About our blogger: hurricaneranch

"You have how many kids, and you do what??" Two of my life's most frequent questions, and that's what I'm here to ponder! I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom to four kids, a dog, two cats, two rabbits, and two tangerine trees, and my blog is all about the triumphs (and struggles!) of my everyday life as mom, teacher, photographer, artist, zookeeper, baby wrangler, and last and definitely least, housekeeper. I love to share ideas and photos from our school lessons and art projects, and funny moments we create along the way!

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Posts by hurricaneranch:

July 10th, 2013

Be real

Frequently I am messaged, e-mailed, or hailed over at some event and asked a question by moms who are considering homeschooling their kids, and it almost always goes something like this: “Where do you find your curriculum and which one do you use?” I usually name a few popular publishers, maybe send some links their way, give my typical try-it-and-see advice, and leave it at that. But here’s what I really want to say.

My number one job as a mother, as a teacher, as a champion for my children’s education, is just one thing: leave them with a love of learning.

That’s it.

If I manage to do nothing else but leave that natural curiosity, the joy of learning for the sake of finding out new and exciting things that all kids start out with, intact in my children, then I have succeeded. Everything else will fall into place. It’s that simple.

Read the rest of this entry »


April 26th, 2013

the little things

Coral and I were working on some 4-H paperwork tonight, after I foolishly mentioned tomorrow’s agenda right before bedtime. She was instantly engaged and not to be put off, so I showed her what needed attending and she immediately wanted to begin. Now the majority of it is pretty mundane stuff: writing name, age, address, club, and the like down for official records. It would take me about thirty seconds to fill it out for her and be done. Now for a recently-turned-six-year-old, it’s a pretty monstrous task. It’s also one she’s not about to let me help with. This is where I’ve learned patience is a virtue. She got through name and age on her own, and the address took a bit but wasn’t impossible. Then we hit a snag.

See that line there? It’s kind of small. Our club name is kind of big. It ran through my mind that she’d have a hard time squeezing it in, but I refrained from mentioning it. She got the first part of the club name in there with no problems: “Osceola.” Then she started to realize the dilemma on her own. “Adventurers” is an awfully long word. This is where I could have screwed it up by grabbing her pencil and telling her I’d write the rest.

“I don’t think the rest is going to fit in there…” she reflected as she stared down at the line. I waited a moment Read the rest of this entry »

June 1st, 2012

Recipe for a world geography co-op

Many people have told me how much they hated geography when studying it in school as kids. I’m always rather shocked; nerd that I was (ummm…, I always thought geography was awesome! History and economics and political science, blah blah blah, not so much, but places and the stuff that goes on there? And maps? Heck yes! When our homeschool group was deciding on the last co-op class of the year, I couldn’t get geography out of my mind. What purpose does learning about Bolivia serve when kids (and adults) don’t have a clue where Bolivia is? So I set out to create a world geography class to accommodate 19 kids ranging in age from 3 to 12, and I’ll show you how you can do it for your co-op (or even just your own kids), too.

Read the rest of this entry »

May 24th, 2012

4-H : a year with rabbits

With three out of four kids now owning rabbits, this was a big year for us in 4-H. Alexei and Ibis attended two 4-H rabbit shows, and we had two litters of babies, the first unsuccessful and the second a big old fluffy pile of cuteness. Of all the 4-H animal projects, this one is probably the easiest and most popular, especially with the younger kids!

For the first time last November, our county decided to host a district rabbit and poultry show, meaning it was open to 4-H kids in all 6 counties in our area instead of just our county. A 4-H show is really great because it includes more than just handing over your rabbits to a judge to decide who has the best conformation. Since it’s all about kids and learning, the rabbits themselves are judged one by one against a standard that takes into account the rabbit’s care and condition, and then the best rabbits go on to further rabbit-to-rabbit competition. The kids can also enter showmanship, where they individually go up in front of the judge and demonstrate knowledge of handling and scoring a show rabbit. Finally, they can take the skill-a-thon, which is a written test of rabbit parts, breeds, nutrition, and general knowledge. Lots of learning going on! Read the rest of this entry »


May 18th, 2012

4-H : focus on photography

Today, Alexei and Ibis put the finishing touches on their 4-H project books in preparation for handing in at Thursday’s County Council meeting. Once again, I was completely impressed by their efforts and the broad range of activities in which they participated this year. I can’t say it enough: if you homeschool, 4-H is a gold mine. This year, Alexei continued his work in the photography book, took on the second book in the rabbit series, and completed his first year in the shooting sports air rifle project. Ibis finished her first year in the rabbit book and her first year in an online art project. Hands-on curriculum, opportunities for leadership and citizenship, and healthy competition were highlights of their 4-H year.

