Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reading bugs

Well, as usual, it has been a minute since I wrote here. Things have been busy.

Been working on lots of Miracle Diapers stuff. They have some awesome auction (not just for diapers) that you should stop by and check out. I am thinking up some of my stuff to add there too. Maybe a logo design and a couple of collages.
http://www.hyenacart.com/miraclediapers

I start school here soon too. Through New York Institute of Photography, majoring in photography of course.

I am only updating because I stole a minute just now. Rog is downstairs playing ball with both girls.

Lilly and I worked on reading today. I didn't really plan it out much. I just pulled a few books off the shelf and we read while she ate breakfast. She actually knew/sounded out quite a few words. It was pretty sweet since she has never really had any formal teaching. I think that is what I love the most.

Marti is reading away too. We recently got some Mary Kate and Ashley detective books from a thrift store for really cheap and she just ate those up. We seem to be running out of fairy books at the libraries. She has read all of the Fairy Realm books and the Fairy Chronicles books so we are keeping our eyes open for new ones. She is really loving the Mary Kate and Ashley ones at the moment too.

Marti has been getting kindda grumpy lately, especially with Lilly and tonight we had another talk. I had the idea that since she is a physical touch person that as soon as she comes downstairs from playing on the computer (which she has free access to) she will get a hug (unless she doesn't want one, of course) to help bring her back into "our world". Don't misread me here though. There are plenty of times that we join her world too (fairies, computer games, you name it), just so you don't think we are always trying to make her join us.

Well, I should get back to the family!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Accomplishments & "Getting Family To Help Around The House"

Women, in general, particularly stay at home/work at home/homeschooling moms (and God forbid one woman carries all three of those roles, lol), claim that they want someone (mainly their husband sometimes even the kids) to at least notice what they do around the house. Better yet, wouldn't it be great if they actually *helped* with those things?

I think part of the reason they want to be noticed is because we (as a society) are people that feel we need to be productive nearly 100% of our waking hours. I admit to being guilty of this myself.

We are also people (not sure if this is societal or human nature) that tend to crave validation. Generally if we look (and with the existance of the internet, we don't have to look far), we can find such validation. BUT, is it a good thing?

Take, for instance, a stay at home mom who gets on a message board/chat room/whatever to complain about how she *always* has to do everything around the house and no one wants to help her. She has tried everything. I bet she hasn't tried *everything* (absolutes are rarely true, my young padawan).

But, of course, she gets validation. What mom hasn't had these thoughts? Me included, of course.

Let's look closer though.

Look how she writes.

Look at her complaints.

If she voices that, and possibly worse, to her family, *why* would they WANT to help her?

Here is the secret to getting your family to help around the house. Let them WANT to help you. How do you do that you ask?

I have often found myself wishing for more help, more appriciation.

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day and I was venting because lately I have found myself with not enough hours in the day which has been stressing me out.

"So again, nothing I do is good enough," he said to me.

I thought for a moment and then told him something along the lines of, "If you believe that then it's from within inside of yourself that the inadequacy begins."

I said it.

But it took a couple days before it's meaning truly took hold.

If I am wanting praise and appriciation, I need to look no further than inside, myself.

The same goes for getting family to help around the house. Do it for them, or if they house isn't as sparkling as you would like, let it go. If you can't let it go, do it yourself. Don't burden your children or your husband with it. Take it on as your own, and feel awesome about it. That is what you accomplished today. Houses with kids aren't meant to be sparkling.

This is not a new concept. Unschoolers around the world have been practicing this concept for years. It works, but the key is that you have to do it first, then you will see the result of it. I had to pick up after my girls for months before they willing got out the cleaner and rags and mopped the kitchen floor on their hands and knees. It works, believe me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Checlist Complete

I have a completed checklist for all the activities that are on the 4/5 year old activities post. However, I can't figure out to upload it. So, if you would like the checklist, please post your email in the comments section of this post or of the original post and I will email it to you. Or if someone would like to explain how to upload it, that would be great as well

Friday, August 22, 2008

I get it~ Knee & Elbow pads

So, Marti just learned how to ride her bike without training wheels within the last week. She's had a couple spills though.

I always though knee pads and elbow pads were for over protective parents, but seeing the blood pour out of my "baby's" elbows and knees, I finally get why they were invented. I need to dig around the house now to find the ones that were given to her some time ago, or else get her some so that she doesn't cut herself up every time she goes out.

Hope everyone has had a great couple weeks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

July is gone already???

Okay, I have been meaning to write here and at the sparkly blog for weeks, but WOW!

July flew past me.

In July we had my eldest's birthday party at Bounceland on the 13th which was a TON of fun!!!

We had a family friend die around the time of Marti's birthday party and his funeral was on the 16th. There were family friends that came up from Arkansas from the funeral, which we only see maybe once per year so it was exciting to see them again and sad to see them go.

We attended my nephews' birthday party on the 19th, as well. They are brothers born almost exactly (save for one day) 4 years apart.

I had taken the pictures for both parties and after the funeral, which had to be processed. I also did a maternity shoot on the 16th as well, which of course needed to be processed.

And the list goes on. It doesn't actually seem like that much when I write it down, but it had me wiped out, I'll tell you. Plus, usually my mom takes the girls at least once a month for the weekend, but that didn't happen in July so I didn't even have time to post a little something about being busy, lol!

Hopefully I will get back to a somewhat normal schedule soon. Although if you don't see me here, check over at this blog, and that might provide some explanation.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sweeney Todd

My family LOVES movies. We love to watch all kinds of movies.

We know our kids and what they can handle, generally. For example, you many think we are nuts but we probably wouldn't consider showing our daughters Bambi because they are *very* sensitive to animals dying in film and they would have some serious waterworks going when Bambi loses him mum.

One of their current favorite movies is Sweeney Todd. Yep, Demon Barber Of Fleet Street with Johnny Depp (they have probably seen just about every Johnny Depp movie made, well, most of them anyway) and Helena Bonham Carter. Brilliant movie. Awesome music. We've been "on" this movie for at least a month now and it has actually inspired a lot of things in our lives.

First of all, the music is absolutely phenomenal! Not only are we movie buffs, but we LOVE our music! Our tastes vary, but we listen to just about everything and the girls adore musicals including Sound Of Music, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Marti sat through this entire movie at 3 years old), Phantom Of The Opera (2004 version) and others so it's no surprise that they would like Sweeney, really.

Then there is the connections thing. The connections from this movie alone has been amazing. There is the obvious "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" connections which we do all the time (and I have done since I was a kid with my mum).

