Wednesday, June 30, 2010

bubble prints

I am so bad. I tell you I will post regular crafts and then I don't. The truth is I've had a hard time documenting crafts because of the ages and numbers of kids I have. But, I had to share this one and Katie willingly made a zillion bubble prints so I was able to take a couple pictures of the process.

First off you will need a really good bubble solution. I actually added dish soap to the solution we have. You want it to really bubble up. You will also need food coloring, straws, regular copy paper (not construction paper), some shallow dishes and paper towels.

I poured bubble solution into each of the shallow dishes and then added dish soap (I used Joy). Next I added lots of food coloring to each dish.

The kids did this activity without their shirts because I didn't want the bubble solution to stain their clothing. I highly recommend doing this outside as well. It can get messy. You'll thank me for this advice. I also did this one at a time. There is no way I could have had multiple kids doing this at once. Older kids could but not the little ones. Each child got their own straw and they used it to blow into a dish of bubble solution creating what they called a "mountain of bubbles" Next they would carefully lay their paper on top of the bubble mountain being careful not to push it into the bubble solution. They repeated this with each of the colors on the same piece of paper.

One of my three year olds gasped in awe every time he lifted the paper and saw the prints the popping bubbles made on his paper.

These dry quickly and the kids each made several until our colored bubble solution was gone.

Lovely, aren't they?

Friday, June 25, 2010

a month ago...

Tony did this.

A mere four weeks later, only twenty eight days, we have this!

Look! Walls, electricity (sort of), windows, a doorway, a skylight, a floor, a roof complete with shingles!!! It's a room! An honest to goodness room. That you can walk into and out of from my house! Who knew I could get this excited over lumber and plywood.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the proof is in the writing

Teresa brought home her writing folder and this was one of the rough drafts she wrote.

Just in case you can't read her handwriting

My special birthday was when I had my Ariel birthday party. the cake had chochlet on it it was a vanilla cake with blue frosting. yum! yum! yum! There were no leftovers. It was special because my whole family was there and Sam found my turtles. I said Sam you are my hero and from here on out Sam will always and forever more remaining be my hero.

This little composition tells so much about Teresa. First her love of cake. It's no mistake that the first thing she wrote about was the cake. A very detailed description of a cake she ate nearly three years ago, mind you. Second, being with her extended family is just about her favorite thing in the entire world. Teresa counts all her cousins as friends. Even the ones that are OLD. And third, Sam means just about everything to this girl. Didn't I tell you those two are close?

Monday, June 21, 2010

time to empty the backpacks

Today was the last day of school. I don't know who was more excited about it, me or the kids. They came running off the bus, hollering their joy and I hollered right along with them. After listening to their bubbling about parties and goodbyes, they ran off to start their summer. I turned, saw their bags lying on the bench, and realized the time had come for me to excavate into the depths of the backpacks.

Now, I pride myself on being on of those parents who go through their children's backpacks every single school day. My kids are trained to put their bags down on the bench in the playroom so I can take out their folders and agenda books and separate out homework and papers that should go in the trash and those that need to be signed and those that I want to save. I remember when I was teaching kindergarten, some of my students carted backpacks full of stuff to school and home again all year long. I was determined never to let that happen.

So, I'm always shocked at the end of the year when I clean out their backpacks. There is always all this stuff nestled in the nooks and crannies of the bag. And these new fangled bags have a plethora of nooks and crannies. This afternoon I sat down and went through both bags and piled it all up on the bench. Let me catalogue the detritus.

Sam's bag contained...
  • a big stuffed S
  • a small stuffed snoopy
  • a t-shirt
  • his report card
  • various awards and school notices
  • a book
  • loose Pokemon cards (about a dozen)
  • an album of Pokemon cards
  • agenda book
  • folder
  • one winter glove
  • a disassembled pen
  • three book sox
  • a memory book
  • a water bottle
Teresa's bag contained...
  • a tupperware container
  • a cookbook
  • two books
  • a folder
  • a calculator
  • a baggie with a used up glue stick and four crayons
  • two pencils
  • one piece of leprechaun money
  • a baggie filled with cut up bits of paper
  • a manila envelope with two inhalers and a spacer
  • her report card
  • a folder of her writing from the last two weeks
  • a small photo album of her class trip to the beach
  • an autograph book
  • thermos of water
  • a scarf

