Category Archives: For the Kids

Stage One: Planting

The 2019 Garden Competition is well underway.

Our first step: Get the beds ready and plant the seeds we got from our field trip to Spence Farm.

Then, we took a trip to Big R. I gave the boys each $30 to spend on their garden. They had to decide how much they wanted to spend on flowers, vegetable starts and garden decor.

Jake, who loves gnomes in the garden, spent more on decor, but he did buy one pack of tomato starts, some corn and a few flowers.

Joe, who loves bright colors and flowers, spent the majority of his money on an assortment of blues, purples and pinks. The only vegetable start he bought was corn.


We were at Big R for almost two hours. All in all, it was a successful trip. The boys picked out their own plants, decided how much to spend in each category, and purchased from the cashier.

Even though we had talked about sales’ tax, Joe was a little disgruntled when the total came to more than what he had figured. He even re-counted his purchases to double check. The cashiers were very patient and made the learning experience a lot of fun.

It was a great outing for all of us and raised some interesting questions and discussion about all the different types of taxes…more on that in a future post!

Let the Competition…Begin!

It’s been a l…o…n…g winter. Each time the weather headed toward warmth, a cold front would whip in and send everyone huddling inside under a warm blanket.

But, this morning, I saw a male and female cardinal eating at the milk jug bird feeder Joe made. The sun is shining and the weather is blissfully mild.

Spring (fingers crossed!) is finally here.

The cold, dreary weather has not kept us away from our garden plans. Nope. We’ve been in full-on planning mode…with a twist.

Joe, Jake and I are dividing the garden and raised beds this year and creating our very own dream garden…on a budget.


We each get a raised bed.

We each get a section of the garden.

We each get to pick, plant and perfect our very own garden plot.

And we are all pretty competitive.

We are reviewing what we know about plants and fertilizers. Learning what growing zone we are in and where each plant will grow best.

Thanks to Minecraft, the boys are already learning about fertilizers. Joe is particularly excited to make his own bone meal as he uses it to grow wheat and other food in his Minecraft world.

Er, we’ll probably just get that at the store, buddy.


The boys helped come up with a few award’s categories. Daddy, of course, will be the impartial judge.


The weather is fine, the ground is thawed and the chickens are almost through the garden.

Let the competition begin!


Garden Season 2019

Looking back through last year’s blog posts, I find that I’m late to the planning this year. Usually, I have started my seeds by now. Or, I am getting ready to start my seeds.

But this season is different.

This season, I’m not as excited or “up to” starting the garden or planning the projects.

This season, I feel that there is so much on my plate.

I’ve started a few new (ad)ventures.

I signed up for a Steemit account where I’ve been linking back to my blog stories.

I registered an account on ACX, an Amazon/Audible narrating site, to start recording audio books. I’ve accepted three offers so far and completed one project.

And, even though the boys have become more and more independent learners, I’ve started planning more, doing more and taking more field trips with them.

In short, I feel like I don’t have the time to focus on the homestead along with everything else I’m doing.

But what about my boys? They are excited about the garden. They are looking forward to running in the swales, picking strawberries and growing celery and carrots.

And…I’m finding that their excitement is contagious.

Get it together girl, there’s a garden to plan.

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Photo by Pixabay on




Mischief Makers Day 25: Breaking News!

North Pole Gazette
December 25, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Top Shelf Elf Trophy Awarded
By Sparkly Sprinkles

In a surprise move, Santa awarded this year’s Top Shelf Elf trophy to new recruits Figgy Frost and the unknown Pixie Powder.

Late to the season, these new Mischief Makers worked hard to reunite last season’s winners Nim Noel and Lil’ Lil, who apparently had a falling out over Jell-O.

Powder, sources tell us, is a member of the Birthday Beagle Brigade and was on assignment when she met the Mischief Makers.

“I had so much fun with Nim, Lil and Figgy!” Powder told reporters, twirling about the cameras.

Santa announced that the duo would be partners for the 2019 Season and assigned to a yet-to-be-announced locale. Powder and Frost completely lost their minds at this news and reporters could no longer get anything coherent out of them.


Mischief Makers Day 24: All’s Well That Ends Well

This year may have started bad,
but think of all the fun we had!
Ninja courses, lots of snow…
but now it’s time for us to go.

We’ll miss you two so very much
but we will try to keep in touch.
So don’t you worry, we’ll be back
and next December we’ll attack!

Mischief Makers Day 23: Christmas Clue

Lil rubbed her arm and groaned. “I knew I’d be sore after pointing that wand all day.”

“The sacrifice was worth it,” Nim said. “Did you see their faces when they saw us?”

Lil smiled. The boys were thrilled to see the elves re-enacting a scene from their favorite movie. They’d insisted on a Harry Potter marathon in the hope of an encore.

“I hope they aren’t too disappointed when we don’t do Harry Potter again tonight,” said Pixie.

“What are we going to do tonight?” asked Figgy.

The eve of Christmas Eve was the elves’ last night with the boys. They wanted to do something special and go out with a bang.

“Everyone needs to be a part of tonight’s mischief. Barrel included,” said Pixie as she picked up pieces from a board game the boys had been playing before bedtime.

