Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Michaelmas Play at School

Joe was so excited for the Michaelmas play today.  He was a gnome...

It was a half day at school, so the rest of the day was spent playing quietly.  For all the hassle that Legos cause (namely:  1.  They are constantly everywhere and 2:  They are hell to step on) they do provide a lot of harmonious moments...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

House of Baba

Okay, I glued this pitiful house together in about three minutes...  Don't laugh at how crappy it is...

What is it? It looks like something made by a second grader. It's already falling apart. But this little house, made out of a milk carton and some felt, has been one of the most useful things I've made in a while. It is... a baba house.

Danny loves him some pacifier (baba = pacifier) and we reached a point where there was one in his mouth pretty much all the time.  He was beginning to sound like Sylvester the Looney Tunes cat.  So I threw together this little baba house for him to keep his babas in when he's not in his crib.  I can't believe how well it's worked.  When he wakes up in the morning he puts all his babas in the house and then at nap, we go in and knock on the baba house door and then he dumps them all out, "BABAS!!!"  He's perfectly happy to put them all back in when he wakes up and to store them there until bedtime.  It also makes going to bed easier, "Let's go knock on the baba house door!"  And he doesn't seem to mind if we find one randomly in the house, he just goes and puts it in the baba house.  I'm hoping that limiting their use will also protect his teeth from an overbite.  I'll discuss this with our super awesome dentist in October, when Danny has his first appointment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Magic/Apple Cider

Joe and his friend from school had a discussion in the car today about what they believed in.  They were talking about magic and Joe said, "I believe in magic in nature.  Like how a spider knows how to spin a web without being taught."
This was on the way to the Pittsfield Grange, where they were having "Apple Day."  We got to press our own cider, and now I want to own a cider press.  It was soooooooo tasty.

For some reason around here, cooler weather means poetry.  I'm wondering if Joe's discussion this morning was fueled by this poem I read at breakfast:

The Ways of Living Things
Jack Prelutsky

There is a wonder past all wonder
in the ways of living things,
in a worm's intrepid wriggling,
in the song a blackbird sings,

In the grandeur of an eagle
and the fury of a shark,
in the calmness of a tortoise
on a meadow in the dark,

In the splendor of a sea gull
as it plummets from the sky,
in the incandescent shimmer
of a noisy dragonfly,

In a heron, still and silent
underneath a crecent moon,
in a butterfly emerging
from its silver-spun cocoon.

In a fish's joyful splashing,
in a snake that makes no sound,
in the smallest salamander
there is wonder to be found.

Poems especially resonate for Joseph.  I've also been reading Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field since it's so seasonally apropriate for us right now.  We were eating breakfast the first time I read it and he asked me to read it four times.  He just sat there quietly, intensely, looking stright ahead, eyes squinted.  It was like I could see his little mind working.

Something told the wild geese
    It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
    Something whispered- "Snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
    Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
    Something whispered- "Frost."
All the sagging orchards
    Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild beast stiffened
    At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
    It was time to fly-
Summer sun was on their wings,
    Winter in their cry.

We've discovered this variation of our usual apples and peanut butter snack:  Put honey and dried blueberries on top of the peanut butter.  It's delish...

I found these long-coveted books at a church rummage sale for fifty cents each...

Paddle to the Sea isn't hard cover, but still, I was excited.
And the making has started for Matthew's 4th birthday...
Felt leaves for a garland...

Needle-felted acorns, useless maybe, but fun to hold and look at...

And acorn cap jewels for party favors...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today at the park...

I've been meaning to post this video of Danny on the scooter for a while, he's very confident on it...

