Sunday, July 31, 2011

A stumbling block...

It's hard getting to church on time. I am sure there are lots of super people out there that this isn't an issue for (because when ever I get to church there are plenty of people already in their seats), but it is for me. It seems no matter what I do, how early I wake up or what I prepare the night before there is always something that prevents us from getting there on time, even though we are shooting for 15 minutes early.

Today, we were set, things were good, we were set to go... And then we get to the top of the driveway and there is this across the road... Our only out on our dead end street.

That's a pretty big stumbling block.

The trees here are huge. The branch here was about 1.5 feet in diameter. The branches delicately opened our mailbox and were all around it but it was generally unscathed. It was apparently a county tree but on our across the street neighbor's property. Our neighbor could tell we needed out as we were all fancy ready for church so she offered us a route through her property that went through to the next street. We were late. But we were there. :)

When we got home from church I was all excited because the road was clear, but then not because the county had dumped all the tree toppings on our property. (that's a nice way of saying, "all the huge leafy branches")

Thing is I knew at 5am this morning that a tree was down. It is a sound and shake that I have learned since moving here 4 months ago... but we couldn't see it in the dark of night and when Gary circled the house this morning and didn't see a tree down on the property we figured it was a neighbor's and not and issue to us.

Silly rabbit, trix are for kids.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer's End: Monsters

We had some fleece squares that were fringed and supposed to be for a blanket for Giddy. However, we haven't gotten around to it and he certainly doesn't NEED a blanket and they were just the right size for today's plan. Plus the colors were awesome. I sewed some funky glove reminiscent shapes. The sewing is stellar due to Zurich sitting on my lap and Nev changing the dials and various fingers headed for the needles.

I heated up the hot glue gun in a distant land and dumped out the wiggle eyes and let the kids decide what they wanted.

Zurich wanted a mustache and sharp teeth. So I started cutting their requests from felt. I hot glued the accessories on. Olea got the sharpies out and drew some clothes and a nose on hers. Nev rearranged lots of eyes and laughed a lot over the strip of eyes. Then she stole Olea's lips so I cut her a pair.

I read them a monster book we had picked up at the library: "Leonardo the Terrible Monster" by Mo Williams

They had a great time giggling over my reading of his big attempt to scare the Tuna Salad out of someone. They wanted to lay in wait to scare their Dad but by the time he got around to coming home we had moved on to dinner and getting ready for pictures.

( and for those who noticed that Nev is wearing the same clothes as yesterday, for what it is worth she has worn five different outfits between those pictures and these today...)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer's end: Magnetic Poetry

Apparently I am some pretty fierce competition for Gary's attention... For Olea.

So this morning she was saying everything to get under my skin. Things that were rude, critical, and disrespectful. Gary delivered a hefty chore load for the day.

"Whiiiiii?" the whine began.

She went out to rake without issue... But some hours later she still was out there and not done. Her and Zurich were mostly playing. Here's a secret: as much raking as there is, it needs to be done but the major goal is to get the kids outside. So the fact that they were playing isn't a bad thing. It just would have been better if they finished their job first then played. Either way, it was time for lunch and about to start raining, so I went out to let them know and Olea hurried to finish filling the last barrel.

The funny thing is we all have the same problem that Olea does. We procrastinate jobs that we don't like. Or draw the misery out for hours... Which she did with her next jobs.

Eventually I was tired of waiting and so I took the younger kids to the laundry room for their beating. Just kidding. The laundry room has the most metal and we needed a large metal space to play Magnetic Poetry. For the younger kids we used the letter set that has pictures of the beginning sounds of a letter on one side and the letter on the other side. Olea came in to see what she was missing out on, and then expedited her efforts to finish her job. Nev enjoyed naming the pictures and Zurich would try to guess the letter the picture started with. Olea then joined us and she worked with the word magnets.

I got the sets while I was in high school and realized I haven't brought them out for a very long time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How it's Made

How it's Made (
is one of the kids' favorite shows, it's cool, we all like it. If you don't know what it is, seriously, go watch an episode. It is fascinating and mesmerizing. I mean seriously, who hasn't wondered how a shovel is made, or why the old fashioned chewing gum is pink?

There is one drawback...
VERY long explanations from my kids on anything from what a conveyer belt is to why she wants to be covered up at night.

While driving home one day I heard Olea and Zurich talking in the back seat. Olea was telling Zurich something and he was interjecting with his ideas about robot arms (there was an episode on such a thing). Olea was trying to get him to be quiet so she could hear herself and finally she gets around to saying that "it goes from one conveyer belt to another WITHOUT a robot arm." Stupidly, I pipe up, "Do you know what a conveyer belt is?"

For the next 7 minutes I am lectured by my 7 year old on what a conveyer belt is and the many ways it can be used. If I had wanted to interject, I couldn't have; I don't think she even stopped to breathe.

