In Age Order

Tirzah Mae and Louis are playing that they are Ella and Rally ‘Round Campbell. They are two of many siblings, all of whom have elaborate back stories.

Ella is carefully skirting the edges of rooms to make sure she’s socially distancing from those Garcia-folk, who are NOT in her household.

Louis (er, Rally ‘Round) is currently listing the order each child came out of the uterus.


Normal and not

Daniel has a lamp on his nightstand. He turns it on each night as we make our way to bed. We dress and read and, all too often, poke at our phones in the light of that little lamp.

I have two lamps on my nightstand. One is on a timer. It turns on at 0545 and off at 0730, its bright full-spectrum light intended to tell my body that it needn’t hibernate for winter. My other lamp is for finishing a chapter after Daniel goes to sleep, or putting the final touches on my plan for the next day. I use it rarely.

On nights like tonight, when Daniel is traveling for work, I turn on Daniel’s lamp when I come in to get ready for bed. I sit in bed and read or poke at my phone or finish up my plan for the next day. And then I reach over the empty space where my husband ought to lie and turn off his lamp. My lamps remain unused.

Life is so very normal and so very abnormal when he is gone.


What We Ate/What I Spent (2020.09.05)

I’ve been super inconsistent posting these, but we started a new fiscal year in July and last year’s food budget was…not stellar. So I need to start paying attention to my spending a bit more closely – and there’s nothing like online accountability. :-)


What We Ate:

Sunday, August 30

Tuna Noodle skillet, peas, and carrots

Tuna Noodle Casserole, peas, and carrots

Monday, August 31

Lasagna, lettuce, and fruit

Lasagna, Lettuce Salad, Tropical Fruit, and Green Olives

Tuesday, September 1

Waffles and Scrambled Eggs

Sourdough Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, Scrambled Eggs, and Orange Juice

Wednesday, September 2

Ground beef tacos with burrito beans and lettuce salad

I forgot to take a photo of this one so you’ll just have to imagine :-)

Thursday, September 3

West Virginia Soup with Cheese and Bread

West Virginia Soup, Whole Wheat bread, cheese slices

Friday, September 4

I made Beef Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots and pan gravy – but I didn’t eat it. Instead, Daniel and the children ate it while I had me-time in my room. Friday was just a little too much for me to handle. (Why? who knows.)

Saturday, September 5

Chicken and Dumplings, Mandarin Orange

Chicken and Dumplings with Mandarin Oranges


At this point, the question is…how much did this cost us? Well, let’s take a look:

What I Spent:

Saturday, August 29

ALDI $23.69

ALDI  (2020.08.29)

Sam’s Club $52.00

Sam's Club (2020. 08.29)

Thursday, September 3

Walmart Pickup $52.52

Walmart Pickup (2020.09.03)

That’s a total of $128.21, which is $1.79 less than my weekly budget of $130. Whew!


Labor Day Fun for Mama and Papa

What’s the most popular starting letter for American state names?

One could ask the internet.

Our list of states

Or one could grab an atlas or similar list of state names.

Or one could write down the names of all 50 states from memory, recording each first letter on a different piece of scratch paper before counting them up and organizing them most popular to least.

I’m sure you couldn’t guess which one we did.


Reading My Library (14 years)

How is it possible that it’s been 14 years since I began my crazy goal of reading every book in my local library?

In that time, I moved from Lincoln to Columbus Nebraska (and kept on using my Lincoln library) and then from Columbus to Wichita (and switched from my Lincoln library to Wichita’s Central Library). We moved from downtown-ish Wichita to just outside of Wichita (and kept on using the Central Library) – and then the Central Library moved to the new “Advanced Learning Library”. Now that coronavirus means just picking up books we’ve requested (rather than browsing the stacks), I’m picking up my books at a closer location (but I’m keeping on using the Advanced Learning Library as my library of record, in hopes that someday we’ll be able to return!)

