7QT: Pre-College Curriculum

This is the t-shirt my college sent my son as a “thank you” for forwarding his test scores. Their admissions department is very clever.

As our oldest begins the college search, my head is full of all the things I have still to teach him.  So many things, so little time.  I can hardly believe it’s just a year till he graduates!  Here is a list of skills I would like him to master in order to be ready for college:

  1. Survival food: how to make a grocery list, navigate the grocery store, make a week’s worth of dinners and clean up the kitchen. So far he has mastered the grocery store, kitchen clean up, and making three of our favorite family meals.  There’s not a lot of motivation to conquer the making of a shopping list.
  2. Survival car maintenance: how to change a tire and how to pump gas.  He’s got the gas-pumping down.  For extra credit, he also learned how to get rid of the creepy gas-station-guy hitting on him while he pumped gas. (Of course, I just changed a tire but didn’t think to call him to come & learn how.)
  3. Survival finances: how to use the ATM, how to do mobile banking (can anybody remember using passbooks, or is it just me?), and how to make a budget and live within it.  Our bank offers kid accounts (both debit and savings) so he’s been managing his banking for a while.  I think he’ll be fine with the budgeting since he’s my frugal kid, but some of my future graduates may have a harder time.
  4. How to call for help.  4a. He called the bank to have an unauthorized charge removed from his debit card.  4b. He spent an hour on the phone with the IT department at the college where he’s taking classes next year to resolve the problem with his registration. 4c. He regularly navigates the online help lines for his computer and purchase-related problems. 4d. He knows how to call us.  What else should we be practicing here?
  5. Using Google maps.  A year ago, he was completely overwhelmed by driving at all. Now, he and his brother are comfortable setting off in rush hour with an address and an app to find a friend’s party in another town.  It’s amazing to me that we have come so far.
  6. How to play ultimate Frisbee. I didn’t say he has to enjoy it. He just has to know how.
  7. How to do his laundry. Cause there’s no way this mama is going to do it for him.

Okay, friends, what am I missing? Please let me know in the comments! (And better yet, if you’re interested in a good game of Ultimate, come on over!)

I’m linking up with Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes, so go check her out!

7QT: Summer Screen Time

Although our weather doesn’t quite feel like summer yet (we had 6 inches of snow a week ago), the kids are in full summer mode, which means eating popsicles, staying up late, and trying to have non-stop computer time.

Last summer, we implemented a checklist in order to make sure our days had some redeeming qualities, amidst the hours of screen time.  It worked so well, I’m implementing it again.  This year I’m trying to hold them to the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendation for no more than 2 hours* of screens per day, although some of us can do an hour just in the bathroom!)


So here, without ado, I present the 7 most common complaints in response to our summer screen time plan.

  1. Our friends can have as much computer time as they want! (I doubt this is true. In fact, I know it’s not true. It just feels true.)
  2. Owen’s been practicing for hours and won’t let any of the rest of us practice! (This one is actually true, and it’s why we now have two pianos.)


3. I’m doing __________ (swim team/ballet/gymnastics) later, so can that count as my exercise?



(The answer: not if you want to have computer time before you go.)

4. But there’s nothing to read!



5. But the house is already clean! (Ummm….. no.)

6. There’s nothing to make! (How about breakfast? Or lunch? Or dinner?)

7. But I’m so booooooooooored! (Actually no one uses this one, because when you’re bored at our house, it means you get to clean the bathroom.)

What does summer screen time look like for you?  Are you texting your kids in the bathroom to tell them to slide the iPad out under the door?

Go check out Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!

*update: I had originally write 1 hour (the AAP recommendation for 2-5 years olds.)  My children were so mad about this that actually went and looked up the recommendation for themselves.  It’s two hours per day of any kind of screen, for children older than 5. And no screens in the bedrooms, because they’ve been shown to interfere with sleep.


7QT: the April blur

One: I can hardly remember back to Lent, even though we’re not a full two weeks into Easter.  I know I totally stank at my Lenten disciplines (does that mean I picked the right ones, since they drove me right into an awareness of my need for grace?). Instead, I spent every spare minute studying for my board exam.


Two: my friend Lori came to hang out with my kids during my exam.  (Excellent, but then I wanted to be with them the whole time!)  I should have the results just in time to register for the October exam again if I failed.

Three: One day while I was studying at Starbucks, a dog came in and got a puppiccino.  Apparently this is a thing.  And she liked it. A lot.


