Monday, November 30, 2009

These things EXIST?

Yes, yes they do:



I think there is a reason they're hand-welded instead of being made on an assembly line - how many could they possibly need to make??

Software development and music composition

Not the sort of things I usually think of together, but the results here are wonderful. I knew Scott Ward back in college, but had no idea he had this kind of unusual talent. As a musician married to a developer, I appreciated the performance on a whole variety of levels - I hope you enjoy it too. Scott, if you ever read this, thank you!

Advent

Last night we set up the advent wreath and lit the first candle. Then we sang a couple of advent carols. This year Jonathan is interested in learning them, so I think we're going to have a nightly (or as-close-as-we-can-make-it) advent carol sing. It was a lovely and simple beginning.

If you're looking for thoughts or ideas on Advent, the Third Annual Advent Carnival (part of Carnivals of the Church Year) is up at A Ten O'Clock Scholar. It is well organized and I always find great ideas and reflections there, so I encourage you to take a look.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It occurs to me that I have forgotten something important

Baby Josiah is now officially a toddler! I just put him in real shoes for the first time last week. He is too sweet, wobbling around on his little feet, and so very pleased with himself!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Secrets

I took Jonathan shopping with me last week, and we picked up a present for Daddy. I discussed with him very seriously that this was a present, a secret, and we had to be sure not to tell Daddy about it. He informed me that he was four years old and could keep a secret.

Then on Thursday, all the Black Friday ads came. While Gabe was flipping through them, Jonathan came across the Target ad (which included a picture of said present). Jonathan threw himself across it and said "Daddy, Daddy, you can't look because that is your present!!"

On Friday, Gabe took the boys out shopping. In the store, they passed a display of the same item, and Jonathan, eyes wide, cried out "Oh, Daddy, don't look, it's your present!"

Isn't it amazing how a child's mind works? He still thinks that the secret is safe. After all, he's four, and he can keep secrets now!


(I was reminded to blog about this when I read Ma Torg's post on the same subject.)

More worm farming

Our worm farm has been doing quite well, which is amazing considering how we forget about it for days at a time! Today I realized that the worms were pretty much living in their own castings, which isn't good for them. So we traumatized them utterly by turning their living space upside down and inside out, then added new shredded paper bedding and greens. Here is the result:



The part on the bottom (of the picture, anyway) is the new bedding and food, and I expect that they'll migrate over to that side fairly quickly. When they do, we'll be able to finish harvesting the rest of the castings.

We were able to get some of them right away, though. Thomas liked holding the bucket but did NOT want to touch the worms or the castings. :)



Doesn't that look beautiful!



This is the bed we're preparing for a winter crop of peas. I love the fact that I can turn kitchen and garden scraps into the most amazing fertilizer for our garden!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

This evening before prayers, Gabe asked Jonathan and Thomas what they were thankful for. The list was wonderful. Jonathan is thankful for apples, birds, rainbows, clouds, Cubbie Bear, Luv E. Lamb, pigs, Daddy and Mommy, Siah and Thomas, and God.

Thomas? Thomas is thankful for "some shirts".

I am thankful that I get to be their mother.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Playtime

I’ve been struck, recently, by how differently my children approach playtime. During quiet time each morning both Jonathan and Thomas play separately on their beds. Usually, they listen to a story cd and play with Duplo. So far, similar! But what they do with their time and toys is entirely different.

Jonathan creates things. Preferably big, cool, amazing things. Airplanes, helicopters, and large double deck buses are favorites of his, and the fun seems to be in the building – once built he doesn’t want them broken, but would rather set them on a shelf than play with them. Thomas approaches play entirely differently. He builds relational settings. He wants all the little Duplo people, and he sets up tables with chairs, or benches, or houses with bedrooms and beds. His little people sit next to each other and have conversations. (It is a lot of fun to listen in.)

Here are some pictures of Thomas' playtime creations:





This is just one example, but I think the observation holds in general. They are such different children! I think it is fascinating to watch, and ponder, and I hope that as I pay attention to my boys growing so differently, I’ll be able to parent each one better.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Minimalism

I wrote this on Friday and forgot to post it until now. :)

This morning we had our carpets cleaned. Which means that last night I picked up everything possible off the floor, moved the strollers out to the van, and made a mental list for this morning. And this morning I moved everything that could possibly be moved off the carpet. And when I say everything, I mean everything that isn’t nailed down or two heavy to move without multiple people. :) Carpet cleaning happens rarely around here (it’s expensive!) so when it does, I plan to take advantage of it!

And now my carpet is clean, and I’m sitting in an absolutely beautiful and very, very empty house, and I don’t want to put it all back.

Did I mention that I think I’m a minimalist at heart?

Outside on my back patio are children’s toys, a baby gate, recycle bins, a laundry hamper, bookshelves, more children’s toys, a coffee table, and a bookshelf we’ve been trying to sell for weeks without success. In my van are three strollers, only one of which is well-serving the purpose for which it was purchased. On top of my bed is a rocking chair, a chest, piles of books, wrapping paper, blankets and pillows, and everything that has been living under my bed.

