anything harder than grass just tears the seat right up – and eventually, him, if I don’t watch. These Key Apparel overalls are like the toughest purchase I have ever bought him. They have withheld an entire spring of playing outside, and now, a rock quarry. They are a little worn but still intact. I can’t stress enough how durable these overalls are! They are from a farm supply outfitter, so they are made for hard work, but if you have an active kid that goes through clothes like crazy, I highly recommend these overalls. I only wish he could wear them in the summer – but the very thing that makes them so durable would also make them too hot for the summer. So we will count our blessings and be happy that he can wear them at least in the spring and fall.

Back to the fossil hunt. We were busy at work, Wyatt and I near the top of the quarry, Billy near the bottom, sifting and examining. I was explaining different things to Wyatt, showing him different pieces. We were alone in the quarry for quite a while before a man came walking in, and after a few minutes he came up to us. It turned out that he was the Parks Project Manager and super nice! He told us about what we could find, and even dug with us for twenty minutes, giving us his finds and telling us what they were. It was really cool and like having a personalized guide. He was telling us as well, that they have big plans for the quarry and next year it will be built up more.

We stayed quite a bit longer than I anticipated, almost two hours. Wyatt had fun, and so did Billy and I. I felt sort of like a kid again, sitting in the dirt, just exploring and looking for neat things. I think Billy did too.

We came home with a nice collection in our milk jug! We found a bit of trilobite (top of the big rock), brachiopods (the shell looking piece), and then lots of crinoids, which are bits of sea lilies. I am holding a bit of stem (the long cylinder) and then bits of the stem, the flat washer looking cheerio thing.

If you plan to visit: Expect to get dusty! We were cracking up at how much dust we had on us. Also, when Wyatt’s overalls came off at home tons of small pebbles fell all over the floor, so expect that too. You can only take your collection jug/carton, and water on hot days, no eating or drinking is allowed in the quarry. You can take a brush to dust your specimens. As for being ADA accessible, I would say it is pretty accessible honestly. There is a wheelchair ramp leading down to the quarry, and while it would be a rocky ride inside it can be done. It would be trickier if using a walker or crutches, unless the person scooted like Wyatt. Alternatively, you can sit at the tables and benches and collect from the pile behind the tables as well. Also check the website – it is really informational, and has great printables available, including how to use your visit in your lesson plans.

Overall, we had a really good time! We would definitely go again.

First Day of School, Flowers, and a Frog

Last week we started homeschooling again – I can’t believe this kid is in first grade! Where does time go? I am pretty sure he was just a tiny baby like yesterday. Here we go again, barefoot and crazy hair and all!

We are still finding our rhythm, the pace of our day. First grade is a little more demanding but I still want it to be enjoyable and not a chore. I want Wyatt to look forward to our learning time everyday, and with only week one under our belts, we are still muddling through. We will get it though. I am hoping to do a homeschooling curriculum post this Friday; I am so excited about what we are doing this year and want to share!

We visited Belle Isle and the new garden installation, the Oudolf Garden. It was so beautiful! This garden was designed by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, after he received a “love letter from Detroit” written by the volunteers of the Garden Club of Michigan. Apparently he was impressed by the energy of our city. Oudolf has designed places like the High Line in New York, as well as the Toronto Botanical Garden to name a few. It was pretty neat to see this four season garden and know that a famous garden designer was behind it all.

I enjoyed walking around the gardens with my family, but I was also really excited to move on to the next part of our day – adopting a Pacman Frog. As you all know, I am a lover of all creatures and my sweet little Dash passed away recently. My butterfly project will be finished soon, and I feel like our house will feel sort of empty, or as empty as it can feel with three people, three senior cats, two leopard geckos, and a ghost mantis sharing 900 square feet can feel. But there is always room for a few more, right? Especially a Pacman frog. These frogs are not really a pet you can interact with physically. In fact, handling them is not good for them. And sort of not good for you, as they have teeth and can bite as they are aggressive eaters. They also spend a lot time just sitting in one place burrowed down. Am I selling this frog or what? Lol. However, they are super cute and easy to care for and kind of just what I was looking for. They can live in a smaller tank, and don’t require too much. Plus, cute, again. I think she might be a chocolate mint pacman, but she could just be the “normal” version. Either way, we loves her already. So without further ado, meet Freddie the Frog!

Now you see her, now you don’t! I am seriously considering making some videos or designing an Outschool class with all of my creatures – I would love to share them and their care with elementary students somehow. One day it might be neat as well to share them in person with elementary schools as well!

I have a whole “wish list” of reptiles I would love too add to our home wildlife classroom – a Russian tortoise (a rescue one), a crested gecko, mourning geckos and dart frogs… they bring joy to our whole house, honestly. Even little crazy frogs like Freddie here. And eventually we will! For now we are very happy with all of our menagerie as it stands though.

Italy in July

Salve!!

