Saturday, March 21, 2009

3-21 Day

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Why today? Notice the date is 3-21. Today is the 50th anniversary of Jerome Lejeune publishing his work on Down Syndrome. Now known as Trisomy 21. There's a third copy of the 21st chromosome. That little bit of extra DNA material makes Little J just that much more special to us.


...it was almost here and then gone again.
We started off the day with some basic school lessons: math, spelling, Faith and Life, language and reading. Then we got on to the real fun stuff...sewing. I finished a spring skirt for Lou. Isn't it adorable? When searching out fabric she went straight to the pinks. I pulled out the gray vintage print just to add a little something to the skirt.
It's called a twirl skirt. My inspiration came from Just Tutes. As the name suggests, her website is full of sewing/crafting tutorials. When I layed eyes on this skirt, I knew it was just the thing for my girls. It'd be a nice way to welcome spring. We dug through my stash and found fabrics that each girl liked and began sewing. Just last night I started on Grace's skirt with a more 11 year oldish color pallette. FYI: I think the only thing I'll change is to make the top tier a little shorter so the twirl starts up a little higher. That would make it a little less fitted through the hip as well. I have big plans on making a more A-line skirt for myself with just a small ruffle around the bottom. I'll share pictures whenever that may be.

Then just as we were all getting into the swing of thinking spring, with the twirl skirts and bare legs, I heard a voice from the porch. It was DH and he was saying, "Ah, Jennifer, we have a problem outside." I gasped. What? And as I went running he groaned, "It's snowing." Can you believe it? I can. It happens every year. A true spring snow.
There's his footprint on the step. He was heading out to fuel up the pump. He's pumping the spring flow into the reservoir. We've had some dry years and the water level is extremely low.
And the yard all covered in fluffy white snow. Those are not snowflakes falling, they are snow clumps. Their size was just amazing.
Well, happy spring to you all!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Birds

Just a quick note to say the Robins and Bluebirds are back. Yesterday we officially saw our first robin and now today, while coloring pictures of robins, Lou and I saw the first bluebirds. A pair were flitting around the ash trees in the front yard. I tried to get a picture, but my camera batteries were dead and Grace's camera wouldn't focus on them as they were quite a distance away. The last two days had temps in the low and mid 60's. Wow, did it feel good to get outside without coats. It's just so easy to walk out the door that I found it hard to keep the kids corralled for school. Grace actually did math outside sitting in the sun. Today is promising a high of 50 and tomorrow will be the coldest day of the week, but we'll take it. We've waited a long time for sunshine and warmth and here in central Wisconsin even 45 is warm enough to put a smile on my face. Because it sure beats the alternative of January's -20's.

I've replaced the batteries and am going to wait for the birds to make another appearance. Hopefully a few pictures in the near future.

Have a wonderfully sunshiny spring day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plans

We're in for some spring like weather this week, which means I'd like to actually spend some time outside. In order to do that I need to have supper plans made so I don't spend all afternoon fretting over what to have and wasting my time looking through the freezer and pantry. I just took a few minutes to jot down a quick list of meals for the week.

Creamed Chicken over mashed potatoes
Steamed California blend veggies
Freezer Pizzas
Relish tray
Chocolate Mint Brownies
Meatballs in gravy over rice
Tossed salad with croutons
Canned peaches
Homemade sub sandwiches
Fish Fry
Buttered egg noodles
Steamed broccoli
Lunches are usually made up of leftovers, PB & J or ramen noodles.
For more menu ideas go here or here.
I'll publish my recipes when I have more time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Writing Fun

Rarely do you find the words writing and fun together, at least not in my house. When I suggest (well require) someone write a Haiku or book report or thank you notes or grocery list for me or spelling list or complete sentences for anything, I'm met with lots of grumbling.

How will this help me someday? 
 Why can't reading the book be good enough? 
 I'm not a speller. 
 Poetry is stupid. 

Games are great for helping kids learn to write quickly, spell without asking, and write legibly.  Here's one game I use to sneak in some spelling practice.

If spelling isn't a favorite subject and you need to sneak it into your school day, then you need the game Eye to Eye. It can be purchased from a SimplyFun dealer. If you're not familiar, SimplyFun is another home party like Tupperware or MaryKay but it's all games. At the party you play a bunch of the games to get a feel for them and then you get a chance to buy them. Now, the games are pricey, but very fun and excellent quality. My whole family had so much fun playing Eye to Eye at the party that we bought it. But I didn't buy the starter set, just one of the add on sets. This game will not get your kids writing complete sentences or Haikus, but it will help them think quickly and write those words down. The more familiar you are with your alphabet, spelling rules and forming letters the better player you will be. Here's how we play. It works best with 3 or more people. Each person gets a pad of paper, pencil and then some chips (dry beans). We use 10 or more per person depending on how long we want to play. The object of the game is to get rid of your beans first. The first person picks a card and chooses a topic, say Classic Disney Films. Then everyone writes down 3 Classic Disney Films. The person who chose the topic reads their list and if anyone else matches, they both place one of their beans in the middle, thus getting closer to winning. Once everyone has read their list and matched with whoever they could the next person draws a card and chooses a topic. We let the person choosing the topic draw as many cards as they want until they find a topic they like. This has helped our 7 year old learn to write quick and not worry so much about spelling because if she asks how to spell Cinderella then everyone knows that's on her list and it's not as much fun. She has, however, found out that spelling is important. For example, tonight she wrote 'PUCiVy' as a term of endearment. When it was her turn to read her list she tried sounding it out and became confused by what she had written. At that point she said, "I better learn to spell better." Now that's what I call real learning and natural consequences. No one could match with her because she didn't even know what she'd written. SimplyFun's Eye to Eye is a great game to get kids writing and having fun at the same time

