Field Trip: Olympic Training Center in Colorado

Now that your kids are all pumped up about the Olympics, you might want to consider a trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It’s definitely on our to-do list!

The tours are offered year round, Monday- Saturday, and best off all–they’re FREE! You may be fortunate enough to catch a peek at some athletes in action.

Check out the website to find out more!

 

We Skip School

…and you should too.

Three Cornered Hug“We’ve been wondering, do you guys get snow days?”, asked our next door neighbor. “No, we take “sun” days.”

We’ve often surprised people with our year-round school schedule. Snowy days–we do play outside. BUT we also do school. There’s no reason not to. Summer days are the same way. Remember those long, boring dog days of summer? We don’t have those. Yes, we go swimming and do theme parks. BUT we also do school. That’s how we fill up the rest of the time when our friends are on vacation, etc.

So, do we ever take time off? Absolutely. You know those wonderful, sun-shiny days, when the temperature is just right? When the smell of the fresh air is intoxicating, and your eyes keep wandering toward the window? That’s when we call up some friends and run away to the park or go hiking. WE SKIP SCHOOL.

There have been other times as well. One beautiful fall, we just randomly took a week off and ran away to Chicago to visit my Aunt. (However, I guess going to the Museum of Science and Industry or visiting Chinatown would qualify for educational experiences.) When my husband has the chance to go somewhere cool for work- we go too. (Again, arguably still school.) When my mom had surgery and needed help, when my sister was in a car accident- WE SKIPPED SCHOOL.

That’s the great thing about homeschooling, the great thing about doing school the way we do: a flexible schedule. There’s such a freedom in it. We can take off and not sweat it. Do I want my child to know that learning is important? YES. However, I also want him to know that enjoying life is equally important. I want him to realize that there’s more to know than what can be learned inside of four walls.

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

National Parks @ Three Cornered Hug

February 15th-17th happens to be a free weekend at many of our national parks (including the nearest and dearest to me- Rocky Mountain National Park!). Many are already free, but this will include those that typically charge an entrance fee.

Check out their website to see other free dates throughout the year:
http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm
So get out there and enjoy yourself!

Beat Winter Boredom: Things to do inside

Ideas to Beat Winter Boredom @ Three Cornered HugOld Man Winter has teamed up with Jack Frost and Punxsutawney Phil this winter to make a very miserable season for much of the US. If your kids you are tired of being cooped up, check out these ideas.

  • Play “Pockey” We invented this game a couple of years ago. Move all of your chairs away from the kitchen table and play ping pong–using your hands as paddles.
  • Have a sock fight in your living room. (Remember to hide behind a chair!)
  • Two words: SHRINKY DINKS
  • Put a pan outdoors to catch the snow, and use it make some snow cream.
  • Learn a useful skill with your kids. Grab a length of rope or paracord and head over to this knot tying guide
  • Learn how to finger knit
  • Make a PVC pipe fort (see this post to get started)
  • Roast marshmallows over your stove
  • Take apart broken appliances or electronics to see how they work
  • Let your kids do art in the tub! Color some dollar store shaving cream with a little food coloring (mix thoroughly in bowls before giving it to them)
  • Dance! Teach your kids to do the ChaCha Slide or look up vids with some old dances like the Twist or the Charlston.
  • Pull out the old home videos. Your kids will love to see themselves, and it will remind you to cherish your time together.
  • Make some new home movies–maybe of you trying the dance moves above!
  • Go to the Weather Channel’s site to search weather all over the world– from the equator to the poles. You may think yourself quite fortunate when you see what the temps are elsewhere!
  • Invest in a little indoor trampoline or a pedal exerciser (about $25 each)
  • See if any of your older neighbors would be interested in playing some games, or check to find out what you can do for them
  • Pick op a fridge box at Lowe’s (you’ll have to get there early) and make a house or castle
  • Order some pre-refrigerated bulbs to force indoors or start a potato or onion plant in a jar of water
  • Make up your own board game
  • Set up an indoor obstacle course
  • Have an indoor Nerf war!
  • Have your kids Facetime or call Grandma.
  • Make a card or some art to send to a grandparent or shut in. (After my Grandma passed, we found all of the cards and art we had sent her over the years in a chest)
  • Make your own play-dough: oatmeal, cinnamon, kool-aid, or fun cloud dough
  • Do a Google search to try to find possible volunteer opportunities in your area
  • Hang out at the pet store if you think you can do it without your kids begging for a furry friend!
  • Clean out your kids’ rooms. They are sure to find some old books or games they forgot they had!

