Friday, January 31, 2014


Lukas added two new words to the English language this week; leisurizing and uglify.

      Definition:  to make something or someone more leisurely
      Use: I am leisurizing my school work by adding applied math to the schedule.

      Definition: make something more ugly
      Use:  By adding yellow to the painting, the artist uglified his work.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Very nice brother

Lukas wanted to cheer up his cold, tired little brother and made him a special breakfast. Warm sourdough pancake topped with fresh pureed blue berries and whip cream, along with a hot cup of cocoa topped with whip cream and more chocolate syrup.

Snow day

Home education offers many benefits, but it does not come with snow days much to the boys' consternation. The weather outside has little impact on the educational opportunities inside, and if the weather permit we may even bring our studies outside.
Michigan weather this winter has been one for the record books, the area broke the January 1974 record for snowfall, with over 31" so far, and the month is not over. The Polar Vortex, a word that only a few weeks ago would have required extensive definition, now rolls off the tongue of even the youngest of child. This is one winter to remember.
Tuesday is our Classical Conversation day. Last night, we packed our bags, prepared the lunch and staged all our gear by the back door, to make sure we could get out on time. Although cold, there were no indication that CC would be cancelled so we proceeded as normal. This morning, Lukas was the first one up and out of bed, getting his other school work done, so that 'when we come home from CC, I can do some robotics." This meant waking up to piano practice, a sweet sound that I much prefer to the alarm clock.
We got ourselves ready, suited up, Lukas started the car to warm it for us, when the phone rang - CC is cancelled! We have a true snow day - the plan for the day was cancelled!
The boys quickly sat down to get the work that had to be done complete, and then hurried upstairs to enjoy their first 'school snow day.' Yes, they are spending it building a robot out of Lego,, and even roped Mamma into looking for specific pieces, they do have a way of asking that is just too hard to resist. 


I could not help but smile as I saw my three favorite guys .....
and yes, there is enough devices in our home that Noah could have had one too.... He was just looking for and desiring human interactions... maybe Bob and Lukas are IM?

No Scout meeting

The blustery cold temperatures are wrecking havoc with our activities. Lukas was supposed to have a Scout meeting, but no. Bob used the 'free' time and added plastic sheeting to some of our windows, in the hopes of keeping the house a bit warmer. Lukas offered his help, running the hair dryer over the plastic to shrink it to size. Maybe it is the placebo effect, our wishing for warmth, but we do think the plastic sheeting is making a difference. Every little bit counts when the outdoor temperature is -8.

It is cold!!

The temperature is once again plummeting, sinking far below the dreaded zero.  The snow is staying put, keeping it a bit lighter and brighter, but it is still cold. Noah and Lukas suited up to take the trash out. The actually getting dressed part took longer than hauling the trash to the curb....
The sun rose over the horizon and the sky was blue, a picture perfect day, if it had not been so so so cold. The sun made a bit of the snow melt and the icicles grew and dripped all day. Noah thought the icicles suitable for something and wished we could have kept them in the freezer for safe keeping. Fortunately (?) our freezer is far too small to accommodate anything extraneous so Noah had to leave the weapons outside. As long as it stays this cold, they are in no danger of disappearing.

Friday, January 24, 2014

One man's trash...

We spent the weekend in Missouri with Barb, so that we could attend the Memorial Service for Tom, a man who touched so many people's lives, and whose smile everybody noticed.
The boys spent some time outside, running off energy and enjoying the milder southern winter temperatures compared to the frigid chills of Michigan. The fields and woods behind Grammy's house just beg to be explored. Lukas and Noah stumbled upon a pile of discards that nobody seemed to desire but the boys. They immediately set out to create a dwelling in the woods, dreaming about coming back another time and maybe use it for hunting shelter. The task at hand required ingenuity and imagination, it was after all just trash laying around. In a few short hours, the shelter was complete and even had a landmark beacon and a functioning flag.
Noah and Lukas proudly posed in their new abode. As we continued the meandering in the fields, Noah looked wistfully at several machines only to realize the limitations of airline travel and luggage restrictions. I am certain that these contraptions will be there next time we visit, and maybe the fort will still be standing....

I sure hope it does not rain when they spend time in here.. the roof is a bit porous....

this is the beacon that can be seen from Grammy's kitchen window

official flag of the dwelling

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In Memory of Pappy

Noah and Lukas were reminiscing about their precious Pappy and what a great man he was. One of their last memories of Pappy is Tom's 100 watt smile as he backed up Barney away from the kitchen heading to the office. Since Barney could not turn in the kitchen, Tom was quite proficient in backing up his trusted companion. On his way out of the kitchen, he would make a full stop and open a kitchen drawer and fish out one delectable M&M. Lukas and Noah said they had never seen anyone enjoy ONE M&M as much as Pappy did.
This memory lead them to build an M&M dispenser out of Lego in memory of dear Pappy and his enjoyment of these little chocolate candies.  Coins are deposited on one side, a device keeps track of the coins received for accounting purposes, and with a push of a button the machine dispenses a few M&Ms. The boys could not bring themselves to make the machine simply dispense one.....

