Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Thumb Prayer

Summer and late bedtimes go hand in hand in our family. It seems after the long dark winters, the long hours of light in the summer are truly appreciated. The winter ritual of reading piles of bedtime stories fades and in its place comes kickball - mom and the kids against dad, still he wins every time. Boat rides, evening swimming, weeding the garden and just taking advantage of the light and going for sightseeing drives makes for some late nights. A little embarrassing to admit, but sometimes the kids skid into bed with dirty feet, unbrushed teeth and prayers unsaid. Those are the nights to use the thumb prayer. I first read about praying with your thumb in Saintly Celebrations and Holy Holidays: Easy and Imaginative Ideas to Create Your Own Catholic Family Traditions. Then I Googled thumb prayer and found a site that briefly touched on the idea. The premise is to use your thumb to make a cross on the palm of the opposite hand. When you are just too tired to use brain power to pray, the thumb prayer can be done. I encourage my children to think Jesus on the down stroke and Thank You on the cross stroke. I've also witnessed my son thumbing his chest at night, which is quite soothing and meditative. During church, I often thumb the palm of my three year old, encouraging him to do the same to me or himself as a method for keeping quiet and focused. Often times simple is better and nothing is simpler than the repetition of the thumb prayer.

Family Movie Night

Garfield was the pick with homemade pepperoni pizza.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Week in a Nutshell

We spent Sunday with some friends visiting, swimming, playing cards, eating, trampolining, chasing chickens, browsing the vegetable and flower gardens, sipping lemonade, and trying real hard not to forget anything upon leaving. DH took the day off on Monday; he put in long hours Saturday night into Sunday morning. Haircuts for everybody, jammies until almost noon and then off to Exploration Days for Grace, the second and last week. Tuesday brought the traditional Family Movie Night. This weeks feature, Akeelah and the Bee. Awesome movie! It was another of mom's picks, which meant everyone was more excited about the pizza than the movie. Not to toot my own horn, but I do know how to pick 'em. Everyone loved the movie. I recommend it highly and suggest you buy a jumprope before viewing, because by the end your kids will be begging to jump and spell. Wednesday flew by with music lessons and dentist appointments. I've been picking blueberries at another cranberry marsh nearby. This week I made blueberry muffins twice, three French Berry Apple Pies, a Blueberry pie and a batch of Blueberry Jam. We definitely like our sweets. Thursday I came down with a nasty case of laryngitis and now here we are at Friday and getting ready to head to Madison for the Dane County Fair. Our niece will be showing her horse for the time at 8:00 am Saturday morning, so we'll stay overnight at my other sister-in-law's. I've also been working on a homemade planner, thanks to Dawn. Her post inspired me to create my own planner. I've used so many different planners in the past, but none were just right. As of late, I use printables from HomeSchoolMom.com and just cross off and add my headings, three ring punch the pages and place in a 3 ring binder. I finally sat down at the computer and just typed up my own. I have a lot of photocopying and then I'll have Staples wire bind it for $2.49. I like this idea so much better because I do not like writing in binders. It seems the rings are always in the way so there isn't as much usable writing space on the paper. Once completed I'll post details of my daily planner. Now I need to tidy up here and pack for our overnight trip.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Life With a Three Year Old

Lee: Can you say something besides eeww, yucky?

Ray: Yesh, eeww, yummy!

He's the only one in the family with lavender sparkle finger nail polish on his lips. Good Thing!

Ray: Where are my floppy plops? (flip flops)

When I tell him, no he cannot use a steak knife, he responds

Mommeeeeeee, me biggy guy.

When I tell him he needs to go pee on the potty and not in his diaper, he responds

No, me you teeny baby, Mama.

Would he just make up his mind already?

Favorite question to whisper in my ear at church: Where my stinky butt? Where my stinky butt?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Family Movie Night

This is a late commentary about our most recent movie night. We had a list of three movie choices and all three were out, so I made a call and chose The Even Stevens Movie, rated PG. Having never heard of it, I was a little concerned about the content and if we would even enjoy it. It turned out to be a winner. There are at least two fresh comments which could be deleted without any hinderance to the movie. Also, I despise movies using older teen actors/actresses to portray younger age characters. Both the oldest son and daughter are played by actors at least 3-5 years older than the character. Kids grow up fast enough, they don't need to think that junior high girls have serious enough boyfriends that breakups are needed. No boyfriends necessary at all in junior high, in my opinion. The basic plot revolves around a family be chosen for a dream vacation. It's a movie, so obviously the vacation doesn't go as planned, but I won't say anymore. I didn't fully read the back of the DVD case and didn't have a clue as to what was coming. The surprise is fun, in a dirty trick sort of way. Read the review at Plugged In Online. Pluggedin Online didn't have a review so here is one from Disney (the producer). I still think that just watching it will be the best, because all of these sites wreck the surprise.

