Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Easy Potato Soup Recipe:

1 bag frozen diced potatoes (I believe it is a 32 oz bag)...if you want to use fresh potatoes, peel and dice until you have 2 lb.

32 oz broth (I use vegetable, but used to use chicken, only difference seems to be the color the soup is when you are done, it is darker with vegetable broth)

medium onion--chopped (or cheat like I do and use between 1/3 and 1/2 of a bag of the frozen diced onions from Kroger)...I have made this with no onions and it turns out fine

pepper to taste (I like to use white pepper)

1/2 of an 8oz bag of cheese for soup, use the remainder of bag to top soup when it is done

bacon for topping soup if you desire (I buy the precooked crumbled bacon at Sams, makes it easier because I don't have to fry it up)

Place potatoes, broth, onion and pepper in large pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, stir frequently...after about 30 or 40 minutes you will notice that it no longer looks like broth and potatoes, but that the potatoes are starting to break down, decide if you want slighlty chunky soup or smooth soup (we like our slightly chunky), if you want smooth, cook it longer, if not, then add the cheese now (if you want it smooth, add the cheese after you have cooked it about 10 more minutes). Stir until cheese melts, you will see the consistency of the soup change when you add the cheese. Serve topped with cheese and bacon (if you desire). Everyone in my family except Will loves this soup, his has too much potato!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Holidayfest at the Beach Waterpark

A few pictures:

I really think the economy has hit the entertain business hard. Holidayfest certainly wasn't what it has been in the past.Attendance was low despite decent weather (sunny and the upper 30's). The kids had a great time, but many elements were missing like the paddleboats, merry-go-round, berry-go-round, and the best santa around(replaced with a lame skinny santa with a fake beard!)! I was quite ticked off that they wanted to charge me $3 to take picture with Santa using MY OWN CAMERA, so needless to say, I didn't take any! We will just go to the mall and visit a Santa with a REAL BEARD, even Sophia said the Beach's santa was a "phoney bologny" because she saw him pull off his beard to drink hot chocolate! The carriage ride was fun and the kids enjoyed iceskating and who doesn't love the baby animals to pet and feed? We all enjoyed our first hot chocolate of the season!

Holidayfest at the Beach Waterpark
Submitted by Laura Riesenberg

When: Friday, December 4th 10 AM to 4 PM lunch available from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM!

Where: Beach Waterpark Mason, Ohio

Cost: Admission $6.50 ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 3 -12!!!, optional lunch $6 for adults, $4 children ages 3-9, Parking free. Platinum pass holders get in FREE, regular pass holders need to pay admission price! Pay at the gate when you arrive or pre-purchase your tickets
online (see info below).

Organizer: Laura Riesenberg, please RSVP so that I can get a count to the waterpark! When you RSVP please let me know the number of people in your party and if they will be eating lunch or not.

The park has agreed to open the park EXCLUSIVELY FOR HOMESCHOOLERS on Friday December 4th from 10 AM until 4 PM. The offer is incredible (includes all activities inside the park) and we will have the park entirely to ourselves. This should be a great activity for
everyone...toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schooler and teens. There are activities for ALL ages, including’s what your admission includes: Skating and skate Rental, Carriage Rides (pulled by tractor), Toboggan Slide, Live Nativity, Polar Pearl Palace, Holiday Lights and Dazzling Animated Lights Displays, South Pole Petting Corral, Holiday Railway, and Festhaus Pavilion. We typically set up an area with crafts and coloring pages for the little ones, should they need to get indoors and take a break.

Admission $6.50 per person (ages 3 - 12 are $5) , children 2 and under free. Free Parking! Typically, admission and to do all activities at Holiday Fest at The Beach around $25.00 (ice skating alone is usually $6). This special rate is a savings of $18.50 per person. Parking is $5.50 per car on any operating day, but will be waived for our visit. If you chose, you can purchase your tickets online in advance by visiting and entering the store name of “homeschool”.

MEAL OPTION: $6 per person ages 10 and up, $4 children 3-9 . HolidayFest at The Beach Catering Staff will serve the buffet style meal in an exclusive pavilion during a specified time frame (starting at 11:30 PM) which includes Hot Dogs, Chili (with onions and shredded cheese on the side), Macaroni & Cheese, Jumbo Cookies and Beverages. PLEASE let me know when you RSVP if you want the meal or not. Meal tickets are also available for purchase online.

Participants are welcome to pack lunches, but meals will need to be eaten in the picnic area outside the park. The only food that can be consumed within the park is food purchased from the Beach.

