Sunday, May 31, 2009

We just got home from a weekend trip to New Jersey. We went to see and celebrate our niece Andrea's high school graduation. Almost the whole Boulden family was present, everyone but Dwayne's brother Brandt, who is out to sea for the Navy. We all missed him.

Norah poses with Andrea, her cousin, the recent graduate. Andrea was a flower girl in our wedding! Sniffle. And, she's as smart as she is beautiful. Andrea received the highest honors in Math and Bible and is Salutatorian of her class, in fact. Uh hum.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spider Snack

Round crackers, peanut butter, chow main noddles or Fiber One (It's what we had to substitute), and raisins, arranged just right, make the only cute spider I've ever seen.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Norah and I shared our ant hill craft with her cousins.



I hung these on the wall and now every time I walk by, out of the corner of my eye, I think I see bugs crawling on the papers. I have to stop and look and remind myself that we put the bugs there on purpose.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bring some ants inside this summer.

Tear strips of various lengths from a paper bag. Glue them on a piece of construction paper to make a hill. Use a pencil with a new eraser and an ink pad to stamp three spots in a row, to represent the three parts of an ant's body.

Fill up the hill with ants. Add other details (like legs or a bird to eat up all the bugs) with a pencil and crayons.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Make your own trail mix to take along on your summer adventures.

I never like the trail mix combinations prepackaged in stores or if I do, the ingredients are always low-quality and taste bad cause they've been sitting together too long. So, we made our own, using raisins, M&Ms, party peanuts and honey nut cheerios. It was great! (And we could add as many M&Ms as we wanted).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Norah, Samantha and Simon pose on a rock where we stopped to catch our breath.

My sister-in-law and her kids will be here for another week before we head to New Jersey together to meet up with the rest of the family to celebrate our niece's high school graduation. We went hiking at Kettletown State Park on Saturday afternoon. Rocks like the one above made the trail tough enough, but three little ones with pointy "walking sticks" made it absolutely treacherous.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Let 'em play with trash!

On rainy or winter days, this makes a great indoor activity. Empty a small waste basket, crumble up some junk mail and let your kids stand back and toss the papers in, counting up how many they can get in the basket.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Make a bug that you won't want to squash.

We used a section of an egg carton, paint, google eyes, tissue paper polka dots and pipe cleaners to make this adorable little bug. Of course, he's pink because Norah made him, after all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's all Narnia's doing.

Norah's drawings have a new theme, probably because we listened to the first two books in the Chronicles of Narnia on audio CD, then purchased both the movies. Her days are filled with fantasies about kings and queens and epic battles between good and evil. She told me she goes to sleep hoping to dream about Narnia. And I promised her, if we ever see a wardrobe that is big enough, we will climb inside. Just in case...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My sister in law and her kids are here visiting for almost two weeks. She homeschools her kids, too, and brought along their materials, so they could still do their lessons. Norah's done with her formal K4 program, but she's been enjoying participating in her cousins' lessons.

Simon writing the letter M.

Samantha and Norah forming letters with play dough.

Steven does history on the couch.

Sarah reads and holds the baby.

Preschool and Kindergarten in the dining room.
Recent pictures of our girls.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

With your supervision, a simple plastic bag can produce lots of indoor, active fun for an older preschooler. A round ball will often move too fast for little ones to catch. But, plastic bags catch on the air like a parachute, so they are perfect for kids to use to practice coordination and timing and to learn concepts like throwing, catching, etc. Here are some things you can try:

Throw the bag up with both hands, catch it with both.
Throw it up with one hand, catch it with the other. Go back and forth like this.
Throw it up with one hand behind your back and catch it several time, then switch hands.
Throw it up, duck under it and catch it before it hits the ground.
Throw it up, spin around and catch it before it hits the ground.

Remember to put the bag somewhere safe when you're kid is done with it. And, it never hurts to have a chat with your preschooler about the dangers in putting anything over their head or around their neck, etc.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We made a ladybug and butterfly snack.

Cut a red apple in half. Use peanut butter to attach the ladybug's spots and antennae (chocolate morsels and pretzel sticks). Viola! You've got an edible snack almost too cute to eat.

To make the butterfly's body, attach three pretzel sticks with plenty of peanut butter to inside of the other half of apple. Use morsels for eyes and M&Ms for the butterfly's spots. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Norah will often ask me to lay Avril on the middle of my bed, so she can lay next to her, love on her, look her in the eyes, kiss her head... And, Avril seems to enjoy this time with her big sister. She's really never as content as when Norah is giving her her full attention.

Avril's presence has stirred something up within Norah, something I didn't expect to see in her till she was much older: the ability to fuss over Baby. This seems to come naturally to Norah, simply because she's a little girl. I never had to teach her notice her sister's hands, for example, and then say things like, "Oh! Wook at the wittle baby hands! Sweeeet wittle baby hands! Mom, look at her hand!" Norah just notices these kinds of things herself and then words of praise just flow right out of her, naturally, in response to seeing her sister's delicate little body parts.

This makes me proud of her and it's made me appreciate that same part within myself, that deeply feminine part that notices, appreciates and can't help but praise the awesome wonder in a newborn baby's form.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More bird feeders.

Our bread was getting moldy and we had two left over waffles from breakfast, so we dried everything out, poked holes in them with a screw driver, smeared on peanut butter, decorated them with seeds and treats and hung them on our tree with yarn. So messy, but Oh! so fun.