Saturday's Adventure

We were up early and ready to leave by 8:15 a.m. for the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail. It's our First Annual Bike Adventure with the M's (college roommate). After a slight detour through roads not on the map, we eventually pulled into the Wilton parking area only 10 minutes past our meeting time and still ahead of our friends. We chose an 18 mile round trip trek. As us moms planned this trip we were playing with the idea of a 24 mile route or even a 30 mile route. I finally made the call and said 18 will have to do. I don't want to bite off more than my kids can chew; there's a fine line between fun and meltdown. We started, we made it to the first stop sign (100 yards down the path). I'm pulling the Burley with Ray and DH has a trail behind bike with Lou on it. This is a piece of cake. The weather is perfect. How long, really, can an 18 mile bike ride take? I'll tell you. It can take a little longer than 6 hours if you try real hard. That doesn't include a 1 1/2 mile walk through a tunnel where we left our bikes behind since we were just turning around at the end anyway. We had a great time, lively conversation, plenty of exercise and lots of, not too hot, sunshine. And at the end every last one of us was tuckered out and ready to find some good reenergizing food, aka. hamburgers, onion rings, root beer, Bud Light, chicken strips. Just good 'ol bar and grill food. It's been decided, same thing next year.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

At the End of the Rainbow

A brief shower moved through last evening, which left behind a setting sun and this beautiful rainbow. I couldn't capture it in one photo frame, but we could see it span the sky from the Southeast to the Northeast, crossing over the cranberry marsh and the pond. Just stunning. Rarely do I see the full arc of a rainbow, so last night's was a real treat for all of us.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Better Late Than Never

I know it's 3 days past the Fourth of July, but I had just a couple photos to share. I've talked about Twig before, here and here. And what a surprise to see our favorite miniature horse marching in the parade. He's pulling a cart filled with four children. See the white cowboy hats in the back. Those are three of the kids.

Once home we had a fantastic afternoon of tubing and kneeboarding in our pond and then a cookout. Rain did dampen the affair slightly, but only as we started to grill. The guys continued grilling in the rain, while the rest of us brought the party inside.

My friend Dawn brought rhubarb dessert, yummy! I made this Jello Cake, a recipe I received from my sister-in-law. The recipe I linked to isn't the exact recipe I use, but awfully close. I always use two small boxes of jello. I mix 1 cup boiling water with each flavor. I do one color at a time, pouring into alternating holes. I let set for a couple of hours and then do the other flavor Jello. And the rain cleared in time for the fireworks.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Jump Roping...it's not just for kids

DH was out doing marsh work tonight, so it was me and the kids. We cleaned up the yard and organized the garage. Seems you always find something "new" when organizing. We came across the jump ropes we bought last year, a single jumper and a group jumper. Even though the thermometer was reading 99 degrees in the sun, we just couldn't resist taking a few jumps. Ray liked doing the snake jump; the people at either end of the rope just slither it back and forth on the ground and he tries to jump over. The rest of us had a blast perfecting our "jumping in" technique. Then I started in with Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear touch the ground. Well, I couldn't remember what came next so Lee suggested we Google it. Great Idea! In less than 1 minute we had a whole list of jump rope rhymes. We printed out 3 and headed back outside and jumped until our legs just about fell off. Check these rhymes out; there are many that are perfect for sneaking in summer school without the kids even knowing it.

In My Backyard

When I walk out the door I see so many different things, but today a few things just needed to be acknowledged and here they are.

Diamond, the kitty with only 8 lives left.

Isn't she cute? Sara, our 5 year old lab
Chickens...they only have a few months before butchering time.
Ducklings...freebies from the neighbor.

They are cute and so fun to watch as they eat the water plants through the cage.

I don't know the variety of day lily, but they bloom profusely every July, even in dry conditions.The Astilbe, just past peak bloom.

I was surprised by the lovely scent of petunias this year. I hadn't noticed other years, maybe because they weren't in my daily path. I mixed in the pansies, which always look like little faces peeking at me.
I couldn't resist the line up of four chairs waiting to be sat on by anxious kids waiting for the nightly fireworks lighting.

Now, back inside for a couple of canning pictures.

