karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

My Home/My Workshop

 

 

If you’re a teacher like me, you probably have some challenges with home upkeep. If you have kids at home, and if you homeschool, you face even greater challenges.

Maybe you’re a lot neater than I am. If you are, I commend you.
You can probably give me some pointers, which I can try to use.
🙂 I homeschool part time, teach in a classroom setting part time,
and write poetry and children’s stories. It’s a blessed life.

But if you would like to drop by my house for a visit, please call a couple of weeks ahead. You may still want to put blinders on when you walk into my home. If you’re a frequent visitor, you might comment, as a friend of mine did recenty, “Don’t worry. I’m used to it.”

We have SO much STUFF! My kids have homework, projects, and regular kid stuff. My husband adores books and DVDs. I have all sorts of teaching suppies and goodies, including many books, and my ever-present tub of library books which flow in and out of the house.

Now that it’s spring, I am attempting to hatch praying mantises, herd ladybugs, and farm worms. Then there are the regular critters:
indoor dog, indoor cat, and outdoor cat, with all their sundry
ammenities.

Sometimes I look around my house and sigh. Just getting OUT of the house for awhile is refreshing. But one must come home. Mind you,
we DO clean. Laundry, dishes, bathrooms, food prep, etc. It’s all ongoing and seemingly going on forever. The kids pitch in.
The hubby pitches in. I take stuff to Goodwill frequently. But still, there is so much that in all the “getting things done”,
that never gets done.

Then I had a realization which has dramatically changed my outlook.
Maybe it could help you, too. My home isn’t a showplace, and never will be. My home is well lived in and filled with love. My home is our laboratory, our workshop, and our studio. It oozes with creativity and productivity.

Maybe someday I will have a separate studio to work in. But for now, I am right AT HOME in my very own workshop! And I hope you will be,
too.

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Delighted by Dandelions


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: twowheelsblog.com

The next time I fill out a Secret Sister questionnaire at church, I have a new answer for favorite flower:
“Dandelion!”

Oh, I know. Even my third graders objected when I mentioned my love for the little yellow flowers.
“Weeds!” they declared. “Our parents don’t like them.”

Yes, I suppose a lot of people would like to eliminate dandelions from their yard. But according to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com, dandelions are a good source of pollen to bees and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals to humans. Quite a weed, aye?

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(That’s me in shadow, out on my walk.)
As I was walking on a late winter’s day in Texas, bare trees stared down. Brown grass stared up. But out from the
monotony popped bright circles of pure sunshine, alongside sky-reaching stems topped by snowy orbs made of tiny potential parachutes. Drawn into the game, I playfully kicked the white orbs and watched as the parachutes lifted onto the wind, on their way to start the game afresh.


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: lookatmyhappyrainbow.com

I figure maybe I’m in good company with my love of dandelions. Robert Fulghum, in his acclaimed book of essays, All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,(www.robertfulghum.com) remarks that if dandelions were endangered, plant nurseries would  charge $14.95 a plant and start dandelion societies.

Young children know the joy of dandelions. They pick them by the handfuls. They blow the magical tufts aloft,
wishes soaring.


Image courtesy of Creative Commons: seenobjects.org

Bring some dandelions inside. Drizzle some yellow paint on a few paper towels. Let your kids make dandelion prints.
When the prints dry, the kids can add faces and other details with crayons or markers.

Complete the dandelion fun with a good book or two.

Dandelions: stars in the grass shows the remarkable life of the dandelion plant with crisp, colorful illustrations.

Another picture book: The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony tells the story of a lone dandelion seed reluctant to face the world. It is a story of courage. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Tonight, when I pillow my head, I will pray to be a bit more like the dandelion: a bright spot in a weary world, persevering in the face of adversity, a source of nourishment to the sojourner. And when the time is right, please lift my hopes, dreams, and plans. Please send them soaring to the place they are meant to be.

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Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

We are studying fruit in botany these days. Yesterday, my third graders and I had a wonderful time exploring oranges.
We started by guessing what was in a closed bag (oranges, of course). Then each child estimated the weight.

When the bag of oranges were revealed, I asked the class: “If we know the weight of the whole bag of oranges, and we know, the number of oranges, how can we determine the weight of one orange?” Ahhh… long division in action.

I partnered the kids into pairs. While we played music, the kids rolled , then tossed the oranges, promoting friendship, cooperation, and fun.

Next: We studied our oranges:
geometry: What shape are oranges? (spheres) What other spheres can you think of? (balls, the Earth)
geography: We imagined the orange was the Earth. We found the stem of the orange. That was like the North Pole. We found the navel of the orange. That represented the South Pole. We took our oranges and rotated them in the same way that the Earth rotates.

We looked at real globes and found the Equator. We drew the Equators on our oranges. We named the Northern and Southern Hemispheres We noted that we live in the Northern Hemisphere. We found the International Date Line on the Globes. We drew it on our oranges and discussed the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

We drew rough shapes of the continents.

geology We peeled an orange and compared the peel to the Earth’s crust.

