Archive | August, 2011

Six Months Means So Much {loving a baby}

17 Aug

My darling little niece, BabyNewHope, is six months old today.  She is clever, strong, social, loving, curious, hungry, and adorable.  She’s not just A Baby, she is a teeny little person, full of little quirks, personality traits that are already developing.  We all love her so much!


It’s amazing the amount of growing and bonding that families do in those first six months. I remember when KarateKid, our first, was six months old. He definitely had a forming personality and plenty of strong opinions – as well as lots of well-formed attachments to people, places, and books. {Oh, not Goodnight Moon AGAIN!}  We really knew him, and he knew us.  When I look at pictures of him from six months old, I immediately remember what he was like at that age.


All of this has made me pause, today, because I didn’t get those six months – or the following 5 1/2 months – with GoGoGirl.  I can only wonder – with a few clues, a few photos – what she was like at six months.  Was she as voracious an eater?  Did she already have the crafty part of her personality that would later make her hide green beans under my bed in order to get some popcorn?  Was she as open and loving and social as the girl we know today?  Was she a little monkey, climbing and crawling?


I am so lucky to have GoGoGirl – we all are, of course, for the spice and snap she has added to our family, and the unconditional love. But in any adoption, there’s always some loss, and some sadness.  I am sad that I didn’t know any more about her than I could see in that picture when she was six months old, and I deeply feel the loss of all those months.  I know that her foster family grieved her loss when she left them and came here, and I am sure that her birth mother felt and feels a deep loss too.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have your babies, by birth or adoption, from day one – treasure it.  Those early months are such a gift.

Even though our kids’ paths were different, and there is a gap in our lives from missing all those months with our spunky little girl, we wouldn’t trade this experience for anything: she is a joy.  All our kids bring joy.  Enjoy every moment you get.

The Renaissance Festival {it’s all about food}

7 Aug

Ren 01

This weekend we stepped way back in time and drove a few hours to our closest Renaissance Festival.

Ren 02

This weekend was “Highland Fling Weekend” so there were plenty of folks in Celtic garb (including Uncle Jared!).  They also had some Highland Games, which were mostly full of the caber toss (try heaving a telephone pole end-over-end).

Ren 03

The kids loved all the activities, including a big maze and the archery booth, and the shows, including the public execution, a whip-and-sword fight, the joust, and the final pub sing.

Ren 04

GoGoGirl was especially excited: last year she was still “too little” and couldn’t have made the trip or lasted the day without melting down.  This year she made the trip and found out how exciting it was: steak-on-a-stake, turkey legs, sweet roasted nuts, soft pretzels, and several smoothies later, she told us her favorite thing about the faire was the food!

Ren 05

GoGoGirl and I even waited in line for the privy with The Queen herself!  I was impressed she could fit her skirts in the teeny weeny stall.

Later we did some shopping.  The kids picked new wooden weapons (an axe for KarateKid and a dagger for GoGoGirl) and fresh wooden wands (a black, suspiciously You-Know-Who-like wand for KarateKid and a curvy purple special for GoGoGirl).  KarateKid also picked out a quill pen and ink pot, and MechDaddy bought me a wonderful 14″ bodhran (frame drum).

Ren 06

Next year, I’d love to take them in something closer to period garb, without breaking the bank.  I’d love any hints or suggestions on costuming-on-the-cheap.

In the end, a delightful time was had by all.  Huzzah!

Learning The Tempest

6 Aug

Our small homeschooling community is lucky enough to have a couple of parents who are willing to put the love and energy into helping our kids put on a production of a Shakespeare play every spring (except last year, when their middle child was in the middle of college applications and visits).  This spring, we hope to perform The Tempest.  Serendipitously, that was the play our local theater group put on this week for Shakespeare-in-the-Park.

To prepare for seeing the play, the kids and I read aloud together the picture book version of Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: The Tempest which is an abridgment by Leon Garfield.  This was a great source – better than the Lambs’ prose retelling – because it included much of the actual dialogue from the original.  We spent a lot of time poring over it and discussing the language and tearing the lines apart or restating them, and as we worked through it, KarateKid in particular caught on to the flow of the language and enjoyed the story quite a bit.