And check out how awesome my cell phone bill is this month.   I LOVE not using my cell.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm just going to go ahead and put spinach in everything

Lately, the only cruciferous vegetable I can get Matthew and Danny to eat is broccoli and they're even getting tired of that.  This means that in the last month they've eaten broccoli MAYBE eight times.   Other than that, the only other veggie consumption has come from whatever vitamins/nutrients I'm hoping have leached out of vegetables into whatever dish they're in (like soup), and I'm sure that's negligible.  Worrisome indeed.  Joseph will eat a salad at every dinner and in fact, has requested spinach salad for his school lunch, but Danny especially avoids leafy greens.  So, I'm hoping I can just sneak it in.  So far, I've put this pureed spinach in pasta sauce, muffins and pancakes...

It's undetectable, except for the effect of the color which no one has asked about.  And of course, I haven't volunteered an explanation for why everything I cook these days is green.  You can see specks of green in tomorrow's pancakes...

I also plan to put it in things like chilli and smoothies.  I would certainly prefer that they just enjoyed eating leafy greens but I'm getting desperate here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dear Mattie,

Dear Mattie,
It's been an overwhelming two weeks.  Firstly, you had a dentist appointment and you sat in the chair all by yourself and looked so old I cried.  Secondly, you started swimming class, your first ever class of any type and you looked so happy I cried.  And Thirdly, you started preschool, which went very well.  Your only complaint was that it was too short. 
Then, there were some changes at the school and you ended up with a new teacher which was confusing and upsetting.
"I hate the new teacher."
"You haven't met her yet."
"I want my old teacher to be my teacher."
I could understand why you felt this way.  I had been building her up all summer as the best teacher ever.  Then you had your home visit, which stregnthened your bond and I could tell that you were very comforted during the first few days of school knowing that she, along with the assitant who we also knew from last year, were your teachers.  But, there was nothing we could do.  And the changes woudn't have been made if they weren't necessary, so we continued on.
We got the chance to meet the new teacher yesterday and you mostly just hid your face in my coat.  Then in the car on the way home we made a deal,
Me:  "Tell you what:  Tomorrow, I'll check things out.  I will stay for a little while in the morning and see if this new teacher is good.  If I see that she's not a good teacher, then you can come home with me, and if she seems like a good teacher, and everything seems okay, then I will let you know and I will leave and come back to get you at pick up time."
Long pause...
You:  "Okay, I will TRY it."
So today they grouped the pre-k kids in with the kindergarten kids for the first part of the morning.  This was  huge change because last week, the pre-k kids met in the front of the school at the sand pit and the 5-6 of them parallel played in this quiet, sheltered area and it was very peaceful and managable.  But back where the kindergarteners start their day, it's a completely different scene; big boys climing trees, groups of kids building in the sand, organized games of freeze tag.  It was the boisterous scene that Joe was a part of for the last two years, not unfamiliar, just overwhelming for a not-yet four year old who has only been to school twice in his life.  Not to mention that these children had already been in school for a week and a half, and lots of them already knew each other from last year, so there was already a lot of familiarity amoung the kids, which you did not have.  We stood on the side of the sand box and watched.  I pointed out the kids that we knew from last year when Joe was a kindergartener.  Then you crawled around and explored in between the big bushes next to the front gate.  I was relieved to spot the pre-k assistant, since she knows us well and I mentioned to her that I thought this was overwhelming for you.
She suggested that I come on the walk with them to help with the transition and I thought I would, but then you walked up to her and said,
"I found a shell."
She said, "Do you want to show it to me?"
"Sure!  Follow me!"

So I took that as a moment to say,
"Well Mattie, it looks like everything is okay here, so I'm going to go and I'll be back."
The assistant chimed in cheerfully, "After story time."
"K.  Bye," you said, without looking back at me.
So we (Danny and I) left.

Then I went home and cried over the phone to Vaara about my worries.  I was worried because you're so special and I want these teachers to take care of you and see how special you are.  I was worried because I had left you with this big group of kids, some of them three years older than you and and I hoped that the assistant would look out for you.  I was worried because of your selfless nature.  When I picked you up after the first day of school, you said you were hungry and I had to tell you that it's okay to ask for a second helping of snack if you're still hungry.  You would never think to ask for seconds but I know you'd SHARE yours if you thought someone else was hungry.  It sounds like I'm exaggerating, but it's completely true!  Other moms come up to me all the time and say, "I think that Matthew and I have a special connection." and I just have to burst their bubble and say, "A lot of people feel that way around him."

