Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Hammock

While Peter napped the afternoon away,
Will and I spent some time in the hammock.

And I played with my camera...

I love this kid.

Looking up... our view.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dream Kitchen

I absolutely love our house. We moved in two years ago today and I could live here forever. I love the 1950s-ness of it. Love the creaky floors. Love the old tile in the bathrooms. Love the fireplace. Love the windows. Love the woodwork. I love us in this house.

I do not love the kitchen.

I have been dreaming up ideas about what to do to this kitchen since the first time I saw it. We've just decided to actually do it... greatly improving it's ability to be more family and hospitality friendly. Here are a few photos, so you can see the current kitchen. I even put the breakfast and lunch dishes (that were still on the counter mid-afternoon) in the dishwasher for you...

On Friday, the kitchen designer sawed a hole in the soffit.
Let the remodeling begin!

Think white cabinets. Thankfully, the dishwasher is new - we bought that when we moved in. The giant water filter (that we had to buy when we lived in Massachusetts and had brown water) to the right of the sink will be replaced with a fridge filter.

My sister's college microwave will be replaced,
and a new one will move to a shelf on this wall.

New fridge. Old fridge will move to the basement. (That's the basement door next to the range.) The range will move and a counter will be there with the microwave shelf above. And a pantry cabinet (glorious pantry!) will be to the left of the fridge - that wall will be gone. Currently, my pantry is in the basement.

Please excuse the crookedness of the next picture.

This is my wonderful 1968 GE range. She works amazingly well.
I'll miss you, old gal!

Imagine this wall gone. We will still have counter/bottom cabinets-drawers/range, but nothing on the top. Pendant lights. A raised bar on the other side with 3 bar stools for easy kid feeding. And a big, open dining room. My little helper stool... I need to find a place for that.

The floor is what I love least about this kitchen. Scratched, dull,
never looks clean brick-oleum. It will be replaced with hardwood to match the rest of the house.

Here's the other side of the wall that's getting knocked down. Good thing I never hung anything on the walls. : )

Oh, and that big brown ceiling fan is coming down too.

Hopefully, we will still have some money to replace the
hung-to-high brass chandelier.

This window (and white cabinetry) will hopefully brighten the now very dark kitchen. I just hung these drapes last week. What a huge improvement. The house came with dark brown wood blinds on all the windows. We are slowly replacing them with brighter options. This looks oh-so-much better.

I am so excited and thankful that we are doing this! So, for 4 weeks this summer I will be surviving without a working kitchen. I'm seeing lots of grilling and eating out in our future. Please invite us over for dinner. : )

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Cleaning Lady

A few weeks ago in the car, Hannah says from the back, "You know, Mom, our cleaning lady speaks Spanish. So, she could be my Spanish teacher next year when I'm home schooled."

"Good creative problem-solving, Hannah, but who are you talking about?"

"The lady who comes and cleans the house."

"Hannah, I clean the house."

Background: We did have someone clean the house right after we moved in two years ago. She was here for a few hours - once - a baby gift from my little sister.

And all those Saturdays when I was mopping or cleaning a bathroom thinking... I am really teaching her the value of hard work, doing things for yourself, life skills... yep, she wasn't watching.

This morning, Hannah says as she is leaving for school, "Mom, are you ever going to vacuum the stairs again? They look pretty bad!" (she's right.)


She has serious chores coming her way when she's not at school 40 hours a week. : )

Monday, April 21, 2008

N is for Noodle

For the past several weeks, Will and I have been working on Will's Alphabet Book. We're up to 'N' - each letter gets a few days. "M is for Marshmallow" was a big treat last week - one for the paper, one for my MOUTH - hey, Mom, mouth starts with M too! We talk about the shape of the letter and the sound it makes. Sometimes I make a coloring page for him filled with drawings of things starting with that letter. He is so proud of his progress!...constantly rattling off the beginning letter of his daily words. "Mom, 'R' is for RAIN!" (It has been raining heavily for two solid days. So much for the grass seed we put down last week...I am sure it has found it's way to the gutter....)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Saturday

The curriculum fair was a great experience. I spent hours flipping through books, buying some. (My Amazon Wishlist has grown significantly.) The whole thing didn't leave me feeling overwhelmed and weighed down as I had expected, but excited...and a little more ready.

Some things I bought...

For Hannah

For Will

My other fun Saturday event...
My dear friend Suzanne is about to have her fourth. She has 3 boys (7, 5, 3) and is due to have a GIRL mid-May. Her sister and I sensed her stress about the work involved in turning the rust-colored study into the baby girl's nursery. Being a busy mom with no specific plans for the room, she gladly gave us the project when we asked for it. Then her husband gave us a budget of $200 and primed the room for us. A few Saturdays ago, we went shopping for curtains/rod, bedding, a little lamp, some wall hooks, etc.. Last night (after spending all day with my 9 month pregnant friend at the curriculum fair!), her sister and I closed ourselves in the room and painted. Green and Pink and Daisies! Monday night we will pull it all together. I'll post a picture of the final product. A big thank you to my gracious husband for letting me have the whole day to play while he shuttled kids to birthday parties and dealt with naplessness.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Curriculum Fair

This weekend I am going to Maryland State Home School Curriculum Fair. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by how many decisions need to be made about what to use next year. There is so much out there! It will be nice to flip through some books, get a feel for them. My hope is that this event will give me enough knowledge to start making these decisions. Please indulge me while I think/write it all out...

First Grade : Hannah

History: Story of the World. I'm pretty sold on that one. I have a borrowed Tapestry of Grace notebook sitting here on my shelf too - looks good, but overwhelms me completely.

