A Homeschooler’s Wardrobe: The Solution

Decided to add a postscript to yesterday’s post when I discovered an ingenious website that might just solve most of my problems with weather-inappropriate wardrobe choices.

This is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” kind of websites, because it is so simple, but so brilliant.

It is called: “Sleeves”, and even the most technically challenged youngster (or mom) can figure this one out.  You simply type in your zip code into the home page, and you get your result of what to wear that day…long sleeves, short sleeves, go sleeveless, or Two Layers. 


sleeves 2

Now how can my kids possibly go wrong now?  

Please don’t answer that.


A Homeschoolers’ Wardrobe

Homeschooling has an interesting side-effect for my boys, that I’m not sure I started to pay attention to until fairly recently.  My children have no clue about clothing.  What’s in…what’s out.  It’s all Greek togas to them. 

Case in point…if I happen to leave both summer and winter clothing accessible to them, it is not unusual to see someone sitting around in shorts and a turtleneck.  Their idea of picking out something to wear is reaching into the closest drawer (hopefully one that is still j0283903 drooping open from yesterday so they don’t actually have to open it) and pulling out enough clothing to cover the parts they don’t want seen in pictures. 

Now this is fine and good while you are sitting in your bedroom, hidden away on your computer.  But what about if mom wants to take you out into the real world?  Now it get’s complicated – – not for them, but for mom.  Because at that point, we begin the repeating ritual that happens on a weekly, if not daily, basis at the Topsy household that I fondly like to call “the who-cares argument.”

It always begins with my suggestion that they look in the mirror.  I lead with this because having seen the ridiculousness that is their current wardrobe choice, I have this hope that someday they will “see it” for themselves.  Never happens.

So on to part two. 

Me: “We’re going out in just a little while, and I was hoping you might put on something a little more appropriate for the weather.  While the fuzzy vest was probably pretty cozy back during January, it probably just isn’t the best clothing choice for mid-June.”

Them: “Mom…it’s just clothes.  Who cares?”

Me: “I know it is just clothes, but besides being wrong for this climate, that outfit is also not really in style right now.  I think tube socks and sandals might have gone out a few years back.”

Them: “Mom, if we are running errands, we will probably never see those people again in our lives.  Who cares whether I am in style?”

Me: “You never know who we might bump into out there.  A neighbor, a church member, or God-forbid a future employer.”

Them: “Why would THEY care what we are wearing?  Do they own a clothing store?”

At this point my voice always starts getting an edge to it, and I am wearing down, and they sense it.  Time to pull out the big guns.

Me:”For all I know, some hot teenage girl will have started working at the pharmacy, and she will be the one to ring up our purchase, and you will have a chance to tell her that you like her nose ring, and she will giggle, and you will say something clever back, and then she will flash you her best smile, and you will brush your hair back over your ear, and she will lean forward over the counter to commence flirting and suddenly see that you are wearing a fuzzy vest, green shorts, and tube socks with sandals, and in horrified amazement, she will not only ignore your existence, but short change me, which will make me ill, and I will probably give you extra chores.” 

Works every time.  Off goes the fuzzy vest and the tube socks.  On goes the purple t-shirt which just happens to create some sort of 3-D effect with the green shorts.  But hey, I’m happy.  If you think I’m going to argue color schemes too, you’ve got another thing coming.  I’m going to let their wives worry with that one.

Tickle Me Tuesday

I just needed an excuse to share this joke, which someone told me recently, so here goes…

A local news broadcaster in the Appalachian Mountains was interviewing farmers in the area prior to the election, and asking them what they thought the chances of Barak Obama being electedpig farmer were.  Most of them thought he had a fair shot, a few of them were certain of his victory, but one particular farmer was adamant in his belief that it would never happen.  "I’m telling you that if Barak Obama gets elected then pigs will fly."

A few months after the election, that reporter decided to follow up on the earlier story, and go back and interview that farmer again.  He looked down and away from the camera and shuffled his feet when the reporter asked him if he’d like to say anything about the turn of events.  "Well, there’s not much I CAN say, is there? There’s no denying it now.  Swine flu."

We Remember

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints – Summer Brain Boosters

summerToday is our last official day of homeschool for the year, and we are  ready to celebrate by vegging out for three months.  Only problem?  Our brains turn to mush when we aren’t exercising them. Mine is probably much worse than the boys – – I can practically watch my brain cells slough off and fall out my ears if I don’t keep myself mentally stimulated.

