Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Painted Ladies

Last summer several of my friends mentioned on Facebook that they raised butterflies and it sounded like something the kids would enjoy. Our caterpillars arrived on May 7th. The kids were so excited. The Tumbleweed took on the task of recording their growth using a string of beads on a magic wand. She kept careful watch, recording the changes.

After a little more than a week, we had 5 chrysalids which the Tumbleweed eagerly took to school to show her class. It took a little less than a week before they hatched. Wouldn't you know we missed all the hatchings?!?

After waiting until the last butterfly hatched (3 days after the first), we took them to the back yard to release. The Tumbleweed really wanted one to land on her hand. While we didn't think it would happen, we tried to coach her to get one to sit on her finger. Guess what?!? One sat on her finger for about 5 minutes! She was so elated, and says "The butterfly looked right into my eyes!"

Family Day

To kick off Memorial Day weekend, we headed up to New Hampshire to visit the Eagle's cousin. On the way up we stopped to find a letterbox. This was our first letterboxing hike with all four of us. The Eagle got to christen his log book, and we all got to stretch our legs a bit after being the car for a long time.

And I got a picture of myself letterboxing ;)

At his cousin's, the kids had fun playing on the new swingset and splashing in the water on the dock.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Vacation... Already!?!

While "summer" is technically still weeks away, the Tumbleweed is finished with school so vacation is upon us. With more than three full months before school starts again, I have been working on ideas to keep learning through out the summer.

I know the kids will be busy doing our usual MOMS Club activities, attending camps, and heading to playgrounds, parks and zoos, but I decided to come up with a list of activities to occupy the kids on rainy days, during car trips or to involve them more in some of the daily activities. As ideas can often do, the list evolved into more than just a list as I divided the activities into themes...

I put a couple nights into creating a binder with everything in it so the Tumbleweed would know exactly where to find things to do. Each theme has 9 categories - Handwriting, Math, Vocabulary, Reading, Writing, Craft, Puzzle, Collecting and Field Trip. And when the 9 activities have been completed in a category, she gets a butterfly patch to sew on her sun hat.

Needless to say, she is very excited! I showed her the book for the first time this morning and she has been finding things to do all day... maybe I shouldn't have showed her everything at once!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Last Day of School 2010

The Tumbleweed wrapped up Montessori Kindergarten this week. It was not without its bumps, but she learned a lot and had lots of fun.

Last Friday, we got to see her sing "God Bless America", "This Land Is Your Land" and "This Little Light of Mine" with her schoolmates at Parents Night. She had been practicing for several weeks, and really sung her heart out on stage!

Monday was Field Day and the weather was perfect. The Dandelion tagged along with the Tumbleweed and the "Periwinkle" team as they did three-legged races, tug of war and jumped on the giant bouncers. They both had a great time.

She was very sad on the last two days that she would not see many of her friends at school next year, but I do know that she is very excited to move on to full day school in the fall!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Author Club

After reading a story last night, the Tumbleweed decided that she is going to start an "Author Club" just like the kids in the book. Of course, she forgot until bedtime tonight. "We need to go shopping for a notebook tomorrow!" she says. Not realizing what I was getting into, I pointed out that she already had a notebook in her desk drawer that she could use.

As I read the Dandelion's stories, she found a pencil and got to work. By the time I came in she said, ""Mommy, you don't have to read me a story - I am going to write one." Deciding not to stifle her creativity, I let her work while gathered some laundry. Occasionally, she asked me to spell a word. Twenty minutes later she says, "How do you spell 'chapter'? This is going to be a very long book, so it may take all night!"

Since there is no need for a 5 year old to pull an all-nighter, I stopped her there and asked if she would read the story. It is called "The Cat and the Dog?"... "Where the ? means it is a mystery"

Here is what Page 1 looks like:

The Cat and the Dog, as read by the Tumbleweed:

(Page 1)

The cat is good. The dog is naughty. One summer day, the cat and the dog were picking raspberries.

Wait, not the dog! Not the dog!

Wait a minute, where is the dog? The dog?

(Page 2) [Written: Hi was eating som rasbarys What the rasbarys]

He was eating some raspberries. What? The raspberries!

(Page 3) [Written: Hi is in timowte]

He is in timeout.

(Page 4) [Written: The naxt day thay went fo a wak]

The next day they went for a walk.