If you have other ideas- please submit them in the comment section below!

Letterboxing: A Real Life Treasure Hunt

Letterboxing @ Three Cornered Hug

Image by Krzysztof Szkurlatowski; 12frames.eu

Part mystery, part scavenger hunt, part pirate pastime- letterboxing is a great way to get some fresh air and add a little adventure to your hikes.

What is letterboxing? Well, it’s a hobby similar to Geocashing, except that it utilizes a set of mysterious directions in place of the GPS. It’s been extremely popular in England for quite some time, but didn’t catch on in the US until the 1990’s. In short, you hop on to a letterboxing site to find some boxes that have been planted in your area. You will need to make up a neat nickname for yourself (or your group/family), get a “logbook”, and buy or make a stamp that represents you well. Following the clues and instructions found online, you locate a box, which will contain it’s own stamp, a log, and possibly some other cool things. You use your stamp on the log in the box, and use the stamp from the box to record your visit in your logbook. It’s best to put a date next to both stamps.

Later, you’ll have a record of all of the places you’ve visited, and the person who planted the box can see who has been there. This is a great activity (especially for boys) which may help you to see your area in a new way, and maybe find some spots you’ve never seen before. It’s also fun to take your stamp and book on vacation with you to get stamps from different states (or countries!).

*BONUS!* Besides the initial cost of the few supplies, and some gas–letterboxing is FREE!

Here are a couple of sites to help you get started:

http://www.letterboxing.org/ (on the top you can see the tab “Getting Started” which is a good place to….get started)

http://www.atlasquest.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_%28hobby%29 (This wiki has a little more detailed info on the different kinds of boxes, etc. You may want to wait to read this one!)

Once you’ve found all of the letterboxes in your area (or if there aren’t many), maybe you’ll want to go out and plant some for others to find. Now go out there and have fun!

If you have a boy, you NEED this! DYI PVC Building Set

PVC Building Set @ Three Cornered Hug

A seemingly simple idea has provided us with a lot of fun–especially during the winter months when we need active indoor ideas.

We first saw a set like this at a kid’s museum (Cincinnati maybe?), and my son and husband spent forever lingering at station. When I got home, I thought–how expensive could that be? Well as it turns out, some of the little connectors add up, but overall, this is a good deal when you consider the cost of Legos and other building sets for kids. In addition we’ve been able to use this in so many more ways!

So, the set up is basic. We bought several long lengths of PVC pipe from Lowe’s and cut them down to 1′ lengths. We did this the hard way (with a hand saw), but a friend who borrowed the idea had her handyman husband cut them with an electric saw, which was much more accurate and faster. If you do this, I suggest you find a friend with a good saw.

Then, we basically bought every kind of connector we could find. AND THAT’S IT! See? I told you it was simple!

The amazing thing is all the different ways your kids will find to use these. You can make a structure which you can throw a blanket over for a fort, you can get a hose attachment and use them outside for a wacky sprinkler, I have seen kids make letters with them–the possibilities are endless! (If you blow into them just right they make a weird sound, too- like a sheep’s horn!)

So, what are you waiting for? Run out and get some! You won’t be sorry! (Unless you don’t warn your kids ahead of time about using these as swords)

Video

Field Trip: Hammond’s Candies- YUM!

One expected thing we stumbled upon since moving to the Denver area is the Hammond’s Candies factory. Only about 20 minutes from my house, they are busy making yummy goodness all day long- and giving free tours every half hour. Tours that start with a free candy-maker’s hat, and end with a free candy cane right at the door to their store so you can take home a sugar rush in a bag (not free)!

I have to admit, even though I expected it to be fun, it was really so much more than I thought it would be. It’s amazing watching the candy get shiny as it’s pulled and later extruded from the machine, clipped, and bent into canes or twisted into lollipops! It’s thrilling to watch the little candies go through a chocolate waterfall…oh that waterfall…

Hammond’s has been featured on Food Network, Travel Channel, Fox and more!

I know this post may be useless to many of you, but if you’re anywhere in the vicinity, you have to visit Hammond’s. If you’re not, you can check out their website or get a little taste of the fun by starting the video playlist below. One of the vids even features Al Roker and the biggest lollipop ever!