But don't worry, because this story has a happy ending.
You were very relaxed and having a good time when I picked you up.  You weren't interacting with the other kids a whole lot, but you were right in the mix, and comfortable.  You weren't looking for me when I walked up and in fact, I had to catch your attention after ten minutes of standing there.  Both the new teacher and the assistant said you had a great day.  You ate four servings of snack!  You got to be a gnome in the puppet play.  You played outside for two hours.
The new teacher called you "A gem."
The assitant told me that the shell you found was a cicada shell and that when you brought it out in your hand, the other children were interested and gathered around to look, which gave you an "in" socially.
And the kindgarten teacher said to me, "You have the sweetest boy."
"I'm glad you noticed."  I said, relieved.

When I asked you what you thought of the new teacher you simply said, "Good."
And I said, "Good."  And we left it at that.

Then we went home, Dad came home from work, and when I got back from picking up Joseph at school, you had learned to do this...


Love, Mom.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Woah Baby

Only 10 weeks until I'm full term, yikes.  I found a diaper service that delivers out here and set that up today.  I'm looking forward to doing cloth diapers again.  Disposables give me the heebies, but after moving here I found that I couldn't get the diapers rinsed well enough with this well water, so we were sort of forced to use them.  But now, someone else will do the rinsing, even better!  YAY!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ketchup Weekend

We tackled ketchup this weekend.  We used some tomatoes from our garden...

and some from the farmer's market....

This is the recipe I came up with from a combination of lots of recipes I found online, it turned out pretty tasty,  but next time I'll cut the vinegar in half.
14 big tomatoes
3-4 quarts of grape tomatoes
1 1/2 onions
1 can tomato paste
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups of apple cider vinegar

I cut the big tomatoes in half and put all of the tomatoes in together in the pot and cooked them until they were soft enough to go through the food mill.  I cooked the onions in olive oil and then returned the tomatoes to the pot after they had been through the mill.  Then I added the tomato paste and the brown sugar and the vinegar.
It was WAY too vinegary so then I added another half cup of sugar, then it was way too sweet so I ended up adding two cans of crushed tomatoes.  Then I let it simmer, keeping an eye on it so the bottom wouldn't burn.  It probably reduced for six hours.  At the very end I added a hearty splash of Worcestershire sauce.  While it was reducing, there was plenty of time for this...

And making this...

At the very least, I'd say we ended up with 3 and a half pints of strong tasting, very pretty ketchup.  I do think we'll actually use it, but the recipe will need some tweaking for next time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Matthew: Preschooler.

Drop off went smoothly, although he did not make eye contact with me when I said good-bye.  I circled back in the parking lot to see if he was doing okay and he was holding Miss Elisabeth's hand, walking in the garden, so I think he'll be fine.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sick Day

So, Joe did not make it to school today, but he felt better by noon and after not eating for 36 hours, the first thing he requested was a salad.  Two actually...

We read the second half of this, it was sooooo good...

This ridiculous chess game happened...

And at the end of the day, when we were sure everyone would actually be going to school tomorrow, I gave them each a little "night before school" present...

Tomorrow... the first day of school for both of them, and I think these mice might go along in their pockets.
Addendum:  Mattie will be home tomorrow.  There was just a lot of throw-up.

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Weekend, The Night Before School

We had a visit from Nana this weekend and we did one last trip on the paddle boats at Independence Lake before the end of summer vacation...

As for tomorrow, everything is labeled...

Breakfast is made (peach muffins)...

We're just hoping Joseph is ready...  He had the stomach flu today poor guy.  I think he'll be better by morning.