There is also getting to compare the actor's performances with their other characters. We are unified in believing that Sweeney Todd is Johnny Depp's best performance, EVER (and as I have said, we have seen most of his movies (Like 33 out of his 35 movies))! As well as talk about the fact that there are 3 Harry Potter stars in this one movie (in case you don't know... Helena is Belatrix, Alan Rickman is Snape and Timothy Spall is Pettigrew).

We also get to talk about all the movies that Tim Burton and Johnny have done together (up to six now) as well as the ones Tim, Johnny & Helena have done together (3), the ones Tim did with his former fiance (5, plus she was the inspiration for one of Marti's favorite characters, Sally), how he often casts many of the same people in a lot of his movies, and the Tim Burton films that Danny Elfman did the music for (10, I think). We get to talk about Tim's style, how he has a bit of an obsession with horror actors and how he often opens his movies in a similar fashion.

Of course, since watching Sweeney Todd we have rented a movie of the Broadway play with George Hearn and Patti LuPone. We discussed how we felt about their performances and how stage performances are so much different than movie performances. Marti prefers the movie over the stage performances to the point where she will cover her ears if anything else is on. I actually love George Hearn's performance in both the 1982 performance (which we watched on youtube) with Angela Lansbury and in the 2001 performance with Patti (the one we rented), but I hated his female costars. Angela and Patti were awful, in my opinion.

We also got to see someones Lego rendition of the Sweeney Todd songs on Youtube. After we watched these Marti went and tried to build similar things with our Legos, but we just don't have enough so she went and played Sweeney with her dolls upstairs. Here are some of the YouTube videos that we watched.

This guy has some Lego videos from Sweeney, from Dark Knight and from Star Wars
http://www.youtube.com/user/ThatBobaFettGuy

Now this guys videos aren't so great, but his Lego creations are amazing!
http://www.youtube.com/user/SirNadroj

We also found this girl while searching for lyrics. She is quite good. She is a little shady at first and gets a couple lines wrong, but is overall really good.
http://thesimsonstage.ea.com/textAudioPlay.html?performanceId=%2BKKCIjm1h3U%3D&categoryId=135&play=Y

We could go on and on with the connections I think.

All that aside, we have looked up so many words in the dictionary to let Marti know what they meant, and some of them to find out for myself really. Some might not be appropriate for some kids, but Marti was ready.

Beadle
Dardenelles
Virtuous
Naive
Pious
Succumb
Sulked
Contrite
Plight
Repented
Daft
Jubilate
Damask
Trench
Mountebank

and the proper pronunciation of assuage

Oh, and the fact that we had to budget our tight Wal-Mart income in order to buy the movie and the soundtrack was also a source of discussion.

Well, that is all I can really think of for now, but I am sure there is more.

4/5 year old activities

Checklist of Activities
Download here

From Donna:

Play-doh
- you can find some make your recipes as well
Finger paints
Corn starch and water
Paper mache
Shaving cream
- to finger paint with or on a slip and slide
Cooking
- making bread by hand
Magnets
Tie dye
Treasure hunt in sand box
Give the dog a bath
- very wet and very messy
Gardening
- plant some sunflowers or pumpkins or....
Dig a hole in the dirt
- fill it with water - have fun
Wash the floor
Wash the windows with a spray bottle
"Paint" the house with a paintbrush and water

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From Lisa:
Play doh & cookie cutters
Non-hardening clay
Bright colored paper to color on
- we have neon paper that my niece likes
various coloring mediums
- chalk; pencils, gel pens, markers, crayons
(they make different crayons like glitter, neon, etc,)
They make paper punches that punch out small designs
- for example a heart.
Scissors and glue
(they make glitter glue)
A stapler
A hole punch
Sidewalk / driveway chalk
A huge tub of water and things like
spoons, cups, meat baster, eye dropper,
measuring cups, squirt guns / squirt bottles
Sing and dance videos or cd's of music
- my 3 yr old nephew loves to dance when
I put on the Disney Tarzan cd of music
- free would be finding a great radio station to dance to.
Shaving cream on a table top is fun to mess in
- get a can from the dollar store.
Various size balls to play with
- Koosh balls are great for indoor.
Finger paints
Paint with a paint brush
Water color paints
- you can color on white paper with a white crayon
and then paint over it with water color paints and
the paint does not stick where you colored.
Small sessions of activities like hopping
- hop on one foot, switch, hop with both feet;
run to the back of the yard and back,
time her (if she wants) to see how long she can do such and
such or how long it takes to do something like run to the back
of the yard, stand on one foot, stand and play catch with the
Koosh, how many hops does it take to get to this place
- count for her/with her, etc.
Throw a ball/Koosh/bean bag/folded up socks into a laundry basket.
Gather up boxes and make things.
We've made a sail boat, a race car, etc
with boxes large enough for Z to sit in when he was that age.
I remember a 12 pack soda (coke) box being an engine on
something we made. He has also made forts and buildings large
enough for his GI Joes. If you have a Sam's Club or Costco's near
by or possibly other stores might let you have their boxes for free.
How about a board and some nails and a hammer ?
We used to love to make "mud pies" as children
- all it took was something to make it in (usually our wagon),
dirt, water and available items like sticks, leaves, rocks, and
Z also loved to build with mud, sticks, rocks, etc. He would build
channels, damns, water falls, etc.

From Mary:
My first thought was corn starch and water!!!
And craft dough made from white bread and glue.
VERY messy while making and ends up with a lovely texture,
nice enough to do rose petals! And it air dries. The recipe
I used years ago called for glycerin which I don't keep around.
I substituted dish liquid.
One thing I haven't tried yet is rose beads, which sound really
cool. But I've made magazine beads (where you roll a strip with
glue) and those are great.
I remember stepping on soda cans when I was little so they squish
around your shoes and you can "tap" dance. Also making "stilts" out
of cans and string.
Cat's cradle.
Collect all your crayon bits and pieces, sort by general color and
then melt and make into new crayons. You can use the wilton molds to
make some really fun ones that are nice and chunky to hold.
Maybe you could lay out a bedsheet when she's going to do a craft
project to catch all the odds and ends. Then just get out the
construction paper, the colors the scissors and tape and see what
happens!?!?

