Life Skills on the Pond – Archery

One thing Papa Frog and I have decided is important for our little Froglets to learn are survival skills and bushcraft skills.  Quite simply, we live close enough to the national forest land that spending time in the woods is quite an important part of life.  Rural Maine is condusiive to hunting, fishing, foraging and before it is all said and done, we want our Froglets to be able to survive off the land here, build a shelter if need be.  Partly these skills are an important part of Papa Frogs’s heritage that he wants passed onto his tadpoles, and partly we just feel it is important.   One of those skills is archery.  In two months, Papa Frog will be taking Lizard Breath in for her hunter’s safety certification and he has been doing archery practice with the Froglets as weather permits (note the complete absence of greenery).  He made them some small practice bows to get used to shooting, and is working with them on proper form and aiming.  We are also working with them on safety- ie don’t nock your arrow until there is no one in front of you.

What life skills do you think are important to pass on to your own Froglets?

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Cooking With Big Froglets (Recipes Included)

Yesterday was unseasonably nice and after chores and school, the froglets spent the entire afternoon outside.  Now, understand that on The Pond, in the winter, dark falls about 4:15. When the three big froglets came in, it was time for me to start dinner.  The littles were playing computer games, and as much to stop a fight over electronics as anything I called the three big froglets into the kitchen.  (This is also an excellent way to connect with kiddos you haven’t talked to for most of the day).  I told them they could help make dinner and laid out the menu- spaghetti soup, salad with homemade bleu cheese dressing, garlic knots and chocolate lasagna for dessert.  The way it worked out, each one started with a job for one dish (we combine bread and dessert tasks here).  Ray Bear was in charge of salad and dressing, Lizard Breath made the soup and Jelly Bean helped me with dessert and bread.  Lots of little steps and careful shopping, stirring and emulsing, mixing and kneading ensued.  It wasn’t long before the kitchen smelled fantastic, and I had a group of laughing girls.   Tiny Tadpole made a couple of disasters (a bowl of flour poured over his head like water *smh* and an upturned salad) but without fail, these were met good naturedly and as a team.  Dinner was fabulous and the froglets got a lot of compliments, especially from Papa Frog who arrived at the end of dinner cooking.  And the best part- they have all volunteered to help with dinner tonight as well.  I am a firm believer that froglets should help cook.  They should know the joy and the responsibility of feeding people.  They should get to experience the service aspect and respect the work it takes to prepare the food they eat.  And they should have the satisfaction of a thank you and plates scraped clean.  At least that’s how we do things on The Pond.

Bleu Cheese Dressing

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayo

2 T. chopped parsley

3 gloves garlic chopped

salt

pepper

2 dashes of worcestershire sauce

5 oz bleu cheese, divided

Add sour cream, mayo, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and half the bleu cheese crumbles to a bowl (or to the bowl of a food processor).  Using a stick blender (or your food processor), pulse together until smooth.  Stir in remaining bleu cheese crumbles with a spoon.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Spaghetti Soup

1 lb ground meat of choice (we used bison but any meat will work)

1 lg onion, chopped

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 pkg baby bell peppers (or one large bell pepper) sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1- 32 oz can of petite diced tomatoes

1 jar spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce and extra spices)

2 tomato cans full of water

Italian Seasoning

Salt

Pepper

Brown meat in a pot.  Add veggies and cook until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer, adjusting salt and spices to taste.  In another pot bring 2 qts water to boil.  Break 4-8 oz spaghetti noodles into 4ths and add to the boiling water.  Once cooked, drain and add to soup base.  Serve immediately.

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Garlic Knots

1/2 c warm water

2 T. yeast

1 T salt

1 T. sugar

4-5 c. flour

Add water, yeast, salt and sugar to mixer bowl.  Let sit until yeast is nice and bubbly.  Add flour 1 c at a time, mixing well between each addition.  When dough is no longer sticky to the touch, cover and let rise until doubled.