If your family is similar to ours, then you might appreciate some of the following ideas for keeping the ole educational nerve endings greased up – – the techie way, of course.

Time4Learning offers a way for kids to keep their minds sharp AND entertained with their summer learning program.  And Time4Writing continues to offer writing classes throughout the summer as well, with courses in sentence writing, paragraph writing, essay writing, and basic mechanics. 

The Wii offers some excellent opportunities for educational fun over the dog days of summer.  Two games coming out this summer that look like winners are: Science Papa, a virtual science lab featuring 30 different experiments and Space Camp, where you are an aspiring astronaut in training.  Amazon.com has a good list of additional Wii games that can be considered educational, as well.

But you don’t have to pay the big bucks to get some educational fun out of Wii this summer.  All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and your Wii remote.  Arcademics Skills Builders has taken some of their best online games and made them optimized for the Wii.  So if you can navigate to their website using your Wii Browser, you can play games like Meteor Multiplication and Verb Viper for free! (http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/wiilist.htm)

If you have a rising tech-geek in your family, you might be interested in iD Tech computer camps.  Based in over 60 universities around the country, these camps specialize in video game design, 3D modeling, robotics, web design and digital graphics.  There is probably one near you!  But they fill up fast, so register as soon as possible.

What’s that you say? You actually want your children to go OUTSIDE this summer??  Well, if you’re that type of parent, then I guess it can’t be helped.  But you might be interested in stopping by the Kid’s Valley Garden first, to brush up on all the ins and outs of those veggies, herbs, and flowering things that you’ll be (*gasp*) interacting with out there in the real world. 

As for me, I’ll be taking a break from Friday’s HHH for a couple months myself…   But not to worry.  I’ll keep my brain from turning to mincemeat SOMEHOW. 


A Thousand Words Thursday


H-T was skipping rocks at the river yesterday, and R-T caught him in deep concentration and preparation.  (Unfortunately, not long after this pic, the concentration was shot all to heck and his new Nike sandals went floating down the river)



All The Crap That’s Fit To Print

My printer and I have a love/hate relationship.  The thing knows I love and need it.  It sits there, all confident-like, shooting out pieces of paper with perfect color and texture.  It mocks me with its reliability.  I can count on it…and it is fully aware of my affection.

But I also hate it.  It costs a small fortune to keep it inked up.  It makes printing so easy that I print out things I don’t need to, just because they come out flawless.  I can actually hear the trees outside my window weeping each time it chews up and spits out another one of their family members.

I’ve wanted to get a handle on this co-dependent relationship for some time now, but it was so hard to get past the first three steps in the Printers Anonymous 12-step Program.  I needed help.  Couldn’t do it on my own.

But now, I have found a sponsor.  Someone who has been through my pain, and has come out on the other side.  I’d like to introduce that sponsor to you today…

Meet: printfriendly

Prientfriendly lets you take whatever webpage you feel the urge to print, pop it into their preview page, and makes it immediately print optimized.  Takes out all the unnecessary “gunk” and lets you customize it down to exactly the part you want to print – – nothing more, nothing less. 

Because of printfriendly, I can now raise my head up high again.  I can look those trees outside square in the bark. 

My printer and I are now on a level playing field, and we have some respect and equity back in our relationship now. 

The damn microwave, however, is as cocky as ever…


Go ahead, register at the site and take it for a spin!  Print

Summer Reading Revisited

One of my most popular HHH posts from last year was the one about Summer Reading sites.  I’m reposting because believe it or not, the Topsies are on the last week of the homeschool year, and we will be officially heading into “summer break” as of Friday!!

Can I get a collective bloggy virtual high-five?? 


So in honor of our summer reverie, I give you this post about summer reading…enjoy! (Some of the sites have been updated due to pages that had gone dead)


I hope you will take an afternoon and drop by your local library to see if they have a summer reading program you and your kids can sign up for.  Many libraries have wonderful clubs, activities, and even prizes for kids who get involved.  There just isn’t anything more "summery" than stretching out in the backyard hammock for an hour or so with a good book.  But for rainy days (check out my wishful thinking there – – we are in quite a drought here in my neck of the woods!) or when the kids are looking for something a little more visually interactive, there are some incredible websites that will inspire even the most reluctant reader to get excited about summer lit.