Four: I had a list of things as long as my arm that I’d put off whilst studying (think showering, cleaning, cooking, exercising, answering emails, and all the other work sundries that I wouldn’t let spill into our homeschooling time).  When I finished, however, I spent a week just reading novels because I was so fried.  This week I managed to drag on some clothes, do yoga twice, and put up our Easter tree.


Five: meanwhile, life marched on.  The girls had a dance performance at school.  Here’s Phoebe as Little Red [Riding Hood] and Moriah as a wolf (she’s the one in the furry legwarmers and scary make-up- second from the right):


Six: This week I am finally finding my groove again, though Sam traveled to the middle-of-nowhere FEMA training site to learn how to protect us all from Ebola.


Don’t you feel safer now?


They seem to be having a little too much fun.

Seven: Tuesday I got to watch my friends’ 11-month old.  He loves Moriah, so she did a bunch of the baby-toting, and to be honest, he slept a lot.  But when he was awake, I spent most of time trying to figure out how to baby-proof my kitchen.  It involved a lot of rubber bands and kitchen tools to prop open drawers.


What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Hopefully no Ebola.  Check out Kelly for more Quick Takes!

SQT: the kitchen laboratory

One: This is a photo of my daughters mummifying a chicken.


It’s the third time I’ve done this.  First, we did it when Jonah was 5 and we’d just begun our study of ancients history.  He has no recollection of it.  My recollection was very hazy until I realized that I’ve made the exact same mistake 3 times now.

What I should have done was mummify a Cornish hen, because the chickens they sell in the grocery store these days are enormous and a) require an incredible quantity of salt and spices to suck all the liquid out and b) don’t fit in standard freezer bags.  Which means I lasted 4 days before I couldn’t take the smell and had to throw the rotting carcass away.

Two: this is Jonah doing AP biology lab #1.

After watching me freak out for several weeks, my kind husband tentatively asked, “You seem really stressed out. Would it help you if I took over the laboratory portion of AP biology?”


He didn’t have to offer twice.  And let’s be clear: of the two of us, he’s much better qualified than I am.

Three: Did I mention I hate having stuff all over my counters?  My fantasy kitchen is spare and bare with empty counters and wide expanses of space.  But alas, we have to eat, so my counters are covered with food.  Right now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the many lovely tomatoes we received from our CSA over the past two weeks.  (I’ve been eating them every day, but I’m the only one in the family who will.)

Four: In the past week, Moriah has done two osmosis experiments with eggs.  The first culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.  The second, um… culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.

Five: This is her other experiment: sodium bicarbonate crystals.

She begged and begged and I said no and said no… until I realized I was telling my child she couldn’t do science because I wanted a clean counter.

Maybe I’m not actually cut out for this home school gig after all.

Six: Amongst the bag of tomatoes (what, you don’t keep your tomatoes in Athleta bags?) and Sculpey creations (that’s a giraffe eating from a tree) and rice is a bag of moldy cheese.  On Monday I took all the moldy cheeses (last count: 5 types) out of the fridge so we could look at the different molds under the microscope… but we haven’t gotten to it yet.


Seven: the other experiment is to see how long I leave that bottle of fake “Original  syrup” we inherited from a pancake breakfast on the counter before I can’t take it any more and throw it away.

Wait- I have an idea!  We could do an egg-osmosis experiment to see which direction the fluids run through the permeable membrane if we soak an egg in corn syrup…

We’ll see if I can capture a photo before it explodes.

For more Seven Quick Takes, check out This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes: End of School Edition

One: Woohoo!  We are done with our school year!  We’re off to a Guatemalan restaurant to celebrate.

Two: I’m looking forward to a summer full of tea parties (this was the best one ever).

Three: I used my Christmas money for a new sewing machine. The minute I pulled it out, 29 elves came out of the woodwork to sew with me. Within 30 seconds, the room looked like this. Tell me this happens at your house.


Four: This Sunday was Pentecost, which is Owen’s baptism anniversary.  Dinner was lovely, and then I had this to contend with elves who ate dinner.  Wait… maybe they were Orcs.
Five: On Memorial Day we went to make a mess at my parents’ house. It was lovely. Owen became an Egyptian real estate tycoon. (For some weird reason, all the properties on the Egyptian board have British names. That’s Colonialism for you.)


Six: We finished our standardized testing last week by celebrating with two homeschool families who have moved away… Such fun! I’m not sure who had more fun- kids or adults! (these are the kids.)