A dimmer world

The world lost some of its brightness this week. Tom, a most beloved father, faithful husband, fantastic father in law and fabulous Pappy passed away on Sunday January  12, 2014. Throughout his illness, pains and ailments there was never a word of complaint or bitterness - Tom always had a smile on his face and a kind word to share. Our world is certainly a bit dimmer without his infectious smile and joyful attitude.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Slow mornings

The recent super cold weather has kept us inside, and the link between energy and sleeping well has been empirically proven! Lack of sufficient outdoor exercise and running around does not make for great sleeping habits. Since it is dark later in the morning, and still pretty cold at night, we are waking up and starting our day later. The blessing is that our school starts when we start, so there is not need to rush. One way to chase away the chill is a hot breakfast, and Noah happily cooked up a batch of sour dough waffles. His outfit makes me think of childhood painting of little tomtes, and in my books he is definitely the cutest one. He is particularly proud of his hat, that he sewed himself to match the pj pants he made with a tiny bit of help.

Polar Vortex 2014

What a difference a week makes. Yes, that is true for every week, although it seems to be more evident some weeks. We started off with record cold, blistery wind, bone chilling temperatures. The snow started to fall late Saturday evening and did not let up most of the day Sunday.
Roads not plowed, wind whipping and not even the slightest crack in the grey overcast sky made it an easy decision to do church at home.
The rest of the day, we spent curled up with books and hot drinks, only getting up to up the thermostat yet one more degree, and then one more degree... There are few houses built in Michigan suitable for this type of weather and we were grateful for a fully operational furnace, and diligently turned off lights as we left rooms in an effort to conserve what energy we could - this bill will be an eye popping one for sure.
Bob's office was closed on Monday, so what had already started as a longer than normal three day weekend with Bob's early dismissal on Thursday got extended yet one more day, yeah!!!
Once Christmas was put away, hauling in and out boxes at the exact midpoint of the day, when the day time temperature would be the highest, we settled in to a more normal school routine, albeit with hats and hot cocoa.
The boys also layered up to shovel the drive way and to perform the job the had contracted for next door. Once outside, and a bit more used to the cold, they hoped for a bit of play time. To avoid frost bite, the kitchen timer was our friend, 10 minutes of play, when the timer goes off, come back inside. Sweaty from shoveling, snow covered from digging and snow flinging (too cold to make snow balls) and completely red faced from the wind and chill, the boys happily accepted a hot mug of cocoa and settled back inside.  Yes, we drank a lot of cocoa this week, good thing we bought milk before the storm, :-)

On  Wednesday, we saw what used to be negative double digits move into single digits and it was no longer quite as necessary to time the boys outside time. After shoveling the most recent snow fall, they played outside and had some fun experimenting with bubbles. Mamma, bundled up in too many layers to count, was not agile and flexible enough to capture all the fun that the Christmas stocking bubbles afforded this cabin fevered crowd. Bubbles froze mid air, bubbles collapsed as they lifted up into the air, and those that landed felt like the finest, thinnest and most delicate crystal. And there was plenty of science to be discussed - easy check off on the school schedule.


Monday, January 6, 2014

It is COLD!

The temperature is dropping, the wind is picking up, and the sun did not even make an appearance today - the only light is reflecting off the snow. It is a perfect day to snuggle up with MANY blankets, sweaters and even a hat, reading a good book and drinking hot cocoa.
 Inside of our front door!

A New Job

Lukas and Noah just got a new job - shoveling snow for the neighbor. Lukas immediately saw the great potential this job can have and was all to happy to accept the duties. After a bit of conversation and gentle suggestions, Lukas conceded that this was a two man job. The first time out shoveling, I am pretty sure Lukas saw the wisdom in engaging his brother - snow is heavy and shoveling is hard work. Bob, being the a fantastic father, joined in the 'fun' to make sure the boys knew what was expected.

 Mamma is happy that the boys have a good reason to be outside, running off some energy even though it is cold and snowy, and they are making a few dollars as well. Sounds like a win-win situation.

A Winter Hike - AKA letter search and find

Last week, we had our first real snow storm, and the weather report predicted yet another one materializing Sunday. We took advantage of sun, and comparably warm temperature (this is of course a matter of opinion, it was after all 25 degrees..) and headed out for some winter sports activities. We drove to the larger Metro Park where we planned to rent cross country skis - however, this same brilliant idea had occurred to many other people and there were no more skis to be had.
There seemed to be some fun hiking trails in the forests and we headed out for a hike. As a tribute to Mamma's childhood, we packed clementines, and Marabou chocolate for our outing. These provisions turned out to be a great encouragement and motivation to keep on walking through the snow.
Noah and Mamma spent some time looking for all the letters of our last name in the forest and we thought we came home with all, but alas we are missing the 'h'. Oh well, a great opportunity to head out again as soon as the snow stops falling and the temperatures are returning to double digits again.


Bird feeder

We have had a bag of bird seeds sitting outside our back door all fall, but no place to house the seed. Noah took advantage of his no school day and created a bird feeder of things he found in the basement.

New furniture

Since we drove to MO, we were able to bring back a beautiful piece of furniture that has been in the family for a long time. Bob's expert packing along with the plethora of cut up white t-shirt rags from Lisa ensured the desk arrived without a nick or dent.
It is now referred to as Bob's desk, appropriately so!


Noah could not wait to get home after Christmas travel so that he could start his new puzzle. It did not take him long to complete the Periodic Table Puzzle and the bonus Atom puzzle. The rest of the family was only allowed to help occasionally, this was after all his and a whole lot easier than the Black and White one.
If only it was just as easy to memorize it.

All dressed up

This was our New Years Day attire!
A slow day, watching funny movies, reading books and enjoying great family time - the best way to start the new year.