March 12, 2012


I want to be a composter.  I WILL be a composter.  Now that we have our own property I can make my dream come true.  (My husband will be so glad when I actually start instead of just talking about it.)

I've read a lot of composting books lately and my favorite is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting by Chris McLaughlin.  I love how simple she makes it and it's one of the most detailed (yet easy) books I found.  She has a lot of ideas I didn't see anywhere else.

In making your compost you basically want to add "browns" and "greens".  There is all sorts of sciency stuff about ratios but it more or less comes down to 50% of each or "throw in what you have".  You can do it "hot" or "cold"....I'm not going to discuss that because I really am just writing this to help me remember what to add....and what to plan.

My kitchen waste will be going into an enclosed bin so that small animals won't want to take up residence in my yard and then my house.  This will consist of all fruit and veggie peelings/skins/trimmings, egg shells, etc.  Low on citrus peels and NO dairy or meat products and no fat.  The smaller you cut it, the faster it decomposes.

There is currently a sort-of compost bin going on in my backyard.  The previous owners set up some green plastic fence sort of thing but it's falling over and not contained and looks pretty bad.  I'm going to make a pretty one....and plant things around the outside to disguise it AND to fertilize the plants AND to use my space more efficiently.

Eventually I want a big pile out back, a worm farm, a smaller container for kitchen scraps and a rabbit to provide lots of poop.

Okay, for the big pile....

Hay (aged so the seeds are dead)
Dried leaves (shredded is best)
Chipped wood
Toilet paper rolls
Dried grass
Wood ash (but not coal)
100% cotton fabrics
Dryer lint
Cardboard egg cartons
Paper towels
Wrapping paper
Oat hay
Shredded documents

Green grass clippings
Vegetable trimmings
Green leaves
Tea and tea bags
Coffee grounds (and filters)
Animal manure (from herbivores only)
Aquarium water from freshwater fish
Alfalfa meal or hay
Citrus (use sparingly & chop up small)
Weeds (without the seeds)
Human and animal hair
Old flower bouquets
Green prunings
Bedding from rabbits (soaked with urine and with lots of poop - this is great stuff!!!!)

I'll post pictures as I get projects completed and things planted.  Which should be soon because planting season is fast approaching.

March 10, 2012

One of the hidden benefits of homeschooling

The other day, one of my 11-year-olds was having a rough day.  

He threw himself on the couch and declared, 
"I'm so mad I could cuss."  

He paused for a moment, then said, 
"I don't know any swear words."

March 1, 2012

Hit the Reset Button on Your Day

There are times when things just aren’t working right, when children (and mommies) are grumpy, when the best laid plans crumble before your very eyes in the form of a screaming child or a stubborn pre-teen.  Yes, some days you wish you could just send everybody back to bed so you can wake up and try again.  Or maybe just stay there for a bit.

I recently read a fantastic blog post  which detailed 20 ideas for how to “reset” your day.  To her amazing ideas, I’ve added a few of my own below.

Chuck it all and go for a Nature Walk.  Go for a 10 minute walk or for a 3 hour hike.  You’ll be learning while you relax.  Bring some magnifying glasses, binoculars and field guides if you can.

Tell the Never-Ending Story.  At least that’s what we call it.  One person starts and goes for a minute or two then turns to the next person and they have to continue the story.  After a minute or two they turn to the next person and you keep passing the story around until you’ve all laughed a bit and are ready to move on with the day.  Sometimes you need to set rules like “no killing the character” or “no kissing”.

Read a picture book or two to everyone.  Even my big boys still love picture books. 

Everyone grab a book and read quietly for a certain period of time.  Even mom gets to read what she wants!  This can be tricky if you have littles, but they can quietly look at picture books during this time.

Build something together.  Dump out (or provide a bucket filled with) Legos, blocks, K’nex or Citiblocs, etc.  Everyone works together to build something.  Then knock it down and put it away.

Play the Alphabet List game.  Choose a category like food, animals, book titles, etc and name something for each letter of the alphabet.

Crazy Walk.  This can be done with or without music.  Direct them to walk slowly, backward, forward, like a monkey or a cat.  Big steps, baby steps, crawl, hop, whatever.  Have them follow the tempo of the music or, if you’re doing it without, just change when you direct them.

Don’t Spill the Water or Break the Egg – this should be done outside.  Give them a full cup of water and have them walk a line (taped or natural in the yard or on the sidewalk) or go through an obstacle course, without spilling water.  Alternately, have them hold an egg on a spoon and walk from Point A to Point B without dropping it.

Balloon Volleyball – Blow up a balloon and everyone tries to keep it off the ground by hitting it before it bounces.  To make it more challenging add 2 or 3 balloons.

Read a 2- or 5-Minute Mystery.  There are several free sites on the web with ideas for this, or you can purchase a book. 

Only Questions – Have everyone stand in a circle.  One person points to another and asks a question.  That person must point to someone else and ask a question.  Keep going until someone answers or says ‘uh’ or takes too long.

I Love You, Honey – Have one person stand or sit in front of the group.  One by one, each person stands before the person in front and says, “I love you, honey, won’t you please smile?”  The person in front has to respond, without smiling, “I love you honey, but I just can’t smile.”  The object is to get the “honey” to smile so use silly voices, crazy faces, etc.  Whoever can get the person in front to smile, becomes the new “honey”.

Pick a project from Nature in a Nutshell or Science In Seconds.  They are usually easy, short and use common items.

Play a game of Pick and Draw. 

Play with some homemade play-dough.

Use the table or floor and build a giant picture with pattern blocks.  Everyone contributes to the design.