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From Stacey:
anyways, my kids 'love' painting in the bathtub! you can mix any
kind of ingredients together, even powdered sugar, water and food
coloring (so when young kids lick, no biggie;) they paint walls, we
turn water on, empty and keep doing it over and over. they love
to 'pick up their mess!:)

make a life-size sugar cook of child, frost with creme cheese/powder
sugar or whip creme frosting and put fruit (colorful) on it for
clothes, hair, etc. (was in family magazine) cute! haven't tried it
yet:)

my kids love to make their own tortillas/bread

take a bath, color water a different color each time (food coloring)

glitter spray for hair. my kids love to play 'rock-star'

finger nail painting

melt down candles into separate jar, get one of those 'candle
warmers' (walmart candle aisle, furniture section) and smell the
smell! made it themselves:)

melt candles down, decorate a pine cone with it!! just pourt it
over. pretty pine cone, smells good:)

make meals fun! cut and orange, lets, say. just a slice, put it in
center of plate, then take 5 or so blueberries, then add another
colorful fruit/veggie and keep going till you have all the..(don't
know what they're called;) but the 'rays', i think going across the
plate. make little people;) for st. patricks day, color it all
green! green eggs, etc. i've tried coloring pancakes...can't seem to
do it...;)

make your own hats/masks, etc. go for nature walk, talk about what
you've seen (google it:) see what other 'flowers'(or whatever they
show interest in) there are:)

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From Ginger:
My boys loved a large lid filled with rice. We used this instead of a sand
box. It lived in the kitchen with funnels and all sorts of things. When
they were done, we'd have fun with the brooms and 'clean' up. Usually it
was clean enough to just put all the rice back into the box.

I used to put water in our recyclable tubs and things and then freeze them.
We'd go outside on the patio and draw or make things with the ice. This
cooled them down on the days that were hot.

We have window markers that draw on all our windows and the sliding glass
door.

We used cardboard and golf tees as our board and nails. This was great with
shoe boxes, too!

We made tons of confetti with paper. The loved cutting things.

We played 'family ball' with the squish balls intended for the pool. This
is where you put as many balls on the floor as you have and roll them as
fast as you can back and forth.

We also play sock snowball fights. As it sounds, we get all our socks,
separate each individual sock and roll it into a ball. Then we divide them
and use the bed as the 'fort' in between us and throw them to our heart's
content. Then when it was over, we'd open a drawer in the dresser and play
'basketball' to put them all away.

At this age, I washed little 'real' clothing as the boys were always in
dress-up stuff. I converted old clothing (some mine) into costumes like
Robin Hood and capes out of old material or sheets. Hats were a hit too.

We had a sheet in the living room to make an instant cave to play in and
read in. A dining chair was used as the door to crawl under.

We spent a lot of time in the tub. They make great tub toys that hold the
color tablets, some bubbles if they wanted and they make color crayons that
can be used on the bathtub walls. Sometimes just 'washing' the walls with
the bubbles and a washcloth was enough to keep them occupied for hours!

Anything that's easy to stack then knock over was fun. We have soft blocks
that they loved to do this with. I'd build a 'structure' as fast as I could
on my right, then as they were running I would build one as fast as I could
on my left. This kept them running around for a bit!

We loved just adventuring, too. We'd get all our stuff (flashlights, a
bucket to carry our stuff in, magnifying glass, map [usually something we
drew with the necessary 'x' on it]) and headed out. We'd make up the
mission as we went along and often it changed many times during the walk.
We'd save a space on our deck that was to display all our 'treasure'.

The boys enjoyed blowing bubbles and more so - they enjoyed chasing bubbles
that were blown. This was great in the park or outside in the grass.

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From Sandra:
Also try waxed paper and aluminum foil, for art projects. A pencil
on aluminum foil can be very cool. Also the foil put on top of
something carved, or even coins. But over a patterned metal platter,
or pottery with a pattern, and press down the aluminum. Then it can
be made into a ball. Then it can be put in the recycling.

Waxed paper is also cool with a pencil or colored pencils, and there
are ways to layer leaves and flower petals between the layers and
iron them between sheets of paper (so the wax doesn't get on the iron
or ironing board).

Paper towels and food coloring. You can make kind of tie-dye designs
with little cups of food coloring, fold the towel, dip different
corners in different colors, unfold it carefully and let it dry. You
can use those for wrapping paper (or tissue inside a box when a gift
is being wrapped).

All of those take a lot of adult interaction, but that's a good
thing. Instead of looking for things she can do without you, look
for things you can do with her.

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From Nancy:
> Waxed paper is also cool with a pencil or colored pencils, and there
> are ways to layer leaves and flower petals between the layers and
> iron them between sheets of paper (so the wax doesn't get on the iron
> or ironing board).

You can shred those stubby ends of crayons with a grater, then
sprinkle them between sheets of waxed paper, heat with an iron until
the crayon melts, then staple all around with a frame of construction
paper. Hang it in a window and you have a stained glass effect. The
leaves and flower petals would work with it, too.

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From Jenny:
" gather up boxes and make things. We've made a sail boat, a race car,
etc with boxes large enough for Z to sit in when he was that age. I
remember a 12 pack soda (coke) box being an engine on something we made.
He has also made forts and buildings large enough for his GI Joes. If
you have a Sam's Club or Costco's near by or possibly other stores might
let you have their boxes for free."

Ohhh you just gave me a nice memory! When C was about 5/6 we
acquired a bunch of big boxes, big enough to sit in. She made a train
out of them and attatched them altogether and put all of her special
stuffed animal friends in it, with her biggest bear being the engineer
with a special engineer (mr. bubble) hat. That thing was played with
for months, it went inside and outside. The neighbor kids loved it! We
lived in a big house at the time, so it lived anywhere it wanted to and
lasted a good long time!

M (6) has loved loads of hands on messy stuff. Almost everything
eventually involves more than just her hands by the time it's all done.
I keep large squares of cardboard to lay out to do large scale painting
with hands and feet, or the cornstarch and water stuff, or the playdough
stuff.

Things we keep as staple supplies are cotton balls, cornstarch, food
coloring, flour, salt, koolaid, large tempera paints/poster paints,
loads of paper, many things to paint with, rubber stamps and ink, yarn,
anything that seems like it might be fun and interesting, like those
water soluble packing peanuts, etc. We also have a messy art book that
has recipes that use common ingredients. Margaux pulls that out when
she is looking for physical stimulus activities.

Fort building is a fun and lasting activity to occupy a kid for many
many hours. We've even gone so far as to put the tent up in the living
room, or even the yard in the summer for outside play.

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From Sandra:
-=-Fort building is a fun and lasting activity to occupy a kid for many
many hours.-=-

She could have a cardboard house with stained-glass windows (back up
to the crayon-shavings-in-waxed-paper
)! And an aluminum-foil-wad
doorknob! Make a hole in the door and pull through a long fan-
folded piece of foil, and then wad up the ends that stick through for
doorknobs!!

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From Pam:
We used to dump stuff in the bathtub for the girls to play with/in.
You can buy finger paints, but we used to buy powdered tempera paint
and mix it with a little liquid soap and water. A favorite was instant
pudding. Cornstarch was good. They had a big bag full of bathtub toys
that were really mostly kitchen utensils, plastic food, fast food
toys, beach toys, etc. Egg beaters, whisks, sifters, funnels, basters
- those I remember as being especially fun.

