25 May 2012

Chaos and Mayhem on a Budget

The kids have long been fond of swinging any sorts of sticks at each other for, well, pretty much as long as they could hold them in their tiny little hands.  The most recent incarnation has been pseudo-martial arts and fencing using broom and mop sticks.  After a few too many stray whacks and the resulting dramas, I decided we needed something softer.  I had seen swords and such made out of pool noodles at some of our homeschool park days and we set to work.  Since my troop is clearly made up of space geeks and not swashbuckling pirates or professional fencers, the obvious route was lightsabers.

They each selected their favorite color from the pool noodle selection at a discount store ($0.99 each), we stopped at the hardware store for a 3/4” PVC pipe ($2.79) and PVC end caps for the pipe ($0.49 each).  From our personal stash, we contributed silver duct tape for the handles and bits from red and black duct tape sheets for the buttons.  For an extra $0.39, we added a PVC pipe coupler and used the last little bit of leftover PVC so we can convert one of the lightsabers into a double ended lightsaber a la Darth Maul in Episode I.

Total project budget for three lightsabers: $7.23 or $2.41 apiece and $0.39 plus leftovers to make the other end of the double lightsaber.


06 May 2012

Homeschooling Conference

The beginning of May brings the WPA Homeschooling Conference.  This has become an annual trek to Oshkosh for our family.  I think that this was our fifth year going.  They have hands-on workshops that the kids enjoy and sit-and-listen talks for the grown ups.  There is a wide variety of people ranging from people just starting to think about homeschooling to folks that have grown-up former homeschoolers to share encouragement.

Since Daddy took Friday off of work, we went up early and spent the afternoon in Appleton at the Paper Discovery Center.  The museum is in an old hydro-powered paper mill on the Fox River.  Our Madison Children’s Museum membership got us in, so we spent some time learning about how paper was made and making some ourselves:


Then we headed back to Oshkosh to do more fun things.  We learned about baking and acting and paper airplanes and gravity powered cars and playing games and letterboxing and making things with duct-tape:


and tying knots:


One of the knots was a handcuff knot and, conveniently, we came away with three pieces of rope.  Mama is thinking smooth sailing from here on out.

A dear friend took our little Mollie dog while we were gone and when we came back, she had a new boyfriend (if you ask him) or a new stalker (if you ask her).  So now, when she pulls attitude and tells me that Melinda took her for better walks or had more time for cuddling, I just remind her that Melinda also has her main squeeze living in.

We came home expecting to finish the weekend off with a potluck picnic that wraps up another (local) conference I attended, but it was postponed due to rain and thunderstorms.  It worked out well though.  We still have a potluck with unschooling friends to look forward to and had a gray rainy day at home to unwind from our trip!