Wednesday, June 27, 2012

building stuff and reading

I've had extra time this summer for reading. I love it.  The kids have been playing outside with the neighbors any chance they get.  They don't seem to mind the heat at all.  When we get hot, we all just go get in the pool.  That's pretty much the routine this summer; play outside while I sit and read on the pew, then we go swim.  

He's been busy with his toolbox.  This little gal is our neighbor.  She is often Lou's assistant.  She once told him she might want to marry him.  He avoided her for two weeks.  He finally told her he didn't want to get married.  To her or to anyone.  Ever.  They seem to be speaking again.

Lou managed to get some scrap wood from a few friends so he's been building. When he scored some longer 2x4s today, he was more than pleased. 

He made something everybody could enjoy, some balance beams.

Here's what I've been reading. I really prefer a good nonfiction. 

Look Me in the Eye:  My Life With Aspergers  by John Elder Robinson.  This was a great book my sister passed on to me.  John lived the first 40 something years of his life knowing he was different than other people, but not having a name for it.  He has led such an interesting life and is a great storyteller.  This book made me think of students from years past.  He has another book, Be Different, it's on my list.

Nuture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  This was a great read.  It is full of current research concerning parenting and child development.  There was an excellent chapter on teaching kids self control and another on sleep that I really liked.  Also good stuff on siblings and why kids lie.  The whole book was full of good info. 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  I really enjoyed this book although it had less to do with 'school' that the others.  It examines what factors lead to people being successful.  He has a few other books that are going on my list, Blink and The Tipping Point.

Imagine: How Creativity Works  by Jonah Lehrer.  This book was more scientific than the others, but still a fun read.  It explored what settings make for the most creative environment and how big companies like google and pixar get the most creativity out of their employees.  It had some good info for teachers and parents about how to encourage your own creativity as well as that of your little people. 

A few others on the list are:  The Dumbest Generation and Einstein Never Used Flashcards.  Are you reading anything good this summer?  What's on your list?

Monday, June 25, 2012

reading list and fish

I just added Where the Red Fern Grows to our completed reading list.  We finished it a few days ago and the kids loved it as much as I did!  Bee and I cried like babies!  Hubby teased us a little.  I told him he should have seen the year I read it as a read aloud to my 6th graders.  We were all a hot crying mess.  Boy included!

Unrelated photo:  Bee's fish had babies this week.  It's been very exciting.   


Sunday, June 24, 2012

belly laugh

I ended up spending about 8 hours in the past two days sewing on patches and general mending of a neighbors Marine uniforms (His entire military wardrobe it turned out).  I was happy yo do it, but had not planned on that time being allotted to the project and especially when I had a short deadline.  Also, he mentioned that if the pieces weren't done by the book, he could get demoted.  Thankfully, he left the book too.  

Anyway, the kids were great (mostly) and played nicely (ish) with each other when I needed them to (in general).  When I finally announced I was finished,  the kids were mid play; something involving army guys and polly pockets and a wedding.  I inherited this house and these men. 

Me:  Lou, there are a lot of guys in one house.
Lou:  Yeah, It's a habitat house.
Me:  So, a lot of people live in one house?  (good grief, how has he gotten this impression?)
Lou:  (eye's rolling) Mooooom, they're workers.  (Duh!)

Then I had the best belly laugh.  He was playing that his guys were working on a Habitat for Humanity house just like daddy did last week. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bee's birthday fabric

I'm busy sewing things for Bee's birthday.  I love the color pallet we're working with.  It sort of evolved from the invites and then I found the retro kitchen tools. I had several coordinating fabrics at home, but picked up several more.  Each girl is getting an apron and chef's hat. Thankfully we're keeping the guest list small of I'd never get it all done. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

weeds in the garden

This posted Thursday with no text.  I am not sure how that happened.  So here is some text to go with the pictures. 