We also explored orange buoyancy. We found that an orange will not float in a large, shallow, tub. I asked the class how we could get the orange to float. They said, “Add more water!”

“That might work,” I agreed. “But we can make it float without changing the amount of water.”

“Hollow out the orange!” the students suggested.

“That could be fun. And it might work,” I said. “But we don’t have to change anything about the orange to get it to float. What do we need to change?”

“Put it in a different container!’ the class decided.

With that, I poured the water out of the shallow tub and into a tall, cylindrical container. The orange floated!

We wrote orange adjectives, like: juicy, orange, sweet, round, fruity, bumpy, nutritious, and delicious.

Finally, we feasted on our oranges.

By the way, I do like bananas. But that is a blog for another day. 🙂

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A Little Christmas Gem of a Book

I was searching for some good books to read to my third graders when we had a few extra minutes to fill. It is tricky because I teach at a homeschool enrichment program. We only meet twice per week. I needed something short and sweet. And fun.

Enter Mr. Putter. If you have children who are learning to read, you’ll want to get to know Mr. Putter. He is the creation of Cynnthia Rylant (author) http://www.cynthiarylant.com/
and Author Howard (illustrator). http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Arthur-Howard/1515471

Mr. Putter is the grandfatherly gentleman who lives with his dear old cat, Tabby. Mr. Putter adopted Tabby because Tabby is old like him. But just because they are old does NOT mean that Mr. Putter and Tabby don’t have fun. In fact, fun is what they do best. And who better to share the fun than Mr. Putter’s kind, grandmotherly friend: a.k.a. next-door neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry. Mrs. Teaberry and her good (hearted) dog, Zeke, are always up for a new adventure with Mr. Putter and Tabby.

As I was looking for fun Christmas books to read to my third graders, I remembered Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. Mr. Putter loves Christmas! But he has a problem: What to get Mrs. Teaberry? “Mrs. Teaberry liked strange things…like coconuts made into monkey heads and salt shakers that walk across the table. And (bleh) fruitcake.”

Mr. Putter had never in his life made a cake. But he decided to do just that for Mrs. Teaberry’s Christmas present. He would make her a “light, airy cake that would not break a person’s toe” (like a fruitcake might). And as for the rest,
well, you’ll have to read the book.

Even though Cynthia Rylant’s books are shelved with the easy readers in the library, they are still entertaining as a -third grader…or a thirty-forty-something-something. 🙂

If you don’t have time to run out and get Mr. Putter Bakes the Cake before Christmas, you could still check your local library after Christmas and read it as you reflect on your holiday. Or go take a look at the other Mr. Putter books. The gentle humor and delightful illustrations will surely bring a smile to your child’s (and your) face.

Merry Christmas!

Karona Drummond

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A Little Christmas Silliness

 

 

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Are we having Christmas fun yet? Or are we running around in a crazy Christmas tizzy? I am guilty as charged.
But I am trying to have a little fun along the way. I’m taking the Christmas “to-do” list and putting some of it in the Christmas
“to-don’t list.

Christmas To-Don’t List
1. Don’t try to do everything.
2. Don’t go around in a Grump like the Grinch.
3. Don’t forget what and who are most important.

One way I let go of a “to-do” was with the Christmas tree. The Christmas boxes were in the house. The tree was up… and empty.
Neither my kids nor my hubby seemed too keen on decorating. One morning I stared at that big ol’ empty tree. I looked around the room. A large, red set of butterfly wings left over from our (October) costume party caught my eye. I put them on the tree. Then the blue set. Then the yellow ones. Hmmm…

Later that day, I washed my son’s Mohawk knitted cap. When it came time to put it back in his drawer, I decided to let it air out instead. I put it on top of the Christmas tree. I found a pair of my daughter’s sunglasses on the floor. You know where they went. Next, I added slinky arms with gloves attached.

When my husband came into the room, he took a long look at the tree. “I have a pair of boots in the closet,” he said. We put them at the base of the tree.

My daughter came in from playing outside.

“Mom! What have you done to the tree?”
I smiled. “Do you like it?”
“He needs a smile.” She said.

We added a plastic banana grin, then a HUGE plastic carrot nose. We grabbed a Christmas table runner for a scarf.

VOILA! Christmas Tree Man!

Every time I pass that silly tree, I grin or giggle. Maybe we’ll re-decorate it in a more traditional way. (Maybe not.)

Back to my Christmas to-do list:

1.Do what really matters to you and yours.
2.Go around with joy in your heart. God has already given the greatest gift of all.
3. Remember what and who are most important.

God bless you. And MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Love,

Karona Drummond

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Ordinary Blessings

Have you ever had days, weeks, maybe even months, when it seemed like everything was a blur? Maybe it was a good time. Maybe not so much.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, let’s take some time in the midst of all the fun, preparations, and busyness
of the season to reflect on our everyday blessings. I enjoy this special time of year. But even more, I appreciate the “little”
blessings that I am granted on ordinary days.

Here is a poem I wrote to reflect those feelings. Enjoy!

