Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wild Child

This morning Jack had a zoo class all about animal babies. They brought out Falcor, a baby ferret. I am not a fan of ferrets, so I stayed back, and I stayed quiet when the teacher said something about them not smelling bad, even though they were cousins with skunks. Whatever.

For the craft, the kids made mama and baby kangaroos.

They also played a game called, "Who's My Mother?" where they had to match sounds.

At the end of class we went out to see the snow leopard cubs. I am not sure it was worth it. I was not wearing a coat (something I rarely do since living in Nebraska) and the wind chill was 13. But Jack said he "didn't want to miss the excitement of snow leopards," so who was I to say no?


We've been on vacation in our hometown for the past week. It wore me out. Here's the blow by blow I know you've all been waiting for!

Saturday: Jack and I left Saturday to go to my parents' house. Between filling up the car, getting lunch, going back to get some forgotten toys, and dealing with a cat who hates to travel, we got on the road 47 minutes after we first got in the car. Jack spent the rest of the day playing with his cousins and I went to my sister's house to scrapbook.

Sunday: More of the above. Jay came into town.

Monday: Jay and I spent the morning meeting with the builder. We signed a contract on the new house. It is really weird that you can be spending that much money and you just fill in the blanks on a form. Afterward, we went to the bank to make sure they still wanted to give us the money we just agreed to pay. They do. Our appraisal went through, and once a few paperwork things are taken care of, we should be ready to start!

After that, we went to my grandma's house for lunch. Jack got his own chocolate pie.

Later in the afternoon we headed to the hotel. Jay's former neighbor was nice enough to get us the friends and family deal--thanks again, Rachel! They had a play area that was about three feet deep at the deepest part. We had the whole pool to ourselves almost the entire time we were there. Jack loved it!

Tuesday: We spent the morning goofing off and watching Scooby-Doo at the hotel before meeting Jay's sister and her fiance for lunch. Then it was back to the hotel for more swimming.

That evening we had dinner at Incredible Pizza and then swam some more.

Jack had his own queen-sized bed. He only had to share with Spots, the dog he made at Build-a-Bear (where he has never actually built a bear) that afternoon.

Wednesday: We went to Taco Bueno with my parents and then headed to a new kids' museum.

That night we went to Jay's parents' house and Jack got to play with some of his favorite animals. (I guess I never got my camera out after we left the museum, because this is where the pictures stop.)

Thursday: Jay headed home and Jack and I went back to my parents'. That night we went to Zio's with my parents and my sister and her family.

Friday: Jack and I went back to my grandma's to have lunch. We made it back to our house around 3:30. I slept like a rock last night and I have done eight loads of laundry since we got back. Vacation can be rough!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm Back

We've been on vacation for the last week. I have started the laundry and made my way through my inbox. I'm hoping to have pictures up this weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rethinking Routines

Last fall I wrote about my efforts to stay home more during the week. When I wrote that post, we were about to start a couple of busy weeks, but then I was going to get back on track. It was three days after I found out I was pregnant. You can guess what happened from there.

It seems that lately we are gone all the time--grocery shopping, library, speech, etc. Combining things was exhausting but doable when I started, but with pregnancy thrown in, it was often just impossible. I hit a panic point. How on earth was I ever going to maintain my routines? Would my house ever look normal again? Did Jack really need to do school? And then it occurred to me: the routine around here is for there to be no strict routine.

Since Jay and I got engaged in 1999, my life has been one constant transition. For the first two years we were married we knew we would be moving; next we spent three years in Omaha; finally, we moved here--again, a temporary home. Though we've been here almost four years, there are still a few things in boxes. Something is always on the horizon: a new home, another child, a job change...or this year, all three at once. And in the last decade, my daily routine has always varied, too. When Jay was in school, I might drive down for the weekend. If he wasn't coming home, I might work all weekend. Residency was worse. It was not uncommon to make a midnight Taco Bell delivery to UNMC, even with a baby. (The stroller actually made it easier to cart the food.) Here we have a more stable work schedule, but there has always been the changing schedule of a child to keep things interesting.