(Page 5) [Written: The dog ranaway the got lost and got lost in a prickers* and thorn* bosh] *I spelled prickers & thorn for her.

The dog ran away. The dog got lost and got lost in a prickers and thorn bush.

(Page 6)

1 Chapter
Prickers & Thorn Bush

And that is where I stopped her for the night. Stay tuned to find out what happens to the dog in the prickers & thorn bush.

Organizing Week

Last week we had a great guest speaker at our MOMS Club Monthly Social. She came and spoke to us about organizing, specifically tips for toys and mail. She was quick to point out that if you organize a little every day, it doesn't take a lot of time. Guilty. As life has gotten busier & busier, something had to get cut from the day and around here the "paper jungle" has taken over.

Another key message from the presentation was that the kids need to learn about organizing. I asked the Tumbleweed if she could think of something we could organize and we would do a project this weekend. I thought she would suggest something like "books" or "my doll clothes" or something like that. Nope. She said, "I can think of a lot of things, I think we need a whole week!"

To kick off "Organizing Week", I thought we should tackle a project that would easily illustrate the process for her. We decided on the "girly things" in her desk drawers. We spent about a half hour sorting pony tail holders, headbands, bracelets, necklaces, etc. It probably would have been faster, but the Dandelion ran the stroller through the piles as we were almost done. After assessing what we might need, we went to Walmart and found organizers that would hold the items. She was excited to put everything back in the drawers with a special place for each thing. Tomorrow we will make labels so she doesn't forget where everything goes!

So with renewed motivation, I am ready to tackle the clutter. Baby Step #1 - I cleaned off my desk and sorted everything. Well, the stuff that actually belonged on the desk - which was about 25% of what was actually on the desk. Baby Step # 2 is going to be using my new system for the rest of the week. After that I will decide the next step ;)

For more about our guest speaker, check out Love Your Space Organizing

His First Mile

The Dandelion finally got to do his first race! He has been asking whenever we watch the Tumbleweed or Eagle race if he can do one too. Today the kids (and I) ran in the Sutton Family Fitness Kids Race. It was a 1 mile run around the schools, and despite the challenge of running past the playgrounds and not being able to play on them, the kids did great. I ran with the Dandelion, who finished in 12 minutes and 10 seconds. The Tumbleweed was ahead of us the whole way and finished in 8 minutes and 35 seconds.

They were very proud of their ribbons!

Related post --- Her First Mile

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Magic Chair Strikes Again!

Remember the saga of the magic chairs...

Well, despite the fact that I actually completed a scrapbook page about them, the story continues. This morning the Dandelion snuck off to visit Daddy at work, which is currently in the basement, while I did the Tumbleweed's hair. Of course that required a little help from one of the famous magic chairs...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I am attempting to teach the Tumbleweed patience. As parents know, kids are not good at waiting. Instant gratification is what they want - and they aren't shy about it. Anyway, as my patience for demands and whining is wearing thin, I am trying to show the Tumbleweed that "good things come to those who wait."

What are we waiting for? Hummingbirds! After spotting a hummingbird checking out our bird feeder yesterday, we went and got a special feeder and a hanging fuschia plant.

We set them up after dinner, and settled in to watch. The Dandelion only lasted about a minute (no surprise), the Tumbleweed sat with a camera watching the usual birds for about 20 minutes before giving up, and I waited another 10 minutes --- and guess what? A hummingbird came! I would love to have pictures to show for it, but my camera picked the absolute wrong time to malfunction [I have to send it back to Canon for service - argh]. We hope to see our hummingbird more tomorrow, but patience is a must. Will the Tumbleweed have the patience to wait? I wonder...

*Additionally, we noted that moving the birdfeeders around deterred the grackles & cowbirds, but the little birds all found their way to the new locations.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tri Sprouts Triathlon

In typical fashion, the Eagle has spread his love for triathlon a little further again this year. Since he started doing triathlons in 2006, he has gotten numerous friends and family members involved in the sport. Beating him to finishing the first race of the season... the Tumbleweed!

Today she competed in the Tri Sprouts Kids Triathlon - her first triathlon - in the pouring rain! With the iffy weather, 50s and rainy, we weren't really sure how the race would go - but she really handled it like a pro.

