Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some Favorite Things

Just a few goodies to share, mild obsessions of mine this month.

I spend (=waste) a lot of money on hair accessories.  I see them in the aisle at Target and CVS, and I think, "Ooh, pretty!  That might work on my hair."  But it usually doesn't, and I throw it, and my $6, away.  But I recently tried again, and you guessed it, it works.  Works, like killah awesome works.  Can you say, chignon?

I just twist my hair up, stick in the Goody Modern Updo pin, rotate as shown in the instructions, stick it back in until it gouges my scalp (but the ends are rounded, so not irreparably), and Bob's your uncle.  Awesome tight bun of sorts.  The best part is, no scrunchie.  No bobby pins.  Nothing showing.  And because I'm more interested in being quick than being perfect, it's different every time! 

Works best when hair is partly damp.  Here are a few of my creations:
Super quick updo done in the car during a red light.  Stayed in all day.

This one took about 10 seconds longer than the first; I think I just got lucky that it turned out cool looking.  And I finally figured out to utilize my bathroom mirror in taking pictures of the back of my head.  I am so smart.

And speaking of updo's, I liked this that I twisted up with some chopstick claws from my bag while I had Poppy sequestered in a quiet room during church.  Just having some fun with my long hair.

Moving on.  Ginger and Hazel are big girls now, and it wasn't working to share just one laundry basket.  Filled up so fast!  And the socks, we used to put them in a mesh bag hanging from the laundry basket, but it filled up quick, too.  So I hunted around for a decent double hamper (= not dumb looking, and <$100), and came up with this one from Land of Nod, plus a separate basket just for socks.  It's been working great - I can do one kid's laundry at a time, and socks separately, which has resulted in fewer disappearing - always a bonus. 

Finally, a year after we made them, I got around to framing our bubble prints (one of my favorite Art Tuesdays), and hanging them in our naked stairway.  It doesn't hide how filthy the wall is, but it still draws the eye up and makes the house look more occupied. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Day of School 2012

Aren't they something?  And so big!  After drooling over the new fall catalogs that have already arrived, I decided to go frugal this year.  Neither of them are up a size, the season hasn't changed, and they both have loads of cute clothes from last Christmas or birthdays.  And their shoes and backpacks are still perfectly good.
Ginger's shirt & cardie - Old Navy; belt - Walmart; skirt - Gap, last winter; polkie socks - Boden; sneaks - Zappos

Hazel's dress - Downeast Basics; sneaks - Zappos
Telling abut their clothes is the easy part.  I cried for two days leading up to school.  Then, the morning of, I woke with a weighted feel of dread I could not escape.  I truly did not want to take them somewhere and start not seeing them all day.  Even though the day was cloudy, I wore sunglasses to hide my red eyes. 
We walked there and dropped them off; the whole school was in chaos, it seemed.  Especially the kindergarten hall, where busy dressed-for-work parents were smothering their new kindies with advice and kisses, and trying to get spastic bodies to hold still for pictures.  Others were trying to extricate themselves from terrified, crying five-year-olds at the classroom doors.  Hazel had already made a speedy departure at the staircase; second graders are upstairs and she was anxious to join those ranks.  Ginger and I were a bit stunned by the masses when we turned the hall, and spent our energy on navigating the traffic jam outside her door rather than an emotional good-bye.  But once Poppy and I were back outside, on the long, slow walk back home alone, the floodgates opened, and never really closed again for a few days. 

I hated the second day as much as the first.  By that afternoon I'd talked myself into looking into homeschooling.  Frankly, it's still not off the table.  But my motivation is 99% selfish.  And that night at dinner, as if on cue, Hazel spontaneously exclaimed, "I LOVE being back at school!"  With Ginger heartily nodding her second. 

Don't even think Poppy and I are living the high life, with "just one" kid.  I'm still running the same errands I did with three, or two, plus a few I've been putting off.  If anything, I am getting more work done around the house...a little more.  Last Wednesday I spent 4 hours cleaning, including scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, washer-woman style.  Not the easiest task with a 2-year-old who wants to "help", but satisfying in its own occasional way.  I've been babysitting for a friend, taking other friends with new babies meals and company, folding laundry eternally, catching up on the bills and budget, and a few other little projects that just need to get done.  Truth be told, I'd rather have my girls.  But I'm trying to use my time well.

I've learned by now you can't get a straight story of "what happened at school today" just by asking.  Most of the stories that trickle home are about the drama and games that happen on the playground.  Occasionally I get an anecdote from specials.  But almost nothing from the homeroom.  So the other night, I came out and asked Ginger, "What do you think of Ms. W?"  I wanted to know what's going on in her classroom.  "Well, she's really nice, but she's fierce with the boys."  Good, I like Ms. W.  To Hazel, "Tell me about Ms. B."  "I really like her because she gives us a writing prompt each day and I love to write them."  I like her, too.  That'll have to do until Back to School night, and later this month, parent/teacher conferences.  In the meantime, I get them going in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon, and try to enjoy the time we have.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Summer Fun Club 17: End of Summer

Last Tuesday was a slow, sad day for me.  It was our last day of summer break.  I tried, I really kind of did, to make it a happy, or at least exciting, occasion.  But inside I was slowly disintegrating.