For Topping:

Garlic finely chopped or garlic powder

parsley

salt

1/4 c. butter, melted

Make your bread dough and let rise until doubled.  Punch down dough and roll into a rectangle.  Cut dough into strips and knot each strip.   With a pastry brush, brush the topsof each knot with butter mixture and bake at 350 degrees until baked through.  At this point, I use any remaining butter to brush the tops of the knots again.

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Chocolate Lasagna

32 Oreos

6 T. butter, melted

1 pkg cream cheese

1/4 c. sugar

2 small pkgs chocolate instant pudding

3 c milk + 2 T.

carton of whipped topping

Crush Oreos and combine with butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Whip together cream cheese, 2 T. milk and 1 c. of the whipped topping until smooth.  Spread over cooking bottom.  Combine pudding mixes and 3 c. milk.  Whip together until set and spread on top of cream cheese mixture.  Spread remaining whipped topping over chocolate layer.  I garnished with chocolate syrup and chopped Reeses PB cups.

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6 Froglets…Grocery Shopping…A Day In the Life

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Yesterday was grocery shopping day.  Imagine if you will- taking 6 froglets grocery shopping, during which you purchase enough food to feed 8 people 3 meals a day for one calendar month.  Wait, first imagine going by yourself and undertaking this monumentous task.  Okay are you cringing a little yet?  Now add in some mostly well-behaved froglets.  Are you still with me?  Now imagine that during this trip, one of your froglets was a toddler and had a massive “poop incident”.  You know, the kind that cause you to use air quotes when you talk?  Let me tell you a secret little something- it’s not that bad.  Honestly, it’s not.  Even when it is.

So yesterday morning we got up bright and early, and armed with our lists and meal plan for the month, we headed out.  I always feel a bit like an old school explorer venturing into uncharted territory, because honestly, when you take that many people out to do something, there is a certain unknown variable to the whole thing.  On the way, Jelly Bean read from her primer and Lizard Breath filled me in on a new Minecraft mod she saw on Youtube.  The little froglets snatched a nap and Tiny Tadpole had a snack of bananas.  We arrived at our first and main destination in high spirits, aside from Ray Bear who had a touch of car sickness (mostly I think in protest of actually having to do math in the car).

We walked through produce and the deli, then moved to meat.  it was here that my little Froglets lost a touch of their patience.  I had to have some meat specially cut as well, which did not help matters.  By the time we got to the pasta row they were on edge.  That’s when the incident I like to call “The Big Poop” began.  It was accompanied by several vocal insistences that “someone farted”.  This my friends is why we shop early.  It soon became clear that Tiny had pooped.  One of my big froglets volunteered to get the diaper bag.

It was at this point I realized, that in spite of the fact that we have already had snow, and have broken out the winter coats, the froglet who packed the diaper bag for me was locked into a state of perpetual summer.  Tiny Tadpole had an extra change of clothes, but they involved a water shirt and a pair of shorts.  Luckily, I had thrown in an extra diaper cover!  Also in the diaper bag was my oil kit.  A little dab of P and C later and everyone was taking some deep calm breaths, but mostly through their mouths because Tiny Tadpole was STILL pooping.  About the time I would think he was done, he would poop again.  Luckily, by this time, the finger pointing regarding farts had mostly stopped.

We made our way to the bathrooms.  Of course, by this time everyone needed to use the bathroom.  Let me tell you something about shopping early.  There are two types of early shoppers.  People like me, with froglets who like to fly under the radar and the elderly.  Sometimes when we shop, we seem to see those kindly souls who smile and cluck over the froglets, recounting tales from their own childhood, when large families were the norm.  Yesterday, I am almost positive the only people shopping were of the type that didn’t have children and didn’t particularly like them either.

