Archive | January, 2009

A Tablecloth, New Clothes and Amadeus

25 Jan

I had a very unusual shopping list today, you see!

An idea had been rumbling, as such vague ideas often do, that JediBoy would be more inclined to practice his multiplication facts if the practice were more physical.  I had made a board game, which he does enjoy, and we practice orally, on the blackboard, in the car, while doing jumping jacks… but still, I hadn’t hit on a truly fun way to practice.

Then I saw a 70″ round vinyl tablecloth on clearance for $4 and knew it was just the thing.  I’ve spent most of my evening working that up… pictures to follow one day this week.

I’ve also been more in a swing of celebrating things, and so we’ll be doing lots of fun things tomorrow (reading picture books, doing crafts, eating yummy foods, and wearing new clothes) to celebrate Chinese New Year.

And, of course, Tuesday the 27th is the anniversary of Mozart’s birthday (he’ll be 253) so we’ll be celebrating that as well, but our VCR has gone to meet its maker (hmm, won’t Magnavox be surprised!) and we didn’t own Amadeus on dvd yet, so I had to procure the movie as well as a cake mix, icing and 253 candles… okay, maybe not the candles.

I was also reminded by Angie over at The Homeschool Classroom to make myself a button so readers there could find me here…  in about 5 minutes I had this one put together…


I’ll tweak it eventually, but along with everything else we did, it’s not bad for a Sunday.

Another Boys’ Night Out … Without Me!

24 Jan

I can only trust the boys aren’t at risk of getting kicked out of tonight’s hockey game!  It was “Star Wars Night” and JediBoy was so excited that PisecoDad was taking him (and John was taking Ethan and Ben) so it was a true boys’ night out.

BabyGirl and I are home, cuddled up in bed, watching movies.  We started with “Follow That Bird” and have moved on to “Thomas and the Magic Railroad” but I’m putting my foot down and watching something without puppetry next… unless it’s the “Smile Time” episode of Angel!

If you were looking for a more meaty post, you can check out The Homeschool Classroom where I have a post up about word games today.

In Which We Did Not Get Kicked Out Of Wal-Mart

23 Jan

…not for lack of trying, though.

Heather called today to say that she wanted to take just Ethan (and baby Jillian) out, leaving the other two kids at home.  JediBoy and I met them at IHOP for dinner and then we all went to Wal-Mart.

The boys were suitably goofy at dinner…


… they cut up their crayons using table knives. Then Heather challenged me to bring the bits home, make something good out of them, and blog about that… so keep your eyes open for the crayons-cut-by-butter-knives craft challenge next week!

When the boys saw the camera, they turned even sillier:


Eventually, after a delicious dinner (Nutella crepes), we decided to head to Wal-mart together so Heather and Ethan could pick out a birthday present for a friend.

I don’t have enough energy or brain power left tonight to really describe our antics, but they included:

  • sitting on the floor in the toy department, both of us on our cell phones with our husbands, picking through HeroScape booster sets
  • watching the boys slip their arms under the shelves in the candy aisle and produce handfuls of Hershey’s Kisses and mini Reese’s Cups… one mom and one boy indulged in the dusty candy, and one mom and one boy abstained
  • hanging out in the book department for at least twenty minutes, watching the boys sit calmly together and read


  • picking out cheap diapers and wipes so we could change Jillian’s diaper on a bench in the back
  • hanging out in the back near the restrooms so Jillian could nurse, at which time…
  • …JediBoy taught Ethan how to “gurgle” – you know, bubble water in the back of your throat?
  • the boys practiced karate and almost got run over by a floor zamboni (or whatever you call those)
  • we let the boys open and eat up their chocolates
  • I entertained the boys by taking their pictures for a silly face contest…



  • …at which time I was sternly reprimanded by a Wal-mart employee that, ma’am, we don’t allow pictures to be taken in Wal-mart, despite my protests that we were in the back and couldn’t see any product.
  • We tried to find a suitable logo, away from any other employees, so we could take a picture of the boys in front of it, but didn’t get a chance.

