Archive | Family Outings RSS feed for this section

Thanksgiving and The Black Friday Scorecard

27 Nov

I am Thankful for Thanksgiving. Is that a little redundant? Well it’s true. Because without Thanksgiving and its accompanying two-state-wide blizzard as an excuse, my sweet hubby probably would not have sat in a unheated bus station from 10:30 at night on Wednesday until 3:00 Thursday morning waiting for the  Greyhound that would bring him home to spend two and half blissful days with the kids and me. Without Thanksgiving and said blizzard, B would have stayed in Blackfoot, and, even though we would go to see him next weekend, he would probably not have had the chance to come back to Missoula again for a very long time. And, I may have mentioned this before, we love Missoula.

But we did get snow and we did get B and we did get turkied and pied and stuffing-stuffed, and snuggled and smiled and hugged and all-around familied (yes, I just verbed a word again) for two whole days.  And I am thankful.

Random crafty note: We made these little place markers for the table out of walnut shells, twigs, construction paper and candle wax. They’re supposed to be ships… like everyone’s own personal Mayflower. I think they turned out cute.

And then there was Black Friday.

Okay, let me just step up onto my soap box and say that I think the Black Friday shopping hullabaloo we Americans plan,prepare for and participate in year after year after year represents something seriously wrong with the spirit of our nation.  The commercialism! The indignity! The unabashed greed!

And down from the soap box… Wanna hear about all the stuff I got?

I have never gone out shopping on Black Friday of my own will and accord (once I was coerced- but I didn’t buy anything, I swear!), until this year. See, on Monday I was dropping some things off at the Goodwill donation door, getting ready for the big move and all, when the friendly, helpful, Donation-Taker Man ( that’s an official title) mentioned in his friendly, helpful way that on Friday the store would open an hour early and everything would be 50% off.

50% off on thrifty goodness? Vintagey-why-would-anyone-get-rid-of-this-awesomeness? I cracked. Yesterday morning, my MiL and I were third in line outside those shiny glass doors.

Here’s the breakdown: While all those suckers over at the mall (no offense to any of my readers who might be mall suckers) paid $75 for a pair of socks, a bottle of cologne and a food processor, I laid down $ 74.86 for:

3 pairs of (practically new) jeans for me

3 sweaters for me (including this pea-green vintage awesomeness)

2 dress shirts for B

1 scholarly- looking corduroy suit coat for B

and 1 pair of never-worn GAP khakis for B

Good deal, huh? But wait! That’s not all! I also wrangled:

1 skirt, 1 jacket, and 1 sweater for L

1 shirt, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of Handy Manny overalls (from Disneyland) for R

6 (count ’em) 6 matching picture frames

2 box sets of Pippi Longstocking books

5 American Girl books

And approximately 25 other excellent books in excellent condition for the kiddos.

Add my Black Friday haul to the handmade Christmas craft-stravaganza already in progress in my sewing corner, and my gift- giving is practically done. Snap. All hail the thrifting Queen.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as heartwarming and your Black Friday as frugally fabulous as mine.

Love, AM

No little old ladies were trampled by mob-mentality coupon holders in the making of this post.



October Review

12 Nov

Hmmm… two weeks into November… Thanksgiving approacheth… time to get around to posting the Halloween pics. And a bit of an October review in photos.

One of R’s favorite games this last month was Alphabet Hopscotch. I’m not sure if he liked the letters so much as the excuse to throw rocks, but either way he is now recognizing most of the first half of the alphabet.



L, on the other hand, really got into a little math game we made and called Pumpkins and Ghosts. Because it had a bunch of little pumpkins. And some ghosts. We’re original like that.

She’d shake a handful of the beans (with ghost and pumpkin faces drawn on them- it didn’t take as long as you would think) onto the tray, and then write an addition sentence based on how many beans, how she sorted them, etc. She loved it and I really like to present the kids with games and activities that engage their creativity and allow them to assert their preferences, rather than having everything pre-determined with only one possible solution.

We’ve been using themes to organize our learning activities and that is working out really well. For October, the themes were Columbus,  Bears and Hibernation, and Halloween.  I just have to say that I have always loved children’s literature- something about the simple story with the picture book images (some of my favorite art is found in picture books) just excites me, but never have I appreciated the genre so much than I have as a homeschooling parent. Whatever I want to teach, whatever the kids want to learn, there’s a wonderful picture book to help the process along. In October:

We love this series- it belonged to me and my sisters when we were kids.

L got really into the Chet Gecko series by Bruce Hale and got to participate in book discussion at the library. And when I say ‘participate’ I mean dominate, as she was the only kid who showed up. So she and the children’s librarian chatted it up for a half hour. It started her on a bit of a mystery kick. She read two more in the Chet Gecko series and then discovered American Girls History Mysteries. I’ve hardly seen her face since.

I won’t even try to list all the Halloween books we read and loved, but The House That Drac Built was our favorite this year.

For Halloween we drove down to Blackfoot to be with B (no, we are still not moved- that is another story. One that involves looking at many houses, waiting patiently, finding one with the Magic, and then not getting it- but that is for another post) and then we all trucked down further south to SLC for Boo at the Zoo. Hogle Zoo, that is.

R was a Jedi who would not wear the awesome Padwan braid his dedicated mother made for him, and, after about 10 minutes, didn’t want to carry his lightsaber, so… basically just a kid in a robe. But a cute one.

Here he has used the Dark Side of the Force to stuff as much candy in his mouth as possible while still allowing for a mischievous grin.