Now we're getting ready for another huge wave of transitions, and I've decided that my best defense is to do whatever we feel like doing. I do have some things I try to do consistently: a load of laundry must be started as soon as I get out of bed and the dishwasher needs to be started after dinner each night. Other than that, though, we are taking it day by day. We have memberships to several places around town that I'm trying to get our money's worth from and we have friends that we will not be able to see as often once we move. Don't even get me started on how much I'm going to miss the library here.

When we are finally settled in the new house I am hoping to come up with some kind of routine for us that we can use consistently. We'll have a new baby by then, though, so it just may not happen. On the bright side, I realized this weekend that after seven years, the cat finally has me on a routine much like the one described in The Baby Whisperer. At least it worked for one of the babies around here.

The Three Little Pigs

Earlier this week we read several versions of The Three Little Pigs, which is one of Jack's favorite stories. We also read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, which Jack is still quoting.

I made the three pigs from felt (I'm still trying to figure out how to make the wolf) and houses for them, too. I need to add some curtains and a doorknob to the wooden house so it doesn't look so much like a fence. And a word of advice: Don't mess with trying to glue raffia to felt. It is a huge pain and so not worth the time.

It looks like the snack made Jack sleepy. Or maybe sneezy. He liked it, though.

We also did a few of the activities from the Evan Moor unit.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

Last weekend, something happened that has never happened since Jack was born four years ago: I had 27 hours all on my own. The original plan was for Jay to go home for the weekend (yes, we still say, "go home," even though we haven't lived there for seven years) and Jack and I would stay here. At the last minute, Jack decided he wanted to go, too, so I was all on my own. I took some "before" shots, but I forgot to take any "after" ones until we had already gotten our stuff out again, so let me tell you what I did...
  • cleaned out and reorganized Jack's closet, nightstand, and cabinet
  • vacuumed all the carpeted areas
  • swept all the tiled areas
  • mopped all the tiled areas
  • wiped down all the baseboards
  • cataloged all of the children's books
  • packed three boxes of books
  • organized all of Jack's stray papers
  • printed out stuff for the fall (until I ran out of ink)
  • cleaned the kitchen
  • did six loads of laundry
  • dusted the whole house
  • wrapped a birthday present for an upcoming party
  • cleaned out and reorganized the cabinet of school stuff
I think that covers it. I did all of this while watching copious amounts of 80s TV on DVD. And why did I get all of this done? A) Jay and Jack had my car and I don't know how to drive Jay's, and B) I couldn't get online on the computer that was here. At least I thought I couldn't. Turns out, I could have, but it's good I didn't know that or I am sure my list would be a lot shorter.

It was kind of nice to have the place to myself for a while, but I don't think I would like to do it all that often. I slept in as late as I could, which was about 6:45. Out of principle, though, I stayed on the couch until 8:30. By Saturday afternoon I was talking to the baby and the cat pretty much non-stop in between calls to Jay asking when they were going to be home. It just seemed a little weird. We'll see if it seems any more normal next time...which will probably be in 2013.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Little Red Hen

This week we started a fairy tales unit. Our first story was The Little Red Hen. We made an animal sounds book. Jack was able to figure out most of the sounds on his own from the beginning sounds.

This was his painting of wheat; we added the cut and paste Little Red Hen instead of doing it separately.

Yesterday we made bread. Jack loved kneading the dough!

The finished bread! We also used the bread-making cards from Montessori for Everyone.

Jack got some scissor practice with this story sequencing activity.