All You can drink wristbands $3.00 (they have guarenteed that drinks will be available the entire time, even at the end!). I have been told that coffee will be ready the minute we enter the park!

Santa will be making an appearance!

Don’t let the fear of cold weather keep you away from this wonderful event. We had an awesome time in years past even with snow! It wasVERY WARM in the tents!

Please feel free to share this information with your homeschooling friends, regardless of their group affiliation, but remember that they need to RSVP to Laura becasue I must get a count to the Beach for staffing purposes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Girl Scout Badge Work:

Sophia had to pose the following question to women in her life. Since most of the woman we are friends with hold less than traditional views, I ended up posing the question to some of the more tradition women we know and on my facebook page and we meshed the answers so that Sophia didn't have to spend the entire meeting defending her answers....poor kid, she really doesn't know just how untraditional we are! Honestly I felt this was a very deep question for a 7 year old to be pondering and discussing, but we gave it a whirl!

The question (in a nutshell): the 3 most important issues facing women today?

Answer (from our friends) that she presented:
1) Equal pay for equal work
2) Access to healthcare for all women and children
3) Dispelling the myth of the superwoman: we can not do it ALL!

Now, for my point here......these are the answers I would have given her to take to the meeting.

1) The devaluing of MOTHERING as a career. I would spend hours on why I think this is important, but do you think my voice would be hear amongst a troop of girls whose mothers almost all work outside the home? I don't want to sound like a grade A bitch here, and I know some woman have to work and some enjoy working, but I think that if we put the same value on the choice of mothering as a career as we do on say being a lawyer or a doctor, that women would be better off.

2) The MYTH that education must come from an INSTITUTION. OK, would you expect anything less from an unschooler? I think this view is harmful to both men and women.

3) And the third issue, not sure how to word it exactly, but it would come out something like this, "women need to quit being so critical and judgemental of other women". I think we are our own harshest critics. I suppose this is similar to the 3rd answer Sophia gave to her troop, we can't be superwomen and we need to quit beating ourselves up over it, but I somehow want to take it a step further. I think we need to encourage other women, lend a helping hand, be willing to ask for help without feeling embarrassed.

BTW, Sophia was only 1 of 2 girls out of her troop of 11 girls that even bothered to ask anyone the question.

So, if you feel up to leaving a comment we would love to hear what you think are the 3 most important issues facing women today?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009: Picture from our family celebration!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I am thankful for.....

A--Almighty God....because without Him, I am nothing
D-- dark chocolate
F--Faith and Food--there have been times in my life when both have been thin, but this year I am covered with an abundance of both!
I-- internet--how did I ever live without it?
K--Kindness of friends and even strangers
M--My mother--yes, she may be a huge pain in my ass some days, but without her, well, there would be no ME!
N--Noel David--what a blessing my first grandchild is
O-- My ONE and ONLY--Jay!
P--Photography and my photog pals
Q--quiet moments--few and far between
R-- River Hills and the fellowship we have found there
T--Thriving Moms
U--Unlimited access to knowledge
V-- Virgin birth, thank you God for our Savior!
W--water....clean and clear to drink, bath, do laundry with
X-- Xavier, go MUSKIES!
Y-- You.....Friends and Followers of my blog
Z-- Zachery, Zoe, Zara, Zane, Zaren, Zavier, Zevin, Zander and Zaid...have to love the z middle named!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Roundbottom Recycling:

One of the 4-H families arranged for us (the 4-H group) to have a tour of the Round Bottom Recycling facility in Milford on Nov. 23rd at 10:30 a.m. The website is The address for Round Bottom Recycling is 5100 River Valley Rd., Milford, Ohio 45150 Bring any scrap metal that you'd like to sell - they pay cash!
Directions: Drive as you would as if you were going to the fairgrounds. Once on Rt. 50, go 2 miles to Round Bottom Rd (there is a UDF on this corner as well as a traffic light) and turn RIGHT onto Round Bottom Rd. Go 1 mile and turn RIGHT onto River Valley Rd.

I love Will's expression in this picture! He really did enjoy the tour, I think he just wanted to get to the park to play!

The tour was very interesting and everyone seemed to learn a lot. We even learned that we could recycle the shower doors we just removed from the upstairs bathroom! Following the tour we went to Veteran's Park and played and had a short meeting. I love how creative the 4-H families have been with coming up ideas for outings for our club. In January we will be touring a fire station located within a water tower right here in Clermont County.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Emily in the Nutcracker!
I love to watch Emily dance! I wish I could have taken pictures of her dancing, rather than just standing around in her costumes.