It could be worse. I could be in charge of cleaning out their desks at school. Now THAT is scary!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

clean sweep

I'm a purger. My soul sings when I declutter a room or have bags upon bags to bring to Goodwill. I regularly go through the kids' toys, clothes and artwork sorting into toss, donate or save piles. At least three or four times a year I go through my own clothes as well. I even secretly sift through Joe's collection of clothing and shoes. The man holds on to everything. Seriously. He had shoes in his closet from the seventies. Pointy, white, woven loafer like shoes that I can't imagine were ever in style and I still had to argue with him to get him to part with them. His default line is "I can wear that for working around the yard." Umm, no, you won't, just let them go. So I'm forced to toss items as they come through the wash; t-shirts with holes so big I could fit my head through, boots whose soles have come apart from the actual boot, jeans covered in paint or grease. This time of year, when I change out the clothing from winter wear to summer, I always end up with oodles of stuff to donate.

But I have been swamped with sports, school and work and I haven't managed to swap out the clothes yet. I'm pulling things from boxes stored under the beds every morning and the laundry is folded and stuffed back under the beds. We have construction going on too(OH! by the way...we've got four walls, a shingled roof and even a skylight!!!). The result of all this are toys, books, clothing, craft materials and shoes are piled everywhere.

And it's making me very very anxious. I like a well ordered world. I can handle the crisises of the day so much better when my counters are not hidden under piles of papers and sports equipment, laundry, boxes of books and art supplies aren't spilling out of every corner. I tell myself I'll get to it later, tonight, this weekend. And when that doesn't happen my anxiety grows. Have you ever seen that show "Hoarders"? I can only watch for a short time because my stress levels rise just from looking at the mountains of stuff those people have. My clutter may not classify me as a hoarder but, right now, I'm feeling the stress of all this clutter. I get distracted easily. This morning I went over to the art supplies to pull out paint and ten minutes later I'm still sitting on the floor trying to sort through the receipts I found stuffed in one of the desk cubbies. I don't have time to be sorting receipts. I need to be making breakfasts, lunches and brushing hair and getting the morning going. But I can't seem to focus my brain on what HAS to be done because there is just so much that needs doing.

I have Goodwill coming on Saturday morning which will force me to get started on some of this. The rest may have to wait until summer starts and I have just my kids, who I can leave to fend for themselves, before I can really find the time to sit and sort, organize and clean. Once that is all done, I will be able to enjoy the summer. Which I am really really really looking forward to. Unlimited time (or so it seems at the outset of summer, doesn't it?) to spend with three of my favorite people in the entire world. I just need to get through all the clutter to get there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

may your paths always lead back to each other

These two have had a special bond since day one. I sat watching them last night. They were lying on the floor, head to head, discussing a book they were looking at. Such a seemingly simple occurrence and it struck me so forcefully. They love each other. They love being together, talking together, and playing together. I can't claim this is my doing. I just sat back and watched it all happen. Sometimes I feel excluded, and I know Katie does, from their intense relationship. Don't worry, it isn't all rainbows and unicorns. They still have the typical sister/brother spates. Teresa gets annoyed with Sam's hovering and his need to control things, which winds up hurting his feelings. And sometimes Sam needs his space and can't explain this well to Teresa and she winds up thinking he doesn't like her. But most of the time, they fit together like salt and pepper. They sleep over on each other's floors and stay up late giggling. It's not unusual for them to walk together hand in hand. When Teresa is sick, it is Sam she wants to comfort her. When Sam is looking for a partner in crime, his first choice is always Teresa. No matter what happens or is said, they are there for each other, strolling side by side and hand in hand.

Monday, June 14, 2010

slow and steady


Yeah, I know it doesn't really look like it but I'm making great headway on Katie's quilt. The prep work takes 80% of the time. Once I get all the pieces prepped and ready to go, assembly moves along pretty quickly. This may not look like it but thats over 900 two and a half inch squares and close to 300 four and a half inch squares. And yes, that is uncut fabric off to the side. Of course, I did not buy enough fabric, so of course I ran out at 5:30 yesterday evening because I HAD to get what I needed immediately. Thank goodness they still had some of each of the eleven fabrics in the quilt. So I need to backtrack, and wash, dry and cut strips from each but that's par for the course for me. I did the math myself to figure out how much fabric I needed and I guess my math isn't as good as I thought it was. Maybe I should have asked Sam to do some of his fancy math in order to figure out the yardage. I am so excited to start putting the pieces together. This is my favorite part. Seeing all the pieces come together to make a beautiful whole. It's like magic. Very slow magic...but still magic.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

yeah, that looks comfortable

I love my dogs. I love their kookiness and craziness and sweet sweet faces. They make us laugh till our sides hurt with their antics and they cuddle up and love on us just because they think we are the world's best people ever. However, they are not so little anymore. They are easily the size of a dog and they are only six months old. These two ginormous creatures adore each other. Daisy is the leader and where she goes, Mudge generally follows. They wander aimlessly around the yard following each other like two little ducks following after their mother. Where one lays down, the other will soon join him/her. So it made sense to crate them together.

