Tag Archives: Home Adventures

The Art of War

During our recent get togethers basking in the stories and glow of the Wagner and Janssen families, the children were running, playing, and battling for hours with a new kind of weapon which apparently originated at the NuRVers Gathering in Gonzalez, TX a few weeks ago.  Luckily, there were plenty to go around and those without swords used sticks or absconded cookie sheets suped up with duct tape handles to protect themselves from the offenders.  A better time could not have been had.

The weapon emulates the ever-popular light saber and seems like the product of the mating of a sword and a billie club.  The kids had so much fun with these that Elijah decided that he wanted to make one for his friend, Declan, for his 9th birthday.  So we did!

To make your own, you will need:

2′ length of 3/4″ PVC pipe  (pre-cut in the plumbing section of Home Depot- about $1.25)

Foam pipe insulation to cover the pipe (plumbing section- about $1.30 for 6′)

Duct tape (silver and another color of your choice)

Electrical tape


Wrap the pvc pipe completely in foam insulation leaving a little at each end for wrapping over to ensure no sharp ends (note: I tore off an extra little piece of foam to pad the ends a bit more).  Using the colored Duct tape, start by covering one end.  Then wrap the insulated pipe down almost the entire length, leaving room at the bottom for the handle.  Using the silver Duct tape, cover the opposite end and wrap up for the handle.  Tightly wrap (cinch as tightly as possible) electrical tape around where the colored and silver Duct tape meet.  Evenly space black stripes down the silver portion (4 or 5).  Ensure that they are wrapped VERY tightly.  This defines the handle.

PVC is available in 10′ sections.  I had them cut it into 2- 3 ft. and 2- 2 ft. pieces and made 2 single sabers and 2 double (a la Darth Maul) as seen above.

Duel away! 

The guy at Home Depot looked shocked at what we were making and asked if the kids were wearing protective gear.  Huh?  So I guess I should post a:

Disclaimer: my kids and their friends have played heavily with these and absolutely love them.  In all their time playing, no one has been injured- generally because that is not their intent. 


Posted by on May 15, 2010 in Playdate


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Going Up?

I must apologize for my camera which seems to not be responding to the flash. I took this picture about five times and they all came out dark.

Honey? I need a new camera.

Sadie has become quite the climber lately.  She goes all the way across on the monkey bars, climbs on top of tube slides, the kitchen counters, trees…. really anything that will get her off the ground.  She doesn’t always feel comfortable getting herself down but she does love going up!

She showed us this new skill this morning.  Of course, the most impressive climbs (her head was touching the arch) were not caught on camera but this was really wild to watch.  If I’m stuck on a deserted island, I want it to be with Sadie so I can have fresh coconut milk as desired.

Have I thought about telling her to ‘get down’?  I’m about to write a post about suppressing, redirecting, and negating our children’s desires over at Humans Being.


Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Repurposing Plastic Packaging

Seriously.  The lighting in the house?  The camera?  Chris started talking about a new camera the other day and now it’s all I see.  Other people’s gorgeous photos, inadequacies in mine, poor lighting, arrgh!

Anyway… I felt inspired on this Mother’s Day and decided to look into something I’ve been wanting to do for a while- using plastic bags (that I keep b/c I can’t stand the thought of throwing them way) to make new items.  I checked out plastic fusing but, as it turns out, that works better for the thinner bags (a la sandwich and supermarket shopping bags).  I had these heavier duty bags from pretzels, chocolate chips, and organic sugar so I decided to try to make my own reusable tote.  Who knew that you can put them through the sewing machine?

I cut them flat and then around the edges so that they were all smooth.  Then (I don’t use patterns for anything) cut the two pretzel bags just enough so that they were the same size.  They would be the front and back of the bag.  The two small sugar bags were cut to form the gusset at the bottom.  And the chocolate chip bag (Costco size) was cut to make the wide sides.  Then I turned the right sides in and sewed them all together with a hem across the top just for finishing.

The shape of it came out great.  It was easy and very cool.  BUT I learned a little something about sewing plastic.  While the shiny, smooth, heavy duty sugar and chocolate chip bags worked great, the pretzel bags ripped easily and there are already a few holes here and there on the seams that I’ve tried to gently fix (insert frustrated growl here).

Next time I will: 1) use the smooth plastic food bags or fused plastic shopping bags for better durability and 2) use plastic for the handles (the brittle pretzel bag frustrated me so I sewed a shoelace on for handles and gave it to Sadie for a play bag).  It’s all learning and process and I’m psyched to do this again!


Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Sculptor

I’m not a daily blogger.  I’m a daily mother.  I try to blog whenever I can about interesting things that are going on in the approximate timeframe that the blog post is written.  Pressuring myself to document everything or even some things in a timely manner has proven to create a stressed out, not entirely present, Epic Fail of a mother and that just defeats the whole purpose of this life. 

That being said, this post just couldn’t wait.

What started with Sadie taking out a couple of 2x6s to make a ‘dog toy catapult/launcher’ ended in something entirely different.  There was launching, of course; and tailoring of the launch apparatus to achieve maximum height and distance.  Neither dog was very impressed but Sadie loved it then left in favor of some other activity.

Elijah came along and began rearranging the pieces Sadie had left, dragging out more of varying sizes, stacking, standing, focusing intently, and moving them around.  This was intense.  He was clearly enjoying himself with occasional exclamations and calls to look at the progress. 

