Saturday, September 20, 2014

Is this simple mistake making a mess of your kitchen?

Is this simple mistake making a mess of your kitchen?  It sure was making a mess of mine!  Since the school year started, I have felt that the kitchen was always a mess, even though I was constantly cleaning it.

Disclaimer: If you do not have a dishwasher, take my sincere sympathy and respect, and click away now.

What was the mistake that was wreaking havoc in my kitchen?  I was running the dishwasher at the wrong time of day!  I had been religiously running the dishwasher after dinner, and at one time, I think that worked well.  However, emptying the dishwasher has become an after school chore.  

Realizing that I had dirty dishes in the counter and clean dishes in the machine, I decided to try the daily dishwasher run in conjunction with lunch clean up.  Voila!  A clean kitchen! All day I just put in dirty dishes, and after school the kids help me put away the clean ones.

Here's my formula for when to run the dishwasher: A) If it is full, run it.  B) If it is time,run it.  Figure time to run the dishwasher by deciding when the best time to put away dishes is.  Back track to the last meal before that.  Clean up from that meal is time to run the dishwasher, full or not.  

We are sneaking in some extra cycles now, and that's ok.  Modern dishwashers are extremely efficient.  My time in money more than pays for the extra bit of electric.  

Granted, I still put on some hours in the kitchen, but at least it looks like it now!  If you have another trick for keeping a busy kitchen clean, I would be grateful to hear it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seasons are Changing:Goals September 2014

Hi Friends,

If you are reading this post, it is probably because you are A) someone who regularly takes a personal interest in me.  B) someone who I have connected with as a blogger.  Either way, I consider you a friend.

A little more than four years ago my husband and I started a crazy project of rearranging our lifestyle.  This fall marks the first time since then that I would call our life normal.   Life is always uncertain, but as of three weeks ago we have the pieces to live the life we consider to be our dream.  

If my agnostic friends will bear with me a moment, I do believe that God has taken some very ugly things out of our life, protected us at vulnerable times and kept us fed, clothes and housed.

This blog has been a distraction from stress, and means for personal growth, and a way to connect with new people.  This summer I realized that I no longer "need" to blog, but I really like it.  I decided to try to become a little more serious...and ended up starting a new blog two weeks ago.  

Blogging Changes is devoted to the process of learning science and math.  I plan to write curriculum to sell and hopefully do some paid reviews as well.  I am extremely excited about this new project!   

In the mean time, this blog (WisdomKnowledgeJoy) is going to become a true Mommy blog that serves as a catch-all for thoughts that don't fit on Thriving STEM.  It will probably be sporadic and not read much, and that is fine.

One more fun new adventure though! I am extremely pleased to be joining Dollie Freeman's team at Teachers of Good Things.  Teachers of Good Things is a great resource for moms who want to teach their children good things in a beautiful way.  My first monthly post, How to Enjoy Walking with your Pre-schooler goes live tomorrow. It's a topic that is near to my heart, and I am so excited to be sharing on a larger blog!

August Goals

Blog:  I want to transition to  a .com and finish organizing my posts by topic so they can easily be found through pages. I have set a goal  of doing a Science Along the Way Post every week, and plan to do at least three other posts this month, including one on another blog. is up and running, and my Ordinary Observations series is going strong. 

Curriculum:  I want to write one long math unit to sell on Teacher Pay Teacher, update the science unit I have already done, and do one short science lesson to offer for free.   I have all the pieces to the unit, I just need to sit and do some lay out work, not my favorite, but it will be worth it. 

Family:  Establish some good routines to support my older children's success during the school year. I think we're on track!

Home:  Finish putting up the decor we have on hand and sort through the last of the boxes.    I did the decor but the boxes are still sitting in the gargage.  Oops!

September Goals
Blog:  I am hoping to reach 1,000 views in the first month of ThrivingSTEM.  That's dependent on other sharing, so we'll see.  

Curriculum:  I need to do some lessons for a couple of real live students!  Once that's done, I would like to get my TPT store in shape.

Family:  I want to work on putting together some exploratory activities that my six-month-old will enjoy.  Also, my four-year-old could use some enrichment to supplement her pre-school experience.

Home:  Do my part in the garage.  My husband has been doing a great job, and my disorganization has been the undoing of the garage, including those boxes.  I hope to get it caught up this month!

Several great  bloggers are sharing their goals at MamaSmiles this month if you would like to take a peak.

Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cartoon Book and Paper and Magazine Recycle!Create!

T-Rex loves to read cartoons. Every Sunday, he eagerly retrieves the Sunday paper, eager to read the new comics.   Sometimes, he can even read them all by himself.  While I have nothing against cartoons as a medium, some of the humor is not appropriate for my five-year-old.

I decided to use the comics from the Sunday paper to make him a custom comic book.   All I needed was the Sunday paper and a cheap composition book.

I cut the cartoons apart and glued them into the book.

T-Rex enjoys being able to read the cartoons over and over.  I feel better about the content he is reading, and as a bonus, the book is much easier to keep in order than all those big floppy papers.

This month's challenge from Recycle!Create!  is to make something for or with your children using paper, newspaper, or magazines.  Learn more about the Recycle!Create! project .

Check out the projects from the other co-hosts.

And, if you have a project of your own, be sure to link it up!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Goals: August 2014

Every month a group of great bloggers share their goals at Mama Smiles.  Being part of the blogging community is one of the best parts of blogging.   So this month, I am joining in.  


We moved (just a few miles) in January, welcomed a new baby in February, and finished our home school year in May, ready to enroll T-Rex in public school. As you can imagine,  life has been a blurr.  But, I think we covered the needed academics and kept everyone relatively well fed and clean.