“Oh don’t pick Clue up,” said Glitter. “I heard the boys say they were going to finish their game after breakfast.”


“I just want to see who killed who, where, and with what,” said Pixie.

Figgy and Nim shared confused looks. “Huh?”

“You know,” said Lil flying into the Dining Room. “Colonel Mustard, in the Conservatory, with the candlestick.”

Ooohh,” said Figgy with exaggerated understanding. “Who killed who, where, and with what. Of course.”

Nim landed in the Library while Figgy invaded the Study. The elves picked up the toy weapons and zipped over the game board, knocking over pawns and making a mess of the cards.

“The boys are going to be furious if you mess up their game,” warned Glitter. “Jake almost solved the murder.”

“We can play Clue!” Figgy crashed into the Kitchen.

Barrel barked and ran around the board, giving Pixie an idea. “We will solve a theft instead of a murder.”


“Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” teased Nim.

“Who stole my cheese?” laughed Lil.

“What came first, the chicken or the egg?” asked Figgy.

Lil rolled her eyes and unclasped the collar around Barrel’s neck. “No. Who hid Barrel’s barrel?”

“Who Hid Barrel’s Barrel?” All the elves turned to Glitter.

Glitter grumbled as she squeezed into the envelope with the solution. “I don’t see why I have to be the thief.”


“You are Mrs. White, Glitter,” said Lil.

“Yes,” added Nim. “You needed the barrel for the special punch Miss Scarlet made for Christmas day.”

“Don’t worry,” smiled Pixie. “You don’t go to jail.”

As they set up the game, the team thought of all the fun they’d had this Christmas season. Even though there were a few rough patches at the beginning, they’d all pulled together and made December as special as ever for their charges.

Nim put his monocle to his eye and looked at each of his friends. “I had a lot of fun this season even though, in the beginning…”

“Are you kidding?” squeaked Pixie. “This was the best fun I’ve had…EVER!”

Figgy nodded enthusiastically. “I’m so grateful that my first assignment was with you and Lil. I’ve learned so much!”

Lil hugged Nim. “And I’m grateful we made up.”

“Mrrrmy csms!”

The elves laughed. “Merry Christmas to you too Glitter!



Mischief Makers Day 22: Glitter the House Elf

Nim let out a big yawn. “I thought they would never go to bed.”

“Well, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a looooong movie.” Lil stretched.

“And the boys LOVE it.” Glitter flexed.

And Mom and Dad fell asleep on the couch,” added Figgy. “The boys took full advantage.”

“Which gave Figgy and I an idea,” Pixie danced on her toes. Lil, Nim and Glitter looked at the pair expectantly.


“A re-enactment of the best scene in the movie,” said Figgy with a flourish of his hands.

Nim stretched like a cat. “And what’s the best scene in the movie?”

“Dobby’s freedom of course!” Pixie smiled.

“Oooo,” said Lil. “Can I be Dobby?”

Pixie shook her head. “Nope, you are Malfoy Sr.”

Lil slumped. “Why do I have to play the villain?”

Figgy fluttered over to Nim. “Nim will play Harry.”

Lil scowled. “Why does Nim get to play the hero?!”

“I am playing Ron,” said Pixie.

Lil glared. “Why do you get to play the sidekick!??

“And I’m Dumbledore,” finished Figgy.


Lil crossed her arms, playfully huffing and puffing.

The elves smiled, excitement in the air.

“Wait, aren’t you forgetting someone?” asked Glitter. “Who is going to play Dobby?”

Pixie and Figgy smiled with a mischievous gleam in their eyes and turned to Glitter. Nim and Lil giggled when they realized who was going to play the house elf.

Glitter the house elf
was a jolly happy sprite!
With a pillow case and a dirty sock
And a face filled with delight
Oh Glitter the house el—

“Can it,” grumbled Glitter. “I’ll play the little gremlin, but I would have been a better Dumbledore.”

“Hey!” protested Figgy. “I am going to look great with a beard!”

The group threw themselves in to making costumes and setting the scene. After several small skirmishes and a few huffy tantrums, they had the scene set up perfectly.

“Why couldn’t we have started the scene when they are all in Dumbledore’s office?” whispered Nim.

“My arm is going to get sore pointing this wand at Harry all day,” Lil groaned.

“Shhhhhh!” hissed Figgy. “I hear them. Places everyone!”



Mischief Makers Day 21: Christmas Caterpillar

Lil, Figgy and Nim sat hunched over a pile of sugar cubes, thinking.

“Sugar cube village?” Nim asked in a less-than-enthusiastic tone.

“Too much like the Lego village, er, disaster.” Lil eyed Nim and giggled.

“Underwear on the tree?” offered Figgy.

“Maybe.” Nim shrugged.

Lil sighed.

Figgy slumped.


“That’s it. We are officially out of ideas.” Lil put her small face in her hands.

“Chocolate always helps me think of good ideas,” said Pixie from inside the refrigerator.

“Chocolate helps everything,” said Lil.

“Aaaaand…here it is!” Pixie gave a mighty tug and pulled out a jumbo bottle of chocolate sauce.