I found this puzzle on clearance this week at Target. With all of the barnyard animals, it went along great with the story!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Continuing Education

Since Jack read his first word all on his own, we have been playing some reading games and he has continued to try to sound out words on his own. This evening he was in the living room when I heard, "Mom, there's a bad word on this box!" I was washing the dinner dishes and trying to think what kind of boxes with bad words we could have sitting around. "You know what it says? Poop!" Now I was really confused. Why did we have a box labeled "poop" in our house? Then he showed me the box--for Trouble, the Pop-O-Matic Game. I was still pretty impressed, even if he wasn't exactly on target.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


As some of you know, I have a wonderful family. My parents have been married for forty years, all of my aunts and uncles and cousins live in the same area and we all get together at the holidays with no drama, I enjoy their company, and so on. There was, however, some major deception going on during my childhood. The women of my family seem to have conspired to make me think that sewing was easy.

My mom made lots of my clothes when I was a child. My grandmas both made countless quilts, doll accessories, and pillows. In fact, one day when I was staying with my grandma, my Cabbage Patch Kid got a brand new pair of plaid seersucker pajamas, with a collar and buttons and everything. My grandma sketched out a pattern on some old newspaper, and voila! There they were! My sister has always been good with a sewing machine, too.

As I got a little older, though, I found out that to get a simple dress, there were about 736 steps to follow, most of which I found to be supremely annoying. The excitement of finding a pattern and some cool material fizzled when I had to sit down and cut out all the teeny tiny pieces and then pin them down and then cut them out and then mark them...And then you have to thread the machine, which I still cannot do, even though my mother has shown me about 4,083 times and I even own my own sewing machine. I am just not that patient.

I have had a few sewing successes, though. One Christmas I secretly made myself a skirt by sewing a little bit each night. I was only able to do this because a) I had made the same skirt at least three other times, and b) my sister was home on break and could help me. When I was done, I wrapped up the skirt and put it under the tree. I opened it and acted mystified, and my mom was confused, too. She was even more confused when I explained that I had made it--which shows that even my mother knows I am not much of a seamstress (and also that my parents are not light sleepers since I was using the machine every night right across the hall). I can also make a mean curtain, as long as the lines are straight and my mom has threaded the machine for me. I got a lot of practice because my first classroom had eleven windows.

Finally, though, I have found my calling: felt. You may have seen cookies like the ones pictured above on several blogs lately. They are not hard to make at all. In fact, Holly's daughter made one, and she's four. The awesome thing about felt is that there is hardly any way to make it look bad. My stitches are uneven and I made my pattern from a cookie cutter, and they still turned out cute! I got a little carried away, but Jack has enjoyed selling me cookies each day, so it has worked out fine. I have been so excited to find something I can sew that doesn't require my machine that today I spent about half an hour making a huge list of things I think would be cool to make out of felt. I may have a little problem.

(And Mom, I also have some material to make a puppet show curtain, but I can't figure out how to thread my machine. Seriously.)

Summer in the Winter

As you may have heard, Oklahoma has left winter behind. I've been wearing t-shirts and sandals the last several days, and today we had our first tornado.

This was my dinner:

And this was my dessert (made with leftovers from last summer):

I could really leave the tornadoes behind and not care, but if I have to wear long sleeves much longer, I am really going to start pining for spring!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Great minds think alike. I was thinking today about doing a post about cookies, and look who else was thinking the same thing.

I've been on a bit of a cookie kick lately. When we were iced in last week I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for us. I wanted to make some oatmeal ones (my favorite), but my mixer died and I didn't want to test the ice just for cookies.

Sunday, I made another batch of chocolate chips for a Super Bowl party we were attending.

And Monday, Jay emailed me that he needed to bring some frozen foods to work for a coworker who just had twins. I made a chicken casserole and a batch of snickerdoodles. That evening, as Jay was setting down the baggie of chocolate chip cookies, he noted that he was putting it between the giant bowl of snickerdoodle dough and the package of Oreos. "Well," I noted, "I didn't get those Oreos to eat. I got them for decoration." "For what?" Jay asked. "For the...cupcakes." Touche. For the record, though, I didn't eat any of the Oreos until tonight when I saw Julie's post. Then I headed directly for the pantry.

