Monthly Archives: February 2013

Body Earthing Rocks! Science proves it and we at The Cabin can back it up

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Need to feel good in body and spirit?  Go outside and LAY DOWN ON THE EARTH!  Here’s Captain, Grandpa & Mom just laying around outside as a family

This sounds so simple.  Just go outside and lay down on the ground, ‘eh? Yep.  That’s all there is to it, but the effects are astounding.  We live in a forest where it is quite inviting to lay down on the soft grasses and pine needles and stare up into the sky while resting, but even if I lived in a city, I would find a place to do this and my kid most certainly would be right behind me.  KIDS NEED TO BE CONNECTED TO THE EARTH!  We all do.

There are scientific reasons why laying down on the ground, or running around outside without shoes, makes us feel better.  K and I always used to say that we liked it because it seemed to “absorb negative energy” from our bodies.  It’s true and here are the facts:

Body earthing implies grounding-  giving a human body electrical connection to the earth.  It is known that the earth maintains a negative electrical potential on it’s surface.  When you are in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth.  Living in direct contact with the earth grounds your body!  This is a good thing! The earth provides electrons that the body needs and also stabilizes the electrical potential of the body.  A grounded body is far less influenced by  disruptive environmental electric fields (called “electromagnetic pollution” or “dirty electricity”… lets go ask the birds and other animals, I think they could tell us a bit about this problem!).  The body earthing benefits include:

Reductions in overall stress levels and tension and a shift in nervous system balance, reductions in immune cell and pain responses, delayed-onset muscle soreness, reduces viscosity of the blood, reduction of indicators of osteoporosis, improvement of glucose regulation and immune response, inflammation, sleep, balance, and, again, reduction of stress.

Ancient civilizations recognized the power of the Earth and heavens. Monks would meditate seated on the ground to achieve high spiritual states. The Chinese referred to this universal energy as Qi (Chi). Earth Qi enters the body at an accupoint located on the ball of the foot known as “Bubbling Spring” where it ascends through the water channel throughout the body. Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises designed to balance and heal the body/mind are often practiced outdoors without footwear to facilitate this process. But, as I have learned (and you can ask parents everywhere!), the simple fact is that kids, and people in general, just feel better when they have been outside with their shoes off…

A bit about the history of the term “body earthing”:

Research at the Max Planck institute in the 60’s and 70’s showed that it was important for human performance and health to receive electrical signals from the earth.  The modern practice of earthing began in the late 1900’s when Clinton Ober, a retired cable TV executive, started thinking that it was notable that humans in the last century had been using synthetic shoe soles which isolate the body electrically from the earth, and he knew that ungrounded electronic instruments perform badly.  When he approached scientists and physicians with his thoughts, they generally refused to have anything to do with this, so he had to do the experimental testing on himself.  Dr. Maurice Chaly, a retired anesthesiologist, did a pilot study involving measuring the cortisol levels (a stress indicator) in his subjects and found that grounding normalized the levels.  Others continued to test with the same results.

The use of isolating shoe soles (rubber and plastic) started around the middle of the 20th century.  Leather soles, used for 1000’s of years, give partial earthing when moistened by sweat.  Could shoes be a part of the dramatic rise in chronic inflammation and so many other physical problems of modern life?  Modern activities like swimming and walking barefoot through the grass will give thorough earthing and make us feel good.  Some people, especially who don’t have access to convenient, well, earth, use such conducting and grounding products as:  cotton earthing sheets that connect to an outlet, or pads that are made of cotton with conductive silver fibers that are placed at the foot of the bed.  These products can be found on amazon.com or you can google “earthing products”.  Personally, I wouldn’t buy something that provides what walking and laying on the ground can do, but whatever path we each choose is our own.