Emily performed with Ballet Tech Ohio in their production of the Nutcracker. She danced the role of the Mouse King in the 2 PM performance. She danced the role of a Snowflake in Act I and a Flower in Act II and the finale in both the 2 PM and 8 PM performances. The performances took place at the River Hills Christian Church in Loveland, Ohio on Saturday, November 21st.

She will be dancing with the Lebanon Symphony Orchestra on Saturday December 19th at 8 PM.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

4-H Cemetery Scavenger Hunt and Party

For our meeting Monday we decided to have a cemetery scavenger hunt and a halloween party! I think everyone had a great time! The SPOOKY looking pictures in the slide show above are STRAIGHT OUT of the camera, pretty freaky! Do you believe in GHOSTS?????

Here is a copy of the scavenger hunt we used:


Have your participants try to obtain digital photos of each of the items on the graveyard scavenger hunt list.

Grave markers often have pictures on them. Find markers with each of the following:



__________Cross and crown







__________Praying child

__________Star of David

__________Teddy Bear

Grave markers come in various shapes and styles. Find grave markers that are shaped as follows:

__________Cross Headstone

__________Double headstone with 2 vases

__________Double heart monument

__________Garden memorial boulder

__________Headstone with vase

__________Memorial bench

Grave markers sometimes tell more than just the person's name and age. Find markers with each of the following:

__________Beloved husband and father

__________Beloved wife and mother

__________Forever in our hearts

__________In memory of

__________Our loving parents

__________Rest in peace

__________Sleeping with the angels

Grave markers, tombstones, or mausoleums that have the following:

__________Earliest birthday you can find

__________Oldest tombstone you can find

__________Same birthday as a team member

__________Shortest life span you can find

__________Longest life span you can find

__________Longest last name you can find

__________"Saint" appears on it

__________Shortest last name you can find

__________Someone from another country

__________Someone who served in military

Designate a time and meeting place for the teams to return to. The first team to obtain the photos of the items, make it back within the allotted time, and has the most points will be the winner.


  • Each photo collected is worth 1 point.
  • The first team to finish shall receive 5 bonus points.
  • For each minute a team is late, they will be penalized 1 point.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Freely Educate

The link to this website came through a list I am on and after checking it out over the past week, I wanted to share it with other unschoolers, homeschoolers or autodidactes out there.
The website is Freely Educate proving that a high quality education can indeed be 100% free.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WHAT : Niederman Farm Corn Maze
WHERE: 5110 LeSourdsville-West Chester Rd, Liberty Township 45011
WHO : Homeschoolers of all ages
WHEN : Wed October 21st 10:30 am til ????
Cost : $6 for adults and children 3 and up. Children 2 and under are free.

We will start with a hayride through the farm. Each rider will receive a pie pumpkin. Afterwards you are free to go to the playground,visit the animals or head off to the 22 acre corn maze. We are free to bring packed lunch. There are plenty of tables under a large covered area to eat at.

If you would like to check out their website

Despite a rather LAME hayride (explain to me someone, when you have a 22 acre farm, why your hayride takes you over MAYBE 2 acres of the farm? And you stay on the PAVED surfaces rather than taking the tractor out into the actual FIELD...but I digress....) and possibly the MOST DISGUSTING port-a-potties at a place frequented by sober people, the kids had a REALLY GREAT TIME! The animals were so cute and we LOVED watching the pig races. By far the biggest hit of the day was the HUGE swing made out of drainage was HUGE and STURDY, big enough for my entire family plus a couple more and it could hold the weight. It was great fun to watch the kids swing on it and most of the moms (myself included) had to go for a ride!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15th: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

For those of you that aren't aware, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is a day of remembrance for all pregnancies and infant death which includes but not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or death of a newborn. It is recognized in the United States and throughout Canada on October 15th of each year. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is observed with remembrance ceremonies and candle lighting vigils which coincides with an International Wave of Light with participants lighting candles on October 15 at 7:00 p.m. around the world to honor and remember our children. (source Wikipedia). I can't believe that this is the first year I have thought to mention this here.

