History Lesson 1

I am so excited to have Eden’s best friend Rylynn joining us two days a week this school year. The girls get time to play together and then we sit down and do history together.


This is our first year using history curriculum (we did simple unit studies last year). I didn’t feel like there were very many great options for history curriculum, but I ended up going with History Odyssey by Panda Press and we love it. My favorite part of this curriculum is the many hands on activities and additional resources they organize and suggest using.

9.5-Madison-3-2We started out with a week studying how we know about what happened before there was written documentation.

Archeologist Dig for CluesThere are lots of great books out there but our favorite was “Archeologist Dig for Clues” by  Kate Duke.

Our activity for the first day was to became Archeologist for the day. After reading about archeologist, the girls gathered their gear (they were very clever, they came up with most of the tools needed) and dressed for the occasion from the examples in their book. Dressing up makes everything more fun.

While the girls were getting ready I set up the dig site with two trays filled with a sand/flour/oil mixture and a variety of artifacts for them to find. They helped me to grid off the work site and used their microscopes to look for clues as we start digging.


Working square by square the girls carefully sifted, dug, and brushed away the “dirt” as they found their artifacts.


I loved hearing their squeals of delight as they found each item. We weren’t even halfway done and the girls were already asking if I would hide everything again for them to find. Little did they know I had another kind of excavation planned for the next day.


They loved using the small bags to collect and organize their artifacts. They quickly picked up the method for labeling the bags and made it a game as they compared what each found in say A3 or B1.


While our entire lesson isn’t quite as exciting as our excavation activities, I try to keep it fun as we learn through reading fun books. Often I like to have the girls work on coloring part of a project while I read. 9.5-Madison-18

I love that all of the parts of this are small and interactive. When folded up they all fit neatly in the little pocket. Eden loves pulling out her pocket and looking at each of the elements she made. It makes for great review as we reread and talk about each item several times.


Most of the items we made for this pocket were part of the above book but I made a few extra items that were both a big hit.

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The first was a little memory matching game and the second was a tool kit with all the tools we had learned about during our study.
9.5-Madison-6As I shared earlier, I had one more big activity I knew the kids would love.

As we studied archeology and excavation, we learned that sometimes artifacts are frozen in ice and that these too must carefully be excavated.

I created these frozen dig sites by freezing about an inch of water mixed with the sand/flour mix from the other activity in aluminum trays. I then added in dinosaurs and cavemen figurines and filled it up with water.

If you try this activity and need to freeze multiply trays, I suggest putting the tray in the freezer and then filling it with water as it is very hard to carry this full of a container across the room without spilling.

On the day of the excavation the ice block easily slid out and I then filled them with water to use for the activity. I started by putting the sand side up so that they couldn’t see what was frozen inside just yet.

9.5-Madison-7The kids then went to work using water and a variety of tools to melt the ice and find their “treasure” as Eli called it. I love that he gets to participate in most of the activities we do. This one was right up his alley; water, water squirting tools, dirt, mess, dinosaurs, and open ended.

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Everyone enjoyed using the spray bottle but it was the older two that first figured out another use for it. Thankfully Eli was too busy to see how else the sprayer could be used.


After about 30 minutes (I was a little surprised how long they were willing to spray and drip water) parts of the dinosaurs start sticking out and it was all they could do not to just pull and try to break the ice.


They then figured out that if they used more water by pouring from the cup things went a lot faster. They wanted to use the hose and while clever I said no and they happily continued.

Not sure why I didn’t get a final picture of everything freed from the ice but don’t worry there wasn’t a speck of ice left after this activity.

Next week look for a fun post on early humans as we start learning about ancient history.


Back to School 2015

We are back in school. Really we have been for two whole weeks now but blogging has had to take a back seat to the school day. 1st gradeWe again this year have chosen to homeschool. Eden is 6 years old and in the first grade. Eden with words

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We are both really excited about this school year. Last year we focused on reading and math but this year have added an extensive history class and a life science lab class. Both are very hands on and have lots of fun activities that I hope to find time to share with all of you.