It’s amazing how entertaining Wal-mart can be. We think next week, we might try Target.

Heather’s Hooked!

23 Jan

One of my good bloggy friends, Heather at Homeschool Fun, has given me some bloggy love: she says she’s HOOKED ON my blog!




And I can tell she is!  Heather is a frequent commenter, even just to say “How cute!” about all my pictures, or to tell me she’s going to try one of my ideas. If you haven’t visited her blog to read about all the fantastic projects, books and sensory activities she does with her boys Gabe and Sam, you’re missing out – so head on over and tell her hi!

Now to pass on the love…  the rules for this award say to

-List 6 things that make you happy and
-List 5 bloggers whose blogs you are hooked on.

Six things that make me happy…

1. BabyGirl’s belly laugh.  I can’t fully describe it and don’t have a video, so you’re going to have to trust me on this one.  She gets so excited about something that her whole body tenses and shakes, she goes up on tiptoe and clenches her fists and lets out this deep huh-huh-huh-huh-huh that has us in hysterics.

2. JediBoy’s midnight cuddles.  He slept with us until he was 4 and was very physically attached as a baby (nursed until 3, lived in the sling, etc.).  Now that he’s 6 1/2, he still gives lots of hugs and kisses but there is something different about those rare nights when he wakes up in the middle of the night and slips into my side of the bed… I’m transported to his sweet toddler years and I breathe in the scent of him and count my blessings.

3. Completing people’s sentences, or saying the same thing at the same time.  It happens most with PisecoDad, of course – we’ve been married for 10 years but even in college, in our first year of dating, we would so frequently say the same thing at the same time that his mom (PisecoGrandma?) would call us spooky.  This happens a lot with Aunt R. too, especially when we’re with kids, because we both have the same way of relating to kids & taught together so we have a lot of the same ingrained verbal responses.  Every time it happens – with PisecoDad or Aunt R., Aunt T., PisecoSis or anyone – it gives me a happy sense of connectedness.

4. Board games, of course. Not only the complicated Eurogames that stretch my brain in unusual ways, but also the collection of old games in the basement…  Bonkers! and Double Trouble and Chicken Out and all the silly long-box Parker Brothers games from the ’80s. Mystery games and word games and party games, and having a game for any occasion.  They’re just a fun way to spend an evening, and they give me such pleasure.

5. My laptop.  I’ve only had it for 2 weeks but already I’m amazed.  I can catch up on a blog or two, jot down ideas and learning notes, read emails and check the news and weather while I’m in the room with the kids and they get involved in something that doesn’t require me for five minutes – I don’t have to leave the room.  I’m on the computer for about the same amount of time, but in much smaller chunks scattered throughout the day, and it feels great.

6. Socks.  Silly, yes, but it can perk up my mood to change my socks.  I’m not sure why, exactly… but if I’m tired, or blue, or frustrated, I chuck my socks in the hamper, slide on a layer of lotion (pear berry is my current bottle) and then slip into a fresh pair of socks.  I have socks of all weights and textures and all sorts of unusual patterns and pictures.  And loving socks is so much cheaper than loving perfume or designer jeans – it makes for an inexpensive sort of retail therapy!

Now you know more about me that you really needed to hear!  On to the interesting part – sharing 5 blogs I’m hooked on.  When I stop to ponder this, a handful of names immediately pop into my head – Heather, Steph, Rose, Sara, Nina – women who I am getting to know through our bloggy world, exchanges of emails and some time on Facebook.  But two of you already have the award, and one of you is on a blogging break, so my official list will look a little different.

1. The Outer Edge of Normal, aka Monkey Manor, without a doubt.  Mama Monkey has become a good friend and I’m hooked on her blog to see what the latest goings-on are, and I want to keep track of how Marie is doing in part-time public school, what Martin’s latest project is, and how homeschool kindergarten is going for Missy.