Finally he said, “I guess I was just meant to be a sculptor of wood!  I’m great at this.”  This is not the first time he has expressed an interest in creating large sculpture of some variety.  I am in awe of his creativity and focus.  He also has some really cool poses…

Shortly after the completion of the first, he decided to create another version.

My kids often say how great they are at various things.  They talk about how smart they are, how great they look in a particular outfit, etc.  I have often thought about it (as I do so much about the differences in authentic children and traditionally parented/educated children) and have always felt the purity in the way their words reflect their self-confidence.

Do not confuse self-confidence with being conceited.  They are two very different things.  I am struck sometimes with the energy that is behind the words that they say and how differently the words would be perceived if the energy was not authentic in belief and self-awareness.  They do not say these things for anyone else; to upgrade the perception of themselves in the eyes of others; to call attention to themselves.  These are observations that they make about their level of confidence and generally feeling great about who they are- for them. 

Inspired again by the creativity, learning, excitement, self-awareness, confidence, and joy.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spring is upon us!

Yes, it’s spring.  The weather is absolutely gorgeous.  We’ve been spending tremendous amounts of time outside doing all sorts of exciting things with all sorts of wonderful people.  Here’s a catch-up:

Rollerskating around the neighborhood- our wheels were not acceptable for the local indoor rink so we are just as happy to enjoy the weather and play together outside at home.

We’re making the rounds of the playgrounds on foot, bike, rollerskates, and wiggle cars.  This run-down jungle gym was an unexpected find on a bike ride one afternoon.  The kids thought it was pretty funny to climb on the window of the school bus.

Several people have asked me, when discussing unschooling, how my kids get PE (aka- gym).  I have to laugh because we’re always on the move! 

FINALLY- winter chill and wetness are gone and we’re getting together every two weeks for our DFW Whole-Life Unschooling Meet-Ups!  Discussions so far this spring have ranged from supporting health and wellness by listening to our children listening to their own bodies to talking to people about unschooling.  These are long days full of thoughtful, supportive, open-minded discussion and children frolicking happily on the playground, in the wooded areas, and in the creek!

We’ve hung out with old friends (Sadie and Rachel eat lunch together at the park).

And new friends!  The kids (after another fabulous children’s theatre production at Casa Manana) explore a 200 year-old pecan tree at the Ft. Worth Botanic Gardens with Milford and Crewe (of New Zealand). 

Creeks are a big fascination this spring.  We’ve spent a LOT of time exploring water!

We’ve got Miss Skooter with us almost everywhere we go.  She’s the kids’ baby and best friend.  She’s gotten quite big (for a small dog, mind you) but is dwarfed by Lulu.  We’ve found some great wild areas to explore near the house and are learning all the time about and because of our sweet pups.  Here Lulu looks longingly at what we presume to be an animal den.  It’s cleverly protected by cacti which keeps her at bay.


Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lego Contraptions

Yes, the fascination with Legos continues.  I would imagine the creators of Lego are filthy rich and I am thoroughly happy for and ingraciated to them.  These building blocks are so much more and we continue to find new ways to use them, create with them, learn with them, and enjoy them.  We’ve created magical lands, natural habitats, vehicles, castles, scenes lending hours of pretend play, stop animation movies, and now this…

Look what we found!  Lego Crazy Action Contraptions (In the children’s section of my book shop! When you purchase books through my Amazon store, it supports this blog as well as my unschooling advocacy podcast/site- is a book of plans for  building neat little projects that spin, move, and otherwise function.  We have a couple different types of these books and they’re all great.  Lego blocks are paired with rubber bands and gears according to diagrams so clear that even Sadie and I could follow them.

We’ve built a whole bunch of them.  It’s so fun!  The only thing we don’t like?    There are only enough of the different pieces to make one contraption at a time so we had to take one apart to move on to the next.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 25, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Baker Boy

Elijah has a newfound interest in baking- late-night baking.  There’s something about the 9 o’clock hour that makes him want to pull out the measuring cups.  I was resistant at first.  I’m TIRED at 9 o’clock!  However, he is tremendously focused in these later hours.  The house is quiet and there are no other distractions.  Last night we decided to make big, fat chocolate chip cookies.  This is, by far, our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe – not the least bit healthy, but VERY yummy!

 I got out the computer and the ingredients and he was on his way.  He read the recipe and, as we decided to double the recipe to store some dough, he doubled each of the ingredients and added them as he went.  Some were straightforward- 1/2 tsp doubled = 1 tsp.  When we got to the butter, however, I stood back and waited – ready to get the pen and paper and draw out a quartered pie.  The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of butter.  He has never done anything actively or with intention with fractions except practically when dividing this or that in half. 

Quickly and simply he said, “Hmm.  3/4 + 3/4 is 6/4.  1 and 2/4 .  1 and 1/2 cups!”

WHAT?  “Can you tell me how you did that?” I asked.  It took me through middle school to be able to work with fractions like that.  And I still didn’t understand the practical application.  It was numbers on a paper.

“Not really,” he replied.

End of story.  He knows what he needs to know and learns skills as they make sense by building on previous knowledge.  This is the basis of learning theory.  It’s awesome and amazing and brilliant.  This is life.


Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,