I hear them often playing, "how it's made" and I delight in it because the cogs are turning.

So the other day on the way back from the library I should not have been surprised to hear Zurich shout at me from the back of the van, "Hey, Mom, look! It's How it's Made guys!" But I was, and I still think him clever.

And it makes me laugh as I reminisce that 4 years ago when we moved to our first house my oldest, who was 3 at the time, used the word "builders" the same way Zurich uses "how it's made guys." They use it like "builders" was used in the movie City of Ember. Like an unknown entity, but also an unstoppable force.

Summer's end: Milk Jug

Today we were going to have family pictures but it just got rescheduled so I guess it's okay that I let the kids play with sharpies again.

Olea's cousin sent her some post mail a bit ago and included in it was a craft idea that can be found here:

Ours are much less fancy than the ones shown there. But fun none-the-less.

Today was a repurposed, reuse day. It also falls under craft.

So today after breakfast I rinsed out our empty milk jug and set it to dry. I had been saving a few but they went out with the recycling on Monday. But it was fine because one ended up being plenty for us.

Zurich asked for hot chocolate while I was feeding the baby and had been asking about every 5 minutes so I entertained that desire first.
Why not? right?

As described in the link we cut, colored, punched and I decided to make mobiles with them too. We had 3 empty macrame hooks on the porch and everything. I used the metal rings I bought a long time ago for tatting (and haven't gotten around to). The kids picked their string color (once again, tatting stash). They colored their shapes and I punched holes and tied it all together.

The mobiles are fun and kinda make some fun noise in the breeze on the porch.

The three of them strung on the porch.

And the extra ones as window ornaments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer's end: Post office

Today as planned we went to the library. The kids got to pick the books they earned for summer reading some movies and books.

Then we went to the post office to mail their post cards. The kids were so excited to be able to go in with me and they got a special treat. The postal worker could tell this was the kids' project and so she tried to find stamps that they could put on their post cards but no luck. So she invited them behind the counter which was fascinating in and of itself, but then she let them run their post cards through the postage meter. COOL! Zurich called it a "mail robot." They each got a turn to do a couple.

I never explained my plan to the kids but this morning Olea asked, "So what fun thing are we going to do today?" and rather than answering, "I don't know," or "we'll see," I had a good answer for her. And then she asked, "and what job are we going to do together?" Okay, I can go with that, "Your bathroom really needs cleaned."
She was still excited about the job after we got home, fed the baby and had lunch. The bathroom is done, except for Olea's self imposed finishing touches. I hope to get her help to clean up the kitchen after dinner since we are having YW at our house.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer's end: Postcards

So how did today go?

We got olea's room generally picked up and since I had helped her do that she was in a much more helpful mood and swept the floor etc and i had the kitchen table cleaned off. By 2pm I put Nev down for a nap and got out the post cards and sharpies. Trying to keep Zurich from drawing on the address area was a bit of stress. But we had a good time. We used some pre-made post cards and then zurich drew some giraffes on 5.5x4.5 rectangles of heavy card stock.

His giraffes looked like upper female anatomy, and he did it generally the same every time. Zurich had drawn one on our "untellaga" newsprint under paper and it was perfect size so when Gary got home I held it up to corresponding anatomy and told him Zurich had drawn it. His eyes got big and his mouth dropped open. I laughed and explained that contrary to what it looked like, it was a sweet unassuming giraffe.

Nev didn't stay down for her nap and so she joined us  in coloring.I was too busy capping pens and stopping sharpie colored arguments while holding Giddy to get a picture of her. But some of her cousins will be privileged to receive an artistic rendition from her.... And some will get offensive giraffes.

Olea wrote notes on some and just colored on others. Zurich dictated some notes for his postcards. Nev named her works of art and I was impressed with her color recognition since we played her version of Chinese checkers two weeks ago. Apparently she learned more than just white.

Tomorrow we will go to the post office to buy stamps and mail their post cards and they will all get to come in to do this rather than sitting in the car with the AC running while I run in to our sweet post office. It's little and hotter than the van. Then we will go to the library.


Today was a good mail day.

The end of summer...

This morning all energetic and annoyed with the fact that the kids were watching tv I had an idea.

I thought maybe if I planned to do something engaging each day with the kids that fell into one of 6 categories that we might have more harmony and keep our brains active. These areas came to mind: craft, color, math/science, reading, writing, physical. I figure it's cool if they overlap. Some items that came to mind: rainbow cake, clocks, oral story telling, poetry writing, goo, number games, sets, puzzles, Lino printing, toothpick structures.

We generally do projects but it's stressful because they are thrown together in the heap of things. Or I get to spend time with one child but not another. Having a nursing baby takes a lot of time and it seems like when any task is completed its time to feed again and the kids are found still wanting. They need time with me too. So I wanted to set a precedence an expectation, an excitement, something to look forward to, a reason .... to get dressed (Olea has a problem with this recently).