Playdough made at home is WAY cooler than store-bought. Google for a
recipe - but be creative. Add oatmeal. Or high fiber cereal like Fiber
One or rice - for weird consistencies. Add pineapple or chocolate or
mint flavorings. Add bits of herbs and spices. You can use the
coloring that is used by cake decorators to get more vivid colors.

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Nicole said:
I asked my resident expert on 5 year old activities what she would suggest.

She says you have to make snowcones, do cannon balls onto the air matress , sugar painting ( glue on the paper then sprinkle colored sugar on ) , bicycle painting...

my 9 year was the "bicycle washer" and squirted paint on her tires and she rode her bike over a big piece of cardboard making colorful tracks.

From Ginger/Sandra:
Sandra said: Paper towels and food coloring. You can make kind of tie-dye
designs
with little cups of food coloring, fold the towel, dip different
corners in different colors, unfold it carefully and let it dry. You
can use those for wrapping paper (or tissue inside a box when a gift
is being wrapped).
========

OOoo, how about putting the food coloring in little travel spray pumps
and tie-dying with that!

From Diana:
> > Waxed paper is also cool with a pencil or colored pencils, and there
> > are ways to layer leaves and flower petals between the layers and
> > iron them between sheets of paper (so the wax doesn't get on the iron
> > or ironing board).
>
> You can shred those stubby ends of crayons with a grater, then
> sprinkle them between sheets of waxed paper, heat with an iron until
> the crayon melts, then staple all around with a frame of construction
> paper. Hang it in a window and you have a stained glass effect. The
> leaves and flower petals would work with it, too.
>
>

Once finished with a colored picture, you can rub the back of the paper with
vegetable oil for an instant "stained glass window" :)

From Pam:
> Sandra said: Paper towels and food coloring. You can make kind of
> tie-dye
> designs
> with little cups of food coloring, fold the towel, dip different
> corners in different colors, unfold it carefully and let it dry. You
> can use those for wrapping paper (or tissue inside a box when a gift
> is being wrapped).

[My kids] and I were dying eggs and we had lots of extra dye so
we used it on round coffee filters (fold and dip). After they are dry,
put three of them together to make flowers.

From Joyce:
We've also dyed rocks with egg dye. Porous rocks (like sandstone)
work really well, but different rocks have different effects. Try
half submerging some.

From Margaret:
One thing my daughter has really enjoyed is her art table. We have a
large low table covered with a wipeable table cloth and a low
bookshelf next to it with more books and art supplies. It is in the
living room/kitchen/dining room area (all open & connected) so it is
right in the center of everything.

The art table has plain paper, construction paper, scissors, glue,
glue sticks, crayons, markers, rubber stamps, pipe cleaners, popsicle
sticks, origami, tape, a stapler, lots of non-messy paints (dot-art
paints and another set that is like roll on deodorant), coloring
books, writing books for practicing letters, yarn, poofy balls for
art projects, stickers, clay, noodles, playfoam and probably a few
other things. We also have paints (water color and tempra), pastels,
glitter glue, and playdough available upon request. She LOVES it.

We had most of those things around before we had an art table, but
putting them all together for her like this made a huge difference in
how she used them and how often she used them. One of the things that
she really wanted for her birthday earlier this week was to get new
supplies for the art table. She helped me shop for new art supplies
and she was very happy when I reorganized the table and added a few
new things.

Some things I plan to add:
aluminum foil
feathers
pine cones & other things we collect outside
paper plates
colored pencils
colored tape (she has had this in the past and loved it - huge "spider
web" in the living room!)

From Barbara:
tie-dyed coffee filters also make marvelous butterflies when tied in the
middle with clothespins (or with pipecleaners), then you can tie a piece of
string on them and fly them like little kites! for the flowers, we fold the
filters up into fourths or sixths and cut petal edges into them, also, stick
a pipecleaner in the center for a stem, layer a few filters, bend the stem
in the center. the most fun is experimenting with different shapes and
folds.

More From Lisa:
Blow up a balloon and "keep it in the air" great indoor activity.

Balloon volleyball is fun - set up a net (sheet or large towel works great) one person on each side of the "net" and hit the balloon back and forth. OR you could bat the balloon back and forth between you two without a "net".

Balloon punch balls - it's a thick balloon with a rubber band. You hold onto the rubber band and rhythmically punch it back and forth - those are cheap and at most stores like groceries and Wal-Mart;k-mart;target types.

Z loved making balloon "things" like animals, hats, etc. We had a book that gave picture instructions, and the skinny balloons with the little hand pump - because you really cannot blow them up with your mouth. The instruction book was great in that it was a launching off place.

Take a large straw and attach gift wrap ribbons of various widths and lengths to it with a stapler or anything else you have for a stick/wand/something to attach the ribbons to. Running with the streamers/ribbons and waving them around.

go for a "walk" and hunt for neat things to glue onto paper; make rock creatures - a pet rock perhaps.


From Aar:
keep a good stock of stationery items in their cupboard including glue, threads - thick/strong/thin/various color, cellotapes - diff sizes - broad, medium, small - newspapers, various shape cutting scissors, spirograph making plates, waste pieces of cloths from your local tailor, spool, cloth pegs, unused cardboard boxes like things. sand, sand toys, water tub, water toys kept in a place where it is easy to clean up later. having a junk box (in my kids words - its precious items box) is also a good idea.

let the kid slowly learn to manage their his own free time by making/experimenting things around the house. also remember that you cannot make the child happy all the times by providing things in their hands... they need to figure out things on their own to occupy themselves.

More From Sandra:
-=-water toys kept in a place where it is easy to clean up later.-=-

We had a plastic bin for water toys, and would leave it in the tub
until they were dry and then put it under the sink. That was helpful
here.

The art table ideas are making ME want to go and play with paper and
glue and dye. I did want to remind moms whose children are new to
this and who are considering these things for the first time of this:

Don't make it your child's responsibility to keep the area clean.
You clean it up. Maybe, if you make it fun, your child will want to
help. But part of unschooling is providing space and materials for
learning to take place.

If you say "You can use these things if you clean it up," you might
as well say "You can use this, but the result will be me being angry
and you being in trouble."

Small children are capable of taking things off a shelf long before
they're able to put them back. They are able to color long before
they can manage to put crayons back in the box.

Make it your job to clean the area up, not theirs. The results down
the line will be wonderful.

Yesterday I was unloading a very full dishwasher to load it up with
two sinks' worth of dishes. I asked Holly if she would help, and
pulled out the silverware tray. She was putting that away and I was
putting away the other stuff, and I turned around and she and her
boyfriend were finishing off the whole rest of the inside.