2. The Learning Umbrella, where Sara shares lots of books and projects – for kids and for adults – and juggles her job with her homeschooling and writes honestly and wisely about her journey.

3. Ten Kids and a Dog, where Joann writes about her homeschooling life with, yes, ten kids and a dog.  Joann and I have been doing a lot of the same online activities lately – Tot School, Operation Playtime, etc – so I find on her blog a great inspiration of things to do with little ones as well as the joys that come as the kids grow up.

4. The Wonder Years, one of my newer finds, where MommyMe blogs about at-home Montessori with her 1- and 3-year olds.  This is where I found the idea for our mini clothesline, and there are plenty of other great ideas that I’ve also bookmarked there.

5. Kiss the Frog 4 Me, home of Fave Foto Friday, where Sarah blogs about her family, her youngest daughter also adopted from Guatemala, and her recent charity work in Guatemala.  Because she hosts FFF, it’s a great place to hook onto other blogs, mostly in Guate-connected families.

There are lots of other blogs I enjoy – the number in my Google Reader is alarmingly high! But I decided to play along and narrow it down to five because I always find more good reads by seeing which blogs are recommended at the blogs I already enjoy, and maybe some of you will find a new blog to follow here today.

Quiet Thursday

22 Jan

It’s been a very bloggy week, but now I find myself at the end of a quiet Thursday without too much to share.  We did some light academics this morning – spelling and math, some reading and lots and lots of listening to Jim Weiss’s Greek Myths.  I had a dvd to review, so we watched that together and then had a train-playing, book-reading, game-playing, snack-eating afternoon.  JediBoy enjoyed karate, as usual, and we’ve had dinner and are now hanging out.  It was one of those nothing-special but everything’s-good kind of days.  Just thought I’d share.

Operation Playtime: Nursery Rhymes

21 Jan

There is a 12 day carnival going on over at called Operation Playtime. It’s the author’s effort to promote activities “that are open ended, developmentally appropriate, spontaneous, creative, not necessarily craft based, doing it for the sake of it and not for a specific product, using exploratory play, encouraging no-battery play, and finding and using interesting items we have at home.

We’re encouraged to find a balance between plugged play and unplugged play, independent time and together time. Each day an activity will be posted, and families are encouraged to try that activity on that day and then blog about it. Today was NURSERY RHYMES.

We love rhymes and songs and I’m often singing or reciting with the kids.  In honor of today’s activity, we took out our favorite books of nursery rhymes to read together.


At first, JediBoy (6 1/2) complained that Nursery Rhymes are for babies. But I read him several that tickled his fancy, including:

If all the seas were one sea,
What a great sea that would be!
And if all the trees were one tree,
What a great tree that would be!
And if all the axes were one axe,
What a great axe that would be!
And if all the men were one man,
What a great man he would be!
And if the great man took the great axe,
And cut down the great tree,
And let it fall into the great sea,
What a splish splash that would be!

He also had fun with “As I was Going to St. Ives” and we figured out together the number of kits, cats, sacks and wives… but then he figured out the real answer!

JediBoy decided that his favorite nursery rhyme today is “The Lion and the Unicorn.”


The lion and the unicorn
were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
all about the town.
Some gave them white bread,
and some gave them brown.
Some gave them plum cake,
and drummed them out of town.

The picture above is his favorite illustration of this rhyme, from our family favorite book of nursery rhymes: Jack Kent’s Merry Mother Goose which, like our copy of The Real Mother Goose, was mine when I was a child. JediBoy loves the wild illustrations, and I love reading to the kids from books I remember hearing my parents read from.

BabyGirl, at 2, is happily in the prime nursery rhyme age. She loves them all, as long as they have a nice rhythm and I bounce her on my lap as we read. We have a lovely collection by Richard Scarry, too, that is shelved in the playroom and so didn’t make it into our afternoon’s pile in the nursery.

We did record some rhymes, as Operation Playtime suggests. JediBoy made two short videos, one of “The Lion and the Unicorn” and one of “To Market, To Market.” I tried to get BabyGirl to recite “This Little Piggy,” which she loves, but today all she would say was, “Piggy out, piggy out, piggy piggy piggy out.”