Seven: we got together with our Karen friends to play soccer and have ice cream sandwiches in the park. They have very little English and we have no Karen, but we didn’t need anything but laughter to play soccer.



I’m not sure what I’m going to have to pull out of my hat to make the summer any more fun than last week.

For more quick takes, check out This Ain’t the Lyceum!

7 QT in 1 shoe

One: I’m using our unit on the Cold War as an excuse to watch my favorite 80’s movies: War Games, The Hunt for the Red October, and White Nights.  Somehow I didn’t remember how bad the language is.  At least the dancing is awesome.


Two: We are two-thirds of the way through our haze of concerts, performances and dress rehearsals. Unfortunately, during rush hour all the extra rehearsals are an hour each way.  I’m like a regular commuter now. But seeing how happy Moriah is after each performance makes it almost worthwhile.


Three: We found a dance studio nearby. In biking distance, even.  I emailed the studio to set up a placement class for the girls and then realized I didn’t have the right sized shoes.  Actually, I have nine shoes, but only one in the right size. This is the story of my parenting.


Four: While the children were sleeping, I managed to plan May’s meals and make a grocery list.  I even snuck out before they were awake to buy most of the groceries for May.  And now I can’t find the plan.  Perhaps it’s with the missing shoe.

Five: Meanwhile, Owen and Sam are visiting family (and even surprised some friends) in Chicago.  Jonah has written 5000 words of his novella, and I am working hard to catch Phoebe up on her swimming deficit.  Today she spent 45 minutes diving for toys on the bottom of the pool.

Six: I’m starting to think about summer.  I have some ideas for our family reading program (more on this later, I promise). I just registered Owen and Moriah for the Red Cross Babysitting course, paid my money and realized we will be out of town the day of the class.  Here’s hoping they will let us switch it.  I sent an email, but they’re busy in Nepal right now.


Seven: Both boys have filled out applications to volunteer at the library for the summer.  Next week we meet the new refugee family we will be working with.  Moriah’s growing her dog-walking business and will do a week of theater camp in June. Phoebe wants to do a dance camp and swim “all the time.”  Thinking back to last summer, I want to be sure I don’t set a pace we can’t sustain.  I’m dry.  I need some time to let the rain soak in.  To hike and sail and read. Maybe even to clean out the shoe bin.

seven quick takes friday 2

For more quick takes, check out This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 QT in which there’s a chicken in my kitchen

One: There’s a chicken in my kitchen.  Moriah braved the cold last night to make sure the chickens had liquid water and food for the night and that their light would stay on to keep the coop warm.  Almost immediately, she ran back shouting that Marshmallow was bleeding.  What to do with an injured chicken, when all other chickens are instinctively programmed to peck at anything bleeding? Put her in the kitchen, of course.


If this blog had sound, you would hear her pecking at green bean tops and tails and clucking contentedly.

Two: I swore these chickens would never live inside our house, but there wasn’t much else to do.  The temperature in the garage is -2 (-8 outside). Fahrenheit.

Three: Do you remember how they swore that the metric system was going to overtake English measurements? They made us all memorize them as kids and convert them back and forth… now, thirty-odd years later, I can tell you the formula, but 35C still sounds cold to me.

Four: My children are beginning to act like bored hens, pecking at one another. No one has been bleeding yet, but it’s close, I tell ya.  We gave Jonah the game Small World (please don’t sing, I beg you) and after we’d been playing it for about ten minutes, I came to the realization that it’s Risk with Elves.  Somebody save me.

Five: In an effort to start the year off right, I signed up for the January Money Diet. I planned all of January’s meals and shopped for the month.  Two daughters, two carts, and hundreds of dollars later we came home with a month’s worth of food (minus the mid-month fruit/vegetable run I know we’ll have to make).

Six: I also made two lasagnas to freeze (they freeze so well) and talked my kids into choosing a dinner to make.  Moriah chose rotini alfredo with green beans; Jonah’s making burgers, roasted potatoes and peas; Owen will make Chinese Beef Noodle Soup; and SweetP’s making pancakes and sausage and fruit salad.  Owen and I made the broth yesterday with beef spare ribs and star anise and ginger and garlic… the house smelled fantastic.

Seven: Alas, now the house smells vaguely of barn.  Did I mention there’s a chicken in my kitchen? I think I’m going to move her to the laundry room. It already smells bad in there.

P.S. This was an early post, but come Friday, go check out This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Seven Quick Takes.