A personal note on the sky…  The other cool thing that happens from laying on the earth outside is simply looking up at the sky.  Birds, the wind in the trees, clouds that look like dragons, perhaps a even an airplane going by are all wonderful things to just watch. Imaginations are sparked by life.  When our family “earths” together, we find that interesting conversations usually arise, intermixed with long periods of silence.  For my 5 year old Captain, she seems to want to paint or draw outside a lot of times after we have been laying down under the sky.  I see how calm and happy she becomes.  Her artwork just flows right out…

If I had to pick one thing that I think is vital to kid’s (and big people’s too) health and happiness, it would be keeping in contact with the earth.  It’s something almost anyone can do, it’s free, it’s fun and the results make life better.  It really is as easy as that!!

I invite you to share your earthing experience here.  If you live in a big city and have a spot to lay down outside, would you PLEASE send me a picture?  For some reason I like to think of someone laying in the grass in a place like Central Park in NYC….

Info and more to be found at wikipedia, Earthing:  The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?  by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and Martin Zucker

Happy earthing and good thoughts!  Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Mom's Junk Trunk, Relationships, Science Rocks For Kids!, Sequoia National Forest & Park, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Foodarella: 100 Recipes in 100 Days!

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This is me, Karen.  I’m making a cookbook and I would like your recipe.

I have decided that I would like to make a Cookbook called “Foodarella”, named for the word we use at the Cabin for all things food-related that we love. I would like to fill it with 100 random recipes from complete strangers, or whoever would be willing to write in, of good things to eat! It’s fun to think of compiling something like this on the internet, and I am hopeful that some of my fellow Word Press family of bloggers would like to participate.

I am fully aware that I don’t have a large readership and that many people probably won’t care.  I’m okay with that!   But, I just can’t get it out of my mind how fun it would be to collect recipes, bits of food-wisdom and the like, simply from taking a chance that others would read this out in the big, juicy, food-filled world!

We love healthy stuff, sweet and kind stuff, crunchy and pliable stuff.  If ingredients come from our own gardens, are canned over red-checked tablecloths in our kitchens, or are just fabulously simple or delicious, then all the better!

If you care to share a bit from your own kitchen, please email your recipe, method, or bit of cookery wisdom, including your name and credits as you would like them to appear, photos etc. (or a drawing or painting of your food, hey now THAT would be cool!) to Karen at foodarella@gmail.com I trust you will properly credit the source of your foodarella as to not step on any toes in the pantry…

I’ll give this 100 recipe challenge 100 days to complete, as that just sounds good ‘eh?  Whether I end up with 2 or 100 to add, I’ll be happy. Like I said, it has been just enjoyable to think about (especially while I am snuggled up in bed with a head cold!) and I thank ya for reading.

Cheers and good thoughts, Karen

Categories: Foodarella | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Taming a Kid’s Winter Fever With Mom’s Organic Frozen Pops!

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Under the weather, under the covers, but still cute as pie!

The cold and flu season hits kids really hard and 2013 is no exception. Ask any parent or caregiver and they will tell you how sad, miserable, and sometimes frightening, the kids can become when they are feverish. When Captain gets sick now she will proudly inform us that “my body is heating right up to cook out the sickness!” (I will always be happy that, at a very young age, we told her exactly what a fever is and why it is an incredibly great function of the body!)

I used to get really nervous when Captain had a fever and wouldn’t eat much for a few days.  Experience has taught me that she will be just fine as long as she consumes a lot of fluids and gets good rest.

Here is one thing that I make for her to help sooth the fever and cool things down a bit, while giving her some nutrients.  This is just a springboard, you can adjust to your items on hand and what your little sick honey-buns like:

Mom’s Fever Pops:

1 organic banana, 2 cups frozen organic berries (peaches and raspberries are favorites), 1 cup organic spinach or other organic green (washed really well), 1/2 cup organic juice (apple, blueberry, pomegranate, orange) a sprinkling of organic flaxmeal (optional) and honey to taste.

Blend it up and put in frozen-pop-molds and voila!  If Captain isn’t sick, I also add yogurt to this recipe.  **A hint:  don’t tell them what is in it if they don’t like greens!  They won’t realize they are there!

