Friday, September 18, 2009

Egg Carton Lunches

I went to a friend's house for a church planning meeting recently, and she had us stay for lunch. "We'll make the kids egg carton lunches!" she told me, as if everyone knew what this meant. I figured it out quickly but would never have thought of it on my own, and that's the kind of thing to post on the blog.

She'd been saving egg cartons for awhile for this event. Instead of the typical plate, each kid got an egg carton for lunch. In each egg holder was some different food item that was small enough to fit. Granted, we did not strive to fill them with the healthiest foods on earth - after all, it cancels the fun if the food inside is unappealing - but we did OK.

Top: peanut butter pretzels, cheese, Craisins, clementine, apple, goldfish
Middle: strawberry, mini muffin, fruit snacks, strawberry, clementine, chocolate raisins
Bottom: jelly beans, apple, Teddy Grahams, marshmallows, peanut butter pretzels, chocolate chips

They were a hit with the kids, with something for everyone and the marshmallows disappearing first. There was even some trading - jelly beans for goldfish, etc. I think it was most popular with Jayda, the 1-year-old. She would eat something, close it up, shake it happily, open it, eat something, repeat. Adorable, fairly contained, and smile-evoking. A keeper idea!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hazel's not the only one going to preschool this year. Although Ginger is too young to attend Carlin Hall, we have hooked up with a few other moms and 2-year-olds for a mini version. Once a week we run a 2-hour program at one of our homes, rotating who hosts/teaches. The four of us got together in July to hammer out the curriculum and schedule. Each week we have a letter and a theme. The stories, crafts, snack and activities for that day relate to the letter, theme or both. And we have a bin with the weather and alphabet charts, art supplies and smocks, that we pass around.

Last week was our first week, and it was at my house. I'd spent a few weeks preparing, gathering books and items needed, but the night before still saw me driving to two different stores for streamers and sponges. So much for preparation.

Summary of the Day

Letter: A
Letter craft: Paint sponge A stampingSnack: Animal crackers and apple slices
Theme: Weather
Theme craft: Windsocks (and letting them blow by the fan)Stories: Rain by Robert Kalan, The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Cutest Thing: Ginger called me "Teacher" instead of Mommy all morning

It was neither the hardest nor the easiest thing I've ever done. There are only four kids and they're well-behaved. But they're also two and need a lot of help with everything. Like cleaning up their paint-covered hands. Or using the potty, since they are in various stages of training. And while the one grown-up is helping each kid, the others are on their own, and that aspect is tricky. Once you lose them, you have to round them back up and re-focus the group. But it's not impossible. I've been in worse predicaments.

Once or twice a month we will do field trips the day after, that go along with the theme, like going to Frying Pan Farm after farm day, or apple picking after apple day in October. Pretty straightforward stuff; this is not cutting edge education. What we are doing is a little structure and socialization, maybe some prereading as well for the kids. But mostly us Moms are getting a few hours to ourselves a few times a month.

And THAT is genius.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to Preschool

Aaah. Today was Hazel's first day back at preschool. We had a great summer and I don't mind having Hazel home at all - she is a self-entertainer in her pretend world, but something about the routine makes me feel so happy. Structured. Organized. Plus this year Hazel is one of the big kids in her class - she knows the rules, the teacher, the routine. She fell back into things without a hitch.

"Please smile nicely for the camera."

"OK, now do whatever you want."

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Every August a change comes over Ed. There is a new glint in his eye, a spring in his step. He wakes early to go stair-stepping at the gym. He goes for late night runs. Phone calls with his brother Preston last for hours and Colorado topo maps line every surface in the office. Hunting season is coming. And Ed's in training.

One condition of living on the east coast is that every October Ed returns to Colorado to go elk hunting with his Dad, brothers, and the rest of their hunting crew. I grew up in Fairfax; I don't get it. But I don't have to. After eight years of marriage I know this is something he lives for and loves, and I can support something that makes him so happy. And turns him into a rugged mountain man for a week (grrr)...on the condition that he doesn't shave that red beard off until after he gets home.So to support the training regimen, we went for a family hike yesterday near Great Falls, about a half hour away. Donning bug spray and sun hats, we embarked on a fairly flat but in some places rocky trail that offered such thrilling discoveries as streams, boulders, wild mushrooms, blue butterflies, mud puddles, acorns and pebbles galore. The girls could have spent all day filling their pockets with pebbles. When we came near the river bank we took a break to throw them all in the water (the pebbles, not the girls), and Ed gave a brief lesson on skipping stones. Then it was onward and upward until we stopped for lunch and binocular training.Though fairly simple, the hike was still an excellent training simulation for our optimistic hunter. On the way in, he packed about 27 pounds of "gear" (Ginger.) And on the way out, he continued to carry that gear, but added 45 pounds of "meat" (Hazel.) Because this year, he says, is going to be different. This year, he says, they'll actually get an elk and have something to show for it. That remains to be seen. But in the meantime, we're all in training.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Assateague Island

I lived in Virginia the first 18 years of my life, and it wasn't until last year, while reading Good Night Virginia to my children, that I found out we have an island with wild ponies on it! What?!
We've been meaning to go to "the beach" all summer. The girls love playing in sand, and at least Hazel, Ed and I love the water. But it's been a busy summer and we never really got around to doing the research that would make it happen.

Then some friends from church sent an email to a bunch of people, telling about their favorite beach destination - Assateague Island - and setting up a group beach trip day. It was perfect - someone else knows where to go and leads the way, we just show up and follow. And even better, what's important to us was what's important to them - clean beach, uncrowded, non-commercial. And hey, ponies don't hurt.

The weather was iffy. But we decided to be optimistic and go anyway. I had invested in a big beach umbrella for our fair-skinned family just for the occasion. And it had been a long time since we took a family road trip. So we showed up at the church at 5:50 am last Saturday to meet with the others going - apparently experience had shown going early is how to beat the Bay Bridge traffic. And we did. We sailed across the bridge and the other 150 miles to the island. Luckily it appeared the misty weather had deterred other would-be beach-goers.

When we arrived, paid our $15 park entrance fee, and parked, the beach looked like this (about 10:30 am.) Not bad for a Saturday in August.
Here is our little camp. Later in the afternoon it became more sunny and more people showed up, but it was never what I would call crowded. Thank goodness.
The weather was perfect - in the 80's and breezey. The waves were nice and big and we had fun watching surfers. Our group had some body boards and took turns riding on them. Then of course there was all the other fun beach stuff: frisbee, kite-flying, kid-burying, hole-digging.I got a lot of my book read (and have the sunburn on the back of my legs to prove it.) Hazel spent almost the entire day running in and out of the waves (and has the sunburn on her legs, where the sunscreen washed off, to prove it.) Ginger didn't care for the water and spent most of the afternoon building an elaborate sandcastle, and an elaborate conversation, with our friend Emily.
And what about the ponies? Yes, we saw them. They weren't on the beach while we were there, but were along the road when we arrived and left. And they seem to prefer leaving their manure in parking lots, so that was a delicate treat to navigate. This one came bounding out of the bushes just as we drove past.

So the day was a huge success. The weather was great, the beach was pristine. The water was cool, wavey and refreshing. A day full of fun in the sun for everyone.

In fact, nothing could sum it up better than this picture I took less than 10 minutes after leaving the island:
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