Monday, February 18, 2013

Go and Do!

Go and Do!

President’s Day, 2013
Today we played hooky from school and went to the zoo.  Never-mind that everyone else was off today too.  It was cold enough that they weren’t all at the zoo, though.  As a matter of principle I try not to take too many days off official school work.  But, on the way home I was thinking about how important it is to just “go and do” sometimes to break up the monotony and routine of every-day life.  I can make lots of excuses not to go and do, from money to housework to “we really ought to be doing curriculum based school”.  We all need a break.  Even kiddos who appear to play more than they work.  And Mommy needs to remember that learning in a fun environment is sometimes more inspirational than learning at the kitchen table.   Mommy also needs to remember that it is more fun, even for her, to be a kid and do kid stuff, than to be a stuffy old adult all the time.  So here are some random thoughts on going and doing.
1.      ZOO  Get a zoo membership if you live within one hour of a zoo.  We have 2 zoos that fit that description, and right now the smaller, cheaper one fits our needs just fine.  It’s small enough that we can spend 1-2 hours and see everything.  It also has some fun imagination-building play areas that the kids love to play on and in.  Non-member admission price for the 5 kids and I would be $45.  A year’s family membership is $72, which I just renewed for $66.  Do the math, and on our second visit we start saving money.  Even if we only make it to the zoo three or four times in the year, it is well worth our investment.
2.      MAGAZINES  So, while I am talking about subscriptions, I have to encourage you to get a magazine subscription.  It’s not a “go” but it is certainly a “do”.  Some of our favorite “educational” investments have been: High Five/ Highlights, Nature Friend, Club/Clubhouse, and Family Fun.  Some are Christian based, some are not.  All of them have been worth the time spent sitting on the couch reading, talking, and getting ideas for future endeavors.
3.      LIBRARY  Get a library card and use it!  Our county library is tied in with the regional library system, so we can get books from all over our part of the state delivered to our downtown library by request.  The library offers toys and games, free classes, and other learning opportunities.  And of course, if you want to learn something, read about it!  Our library even offers home school curriculum and learning resources.  Get to know your children’s librarians.  They will become of your best resources for finding supplemental resources to your home school whether you un-school or use strict school-at-home teaching methods. 
4.      STREET FAIRS  Does your town have free street fairs and seasonal celebrations?  Our little college town offers a farmers market from Spring to Fall, Festa Italiana, Woosterfest (Oktoberfest), Window Wonderland (Christmas), a jazz and arts festival complete with a tamed down Mardi Gras-style parade, and several drive-ins, among other events.  The kids love walking around down-town, and we always enjoying seeing our friends and neighbors.  Street Fairs are free- except for maybe the hot dogs, French fries, and extra large drink that is just big enough for everyone to have a few sips. 
5.      COUNTY FAIR   Our County fair is the best agricultural fair in the state.  It costs a whopping $3 for a day’s admission.  Even before we were involved in 4-H we made a point to go almost every day of the fair, at least for a few hours.  This might not be feasible where you live, but at least one day at the fair is worth its admission price.  You get to see and do so much at the fair!  There are animal barns, arts and crafts exhibits, plants, baking, tractors, demonstrations, and all kinds of other “educational” experiences even without hitting the midway. (Yes, we budget in some money for that and fair food, too!)
6.      CAMP Camping is cheap whether you tent-it or get a cabin or have a camper.  It’s a great time for the family to spend time together with each other and nature.  Some of my fondest memories growing up are of tenting across I-80 on our way from California to the Midwest for family reunions, and camping with other families from church in the great Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Which brings me to my next point….
7.      TRAVEL  Take the opportunity to travel across America.  Go see Washington DC, New York City, Sacramento and San Francisco, and any point in between that interests your family.  Seeing the mountains, plains, and where the history happened brings the history and geography of our great nation alive off the textbook page for kids and adults alike.  A couple years ago we stopped to see the St Louis Arch on our way to visit family in Kansas.  The year before we had driven to a family reunion in Iowa.  Both trips included several trips across the Great Mississippi River.  As we studied Lewis and Clark and Western Expansion after those two trips, my kiddos could picture the land that the explorers, pioneers, and homesteaders traveled, the rivers and streams they crossed, and the wildlife they encountered.
8.      MISSIONS TRIPS  Go on a missions trip.  If Mom and/or Dad feel God wants them to travel abroad to other people groups for two or three weeks, farm out the kids, and GO!  If it is convenient and the kids are old enough, go as a family.  Being abroad and out of your comfort zone will open your eyes to the needs of the world beyond our doorstep.  My trips to Mexico City, Bogota, Colombia, and my husband’s trip to Bosnia were absolutely life changing.  We both see life through different eyes, we see the world through different eyes. We pray for and give to our foreign  missionaries with hearts that know experientially how much they have given up and how hard their lives are compared to ours.

Well, I am sure that gets your mind going as to ways you can get out and see and do things that help maintain “the spice” in your life.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Feb 16, 2013
Well, it's February, and you know what that means?? LUAU!!  Yup! It's a tradition in our household that there HAS to be a luau sometime in February.  Sometimes it is for Groundhog Day.  Sometimes it's how we celebrate Valentine's or President's Day.  Sometimes we invite friends, but usually it is just the 7 of us.  It is just a little way to help beat the winter blues and cabin fever.  Sometimes we have an EXTRAVAGANT true-to-Hawaii meal, sometimes it's simply hot dogs and hamburgers with decorations.
 Our 2013 Feast

So, here are some tips to starting your own winter-busting tradition.
1. First, pick up some cheap decorations during the late summer when they are on clearance.  I buy up beach themed plates, napkins, wall hangings, grass skirts, etc at the end of the summer for 25 or 50 cents a package.  (Fourth of July decor that is bought on the fifth works for President's Day or Election Day themed parties, too.)

2. Plan your menu.  A simple menu might be: Hamburgers & hot dogs, fruit cocktail with a can of pineapple chunks and a can of mandarin oranges mixed in, a veggie platter and homemade ranch dip, and chips.  We like to drink "Margaritas" or "Pina Coladas".  (As the situation arises, I explain to my children that these are made without alcohol, and remind them that we are to be controlled by the Spirit and not drugs and mind-altering substances.)

Easy Margaritas
1 can frozen limeade concentrate
2-3 trays ice cubes
1-2 cans water
Blend in blender until slushy.  Serve immediately in tall glasses with straws, or plastic margarita cups.

Fun Pina Coladas
1 can frozen pineapple concentrate
¼- 1/2  coconut cream (you might have to go to the alcohol aisle for this)
2-3 trays ice cubes
1-2 cans water
(Opt) Juice from the canned fruit you are serving
Blend in blender until slushy.  Serve immediately in tall glasses with straws and tea-spoons.

3. Dress up!  Break out your shorts and ugly Hawaiian shirt or sundress.  Slip on your flip-flops.  Slip a lei around your neck.  Put flowers in your hair.  And be sure to crank up the heat to 80 degrees!
Hula Girls

4. Music.  I have a Pandora station set specifically for when I need to be in a “sunny mood” complete with Beach Boys and other great oldies, as well as Hawaiian music.  You can buy, beg, or borrow a CD by the Beach Boys, Temptations, or Drifters.  A recording by Don Ho or Darlene Ahuna will give such an authentic Hawaiian f eel to your party that you might just forget that it is snowing outside!

 And there you have the makings of a fun party that will help break up the Winter and add some Sunshine to tide you over until Spring finally comes.