Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Minpin Tree

I told you about the Roahld Dahl book we enjoyed so much, The Minpins? And how we made little Minpin people?

Now they have a home.

An obliging gust of wind knocked some small pine boughs into our lawn, and we gathered them up for our own little Minpin habitat.

This playscape has been sitting on our kitchen table most of the week. And yes, I believe that ALL of my piano students so far have stopped in the middle of their lesson to stare at the kitchen table and ask "What is that?" Oh that? It's our Minpin tree. And then we do a quick synopsis of the story line, and I'm left thinking how grateful I am that, homeschooling or not, we've let ourselves get a little more involved in our activities this year!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Kids Made This: Pillow Doll

I have some fabulous crayons in my stash- they're fabric crayons, much like oil pastels in texture, but you can draw with them and heat set the color. I know we've had them for a very, VERY long time. I think my mom bought them when my little brother was in cub scouts. (He's 21 now.)

A quick Google search is turning up a LOT of results for current iterations of "fabric crayons." I don't know how well they perform, but these Crayola crayons are available at Office Depot for $3 a box.

They are fabulous for making t-shirts for dads and Grandpas, and have been used for that quite a bit. (Only for dads and grandpas though...because we don't have any moms and grandpmas in this family that I know of who would happily wear a lettered Hanes t-shirt.)
Another great use is for bigger kids to draw on fabric to make things like dolls! You could substitute acrylic craft paint as well- that can also be heat set with an iron and be wash-fast.

Ernie made this doll for Mimi months ago- she got it in her head one afternoon she needed to sew a doll for her sister, and Mimi was still asleep. She picked out my most lurid pink fabric, and I cut out a piece and taped it to a large piece of cardboard to stabilize it. After she finished drawing, I ironed it (with a cover cloth) and showed her how to use the sewing machine.

I was nervous, because a few weeks prior we'd spent a good number of afternoons making a similar doll for Ernie but it was all hand sewing. I marked dots around the edge and she went up and down through the dots before we turned and stuffed. This time she sat at the machine- I turned the speed down pretty low, and took care of the pedal since she couldn't reach it. She did great! She turned and stuffed, and I whipstitched it shut for her.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Settling into Fall

Today's harvest: basil, bush beans, and cherry tomatoes
The garden is winding down, and Fall is here! (If the garden never ramped up, can it wind down?) I harvested every bit of our basil from the 2 surviving plants (I started with about 20, and only 2 survived our soggy spring.) I left dormant leaf buds behind, so we'll see if they can muster up the energy to send out a bit of new growth before I clear the garden out entirely. Our yellow plum tomatoes and sweet 100 cherry tomatoes have been good producers this year, I'm glad I planted cherry tomatoes. The beans and basil joined with our harvest of purple potatoes to become a favorite Martha dish- potatoes and green beans pesto pasta. I know, it sounds ridiculous on paper, but you throw the potatoes into a huge pot of salted water and bring them to a boil, then add in the pasta, and throw in the green beans for the last few minutes of cooking. Save a bit of pasta water to mix in when you stir the pesto in, and the whole thing is creamy and herby and a fantastic mix of textures! I'm sad this might be the only time we eat it this year, but we've been saving our potatoes for the basil and beans harvest day, and weren't disappointed. (Well, Mimi was. She looked at me in shock saying "Ewwwwey Mommy! Ewwwwey!" Fine.) I had enough pesto to put some in the freezer, so we have that to look forward to this winter!

I discovered a stash of Christmas presents I started last year, but ran out of time to finish, so I have my fingers crossed I won't run out of steam on these this year! Just a little teaser above....

Ernie was pretty excited to see my needles and threads out, and asked permission to start her own project. This one's a secret too, but I'll share it soon enough!

Mimi's project...seemed to be eating as much as possible, as often as possible. She's really good at it.
**Just an aside, but am I the only one who sees girls out for walks with their dogs, CARRYING their toy-sized pooches? I think I've made up my mind that if we ever get a dog, it's going to be a Dog. Black lab...golden know, a dog-sized dog. I saw a woman carrying her dog down the street today, and realized that our neighbor's huge black dog was attached to that poor girl nose to knee, shadowing her down the street, so she was carrying her mid-sized dog trying to keep it safe. The black dog is harmless, so the owners claim loudly and proudly, but it's almost never supervised and really scares walkers. I got out on the porch to try and get him to go home, and in the process got some scared looks from that girl...she thought he was mine!
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A Bit of Fall Nesting for My Mantel

This Fall, I'm finding myself simplifying. Summer brought layer on layer of color and energy into our home, and I need things to feel a bit warmer and calmer. The wreath is one of my favorites- I've had it for years, and have an assortment of silk and real flower picks, leaves, pine cones, and berry sprays to suit whatever season is at hand. The mirror is from Ikea, and the boxes are part of a nesting set that belonged to my grandmother. The flower garland...well, some colors I'm just not prepared to give up yet! (There are still some blooms outside, right? It's not totally out of place :) Oh, and the clock was a gift from my husband's aunt when we moved into our first house. If you can believe it, it's a plywood table round sponge painted with about 20 different colors. I love it!

