Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It's my birthday today. Please don't feel that that obligates you to leave a comment since that will send a notification to my email, and I currently have 1547 messages in my inbox. I told you I am a mess. If you would like to drop dinner off, though, please do leave a comment and I will make sure your message is addressed posthaste as I don't cook on my birthday or Mother's Day. I am thinking about seeing if I can get away with not cooking on my children's birthdays, too, but maybe that's pushing it a bit.

I have always liked my birthday. My grandmother's birthday was June 1 and there were several birthdays in between, so it was a nice bookend to the month. It's also right in the middle of the year, so it's a nice time to reflect on resolutions if I'm feeling reflective. Usually, though, I'm just thinking about how nice it's going to be to have take out instead of being in the kitchen, because I hate being hot.

This year I am going to make a birthday resolution, though. I am going to resolve to stop plucking my gray hairs. I am going to try to view them as sparkles instead. I like sparkles. Maybe I will try to cover up my sparkles, but I will not pluck them. At least I will try not to. I do like sparkles more than being bald.

So goodbye, 33, and all of your stress and and blizzards (I hate being too cold, too. I'm cranky in extremes.) and chaos. Here's to a calm, peaceful, sparkly 34!

(The picture above is me on my third birthday. You know that even though the outfit doesn't fit anymore, I still have days when I think I just might be WonderWoman, sparkles and all.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Birthday Banners

When I posted a picture of the birthday banners in progress a while back, several people asked about them, so here's everything you've ever wanted to know about them--and a little more!

I started by making patterns for the names. I just used Word and used the plainest font--I think I used Arial--and made huge letters. I cut them out, traced them onto the fabric, and cut again.

For the banners, I just got the cheap felt sheets at Hobby Lobby--4 for $1, I think. Now here's where it gets highly meticulous...I folded the sheets in half and then traced a diagonal line from the midpoint to the corner. I used an ink pen and an old sheet of posterboard. High tech.

Then came the scary part. I had to get out my machine. My machine and I have a very tenuous relationship. For the last decade or so, we have enjoyed living in the same house without talking much. In fact, I wasn't even sure I would be able to thread it, so I took pictures before taking out the old thread.

Before I started sewing, I laid out all the banners and letters to make sure I had it right (see below for the time I didn't). I made mine two-sided, so I needed to lay one out backward to make sure the colors matched.

When I had it like I wanted it (or like I thought I wanted it), I sewed around the edges. My lines weren't the neatest, but thanks to the prints and distance, they looked fine.

Once I had all the letters on, I pinned the ribbon. I sewed all along the bottom edge of the ribbon and stopped at the edge of each banner.

Next I pinned the other side of the banners on and sewed one straight line all along the top of the banners.

Tip 1: If you have a place in mind for the banners, measure it. I didn't.

Tip 2: Double-check before you sew. And then check again, because it's hard to rip a little seam out of felt. Yes, that banner reads ENUJ ECILA. No, I didn't even cry, probably thanks to the birthday party stupor I was in that week.

It turns out that the stairs make a pretty good place to hang the (corrected) banners, so all was well.

We hung Jack's from the balcony during his party. I think his looks really nice with the bright colors.

All in all, this was time consuming, but not too difficult, even for someone like me. Jack wants me to make a banner that says "He loves her" for our anniversary, but that may be too many letters and I think my machine and I need some time apart. Maybe next year!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shadow Puppets

As I mentioned in the post about this year's Summer Adventure Box, our museum is hosting an Egyptian exhibit this summer. In conjunction with the exhibit, they had a shadow puppet show yesterday, which Jack and I attended (sans Alice, thank goodness). The stars on our tickets were to show we are members; this allowed us to go backstage after the show.

I didn't try to take any pictures during the performance, but I got quite a few afterward. Here, Jack and Peter are trying to figure out how the puppets work.

Jack is making one of the puppets move. The puppets were painted on sheets of acetate and hinged together.

There was a screen, and behind the screen were large painted acetate sheets that could be moved around.

Jack and the mummy puppet. The main puppeteer is in the background. He was a student of my mom's when she taught second grade. Jack was excited to tell him that, but he didn't know my mom's last name.

The boys also spent quite a bit of time playing with the drums and other sound effect equipment. Jack seemed to enjoy it and he told me this morning he was going to put on a puppet show here for me!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pretty Little Mess

When I was a little girl, my grandma used to say I was her pretty little mess. I am not so little anymore, and I'm not sure about pretty, but I can tell you I'm a mess. Not always in a bad way, but in the I have 413 things on my mind at any given moment kind of way.

This is what our school room looks like right now. (And for another thing to think about, is it bad that I call it school? Should I call it education? Does it matter? Do I care? I don't know. Now you have a glimpse into my mind and know why I don't sleep much.) Jay got the new shelf set up for me and now I am going through everything trying to figure out where I want it, which is hard for me because I have to think about the 32 options I have for organizing things--books together, books with manipulatives, craft stuff here or the laundry room, and on and on and on. I am a mess.