Since the day they came home with us, they have been crated together. However, did I mention these dogs are big...and getting bigger? When the crate we initially bought became cramped, we decided to upgrade. Joe and I debated for a little bit if we should get another large crate and crate them separately or if we should just go out and get them the extra large crate. Just look at these two fools, so...yep, we went with the one extra large crate.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

sad face

I'm sorry I didn't believe you. I'm sorry when you complained for the tenth day in a row that your tummy hurt, I got annoyed and told you to just go lay down. Sometimes Mommies make mistakes. Sometimes Mommies yell when they should listen. I'm sorry it took a doctor's visit, an xray, blood draw and urinalysis for me to believe that you weren't just making things up. Sometimes sorry doesn't feel like it's enough.

Monday, June 7, 2010

not so extreme makeover

We are finally moving ahead with our plan to add on to our home. Ideally I would have loved a two story addition. A craft/family room on the first floor level and a bedroom for Sam on the second floor level. Reality has a way of dashing small hopes though. We do not like to bite off more than we can chew, so we gave the go ahead to the plan for a bedroom on the first floor level only. Someday I'll get my craft room, just not today.

Sam is beyond excited to have his own room. Not that he doesn't have his own room at the's just open to the rest of the house. He has what we call the loft room upstairs. When you come in my front door, you can look up the stairs and see right into Sam's room. You must walk through it to get to the girls' room and the upstairs bathroom. It has served him well as a first bedroom. He's getting older now though and really needs his own space. He needs a door so he can have privacy. (Even though the boy doesn't have much sense of modesty at all, but we're working on that one.) He has been involved in the process ever since we decided the time was right and when we submitted our plans to our builder, he submitted his own plans. They included secret staircases, hidden rooms, tunnels and trap doors. We think he may be watching too much Scooby Doo or Harry Potter...but a boy can dream.

On May 24th we broke ground. And by we, I mean Tony, our builder, broke ground. I just stood around and chewed my fingernails hoping nothing would go wrong. We were so excited. Joe and I stood outside and gazed adoringly at the big ole hole in the ground that first evening.

And then this happened.

Day two saw my FOUNDATION!!!...falling into the hole. Yeah, this was NOT good. Not good at all. I wanted to tell Tony to just put the dirt back in the hole and forget about it. Yes, those are two piddlely two by fours propping up my ENTIRE HOUSE! And yes, that is a big hole that goes right into my house that offer coyotes or bad guys complete access to my house! Why no, I wasn't fretting about this at all. HAH!

Thankfully Tony is our personal miracle worker and he fixed my falling down house properly. No more two by more holes in the more falling down house.

Less than a week after we started there is a basement room. Like the fools we are, Joe and I stand and wax poetic over what is essentially still a big ole hole in the ground.

Once the inspector came and looked over the footings and foundation, we got the go ahead to start backfilling around the basement room and now the real building can begin. I'm sure Tony would object to my saying that all that came before this was not "real" building. Sorry Tony, I'm just a layperson.

Look!!!! Walls!!! well, sort of.

And here we are. Just over two and a half weeks in and we've already got walls (kind of)! As nerve wracking as construction can be, I get a little giddy thinking about what the next days work will bring. Sam's a little curious how Tony is going to work in his special requests. I'll let the expert explain all that to him. Me, I'm just going to head out and stare at my almost room some more.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Romeo and Juliet

When Joe and I first came to look at this house, while house hunting, the owner told us that every Spring and Summer a pair of swans came to live in the pond behind the house. Sometimes they even raised a family of cygnets. The idea of having swans living in "our" pond was so entrancing. The first few years we did have a pair of swans that lived here, but then one year, they didn't come. I didn't see swans on our pond again until just a couple years ago. Those that did come didn't stay long. I think the family of geese that had moved in were too territorial and loud, and the swans moved on after a week or so. Not so this year. A pair moved in mid Spring and has made the pond and bog their home. I love to watch them glide around the pond, gracefully dipping their heads into the water in search of food as I sit sipping my tea in the morning. It adds yet another soothing dimension to an already mellow part of my day. I have tried and tried, in vain, to get a really good photo of our resident swans, whom by the way have been dubbed Romeo and Juliet (or Swany and Mrs. Swany, depending on which member of the household you're talking to). I hope I manage to capture their beauty and grace in a photo before they leave us this fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a little ♥ in every cup