We have been having a blast exploring Italy this summer! Not in person sadly, but learning and reading and yes, eating Italian food together. Every few months we study a country where our family has roots, as part of an intro to geography type thing, and Italy has been so much fun.

If I started at the beginning, I would have to say it was with watching Luca. I love that movie, it is so good! I love how it is such a movie of friendship and acceptance. And even in cartoon form, Italy is gorgeous.

Then, our actual studies began – I wanted to keep it fun and sort of loose and unstructured, it is summer after all, so we are not working on it every day, and we have lots of books and videos and art projects instead of straight learning facts and worksheets. And I want to create a love for learning about other countries and cultures – geography was always a favorite of mine is school, and I really want to pass that on.

We started off easy, reading about Italy in general, making an herb flag of Italy, a pasta map out of macaroni noodles, and learning some basic words and phrases. I did buy a few resources online to help me out – the main one we are using is from Savy Activities, a maker I have never used before but will again in the future. I just love how they have the information presented and their activities are so fun!

From here, we zoomed in for a closer look. Last year we built an Eiffel Tower from wafer cookies. This year, we built the Colosseum.

Wyatt did great, although he did want to eat our building materials. He kept snacking on our walls! We did have it for dessert that night though. Lol.

And we had a Strega Nona day! I love Strega Nona. They are such classic picture books and remind me of my childhood. We read the book Strega Nona, did some story sequencing, and did a little craft of Strega and her magic pasta pot. For dinner, we had spaghetti, but I was careful not to flood the streets of our city with it. ( I can’t find the link to the materials I used for this although I believe it was from Scholastic. If I locate it I will update this post)

This week has been my favorite so far though. Monday was Pisa, Pizza, and Pizelles day. The kids learned about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, made their own personal pizzas, and tried pizelles.

Our tower crafts were not our best ever, so thank goodness we had the pizza and pizelles to follow it up. And seriously, that pizza was delicious. These picky eaters both ate all of it!

Wednesday was – are you ready – Michaelangelato day. Sometimes I crack myself up. The kids learned about Michaelangelo, did their own version of how he painted the Sistine Chapel, then we all had a gelato taste test! I bought five different flavors and we tasted them all, recording whether we liked it, didn’t like it, or were not quite sure. I bought Talenti Gelato in the flavors of Coconut, Mint, Peanut Butter Cup, Confetti Cookie, and Strawberry Cheesecake. The winner of best tasting gelato was hands down the Mediterranean Mint. It was the favorite of 3 out of 4 of us. I was the only one who placed the confetti cookie ahead of it. Wyatt was the only one of us to like the coconut, but he refused the strawberry. It was a lot fun.

Next week we are moving on to frescoes and music, and then we are finishing up in Venice!

This has been a fantastically fun month so far. We have a few other things planned, including a field trip and Billy and I have been conducting a local pizza survey as well, that I will write about later.

Until next time everyone, ciao!

Chit Chat Coffee Time

My week this week was just…blah. Not good, not bad, I can’t quite say what I even did this week. It was just sort of like a week on autopilot. This upcoming week we are taking a break from school, maybe I just need a refresh.

This morning we left bright and early to go to a different garden center. I was joking with Billy that this particular garden center is the one ALL the butterfly people talk about, so we had to be cool too and check it out. I am hoping to help raise monarchs this year so I needed to go to the cool garden center too. And honestly, it was really cool.

My friend who has done the whole monarch thing for years gave me a list of milkweed I needed, particularly common and swamp. I found those and grabbed them, and added some prairie milkweed and also a kind with a very interesting name. They had tables set up with types of butterflies and their host plants which made it really easy to shop. I also picked up a butterfly bush and a few forget-me-nots. They have a butterfly house but it is not open yet, so we will have to go back to check it out.

We went first thing in the morning and no one was there. I love having places practically to myself. We had just planned on Billy and Wyatt hanging out in the car but when I saw it was so empty and open, I called Billy and told him to join me inside, and I am so glad we did, we had a great time. I feel like they just needed to serve coffee and it would have been perfect. (Hint hint Barsons if you read here – set up a little coffee area for people to buy coffee, I am sure it would do well.)

However, now it is so humid and hot outside that we have unloaded it all and are waiting until it cools off a bit. I found a few butterfly eggs on my rue this afternoon and gathered it up. I am actually getting my mom in on this too, and I am taking her these first eggs from a black swallowtail. I think she will enjoy it!

I have spent the past few weeks working on our final month of lessons for kindergarten! I can’t believe this year is almost over! We are going to spend a month finishing up our regular curriculum and we will also be spending some time learning about the ocean and ocean animals. And mermaids, per the request of my niece. Then I get to start planning for next year, and I have to be honest I am really excited about that. We will also be continuing school throughout the summer but more informally. We are spending July immersed in learning about Italy, as part of our family ancestry studies combined with geography. It should be a lot of fun. And delicious as I am going to use it as an excuse to eat all the pasta and tiramisu that I want.

I hope you are all having a good day so far! Enjoy the weekend!