I have ages 7, 3.5 and 2 (Giddy will be left out...) so I need to pick activities that can engage all of them for a while, and be modified in the process for each child's skill level.

Here is the goal: do one organized (premeditated the night before) activity each weekday, it can take as little as 15 mins to 2 hours. But it's me and the kids doing something fun and creative together. Take a picture. Have the kids journal once a week about what they like, what are grateful for. For Nev, this will be scribbling in a notebook and that is fine. Zurich I hope will draw pictures.

I'm no dummy though. I'm starting simple and moving forward flexible. Today we will write postcards to some of their cousins. How much does a post card cost these days? 29 cents. It falls under writing.

The idea is more for my sanity and simplification. Call it lame, or wonder why this has to be a goal, or judge me, or whatever. I don't care. I'm posting it so I have it written down. So I have something to commit to. Because maybe just maybe the kids will have a drive to get up and help out more often if we are engaged in something together more often.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Let's call last week the kid's vacation. I mean seriously, they got to stay in a hotel, be in the car for over two hours (demonstrates that it was far away), go to an aquarium, send a vacation postcard,
get a souvenir, ride a trolley, check out a view, go on a tour, eat at restaurants, meet up with a fun person, play at the beach, watch some sunsets, stay up past their bedtime,
go to a circus, eat cotton candy, etc.

At the circus we had pretty good seats.
It was so fun to watch Nev's face as she saw bizarre acts for the first time.

It was a pretty good circus. The ribbon acrobat was neat to Nev and she stopped watching to try her own poses on the floor in front of us. She soaked up the audiences reaction to the performer as her own. As gross as it was we couldn't get her to stop and as floors go it wasn't horrid. It made me laugh though.

Zurich after seeing some grotesque backbends by a young male acrobat dressed like a hobo posing on a coat rack who also did the splits tried to do the splits himself. The baby flexibility has clearly left him. He also told me, "he is a mailman." I don't get the connection.

Aside from the fact that the kids wanted to take in some of the extra activities that were supremely overpriced and the budget had already been spent on concessions it was a good evening. I am really hoping to find some decently priced pony rides for Zurich in the near future.

We stopped off at a grocery store to get some of these on the way home.

Way better than cotton candy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nascar Race

One of the worst things about living somewhere and then moving is having regret about not taking in what was great about where you lived. For instance, in 2010 I finally went to Yellowstone. (Which apparently I never blogged about... ) I had lived in the near vicinity all my life and had never been. I am so glad we created the opportunity to go before we moved south east.

So now that we are here I have this desire to make sure we take in the opportunities about the area we now live as much as we feasibly can. So we won't say years down the road that we just never got around to it. Gary had heard that some Nascar races were going on and given Zurich's excitement over Cars and racing, we thought it would be fun to take Zurich to a race. We were surprised with a bonus and I got home one day and Gary had purchased tickets. I admit I was very nervous about taking everyone to it... I had wild imaginative episodes of how unpleasant and unmanageable it would be. The kids were very excited and kept singing, "We're going to a cars race."

I am happy to report that it really went very well.

We parked in Free parking and took a school bus shuttle to the track. The bus ride was VERY exciting. It was crazy. The kids kept saying,"This is a race car bus." It was a bumpy and g-force packed bus ride. :)

Our seats were in front of the beginning of the pits. This was a great spot to be for having kids. We got lucky and no one sat in the row directly in front of us which provided a better view for the kids.

Zurich was very excited and kept giving me this great cheese face and looking for Lightning McQueen. :)
Pre-race line up

Hard not to be emotional when the forces unfurl a huge flag like that for the national anthem.
It was the Sprint something or other... sorry race fans. It was 160 lap race. And at about 56 laps Zurich was bored. So thanks to the Subway car having breakdowns and pitting over and over with fires right in front of us that helped keep Zurich's interest up. He just needed some explanation of what he was looking at and some understanding of what was going on. And so I kept him close to me so I could re-direct his attention at appropriate intervals.

Nev, laid down ready, when she saw Gary get diapers out to change Giddy. We didn't change Nev there though.
Check out them eyes. yum.

Olea is easily influenced by a crowd. The cars were going fast, and people were excited, that was enough for her. :)

When the race was down to the last few laps there kept being crashes. The last one was right in front of us. It's crazy scary how fast they are going and how fast things change. Because of all that there ended up being 170 laps.
There was a fireworks show after so we got our 4th of July Pyro fix from that.
After Gary took Zurich to the bathroom and took a while coming back so Nev entertained herself on the now empty seats.
It was noisy. That is an understatement.
But it was a good experience that now we can say we have done. But getting the kids to bed at 2am is not something I need to repeat any time soon.