The garland was a very sweet gift from fellow blogger Bobbi- the amount of work that went into crocheting all those flowers astounds me! (I think she has some fall colored ones in her Etsy shop now...with little adorable!)

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Woot- CSN contacted me again about doing a review.  Seems I'm on their "preferred blogger" list.  *blush*

The only problem is...I can never, ever decide what to order.  Seriously, it's a huge shopping network!

Anyone up for modern bedding?  (I have baby stuff on the brain...look how awesome those sheets are!)

Cocalo Naturals Tranquil Crib Bedding Collection

Or look, I can pretend I'm back at a certain cell phone company I worked for very, very briefly after they devoured....err....acquired the company I was at... (please tell me I'm not the only telecommunications alumni out guys know what I'm talking about, right?  If that little "jack" pillow down there was orange...)
Inspired Crib Bedding Geo Aqua Crib Bedding Collection

Or maybe something more grown up is to your taste?  Yummy... I love those pea cocks!  
DwellStudio Peacock Citrine Duvet Collection

What gives?  I never knew I liked modern, but apparently modern bedding is kind of my cup of tea.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Made This: Modpodged Shoes

I saw a few mentions in the past year of people Modpodging their shoes. Hmm....they all used fabric, but I thought I'd give it a go with tissue paper!

These are Ernie's church shoes. They looked a little worse for wear in the toes, and the ribbons were frayed, but they still had a bit of room so I wanted to revamp them just enough to buy us some time before she outgrew them.

I started by snipping away all the ribbons and froo-fra, then starting at one spot and painting a good thick coat of Modpodge, and sticking on chunky pieces of tissue paper, letting them be a bit rumpled and wrinkly, especially in the spots that needed more coverage. (This is a great reason to save tissue paper from gift bags, even if it's torn and wrinkled, if it has a FABULOUS print.)

She hasn't worn them yet (typical- I spend all this time re-doing her FAVORITE church shoes, and she decides to wear her glittery red shoes...the ones that are next on my list to be re-vamped because they're worn in the toes too!) but they are still flexible and look like they'll stand up to another few months of church.

*Story: My niece is very hard to impress. I made these shoes at her house after she went to sleep, and when she came down in the morning she stopped, turned to her mother, and said "I. Want. Shoes. Like. THAT." I promised her she could have these when Ernie outgrew them, if her mother couldn't find anything else we could gussy up for her!*

I've linked this up to the weekly Mad in Crafts linky festival- go check out the other fabulous projects!
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Getting Ready for the Moon Festival

Mid-Autumn (or Moon Festival) is next week Wednesday! We're planning on celebrating with my sister's family- traditionally, families gather at night for picnics and moon-gazing on hilltops and in parks. Children might get lanterns to run around with, and people gift others with round fruits, like pomegranates, citrus, etc. The round reminds them of the moon, and gifting families with round fruits also shows your desire that their family will be whole and complete. Families eat moon cakes (very rich, buttery pastry cakes, with a round center of lotus bean paste or egg yolk.) The moon cakes traditionally have pictures imprinted on the top of various pictures having to do with the store of Chang-E, the Moon Princess. The moon is nice and full and bright, the harvest is in, and it's time to celebrate!

We've checked a few books out from the library to get my girls ready to celebrate- we're planning a daytime celebration with their cousins.

The Pet Dragon, by Cristoph Niemann- a really clever story about a girl and her pet dragon. Each page has a character or piece of the picture formed around the Chinese character for that same character or object, it's been a nice introduction into the Chinese use of symbols instead of letters. Ernie practiced drawing a few of her favorites (as you can see in the picture.)

Lin Yi's Lantern, by Brenda Williams and Benjamin Lacombe- A little boy is sent to the market to purchase everything they need for their Moon Festival celebration. He needs moon cakes, star fruit, rice yams....and peanuts for Uncle Hui, because they're his favorite. His mother says if he bargains well, he can use the rest of his money to purchase a red rabbit lantern! It's a very sweet story.

