Terri Camp is a homeschooling mom of 8. She is the author of Ignite the Fire, a book about learning styles, creative homeschool ideas, and more. More of her humorous stories and insights into home education can be found at her website:

In Defense of Arms

Initially my husband and I decided there would be no weapons given to our children. We wouldn't allow them to play cowboys and Indians, army, or cops and robbers. I think our oldest son was two years old when we noticed while he was playing with friends his hand would suddenly become misshapen. They would be poised at his hips, thumb and forefinger extended. Suddenly they would fling up and shout, "Stick 'em up!"

After discussing a new phenomenon that occured in our home, Steve and I decided to allow hunting only activities. For some reason shooting at imaginary deer or bears wasn't nearly as much fun when all your friends were pointing their fingers at you!

Again Steve and I decided to pow-wow and come up with a new solution. In the meantime Steve had asked my dad to get him a bb gun for Christmas. I simply rolled my eyes, in a submissive way of course.

One day Steve came home with one of his favorite toys, a squirt gun. He didn't bring home just one though, he brought one for every member of the family. And guess what? We aimed them at one another, hiding behind doors, crouching behind the couch, and basically acting like infantry.

That was when I figured out our problem. Steve was a trained officer in the Air Force. The military seemed to be in his blood. I also was trained in the military. Our children were getting a double whammy of military blood. And Steve really did look cute crouching behind the couch with his water pistol loaded for action waiting for some unsuspecting victim to pass his way.

After another pow-wow, we decided that as long as we always instructed them on safety issues, and the only reasons to ever use a real gun, and continually educated them in armaments, we would now allow pretend weaponry.

David received for his birthday that year a fake shotgun, two handguns in a holster, four fake bullets, a roll of caps, and a tin sheriff's badge. David and Steve had loads of fun playing together.

Squirt guns became commonplace in our home, securing their own spot beneath the bathroom sink.

I'll never forget the day we had visitors, you know the type, they had a bunch of perfectly dressed children. This was THE mom to impress. As I was busy impressing her, Steve emerged from the bathroom, fully loaded. Peeking behind the door, he reached for his squirt gun and shot me, soaking my left arm. The water ricocheted off my arm and splashed my impressive friend in the face. Quickly I jumped off the couch, forgetting my mission was to impress my friend. With lightening speed I loaded my own high power squirt gun. Steve had meanwhile gone to hide. I was certain he was crouching behind the couch so I unloaded my weapon on a poor unsuspecting two year old. My friend told me that this kind of activity would never be allowed in her house. I noted a tinge of remorse in her words. "How sad," I thought to myself, "to not be allowed to play in your own house in a way that is just so much fun."

Fastforwarding a few years . .
The other night I was visiting my impressive friend, who incidentally has grown even more impressive now that I've stopped trying to impress her. She couldn't wait to show me something her children had received. Then she revealed the "weapon". The weapon was made of pvc pipe and was powered by bursts of air from the operator. When the weapon was loaded, it shot a marshmallow clear across the room, barely missing the unsuspecting two year old.

The next day I just had to have one for myself. Actually, I wanted one for each member of our family. I couldn't stand the thought of a simple battle, I wanted to enact a full scale war.

I went shopping at a mega building supply store and purchased all my materials. The total cost came to a whopping $9.14 cents. That night I cut all the required pieces, and assembled my first weapon. From across the room I loaded, and blew into the mouthpiece. I scored a direct hit! The marshmallow didn't cause Steve any pain when it hit him in the back of the head, but it did startle him. He gave me a mean look ...for a moment. Then he quickly went to the pile of pvc pieces, put together his own gun in record speed. He loaded and shot. A direct hit right to the belly! Then I saw the gleam in his eye. He was ready to go shoot all the kids! I reminded him that it was well past midnight and perhaps it would be better to not fill their beds with miniature marshmallows.

The next day the children quickly began assembling their own weapons. They even decorated them, thinking it would be a terrific home based business. They figured out the cost of materials, and deduced that they could make about a 70 percent profit. The wheels began turning as they experimented with different barrel lengths, marshmallow sizes, and air speed. They conspired about who would be the first to be blasted full force by every marshmallow in the house. They decided that when their dad gets home from work tonight, it will be war!

While they played with their weapons we also discussed at length about safety, and that it is never allowed to play with real guns or to ever aim a real gun at each other. As Bryan loaded his gun, he said, "Yeah Mom, we know, the Bible says, "Thou Shall Not Kill!" Then he took a deep breath and accidentally sucked the marshmallow into his mouth. "But thou shall eat!" Someone else shouted.

Terri Camp is a homeschooling mom of 8. She is the author of Ignite the Fire, a book about learning styles, creative homeschool ideas, and more. More of her humorous stories and insights into home education can be found at her website:

Instructions for Making a PVC Marshmallow Pipe Gun

Here are the pvc pieces you need. All the pvc pieces are inch.
You will also need two elbow pieces, two tee's, and two end caps.

In addition you will need a pair of pvc pipe cutters. If you don't have a pair that will add about $10.00 to your total.

See the attached picture for the finished product. Oh yes, don't forget the miniature marshmallows!

If you don't want to buy and make your own marshmallow gun, I'm sure my children would be happy to send you a ready to assemble kit!