Friday, October 31, 2008

Gnome Homes

Am I the only one who thinks this is adorable, or do I have to test these felt dolls out on my kids? It is a gnome house from A Toy Garden, and BEWARE...there are a lot of enticing things on this site.

Cereal Box Office Hit!

Rigel and Izzy had fun with this a while ago: a cereal box puppet theatre. They had just as much fun being behind the scenes as they did being the audience. I have since begun setting aside all our empty cereal boxes rather than tossing them in the recycling bin, and have now accumulated--whoa!-- 10 empty boxes! I think it is time to convince the neighborhood playgroup mamas to have a cereal box puppet theatre workshop, and I'll supply the materials. It's great "recycled art."

Cereal Box Puppet Theatre:

empty cereal box
Popsicle sticks
pictures (magazine cutouts of animals, family photos from your printer, etc.)
glue or paste
construction paper

Cut back of box and sides off so all that is left is the front and the bottom. Glue a popsicle stick on the bottom flap if needed for added support. Cut a window out of front of box. Set aside all the cardboard scraps. Cut curtains out of construction paper, then glue around the window. Cut out the pictures, then glue onto cardboard scraps (trim off edges). Glue popscicle stick onto each picture for a handle. Ta-dah!
P.S. If you don't have the patience to wait for the glue / paste to dry, use a hot glue gun for the popscicle sticks and to attach the pictures to the cardboard. Just don't let the kiddos help with that part, of course!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sew Fine!

I was perusing the classifieds today (not routine, so perhaps it was meant to be), and I came across the above: a 1966 Singer sewing machine and cabinet/chair. The owner's mother had passed away some time ago, and no one else in the family sewed. No longer fated to collect dust, it is now sitting in my family/dining room awaiting its next assignment. First, I'll have to consult my grandmother on how to thread the needle (the last time I've used a sewing machine was when I quilted in high school). We'll see how it goes from there... good thing it came with the original operating manual.

P.S. The best part of this deal was what came inside the drawers: old patterns, boxes of bobbins, scraps of old fabric, lots of thread, a canister full of old buttons, and lots more sewing accessories. Even the seat cushion (which I may attempt to re-upholster) lifts to reveal more storage space! And, can you believe the sewing machine folds back up inside the cabinet? It's a set up similar to my grandmother's 1940's Singer sewing machine and cabinet, which is still getting use from its original owner.

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Happy H-owl-loween!

Izzy's Owl

Rigel's Owl

We made owls together the day before yesterday. I cut out the bodies and parts ahead of time, supplied the paste, feathers, eyes and beak in a pile to the kids, and then let them create. Notice Izzy's upside down owl... pretty cute! These cut-and-paste projects are fun and simple, and there are a lot of options... jack-o-lantern faces, frankenstein faces, etc. Come Christmas time, I want to be sure to remember to sit down with the kids and make cut-and-paste snowmen, christmas trees, wreaths... We'll have fun.

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Little Scholar

We spent the evening at Grandma's house yesterday. While sitting at the table eating dinner, Grandma asked Rigel how preschool was going... and this was his exact response:
"I used to scream and fuss when we'd go there, but then I realized I could have fun there."
(Yes, he said the word "realized," except he pronounced it "wheel-ized.")

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Dance Class before Halloween

Top: Lily as Snow White and Izzy the Ladybug;
Bottom, from left to right: Elina (Minnie Mouse), Becky (the dragon), Izzy, Lilly, and Payton (the mermaid princess)
All the girls got to wear their Halloween costumes to dance class, and then enjoy a cookie "picnic" together aftward. It was lots of fun, especially watching how seriously the adorable little dancers took their costumes and post-class picnic.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Beautiful Boy

I read this poem (scroll down) on Jora's blog. I immediately loved it, and wanted to save it so it can be pulled out as we watch Rigel grow. It was perfect timing, too. Today was one of those days when I allowed the negative details to outweigh the good (i.e., tantrums, testing the boundaries, and the likes). How easy I stray away from the simple fact that the good details always outweigh the bad when you are fortunate enough to experience motherhood and to witness firsthand the innocence of a child.

by Alastair Reid

My son has birds in his head.
I know them now. I catch
the pitch of their calls, their shrill
cacophonies, their chitterings, their coos.
They hover behind his eyes and come to rest
on a branch, on a book, grow still,
claws curled, wings furled.
His is a bird world.