Red Eggs and Dragon Boats, by Carol Stepanchuk- A synopsis of various Chinese holidays and festivals, with nice little insets of trivia and recipes.

Food and Festivals: China, by Amy Shui and Stuart Thompson- Another run down of food and festivals in China, this one has photographs, and trivia and recipes as well.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

The Minpins: The Painting Day

Thursdays are our Painting Days, so after we finished our songs and stories for the day the kids ran to the table to pull on their smocks. (Painting days are kind of a big deal. They involve PAINT, after all.)

We talked a little bit about our Minpin story again, and Ernie described everything she could about the Gruncher. It's a terrible, huge, smoke-breathing monster. The smoke is orange. (The smoke comes from the huge fire in the monster's throat/belly: he likes his food cooked, you see, so he cooks it on the way down. Pretty efficient!) We all set out to paint our very own Gruncher monsters.

Mimi, at first, pitched a royal fit because I want the girls to learn to share. Yes, I gave them ONE tray of paints to work from. Well, she just couldn't cope with that and resorted to painting her paper with her water and paper towel, before she deigned to reach for the color closest to her: brown. She had quite the puddle of water going on! It was kind of fun to see the paint swirling around on her page, and once again: I heart my oilcloth tablecloth. Oh, and laminate floors. They're indestructible.

(A note about the paint tray--you can see it in the pictures above. It's a plastic tray that used to hold ice-cream filled mochi. We have another tray with much smaller dimples, that used to hold ferrerro rocher candies. The water cups -- which you can't see-- used to hold apple sauce. I seem to have a garbage fetish when it comes to supplies for my kids.)

We talked a little about color theory too, as I mixed up green and orange paint for our monsters and trees. Ernie wanted a darker blue, so she mixed black into her blue paint.

Mimi's final product. Wonder Daddy pointed out that her Gruncher has a mouth! A great, big, gaping mouth. Yipes, scary!

Ernie's Gruncher, in red. The fellow with a yellow head and blue body is Little Billy. The structure on the left is the large tree that Little Billy climbed, and the red on the bottom, with the red dots, is the "carpet of strawberries." The leader of the Minpins, Don Mini, described the forest floor as being carpeted with strawberries, and Ernie took him at his word! She said that the strawberries would all melt and get hard, to make a carpet. Alright then. (Oh dear. The Gruncher is not bleeding- it seems I didn't let him dry sufficiently before hanging up the painting, and the paint dripped.)

I was happy to see that Ernie, at least, was OK right away with sharing paints, and also to see how much detail she'd retained from reading the story together. She's starting to get the hang of working with a paint brush- strokes, not scribbles. When she's 100% kind to her plastic art brushes, I'll move her to my nicer bristle brushes in varying sizes and shapes.

Paints are tempura, paper is construction paper from Ikea, as are the art smocks
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Minpins- A Pipecleaner Doll Tutorial

The girls and I finished reading The Minpins, by Roahld Dahl. It was, by far, our favorite read-aloud book to date. Long enough that it took a week to read (about 15 minutes a day) but short enough that it only took about a week to read! Gorgeous pictures, a thrilling story (with lots of thrill, and thankfully zero damage done- an important detail for kids), and a wonderfully sweet and tidy ending. Common to other Dahl books, the child is the hero and a gallant rule-breaker while the mother is largely absent from the story and rather close-minded and overly-cautious when present. However, the story is well-written and this is my only quibble. (Not everything can be so heavy handed as stories like...say...Goldilocks and the Three Bears, whose heroine in certain versions breaks into the home, destroys their property, and is then eaten as supposedly just and proper punishment.)

In the story, Little Billy climbs a tree and discovers a race of tiny tree-dwelling people with sticky boots for climbing and heads the size of peas, who call themselves the Minpins. The girls and I sat down with a package of pipe cleaners today to make a few Minpins for ourself- these are very simple! I hope to revisit this story, or similar ones, when my girls are a bit older and more dextrous to make things like clothespin dolls and such.

To make one doll, you'll need one pipe cleaner.

1) Cut the pipe cleaner in half, and set one half aside.
2) From step one, cut the remaining piece in half, and set half aside again. You should now have a 1/4 piece of a pipe cleaner for the scrap pile, and a 1/4 piece and a 1/2 piece for working with.
3) Pick up the larger piece and bend in half without creasing, and bend a loop in the center- this is the head. Bend the tail ends out at 90 degrees to make the feet.
4) Pick up the smaller piece and bend in half to form a "v"- slide it onto the first piece just below the head, and cross the ends a few times, wrapping them around the neck, to secure to the body- there's your arms!