So to all my dear friends and blog visitors who have suffered the loss of a child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece or nephew to pregnancy or infant loss, you are in my thoughts and prayers today as is the beautiful child that you never got to watch take his first steps, say her first words, or rock to sleep. Today I grieve my angels that have gone before me. I grieve for my brother Phillip and my nephew Jack. I grieve for Gretchen and her family who lost Vivian just a few weeks ago. Tracy, Kas and Valerie, you are all in my prayers. For online friends, too many to name, who have suffered a loss, you fill my thougths today. I grieve the loss of those children of family and friends whose existence I might not have even known about because a pregnancy was so new or those who chose to keep their loss to themselves because the pain was to great to share. There are no words I can say to comfort you, just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mill Creek Restoration Water Quality Program

How many of you that live in Great Cincinnati know that you live within miles of the most polluted urban river in the United States? That's right, Mill Creek River, was designated the most polluted urban river in the United States! Despite the cool weather and the rain, we had an AMAZING time at this program. I can not believe how HANDS ON everything is, how clearly the information was presented to the kids, and how wonder Lora from Mill Creek Restoration Project was! We plan to do another water study, possibly of the same creek, in the spring. Still waiting on a few results, I will share them when we get everything computed.

What: Mill Creek Restoration Water Quality Program--FULL!!
Where: Keehner Park West Chester, OH
When: Wednesday October 14th 10 AM to 2 PM (includes a break for lunch, please bring lunch with you)
Who: Homeschoolers ages 6-14, limited to 20 participants
RSVP: Laura

Please come dressed for the weather (rain or shine) and wear boots or water shoes as we will be getting into the water to do the macroinvertebrate study, water temperature and to pull water samples.Our day will start with a 45 minute introduction to the Mill Creek watershed and the purpose of our water quality study presented by Lora Alberto of the Mill Creek Restoration Project( We will then break for lunch. Following lunch we will begin the water quality study which is extremely hands on and includes macroinvertebrate collection, water sampling, and running tests on the water including nitrate levels,water turbidity, phosphate levels, dissolved oxygen, ph levels, water temperature and fecal coliform bacteria testing. Each child will get to participate in running each of the tests, they will rotate in groups through stations where each test will be conducted.

Mill Creek in southwest Ohio is one of the most severely polluted and physically degraded streams in the United States. In 1997, because of its multiple stressors and sources of pollution, the national river conservation group American Rivers designated Mill Creek as "the most endangered urban river in North America." The stream flows 28 miles south from its headwaters in Butler County through the geographic heart of Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati to its confluence with the Ohio River, just west of the downtown riverfront. Its watershed covers southeast Butler County and approximately the central third of Hamilton County and encompasses all or parts of 37 political jurisdictions. Within the City of Cincinnati,over forty neighborhoods are located in the Mill Creek drainage basin.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Emily in the Nutcracker!

Emily will be performing with ballet tech ohio in their production of the Nutcracker. She will be dancing the role of the Mouse King in the 2 PM performance. She will be dancing the role of a Snowflake in Act I and a Flower in Act II and the finale in both the 2 PM and 8 PM performances. The performances will take place at the River Hills Christian Church in Loveland, Ohio on Saturday, November 21st. This beautiful facility seats 600 and visibility is good from all areas. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/children and seniors. Plenty of free parking. We would love to see you there!

As much as we enjoyed our experience in years past performing with the Cincinnati Ballet, this is far more challenging, since she has to learn numerous routines and dance a key role rather than just spend less than 5 minutes on stage. It will be interesting to see how she enjoys the overall experience this time around since she loved doing the Nutcracker with the Cincinnati Ballet so much! I have to say I love the lower ticket prices for this performance, I just wonder if I can manage to stay awake for the second act, it always manages to put me to sleep!

We have been so happy over the last 6 weeks with our experiences at ballet tech ohio. The instruction Emily is receiving is top rate and she is really flourishing! I can't believe how much she has improved and how much confidence she has gained in such a short period of time!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Some AWESOME apple recipes:

We went apple picking the other day, a tradition for the final week in September. One of the mom shared some WONDERFUL recipes, I took the time to make 2 of them this morning so I thought I would share them here.

No Peel Apple Cake
4 cups chopped unpeeled apples
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda

Mix all and pour into a 9 x 13 greased pan. (will be a thick consistancy). Sprinkle top with additional small amount of sugar and nuts if desired. Bake at 350 ro 45-50 minutes. This is even better after it sits a day.

MY NOTE: I didn't have any applesauce and made my own by cooking some chopped apples in the microwave for about 6 minutes with a little water and then pureeing them in the food processer. I also think that next time I will add nuts (walnuts probably) to the mix and sugar to the top!

Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings
3 granny smith (or other) apples---I didn't peel mine
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter!!!!!------NOTE: I only used 1 stick when I made this!
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 small can mountain dew---I just used 3/4 of a cup since I didn't have a can

Cut apples into slices. ( I do not peel, PW does.) Roll 2-3 apple slices in a crescent roll. Place finished roll ups in 9x13 greased pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour over crescent rolls. Pur Mt. Dew arount the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve with vanilla icecream. This recipe is Crazy!!

MY NOTE: UNBELIEVABLE! This was the most awesome apple dessert I have ever had. I am wondering if 7-Up might not work just as well, I think I may try it next time. I didn't grease the pan and they didn't stick at all, could have just been dumb luck!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Happy Birthday Jay!

Today marks Jay's 45th birthday! I can't believe I am married to such an OLD man! Wishing you the best of birthdays sweetheart! Hoping I am sitting next to you as you celebrate 45 more!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I think this woman is just AMAZING. Amena Brown. I love everything I have listened to, this is one of my favorites, entitled YOU

I also love Resurrection

She has a blog, a myspace page and you can easily search up her videos on YouTube! I find her truly inspirational!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

AMAZING PLACE: Heaven's Corner Zoo and Animal Sanctuary Tour

This is by far the most AMAZING zoo I have ever visited. Just an hour from Cincinnati in West Alexandria, Ohio this little known treasure is an absolute jewel. I can't believe the number of things I had never seen at another zoo or how close we could get to everything, but at the same time feel so very safe.

The kids had such a great time. I still can't believe I had never heard of the place before my brother mentioned it to me over the summer. It was so funny, the woman at the front desk/gift shop (I am thinking she is Kord's wife??) was going on and on about how thrilled they were that they had 5000 people through the zoo the WHOLE SUMMER....I am thinking.....the Cincinnati Zoo
would be PISSED if they didn't get that many people in one weekend and Heaven's Corner is so much cooler. They seriously need to do some more advertising or something. I can't believe he can keep the place open on such low
attendance, that in and of itself is amazing. Our guide mentioned that they need 900 lbs of chicken alone to maintain the animals for 2 weeks.

There are so many cool animals at the zoo, but I think that the white tiger is just AMAZING....I got quite a few good shots of him. The animal that cracked me up was the new Bengal tiger they had, he was totally STALKING Luke (the only toddler in the group) he would just pace and follow him and watch him, like he was picking out the "weakest" one in the group, figuring he would be an easy target, it was really quite hilarious! Luke was running back and forth in front of the cage and the tiger would just run back and forth with him. Of course Luke was blissfully unaware that he was being hunted by a wild beast that was a mere 3 feet away from him!

My kids all LOVED the capuchin monkeys, I think they would have brought one home with them if they could have gotten one out of their enclosure. Emily even managed to shake the hand of the one that had been trained as an assistant animal.

Scott was our guide and he was amazing, so full of INTERESTING stories, not the normal boring crap you get from other guides! You can tell he just loves his job and is passionate about animals and their conservation and welfare. The kids loved when he relayed that his close "call" with one of the animals when when a tiger peed all over him!

Luke also LOVED the one wallaby (the male) he kept petting him and trying to
hold hands with him.

Definitely worth the drive and price of admission....during regular hours, adults are $7, kids over 3 are $4 and parking is always free. Picnic tables out front encourage you to pack your lunch and spend the day. Small gift shop offers candy and softdrinks ($1) as well as animal themed merchandise!


What: Heaven's Corner Zoo and Animal Sanctuary Tour
When: Friday September 11 10:30 AM
Where: 385 Quinn Rd. West Alexandria, Ohio 45381 937-839-5005
Who: Homeschoolers of all ages. Keep in mind that diligence is
needed in watching small children during the behind the scenes tour!
Cost: $6 adults, $3 children 12 & under, 3 & under FREE
RSVP: Laura

My brother's friend Bill Cacciolfi (who trains animals for Jack Hanna) is friends with Kord, the owner of Heaven's Corner and has arranged a tour for us including a special behind the scenes tour. We will get closer to the animals and learn more about their care than the public does on a regular tour. Keep in mind these are wild animals and that diligence will be needed in watching toddlers and young children during the behind the scenes portion of the tour. All of the money raised through admissions and merchandise sales goes to support the animals.

Please pack a picnic lunch and plan to have a great time! They sell drinks, but you will want to pack food, of course you are welcome to pack drinks as well! Don't forget your camera!