After we worked through the book, we watched the half hour production in three clips on YouTube:

The kids were excited to take a picnic to the park and set up our chairs and blankets for a performance that started at 8 pm!  KarateKid had a good time and loved that he knew many of the most important lines, and I loved that he followed the plot so well.  There were scenes that had been omitted or glossed over in the abridged version, or times when the characters were not projecting/using microphones well, and KarateKid would trot over to the playground on the side and watch from the swings for a while.  But I loved that when Trinculo and Stephano and Caliban came out, he stood at his swing and then slowly walked toward the stage, drawn by the magnet of humor!

The Tempest

They liked the immediacy of the play in the park. Caliban came and sat in front of us in a trenchcoat until it was time to make his entrance… the kids cracked up about that. We sat with friends and saw other neighbors, and the kids loved being outside, with a group of interesting people, well past bedtime. (Except for the last 20 minutes, when it got a little TOO cold! But we made it.)


Who Is Simon Miller? {movie preview}

5 Aug

I had the opportunity this week to preview the new Family Movie Night movie… Who Is Simon Miller?

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This action-packed spy movie – suitable for the family to watch together – premiers tomorrow, August 6th, at 8 pm on NBC.

Here’s the plot: When unassuming geologist Simon Miller mysteriously disappears one night, the Miller family is thrown into a desperate search to find him. Simon’s wife Meredith and their two kids, Sarah, 18, and Kevin, 15, frantically search Simon’s office for information. When they find a stash of passports, all with Simon’s picture but each with a different alias, they realize that their father has been keeping more than a few secrets. Who is Simon Miller? And what has he gotten himself – and now his family – into? Not sure they can even trust the Dad they thought they knew, the Millers embark on an international mission to get him back. It’s a heart-pounding adventure that tests the limits to which families will fight for each other. (The movie stars Robyn Lively, Loren Dean, Skyler Day, Drew Koles, and Christine Baranski.)

GoGoGirl and I watched this movie together one night while KarateKid was at karate.  She enjoyed it, but – at 4 – didn’t really follow the spy plotline or understand how the characters were moving from country to country.  I think KarateKid (who is 9) will enjoy the movie a lot more than she did!  I liked seeing the characters in different European cities with the famous landmarks in the background, and I think that would spark a lot of discussion with KarateKid.

I do like the new Family Movie Night from P&G and NBC.  I think a lot of the stuff on tv – especially in the summer – isn’t appropriate for families.  In fact – I even like that this movie was a little too old for my 4-year-old.  So much of the “family entertainment” is really aimed at the younger crowd and so doesn’t hit the mark with older kids or tweens.  This movie might not be great for the preschool set but it’s something that older kids will enjoy watching with their parents.

Let me know if you tune in tomorrow!

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of P&G and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Watermelon Day – a Day Late!

4 Aug

August 3rd is National Watermelon Day.  Really.  (My kids say I make these things up!)

We managed to get out and buy a pair of watermelons on the 3rd – our grocery store even had seeded melons this year!  Unfortunately for the kids, the afternoon of the 3rd was filled with steady rain and I stood firm against the idea of them tearing apart a watermelon inside my house!  We ate slices of watermelon, read books about watermelon, and spit seeds off the front porch.  But the main event had to wait until the next day…

Watermelon Day 1

The kids’ favorite sensory activity of the summer is when I give them half a watermelon and let them dig into it with a variety of tools and their bare hands.  This year, we had a seeded watermelon and so the kids had the added challenge of trying to save as many of the black seeds as possible.

We had tools including: an ice cream scoop, a big mesh strainer, a scoop-size mesh strainer, a set of melon-baller tongs, a regular set of tongs, two wavy veggie cutters, funnels, measuring cups, scoops, plastic spreaders, plastic knives, a plastic strawberry huller, and a variety of bowls and bins and cups.

Watermelon Day 2

I posted about our watermelon exploring activity last year too, but we hadn’t talked about it in months.  When I told the kids on the 3rd that it was watermelon day, GoGoGirl immediately asked, “Are we going to open it on the little picnic table in the front yard and use those scoopers and smush it in our hands?”  This is obviously an activity well worth the mess, because it’s so much fun that it really sticks in their memories!