He's from a "Clean it up yourself" family, and when I've gone in
where he is and offered to pick up his dishes, or brought him and
Holly food, he acts surprised and embarrassed and grateful--out of
proportion to what I'm doing, which is picking up dishes from where
people have eaten. He's not used to it. But my kids come and get my
dishes too, or if they pass by where I am they often ask if I need
anything.

Generosity will have a payback, a few years back.
Selfishness and control will too, but you won't like that one.

Cameron said:
Just to mention, there is spray frosting that can be used very artistically. Tastes terrible, so after we bought some and decided not to ruin a cake with it, it became backyard spray paint. It doesn't wash off any faster than the acrylic paint they fingerpainted onto the back porch, though. It's just not so toxic. One really cool ghosty face has lasted months. We also used to spread a large (8'x6') sheet of heavy plastic in the kitchen and give them paints (tempera, usually) and paper, or paper plates, or cardboard boxes, or small unfinished wooden things, or 25-cent baskets from the Salvation Army store. Often they painted in their underwear, then ended up painting their bodies. This offers still more fun in the tinted bath which follows. Plastic comes in huge rolls available at hardware stores. We also have spread it out on the floor to play in bubble stuff and in uncooked grits, a winter 'sand.' When the fun is done, roll it up and
throw the plastic out. We have also recently built 'log cabins' out of popsicle sticks from the dollar store. One house is very planned and tidy, and one is "like the Weasley's house, all tippy." Emily asked to paint something with acrylic paints again, so they are going to paint the picnic table. This resulted a few years ago in a porch with very sweet multicolored hand prints, etc. I can't wait to see what will end up on the picnic table this summer.

More From Pam:
> We have also recently built 'log cabins' out of popsicle sticks

If you take two or three sheets of newspaper - lay them one on top of
the other and roll them together from one corner to the other - put a
little piece of tape to hold the roll together - you can build with
the newspaper "logs." You can build HUGE structures and if you're
thoughtful about how you build, they can be very very strong. Use
masking tape or scotch tape to build with.

It takes a while to roll enough logs to have a lot of fun with them -
so I suggest parents (with kid help as much as they want) sit and roll
logs for a few hours one evening - maybe while watching tv. Then the
kids can have a plentiful supply to build with.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Fill In


http://fridayfillins.blogspot.com/

1. Birthdays are okay.

2. Spring is my favorite season because of everything coming back to life.

3. I feel my best when I am in line with Who I Am. (Reader of Conversations With God, here)

4. Chinese anything is my favorite food!

5. First impressions are very usually correct.

6. The best piece of advice I ever received was "Follow Your Heart".

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to being by myself (introverted and the girls are away for the weekend), tomorrow my plans include attending my brother's graduation ceremony and Sunday, I want to mostly relax but also get some house cleaning done!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Re: teaching to read

From the AlwaysLearning list...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-=-With dd, I had already had the benefit of seeing ds teach
himself- -=-

I think it will help you move further faster if you revise this
thought to "I had already seen him learn to read."

He didn't need a teacher, not even himself.

http://sandradodd.com/wordswords
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was just thinking about this today because on Monday someone complimented Marti's reading skills. She is 8 (or will be in about 3 weeks) and I believe she reads at or above her level (whatever that means), but really don't know in honesty. I think the reason that I get this comment (Wow! She reads really well for her age) is because she looks younger than she is (many people think she is 6 or younger).

But the situation left me wondering what to say to someone that tells me that she reads well. I know that "She taught herself" isn't "appropriate" if you ask Sandra (lol), but with others outside the unschooling world, it seems like the best answer I can come up with. A couple times it has sparked a conversation and sometimes I hope the little things (like that or like seeing the girls out and about with us during school hours or seeing that we treat our girls like we love them instead of like they are burdens (which happens a lot when you ride the city bus around here)) will enlighten people. I don't know.

Anyway, I my point was that I was just exploring this theme today. Crazy how that works, huh?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Apology

I wanted to pop on and apologize for not updating this in a long time. I have been busy with the girls and with taking pictures.

I have a couple little stories though...

Time in Example
5/22/2008
Lilly hit Marti
I brought her inside, and am ashamed to admit I spanked her bottom (for the first time in months though). Within 30 seconds I was appologizing and we were crying together.
So, we went downstairs and it turns out she was hungry and much more easy to "deal" with once I appologized and LOVINGLY got her something to eat.

6/12/2008-Marti turned down a powdered donut because "they don't taste good to me anymore".

Now, there is so much more that I want to write, but it's almost time for bed so I will pop on in a couple days I hope.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

School

I was in a Christian bookstore yesterday and looking around while my daughter was going to the bathroom (the reason we were in the store this particular time). I came across a scrapbook for school children. I open it up, out of curiosity and on the very first page it says this:

"God created recess
To bring a spot of joy
Into our schools of learning
For every girl and boy
Other memories linger
Though some completely fade
But memories
From the playground
Are the best ever made"

It made me glad the my children's entire lives consist of one big recess.

It also got me thinking about my own school experience. The poem is right. The memories that are most vivid are the ones of recess. How sad.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mother's Day

I have been thinking about Mothers Day lately.

Typically on Mother's Day I go into "martyr thinking". My dear and devoted husband wouldn't know romance if it bit him on the butt so generally speaking, I don't get anything. I might get something if I whine about how I didn't get anything, but then it feels like he's just doing it to get me to shut up so it doesn't mean anything.

Yesterday I got to thinking about the purpose of Mother's Day. What is it? Well, of course, everyone knows that it is a day to honor mothers. To show them how much you appreciate them, right?

Why do I need/want one day every year to celebrate being a mother? One day to know that i am appreciated by those whom I care for? ONE DAY? You have to be kidding me. I started rethinking that. I don't want ONE day. I want to know I am appreciated every day. I don't need a diamond ring or a piece of paper that tells me that. I need to look at my family in a different way. I need to see the ways that they tell me they love me EVERY SINGLE DAY!

So, I started yesterday.

My first "Mother's Day" was marked by the fact that my two beautiful, very social daughters who are unschooled (and since we haven't had a car in several weeks we haven't been able to make it to local meetings) turned down playing with the local schooled neighborhood kids (whom they have been playing with every day for the last 2+ weeks, might I add so they aren't not getting *any* social interaction right now) to make slime with their mom. What a compliment to hear them tell the kids to go home because they are doing a project with mom. It warmed my heart.

You can see the results of our science project at

http://365daysofsparkle.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, after thinking about all this, I had to look up Mother's Day on wikipedia and got to learn the history of Mother's Day.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother's_Day

Here is some interesting information on it...

At first, it was to honor the Gods in Roman and Greek times. Here's how it came about in the US.

The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was imported by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. However, it was intended as a call to unite women against war. In 1870, she wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.