Ordinary Blessings

Ordinary beauty
Of an ordinary day
Bubbles up inside me
In an effervescent way.

Ordinary sky
Ordinary sun
Ordinary oatmeal
Eaten on the run.

Ordinary conversation
Ordinary plans
Ordinary work
Done by ordinary hands.

Ordinary lunchtime
Eating bread and meat
Walking in the park
With ordinary feet.

Ordinary sunset
Seen from an ordinary car
Back to an ordinary house
With an ordinary yard.

Ordinary family
With smiles and hugs galore
Ordinary evening
Doing ordinary chores.

Thank you, Dear Lord
For this ordinary day
Filled with ordinary blessings
You so freely sent my way.

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Venus Flytrap Snap

Ahhh…what could be lovelier than a beastly meat eating plant? Actually a fly-eating plant. “Way cool!” say the kids.
I must agree. But as intimidating as the picture may seem, the Venus Flytrap is actually quite small. Perhaps you saw them in the stores last month. If you and your kids are studying botany, give the little Venus Flytrap a go.

If you go to mycarnivore.com, you’ll find a wealth of information on Venus Flytrap care, as well as care of other carnivorous plants. You can also order seeds and supplies.

Here’s a little poem I made up about the Venus Flytrap. If you want a tune for it, try the “Adams Family” tune. Happy fly snapping! 🙂

Venus Flytrap Snap
by Karona Drummond

I’m a Venus Flytrap
I am green and tiny
Bristly and spiny
A Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

If you are an insect
Come on in and inspect
My sweet, enticing smell
I betcha can’t tell
That I’m a Venus Flytrap
A Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

Come in if you dare
And touch two tiny hairs
You’ll be in my lair
“Cause I’m a Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

Please come on in
I need nitrogen
That’s my vitamin
I’m a Venus Flytrap!

“Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……”

SNAP! SNAP!!

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Helping the Learning Stay in Place

Recently, I had the honor of attending a workshop presented by Kathe Lee. Kathe Lee is a homeschool mom and educational consultant working with universities and families across the country to help students navigate the tricky path from high school to college to career success. If you live in or near the Dallas area and have the opportunity to hear Mrs. Lee speak, I highly recommend it. You can check out her website at KatheLee.com.

I attended the “Love to Learn”lecture. I scribbled notes like crazy. It was such good stuff. One thing that sticks with me the most is:

Kids don’t retain learning if they are frustrated or angry. They retain information when they are engaged in the learning process. Are we keeping our kids engaged? Not everything in life is a picnic. So how do we make learning engaging?

I’m not against workbooks. I use them myself. But if we’re just reading the material and doing the workbook (yawn),are we keeping our children engaged? Can we do better?

Getting your students involved in a hands-on way will help get them engaged, which will in turn lead to better learning retention. A couple of days ago we took a squishy ball like the one above during our spelling lesson. My daughter and I spelled out the words while throwing the ball back and forth. We did this in addition to writing the words and using the workbook. It put a smile on our faces, livened up our day, and helped those spelling words stay in place.

Have an engaging day!

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What Sibling Rivalry?

“I’ll get it.”

“No, you answered the phone last time. It’s my turn!”

“The dog needs to go out.”

“I’m busy. You let her out.”

“No, you!”

(together) “MOM…..!!”

Sound familiar? It was an every day situation at our house. It was about to drive me crazy!

Then a very nice lady at church, named Janice, gave me a parenting tool that changed my life. She told me that I could share it with you.It’s called “My Day/Your Day”. Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you have 2 kids. Kid 1 gets the odd numbered days of the month. Kid 2 gets the even numbered days. If you have more than 2 kids, divide up the month as evenly as possible so that everyone knows whose day it is. Mark it on the calendar if that helps.

The benefits to each child when it is his’her day: Kid of the Day gets to answer the door, answer the phone, first choice of which part of the bathroom to clean, gets to pick the bedtime story, etc. Make it fit your life.

The responsibilities of Kid of the Day: Let the dog out, take out the trash and recycling, relay the phone messages or write them down, etc. Again, adjust it to your household.

This has freed up quite a bit of brain space for me. I hope it does for you as well.

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Wholesome Mashed Potatoes

It’s been a packed week here. How about you? But we did make time for some comfort food. Mashed potatoes!

Here’s an easy way to make mashed potatoes better for you:

Cut and boil 5 lbs. potatoes. Call the kids. With them helping: Add a healthy buttery spread . Use Morton Lite Salt with 50% less sodium. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher.  Get out your blender.Put one 16 oz. container of fat free cottage cheese in the blender. Blend it on high until creamy. Stir all the creamed cottage cheese into the mashed potatoes. Get out your mixer. Let your kids take turns whipping those taters into a blissful fluff.

Enjoy! And don’t feel guilty. You have reduced the usual fat and sodium content of regular mashed potatoes. You have made them creamy without the cream Instead of fat, the cottage cheese added protein.

Blended cottage cheese also works great in dips for chips and veggies. Have fun experimenting!

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