This picture shows the weed free area of the garden.  Early in the season, I planted and laid down newspaper and topped it with grass clippings.  It worked well last year.  The problem this year was that if I want grass clippings, I had to be out and ready for them when hubby mows.  If I wasn't, I didn't get clippings.  Now, we are out of grass clippings.  We haven't mowed in weeks since we haven't had any rain.

So, the front part of the garden looked like this.  Weedy and embarrassing. Seriously, you can't tell what is weeds and what is tomatoes. 

So, I broke down and spent a few hours on two separate days fixing it back up.  I went to the recycling center and grabbed a big stack of newspaper.  I laid several layers down all around the garden.  I kept the hose out and sprayed them wet as I went to keep them from blowing away.  It looked like I was paper mache'-ing the garden.

Then I laid down a nice layer of straw.  I have heard some garden bloggers saying that straw is expensive where I they live.  I pay $3.50 a bale.  I think that's a fine price.  I have to transport it, but they will load it for me. I can fit two in my car at a time.

After several hours and a nice watering, it looks like a garden again. 

A happy garden = happy zucchinis.  Can they be happy if they get grilled and eaten?  A happy garden = my happy tummy.

Lou's thank yous

Here are Lou's thank yous.  I got the idea for the straw scuba photo from Fiskers.  Lou isn't happy with them since he's wearing his jammy shirt.  I took several photos and this was the best.  He was less than cooperative, so he's stuck with a pajama picture.

And since he can write, but it's a fight to get him to do work like this, I had him write the words "Thank You" and "From: Luke" once.  I scanned them and then added them to a typed note.  Next year maybe he'll write more.  Maybe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

play plan turned morning plan

Before I get going talking about this, let me first say there was debate at our house over if my 'in to' should have been 'into.'  For some reason as I was writing it I thought, 'that should be 2 separate words.'  Then it looked funny, then hubby and even Bee chimed in with their thought.  It got muddy and it stands as it is and it's not a big deal. Either way....

I just finished this great book that I want to share about but am not sure when I'll get to it.  It is called Nuture Shock and it is full of current research on child development and parenting techniques.  I love a good non fiction.  So, it was talking about Tools of the Mind, a preschool-Kindergarten school program that is having great results in teaching children self control among other things.  This is of particular interest to me!

On of the ideas from Tools of the Mind is working with the kids to make a 'play plan.'  The kids think about what they are going to do, they write a sentence about it, and then illustrate it.  For example, "I am going to play baby dolls."  or "I'm going to pretend I am a teacher and play at the office center."   Then, they go and play that thing for an extended period of time.


It's no secret that Lou struggles with anxiety, specifically school/other drop off anxiety.  In fact, we are seeing a therapist about it this summer with him.  The first few days of reading camp came and yet with our normal drop off difficulties. Running from us, crying, mumbling, hiding, drying, mama getting frustrated, then the threats get made and or unsuccessful bribery starts.  It's not pretty.  When I read about the play plans, I thought, "This might be something we could use for our mornings."   

One morning, prior to our leaving the house, we sat down and talked about what the appropriate drop off would look like.  He was unusually compliant with this discussion.  Usually this is where the tummy aches start.  We worked together to write a sentence about what he would do.  We came up with, "I will walk right in to (or into!) reading camp."  Then he drew a picture.  Now, he did scribble on the first picture,  actually, he drew himself running from the reading camp door and then scribble on it. Our second try went well. 

We read it in the car, we read it on the way into the building, we read in standing in from of the door.  Then he looked at me and said, "Mooooom, I know what I'm supposed to do, you can put that thing away."  And, he walked right in to reading camp.  Just like that. The following day, we repeated the same process.  The third day, we were able to leave the paper in his backpack. 

Then we had a weekend and I thought Monday would keep going right along as the last week ended.  Monday wasn't great and we didn't even bring our paper.  Tuesday we started back and the beginning and it went well.  We'll have to take baby steps, but this morning plan has very helpful.  

It's a lot like our social stories, but more manageable and I think better suited for his age.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You're invited!