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Eli is two and we are going to say he is in preschool. I am shocked at the amount of information he absorbs just being and playing around us while Eden is doing her work.


9.5-Madison-3  9.5-Madison-5As you can probably guess Eli keeps me on my toes. I have had to get a little creative to keep this little man busy and happy during our morning school routine.

I really wish I would have gotten a picture of the two of them together to close out this post. Hmm, I guess we are going to have to have another photo shoot.



Independent Side

IMG_0823(This is attempt number 2 if you are getting emailed twice. We couldn’t get the blog post to connect to Facebook and had to republish.) After blogging for close to a year and a half I have run out of free storage space with wordpress.com.  So I have moved my site and can now be found at clotheslineconfessions.com instead of clotheslineconfessions.wordpress.com. Thanks wordpress for your wonderful free services.

IMG_0806IMG_0805This is technically my first post on the new site. I know the blueberry picking pictures don’t really match with the idea of moving to a new site but I figure you needed something to look at.

IMG_0812There really will be no change for my followers. If you have signed up to receive email updates when I post something new, you will still receive those as usual. For those who connect by seeing my post on Facebook, it should be similar as well.

IMG_0846Thanks for following.


Chugga Chugga Two Two

This past week, Eli turned two years old and we had a Fourth of July blast to celebrate. We went with a train theme, which worked well as Thomas the Train’s colors are red, white, and blue.


Eli loves trains. We live only a few blocks from the tracks and many times a day must pause and listen to the train whistle that Eli gets super excited about hearing. IMG_0974   IMG_0973

In honor of Eli’s second birthday and because we really need to update our family picture above the fireplace (poor Eli isn’t even in it), we started the morning with family pictures on the tracks. IMG_0922

Each place that we live, I like to get family pictures near something that will remind us of our time in that area.


A big thank you to my sister-in-law Laura for taking our pictures.


Are you wondering about our safety yet?

Well, as soon as we started hearing the train whistle we knew that the train was going through town, and so we headed off the tracks.

It took close to 15 minutes for the train to actually get to us but better safe than sorry.


We had Eli’s party that afternoon. I love getting creative and trying to come up with ways to relate the theme to each aspect of the party.

We turned the gift table in to the luggage drop.

Drinks were located at the Fueling Station.


All the food was labeled after Thomas and Friend characters and were made into train cars.


We had tracks made from black duck tape leading up the sidewalk.

IMG_0977Our dessert table was called Sweet’s Station and was located on platform #2.

IMG_1082Eli’s cake: the tracks are made into a number two.

IMG_0982We had 3 different train tracks set up for the kids and kids at heart to play with.


For party favors we had train whistles, wind-up trains, and “choo”ing gum.


My favorite decoration was the picture train. 8 cars of pictures all since Eli’s last birthday. It was sweet to see how he has changed over the year.

Making Vacation Memories

I know all parents desire a family vacation where their kids come home with great family memories. Today I want to share a few tips that we have learned for creating those unforgettable moments and still having a great time.

IMG_0667First of all it is very important not to expect every moment and event to be extra special. I have tried too many times to make everything we do memorable and honestly that makes for a tired and stressed mommy (and I will add tired and stressed daddy and kids).

IMG_0677I would encourage you rather to pick one thing to focus your energy on and make it big, fun, and exciting. I still plan other fun activities, but I don’t stress as much about those. If I purpose the one big event to be what I want us to remember and cherish from our vacation, I am able to plan it better which makes for a more relaxed and happy event.

IMG_0635For our last vacation our memorable event was building a huge sand castle. I love this activity for many reasons. One: who hasn’t dreamed of making a giant sand castle, two: it didn’t cost anything, and three: we could go as long as we wanted and be finished when our little ones had had enough.

Here are my 5 tips for keeping it fun for all and helping to make the memories last.

IMG_0622Tip #1: Pick something that everyone can be involved in.

While the rest of our family enjoys body surfing and we could have easily made this into our memorable event the problem with it was that Eli didn’t like being anywhere near the big waves. Instead we had to pick something that everyone would enjoy and get involved in.

