Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009!

Here, have a piece of my freshly baked Monkey Bread and let's talk about Christmas!

I thought it was about time I posted a few Christmas photos especially since our tree looks like some strange Freaky Friday specimen on the back deck now. It was so dry and twisted by Christmas morning, but still smelled amazingly good. Here are some photos of the big day!

Ember got a wonderful shopping cart which she immediately started driving around. Chris has since put foam bumpers all over it so our walls our safe.

The boys were so excited for about a month leading up to Christmas and they seemed to love all of their presents. They get distracted by one or two at a time and then a few days later they start investigating something else from their pile of goodies.

The Doink-It Darts were a huge hit for Beck and everyone else! It's a magnetic dart board using rare earth magnets and it works wonderfully! Notice Beck's super short hair. Chris took the boys to a barber this time and all three of them came back with pig shaves.

Our little Princess Ember with a new CD of African music.

Here the boys are setting up a new Playmobile set called the Magician's Workshop.

The cousins and the boys at play!

Unwrapping chaos.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book had some good stuff in it. Refreshing, straight-forward parenting advice like the kind I get from my parents. I liked the idea of parenting that is "good enough" -- "Consider that "good enough" can often be best for your child, because when life is mostly ordinary and just occasionally extraordinary, your child won't end up with expectations of herself and those around her that can't be met on this worldly plane."

I feel like I often run into children (especially in our neighborhood) who think very highly of themselves - they're precious, pampered, greedy, rude and imperious. So it's nice to read a book that includes these teachings:

*Accept that your children are both unique and ordinary.
*Teach them to honor their parents and to respect others - family, friends, and community.
*Teach them to be resilient, self-reliant, and courageous.
*Teach them to be grateful for their blessings.
*Teach them the value of work.
*Teach them to accept rules and to exercise self-control.
*Teach them the preciousness of the present moment.

And finally a lovely quote that the author attributes to "a modern educator".
Try to see your child as a seed that came in a packet without a label. Your job is to provide the right environment and nutrients and to pull the weeds. You can't decide what kind of flower you'll get or in which season it will bloom."

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mom's Birthday

Here's the little zippered pouch I made for my mom for her birthday! I'm getting better at these, but that curved zipper is still a little dicey for me. On the last few bags I've added the zipper pull charm which adds a lot, I think. Plus I love going to the bead store. It's like a candy shop without the calories. All those pretties!!

Beck was telling a mom friend of mine about celebrating his grandma's birthday. She asked him which birthday it was...

the mom: is your grandma 1? or 2? or 3? etc...

Beck just looked at her and said, "No, you have to count by 10's!"

See, all the homeschooling math IS working!

Gingerbread Play Date

Yesterday I was pretty wiped out after a super fun, but slightly exhausting play date -- which is what you get when you mix Christmas anticipation + decorating gingerbread with all the candies you can imagine + 6 kids. And then right after that, I had to take Ember to her well child check-up and by the time I got back home I needed a break. So, I told the kids they had to go and watch some TV.

Yogi opened his eyes wide and said,

"What? Why?? Did we get too much exercise??"

The photos:

Working at our BIG table - perfectly sized for 6 kids and their gingerbread houses!

Beck's finished house.

Margaret and Yogi worked together.

Yogi's finished house.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some Christmas Bits

The kids got their annual photo with Santa the other day and now suddenly Ember knows Santa. She keeps looking at our past Santa photos and yelling out something like, "Dnta! Dnta!" And then she points to her mouth because the Santa she met gave her a candy cane which apparently was a pretty big deal to her! She also yells this out when she sees any kind of holiday display or Christmas yard decoration or even random people wearing a red coat like the lady we saw in a store yesterday.

And then we've been playing Christmas music here at home and the boys are starting to listen to the words and sing along. This year they noticed the line, " better not cry I'm telling you why! Santa Claus is coming to town!" I heard them have a long conversation about it while they were playing in the living room. It went something like this:

"Wait a minute! Why can't we cry? That doesn't make sense. Why would Santa say we can't cry?! What if someone hit you in the face? Then you would have to cry! And you would still get presents! That's not right. Right, Mom??"


We actually made it through an entire movie last night! This was a great film -- probably in part because I was the same age in 1987 as the characters in the movie. Plus I had the same crazy, fun "summer only" jobs and experiences. Nostalgic, funny, uplifting, sweet. Watch it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the Curve of Time

The Curve of Time The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pleasure and an inspiration to read. The author was an early unschooler; she loaded up her kids onto a 25 foot motorboat for several months of poking around and exploring all the bays and inlets near Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia each summer. Her adventures took place in the late 1920's and early 1930's when visiting still-used winter Indian villages and remote logging camps, seeing abundant wildlife, and enjoying the stillness and wildness of the coastline was still possible. It made me want to do it with our own three kids!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

'tis the season

Some bits and pieces of the season:

Against my warnings, the boys left their advent calendars out and Ember popped open most of the little windows and scarfed down all the little chocolate pieces.

We lost Mary from our Playmobil "Jesus Set" (as Beck calls it!)

I bought "The Essential Now That's What I Call Christmas!". I played it for my book party, loved it!, and then brought it to my parents and somewhere in the transition it disappeared. Gone.

We attended out first ever Feuerzangenbowle with some German friends. The kids loved feeding the fire, but the drink was for adults only!

The kids got to see Santa arrive by chopper at the museum of flight.

I talked to Ember about seeing Santa and every time I said the word Santa she put her finger to her lips and said, "Shhhhh". Not sure where she learned that, but it cracks me up every time!

The Pain in my Toe

Big news: I have to have open toe surgery on January 15th. My left big toe has a "pothole" in the joint bone which needs to be filled. Little pieces of cartilage are breaking off and getting caught in the joint which is terribly painful when it happens. So, unless I get it surgically repaired, they'll have to fuse that joint together at some point.

Anyway, the worst part is that I won't be able to put any weight at all on my left foot for 4 weeks and then I'll have limited ability to walk for another 4 weeks. That's a long time when you're normally busy on your feet all day with three young kids!! My parents have generously offered to be here 4 full days a week so between their help and a few days of vacation time from Chris, I think we're covered.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More on Moo

I just have to put in another plug for Moo cards! We recently ordered our second batch with all new photos. They are just as wonderful as the first time, but we thought they'd been printed a little dark. So, we emailed the company and asked what we could do about that. And you know what they did? Re-printed the entire batch and sent us this improved second set, for free! It's a great product and a great company! If you see me, ask for one of my new cards!


So, you might have noticed my new widget on the sidebar over there. It's for Goodreads, a website to manage your literary life. Please go check it out and start your own "bookshelf" because:

1. It's a great way to keep track of what you want to read and titles you want to remember

2. It's a perfect place to read reviews and get more information about books

3. You can see what your friends are reading, how they reviewed what they've read, and you can recommend books to them

4. It's fun, it's free

5. And I need more Goodreads "friends"

Click on my bookshelf link above and check out my shelves! And then go start your own and friend me.

When Yogi Messes with Beck's Toys

"What?? (Beck picks up his lego Glatorian.)

"Yogi, stop putting crystal boobs on my Bionicle!!"

Now, that's a sentence I never thought I'd hear!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Beginning...

to look a lot like Christmas!

See those red bulbs? I think Ember has pulled down and broken about 10 of those so far.

We let the kids take complete control of the tree this year: they picked it out and except for the lights, decorated it all themselves.

And as soon as it was up, they got busy under the tree using it as a background for playing with all their little figurines and set-ups. You can see a Star Wars guy laying there on the floor by Yogi's feet. Apparently there's a Jawa still hidden in among the branches somewhere!