I would love to share the videos but can’t get the connection right, so here instead is a photo of the kids reading nursery rhymes together.


We had a great time reading nursery rhymes today. JediBoy in particular was interested in asking me which rhymes I remembered (without peeking) and which ones my parents had read to me. I sent out an email to a few family members, but open the question up to all of you. What nursery rhymes do you remember hearing when you were little? What nursery rhymes do your kids like the best? Do you have any special memories or family stories that involve nursery rhymes?

My mother memorized huge chunks of Mother Goose when my sister was a baby, because PisecoSis loved to hear them while riding in the car and would scream if Mom stopped… but Mom soon got tired of the few she knew, and memorized more to keep it interesting.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Lips

21 Jan

The girl has lips.


And she knows how to use ‘em.



Inauguration Lapbook

20 Jan

I just wanted to share our secondary activity during the main hours of Inauguration-watching today.  Last night I downloaded a free lapbook file from Curr-Click which was created for today’s ceremony.  The packet contained pages of history and trivia to read together and then a series of pages with very simple flaps to glue on.


It was the first lapbook-style project we’d done, since JediBoy is generally a reluctant writer.  He enjoyed making it, but didn’t want to write more than three or four answers at a time.  He did like gluing the pieces down (I cut them out) and decorating them with colored pencils.  We glued each page onto a piece of construction paper, punched holes and tied the book together with yarn.  He was quite pleased with it in the end.


The very first thing JediBoy did when we got home from karate was to show PisecoDad the book, and read through it with him.  He was so proud of his work and said to me, “Do you think one day that your grandkids, my kids, will read this too?”  I told him that of course they will!  This one’s a keeper.

Operation Playtime: Blocks

20 Jan

There is a 12 day carnival going on over at called Operation Playtime.  It’s the author’s effort to promote activities “that are open ended, developmentally appropriate, spontaneous, creative, not necessarily craft based, doing it for the sake of it and not for a specific product, using exploratory play, encouraging no-battery play, and finding and using interesting items we have at home.

We’re encouraged to find a balance between plugged play and unplugged play, independent time and together time.  Each day for the next 12 days an activity will be posted, and families are encouraged to try that activity on that day and then blog about it.  Today was BLOCKS.

My kids love blocks, but I’ll admit that they aren’t played with as often as they could be.  Because of JediBoy’s dust allergy, we keep six big plastic bins – with lids – under the bed.  Two are for his Quadrilla sets (wooden marble run building blocks – fun!), one is for his big wooden castle pieces, one is Lincoln Logs, one is alphabet blocks, and one is regular building blocks.  JediBoy can pull them out himself but they’re a little too heavy for BabyGirl.

So today, after the inauguration festivities, we pulled out the bin of regular wooden blocks.  We had a great time – as suggested on the site, I facilitated and asked questions, played right along with them but did not direct their play in any way.


JediBoy decided to make his own block version of the White House, complete with perimeter fence.  He was very involved in creating a symmetrical design, making doors and gates, and adding landscaping.


BabyGirl made several towers on the floor, but her favorite was building towers in my hand.  I have some pictures of this that I took with my left hand, camera balanced on my knee…


She was so pleased with herself at building these tall green towers on my hand.  She even enjoyed herself when they came crashing down.


Even though the blocks that fell landed in the bin with all the others, she picked out the same blocks time after time to rebuild the tower.  You can see how much fun she was having.

Blocks are a great activity – both of my kids, who are 6 1/2 and just over 2, enjoy them in their own way, and there’s some great parallel play and imitation going on too.  When it was almost time to clean up for karate, they started building towers together and then BLOWING them over.


Great fun!

See The Future

20 Jan

As part of our own Inauguration Day festivities, we’ve been playing with the webcam and Obamicon.Me!  I just love the way BabyGirl’s “Hope” picture came out.