If you’ve never seen a 4-H project book in-depth, it may all sound foreign. Most of us can’t get past the idea that 4-H is “only for farm kids,” but if you are willing to look further, I can guarantee you will be amazed. The following are some details from Alexei’s year studying 4-H photography, and I’ll have future blog posts on the remaining projects (no really, I promise!). See for yourself what 4-H has to offer! Read the rest of this entry »

March 29th, 2012

Homemade granola bars

I’ve been on a bit of a rampage lately trying to straighten out our eating habits. It seems like I can’t get away from the horror stories online about preservatives, processed foods, the dangers of soy, and genetically modified grains. I’ve always been great about making desserts from scratch (my waistline bears testament to that) but I would buy whatever was on sale for the kids to snack on. Then I started reading ingredient lists and it all sounded kind of gross! I’m taking baby steps to healthier snacks, and granola bars were one of the easiest things I found to make; they are delicious. Like I have to restrain myself and remember that these are for the kids. And then I eat them anyway.

I found the basic recipe here for chewy granola bars and then read through Read the rest of this entry »

January 26th, 2012

That again!?

Bedtime was swiftly approaching, and Hobie’s diapers were still cycling through the dryer. After quite the week with serious school struggles between myself and a certain Ibis, and a Monday holiday and Tuesday spent mostly away from home, I was running a little behind on the laundry. So Hobie was running around in the nude (like you’ve never had nude toddlers in your house), and I was enjoying a few minutes with Facebook, reading all the happy success stories of my friends’ kids doing happy successful things in their potties. I turned around, and there was Hobie, standing over a suspicious brown lump on the rug, completely mortified. Of course, he had no clue that said brown lump had been deposited there by he himself. Ten minutes later, the initial spot on the rug, the other spot on the rug that occurred as he plopped down [ahem] still a mess to play while I was doing my best impression of a panicked octopus (the 8 legs part, not the ink part), Hobie, the changing table, and I were once again cleaned up and ready for take two. No pun intended.

Let’s pretend these are his Thomas jammies

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January 14th, 2012

Play-Doh Redeems Itself

If you’re like me and have ever thought you loved Play-Doh, then experienced the joys of a child smearing Play-Doh all over the carpet and it never coming off again, you’re probably already suspicious. We were in Target last weekend looking for something… Now I can’t even remember what. You know how that memory just melts away with each kid you have, and I’ve got four. Anyhow, of course we wound up in the toy section, of course a bunch of stuff was on clearance, and of course the kids all had money left over after Christmas because they were smart and spent *our* money on gifts and saved theirs. They really needed new toys a week after getting like a zillion of them. Two years later, they’d finally picked out the toys they were going to buy, when I spotted something that gave me pause.

Yes, it was the dreaded Play-Doh. Play-Doh like I have cleaned up a million times and swore we were finished with. But this Play-Doh came with letter stampers! This elevated it out of toy status and into the realms of school necessity. Plus, it was on clearance at 50% off, and you know what a cheapskate…err, bargain hunter I am. The Play-Doh came home with us under strict admonishments that it would live in the school closet and only be used by Coral for letter practice. I figured we had about a 10% chance of abiding by those rules for more than a day. Read the rest of this entry »

November 8th, 2011

Portrait of a Homeschool Kid

Many misconceptions abound regarding homeschool kids. As a homeschool family, we have heard them all: the kids aren’t socialized, they aren’t educated enough, they aren’t exposed to the real world, they miss out on the opportunities to x y and z. All negative opinions from those who have never been there and have no idea what being a homeschool kid actually means. Most of us weren’t homeschooled as kids (I wasn’t), so our “reliable” source of information on the topic hails from television news stories notorious for sensationalism and one-sidedness. Six years ago, we decided to use our own brains and parental intuition to decide what was right for our children, and we’ve never regretted it!

What biggest thing does homeschooling offer that traditional schooling does not? Time. Plain and simple, it offers us the time we need to pursue whatever the kids want. Read the rest of this entry »

September 29th, 2011

Ramblings of a former NICU mom

It’s amazing how some experiences just seem to stick with you forever. I was thinking about my new niece who will be born later this year, and that got me to thinking about Coral, who was born ten weeks prematurely. It’s like this emotional force you never truly escape; some days you don’t feel it at all anymore, and other days it feels like you’re privately obsessing about it.

After Coral was born, I went through some mild post traumatic stress. I kept flashing back to sitting in the OB’s office, and his last words were, “You need to go to the hospital, right now.” I was 29 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Then we had the six week NICU stay, which was absolutely agonizing with two young children at home. Finally she came home, on prescription caffeine and wearing an apnea monitor 24/7, just a hair over 4 pounds. Read the rest of this entry »