When Jarvis died in 1907, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on 10 May 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Originally the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, this building is now the International Mother's Day Shrine (a National Historic Landmark). From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

Nine years after the first official Mother's Day, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. Mother's Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.

So much for that idea, lol!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Homeschool Space"

I have neglected this blog for a little too long. I have so many pics I want to post and stuff.

First, I have been working on a couple other things and wanted to "announce" them. I have a new blog, 365 days of Sparkle. I meant to post on it everyday, but it isn't turning out that way. I am also working on my photography, most of which gets posted at my deviant art site, but I haven't posted there lately either.

Okay, here are a couple pics of recent life in our house.

This is Lilly offering to do chores on her own (for chore wars).
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The Girls, working with daddy on a wood project of his.
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The little people on the trampoline that came and visited Lilly and I.
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Marti showing of the loss of her 4th tooth
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Our new "garden".
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Also, I wrote this post on a message board that I frequent. Someone was asking for pics of how their homeschool space was organized. I put my revelations in red.

Well, we don't do "school-at-home" (we unschool) so I am not sure this will help you (everything is learning material in our house), but here are a few pics of my messy house, actually, just of the 2 main rooms downstairs and part of the bathroom.

In reality everything is "sprawled" all over our house, which bugs me a bit (the "everything has a place and everything in it's place" part of me), but sort of fits with our life. None of our "school stuff" is segregated into appropriate catergories because our lives aren't split up into subjects. We live the way we learn, we learn the way we live.

I didn't include the trampoline, sandbox and swingset out back, where they spend most of their warm days feeling the sand between their toes, learning about worms, climbing trees and jumping to their hearts content. I didn't include the front porch where we spend much time talking, playing in the rice box and have a mini garden planted (this is my first year doing a "garden" and a big thing in the backyard without a tiller was a bit intimidating to me).

I didn't include the upstairs either. Most of their "toys" are up there. Right now the hallway (which is a large open space, not a narrow typical hallway) is set up with barbie stuff galore. I was thinking the other day that my girls don't play with their toys enough. So, I set up their barbie stuff how I would have if I were going to play with it. I didn't even get halfway done when Lil was up there playing with me, and Marti wasn't far behind.

Their play food and dolly stuff is in Marti's room (which she asked for and slept in for about 2 weeks and is now back in our family bed). Their stuffed animals and dress up stuff are in my sewing room/photography studio. And we also have 3 shelves of books in our family bedroom.

So, in terms of helping you organize, I bet that I did sqat for that :lostit: , but it's what works for us at the moment (it's subject to change at mom's will and does *very* often).

So, here are my pics then. You'll have to forgive the state of the house. It needs a great many repairs and we are working on them slowly.


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The Yellow arrow in this pic is pointing to something I forgot to photograph. This is the CD shelf. On top of the shelf are a couple baskets which have past mini pages (from the newspaper), flashcards, etc.
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This is where we store library books
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Audio/Visual area
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Being taught proper English by an 8 year old.

I feel like I am getting behind now for some reason.

I wanted to share this story.
Today, while eating lunch as a family I said "we haven't 'ate' like this in a while" because we haven't been actually sitting down at the table and eating together lately. Marti (who will be 8 in July) said to me, "Mom, it's 'eaten' not 'ate'. This girl has been to 1/2 a year of preschool and 3 weeks of Kindergarten. We have never had success with a curriculum (I tried for 2 weeks in what would have been 1st grade and for 2 weeks at the beginning of this school year) and has *never* had an English lesson in her entire life!

Also, I wanted to thank all the patient people on the unschooling lists over the last 3 years. Today has been a "wow" day for me. I feel like Superman, "leaping tall buildings in a single bound" and stuff. Here are some of my random thoughts today.

About not having a car (a dilema we may be facing)...
DH and I have been back and forth on this issue. I think that maybe *not* having a car won't really be all that bad. He sees not having a car as a lack of freedom and independence.

Today I asked him what *not* having a car meant to him because I was tired of butting head with him. I wanted to know where he was coming from, not so I could change his mind, but so I could relate. He said things like "no freedom" and "no independance". He didn't want to have to rely on the others or the bus.

After he told me what it meant to him I told him that to me, not having a car *meant* freedom AND independence. Freedom from debt was of course the first thing I thought of. We have can save $140 per month not having a car, which at first can be partially used to pay off our debt. Since we only make $600-700 per month, that is a lot of money. Freedom from debt led to so much more. Freedom to be *able* to live on a part time job (currently reading How To Survive Without A Salary) and have the extra time to be with each other. The list goes on.

When I explained to him that in the past month we have been able to set back $110 (granted, it is to fix the car) he started to come over to the "dark side". I said, "Imagine what we could do with that money if we didn't have to spend it on fixing the car." I didn't set out to convince him. I set out to understand him.

Other kids
My girls have been playing with these other (public schooled) kids in the neighborhood. They aren't the most respectful kids in the world, but they are okay. Today, Lil and I made cookies shortly before the kids showed up (after school got out) so I thought I would send a few out to the kids. The kids scarfed them down and begged for more. I let them have another and told them we didn't have anymore (even though I really wanted to say we didn't have any more to share, dh would kill me if I gave them all away). They didn't say thank you. They asked for more. When I told them we had no more, they asked for milk. I told them we didn't have any (we have 1/2 a gallon and dh drinks *lots* of milk, especially with his cookies).

Finally they quit asking for things and I couldn't help but to grumble (to myself) about how ungrateful they had been. As I was grumbling, I got to thinking. Maybe they saw right through me. Maybe they knew we had more of this or that. Maybe they knew I wasn't sharing what I had with love. I was being stingy (because we don't have the extra money). Even now, when they are back and asking for more cookies, I am still being stingy. It's no wonder they weren't thankful.

On college (yes, I know my oldest is only 8-almost 8 I mean)
There was a post recently on a board I frequent (called Diaperswappers) about unschooling. Someone asked about how unschooling prepared kids for college. Here is my reply.

I provided a bunch of links, but then thought... Maybe she doesn't want to read all that so I pulled a few quotes out. I can't testify to the college question because my oldest is 8, but I trust her to do what is best for her. I can say that at this point, it doesn't look like she will follow a traditional college route. She wants to be a mom. She loves babies and she wants to be able to stay at home with them. That said, she has also expressed interest in being a homebirth midwife. We have a local midwife that teaches that outside the typical college setting. I do hear that most unschoolers who choose to go to college do great because that is in fact their choice and they haven't been stuffed full of curriculum for the past 13 years. I know that I had had plenty of curriculum by the time I graduated and chose to wait on college. I am 27 and still waiting because now I have kids. My kids won't be so full of "institutionalization" and curriculum that if they want to go to college they will succeed at a high level.