*I did not get paid to say any of this; we just enjoy the game and have found it to be a great learning tool.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Little J is 7 Months

and other pictures of daily life around here.
He started the day with a bath.

And finished the day with a little thumb sucking.
Last week we celebrated DH's birthday. We had to skip the pizza because everyone was feeling tired and sick. We all managed a piece of cake before we were off to bed. Little did I know at that time that DH would not leave the bed for four days.

Ray works hard on his happy day project. At 4.5 cutting is still tedious work. So, to keep things moving along he cut the three large triangles and I cut the rest. He did all the gluing and arranging of pieces. I wrote the word happy in pencil and then he traced it with marker.

You Know He's Sick When....

My DH has been sick now for 10 days. He's out working now, but comes in all chilled and coughing for a break and then heads out again into the oh so cold weather. Today the sun is shining which has given everyone a different attitude. It's as if we can actually believe spring is on its way. Back to my title though. Even when he's sick he just cracks me up with his wit. Yesterday while taking Day 3 antibiotic he quipped, "I'd take these all right now if I knew it would make be feel better faster." And then today after lunch he poured a glass of juice and sat down with Day 4 antibiotic and said, "Time for my dessert."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Talking Time

One child of mine is very particular about time. For example if I'm doing something and he needs me and I say in a minute, he will stand their next to me counting 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004...expecting that I will not help him a second sooner or later than 1060. He also gets quite irritated when someone says it's about quarter to 8 when it's actually 7:43. Black and white! So now that we just celebrated Spring Forward there's been a lot of talk about time lately. Here's how it goes.

It sure doesn't feel like 11:30, I'm hardly hungry.
That's because it's not really 11:30, it's 10:30. We ate our snack just 15 minutes ago, but really it was an hour and 15 minutes ago.

It's 8:30. Time to get started with school.
No, it's really 7:30, the clock just says 8:30.

And now that it is really 7:52am exactly I need to get my morning routine done so that I'm ready to start school at exactly 8:30 but it will really be 7:30. Ugh!

Monday, March 9, 2009


The title says it all, yet says nothing because I'm just too tired to even think. Grace and DH have been sick since last week Monday. Well, actually Grace started with a cold a week before that. Last week DH started with influenza and finally by Saturday we thought he was turning a corner. Yes indeed, the corner from flu to pneumonia and bronchitis. Grace lucked out having only pneumonia. Both are now on antibiotics and hopefully on their way to recovery. Both doctors said the recovery time is long and not to expect instant results. A full two weeks more is to be expected. Most likely lethargy, headache, coughing, chills. I'd like to add irritability to that list. Them, not me. I can't blame them though, with all the noise us five healthy people can produce it must get quite annoying at times.

Illness brings its own down in the dumps feelings not to mention the weather. Last week we had a few warmer days, but mainly all cloudy. Now this week we started it out with a dumping of heavy, wet snow yesterday. And today it was cold, windy and sunny. The sun generated just enough heat that the roads were wet and slushy. I guess that's what March is all about. But is it too much to ask for a little warmer weather?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Keeping Lent Real

Lent is typically a time of fasting, penitence, sacrifice and alms giving. As a child I remember getting a calendar at the beginning of lent along with a small cardboard box. Each day had a interesting bit about the poor of the world and then a challenge to put so much money into the box. For example, one calendar box might read: 9.2 million children will walk to school barefoot today. Put a nickel in for each pair of shoes in your closet. Each day I'd go around counting shoes, windows, glasses of water drank, doors, meals eaten, etc. Then I'd place the proper amount of money in the mission box. I have fond memories of those calendars and became aware of the extreme poverty of the world. Eventually, on Easter Sunday, those boxes would be placed before the altar and the money sent on to a particular mission to help the poor. In past years, I searched the Internet looking for that sort of calendar to share with my children without any luck. This year, though, we received a foldable box and calendar from church. The calendar isn't quite as child friendly as the ones I remember, but it's a good starting place. Today's challenge was to learn about world hunger by visiting some website, but since I have a few children who gave up computer for Lent I decided to go another route. We read Beatrice's Goat and then I laid out a challenge for them. I typed out 10 age appropriate bible verses for each child to memorize. They can earn 50 cents per verse to place in the box. The money will then be sent to Catholic Relief Services for Operation Rice Bowl.