  • Book Adventure – if the Library Summer Reading program isn’t enough of an incentive to read, how about a motivational program that lets parents put in their own rewards – – such as a trip to the local arcade for taking quizzes on books they read.  There are also book suggestions based on your reading interests, as well as online prizes for their efforts.
  • No Flying, No Tights – If you have a preteen or teen in your house, then you probably have more than a couple graphic novels lying around your coffee table.  This website is the all-graphic-novel-all-the-time hub for everything to do with those adolescent reading faves. (not updated in a while!)
  • Family Education Reading List – before you head to the library to pick out your next book, you might want to check out this expansive list of great books by age and grade.
  • My Rocket Book – You remember Cliff Notes, right?  Yeah, well that was so 1980’s.  Nowadays students have access to video study guides for those literature classics.  Feeling old yet?
  • Guys Read – has book lists, short stories, and free classroom visuals to promote reading among boys
  • MightyBook – subscription based site where children get over 500 stories, games, music, puzzles, etc. to increase reading skills
  • Big Universe Book Creator – So what if you and your kids are feeling really creative and want to create your own picture book.  Big Universe offers the software to make and share your very own e-book creation!

These suggestions are just a few of the incredibly motivational reading websites out there…I hope you have some super techie-fun checking them out this summer!


Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Dangling the Carrot

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic Now you and I know that learning is its own reward.  It is fun to learn.  Exciting even.  The whole premise behind unschooling is that kids have a natural desire to learn, and that a schoolish mentality can simply suck the desire right out of them.

But occasionally you and I also know that our kids need a little extra incentive to get them going in the right direction.  Some kids, in fact, seem to thrive on praise and reward for a job well done. 

One of my boys could care less about educational incentives; the other will go beserk for the chance to win even the most virtual of prizes.  Today’s Friday’s HHH is for kids like him, who enjoy the challenge and potential reward of reaching a specific educational goal. 

Book Adventure – this is a top-notch reading incentive program for kids in grades K-8.  Kids read their favorite books, and then take quizzes on the book.  There are plenty of prizes offered within the site, but I also love that you can create your own.  Back when my boys were in third and fourth grade, I used prizes like: breakfast out with mom or dad, a free video game rental, or a cotton candy at the corner 7-11.  (If you need more suggestions, click here) Let me tell you, there was a lot of reading going on in my house while Book Adventure was around!carrot

SmartyCard – I only discovered this program a few weeks ago.  It is  aimed at grades 3-6, and used educational games and activities to help kids earn all kinds of prizes, including subscriptions to the virtual world associated with the site.  Although I haven’t checked it out thoroughly, I love the interface.  If anyone takes advantage of the free trial, let me know how you like it!

For preteens, virtual rewards are often sufficient.  Whyville is an interesting multiplayer online game that integrates math and science education with interactive gameplay.  The rewards are virtual “clams” which can be used as currency throughout the site.  H-T tried took this site for a spin, and thought it was a bit girl-oriented, but otherwise cool.

You don’t have to subscribe to any particular program to create incentives or rewards for your kids, though.  Giving them an educational “high-five” can be as easy as printing out a personalized award for them.  I have two favorite Award Creation programs online.  The Lakeshore Award Maker is incredibly easy and customizable. You pick the design you like, customize it, and voila – – instant certificate.  My Award Maker is slightly more in-depth, and includes templates for almost every conceivable occasion and accomplishment.

You may or may not agree with educational incentives, but occasionally we all need a little extra inducement to get to where we are going.  The programs above are all a fun and harmless way to get kids excited about learning. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to search for one that will reward me for folding the laundry.


Women and their Cycles

Think that title scared off any would-be male lurkers around Topsyland??

It shouldn’t…cause I’m not referring to those cycles.

I’m talking about blogging, of course.  I have been dead in the water this week.  Basically wishing I could take a bloggy vacation, because I have NOTHING of any interest to say this week for some reason.

Funny thing is…many of my bloggy buddies are in the same rut.  My Feed Reader is like a dead zone.  Almost NO ONE is updating right now.  One of my fave bloggers is even taking a hiatus (I’ll MISS YOU Jena!!!).

So I got to thinking you know how that when women work together, vacation together, or hang out a lot together, their cycles start to sync??  Well, maybe blogging buddies are the same way!

Maybe we all get bloggy burnout at the same time!! 

Admittedly, it’s a hoot of a theory, but an interesting one, just the same, eh? 

OR………maybe it really is that time of the month for all of us???

Ok, so maybe now I AM referring to those cycles.

Men…you still out there???  ***crickets chirping***

So sound off…why is your blog so quiet?…or if you are one of the bloggers with plenty to say this week, let us know your inspiration…PLEASE!