You can cut small clothes out, tiny flower to glue to the heads, tiny circles to draw faces on and glue on the heads, etc. These minpins currently reside in a small paper house Ernie made at school a few months ago, but I'm hoping to find a suitable tree branch in the yard for them to live in while they visit us.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

She didn't stay in bed

I found this on Ernie's shelf as we tucked her into bed tonight. I am guessing Miss OCD didn't take a nap today.
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Monday, September 13, 2010


Wonder Woman is having her revenge.

6:30-8:30 breakfast, clean kitchen, read to kids
8:30-9:00 piano lesson
9:30-11:30 make 14 pints of jam with Aunt LoLo. 80 pounds of peaches are FINISHED, we processed the last 10 pounds this morning.
11:30-1:30 get kids lunch and naps, check e-mails, start black beans for dinner, start load of laundry, sweep
1:30-2:30 weed yard (I heart my scuffle hoe)
2:45-3:00 make a cake with the kids
3:00-3:15 sweep
3:15-3:30 read to the kids, sweep (What? They kept eating graham crackers!)
3:30-4:00 piano lesson
4:30-5:00 piano lesson
5:00-6:00 get dinner ready, frost cake, help Yard Man get started on a project, sweep again

I'm finding that the problem with getting that wonderful "Second Trimester Burst of Energy" is that I am filled with an itchy desire to get everything done, and a horror of everything I've left undone the past few months.

We spent the evening celebrating The Meemster's second birthday. Yikes. She's still the yummiest thing around (although she'll worriedly yell "No! No 'asty!" if I ask her if she's delicious and could I please have a bite?) We had the sweetest sugar-bomb of a blue cake I've ever made, we had presents, we had a blast. Miss Mimi? Happy Birthday :)
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Work in the Yard

We're waking up from a too-long hiatus on our front yard work (something about getting fired and being pregnant and starting a new company and being pregnant and building the new business and....and....well, we kind of really REALLY lost steam on that particular set of projects.)

The Burly Men from my family came over yesterday, and discovered (like so many before) that we are not on top of dirt. Our house is actually built on a pernicious blend of baseball-sized rocks and clay, with the exception of trucked-in dirt from generations of previous owners trying to make this yard into something that plant life can thrive in. Just add our dirt on top!

The Burly Men blasted a huge hole in the ground to plant our poor fig tree in though. Hooray! They took a vine maple down to the ground- vine maples are the worst weeds we get. If you miss one when it's small, they are impossible to pull up, and sprout new branches like a green Hydra. They marked where the flower bed will run along the wall, and started pick-axing that dirt and shoveling it into a wheelbarrow to add to our dirt piles in the back. Oh, they also found the drainage pipe I most awesomely forgot to tell them was located directly under where they were so manfully swinging their pick axe. Luckily, the awesome Wonder Daddy is now a pro at fixing and and installing drainage pipes, and we had a scrap piece of pipe that fit in perfectly. (Have I used the word "awesome" enough in this paragraph? Awesome.)

We have five yards of dirt coming on Saturday, so we WILL get the flower beds dug out and hopefully get the veggie beds built so that by Saturday night we will be buttoned up for Winter.

Left to do:
1) Weed. Umm, remember that hiatus? Shameful. I am full of shame. One big ball, soon-to-be-sneezing, shame.
2) Build garden beds and dig out about a foot to fill in with good dirt
3) Dig flower beds out to make way for beautiful rock-free dirt. Not clay.
4) Dig in manure to existing dirt
5) Shove dirt around the yard and level it all out, fill in beds, etc. We have 2 or 3 yards in the back too, that will probably get pulled out to the front as well.
6) FUTZ! Is that a word? It's what I do. Planting, sowing seeds, "fluffing." You know, stuff I can reasonably do during nap times or with the girls in tow. I have rose bushes heeled in in the backyard that need transplanting, bulbs, etc.

(Well, actually I intend to use the girls a LOT for number 1- I am the proud happy owner of a new scuffle hoe, and I figure if I hoe and rake, the girls can do all the bending and put the weeds in the bucket! My belly does not allow for so much bending any more, at least not without a lot of complaint.)

Oh my heck, we might actually have a yard soon. We've been living in a mud pit/construction zone since we started our "2 or 3 weekends TOPS" project last February. As a reminder, we simply intended to uncover the existing wall, and build beds out front. How we ended up with construction crews, back hoes, concrete trucks...well, that's life isn't it?