I learn the flutter of his moods,
his moments of swoop and soar.
From the ground I feel him try
the limits of the air--
sudden lift, sudden terror--
and move in time to cradle
his quivering, feathered fear.
At evening, in the tower,
I see him to sleep and see
the hooding-over of eyes,
the slow folding of wings.
I wake to his morning twitterings,
to the croomb of his becoming.

He chooses his selves--wren, hawk,
swallow or owl--to explore
the trees and rooftops of his heady wishing.
Tomtit, birdwit.
Am I to call him down, to give him
a grounding, teach him gravity?
Gently, gently.
Time tells us what we weigh, and soon enough
his feet will reach the ground.
Age, like a cage, will enclose him.
So the wise men said.

My son has birds in his head.

Our First Butterfly!

(The last two images are the same butterfly, just after we released it. The underside of its wings are completely different from the orange color you see when it is perched on Rigel!)

Our first chrysalis (cocoon) has "hatched!" Izzy was sleeping, but Rigel got to hold the Gulf Fritillary butterfly before releasing it to flutter amongst our perennial hedges. We've got about 4 more cocoons and lots more caterpillars left, so Izzy will definitely get her turn, too (as Izzy would say, "Izzy turn! Izzy turn!").

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Window Tree Feels Like Autumn

"Just before the death of flowers,

And before they are buried in snow,

There comes a festival season

When nature is all aglow."

- Author Unknown

“But I remember more dearly autumn afternoons in bottoms that lay intensely silent under old great trees”- C. S. Lewis

Even though autumn is here, it is difficult to describe what it means to Rigel and Izzy without any visual aides. For this reason alone, I miss the mountains. I love San Diego and its year-round mild weather, but I miss how in Mariposa County only one glance outside the window described the season... Dry, brown fields and brush in the summer, bare trees and chimney smoke in the winter, green meadows and wildflowers everywhere in the spring, and autumn leaves in the fall.

In San Diego this time of year, any large old maple, ash or oak tree is eye-catching, just as I bet we were a sight the other day when we pulled over to collect fallen red maple leaves while visiting the Navy submarine base. The kids helped search for the prettiest red leaves, then we took them home and made "stained glass" paper. After they had fallen asleep, I trimmed their stained glass paper into pieces for a "window tree" to decorate our front room. Now it feels like autumn!

Rigel loves collecting sticks whenever he is outside, though I'm not sure what has triggered his fascination with fallen twigs. I took his stick collection and made it into a simple wall hanging (complete with a store-bought owl). Now, whenever he has a handful of sticks, he says, "We have a bunch of sticks--let's make them into something pretty!"

Stained Glass Paper:
wax paper
leaves (flat, stems trimmed off)
cheese grater

Use the grater to make crayon shavings. Place the leaves on waxed side of the wax paper, then sprinkle with crayon shavings. Place another sheet of wax paper (waxed side down) on top of the leaves and shavings, and then iron. The kids can help with grating the crayons and decorating the wax paper, but of course leave the ironing to the grown-ups. The crayon wax wipes off the grater easily with a scrub brush and hot water.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Having a Blah Day