I’d like to bundle it all up and ship it…elsewhere! Certainly not pack it all back inside where it was before.

I’m curious how others handle the competing needs: for clean, spacious room to live, and all the things that having children seems to bring into life. Do you ever just get rid of tons of stuff? And if so, do you find that you miss it later? Do your (my!) kids really need everything they own, or would we all be happier in a home with more space to play and fewer things?

*And now I have to laugh at myself, because apparently I feel this way every time we do a major carpet clean.*

UPDATED to add that I did take three bags and two large items to our local Life Center, and we also have three other VERY large things that we're considering selling. That will help with the space problems!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bluebirds - preschool project

I learned today that there are three different kinds of bluebirds: Eastern, Western, and Mountain. You learn all kinds of fascinating facts when you're teaching small children. We had a lot of fun enjoying the pictures. These are really beautiful birds.

As always, we did a bit of handwriting practice; as always, Jonathan complained about it; as always, he did a very nice job. Makes me laugh inside. :)

Then we got out the watercolors and painted a couple of lovely coloring pages. Did you know that the Eastern Bluebird is New York's state bird? Jonathan was very interested in the coloring differences of each type and gender of bluebird. He painted his to be an female Eastern bluebird.

We listened to the bluebird's calls and songs. And the best find of the morning: the Children's Bluebird Activity Book - a printable pdf book all about bluebirds! It is written at a 4th grade level, so I chose about 1/4 of the pages to print and read through with Jonathan. Then we hole punched everything and tied it together with blue ribbon, making a sweet little book.

Overall, this was a more time consuming preschool project than we usually tackle, but I think both boys enjoyed it!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Case in point: Albertsons shopping trip

To give you a better understanding of why I am irked with Vons, let me give you a run-down of my shopping trip at Albertsons this evening.

1) It was quick. Door to door (MY door) was 45 minutes.

2) They have helpful clerks/managers. While I love some of the clerks at Vons, Albertsons really does give them a run for their money in the helpfulness category! When I walked in, a manager was immediately visible. I asked her a question about the promotion (it was unclear from the ad) and she went to the office to get the official paperwork to find an answer for me. With a smile.

3) It was a very good deal.

6 cans green beans
1 box progresso broth
24 oz progresso bread crumbs
10 lbs gold medal flour
3 boxes general mills cereal
5 pkgs yo-plus yogurt (20 single serving containers)

Original total (sale prices, no coupons): $30.07
11 coupons used: - $8.75
Total oop: $21.32

Catalinas earned: $15
Net cost: $6.32

Open letter to Vons

To Whom It May Concern:

I was very disappointed to read the fine print in your most recent store coupons. It stated “With a single purchase of $50 or more in a single visit after deduction of Club Card Savings and manufacturers’ coupons.” While I certainly understand having a purchase requirement, and I understand requiring the amount to be after club card (i.e. store sale) savings, I do not understand the requirement for the total requirement to be met after manufacturer’s coupons. Manufacturers’ coupons are not a discount that you (the store) are offering. You are reimbursed by the manufacturer, so in essence, a coupon is like cash. Because of this, I do not see any reason for you to require me to pay $50 after coupons, because that is actually requiring a much higher purchase amount. If I pay $50 cash after coupons, and I also used $15 worth of coupons, you are actually getting $65.

Vons coupon policies used to be quite attractive, but in the past year or so they have become more and more restrictive. I am often frustrated by the new requirement to only accept two like coupons, as I have a large family and usually want to purchase more than two items! You get reimbursed for all the coupons, so why limit my purchase to only two?

I love my local Vons – you have some really great staff there – but I have a large family and a limited budget. The fact is that your restrictive coupon policies are very close to driving me to a different store. Because in the same time period that you have become more difficult and restrictive, Albertsons has become more coupon friendly and has lowered most of their prices. It is fast becoming a better deal to shop there.

I hope you give some thought to this. I have been a Vons shopper for 5 years (most of my adult life) so I think it might matter to you that your coupon policies have made me seriously consider going elsewhere.

Sincerely,
Emily Moothart

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hair, or, the lack thereof

Josiah has had really terrible cradle cap since birth. I've mostly just ignored it, but lately it has been flaking off quite a bit and it really is kind of yucky. So last night when I was giving him a bath, I decided to try an olive oil treatment that I'd read about. Seemed simple - rub olive oil into his hair, scrub his head, then wash as usual.

He loved having his head scrubbed. Seriously LOVED it. I wonder if it has been itchy for awhile. And it all came off!

So did his hair. All of it in the front and on the top of his head (where the cradle cap was). He looked ridiculous!

Which is how I came to give him the closest buzz cut I ever hope to give. :) He's pretty cute anyway, don't you think?

video