And the kids and I are leaving for a trip in a week and a half. I'm so not ready.

I do have help making messes.
Tuesday I was making our lunches to take to the splash pad. I read about these new containers on Michele's blog and I was going to do a post on them. (Obligatory turned picture when I'm in a rush to get the kids to gymnastics.)

I turned from the counter to see this. I think an Alice has been here. (See that bouncy chair? She's been too big for it for ages, but she found it in the guest room and discovered she can climb into it herself. It just about bends back to the ground, but she has a blast in it and it buys me a few moments here and there when I am fixing meals.)

Oh, look! Tea packets in the dining room! Hooray!

And then I turn to go back over and put the lids on the lunches and find she is already there, into something else. Such a pretty little mess!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Adventure Box: Ancient Egypt

Since today is the first day of summer, I thought I ought to get around to posting about this year's Summer Adventure Box. Since our local museum is hosting a special Egyptian exhibit this summer, we went with that for our theme.

I used sand and mod podge to make the top and then glued fake jewels along the edges. In my mind, this was going to look like a prop from some Vegas show. It didn't turn out exactly like that, but I still like it.

The sides have different pictures. I thought about painting this to look like it was made of stones and then painting heiroglyphics on it, but then I came to my senses when I realized how many different colors of paint I would need and how little my baby sleeps.

Of course, we have books. I know Jack will be especially excited to have our own copy of Bill and Pete.

This book has lots of different activities. I am thinking we'll open this one after vacation when the summer blahs set in.

I found these two at a new (to me) used bookstore in town. Jack had been wanting the Magic Tree House guide and he has just started reading some of the A to Z Mysteries.

At the museum gift shop last week I picked up this heiroglyphic decoder for Jack and this cute Egyptian art book for Alice.

This set from Dover was a pretty good deal on Amazon. This year's box was financed with Amazon certificates earned from our ultra-expensive 2009.

Jack found this activity kit at the museum shop earlier this summer. He has already made the pyramid bank and he's looking forward to making the mummy.

While he was looking at the kit, I found this papyrus kit.

And we have a few toys, too. This Playmobil sphinx will go along nicely with the little man he got on the last day of kindergarten.

It's kind of hard to see in the packaging, but this is a little Playmobil archaeologist.

I had also ordered this neat Egyptian headdress, but it got lost in the mail and they didn't have any more to send me. I was bummed about that, but I will probably substitute Mummy Rummy, which Kendra found for me.

Today I gave Jack a pyramid to excavate. He was working on it while I was working in the kitchen and he kept saying it was really hard. Honestly, I thought he was whining for nothing, but then I tried it. He wasn't kidding!

The treasure is still inside. My hand was hurting, I was covered in dust, and I had more chores to do before Alice woke up. I'll have to let you know later what we found.

I hope you had a wonderful first day of summer!

Summer Reading 2010

This morning Jack got his summer reading program medal. At our old library, each child set their own goal, but here, everyone who reads eight books gets a medal--and if you read twenty, you get an inflatable whale. We're still working on that.

In years past, the librarians made a huge deal when kids reached their goal. Every year Ms. Kim read off every. single. book. on his reading log and asked him about which ones he liked best. This year some teenager said, "Good job!" and handed him a medal out of a box. Kind of a bummer, but Jack says he is going to take his medal by our old library to show them when we're in town in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Father's Day started early around here. We were nice, though, and let the father sleep in. When he got up (which wasn't too late), we gave him his presents--a weed sprayer and ear protectors. Jack also told him that he didn't have to do any chores today.

Jack served breakfast--bacon!

Alice wore her special Father's Day shirt. We didn't do much else, but we had a nice day relaxing at home together.

I forgot to get a picture of Jay and the kids together until it was bedtime. Alice was much less cooperative than she was last year.

They finally got her to come closer to them and we got a decent picture--although Alice looks a bit under duress.

Happy Father's Day, Jay! We love you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mr. Hoppy

One morning last week we were leaving for VBS when I heard a thump above my head. After I stopped yelling and jumping, I looked and saw this little guy. Jack named him Mr. Hoppy.

He was still there when we got home, so Jack caught him and played with him.

According to our nature guide (we are nerdy homeschoolers, you know), Mr. Hoppy is a green tree frog.

These frogs are also sometimes called rain frogs, which makes sense if you look at the clouds in this picture.

He was pretty good at hiding in the grass, but Jack was a pretty good finder.

After playing for much of the afternoon (even on the swingset, poor frog!), Jack decided to let Mr. Hoppy go free. We are keeping an eye out for him on rainy days now!