“PIxie, be care–”.



Red and green apples tumbled to the floor, rolling in every direction.

“Oops.” Pixie landed with a squelch on the bottle of chocolate sauce. The lid popped off with a CLICK and thick syrup glooped out onto the floor.

Glitter came galloping into the kitchen with a red pipe cleaner trailing behind. “Is everyone ok? I heard a crash.”


“Everyone is fine,” said Nim. “Pixie had an…accident.”

“Glitter,” said Figgy. “Why do you have googly eyes on your antlers?”

Glitter jingled her collar. “I was looking for a craft.”

“A…craft?” asked Lil.

“Yes. For the boys.”

“I suppose we could—”.

“I’ve got it!” interrupted Pixie.

Lil, Figgy and Nim floated over to Pixie while Glitter cantered behind. Pixie had arranged all of the apples in a winding line on the bookshelf.


“Pixie, what are you doing?” asked Glitter.

“The apples represent the caterpillar.”

“The what?” Nim crinkled his brow.

“Figgy, you will be the One Apple.”

“Are you feeling ok, Pixie?” Figgy asked.

“Lil, you can be the cookie.”

“Wait a minute,” said Lil. “I think I know this story. Something about a caterpillar…”.

“I’ll be the chocolate bar.” Lil waved her hand at her already chocolate covered hat.

“A very hungry caterpillar,” said Figgy, catching on.

“And Glitter, you can be the beautiful butterfly!”

The team was smiling once again.

Everyone except Nim. “This is the boys’ favorite book and don’t have a part in it?”

“I have the perfect job for you, Nim.” Pixie handed Nim a small stick with a string.

Nim frowned at the stick. “Well, that’s not in The Very Hungry CaterpillarAnd what’s going on with the celery at the end?”

Pixie smiled. “Bait.”


*The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Mischief Makers Day 20: Believe

A quick trip to the North Pole and heartfelt talk with Santa had the team feeling more confident in their ability to keep belief alive in Joe’s heart.

It’s not presents and shenanigans that turn disbelief around…all Joe needed was a reminder of the true magic of Christmas. A magic that cannot be seen, but only felt.

“It’s like Santa said, he’s not the true spirit of Christmas, he’s just another angel helping spread the joy of the Season,” said Nim.

“I don’t know why we don’t keep a copy of his poem with us all the time. The answer was right there in front of us!” said Lil.

“Poem?” asked Pixie. “What poem?”

“Oh, we almost forgot!” said Glitter. “You haven’t heard Santa’s end of year poem yet.”

Lil cleared her throat.

Christmastime is full of cheer,
a happy, joyful time of year.
But please remember it is more
than presents scattered on the floor.

A Savior King was born this day
in a lowly manger full of hay.
Though this King was very small,
He had come to save us all.

And when He grew into a man
He traveled far across the land.
God sent his son here to fulfill
and carry out His glorious will.

Have fun, delight in all your play
and laugh, make merry, every day.
Take moments to reflect and see
God’s awesome gift to you and me.

Pixie sat speechless and filled with happiness. The poem was perfect. Beautiful.

“All right, places everyone!” said Glitter. She cantered to the Nativity with a rolled up copy of the poem in her harness.

Nim, Lil, Figgy and Pixie each took a spot on the edge of the manger while Glitter joined the animals, hanging the poem from shepherd’s crook.  


Mischief Makers Day 19: Birthday Party

We…wish you a merry birthday,
we wish you a merry birthday.
We wish you a merry birthday
and a happy new year!

Nice presents for you
a fun breakfast too.
Now you have a good day
that is filled with good cheer!

Happy 8th Birthday Joe!

The team had prepared a birthday breakfast to surpass all other birthday breakfasts. A tower of chocolate donut gems rose high over strawberry PopTart village with chocolate and caramel lakes. It was beautiful and Joe loved it.



“Pssst. Lil. Did you hear that?” Pixie asked from her perch on the light fixture.

“Hang on, did he just thank his mom for this birthday feast!” Lil hissed.

“How could he think that? We always make it!” Nim was outraged.

Santa was right,” Figgy whimpered. “He is starting to change.”

STOP MOVING!” Glitter fumed. “Remember Chapter One, Section 1, Rule 1.1 in The Book!”


Nim, Lil and Figgy gasped. Pixie didn’t know what Rule 1.1 was, but she could tell breaking it would be bad by the looks of horror her friends shared.

The Book Section 1, Chapter 1, Rule 1.1: Never let the humans see you move. Failure to follow this rule will result in immediate expulsion from the Mischief Maker Team and Gum Drop Sugaring duty for one full season—with no sampling.  Reinstatement not guaranteed.

After the family went out for Joe’s birthday treat the team untangled themselves and gathered at the table.

“We need a game plan,” said a determined Lil.

“I agree,” added Figgy.

“How can we keep Joe’s belief alive?” Pixie’s brow crinkled.

“What can we do?” Nim asked in despair.

All four elves turned to Glitter for guidance, but Glitter was quiet, an almost hopeless look on her furry face. “I just don’t know.”