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Gonna eat me a lot of peaches...

"Moving to the country,
gonna eat me a lot of peaches...

Peaches come from a can,
they were put there by a man,
in a factory downtown.

If I had my little way,
I'd eat peaches every day...

Millions of peaches,
Peaches for me
Millions of peaches'
Peaches for free"

--Presidents of the United States, "Peaches"

So how'd I do on those lyrics? I can probably gurantee (yes, with one exception Aunt LoLo) that my middle school staff lounge was cooler than YOUR middle school staff lounge. We had copy machines. We had mondo rolls of colored butcher paper. We had....A Presidents' poster hanging on the wall. That's the kind of art work you choose when the drummer's mother is the school secretary!

Aunt LoLo and I were considered "hall passes" in school- if the hall pass was already taken, you could grab one of us to get through the school corridors without getting in trouble. We spent lots of time in the staff lounge running copies for teachers and the yearbook staff :) (Oh man. I'm getting nostalgic! Our high school reunion is this weekend...more on that later!)

So, in spite of the fact that I spent yesterday morning running around town trying to get an ultrasound, and the rest of the morning curled up in a ball of agony and defeat on Aunt LoLo's couch, using up every tissue I could find, drinking all kinds of hot liquids, and moaning quietly to myself whenever I thought they'd forgotten (because this head's a bad one), after the kids had taken their (puny! 1 hour!) naps, we threw everyone in my monster of a car and hit the road. We had peaches to buy, first off, and left that fruit stand a hundred pounds heavier than we came. Twenty pound boxes of Eastern Washington peaches for $11...that's a steal, right?

The rest of the trip...well, we hit 2 thrift stores, watched a shoplifter get wrassled down and handcuffed by 3 employees before the police showed up, and made a tour of the nearest asian market we could find. Dinner was so late that the girls went straight to bedtime routines after we cleared the dishes!

Aunt LoLo told the kids we had to get back in the car when we realized what was happening outside the store- she then told the kids that there was a cranky man. Yeah, and when the police showed up, we said the cranky man needed a time out. In jail.

8:00 this morning found us all together again, staring down 2 hot water canners, and 60 pounds of peaches ready for duty!

We ended up with:
26 quarts of peach quarters in light syrup
4 pints of peach jam
3 pints of peach butter
8 and 1/2 pounds of peach quarters in baggies to be frozen (we can make jam later, or just smoothies...or pie...or.... yum!)

About 20 pounds of too-green peaches are waiting for us to work on next week, and we're expecting an order of 40 pounds of apples to come in soon for apple sauce and apple butter. Then we're wondering, should we get in on a bulk order of tomatoes for canning?

September is for CANNERS!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

A collection from over the years:

  • I'm sure the extra curves are just muscle (but that's a sweet thought, right?)
  • See this weight spike here on your chart?  That's the day you split the bagged salad with your friend you were just telling me about.
  • Before your ultrasound appointment, please drink 4 glasses of water.  No bathroom breaks.
  • You're 4 months pregnant?  Oh my goodness- you're not even showing yet!
  • I'm sorry- your ultrasound appointment was on Monday.
So here's a funny story.  Mimi has a cold, and hasn't been sleeping well.  Now I have the cold and haven't been sleeping well. However, we got our whole family out the door by 7:30, dressed and breakfasted, dropped Mimi off at my sister's to play, and pulled into the hospital parking garage by 8:15.  At the check in desk, she says "Oh- I see your appointment was on Monday."  "Hmm...she told me Thursday."  "Oh really?  Let me check something."  So she proceeds to check us in and sends us down the hall.  

After filling out all our paperwork, and waiting about half an hour, the medical imaging receptionist comes over "I'm sorry- since you don't have an appointment, we might be able to squeeze you in at 10:30 (It was 9:00).  Maybe."  Hmm...if I don't have an appointment, why did they check us in?  And since you weren't even OPEN on Monday, why did someone schedule me for that day?  And since you always give reminder calls, why didn't I receive one?  "I really don't know dear, I'm very sorry- there's a direct line to scheduling right there next to your elbow."  

SO, we'll go back next Wednesday...and please, please never tell a pregnant woman with a full bladder, a horrible head cold,  and very, very little sleep "I'm sorry, your appointment was 2 days ago, we just forgot to ever tell you that."  