Then I quoted Joyce's website and found an article on about.com and one on nehn.org. I am so glad that I have you all to fall back on.

On Bananas
My youngest DD *loves* bananas! I *hate* finding banana peels all over the house so yesterday before I gave her a banana I peeled it for her and threw it away. No mess to clean up or get annoyed with later. Simple, huh? It's the simple things that count.

I think that will be it for now. See you next time.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Feel the POWER

What an amazing day, and it isn't even 9 am (wow, it has taken me an hour to write this, due to breaking for breakfast and to put a movie in for Lilly).

First a little background. Unschooling doesn't always come easy to me. In fact, it doesn't often come easy to me. You would think it would come a little more easy than most because my mom came as close to unschooling (though she didn't know the term) as one could given her circumstances, but sadly, it doesn't.

Also, a bit on our current circumstances. I am an introvert, and do need time alone. In "good" times, I don't *need* a lot of alone time. In stressful times, I need more than I like to admit (or ask for). Currently, life is stressful.

~We are attempting to live on $600-700 per month (although we don't have rent or mortgage, but it's not as easy as it sounds, even given that).

~Our only car broke down 2 1/2 weeks ago. It's transmission related, but we don't know exactly what until this coming Thursday.

~Because our car is broke down, the girls and I have been having to stay home most of the time and I think "cabin fever" is running high, as we naturally love to be out and about.

~At the beginning of March (so the bill for February) we got a $650 electric bill (apparently they had only *estimated* for December and January, but they had estimated low so they tacked on the rest to that bill). Obviously, with only $669 of income in March we weren't able to pay it, so now we have the $625 (I did pay a little) shut off notice and another $300 bill for April (March's bill). To answer questions, yes, we are trying to get help with it and I am pretty sure we can, it's just a tad more difficult now that we don't have a car.

Those are the *main* things that are stressing me out, I think. And believe me, I know it could be worse (in 2002 we were living in a tent in my mom's backyard after our home was repo'd), but things are crazy stressful and life in general feels out of my control.

I should also add that we live in Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the nation (aside from Puerto Rico) by a margin of 1.2%, so "go get a [better] job" is a lot harder than it sounds.

http://www.fxstreet.com/news/forex-news/article.aspx?StoryId=aea7fdc2-c8df-40a9-b1f5-f6d6c0055879 (Feb 2008 unemployment 7.2%)

Anyway, after all that babbling, I wanted to tell a story today about Power. Not like electric, but the kind of thing that you see most "business tycoon" type people craving and pursing until they become domineering, pompous prats.

I've already said, I haven't been able to get much alone time lately. Usually my mom takes my girls every two weeks for a couple nights (I can just hear a lot of you say "LUCKY!" and yes, I know I am *very* blessed by this. It's the one thing that keeps me sane.) and that is enough time for me to rejuvanate. Two weeks ago, she had to work and this weekend she couldn't take them either. So, now I am faced with another 2 weeks of no alone time, which stresses me out even more.

I asked my SIL if she could take the girls for a couple hours this weekend to the park or something, but it's supposed to rain so it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

I asked my dh if he would take the girls to see a free movie today, but he would be out all day (with the having to ride the bus issue) with a movie *and* having to work. When he said no, the disappointment shone clearly on my face, I know it and I could see him worried about how I would handle it. Usually, especially in the past, I would blow up at him and everything would become his fault.

Instead, I went upstairs and brushed my teeth (I have also been known lately to take a shower). While brushing (and thinking I could really use a really high dose of patience today), a line from a movie came to me (forgive me, my brain works a lot in lines from movies, increasingly over the last ten years).

From Evan Almighty:
God is speaking to Joan Baxter, the main character's wife.

"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other? "

So, I started thinking of the situation as an opportunity to be patient. Lilly had followed me upstairs and was talking to me, playing with the hair dryer, etc which was becoming increasingly annoying (the thought "Can't I just have 30 seconds alone!" screaming loudly *in my head*). I yelled at her, then apologized, put the hair dryer away and asked if she wanted to take a bath (her *favorite* thing to do). Then, I came downstairs and Rog was walking around trying to be helpful, but obviously thought he was walking on egg shells, expecting me to blow up at any moment.

Here is where the (think of Genie from Aladdin said in your best Robin Williams voice) *absolute power* comes in.

I asked him if he was going back to bed if he would please take the box [of cloth diapers] upstairs with him.

Seem silly? I basically gave him permission to go back to bed. I wasn't trying to be controlling. I don't think that the power is the fact that I controlled him, but in that I controlled me, and my response to the situation.

I think the trick was, I *wanted* him to go upstairs. I didn't say it so that when he walked away I could fume inside my head about how he should have wanted to sit here and talk to me.

Before, I would have started picking up the house, huffily, all the while yelling at him because I wasn't able to get my alone time.

The feeling was amazing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bus Ride

This is Roger, Amanda's husband, and I have a story about our 4-year-old, Lilly. First, there are two things that led up to the situation. The first is that our car stopped functioning two weeks ago, and getting around has been interesting to say the least. Our girls had their first bus ride ever last Wednesday as a result. The second thing that led to this situation is a shut off notice from the electric company. Amanda had been talking with our Case Worker had the Department of Human Services about help, and she had filled out an Emergency Application that she had printed off from the internet. Lilly and I took the bus to DHS to drop off this application. While we were there, since we had time and money, we had a snack and a couple drinks from the vending machines there. Lilly asked if we could make the trip again the next day. Later on, on the bus ride home, she asked me where the papers I had were. That's when I realized that she thought the whole trip was about having a snack together someplace new.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

No Car :(

So, we have been without a car now for nearly a week and a half. It has been different and a bit stressful, but all things considered I think we are handling it well. The first week was rough. The girls started fighting quite a bit and we realized that we needed to get out of the house every day to help with that. So far, so good.

Here are a couple pics from the last 10 days or so, then I have a bunch from yesterday.

Lilly helping me make laundry soap.

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Lilly working on her masterpiece. This was so cute! I wish I had gotten a video.

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This is a pic of a castle that Lilly made for her dad.

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Yesterday was a big day for us. We decided to ride the metro bus downtown to the library (not the one we usually go to, a closer one actually). It was the girls' first ride on the bus (and my second!). We had fun, but we stayed out just a little too long. Lil had an issue getting off the bus because dad told her to follow me, and she wanted to stay by him. We were holding the bus up so I picked her up (as well as I could with other things in my hands), while she screamed then I carried her home (which was only across the street). We were all tired and went upstairs and fell asleep shortly after getting home.

Oh, we also did a science experiment before we left yesterday. So, here is the experiment. It is a little milk in the bottom of a container, then a couple drops of food coloring and finally you stick a toothpick in with a bit of dishsoap at the end.
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Here are the girls' puppet shows at the library, well, Marti's isn't uploading, so here is just Lilly's.