Rhubarb can be picked unti July4th and then it needs to rest and store up energy for the long winter. On the very last day of the season I pulled as much as I could and then made rhubarb juice. It was incredibly easy, tastes delicious and now I wish I had been making this all season. I guess I'll have to wait until next year; it'll be back. 4 quarts won't last long, but if I hide it at the back of my canning shelves, I can pull it out in January for a refreshing taste of spring.

And since the canning supplies were up from the basement, I made a batch of cranberry juice. I am a cranberry grower's wife and this was my first time ever attempting juice. I used a simple recipe. Just drop in the cranberries, add sugar and boiling water, seal and can. Wait 2 months then strain fruit off and serve over crushed ice. Sounds good, we'll see how it tastes....in two months, which will be right around Lou's 6th birthday.

Christmas in July

Lee: Is Santa Claus real? Caleb said he's dead and that he died a real long time ago, like in 1989 or something.

There's a lot to ponder in those two sentences. First is the Santa Claus issue. I wish we'd tackled Santa like other animated figures. They are cute, fun to pretend with and about, but definitely not real. But we didn't. Our kids believe that Santa is a real and fantastic being. So my best answer, for Lee, to the question was that if you believe Santa puts toys in your stocking and you wake up Christmas morning to find toys actually in your stocking then most likely Santa put them there. How was that? Am I causing psychological trauma? I hope not! Next is the dead or alive part. Indeed there was a real St. Nicholas and he was known to throw sacks of coins to the poor children. He was alive and did in fact die a real long time ago. But 1989? Come on, that wasn't that long ago. Once I explained that I was 17 years young, a teenager, in 1989, Lee decided that wasn't that long ago after all.

Then, later in the day Lou begged to make graham cracker gingerbread houses. In July? It must be the soaring temperatures are making us all wish for cooler weather, but not quite like December. Today it's 89 degrees F. Mid 90's are forecasted for this weekend. So I obliged and out came the graham crackers, frosting and sprinkles. And when it was all done we sat down for a very tasty snack of walls, sidewalks, fences and chimneys.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Let Freedom Ring...

...it's Independence Day. I happened to catch an episode of Jay Leno the other night with the Jaywalking segment. Jay interviewed people around town regarding Independence Day. He asked them the following questions (my favorite responses are in italics) and then they had to answer. Surprising how little we know about the ever celebrated 4th of July.

What do we celebrate on the 4th of July? fireworks

Who did we gain independence from? Greece

What year did we declare our independence? 1922

Who was the general in charge of the Revolutionary War? (no one could come up with anything)

My favorite people he questioned were a multi-generational family of 4. First Jay questioned the 40ish dad. He said his wife was smarter than him, so Jay grabbed the wife. She didn't know any of the answers either. Jay continued on by pulling in the middle school aged son. He didn't do any better, but claimed that grandpa probably knew the answers. And grandpa did. As quick as Jay asked the question, Grandpa confidently gave the answers. He did his country proud. Isn't it sad that the people who know the true meaning of Independence Day were the ones who lived through it or were educated in the olde days. Or maybe it's because with all the diversity education, whole language, multi-cultural education and New Math there isn't any time for American History education.

So this week we talked about Independence Day, the Revolutionary War, Britain, Red Coats, Betsy Ross, the American Flag, thirteen colonies and the circle of starts on the flag, today's flag with 50 stars, what each star represents. I had the kids color flags and eagles and the liberty bell. They labeled a map with the states. I do not want to be embarrassed by a disastrous Jaywalking. Happy 4th of July y'all.

Super Summer Science: The Answers

Earlier this week I posted a science problem for you and your kids to work at. Did you? Here are the answers.

#1 - Bend the straw about 3 inches from one end. Insert the short end into the bottle. Pull the long end slowly until the bent end touches both sides of the bottle, then lift. Tah Dah! You lifted the bottle without actually touching it with your hands.

#2 - Insert the round end of the balloon into the bottle, being careful not to let go of the opening of the balloon. Blow air into the balloon until it fills enough so that it touches both sides of the bottle. Then lift. Easy!

I hope you had fun with this and that your kids did too. We certainly did.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Words to Think About

God's Love + Your Misery = Mercy

I heard this on Relevant Radio this weekend.

Super Summer Science

Can you pick up a bottle without touching it?

Using science to solve what sounds like a magic trick can be fun. You will need a clean, empty 16 oz. plastic water/soda bottle, a plastic straw and a balloon. Using the bottle and the other items can you figure out how to pick up the bottle without actually touching it with your hands? Assemble these items for your children and let them work on it for today, tomorrow, as long as it takes. I will be back later this week with the answer, oh, I mean answers. Good luck!