Our favorite watermelon book is Benjamin & Tulip by Rosemary Wells, which has, unfortunately, been out of print for years.  In this story, meek Benjamin has to walk under the tree where bossy Tulip is waiting to pounce on him and beat him up.  When Benjamin tries to walk home with a watermelon, he winds up with the melon on his head.  “You’re crusing for a bruising!” was part of our family’s lexicon because we loved this book so much.

Our copy is inscribed to me, with love from Mommy and Daddy, on my 4th birthday in 1980!  My copy originally came with a Weston Woods cassette with the story read aloud – with fantastic seed-spitting sound effects at the end.

I have been trying all week to track down a copy of this audio book – on cassette, cd, mp3, anywhere, and have been out of luck.  I have some friends scouting far-flung libraries for copies of the cassette, so hopefully my kids will be able to enjoy it soon.  If you happen to be reading this and have a copy to share… we would be so grateful!

Laundry Learning

3 Aug

Our beautiful tie-dyed shirts and pillowcases were still waiting for us to rinse and wash them, but I chickened out at the thought of our older washer and dryer being able to handle them without hanging onto the dye… and making the next load of laundry more colorful!

That meant that today’s exciting, educational outing was THE LAUNDROMAT!

GoGoGirl had never been to a laundromat before, so she was enthralled by the loading up of the van with the basket of wet items, mesmerized by the pushing of quarters into the washer, and tantalized by the ability to watch the clothes tumble in the dryer.  We did plenty of talking about why there are laundromats, how the machines work, and why we had to pay for using them.


Even with all that interesting talk, there was plenty of down time while the clothes were cycling through.  I dictated KarateKid’s spelling words and sentences for the day, and got out a set of number/item/number-word flashcards for GoGoGirl to play with and match up.  We got some raised eyebrows and curious looks from the other laundry-folk, but the kids thought it was fun just to be doing our everyday learning in a completely different space.

Where’s the oddest place you have done routine school work?

Health and Safety Unit – Check!

2 Aug

One more subject off the list for this quarter… thanks to National Night Out: America’s Night Out Against Crime, and our local first responders who held a touch-a-truck event at the local shopping center!  The kids had the chance to climb in and out of an ambulance, fire truck, and police vehicle and ask plenty of questions to the staff who were there.  KarateKid had lots of questions about all the hidden compartments in an ambulance, and GoGoGirl was all about the cool seats in the fire truck.  Even BabyNewHope got in on the action!

National Night Out Scrap

When we were leaving, the kids got safety and drug-abuse-prevention coloring books and some police badge stickers, which we read and talked about on the way home.  State-mandated safety instruction, check!

Kuplink, Kuplank, Kuplunk

2 Aug

Do you know what book we read this morning, just from the title of the blog?  50 bonus points to you!

Kuplink 1

Strawberry season was short here this year because our spring was so wet, and cherry season was even shorter (our favorite u-pick farm was open for exactly eight hours of cherry picking all season!).  We’re lucky that blueberry season lasts and lasts!

The kids and I had a nice hour in the blueberry patch this afternoon, eating more than we plunked into our buckets.  There’s nothing like the taste of a ripe blueberry still warm from the sun.  We meandered up and down the rows, helping each other find choice spots, oohing and aahing over especially plump berries, enjoying the sunshine, and occasionally sitting down in the shade beneath the bushes for a little mid-picking snack.

Kuplink 2

Dye Job! {Scrap Games}

1 Aug

Jerry Garcia was born on August 1, 1942… and my sister is a long-time fan of his music.  So several years ago, as I was planning our activities for the month of August, I mentioned to her that I didn’t have anything planned for the first.  She told me I should listen to the Dead and tie-dye some t-shirts… and the holiday stuck!  August 1st is Tie-Dye Day in the Games House!

Dye Job {Scrap}

If you’re after some deep cute… you should check out the 2008 After post with the shirts we made that year.  The shirt KarateKid has on in the first picture is the shirt he wore today… and here, because I’m too afraid you won’t click through, here is the adorably wee GoGoGirl, wearing today’s shirt three years ago:

Aug 03 shirt 3 bullseye volcano

It was down to her knees!  And she didn’t have any hair!  Awwwww.

This year’s shirts are still setting and we’ll have an after picture in a couple of days.  The kids did 6 shirts, 2 pillowcases, and an assortment of hankies and washcloths with one squirt-bottle kit, so I’d call our afternoon a rousing success!  Happy Tie-Dye Day!