NOTE: Please look for Preble Memory Garden Cemetery on US-35 to help find our sign. Quinn Rd. is located right after the cemetery.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A fellow homeschooling mom send me the following email yesterday titled "Would you give me some advise" and I thought I would share it and my response here. This is the second of this type of email I have received in the last month, boredom being a key issue in that email as well. I never really know how to respond, but this was what I came up with. I removed her name and her son's name.....but I wanted to share because I thought my response was a decent one, maybe you don't agree?

From K: Hi Laura,

We're thinking about giving unschooling a try with S, age 5, this year. If I remember correctly, you've almost always unschooled with your kids. I was wondering if you had any advice for someone who is pretty much clueless about this?

My biggest concern so far, is that he's often prone to complain about being bored. When I suggest reading to him, or doing something with him of his choosing, he just tells me he doesn't want to ever homeschool again. If I try to do something more organized, I get basically the same reaction.

I'd really appreciate any advice you'd have to offer.

Thanks so much,

My response:
Yes, we have pretty much always unschooled. The older 3 went to school through 4th, 3rd and 1st grade, the younger 6 have never known anything but unschooling. I don't know that I have any advise, but I can share some thoughts with you.

I guess I should start by saying that I don't see unschooling so much as an educational choice as much as a lifestyle choice. It is about living as if school doesn't exist and therefore not valuing any one activity over any other activity. Shooting wadded up pieces of paper into a trash can or playing a video game is as valid of a choice for filling ones time as reading or learning multiplication tables. Yet it doesn't mean not exposing your child to a rich variety of opportunities, because after all, how do you know if you want to learn more about an artist like Jackson Pollack if you have never seen one of his painting or if you want to study ancient Egypt if you are never exposed to a mummy (either in real life, through books or the internet) or study karate if you have never gone and done an introductory class or at least watched a video about it.

I don't know how to address your issue of boredom. I have never had any of my children complain of boredom on a regular basis. On the rare occasions that I have heard it (honestly between the 9 kids, I bet I haven't heard the phrase uttered more than 30 times) I usually suggest an activity that needs to be done that they could work on....matching socks, cleaning the bathroom, doing dishes, they usually decide something else is far less "boring" that those tasks...although sometimes they do go and do what I suggested, gives them time to think and figure out a new plan of action. I guess because there are so many of them, there is always someone to keep them busy. They are all really good at self occupying their time, but again, since I don't limit tv, video games or computer time that is always an available option. Of course they love creative play (building forts, playing dolls), legos, art, playing outside to occupy their time.

Does S see you being passionate about things or are you just going through the motions? I think one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is embracing our own passions and having our children see us living, learning and loving life. To realize that my everything isn't wrapped up in them and what they are doing....even though I am passionate about what they like and love to share it with them, I am my own person, not just mom, I think it takes a huge weight off their shoulders! If you aren't passionate about anything, I encourage you to find something that you love and consider sharing it with S, so he sees you being HAPPY and occupying your time. Sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, stamping, reading, hiking, cooking...learn something new, revisit something old, you might be surprised at the example it sets.

Does S say he doesn't want to homeschool because he is lonely? Does he like being around other kids? Is he around other kids on a regular basis? If he likes other kids and isn't around them often, have you considered seeking out activities he might enjoy, basketball, baseball, storytime at the library,an art class, karate, regular playdates with another boy his age? We spend a lot of our time out and about (often doing free activities) with other homeschoolers, so my kids have a sense of community with other children.

Have you done much reading on unschooling?
John Holt (try to get the originals, not the newly republished copies) personally I don't think Farenga gets unschooling!
John Taylor Gatto
Raymond Moore: Better Late than Early

Websites (I don't agree with everything these woman say, and feel some, since they aren't Christian, hold differing views than I do, but the websites as a whole offer decent information)This is by no means an exhaust list, but just the first ones that come to mind:
Sandra Dodd:
Kelly Lovejoy:
Joyce Fetteroll:
Danielle Conger:
Dayna Martin:

Have you ever visited my blog? It was recently listed as one of the 50 most eye opening unschooling blogs by some unschooling website: probably not anything too revealing, but it gives you a glimpse into what our lives look like!

Did I even address any of your questions?

