Snow day – seizing the moment

We’re getting hit by a lovely snowstorm here. It started snowing in the wee hours yesterday, and isn’t supposed to let up until tonight. We’re getting a good amount of accumulation.

We’re measuring the snow every three hours (during the day – I’m not THAT dedicated) and recording it. Tomorrow, we’ll make a graph of the snowfall. It has felt very steady, and it will be interesting to see if it really has been, or if it has fallen in waves.

We’ll have some fun, and learn and paractice real-life application of math concepts,  working with patterns, choosing which graph is appropriate and then making the graphs, along with whatever else just happens naturally.

This post is linked to Thirsty Thursday at FiveJ’s. You won’t regret it if you go read the articles linked on today’s carnival and on previous weeks. Neat, neat ideas.

Free Math Curriculum

This is one of the most amazing things on the internet, at least to me: A completely free, math curriculum. This page has math curriculum from first grade all the way to high school. There are printable worksheets, full lesson plans, and even online interactive curriculum. And the whole thing is free.

It makes it really simple for me to email math assignments to my kids. My kids don’t respond well to a “mommy lectures us” form of teaching, so this way they can learn independently, asking me for help when needed.

We do supplement with lots of real-life math (cooking, writing checks, balancing a checkbook, measuring things in the house when necessary, etc.), but we do that with everything.

I love this math program! (The one drawback, or potential drawback, anyway – you might have to explain the “funny” spellings to your kids, since the site is British.)

This post linked to: Thirsty Thursday at Five J’s.

Learning in the Car

A year and a half ago, we moved to the opposite side of town from where we’d lived for years (the reasons are kind of pointless now). Now it takes 45 minutes to drive to my mother’s house, and at least that to drive to field trips with our old homeschool group. My kids would object to even the most fun field trips, because the drive was so boring for them.

Then a few months ago, I bought a CD set of an audiobook of the history of the United States and we started listening to that in the car. The kids started hoping it was a longer drive to go places, so they could hear the CD! “Mommy, can we listen to history, please?”

I got a subscription to, and when we were done with the history CD, we all agreed on the new topic and I downloaded an audiobook about mythology to my Zune and we listen to that in the car.

Not only does it make the drives less boring and make that time educational, it also sparks really interesting discussions. Frequently, we’ll end up pausing the book so we can talk about what was just said. Since we’re all listening together, instead of all reading separately, it gives us the opportunity for some great conversations.

Recently, I found out that a lot of public libraries will let you “check out” audiobooks not only as CDs or tapes at the actual library building, but you can download the checked out audiobook for free over the ‘net. You can search Overdrive to find books in your area.

One Run Purple Racehorse

When I’m running out of the house for a gallon of milk and eggs and one of my kids says, “Oh, Mom, we also need peanut butter,” they are used to me responding with “One run purple racehorse…”

My ex-father-in-law taught me this memory trick over 20 years ago, and I still use it almost daily. He told me he learned it at a Dale Carnegie workshop, and I believe him, but any search I come up with on the web doesn’t mention purple racehorses, so I’m going to tell you the way I do it.

I think the easiest way to tell it would be by example. Let’s say you have to run for the store for five items, and you don’t want to make a written list for just five items. Those items are eggs, milk, toilet paper, ground beef, and laundry detergent.  The first thing you have to do is link each item with its number on the list.  First, we have one, which rhymes with run, so we picture a purple racehorse. You want to picture something kind of outrageous, so it’ll stick in your memory (you also want to keep the base memory, or “peg”, in this case the purple racehorse, the same every time you use the method). Make it vivid and with movement and sound, if you can. Now picture that purple race with eggs. Maybe it’s running on eggs, making a mess as its hooves hit the eggs and yolk and white splatter everywhere. Hear the pounding of the hooves almost, but not quite, drowning out the crack of the egg shells. Got a good visual? Good.

Now we’ll move on to number two. Two rhymes with zoo, so we’ll picture a bunch of monkeys. The second item on our list is milk, so we’ll picture the monkeys playing with gallons of milk. They are throwing them around their monkey cage, and some are breaking open, spilling milk everywhere! Take a second to implant this in your memory, and move on.

Three rhymes with tree. Now, I picture a big, picturesque apple tree sort of tree, but you could use a Christmas tree if you prefer. I would picture the tree as if someone had TP’d it, even wrapping the trunk with it. It’s almost completely covered with toilet paper, with just a few bits of green peeking out here and there. And now that is set in my memory.

Four rhymes with door, and I picture a big, rough-hewn dungeon door, although any door that is distinct enough for you would work. Now I visualize the ground beef getting stuck in the door, and oozing out underneath. It’s really yucky, but I’m not going to forget it!

Five rhymes with hive, so I visualize a bunch of bees flying, each carrying the item in question (unless the item itself suggests some other action than carrying).  In this case, I picture them carrying big ol’ jugs of laundry detergent, and I hear them buzzing with the strain, their little cartoon-like bee faces turning red.

Now, the cool part of this is it takes just a few minutes to permanently memorize the rhyming “peg” for the number. After that, you can use this any time, anywhere, and it only takes as long as it takes to list the items to memorize them. And it works in both directions – if you asked me, “What number was toilet paper?” I’d immediately picture the tp wrapped around the tree and know it was number three. If you said, “What was number 2?” those monkeys come immediately to mind and I know that #2 is milk.

Here are the rest of the numbers, up to 9. I know it can be done up to 21, but I never learned past 9, and honestly, if I need to remember 10 things, it’s time to get out an index card and write them down.

One: run: purple racehorse

Two: zoo: a bunch of monkeys

Three: tree

Four: door

Five: hive: a bunch of bees

Six: Stick: a big, sticky stick

Seven: Heaven: golden stairs and pearly gates

Eight: Gate: a rusty, squeaky gate

Nine: wine: a romantic table setting

I hope this trick helps someone else. It’s been an absolute wonder in my life, and it really works for me.

This post is linked to:  Works for Me Wednesday

Menu Plan for Feb. 1 through Feb. 7

I am (sorta, kinda) on a diet. Well, at least I’m trying to watch calories.  So my menu is a little less full of fat than usual.


Monday: (Attempting) Lower-fat Spaghetti con Sugo di Tonno (I’ll let you know how it comes out)

Tuesday: Black bean burritos

Wednesday: Spiced chicken with yogurt sauce (will post recipe)

Thursday: Fend for yourelf (I’m at pool league)

Friday: I’ll have lentils and rice – kIds are at their dad’s

Saturday: I’ll have fish and rice – kids are at their dad’s

Sunday: Roast chicken with roasted potatoes (will post recipe)


Quesadillas, sandwiches, beans and wienies, tuna salad.


Farina, Oatmeal with fruit, cold cereal, frozen waffles.

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday. Go check out what everyone else is making this week!

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Learning to Sew

I took Home Ec in junior high. It was a one semester class; the first quarter we were taught sewing, and the second, cooking. I passed the class, but only because of the cooking section. I never even cut out a pattern or threaded a sewing machine during the first quarter — I’m not sure how I spent my time, but I assume I was socializing.

My mom is a fantastic seamstress, and over the years, she’d make my kids a Halloween costume or a dress for me, but I’ve toyed with the idea of learning to sew.