She started off with a 50 meter swim in the pool. She was excited to wear her new pink swim goggles and just to be safe, we had her wear her swim bubbles (she can swim the length of the pool without them, but we didn't want there to be any problems with the crowd of kids in the pool). She also elected to take a noodle from one of the volunteers, so the swim was really no trouble for her. She even finished ahead of the 8 year old boy sharing her lane, which I believe was the thing she was most proud of all day ;)

After putting on a few layers of clothes in transition, no small task in the rain, she was ready to go out on the bike. It was raining pretty steadily at this point, so I was a bit nervous sending her off for a mile ride where I couldn't see her - especially since she had never ridden without training wheels in the rain! But a little while later she returned, with a look of determination on her face...

After dropping off her bike, she headed out on the run --- with her helmet on. She was definitely cold and did NOT want to take it off. A short while later, we easily picked her out on her way back. The Dandelion gave her some big cheers as she rounded the bend to the finish chute.

When she emerged from the crowd, she was beaming with her new medal. She was cold, but it didn't seem to bother her with her new winning confidence. She couldn't wait to talk to anyone she could about her race! We are so proud of her!

She can't wait to do another race --- which is challenging, because most Kids Triathlons are for ages 7 & up. We found one of the only ones that allows 5 year olds, but we'll keep looking if it is something she loves :)

And with that the 2010 race season is underway... next weekend: Lions Spring Sprint.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our "Unscheduled" Schedule

Two months ago, after several weeks with alternating sick kids/mom, I decided not to register for any classes at the Y for a session. After taking numerous fantastic classes, we had missed several classes during the winter session, due to illness or other commitments, and it just seemed like a good time for a break. But what would we do with our time if we weren't sick?!? We usually went to the Y 2-3 times a week, often with the kids and I attending overlapping classes and/or playing in the gym/NAZ.

Well, we had no problem filling our time. MOMS Club activities, trips to the Ecotarium, Messy Fingers @ the Library, Beginning Years Family Network playgroups and, recently, playground trips filled our days right back in. It has been a little more challenging adjusting to our new "irregular" mornings (as opposed to knowing exactly what we were doing every morning for two months), but overall my fear that we would be sitting at home twiddling our thumbs has not been realized. [Go ahead, laugh at the thought that I would be twiddling my thumbs].

However, I am now facing another "scheduling crossroads" - Summer Vacation. As of pick-up today, the Tumbleweed has exactly 2 weeks of school left! And while the "lack" of scheduled morning activities has been working, I am a little worried about having nothing official scheduled during the day.

So I guess that boils down to: I have 2 weeks to get my act together and figure out a way to manage the summer!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Garden Update: Berries

The garden is coming along nicely so far this year.

The "original" garden, planted in 2007, is maturing. I thinned the tiger lilies, columbine and daisies, moving them to new locations around the yard. The lilies and lupines are looking good, and the bleeding heart has come up this year, no buds just yet (there are some on the one in the front yard though!).

The "expansion" garden, started in May 2008 and never completely planted, has some good things going for it. The blueberry bush I planted last year, which seemed practically dead after the hail storm last May, has blossomed - which still gives me hope that it will bear fruit.

The strawberries have multiplied like weeds - from 2 plants last year to probably 15 plants with flowers (and many more others).

And then there is the part that I have tried to grow wildflowers in for the past two years... well, I think there are a few wildflowers growing --- or possibly they're just weeds. Right now I think that I will be trying to move the wildflowers out and, after lots of soil preparation, moving the vegetable seedlings I have started in the house in.

And that brings me to the new gardens next to the new swingset... we'll see. One garden is planted with new plants the kids picked out - pansies, a white bleeding heart, yellow mini poppies, some transplanted daisies and some iris bulbs. No signs of the iris bulbs, but otherwise it is going well. The other garden is having trouble with weeds. The transplanted tiger lilies and columbine seem to be taking hold, but not exactly thriving just yet. And I haven't seen signs of bulbs I planted there (gladiola and dahlia), but that isn't really a surprise.

We have some more landscaping in the plans this year, hopefully fixing the "yellow & purple hill" (that is, it is so covered in dandelions and violets that the Tumbleweed claims it is 'impossible' to walk down it because you'll step on the flowers). But mostly I am hoping that the gardens bloom & grow and don't get out of hand by July, as they have in previous years. Green thumbs crossed!