If you have a good recipe or idea for our kids during the flu season, will you please share with us?   Good ideas are good ideas….

Good thoughts, Karen

Categories: Foodarella | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Create a Wax and Watercolor Space Scene!

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Color with Crayons on white paper and wash over the whole thing with dark blue watercolor 

This is easy as pie and and a fun coloring & painting project for kids. Basically, we used crayons to color on white paper and then painted it with blue watercolor.  On Education.com they list this project with the suggestion of using this opportunity to discuss landscapes, nightscapes and famous works like “Starry Night” by Van Gough.  We have talked about “Starry Night” before and were more into talking about wax, so I told her a few things about wax and water:

The Science of it: Water does not stick to wax because wax belongs to a large class of organic chemicals that are hydrophobic.  “Hydrophobic” literally means “afraid of water”.  Organic chemicals contain carbon, and tend to not be mixable with water (with certain notable exceptions like alcohols). When it’s 2 liquids that encounter each other, it just means that if you don’t stir them constantly, they will separate out into 2 layers. When it is water and a solid, such as the wax, it results in hydrophobicity. Hydrophobicity refers to the degree in which water forms into beads or spreads and flows across the wax.  This all has to do with surface tension, but this is as far as we wanted to go with scientific explanations.  Captain noted the grooviness of wax and “hydrophobicity” and then we talked about space, black holes and planets while we colored and painted.  It was really fun!  I did one too 🙂

I want to make an important note here.  Captain is 5 years old and is not going to benefit from too much explanation about the deeper science of wax and water.  Some might wonder why I would even talk about these things, as she certainly is not going to remember all this stuff, but I truly believe, in fact I KNOW from raising this scientifically-minded child, that it is not about pounding in the facts!  It is really about brushing up against things and letting little bits and pieces soak in wherever they may.  It’s like looking at stars:  it affects us even if we don’t know all of the names of the constellations…  All in all, it works and its’s an awesome way to learn!
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One other thing that did come out of this project is that we are dying to get a big chunk of beeswax (oooooh, I adore beeswax in ways I can’t explain!!) and 2 large canvasses to melt and drip and then paint.  Captain wants to go with acrylics already and I just don’t know for myself yet, but I am soooo excited to try.

If you mess around with wax and paints in any form and care to share, we would LOVE to see some pics here at kartwheels!

Cheers and Beeswax!  Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voila! Make a Light Box For Your Kids!!

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The learning activities, art and fun just might be limitless!

Captain LOVES this!!!!

Okay, there is A LOT of information floating around online about light boxes and their many fabulous uses for kids. My only regret is that I didn’t make one of these when Captain was a toddler!  I apologize that I don’t know who to credit for the way that we put this together, as I can’t remember exactly where I gathered the bits and pieces of information needed to assemble this amazing, simple box.  And so, to all of the people who have made this before, I thank ya!

Basically, it is a lighted box that enables kids to do a large number of activities including learning projects, crafts, and just plain fun.  Some activities include, but are not limited to: Looking at agate slices, sorting colored beads or round pieces of glass (or any clear, cool stuff which is great for the toddler “sorting” phase), transparent geometric shapes, a squirt of shaving cream, colored sand shapes, finger painting, stacking plastic cups in assorted colors and the list goes on….

Method

You’ll need:  a plastic tub with locking lid, no deeper than 6 1/2″, a string of basic rope-lights ,(at least 9′, after Christmas they are on blowout sale), aluminum foil, waxed paper, clear packing tape and something to drill a hole in the plastic box to fit the lighting cord through.  We used a Dremel.

It took about 10 minutes for K and I to put this together.  First, lay out the rope lighting inside the box so that you can gauge where to drill the approximately 1″ hole in a corner that you’ll need for the cord.  Remove the lights and drill the hole.  Place a layer of aluminum foil inside the box on the bottom and sides (this helps concentrate and reflect the light) and tape it down.  Replace the rope light in a neat coil that spreads out over the bottom pretty evenly and tape it down.  On the inside of the lid, tape down a layer of waxed paper.  Put on the lid and plug it in.  Close the curtains and shut out the lights.  Voila!  They’ll come running!!