(Carol, I ADORE my new tea cup! Thank you!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

two hundred and eleven times sixteen equals one big effing headache

I remember way back in the day, when I was a teen, my Dad helping me with my math homework. I hated to ask him for help because it invariably worked him up into a frenzy of frustration. He would want me to do the math the way HE was taught and I was adamant that I had to do it the way the teacher showed us in class. He could not figure out why they had to reinvent how we did geometry or algebra. You got the correct answer his way...what's the difference? I refused to do it, explaining I would get in trouble, be the only one doing it that way, that his way was stupid. He would spend an hour attempting to understand my convoluted and, most likely, wrong explanations of how we were taught to do it in class. What should have taken twenty minutes ended up taking an hour and a half with both of us practically in tears. Now fast forward twenty five years.

I live in dread of my second and third graders math homework. Seriously. They are doing multiplication and division and addition and subtraction of two and three (or more) digit numbers.Sounds easy, right? Sadly, there are evenings when I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how they are supposed to do their work. I am not even kidding you with this. One night Sam had to use a certain strategy, I can't remember the name of it now, to solve two digit addition and subtraction. I followed the directions step by step but could not get the correct answer. I KNEW the correct answer because I solved it the good old fashioned way by carrying but I could NOT get it using the strategy he was supposed to use. How could I help him if I couldn't even do it? How frustrating to have the answer but not know how to get there.

Dad...I owe you a big apology. I never got what you were getting so upset about. I mean, it was MY homework. Boy, do I get it now. The math program the school uses wants the kids to know the theory behind the calculations. So instead of just having the kids memorize their times tables in second grade they learn all about arrays and do multiplication stories and draw out big long explanations of how they get to an answer. While I think this is admirable and important and has it's place, I think we are getting caught up in something most kids are not developmentally ready for at 7 and 8 years old. I learned my times tables in the third grade and I have such a distinct memory of that AHA! moment in grade five when I finally got what I was doing when I multiplied. Even though I didn't understand it in third grade or fourth grade, I still got 100's on my tests. I still could do the homework. When I was ready to understand, it all clicked and I went on to do just fine, all the way through Calculus II (with the exception of geometry).

Poor Sam can't even make an array because all his little dots or x's get all mashed up together and his 6 by 7 array gets out of control and isn't a 6 by 7 array in the end so he gets the problem wrong. Even though he can tell you 6 times 7 is 42 without missing a beat. I do the times table flash cards and they know their math facts but there is no getting around the fact that they must still demonstrate the knowledge behind the facts. And they still need to fill in their homework no matter how crazy it looks to me. I do my best. The other night I spent about fifteen minutes figuring out how Sam was supposed to complete his math homework. He had six problems of multi digit numbers he was multiplying together. I had to do the work "my way" so I knew the answer and then figure out how to fill in the worksheet so Sam could get the answer their way. I don't know that their way is easier or better than the way I was taught. Of course, my way is easier for me because it's the way I learned to do it. The way Sam is being taught looks like more work and is very confusing. But maybe I'm biased. You tell me.

This here is the worksheet with all six problems. Does it even look like anything remotely similar to anything we learned in math? Not me anyways.

This is the little formula cheat sheet I came up with to help Sam solve the math problems. Honestly it took me far too long to figure this out. But I was DAMN proud of myself afterwards. Sam, poor little lamb, was not as happy with my little formulas. "But Mumma...there are no A's and B's and C's....." He finally understood what the letters meant when we wrote them above the numbers in the latticces.

A close up of one problem. I look at this and think how easy it is to make a mistake. Put a number in the wrong box. Carry a number into the wrong column, multiply a number with the wrong number. To me, lining them up one above the other and multiplying first by the number in the one's place and then by the number in the tens place and then adding them up is just easier. Less fraught with potential mis-steps. But again, I could be this crochety old fashioned stick in the mud too. What do I know? All I can say is...I quiver with fear thinking of decimals and geometery and algebra. I can't even add, subtract and multiply and divide correctly according to this math program. How am I going to survive middle and high school math?