Eli is almost two and hasn’t mastered sandcastle building but boy does he know how to dig. He dug holes and filled buckets of sand for mommy.

Tip #2: Assign everyone a job.

When everyone knows their job they can feel proud about the work they are doing and nobody is walking around getting into trouble or messing up someone else work.


IMG_0643IMG_0656Tip #3: It is the process time that is important.

Remember the activity is about doing it together and not about the end result. Our tower walls were not perfectly straight or all the same height but they were created by Eden and I working together. Working together and her feeling good about her work was so much more important than a perfect castle.

IMG_0694Tip #4: Capture the memories.

I have found the best way for the kids to remember your great time is to have pictures for them to look back at and then talk about the time together. This also goes back to Tip #2, give someone the job of taking pictures of all the details. Just be sure to get a few pictures of the photographer too.

IMG_6243Tip #5: Plan your activity for the right time of the day.

Each trip is different but this time we planned our activity around nap times and to avoid extreme temperatures. After dinner when the beach was shaded was the perfect time for working on our sandcastle. This activity would have not been as fun in the middle of the day with the hot sun beating down on us. I also didn’t have to worry about continually putting on sunscreen.


It was a happy coincident but we were able to tie our sandcastle theme into a special ice cream treat one evening. The local ice cream parlor had a Sandcastle Challenge that included eating 7 scoops of ice cream (we got to pick our flavors), a crushed waffle cone, 3 kinds of syrup, cookies, nuts, whip cream, and lots of cherries. All was served in a sand bucket and the kids had a blast using the shovel to eat.



Busy Wallets

Schools out (even for us homeschoolers) and I know many of you will be traveling with kids this summer. Here is an easy to make busy activity to help keep the kids busy while traveling. These busy wallets are old wallets that I filled with as many wallet type items I could find or make.


I made several different types of cards each with an area to personalize. After the kids names and information were added I lamented them to make them more durable. You can print your copy of these Wallet Cards and personalize too.

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I also added a couple recipes, a shopping list, pretend money, and a couple old gift cards.


In Eden’s wallet I used real money. This was a great way for practicing money values and counting money. I also let her use her money to buy candy and such along the drive.

IMG_6295Eli mainly enjoyed taking the cards in and out of the wallet and looking in all of the hidden pockets. I used a man’s wallet for Eli but he preferred the one I used for Eden as it has a zipper which was great practice for opening and closing. We also used the different cards to practiced his color words.

Hoping happy travels and busy kids for everyone.



Family Camping

IMG_5925This past week our family enjoyed a 3 day camping trip along with 3 other families from church at one of our local state parks. Even though Onondaga Cave State Park is only a short 20 minute drive from our house it was a great little get away.

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We enjoyed the usual campfire favorites of hotdogs, smores, and foil hobo dinners. It is amazing how food cooked over the campfire can taste so good. I think part of it is the work that goes into it.

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This year we thought Eden was old enough to learn how to safely be around the fire and try cooking a little herself. We started her with an easy meal of Ramon Noodles, canned oranges, and fresh peppers. She thought this was one of the coolest things she has done in a while and was very proud of her meal.

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Eli was all about camping. He loved the freedom of being outside and thought drinking from the camping mugs was so much fun. Eli got new responsibilities too and was taught how to wash dishes which turns out he is pretty good at doing.

Nature Scavenger HuntOur camp site was located right next to the parks playground which occupied the kids most of the time. I had thought that they would have gotten bored at some point and ahead of time made up this camping scavenger hunt. The first day Eden was really excited about looking for each of the items but as soon as the other kids got there they were off, busy, and happy. So I guess I will save this and pull it out to do it while on a hike. You can print a copy of this Nature Scavenger Hunt to use on your next outdoor adventure.

I also found these cute little foldable nature booklet that Eden really enjoyed making. Check out Fablious Fleece’s blog and print a copy for yourself here.


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Onondaga Cave State Park is know for its caves. Instead of a traditional hike we enjoyed a hike through the underground maze and learned about the caves history. (side note – we are learning about caves right now so this was a great little field trip too.