I have a couple of recommendations on which plastic tub to purchase, as well as a few items that are inexpensive and totally cool for the box:

First, many have made this using a 12×12 scrapbook storage box, but I found it to be kind of limiting so I went for something bigger.  I found a 6.25″ H x 18″ W x 28″D clear plastic underbed storage box made by Iris on Amazon.com and it is perfect.  I bought 2 for 31.99 with free shipping.  If you do find a different tub, make sure that it has a smooth, flat top, not grooved (very important!).

I highly recommend these products both of which I found on Amazon.com, all had free shipping:  Agate light table slices, set of 12 for 18.95.  With these, you don’t know what colors and shapes they will be and it is quite fun to open up the box!  Also, Learning Resources makes a set of view-thru geometric solids for 14.35 and very quickly Captain knew what pentagons and hexagons are.  They are great for filling with little rocks, stacking, sorting, and building things with too.

At any craft store you can get round, glass shapes (like for vases) for sorting and other fun.  Of course these are for kids who won’t try to put them in their mouths…

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We have just started with this and have yet to discover the possible new activities we could do with this magical, glowing box.  Any of you with light boxes, please let me in on other ideas for activities!  Captain really loves this and thinks I am the coolest mom ever for putting it together for her 🙂

Good Thoughts! Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects, Math Rocks For Kids!, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Siljans Rye: Healthy, Tasty, And It Just Plain ROCKS!

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Siljans Rye is a healthy alternative to breads, only has 3 ingredients and 50 calories for a big hunk, and has fantastic cracker-texture and mild rye flavor.  They are fat free, sugar free and cholesterol free as well.  You must try them!!!  Captain is 5 years old and loves them… 

Thanks to Aunt Cate for turning our family on to what has become a necessary staple of our diets.  You won’t come to the cabin and not see a package of Siljans resting on top of the old fashioned Sweetheart stove, ready for munchin’.  These delightful cracker rounds are made of whole grain rye flour, yeast, water and salt and are healthy, delicious and very versatile.  Captain eats them daily and likes them plain, or with a variety of toppings, and we rarely leave the house without having some stashed in the car for hunger-emergencies.

When one thinks of knackebrod, rye or hardtack, it kind of rings a bell of being a “poor man’s food”, or we could remember tales of civil war soldiers who subsisted on such simple foods during hard times.  However, these tasty cracker rounds have a lot of good benefits for people today, especially those who like to see only a few ingredients listed on their labels, and also like things to be affordable and tasty as well.

We are lucky that a little supermarket in the town we shop in here in California sells Siljans, our favorite brand of these kind of good eats, and so we are able to purchase them for around $5 per 14 oz package. Amazon is a good source for those that want them regularly at about the same price. You can even get a subscription to have them delivered regularly if you can’t find them in your local area… wow!  Siljans do not go stale unless you leave them around for a really looooong time, or in a damp place.  We tested this by tasting some that we had forgotten about on top of the fridge and, after about 6 months, they were still just great.

Before I list some of our favorite ways of enjoying Siljans rye, I want to add an important note to people with dogs, *we give chunks of these simple crackers to both our young and elderly dogs in place of other unhealthy doggie biscuits and treats.  They love them and I believe they are good for them as well.  If you price out a lot of the dog treats on the market today (especially ones that aren’t loaded with horrible stuff!) you will find that they are a great deal for our canine friends too!  So you see, when I say that the entire family gets to enjoy them, I mean our pets as well 🙂

Here are a few of our favorite ways to eat Siljans:

With cheddar cheese, apples, peanut butter & honey (like a sandwich), feta cheese and olives, hummus, pesto and tomatoes, gouda, cream cheese, pickles…..  there are so many ways!!