During all that craziness, I blogged as a way to relax and refocus.  This summer as things slowed down, I realized that I have probably maxed out what I can do with my free blog. I also realized that I really like blogging.  So, I am going to jump in and try to move my blogging up to a paid hobby.  Here I am --setting some goals.

August goals

Blog:  I want to transition to  a .com and finish organizing my posts by topic so they can easily be found through pages. I have set a goal  of doing a Science Along the Way Post every week, and plan to do at least three other posts this month, including one on another blog.

Curriculum:  I want to write one long math unit to sell on Teacher Pay Teacher, update the science unit I have already done, and do one short science lesson to offer for free.  

Family:  Establish some good routines to support my older children's success during the school year.

Home:  Finish putting up the decor we have on hand and sort through the last of the boxes.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Shadows: How a baby can learn science along the way

Little Diddle (5 months) went with me to take some excess garden produce to the neighbor.  On the way home, she noticed something interesting.  She leaned forward and made little cooing sounds to alert me to her discovery.

Can you believe it?!  The sun's rays were bouncing off the road.  However, none of the rays could travel straight through our bodies.  Only the rays that refracted (bent) around our bodies could make it to the piece of road we blocked from the sun. The result was a dark spot shaped like us that traveled just in front of us.  

I love that idea.  One way to do facilitate that learning is by simple time outdoors. By celebrating these simple discoveries with our kids, we encourage their science learning.  

What has a little one next to you seen recently?

The purpose of this  Science Along the Way series is to remind me, my children, and my readers to celebrate the wonder of the natural world around us.  Scientific statements on this blog are made with the intention accuracy.  If you see an error, kindly leave a correction in the comments.

The post, Shadows: How a Baby Can Learn Science first appeared on

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Other Way to Make Balloons Float

"Hey Mom, Look!"  Have I mentioned that is my favorite phrase?  Well, at least when it means "Look what I noticed," not "Watch me break my leg."

These balloons were filled with plain old air, not helium.  However, they were floating up, and then falling down again in a kind of circular pattern.  It was really quite mesmerizing.  When I asked my children why this was happening, they quickly identified that the air particles from the vent were hitting the balloon and making it move.  This is great, because understanding that air is made of molecules that can have this impact is one way to prove that gas can have mass, and therefore really is matter.  Most people today readily believe this, but it is not actually all that intuitive, and has been highly debated in other times.

T-Rex was able to give me a clear explanation of the major forces.  Gravity pulls the balloons down, the air molecules push them up.  When the force of the air molecules is greater than gravity, the balloon moves up.  When the force of the air molecules is smaller than the force of gravity, the balloons move down.

In terms of energy, there is a transfer of kinetic (moving) energy from the air molecules to the balloon. As the balloon moves up it trades its kinetic energy for potential energy due to gravity.  When it falls toward earth again it trades the potential energy for kinetic energy once again.  

Next time you notice a moving object, stop and ask.  Why is it moving? It can be a pretty interesting question.

The purpose of this Science Along the Way series is to help me, my children, and my readers stop and notice the amazing physical world in which we live every day.  Thanks for reading!

This post "The Other Way to Make Balloons Float, by Christy McGuire, first appeared on WisdomKnowledgeJoy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

At Home Pre-School Boot Camp: Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 of At Home Pre-school Boot Camp!  If you missed the beginning of the series, you may want to start from Week 1.  

You' will notice that these posts are not being published on an exact regular schedule.  As I  am publishing these posts, I am enjoying the last days of freedom before putting my kids in formal education.  These posts are bringing back happy memories as we enjoy the end of summer.  I hope that they will be material for some other mom making her own memories.

Things to do just once this week

If you have been following this series from the beginning, your child has been attending a structured activity that is going to help him have success in society for a few weeks.  This week, add in a social event.  This could mean hanging out at the library after reading time to play.  It could at happen while he is at day care.  It could be a planned trip to the play ground, or an old fashioned play date.

On one of your at home days, block out some time to cook together.  Cooking can provide an opportunity to read a recipe, calculate the needed ingredients, observe science in action, experience a piece of a new culture.  It is a great life skill.   As you are getting started concentrate on letting your child do the work, and making it fun.  Do simple, familiar recipes and allow quadruple the time you would normally need.

If you have more time, ask your child to choose an art activity that you have done before.

Daily habits

First of all, keep up the reading and play times you have already established!  If you are not connecting with your child in a meaningful way, all your other attempts at teaching him will fall flat.  

Start looking for areas where you could allow your child to be more self sufficient.  Could she dress herself, find her own toys, or even fix her own lunch?

Enriching your home environment

Look for some ways that you could make your home more kid friendly.   Think about adding stools and moving the items they use daily to their level.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

Looking ahead

Our next big activity is Play-Doh .  Feel free to just pick some up from the store, or have some baking soda and cornstarch on hand.  Grab a box for the play dough and feel free to toss in some plastic knives, cookie cutters, and anything else that would be fun to use with play dough.

Friend to Follow

Aubrey  from Montessori Mischief has inspired me to give my children freedom in their learning and independence in their daily lives.  Montessori is a great educational philosophy, and I love how Aubrey applies it to the home environment. She also makes herself available for questions!

If you have a question about Montessori education, submit it to her tutorials page. Also, be sure to Check out her Montessori 101 Series! 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  Click here for more information.   Thanks for your support!  The post, At Home Pre-School Boot Camp: Week 4 , by Christy McGuire originally appeared on