Dwayne's home. He's been gone to Middleofnowhere, Minnesota for the week. He was commissioning a new burner and controls for a well-known food processing plant. He said the project was unique because the plant uses a mixture of natural gas and bio-gas that they get from composting what remains after they harvest their crops, making the project eco-friendly. The top picture shows the new burner in front, the grey control panel in the back. You can see Dwayne's company's brand, Preferred Instruments, on the bottom of the burner. The bottom picture shows the piping where the gases mix, all to make steam that runs the plant.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Do you want to know how to cause an accident?

Give your four year old a bug cup with a stinging, flying thing inside and agree to let her hold it while you drive to the store.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

He's somewhat of a celebrity in Waterbury, Connecticut, where I live. But, when Dwayne and I first moved here, we didn't know what to make of him. We referred to him as "that crazy guy who always waves the flags." But, since then, we've gathered information about him here and there and we know that his name is Ziggy, he was born in another country, he moved here from there and he absolutely loves all things American.

We thought his extreme patriotism was a kind of phase he'd grow out of, but after years of seeing him march in our parades and stand on street corners, we've really grown to love him and we're always glad to see him. So, now we honk and smile and wave when we see him around and I'll always point him out to Norah.

I found myself behind him at a stop sign a few days ago. I had my camera handy, so I snapped a picture. If things go as they did in years past, I bet I'll see him twenty more times before the weather turns. So, for the fun of it, I think I am going to make it my ambition to catch this local hero on camera as often as I can.

We see him all the time, but the question is, will we have our camera handy?

Ziggy, driving his truck.

But, my windshield was so dirty, the camera thought I was taking a photo of it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I am, therefore I get.

Norah got this bag of Dibs from the cashier at the grocery store the other day. I let her eat them on the way home and after tasting one, I made her give me quite a few more pieces. Neither of us had ever had these before and they were so good.

This kind of thing seems to happen to Norah all the time. People just give her things, nice things. Her dad and I joke that she must have some sort of invisible mark on her forehead, like Cain, but this mark doesn't send people running, it provokes them to shower her with gifts.

Once, Norah complimented a lady's necklace, then we left the store. The lady must have been overcome by something, because she ran after us to our Jeep, practically ripped off her necklace and begged us to take it for Norah's sake.

Waitresses have often brought Norah food or desserts we didn't order.

Norah thinks I buy her the kids meals at Wendy's, but I never do. I never have. Nine out of ten times, the cashier just gives her the toy.

An old man, a perfect stranger, must have spent at least ten dollars to get her stuffed animals from a toy machine at Duchess. I saw him getting change for the machine, but figured he had a grandchild or two at home. When he finally grabbed the puppies with the claw and got them out, he turned around and brought them to Norah. I was shocked.

Without fail, our lovely neighbor brings Norah a treat every time she sees her in the yard.

Norah gets suckers at the bank, balloons at the mall, a pretzel stick and her choice of a sticker at the pediatrician...

She never asks for anything, but I am beginning to think she is starting to expect things. And, I wonder. Do other parents notice this type of thing happening with their children, too?

Our pastor once dumped a twenty pound bag of sand onto the stage at church to illustrate how much of the world's resources are concentrated here in the United States. He sprinkled handfuls all over the place to represent the resources used up in Africa, Asia... but he poured most of the bag into a huge pile to represent how much North America uses compared to the rest of the world. Then he mentioned how many people were living and somehow, still thriving, under the sprinkles of sand and how few, comparatively, were living under the pile of dirt and still wanting more and more... It made me sick.

We do have so much and we are often still so discontent and greedy for so much more, so much better, so much bigger.

The first thing I want to do when people want to give Norah something is beg, "Please. No!" and try to explain to them that she has enough, more than enough. Sometimes I want to insist that they don't give her anything. But, to be polite, I am usually forced to assent and say "Thank you" and make Norah do the same and let her have the treat or toy. I am thankful for what we are given, or at least, I think I am thankful. But, I fear for my daughter and for myself, too.

Are we learning, however unintentionally, that we are somehow entitled to a certain amount just by being here? Like having enough, or rather, more than enough, is just some fact of life?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They may have paved it, but paradise seems determined to take it back.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Have you ever seen red?

Three men got out of the car next to me at the gas station reeking of alcohol. I looked over and saw this. I called the cops. After the day I've had, I am beginning to think that trouble goes looking for me.
Norah dressed herself.

I love this kid.

Happy Mother's Day to me.

Dwayne hit the ball out of the park this year. Usually, I am impossible to surprise. I hate this about myself, but I can't help it. I seem to notice everything. But, this gift was perfectly timed and totally unexpected. I really wanted to buy this for myself, but found it way too expensive at the book store. I've been moaning about having to wait till the fall to buy it in paperback. Dwayne is also a stickler about saving money on books, but he found it for almost half the price and gave it to me when he arrived home from Texas yesterday. I can't wait to get started and see what happens next, especially since Gina told me this one's her favorite book in the series.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Construction on our neighborhood's park is almost done.

This is our new sprinkler. The day was perfect for water play, so Norah asked,
"Where are the sprinkles?!"

I had already called the parks department to ask the same question.
The director answered me in a tone of voice that suggested I should have known.

"Well...We don't turn the water on till school lets out... Of course."

See my homeschooled daughter. Marginalized.

I don't like it either, Avril.