Phonics: Explode the Code and Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading interest me. I'm not sure how long phonics instruction goes on.... I need to see where she would be in these programs.

Language: First Language Lessons. I borrowed this from a friend and from what I can tell it looks good. Like the poetry memorization. I am going to have to try it to see how it goes with Hannah.

Literature: Lots of it.

Math: I really don't know about this. I have people preaching Saxon Math to me. I have Singapore Math enthusiasts telling me how much they don't like Saxon. I have a friend who loves Math-U-See. And then, for some reason, I am attracted to Horizons Math. I don't know anyone who uses it, but it seems pretty balanced. Oh my...

Science: For my first year, I'm going to (try to) be relaxed about science. Nature study. Programs at local nature centers. Bird watching. Maybe during the winter months, study the human body. Trips to the National Zoo, Maryland Science Center and Baltimore Aquarium, National Arboretum... we are blessed to be surrounded by resources.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears and Zaner-Bloser look good. Hannah's has been doing Handwriting Without Tears for two years in school, so I am leaning that way.

Government/Politics: We will definitely do an Election unit this fall. How could we not? We'll be getting a new neighbor!

Spanish: I am stumped on this one! Hannah has been loving Spanish this year and I want to keep it going. I am planning on talking to her Spanish teacher for ideas. Anyone have a good suggestion?

Art: Study periods and artists. Frequent museums. And I'm signing her up for an art class with some other homeschool kids.

Music: I found The Story of the Orchestra last week at the used book sale - looks great! And we have lots of classical cds to use for composer studies. Choir at church. Maybe start piano...

Sports/PE: Soccer in the fall? Gymnastics again or ballet? Lots of bike riding and jumping rope....

Did I leave anything big out???

Pre-K : Will

Phonics: Explode the Code (Get Ready for the Code books) or Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. Until then, mastering letters/sounds.

Math: Lots of manipulatives, counting, sorting, measuring.... I'm figuring out what is best for his age.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears. He is left-handed and avoids writing. This may be a challenge...

I have a a few Five in a Row books. We may use those...

I'm sure he will be involved with our History, Science, Art, Music, Spanish...

Being 2 : Peter

Lots of toys and books and sitting on Mommy's lap.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yard Sale

My neighbor is organizing a multi-family yard sale and I said we would participate. Suddenly, I want to sell everything. As I walk through the house, I am surprised by how much stuff we have. Six years ago we were living in a one bedroom apartment. No basement. No attic. No garage. Now we have a basement, a garage, and a 3 bedroom house FULL. How did we acquire this much in such a short amount of time? Now we did add 3 little people and all their gear, but this is too much.

Toys. We don't buy our kids much, it seems everyone else does. And I wonder, do they appreciate all they have? Will they ever have anything to cherish or value when they are handed so much, never longing for anything? Take for instance... Hannah has two American Girl dolls (that's my fault). And what does she want? Another one! What about Molly and Emily? Enjoy them! Please, please CHERISH your $87 doll! It is hard to be excited about a giving a gift at Christmas/Birthdays knowing they will get piles of stuff from others and my very thoughtful gift will sit among many. And really what do they need? Nothing. Thankfully, my children are blissfully unaware of all that is out there for them to want. (Though Kindergarten has opened up a new world for Hannah..."Everyone has a Webkin, Mom!")

Several weeks ago I took almost all of the toys out of the family room and hid them in the basement. Nobody noticed! I have found that keeping things organized and offering a few good options is sufficient. So, I have most toys on rotation in our family room - coming up from the basement every so often... lincoln logs, tinker toys, playmobil, trains, blocks, little people, trucks, legos. And the picnic basket of things that don't fit in a broader category. And all those things that don't fit in a neat category (or the random basket) may find their way into my front yard next Saturday. I will have to set up a diversion for the kids in the backyard. : )

Sunday, April 13, 2008

An Empty Box

Always a good time. This one became a boat.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Book Love

When I get a little money, I buy books;
and if any is left I buy food and clothes.


The only thing I love more than a good book store is a good used book sale. I went to my biggest yesterday. The sale boasted "four miles of books" - I only saw a portion. I started in the children's section and never left. Peter was so patient with his bag of animal crackers under the tables - just staying with my feet as I worked my way down. I know you all want to see, so here's my loot...

Book buying is so fun for me, not always for our budget. Homeschooling may break us - I can always justify spending money on a book. And I don't just read them, though that is the primary purpose. Books are my favorite things to give as gifts, to decorate with, to use under a lamp to add height... I love a room with books in every corner. I stick them wherever I can. It adds humanity to a space. Here's my ever-changing mantle...

Those blue books are Mother West Wind Books by Thorton Burgess. We just finished Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Burgess (with Hannah) and she loved it... sweet old book about forest animals. I recently found those at a used book store - they are 1926 editions. Love old books! I love to think about the hands and homes where they have been... that's for another post.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Drink your Spinach

My two boys love smoothies. It is the only battle-free way to get fruit in Peter. I stumbled upon the idea to add baby spinach to their drinks a few days ago at Mt. Hope. (I love her blog!) So far, no questions asked. Today they both wanted seconds. I have such a sense of victory when those boys eat something green! Here's the basic recipe: banana, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, frozen mango, big handful of baby spinach, water. Blend away.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Signs of Spring

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
William Shakespeare

The cherry blossoms are blooming in DC. We skipped the scene around the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial (the famous cherry blossoms) for a quiet nearby neighborhood with blossom-lined streets. Beautiful.

Spring Break



and swinging

(in sunny Florida)


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