Does it work? I say yes. Brett at 18 is employed, working hard and trying to find his path. Hannah at 17 just got her first "real" job (although she has been teaching dance since she was 13, but this job has a real paycheck!), Emily is passionate about ballet and is studying about 10 hr a week at Ballet Tech Ohio. The boys are happy...they have learned to read without any program or workbooks and can do math in their heads better than most adults, they can certainly make change quicker and more accurately than most cashiers we encounter. The youngest 3 are happy, living, learning exploring. And me? Well, I am blessed, I couldn't ask for a fuller life!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

09-09-09 at 09:09 PM

OK, not as historic as this morning, since in miliatary time 9 PM is 21:00 but I thought I would snap away again...this time I got the whole gang....just imagine me with a camera to my face and you have me too! Technically these aren't very good pictures, but heck, to snap off a series in less than a minute in 4 different rooms in the house wasn't an easy task! No one knew I was going to take them, so hence the rather startled and glazed looks on everyone's faces! Guess it was a good thing no one was entertaining their boyfriend or girlfriend in their room this evening, who knows what I might have captured!

09-09-09 at 09:09 AM

I realized driving home from the grocery store that the clock was quickly approaching a historic would soon be 9:09 AM on September 9, the time would be 09:09 09-09-09. I drove a little quicker than I should have and pulled into the driveway as the clock changed...leaving all the grocery in the car, I flew into the house grabbed the camera and snapped 2 pictures before the clock changed....forever recorded in history are the youngest 3 Riesenberg children at 09-09-09 at 09:09 AM! The rest of the Riesenberg children (less Hannah who is babysitting this morning) were still in bed!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Photo Shoot with Darrel Booth

A friend of my friend Nancy saw some pictures that Nancy took of Emily and asked her if she would see if Emily would model for him. We spent 3 hours with him at Ault Park on Wednesday morning and here is just a sampling of the photos he took of her. These are pretty much straight out of the camera with no photoshop work, the only one with any work is 'seeing double' you will know which one I mean!

Friday, September 04, 2009

FEARLESS or Will's Day at the Beach

Will had such an exciting day at the Beach, he wanted to share these pictures with everyone! I can't believe he is only 5 years old and has not a fear in the world! I should probably also note that on August 9, 2009, less than a month ago, Will could not SWIM AT ALL, he really blossomed over the past few weeks, it was so exciting to watch. Unschooling at it's best!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My friend Nancy's friend Darrel (OK, I realize that sounds like the way my grandmotehr always started a story she was going to tell me!) invited Emily to come and model for him. He took over 300 pictures of her during the 3 hour shoot, this one was one taken towards the very end and I just love it! Once he gets the images to me I will have plenty more to share! He wants to do another shoot with her in studio (vs outdoors) sometime soon.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Should I be impressed....

Or scared, to find my blog listed here amongst the 50 eye opening unschooling blogs?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Can you believe it is September already?

Where has 2009 gone? I can't believe it is the first day of September already! Today was the final SUMMER PE DAY, set up by a homeschooling mom from the local Catholic homeschooling group. We joined them when we could throughout the summer. My boys enjoyed the fact that there were older boys there to play with and Sophia loved the fact that she had girls close to her age to play with, one great thing about those large catholic families! It was always great fun watching the kids interact, to see them include the younger kids in their games or to watch the older kids play on the playsets like they were 4 rather than 14. I believe that the ability to play is one of the many freedoms homeschooled children have, to not be told they are "too old" for such foolish things and told to sit still at a desk, but to be able to play and enjoy the waning days of summer!

As we sat at the park, surrounded by homeschooling families, I realized just how different we were from the others sitting there. As they talked about curriculum and grading papers and what subjects they "had" to cover this year, I sat quiet. The mom sitting next to me whispered to me "you unschool right? even your highschool kids?" I looked at her and smiled and answered "yes, even my highschoolers". She commented "I wish I could do that". I just smiled. I have had that discussion before. It never proves to be very fruitful. I don't know why I was able to make that leap of faith and embrace unschooling. I don't know why so many, who admit that the education system has so many flaws, are so quick to replicate that model at home. I don't know why they are so convinced that if their child doesn't learn everything listed on the world book outline for what a 1st grader should know by the time they are 6 years old that they will never be able to learn it. Why are they so fearful? Or maybe a better question would be why am I so fearless?

Admittedly my boys have been late readers. Grant probably didn't read at all until about the age of 10, But now he reads anything he wants, which happens to be more myspace and facebook or video game cheat codes than anything,or so I thought, but just the other day he asked me if I had heard about a recent news story about a boy dying while playing football and I commented yes and asked where he heard about it. His answer "Oh, I read it on roadrunner's homepage". He then told me that he usually reads all the news story on the homepage every day.