L was a princess.  She took her role quite seriously…

…except when hobnobbing and running amok with this little devil, cousin Bella. Other cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents joined the throng…



A grand time was had by all. We threatened tricks if treats were not given later that night as well, but we have no pictures because it was pouring rain. The kids were dedicated to their candy-seeking, though, and pulled through.

Hope your October was fun and memorable too.



All Things Autumnal

22 Oct

I love fall. I may have mentioned that a couple (dozen) times here on the blog. Okay, just once more: I ♥love♥ fall.

I find more inspiration in nature -for writing, for art, for homeschooling, for cooking, everything- during the autumn than at any other time of year.

Last Saturday the kids and I went to a Fall Festival at our local community farm, in a beautiful area of Missoula known as The Rattlesnake (I know that doesn’t sound so beautiful, but trust me on this one). There we found an abundance of All Things Autumnal. For example: Great Pumpkins, Charlie Brown.

Not to mention a pumpkin patch (in the background behind the adorable short fellow with the mischievous grin)…

…which was occupied by its very own (grayish) black cat. Ophelia.

Then, of course, there was apple cider and bobbing for apples…

…which is harder than it looks! R and L both  tried the lip-suction method, but ended up biting the stems of those few apples that had them. And they may have used their fingers. Just a little.

There were pony rides, and a tractor-pulled hay ride…

And hay bales to run and jump on.

As you can imagine, we had a rollicking good time.  We only wish B had been there with us.

Happy Fall!

Love, AM

A Deuce of Moose, etc.

4 Oct

Random things I’ve been wanting to share for the last month or so…

A little homeschool fantastico:

New books to kick off our new school year. We are reading Little House in the Big Woods first, and doing things along with the Ingalls as much as we can.

We harvested our little garden as the Ingalls family harvested theirs.

R is learning his letters, one per week. This is our letter A monster. Because the A says AAAAA!

More letter learning...

...this alphabet is yummy!

We did an art project from the 'Barefoot Book of Earth Tales'...

These are our take on Aboriginal Song-Line Paintings.

R went mixed-media with paint, leaves, grass, and a bucket of wooden clothespins.

Our travels…

The Deuce of Moose (drinking river juice). *snort*. Ah, I just can't help myself. In the Tetons, in case you couldn't tell.

And our new pup, Camper. Because, as R put it, "He will like to go camping with us."

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday

26 Aug

How about Very Few Words Wednesday? And it is still Wednesday for a few more minutes, at least in my time zone.

Me, L, and R, Camping Trip, Lake Como. This is how we do back-to-school.

Science: The refraction of sunlight through this tarp turns my belly-button green.

Hey me too! Results of experiment may be duplicated.

Theater Arts: Shadow Puppet show time!

More Science: Hands-on study of the Pine Butterfly.

Proper handling of the specimen...

Observe in natural habitat...


Physical Education: Climb and conquer.

Climb, conquer, and chillax.

Math: 1 Boy + 1 Tube...

...+ 1 Girl + 1 Tube...

= 4 days of beach fun.

Visual Arts: Sand sculpture fortress.

A collaborative effort.

Culinary Arts: The menu? Mischief...

... and S'mores.

Language Arts: Write it all down in your journals guys!

And don't forget bedtime stories in the tent.

The world is our classroom.

Learning is Life.

"Thanks for taking us camping Mom."

You’re welcome munchkins. I love you.


Wordless Wednesday

11 Aug

Glacier National Awesomeness

22 Jul

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, the kids and I got a chance to visit Glacier National Park two weekends ago with my mom, Nanna, who had come north to see Miss L as a seahorse. The expedition was planned as a day trip (we only live about three hours away from the park) but spontaneously became an overnighter when we realized just how much there is to see and do in the GNP. Somehow, in all the years B and I have lived in Montana, GNP is just one of those places that we’ve been meaning to go… but something always comes up. You know how that is, I’m sure. Anyway, after an afternoon in the park, one picnic, one hike, and a whole lot of “I wish we had time to see this, I wish we had time to hike there,” we grabbed a room at the Motel 6 and a couple clean tees off the Kalispell Walmart clearance rack to see us through. My only regrets on this excursion were 1.) That B wasn’t with us, and 2.) Not bringing my toothbrush. That whole finger with toothpaste thing is really not very effective.

Now, pictures. I took so many more than this, but sometimes, in some places, I think it’s almost pointless to take a picture because no matter how great a photographer you are (and I’m mediocre at best), there’s no way the image  is going to convey the power and beauty of actually being there. So I’m only showing here those that I think come close to doing the landscape justice.  And my cute kids, of course.

L and R at Apgar Village, Lake McDonald in background

I didn't know the butterfly was there when I snapped this. L was thrilled.

Lake McDonald with, if I'm not mistaken, the Livingston mountain range in the background.

Avalanche Falls, our first day's hike

Morning of day 2

Lake McDonald

Again, Lake McDonald. The water was unrealistically blue. The epitome of aqua.

Just one of the breathtaking views on Going to the Sun Road (an engineering marvel in itself).

They are tough kids, but we wore them out.

Again, Going to the Sun Road

The top of Logan Pass. Don't let the Glacier Lilies fool you, the wind was bitter cold.

I believe this horn is called Reynolds Mountain, as seen from Logan Pass

We couldn't have had a more beautiful day.

Oh Lord, my God,

When I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,

I see the stars,

I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed,

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee:

How great Thou art!

Thanks, Mom, for a memorable trip.

Love, AM