It has been the BEST summer EVER.  Me and my girls, my girls and me.  Poppy's not too young, Hazel's not too old.  We did a TON of fun stuff, illnesses and power outages aside.  You know some of it from the Summer Fun Club posts, but we did so much more.  Hazel and Ginger both rounded corners in their swimming skills, and we spent a lot of time at the pool.  The TV was off almost all summer, with the exception of a few DVD's from the library, including when we ordered pizza and ate it picnic-style in the family room and watched "The Secret World of Arrietty"...twice.  (We are now reading "The Borrowers.")  All three girls rediscovered the dollhouse.  And the box of ponies.  And the blocks.  And combined all three into an imaginary world that lasted for weeks...and is still going.

I fell behind on my housework - the laundry, cleaning, bills, etc.  Blogs, obviously.  Dinners were quick and simple.  We kept our schedule stacked with activities, not wanting to waste a day.  It felt idyllic to me.  Even when I saw the end nearing, I ignored it.  No new clothes, shoes, or backpacks - we had all we needed.  School supplies had been ordered through the PTA last spring.  Teacher letters came, and I set them aside, to be given a quick glance the morning of the first day.

But last Tuesday, we slowed down.  We went to the library in the morning, to return our summer books, and turn in our reading logs for the library Summer Reading Program; they each earned a free book.  We also revamped our breakfast chart for the new school year, and illustrated it:

In the afternoon, for Summer Fun Club, I took about 10 minutes with Ginger and Hazel, separately, to write in the journals I keep for them, and have them tell me some of the things they most want to remember about this summer.  I wrote what they said word for word - love my language samples!  It was so fun to hear what, in their minds in that moment, was most memorable.  And while they both mentioned different things, see if you can pick up on a theme.

Ginger's list:
  • Family vacay to Massanutten with "the cousins" in June 
  • Atlantis water park with "the cousins" one Saturday in July
  • SFC paper snowflakes
  • Utah trip - Ed's grandfather passed away so he and Ginger went to Utah for the funeral - an alone trip with Dad = BIG DEAL
  • Receiving her first chain letter

Hazel's list:
  • Going to the beach at Assateague with "the cousins"

When Poppy woke up, we went out to the party store and bought balloons for our Back-to-School dinner. 

 Miraculously, they agreed on their favorite meal - spaghetti with homemade sauce, Parmesan breadsticks, and salad with only the things they like (lettuce, cucumbers, carrots).

AND of course dessert - banana splits with Magic Shell and marshmallow sauce.
Next I'll post "first day" pictures.  They were cute.  And they were ready.  But I wasn't either of those.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Summer Fun Club 15 and 16

Even though we'd cleaned it up a month earlier, the office had imploded by the end of July, and for the most part we'd stopped even going in there.  But last week I took a deep breath, dove in, and cleaned it up again.  Which is how Ginger noticed all the baskets in this unit...

...and remembered that the lower right one holds all our Play-Doh stuff.

15 - Play-Doh.  Not much more to say.  They just rolled, shaped, and played all afternoon with the stuff. 

16 -  Shrinky Dinks.  Did you ever do these as a child?  I bought some "shrink film" from Michael's and fine sandpaper (you have to roughen it to use colored pencils on it), and we gave it a go with some friends.

It was fun but not the most traditionally successful project we've done.  Even though I laid a top layer of parchment on the pieces, they curled up pretty severely in the heat, and never straightened back out.  Oh, well.

This fine specimen was our best finished piece, with a hole in the top to make it a Christmas ornament.  

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Summer Fun Club 14

 If July 24 is just another day to you, you're probably not from Utah or Idaho, and/or you may not have  pioneer or Mormon heritage.  But if you are, or do, then you surely know that July 24 is Pioneer Day.

I told you about my friend's Pioneer Day traditions here; this year, we got to live them. 
Hammering nails into logs conveniently provided by the recent freak storm that left many of us powerless for days.  Not bitter.
Sawing logs.  It was SO hot, humid, and buggy out there, and the kids got whiny fast.  It's good to know how pathetically they fare when the going gets tough.

Threading a needle and sewing a button on.

So proud!

Shaking cream into butter...and let me tell you, that was some of the softest, most delicious butter I've ever tasted!

Shaking cream and sugar into ice cream, handing off between partners.

Toddlers make the cutest pioneers.

Freshest soft serve this side of the Rockies!

And of course it just wouldn't be Pioneer Day without Brigham Young's Buttermilk Doughnuts!  Yippy hi-yay!
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