Since today I am feeling pretty yucky (some sort of cold or flu), we stayed home and had a nothing day. The highlight of our day (besides nap time) was making chocolate chip cookies, because I think the healing properties of cookies are second only to chicken noodle soup. The kids like to take the liberty of unwrapping the paper from the butter, and if I turn my back for less than a minute there are bite marks and greasy sculptures to contend with. This time they were also given the job of whacking the bag of whole pecans with their toy hammers, and since I didn't learn the first time with the butter, I was later ushered under the dining room table where a cup of pecans was presented to me as a "surprise," (not to mention all the pecan crumbs that were strewn across the hardwood floor). When the kids caught me taste testing the raw dough (I know, yuck!), Rigel declared, "you're gonna get sick! No more eating raw eggs!" And he disappeared for a moment, only to return with a bottle of children's ibuprofen (which he climbed up onto the bathroom sink and retrieved from the medicine cabinet's top shelf), and told me to "take some of this pink stuff." When Izzy spotted the bottle, she exclaimed, "Izzy really sick, too!" They both think medicine tastes like candy. (Don't worry, I am moving all the medicine to a different, more child-proof location).

Even though it has been a nothing day, it has been enjoyable. The kids found a lot of entertainment with silly nothing things, like singing along with a toy radio in silly voices, making trains out of empty Costco boxes, racing our rolling pin across the floor, and making a train track out of popsicle sticks. It's such a comforting feeling to see them entertaining themselves and interacting with each other, despite the occasional squabble.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Caterpillars!

Yikes! Just in time for Halloween!
3 caterpillars in this picture: Can you see the tiny baby one in the middle?

We found more caterpillars at Grandma and Grandpa's house this weekend... Grandma Lana encouraged us to take as many as we could find home, since they were eating her passion vine. These hairy insects turned out to be Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae caterpillars, and the passion vine is their host plant. We found 20+ caterpillars and 4 live cocoons (chrysallis)! Now, let's see if we'll have more success observing these guys grow than we did with our attempt to raise monarchs. They are currently hanging up outside in
our "lady bug lantern" (from Insectlore), and they are not as ugly when viewed from a distance--Sorry if I scared anyone with the above close-up shots... I just love playing with the zoom on our camera.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Night Out

We had a fun evening at the Lake Wohlford Cafe, a great local hangout near Grandma and Grandpa's house in Valley Center. After a day of t-ball lessons, swimming, and relaxing, we needed another excuse to get out of the house. Lake Wohlford Cafe has the combined environment of a dive bar and a mom n' pop diner, situated directly across the street from a lake full of catfish. There's even catfish nuggets available on the kid's menu! We ate fried okra, iced tea, catfish burgers, and hot lava cake and ice cream...yum! The juke box, bait n' tackle counter, mounted fish trophies, pool table, bar stools, and live music on a dance floor made us feel right at home, despite the fact that Dan and I don't drink and can't remember the last time we've gone fishing. The Chieftain (Men in Trees) ain't got nothin' on this cafe on a Saturday night.

T-Ball Lessons

Rigel had his first T-ball lesson with our pal Maz at the YMCA... the little peewee athletes got to practice throwing a baseball, running the bases, and scoopin' up grounders with a mitt.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog it... Don't Buy it!

The small amount of free time that I have should not be spent "window" shopping online (so my conscience tells me). And yet, I cannot seem to pry my fingers off the mouse as I click and scroll through the handmade jewelry on Etsy. Perhaps if I blog these items I'll get them out of my system, and since blogging is cheaper than buying, my conscience will be happy.
P.S. Click on image for link to name of seller / artist...

All these book lockets are fascinating... some are even antiques from the early 1900s... If I ever fulfill my goal of learning how to make my own silver jewelry, then these would be on my "to do" list. Wouldn't it be great if book locket pendants with 8 picture fold-outs could be customized with images of your family?

Tree pendants (pretty to look at, too flashy to wear?) by Starsb117

Sustainable, eco-friendly cork necklace packaged in test tube, by Uncorked
Hippy-style ring by Valentino Ink Jewelry

Beach comber pendant and vintage style locket by Out of the Blue

Bird's nest necklace by Sudlow

sea urchin ring by Star of the East

Love the simple intricacies of these cicada wings by Sudlow

cranberry earings are simple and cute, also by Sudlow
Love those owls... Ring is by Dillon Designs