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At the park...

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Feeding the ducks...

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Riding the bus home...

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Snow again??? and more

First, I wanted to post a few more pics from our nice day a little over two weeks ago, on the 13th. After dad got home from work we went to the park and to the library.

Here they are riding their bikes, then playing on the park equipment.

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And of course, I have to post this pic of Rog. I absolutely love it. I am working on a way to play with it in photoshop.

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This next picture is of Lilly cleaning the kitchen floor, VOLUNTARILY. Yep, you read right. She just WANTED to do it. You might say that it is just her age. Kids at that age love to help, right? Keep reading! (Pardon the crazy mess of a floor/cupboards. We are working on remodeling.)

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Are you ready for this, you people who thought it was just age? Here is my 7 1/2 year old playing chore wars. On the 18th she just up and decided to log into her chore wars account, which she hasn't been in since October, when we were requiring chores.

Marti rarely WANTS to help out with chores. I would say "never" but often give her the line "Absolutes are rarely true, my young padawan", so I guess I should take my own advice. Anyway, when I say, "Marti rarely WANTS to help out with chores", that is like, almost never and when we ask her to do a chore (ie please put away your clothes) she grumbles and groans about it. We don't ask her often.

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Anyway, since I have a record of it at chore wars, here is a list of things that she CHOSE to do a couple of days ago, on her own. No one asked. When she asked me if she could do chore wars, I told her that the prize really didn't hold any weight anymore (the prize was free time which she would usually use to play video games, but now she has unlimited game time) and she didn't care. She still wanted to play.

~Dusted
~Washed Kitchen Floor
~Took the laundry out of the dryer and put it in the appropriate basket
~Washed the TV
~Washed the floor in the front entrance
~Watered the cat
~Washed the mirror
~Washed the front door, inside and out
~Sanitized the door knobs

And she did some more chores the next day!!!

This next picture is of Marti and Lilly playing with their new toys yesterday that they bought with their allowances. They were getting along grandly. After playing for awhile with those toys the girls went outside and played in the backyard. When I told Lil it was time to come in to go to preschool she said she didn't want to go. So, we had a talk and decided that she is done with school. She is a homeschooler now, just like Marti and she was very excited about it.

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THIS morning, the 2nd day of spring, when I left the house, it was a little chili, but was free of snow. I just took some pictures of our front step and our back porch a few minutes ago. We have gotten like 5 inches of snow. And I just put away the snow blower. Looks like I am going to have to get it out again. Curses! Michigan weather bites!

If you look carefully enough at the second picture you can make out dh's footprints from when he went to work only 4 hours ago.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Funny Story

The girls are at my mom's house this weekend.

Last night Rog and I watched a video with Suze Orman discussing financial matters called Young, Fabulous and Broke. It got me thinking about our financial state, which like most Americans, is currently (and pretty much always has been) in a state of peril.

So....

Roger and I were in the car driving to pick up something from Freecycle this morning and my head is reeling about what I need to be doing to help our financial state. I am driving and thinking (which I do a lot) when suddenly Roger pipes up with a question.

"Why do Pirates wear big hats?". I laughed and laughed. It made me think about all the self help books that I have read about the "complexity of women" and "simplicity of men". Roger said it was like something out of a movie.

I just had to share.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

1 Gig of videos, the trampoline & countdown to spring

First, I have an announcement to make. My daughter is growing up too fast!

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The story of every parent's life, I know.

My oldest is 7 1/2 and about 3 days ago she told her dad that she wanted her own room so she could "keep it clean and make her bed." So, I made it happen, even though my first a year ago would have been "we don't have enough room for that".

You know what though? She has only been in there for two nights, but she has kept it clean (even though some of my sewing stuff was still in there) and she has kept the bed made. If eventually she decides that she doesn't want to clean or make the bed, that will certainly be fine with us.

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We have been anxiously awaiting warmer weather here in Michigan the last couple of weeks. We even have a sort of countdown going on and Marti knows that the 20th is the first day of spring. The weather has been "teasing" us with back and forth warm and cold days. Today is not overly warm, but the big trampoline outside was dry for the first time in months so the girls went out to jump. Lil was actually trying to not be in this picture, but ended up in it anyway.

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Oh, and I have to share this pic too. This pose was Marti's idea. Before I had gotten out there, she was meditating and she decided, after I had taken several pictures of her meditating that they were going to pose for one, like this. What makes this picture kind of comical is that Lilly (the one that is "praying") doesn't think God is real (completely of her own accord, but I suspect it is because she is more the logical "I don't believe in anything I can't see" sort of person because the same statement applies to Santa and the Easter Bunny as well) and the one meditating does believe in God.

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Of course, I knew that that was going to be something that I was going to want to blog so I grabbed the camera to take the picture. I turned it on to find that the memory card was COMPLETELY full of videos. All of them made by Lilly. Now these videos are generally of her just dancing, talking to the camera and often, forgetting about it being on and going about her business. Here is a short example from the 1 gig of videos that I downloaded today. Can you guess that she has been watching a lot of Shark Tale lately?

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I have many times had thoughts of deleting some of these videos. Then I think of Hannah, a girl from family I have never met, but who's story touches my heart. And I think of Isaac, a little man who changed my life. I just can't help but to think that if I ever lost my Lilly that I would never be able to forgive myself for deleting those videos.

Thank you Hannah and thank you Isaac.

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Oh, I completely forgot to include these pictures in this post (I usually go chronologically).

This picture is from March 2nd. We were on our way home from Grandma Gail's and Lilly wanted to go out to eat at Stir Max. We were actually on our way home so that Dad could go to work, so Stir Max wasn't an option, plus, we didn't have the money.

We actually only had a few minutes until we got home so I was trying to quickly understand what I could do to help her to quit crying. I offered to make her some rice when we got home or stop and buy her some fruit or ice cream (her usuals at Stir Max). Nope! Not what she wanted. So, I offered to set up our table with chop sticks and Chinese calendar placements, just like the restaurant.

Lilly: "No, that will be too much work."
Me: "But I am willing to do it if it will make you happy."
Lilly: "We can just stop for ice cream, mom."

Great! And just in time too because the last grocery store on the way home was coming into view and we were cutting the time pretty close for Rog getting to work. Anyway, she was very proud of getting her very own ice cream.

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These next two pictures are from the Science Literacy Night that we went to at the local public school (my oldest LOVES Science and was exceptionally excited to go). Both girls got to test simulated blood from a crime scene, make silly putty, slime, learn about the periodic table of elements where they showed this video, and much more. They really enjoyed themselves. You even get to see the hand print smudges on my TV! Yay!

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