Bee's birthday party is our next event this summer.  It's a cake decorating party and Bee and I are busy planning away. I am sewing sewing sewing for it too!

I made these invitations using a free pdf from World Wide Labels and a little trickery on photoshop.  I have learned some BASIC photoshop things now.  We cut them out and glued them to cardstock cut like a recipe card.  The colors from the invite have set our color scheme.  The wording was borrowed from other invites I found around online.

Monday, June 18, 2012


A few carrots were ready according to the days numbered on the seed package.  I don't think something went exactly right, they were teeny tiny. We picked only two and will leave the rest another month or so before trying again.  They were tasty though.  (Bee and I have been going round and round over her mess of curls.  She needs to keep a clip in her hair to keep it our of her face!)

Although the kids didn't think they were that good.  Lou liked them until Bee had this reaction and then that seems appropriate and spitting was the thing to do.

Each morning there are a handful of sweet peas to pick.  It's perfect for lunch.  Or munching on in the yard which is where most get eaten.  We had 1 blueberry this year.  It's better than last year!  I ate it and didn't even show the kids!  There are two of them and only one berry. That wouldn't have gone well.

The green beans are also starting to come in, which is exciting for me.  I've never grown green beans well and always struggled with the bunnies and other critters. These were the best green beans I've ever had.  This batch got boiled, but the next night I grilled them.  Yum!  There are only 3 plants ready to pick but a dozen more in a few weeks.  Hopefully I won't have to buy many from the farmers market this year.

 I spent several hours this weekend weeding and laying fresh straw in the garden.  It's looking much more presentable now, I'll have to take pictures this week.  It had gotten weedy weedy!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

best boy birthday present!

Lou got a lot of great birthday presents.  The one that's kept him most occupied recently is a small tool box.  He even spent some birthday money on some additional tools.  The friend that gave it to us said that she put it together for under $10 and was her go-to boys gift.  When I took Lou to Harbor Freights to get a few other pieces, I see how she did it.   What good prices for cheap tools.

He's gone through all the scrap wood in the garage and we've had to beg from neighbors.  I picked up a pallet and have ripped some of boards from it, but it's splintery and when I saw it, it breaks in a dangerous fast-flying-wood sort of way.  With the wood he can work with, he's built a boat and a house and a Great Wall of China. 
I've found a new go to boys gift now too!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

score for me

I've been keeping my eyes out for an overhead projector.  I knew with everybody going to smartboards, I'd find one eventually.  I was at church to take Lou to reading camp when I spied one in from of a classroom. They are doing a lot of cleaning out and some remodeling in the children's wing.  I asked about it and found out that it was up for grabs. They even asked if I also wanted a four drawer file cabinet.  Why, Yes, I did!

Free!  I scored an overhead projector and file cabinet for free!   We've been using some of our lightboard pieces on it, but mostly drawing with our crayola dry erase crayons. I like them better than transparency markers and dry erase markers since those get on clothes. 

We've been doing math problems and drawing and writing stories.  School work is way more fun on an overhead. 

I kind of want another for parts... that's just being greedy, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2012


We've been fish this summer.  Bee's been a swimmer for some time...

But, Luke has some big fun news.  He can swim!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

weekend trip

Here is our weekend in no particular order (i.e. slightly backwards).

We went to St. Louis.  As part of Lou's baseball team fundraiser, we went to a Cardinals game and got to go on the field before the game.

There we are on the big screen.  Hubby is in yellow and the kids are in front of him.  I'm hidden in between, but taking the picture.

Let's pretend this nice player on the Indians is signing something for Bee.  Well, no.  Bee was the last person in line and he walked away right as she was handing him her ball glove to sign.  He signed for all the grown ups and thugish teen agers and walked away for the little girl.

Magic House.  (That's the face of Bee and Lou)

Fitz Bottling Co.  You can watch the bottling line make the root beer. 

Then you can enjoy one!

Lou seems impressed!

I love when we get away for the weekend, but we need a few days to catch up now!
01 09 10