I'm pretty sure all I need is a bath and a little carton of Dibs, and I'd be a new woman!  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cleaning Day and Smoke Monsters

Ernie's project from "Tuesday is Craft Day" I love the marker-stamped eyes, they're so...alluring! I nicely asked her to draw me, and to draw my body, and she looked at me blankly. "But Mom...I don't know how! I can only draw heads and legs, see?"

Today is Wednesday, which means today is "Wednesday Cleaning Day" for school. The girls were in charge of wiping down all the windows, which I thought was fitting since it was THEIR chalky handprints all over the glass. Ernie switched the laundry for me and lugged a full basket up the stairs- I'm going to miss when the girls fight over the chance to help with the laundry. Ernie started the dishwasher, too. I swept up and did the dishes, folded and put away laundry, and supervised.

I am out of my mind bored with the 15 books we found for school reading, so we picked up some longer ones on our weekly excursion. I was hoping for James and Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl, thinking it would be a nice companion story to all the peach canning that's been going on around here, but it wasn't on the shelf. I found a storybook-sized book though, by Mr. Dahl, called "The Minpins." It's all about a good little boy named Little Billy who always does what his mother says, and stares out the window at the forbidden-to-him "Forest of Sin" while his mother periodically calls to him from the next room asking him if he's being good. He sneaks out the window and into the forest, and is chased by the most fearsome, smoke-snorting, nightmare monster you ever dreamt up, and it's getting closer and closer, and he can feel the smoke on the back of his neck and he's running faster than he ever has before in his life and....I stopped reading and told Ernie we'd continue the next day. Oh the look on her face was completely priceless- she thought I'd lost my marbles. With a horrified grin and a brittle and cheerful voice she quavered "Oh Mommy, that story is....funny!" So we read a nice pop up book about kittens playing with yarn, and who can ever guess what the yarn will be, and they make a blanket and fall asleep under it. We DID continue the story the next day though, and he climbed miles high into a tree and discovered little people with heads the size of peas, the Minpins, and today's story time was much less tense.

Tomorrow's school schedule is up in the air. When we'd normally be finishing up breakfast and getting ready for school, I'll be at the hospital getting our ultrasound. Does that mean I've finished half the pregnancy? The pregnancy that still hasn't quite sunk in? So in, like, 4 or 5 months we'll have a BABY. Yikes. Any guesses what that wonderful technician will tell us?
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Monday, September 6, 2010

A Beginning

Along with the rest of our area, Ernie started school last week. We're doing Kindergarten together, and having such fun!

Our daily schedule is fairly easy, but it helps us to have a schedule. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I can NOT believe the difference it has made in Ernie's moods to have this schedule set up, and for her to know that every morning she will have her mother's undivided attention. I've been home with her all her life, but I was surprised how much this has changed her outlook.

In the mornings we get breakfast going, and I clean up the kitchen while the girls finish up. While I shower, Ernie does her daily chores- brush teeth, brush hair, make bed, and get dressed, we use some really cute cards to remind her what to do, and simply can't remember which blog I printed them from. (If anyone knows, I'll add the link- there's a boy set in blue and a girl set in pink, and they're just adorable.)

When everyone is all set, the girls and I meet up in the school room (you know, the Smurf-colored one) and do our circle time. We always start with the song "I Am a Child of God" and have an opening prayer, then we pick stories and songs. Each month has a theme, and the stories and books and songs are based around that theme.

  • September: End of Summer/summer fruits
  • October: Halloween/Squash/Apples/Harvest
  • November: Thanksgiving/Pilgrims/Fall
  • December: Christmas
  • January: Winter, preparing for baby
  • February: Valentine’s Day/Baby
  • March: Spring
  • April: Easter
  • May: May Day
  • June: First Day of Summer
Each day has a special activity attached as well
  • Monday is baking day (this lends itself well to math lessons, as well as working on motor skills and taking turns!  Last we went blackberry picking in the backyard and made blackberry ice cream.  Mimi's berry bucket is on the right.)
  • Tuesday is crafts day
  • Wednesday is cleaning day (If school is at home, we better be working on more than just the 3 R's!  I want them to learn to care for their homes, and to learn that having a home is a privilege and a blessing)
  • Thursday is painting day
  • Friday is music day
The activities are also tied to the monthly theme, and to our stories and books.  This is where we bring in skills that need to be worked on- penmanship, math, spelling, etc.  Every day has outside play time as well, rain or shine- they're learning to love a little bit of rain!  (No, I'm not a heartless beast- I wouldn't send them out if it's miserable.  But what's a little sprinkling of rain to girls with slickers and rubber boots and great big imaginations?)  

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