TOTALS as of September 5, 2020 (14 years or 5114 days)

Category Items in 2019-2020 Total Items since 2006 Notes
Juvenile Picture 528 2508 We were racing through these at the beginning of the year, but pandemic really slowed us down – and then we started really liking chapter books…
Juvenile, Board Books 15 558 We closed these in 2018, so this is just “fun reading” that the kids picked up during visits to the library (back when we could still visit the library.)
Juvenile, First Readers 3 80 I’m going to vote on this one for greatest growth over the next year.
Juvenile Fiction 2 410 The “two finished” is quite deceptive, since re-reads don’t count – and I’ve been reading quite a few of my favorites out loud to the kids. Also, these numbers won’t jibe with previous reports since I reorganized the “chapter books” from my old library into their place here as juvenile fiction.
Juvenile Nonfiction 55 468
Teen Fiction 0 52 Just not doing a lot of this sort of reading these days.
Teen Nonfiction 0 5
Adult Fiction 13 503 My statistics tell me my average for adult fiction is 37 books a year – obviously VERY skewed from my pre-kids days.
Adult Nonfiction 29 3 I knew my reading was down, but this is shocking. My overall average is 76 per year.
Audio CD 357 1778 Music, which takes an hour (for shorter CDs) to ten hours (for the big multidisc sets) and can be listened to while carrying out ordinary tasks, is a lot easier to get through these days.
Juvenile DVD 7 68 Harry Potter and kids yoga videos. The children watched the latter with me; Daniel and I did not let them see the former – because, witchcraft ;-)
Adult Fiction DVD 7 119 We’re currently watching the Marvel movies in chronological order (per this list. It’s fun.
Adult Nonfiction DVD 7 74 Do I like documentaries? Yes. Did my children and I watch a college course on child development? Yes, that too.
Periodicals 4 131
Total 1018 items 7786 items
2.78 items/day 1.21 items/day While I have vastly decreased my “me” reading over the past 14 years, picture books and audio CDs inflate my item count these days.

What with not being able to access our library’s physical collection AT ALL for almost 2 months, it’s been a weird year of reading – but I’m soldiering on with my goal. I’m going to keep trying until I die (no doubt.)


A Very Simple Exploration of Magnetism

Experiments in early childhood needn’t be complicated.

We read about magnetism during reading time yesterday, so our activity time was a very simple exploration of magnetism.

I gathered up a magnet for each child (the magnetic “keys” for our magnetic child locks are great because they have “handles”) and a selection of everyday items I have from around the house (Q-tips, pens, bobby pins, paper clips, barrettes, earrings, steel wool, etc.)

Each child got a piece of paper that had been divided in two and labeled “Y” for yes and “N” for no (with different colors for all the pre-readers). Their challenge was to guess which items the magnet would pick up and to put those on the “Y”. If they guessed that the magnet wouldn’t pick something up, they could put it on the “N”.

Exploring Magnetism

I explained that their guess was a hypothesis and that now they could test their hypothesis using the magnets.

While testing their hypotheses, they moved their objects from the paper to different cups.

Once they’d divided all their objects and tested all their hypotheses, they could get down and explore the house, making hypotheses about the objects they found around the house and testing their hypotheses.

That’s it. A very simple exploration of magnetism – and one that helped the children also understand a bit about the process of science.

You can help your child become a scientific thinker this same way.

Ask, “What do you think will happen if…”

Explain that what your child just guessed is their hypothesis.

Now ask the child if they’d like to test their hypothesis. Is their hypothesis true or false? Test it several times just to make sure.

Familiarizing your early learners with the scientific process is that easy.

You can do this!


The Value of Undirected Play

I could have called the kids in for a sensory bin for activity time this morning, but they were busy squishing mud into a muffin tin to make cupcakes.

So I let them learn.

Tirzah Mae and Louis making mudcakes

I could have called the kids in for a STEM activity for activity time this morning, but they were building an oven to bake their cupcakes in.

So I let them learn.

The "Oven"

I could have called the kids in for an art project for activity time this morning, but they were decorating their cupcakes with sunflower petals.

So I let them learn.

Sunflower decorations

And then I posted it to bekahcubed to remind myself that, especially in early childhood, undirected play is the best way to learn.