Today we had one more round of cookie making. Jack was wanting to make some Valentine's cookies, so I suggested we go ahead and make them now so he could share them with his cousins this weekend. As you can see below, anything can be a Valentine's cookie.

After Jay's comments, I realized that if I want my maternity clothes to fit for the rest of this pregnancy, I'd better switch to a less fattening cookie. You may have seen these cute felt cookies on several blogs lately. They're no-calorie and they're so simple even I can make them! (More on that later.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vacation Days

For the first several years that Jay was in the military, he hardly ever had a day off. Either he was on a rotation that didn't allow vacation, or he was only allowed a certain number of days off by the residency program, or there was a problem with access, or something. It was annoying. Now, though, he has so much leave stored up that he rarely works a full week, and at the end of this month he is taking a whole week off! It has been a long time since we've been to the children's museum (almost exactly a year, in fact), so today we made the trip.

Jack enjoyed all of the old favorites...

We also spent a lot of time in the new section, which they were building the last time we were there. It is full of science exhibits--mostly medical things. We have not encouraged an interest in medicine--if anything, we've discouraged it. He still really seems to like it, though.

We even spotted our baby!
I'm including this last picture because a) I have no pride, and b) I think only about six people read this blog. This is me, five months pregnant, on a bed of nails. Jack was insistent that I try it out, and Jay snapped this lovely photo. I was nervous because Jack was pressing the button and nothing was happening. And I knew I wasn't 300 pounds, but still. After Old Navy sent me pants that were two sizes too small this week, I was already a little paranoid. It turns out that he doesn't yet understand the concept of holding the button down, so I took the control and it worked. Whew!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Celebrity Lookalikes

I remember my mom saying a long time ago that someone kind of looked like John Goodman. My dad said, "I don't think they'd be too happy to hear that." My mom seemed a bit surprised, like, why wouldn't someone want to look like someone famous?

Well, today I realized who my celebrity double is. Unfortunately, it's House.

This afternoon as I was distributing random items to their proper places, I was walking down the hall with Jack's sword at my side. For some reason, the picture I had of myself in my mind seemed very familiar. Then it came to me: five months of pregnancy and a raging case of sciatica have left me with a lovely limp, especially if it's late in the day and I've been on my feet a lot. So now I look like House, just fatter and less scruffy. Thankfully, though, I am not nearly as grumpy, though I did tell Jay that I could see why people with chronic pain issues could become addicts.

Just four more months to go...

Groundhog Day

To celebrate Groundhog Day today, we had these cupcakes I found on the Family Fun site. They tasted pretty good, but as with all projects like this, halfway through the assembly I found myself wondering what I was thinking. I am not a very patient cook. This morning we did some Groundhog Day things from Enchanted Learning, and Jack was excited to learn that his speech teacher grew up in Punxsutawney and has seen Phil in real life.

Just in case you hadn't heard yet, Phil saw his shadow and we're in for six more weeks of winter. It's supposed to be in the 60s later this week, though, so I'm not giving up hope!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Beaked Bunch

Yesterday Jack had a class on birds at the zoo. Most of the pictures I took were blurry because I had accidentally put the camera on some weird setting and I didn't figure it out until halfway through the class. I got a few good ones, though. This is Jack and Sheldon the screech owl. The teacher said not to touch him and Jack seemed to think that meant that Sheldon was going to come after him.

For the craft, the kids made birdfeeders from pinecones, peanut butter, and raisins. It was a challenge to keep him from eating the peanut butter.

This week during the ice storm we made some bird feeders of our own using this recipe from Family Fun.
Mix together:
3/4 cup birdseed
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons water

Spray or wipe a cookie cutter with oil and place it on a foil covered cookie sheet. Pack the mixture into the cutter, inserting half a straw near the top to create a hole for hanging.

Bake the biscuit (with the straw) in a 170 degree over until the biscuit is hard--about one hour. Let it cool. Remove the straw, thread a ribbon through the hole, and hang it outside in a sheltered spot.