We camped from Friday night till Monday. On Sunday we got up early and Joseph lead a worship service at the camp ground for everyone in the group.

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Can’t wait for our next camping adventure. Now to finish putting all the camping gear away….

A New Routine

I can’t believe it has been over a month sense my last blog post. We have had a few changes to our daily routine and I am still working on getting our new routine nailed down. While the following pictures have nothing to do with a new routine, I thought they were cute and didn’t have a blog to share them in. IMG_0103

Eden no longer goes to preschool two days a week but is now home all the time. I love my daughter and I love that I get to homeschool her but I do miss my two “get things done” days. Tuesday and Thursday use to be the days for laundry, children’s church preparations, homeschool organization and prep, baking, shopping, and blogging.IMG_0119

Eli has also added to our change of routine by transitioning from two naps a day to only one. We use to get a lot of homeschool instruction done during his nap time which was so peaceful and easy. Now I have to work to keep an almost two year old busy and happy so he is somewhat quiet while I work with his sister.IMG_0115

IMG_0132Slowly I am figuring things out and things are running smoother. My favorite new part of our daily routine is running the dishwasher every night.  I have a wonderful husband that unloads it for me each morning which means I can load as things are dirty throughout the day.

I am hoping if I put it in writing for everyone to see that I will stick to a new blogging schedule. I had considered blogging only twice a month but I fear it won’t become regular and I will be more likely to miss one. So I am going to try and make Sunday evening my new blog deadline. We will see how that goes (well, seeing how it is already Monday I guess I am not getting off to a good start but an extra day camp with the family was worth it – hmm, maybe next weeks blog should be about camping.)


DIY Pull String Bags

Before our last trip, I made these cute little bags to store the kid’s Kindles in. They were a quick afternoon project that a beginner could handle.

IMG_8804I went through my fabric stash and looked for coordinating colors and fun prints.

IMG_8616You could really make these whatever size you want, but I wanted them to hold a Kindle and headphones. For the main bag you are going to need:
2 rectangles cut to 10 inches by 13 inches
2 rectangles cut to 10 inches by 2 inches

IMG_8628Sew these to pieces together and then iron their seams apart. I then ironed the edge over where I planned to have the pull strings going through. Next do a short stitch down this side to keep it from unraveling. (Sorry, no picture of this step.)



Fold this area over and stitch across the top.
IMG_8618From the largest rectangle cut a 2 and 1/2 inch square from both sides of the bottom. This area is going to be used later to make the bag “stand up”.

IMG_8622Next cut out the face pieces. I made Eli a puppy with cute little floppy ears.

IMG_8624After a good pressing, I did a zig-zag stitch around all the face pieces to hold them down. At this point it would have been a good idea to go ahead and add the eyes and mouth but I waited till the end and made it much more difficult for myself.

IMG_8627Next work on any pieces that are going to be sticking out from the bag. I stitched around the little ears leaving a small space to turn them right side out and then ironed them flat. IMG_8632I then put the right sides of the bag together and stitched up the sides stopping right before I got to the opening for the pull strings. IMG_8640Did you see my mistake? Well the ears should have been tucked inside of the sides so that when it is turned the right way they can be seen on the outside of the bag. Well, my next step involved the seam ripper. IMG_8637On to the bottom of the bag. This was a lot easier than I was expecting. Stand your bag on it’s side and push the bottom up to meet the sides where you cut your square earlier. Once pinched together, stitch across the sides. Once ironed this will make a flat bottom.

IMG_8641Cut all your extra threads, turn right side out, and thread string through the pull area. I used an extra shoe string we had laying around.

IMG_8805I finished these bags off with black embroidery thread for the eyes and mouth of the dog.

IMG_8813They turned out pretty cute and were perfect for keeping the kids electronics organized. It was great when they wanted to use them to be able to pull their bag out of my backpack and it to have all of their stuff ready without me having to dig or untangle cords.







Hawaii Vacation

Last fall my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew moved to Hawaii. We were very fortunate this past month to spend 8 days exploring the island of Oahu with them.