Those same people were also apparently all in need of the restroom.  This meant we had to wait.  Which prompted the froglets to dramatically dance around holding their crotches (not all- I exaggerate it was mostly Scoot and The Boy) and to exclaim loudly that they needed to “go now”.  Mind you, I have a Tiny at this point who is literally making my eyes water he smells so awful.  At one point, Scoot may or may not have actually knocked on the bathroom door before I could stop her and said, “I need to use the bathroom.  Please hurry.”

Eventually, the elderly evacuated the restroom and thirty minutes later the froglets had all pottied, washed their hands and I had a toxic diaper locked in a plastic bag to be dealt with upon return home (the bad part of cloth diapering- you can’t just throw those diapers away, especially when they are custom made with your business logo on them).  And we made it to the checkout.

Is it any wonder that I overspent just a tad?  I came out of the grocery store feeling shell-shocked.  I was frantically doing the math to figure out where the overexpendature lay (come to find out I was overcharged, it really wasn’t my fault- but I didn’t realize that until later).  Finally got the froglets loaded up, packed in the groceries and made my last stop.  I had to hit Wal-Mart for a ball of yarn and I had promised the froglets we would get something to eat on the way home.  Overspending meant this would be a pain.  I left my cash at home and only had 3 cards.  Now, we have a bank card, a prepaid card and a Paypal card.  None of them ever really retain a lasting balance.  But I was down to the dedges of all three.  I had enough however to cover what I needed to buy still.  At this point, if it were just me, I would have thrown in the towel and just come home.  But the yarn was for an order and the froglets were starving.

So we got in, picked up picnic on the go lunch stuff (aka a deli sandwich and some chips and drinks for the road) and my yarn.  Headed to the shortest line.  Now, here is my advice to you.  NEVER go to the shortest line.  If you are somewhere like Wal-Mart and one line is really short- AVOID IT!  I did not listen to this cardinal piece of advice.  The cashier was a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) in his 50s I would say, with a scowl on his face.  He rang up my purchases and I explained to him that I needed to use a certain amount off two different cards.  He sighed loudly and muttered that he wasn’t sure he could do that.

After what seemed like an eternity and which was probably closer to 5 minutes, during which he ran the cards through incorrectly trying to put the full amount on both cards (neither of which had enough to cover the full balance) and during which he loudly announced “Insufficient funds” each time the card was denied, I was cringing and embarassed beyond belief.  I just wanted to get out of there.  Finally he got it to work and we were able to escape.  During this escapade, the froglets had been playing together, giggling and while not being silent, not being noisy either.

I was however feeling the sting of poor budgeting and the icky stomach feeling of imaging everyone is talking about how broke you are.  With a lot of froglets, I am particularly sensitive to this, as one of the common things I have heard with each new froglet was how we couldn’t afford to have them.  Now, we are by no means wealthy, but we do get by.  And everyone has those times when they are pinching pennies and making them squeal.  Anyway, I was caught up in my own bad feelings, and said to Ray Bear, “It’s embarassing enough for me when I have problems when I am paying for things, but you guys were acting crazy.”  This was both unfair and untrue and I both glad to say and ashamed to say that my 8 year old totally called me on it.

“We weren’t being naughty.  We were just playing,” she said to me.  And you know what- she was right.  Those froglets were and are awesome.  They behaved so well through all of the mess yesterday and I let all the little things add up until I wanted to be frustrated with them for something that was not their fault.  They are just kids.  They act like kids.  They are supposed to.  And that rude cashier doesn’t matter.  Not to me.  What matters are the froglets who call me mama.  That I can be a good example to them.  So I made myself an example and apologized and challenged them to a skipping contest to the car.  Because having a lot of kids is great- it really is.  No matter how many people have expressed disbelief over our family size, and how many people have told us we need to find a hobby, or watch more TV. No matter how many times we have been asked if we know how “that keeps happening” and if we know what birth control is.  Even on a bad day, when things are going wonky, having these six froglets makes life worth doing.