Cracker Facts!  Back in the day, Knackebrod was popular in armies and schools because of its light weight and simple, transport-friendly shape. Crisp bread has been baked in central Sweden since 500 AD and it was made as round wafers with a hole in the middle so the bread could be stored on sticks under the roof.  Traditional crisp bread was invented about 500 years ago.  Finland and Sweden have long traditions in crisp bread consumption and Sweden’s first industrial crisp bread bakery, AU Bergmans enka, began production in Stockholm in 1850.

Today, bubbles are introduced into many doughs mechanically, although traditionally, this was done by mixing snow or powdered ice into the dough, which then evaporated during baking.  How cool is that??? Another method is to knead the dough under pressure in an extruder. The sudden drop in pressure then causes water to evaporate, creating bubbles in the dough.

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The packaging can’t help but be adorable.  I feel kind of cute myself when I have this in my shopping cart.

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Check out the ingredients list…  do I need to say more?

Captain and I attempted to make our own rye crisps and had a lot of fun trying.  The crisps didn’t turn out as great as the Siljans, but they were still good and the dogs LOVED them as treats.  We even put a broomstick between two chairs and hung them to dry out a bit after baking.

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We hope to try again as even our version was yummy and healthy, but we are so addicted to the texture of Siljans that we may spend the time and work on something different when we bake crackers again.

I really think these are terrific for kids, adults (and dogs too!) and highly recommend you try them if you don’t already enjoy them.  Please do let me know any ideas for accompaniments with these rye treats if you care to share, and thanks to Wikipedia for the facts about crisp breads!

Good thoughts, Karen

Categories: Foodarella | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Simple Fluffy Valentine’s Day Hearts ♥

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I remember making sooooo many things with tissue paper when I was a kid, valentine decorations included!  Yesterday Captain and I made some decorations for Grandma’s house and it was fun family time and we had a lot of laughs….

Method

Cut white construction paper into hearts (or any shape you like!)  and then spend a few minutes cutting strips of dark pink, light pink, and white tissue paper into about 1-1 1/2 inch strips. Cut the strips into little squares (it is helpful to cut a bunch of strips and stack them up to cut a bunch of squares at a time) so that you have a pile of 2 or 3 colors, depending on your design. Apply a patch of glue in one small area of your shape.  Using a pencil, wrap the tissue square around the eraser end press it into the glue and pull out the pencil.  It will leave a fluffy little cup that stands up.  Keep applying them onto the glue in little sections, using the pencil to push them close together.  That’s it!  People have used this method on styrofoam balls to make decorations to hang from the ceiling, to make their country’s flag, snakes, birds, stars…… It is easy and fun and they look charming in Grandma’s window.

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K and I never really celebrated V-tines before as a couple, but having a kid makes Valentine’s day fantastic!  I must admit that I have a bit of the ole “heart-fever” and even found a super cheap giant red heart costume to pop out and surprise Captain with on Thursday.  Wish me luck!  Many hearts you you all…

Good Thoughts, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tissue Paper Lanterns!

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 These lanterns are so fun to make and cast a beautiful light!

Captain and I had a great time making these simple paper mache style lanterns.  We still have ours sitting on our counter with a tea light ready to glow upon our dinner.

Method:

Choose as many colors of tissue paper as you like, or have around, and cut them into strips.  The strips do not have to be the same size, in fact, we think different widths make a nicer texture.

Lay down newspaper and blow up your balloon.  For younger kids, keeping it at a smaller size is beneficial as it does take time to apply the layers of paper.  Mix equal parts water and white school glue in a bowl.

Cover the balloon with petroleum jelly (to prevent sticking) and start dipping strips of tissue paper into the glue mixture and apply, smoothing them down as you go.  They don’t have to be perfect!  Continue to add strips, crossing over and over to make at least 3 layers deep for sturdiness.  Do not cover the top of the balloon, where it ties, as this will be the opening at the top.  Captain did a lot of the work, but toward the end it got hard for her to hang onto the balloon so mom finished it for her. When it is all ready, hang to dry and then pop the balloon and remove it carefully.  We trimmed the opening of the candle to make it look nice and finished.