Jacob has just recently mastered reading and he is 11, he amazed me the other day when he read something that I figured he didn't know most of the words in. Again, his main motivation was video games. Honestly I NEVER worried that he wouldn't read. Sometimes I wonder if that means I am a bad mother. Somehow I know they learn in spite of me!

Today was bittersweet, park days are done for the year because our fellow homeschoolers relegate themselves to a schedule that doesn't allow time for play once the school buses for their district have taken to the streets. Maybe we will be lucky and see them again next summer, when they emerge again from their "home" school. We certainly will miss them!

Here are a few pictures, one of the other moms took some wonderful ones, but I was too content just sitting to go and get my camera and I don't think I should share her pictures since I don't have permission from the other parents whose children were there.....
One of Luke enjoying the slide:

and one of Sophia!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hannah has a job!

Hannah had me take her up to Kings Island today to interview for a job during their Halloween event called HAUNT! I was a little apprehensive since the competition for jobs is pretty intense, but she did just fine and was hired to work on the scariest trail in the park as a psychotic cowgirl or so is our understanding, she goes for training in a few weeks to learn her "role". It is only a seasonal gig running from late September until Halloween, but it will look great on her resume!

I guess I am going to have to stop HATING that place, with its loud noises, concrete oasis and ridiculous prices....since it now serves as gainful employment for both my eldest son and daughter! And guess what America? They both managed to get themselves JOBS WITHOUT sitting in a classroom, using a curriculum or taking a proficiency test! They aren't sitting on my couch expecting me to wait on them hand and foot! Guess maybe this unschooling thing really can work!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Studying King Tut

We were THRILLED to be offered free tickets to see the King Tut exhibit at the Indianapolis Childrens Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get there, but it was certainly worth the drive. The exhibit is absolutely amazing and very well done. I would highly recommend the exhibit to everyone. I was a little worried about the crowd and seemingly long line to enter the exhibit, but it wasn't as bad as it looked, and once in the we were ushered into the exhibit we were free to take our time and explore. The only "bummer" for me was that we weren't allowed to take photographs. Because we had spent some time in the weeks leading up to the trip studying ancient Egypt, even Sophia and William really seemed to enjoy themselves. They loved trying to pick out what letters they could identify in heiroglyphics and comparing the death masks we made at home to the ones on display.

Here are some of the links we used in our study:

This is the guide from the museum, we didn't use it but others might find it informative:

Make your own mummy interactive video game: we absolutely LOVED playing this game, much more fun the first time when we all made mistakes, OK, so at almost 40 year old, I should have known ACID wasn't the way to remove a brain!

Make a mummy (using a fish): this is one of the activities we are planning to do over the next few weeks, I am having a hard time finding the fish

Ancient Egypt Kids Connection: absolutely AWESOME site!

How to make a mummy mask: We used this site to inspire us making our "death" masks!

Hieroglyphs Name Translator: Every translator we found online seemed to vary just a bit, but this one worked well for us!

Make your own pyramid: It should be noted that I had to go to 4 different grocery stores to find sugar cubes (now called sugar dots). Krogers and Walmart don't carry them. We found them at Biggs.

King Tut:

King Tut's Life:

Hieroglyphic Cartouche Pendants This were great fun to make and all 4 of the girls (including myself) and William even went so far as to make necklaces out of our pendants and wore them to the museum.

These were the particulars about the trip from the organizer (who for once wasn't me or Deanne!):
I have arranged a fieldtrip to the king Tut exhibit at the Indianapolis Childrens Museum. This is a free exhibit and free admission to the museum I have currently scheduled it for Monday August 24th. 10:00 AM until 5:00PM. Our king tut time is 11:00 AM. Our lunch time is 12:30 PM

All children are free any age thru 12th grade.
We get 1 free adult for every 5 children.
Paid adults are 15.00 a person
I intend to let any adult who has 5 or more children go in free and split the cost among the rest of the adults ex. 20 kids 7 adults each adult would pay 6.45.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Hannah's Senior Portraits Round #2

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My grandson is here!!!!

Noel David joined the clan this morning shortly before 6 AM, via c-section (after a grueling 24 hours of back labor, another 2 hours of puking and transitioning, and 90 minutes of pushing to no avial!) weighing in at 9 lbs 0.6 oz, measuring 21 1/2 inches long and with a 14 1/4 inch head! Mama and baby are doing well and proud papa is grinning for ear to ear! And yes, he has a HEADFUL of hair! Unheard of in this family until today!

Just a couple of pictures!