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I Have…Who Has…

Sometimes, in close quarters of spending most of our time together it is nice to find something the Froglets can do together.  Now, doing things together might seem easy.  But the Froglets run the age gamit from 11 to 1.  There are not a lot of activities that everyone can do together without someone getting their feelings upset or the activity getting destroyed by one Big Tiny Tadpole.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Froglets do tons together.  Just usually in smaller groups of 3-4.  THEN…oh then…I found a game for them.  I have been working with 3 of them on their critical thinking skills.  Probably I am the last Mama Frog to come across this game but “I have…Who has…” is awesome.  The edition I printed out was the Halloween edition, but I would think you could make your own even if you couldn’t find a printable.  On each card is the answer to a clue and another clue (ex.  I have cauldron.  Who has the month that Halloween falls in?)  The person who starts will read their card and then the person who has the answer to the clue will go.  (I have October.  Who has an animal that is black and flies at night.)  You take turns until everyone runs out of cards.  Even the littles were able to play (with some reading help) and it was not long before everyone was in giggles as sometimes one of them would have the answer to their own puzzles.  We played 5 times the first day we played.  “Can we play again PLEEEEAAAASE?”  And it has become a regular favorite.  I find it also works well to shake everyone out of bad mood funk.  I will be putting together my own November edition of this game for sure!

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Pirate Post #2- This is How Froglets Hunt for Pirate Treasure

Talk Like A Pirate Day was great fun here on the Pond.  We culminated the day with a pirate treasure hunt.  Papa Frog was in charge of the map, scurvy pirate that he is.  He created a seried of clues on two seperate map pieces and hid the second along with the treasure.  Then, he gathered his pirate crew together, including the first mate and his best cabin boy and they went on a hunt to try to find the lost treasure- because sometimes pirates forget where they bury treasure you know.  I must make a side note here and say that Papa Frog is an amazing guy.  He is such a good sport about things like treasure hunts, and took a simple activity to a whole new level.  He put on his best pirate voice and cajoled his crew along for a good 15 minutes of hunting for treasure.   The first part of his map read:

 

 

 

 

At the back ye must start, at the exit to the world.  4 steps ye must take and to the left ye turn, into the room where diners yearn.  10 more steps and to the left again, 3 steps right and then under and in.  On the other side, turn ye left 3 times.  7 steps take ye to a room of learnin’, back around again ye will be turnin’.  4 steps, then right again.  Soon ye will be heading into the den.  ANother 7 steps and ye will be right in.  Turn to the left, 4 steps ye will take and then, right and 3 more..what you find there will surely be more.

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Of course there is where the Froglets found the other half of the map.  With a “That’s where I left it!” Papa Frog was off with his scurvy crew of Sea Frogs to find that treasure.

 

 

 

So, ye thought ye was done but turn around for much more fun.  Right you will turn and spy a path to the sky.  High ye must climb and ye will see why.  Four doors you see and 4 steps ye will take into the place where ye have a private break.  This is not the room ye seek, so turn around and plant yer feet 3 times on the ground.  Turn to the left- the big room is off limits, the other two have nothing in it.  Now down again ye scalawags must climb, don’t forget to say farewell to the sky.  To the left ye must turn, one step ye take.  Left again, the hour is late.  Four steps ye take now to the right again, 7 steps more and ye near the end.  Crab step right till ye can’t go no more and dig down deep and find yer score!

 

 

 

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The treasure hunt took the Froglets under the dining room table, through the school room, up the stairs around, back down and around the living room twice.  Most of the fun was in the hunt itself, which Papa Frog made ridiculously amazing.  But of course, no pirate is complete without his or her treasure.

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Not even the smallest Pirate Froglet.