Voila!  Put a metal lid inside your lantern (to hold the candle) and add a tea candle.  Next step is to admire it as a family 🙂  This is also a great time to explain about candles and fire danger too.  We have a rule in our house, no candles except at the dinner table.

We would love to see your paper lantern pics if you make these!

Cheers!  Karen

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Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Kids Road Trip Keepsake: Postcard Photo Book!

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A 99¢ photo book and post cards is all kids need to create their own keepsake book

On our last big road trip, Captain enjoyed collecting keychains as we drove cross country.  Mom and Dad also get her one when we go somewhere, and it’s fun because we always end up talking about the places we have been because of the souvenirs we have collected.  One time, Captain’s dad went to Amsterdam and because of the keychain he brought back, we ended up doing a little homeschool unit on Holland and learned a bunch of cool stuff!

On this trip, we knew we wouldn’t be stopping a lot to do adventurous things, as we are trying to get cross country quickly, so we decided to try something new.  I purchased a little 4 x 6 album for less than a dollar and we have found that the small postcards (barely) fit in it and have been collecting them along the way.  The book is full of fun postcards from California all the way to New York.  We missed a couple as not as many places sell postcards as they used to, but it has been an inexpensive, delightful way to make a little keepsake book of our trip.

I would LOVE to hear of more ideas for fun activities on the road!  A couple of my plans were failures, like bringing a small roll of aluminum foil to color on and make little animals out of.  Captain was very clear that this was NOT a good idea…  But, she did remind me to take the big ball of foil out of the trash bag and put it into the recycle bin and that was success all on its own!

Good Thoughts! Karen

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Road Trips With Kids: Don’t Forget the Mad-Libs!

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It doesn’t hurt to learn a little something without even realizing it!

We are on our cross-country road trip from California to New York, and even though we just got to within 3 hours of our destination, we can’t make it due to running smack into the big snow storm pounding out here (they call ’em “nor’easters”).  But, we are all faring well and at least we aren’t crawling and sliding down the highway any longer!

To keep things flowing for kids stuck in the car on a long road trip, I highly recommend bringing a goody-grab-bag and a pad of mad-libs!  For the goody bag, I packed a draw-string cloth bag with an assortment of fun things that, when Captain gets restless, or is looking for something to do, she can reach in and grab a prize.  I included stickers, an aboriginal-color-your-own-bracelet, a flashing owl, a pair of Melissa and Doug binoculars, a United States coloring book, a small orange padlock & key, and wooden beads for stringing.  I also threw in a little travel container with a special prize to honor the upcoming Chinese new year:  a little collection of Chinese-facts plastic coins.  Fun!

One of the best things to rally the troops after a long day on the road is the classic mad-lib.  Captain now knows what nouns, adjectives, and verbs are because of these fun stories.  If you aren’t familiar with mad-libs, it is a pad of little fun stories in which certain words are left out. We all take turns with the cues to add words and then I read the story at the end. They are hilarious and really fun!  It is pretty cool to hear Captain explain to her dad that adjectives are “describing words” and verbs are “action words”.  They are great!  We have used them for trips before and this time I tried the “Junior” version, but we really like the originals better.  In the junior pad, they give you a list of words to choose from to make it easier for the younger crowd. But, we found that we like to pick our own words and will stick with the classics in the future.

So here we are, hotel-bound until tomorrow afternoon when the storm calms and the roads are plowed.  The adventure continues!  I am just glad I have things to keep us all happy.  Well, I am off to help finish coloring the state of Iowa.  Did you know that the state flower is the wild rose and the bird is the goldfinch?  I am learning so much and I’m thankful that it never ends!!!

Good thoughts and happy travels, Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Language Arts Rock For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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