We packed each day with as many fun, exciting, and memorable moments as we could. Warning: this is a long post (probably should have broken it down into two – sorry.)


On Wednesday we took a short drive to Hanauma Bay for a day of swimming, sandcastles, and snorkeling.

bay1Over forty thousand years ago, volcanic eruptions from beneath the ocean formed a crater. Today, this crater is known as Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and a Marine Life Conservation District. About 400 species of fish are known to inhabit the bay and is known for its abundance of green sea turtles. We didn’t see any turtles but saw many black sea urchins, parrot fish, Raccoon Butterflyfish, and puffer fish in the coral.


It was so great having family with us. Both sets of parents took turns watching the kids so the adult couples could go out and snorkel together.

On Thursday we traveled to the northern coast of Ohau. Eden has loved turtles from a very early age and had included on her vacation wish list to see “real sea turtles in the wild.” This area is know for their sea turtles, so we were hoping we would get lucky and we did.


We felt very fortunate to get to see two of the sea turtles basking in the sun. As we arrived the volunteers were just setting up ropes to keep visitors at a safe distance. Sadly in the past the turtles have been hurt from people trying to ride them, feed them, and pick them up and now have to be watched more closely. Each of the turtles have a tracking device on them to help researches learn about their activity.

Moments after arriving it started to rain and by the time we got back to our car we were drenched. Getting soaking wet while watching the sea turtles will be a day will all remember forever.

IMG_5211Back at the car we stripped the kids down and worked to dry their clothes as we traveled along the coast. We stopped for lunch at a little place I saw on Food Networks: Diners, Drive-in, & Dives and was also seen on Fifty First Dates. I think Hukilau IMG_5210cafe was the only place to eat in this small town but was friendly and very fast at getting our cold hungry kids food. They are known for their Hukilau Burger, it comes with teriyaki beef, grilled onions, and a fried egg. Joseph was the only one to try it but he liked it.


The rest of our day was spent  at the Polynesian Culture Center. We visited six authentic villages; where we got to mingle with natives as they demonstrate their arts. We enjoyed an in-depth, entertaining look at unique aspects of each of the various Polynesian cultures.
LessonsWe learned to tie knots, shake our hips and tell a story with our hands, use items from nature to make mats and toys, and how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together.


IMG_8944We got to learn about and try traditional foods. This is a taro plant that grows native to Hawaii. It is the staple of the Native Hawaiian diet and at the core of the Hawaiian culture.  The root is toxic until boiled but once prepared it can be made into everything from pie, to “burgers” and chips, to a smooth, purple-ish, creamy staple dish called “poi.” “Poi” can be an acquired taste but Eden liked it.

We also learned how to easily crack open a coconut using a small pebble and how to create coconut “milk” with your bare hands. We enjoyed our own coconut. Games1

We got to try out several different traditional games. We played tititorea, a Maori stick game designed to develop hand-eye coordination, we tested our dexterity (or lack thereof) by trying to catch poi balls, and tried out a form of tops made from nuts. All of these intricate movements allowed women to keep their hands flexible for weaving and helped the men with their strength and coordination.

Games2We also went for a race in native-style canoes like the islanders used centuries ago, played Konane, similar to checkers and a Tongan shuffleboard game, called lafo.


IMG_9048We finished our day with the tradition of the Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The Ali’i Luau is a royal celebration of Polynesian cultural heritage which includes the Royal Court possession, presentation of the imu (underground oven with roasted pig) and delicious traditional food and lively Hawaiian entertainment.

As we entered we each were given a lei. Our dinner menu included: steam tropical fish, shoyu glazed chicken, teriyaki marinated strip loin, poi rolls, poke, and more.

DoleOn Friday we traveled towards the middle of the island to visit the Dole Pineapple Farm. Originally operated as a fruit stand beginning in 1950, Dole Plantation opened to the public as Hawaii’s “Pineapple Experience” in 1989. Today, Dole Plantation is one of Oahu’s most popular visitor attractions and welcomes more than one million visitors a year.