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Grocery Store Photo Scavenger Hunt- Or “That’s How We Homeschool On Shopping Day”

Today was shopping day- Papa Frog was working, and so the Froglets and I ventured into the City.  We typically do most of our shopping once a month, with perishables replenished as needed.   When I take all 6 Froglets by myself, as you can likely imagine, it can be a whirlwind of people in all directions!  The Froglets are very good, but they get bored (who am I kidding, if I wasn’t budgeting and trying to get everything on my lists I would be bored too).  We have done several different grocery store activities, including finding foods that begin with each letter of the alphabet, foods from different countries, foods of all colors and weights, etc etc.  But today I wanted something different and fun.  I had found a list on Mamas and Munchkins that was so much more fun than your average scavenger hunt.  Items such as “a vegetable that comes in different colors”, “Something with pineapple in the ingredients”, “Something Organic” and “Something with Dill in the name” are just a few of the options (click that link and get that paper- you know you want to!).  But I wanted to ramp it up an extra notch.  The Froglets love to take pictures, and so I thought, why not let them bring the camera.  They had a blast!

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(Something that somes in a 6 pack)

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(Something organic)

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(Chocolate covered fruit)

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(I dont think this actually has Pineapple as ingredient, but they tried)

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(Something with water as an ingredient)

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(A cereal with the word nut in it)

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(These suckers are 2/$1.00)

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(Bulk food)

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(Something priced at $5.99- because yet it counts if its on sale!)

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(A bulk food with green in it)

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(Food with dill in it)

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(Yogurt covered fruit)

 

This was an engaging activity and they loved it!  I encourage you the next time you are at the store with your own Froglets to let them try this.

Blackberry Picking- Or How Tiny Tadpole Ate His Weight In Blackberries

First, let me start by saying, as followers of our Pond Life know, Tiny Tadpole just turned one year old.  So Friday was his one year check.  Now, from the time he was quite small, Tiny Tadpole has been anything but Tiny.  There is irony in his name.  We actually do call him Tiny, although The Boy has started calling him Big Tiny.  After his check-up, I think we should amend that to Huge Tiny.  Tiny Tadpole is almost 31 lbs and stands almost 32 inches tall.  My last baby is growing up so fast.

This weekend was a normal one for the Frog Family.  We had originally planned to take the Froglets camping since Papa Frog is finally getting weekends off work again, but the weatherman called for rain.  Silly weatherman.  On Sunday morning, with beautiful skies and not a hint of rain anywhere, we decided to take the Froglets blackberry picking.  We go every year, although last year we did not make it, since Tiny Tadpole had just been hatched.  We loaded up the Froglets, some buckets, the wrap and hit the road.

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There is a spot that a friend showed us when we first moved to the Pond, and we return to it every year.  We have yet to be dissappointed and this year was no different.  Got Tiny Tadpole in his favorite place (the wrap) and off we went. DSC04027

It wasn’t long before the Froglets found blackberries.  They were eating more than they were picking!  Luckily there were plenty for eating and for picking.  We wanted to get enough to make a pie and a cobbler at least.  When you are feeding 8 hungry Frogs, a small pie won’t do.

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Little by little, the bucket filled.DSC04032

Papa Frog can reach blackberries the rest of us can’t reach.  I couldn’t dive into the bushes like I normally do, because TIny Tadpole is getting to the stage where he wants to grab everything.  Blackberry brambles are not so good for grabbing!DSC04031  DSC04025

Our day was not without casualties.  Ray Bear’s pants….  DSC04043

Jelly Bean’s Shirt….DSC04042

Even Scootaloo’s fingers…..DSC04041

Mr. Boy was great at berry picking.  DSC04040

He found the best bush of the day.DSC04039

Jelly Bean ate more berries than she put in the bucket…DSC04036

Lizard breath used a tree to reach some hard to reach brambles…DSC04065

And Scootaloo got sidetracked with a little moth she found.DSC04064

But it was Tiny Tadpole who had the best time, when Ray Bear came over and offered him a few berries. DSC04063 DSC04061 DSC04055 DSC04051

It wasn’t long before all the Frog Sisters were picking blackberries for Tiny Tadpole!DSC04050 DSC04049 DSC04048 DSC04047

Luckily Papa Frog was still picking berries for the bucket…DSC04046 And we ended up with plenty for a pie and a cobbler both!DSC04045