IMG_9142The main attraction at the plantation is the Pineapple Express. Chugging along we learned about the history of the world’s most beloved tropical fruit and heared the story of James Drummond Dole, Hawaii’s pineapple pioneer. The 20 minute journey took us through a working plantation of pineapple and other crops, with fields in all stages of growth, from planting to harvest.

train ride

The boys especially loved riding the train and are stilling talking about it today.

IMG_9096IMG_9135The plantation also had gardens for their visitors to walk through with examples of the many different varieties of pineapples they grow. While walking around the gardens and taking pictures we had the kids say pineapple instead of cheese. They thought this was great and now always want to say pineapple; the problem with this is that it doesn’t result in a smile but rather an open mouth.


Have you ever seen a red pineapple? I hadn’t. We learned lots of really cool things about pineapples during our visit. All pineapples are also harvested by hand. The first crop, called a “plant crop,” takes 18–20 months to be ready for harvest. The next crop, called the “first ratoon,” takes another 15 months. For the harvest, workers walk through the pineapple rows, dressed in thick gloves and clothing to protect them from the spiky bromeliad leaves and twist the fruit from its base. IMG_9145

What trip would be complete with out a taste of this sweet fruit. We, everyone expect Joseph who doesn’t like pineapple, enjoyed pineapple ice-cream with fresh pineapple.

IMG_5256Friday night we tried out another Food Network featured restaurant. I can’t say Rainbow Drive-Inn was my favorite; it had a fairly Hawaiian menu, with many local favorites but I just wasn’t feeling it that day.


Saturday we went on a whale watching cruise with Atlantis Cruises. whale4

After setting sea we headed outside to get an area by the rail for the best viewing. We sailed along the coast and right out in front of hotel were two whales.


For the next hour we watched a momma and baby swim. The cruise had a naturalist onboard that informed us of what was going on. He thought the baby was about 12 weeks old but then decided she was much younger from the lack of activity and how often she was having to come up for air. He guested about 6 weeks old.


Because the baby was so young the main activity we saw from the mother was her tail coming up and then slowly rolling back and going down which is called a Tail Fluke Dive.

whale2At the very end of the tour a large male came to escort the mother and baby out to deeper water. We had lots of fun and can’t wait to do it again someday.

hike1In the afternoon we all traveled to the Manua Valley for a hike through the rainforest to the Manua Falls. One of the coolest hikes I have ever taken.

IMG_5325This area is one of the main areas that the TV show LOST was filmed. I was a pretty big LOST fan back when it was on so the whole time it felt like I was walking through their show.

hike2It was only a little over a mile hike up but it took us a couple hours because there were so many cool things to stop and look at along the way.


I loved all the different kinds of trees.

hike4We made it to the falls which really wasn’t following much that day but was still pretty. Others that we resting at the top said that most of the time it is a really pretty waterfall.

hike5After making it back down we tried out Rainbow’s End, which was recommend from other hikers. A shave Ice/Snack shop with so many different flavors. They also had pictures from the various LOST senses that were filmed in the area and pictures with the cast eating there. I was shocked they didn’t sell any LOST memorabilia.

beachbbq1We ended our busy day grilling out on the beach. There was a small park located next to our hotel that had outdoor grills.

beachbbq2This was one of those things I will remember forever. The kids chased Uncle Turtle  around in the sand as Joseph did the grilling and Amber and I prepared the rest of the food. We watched the sun set and then a fire juggling show on the beach.


On our last day in Hawaii we traveled to a less touristy beach to do a little volcano science experiment.


What better place to make a volcano than on a island created by a volcano and at a beach covered with lava rocks.


We purchased supplies at a local grocery store and created our sand volcano with baking soda, red food coloring, and vinegar. I think it is really cool how after it erupted and soaked down into the sand it leaves little popped bubbles that resemble the lava rocks all around us. The boys thought the bubbling lava was a lot of fun to play in and ended up with red hands.


After the volcanoes we explored the tide pool. The kids all loved discovering what each of the small crevices had in them.

I will leave you with a short video of the kids hula lesson. Aloha!