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Friday, September 26, 2008

Highland Games

Over the past two and a half years my oldest has been developing an extraordinary affinity for anything Scottish. She loves the sound of bagpipes, adores plaid, and will often pretend to be a "highland girl" dancing around our kitchen.

You can imagine her delight when we chose to focus our studies on the book "Wee Gillis" this past week. She has been thrilled to learn more about Scotland, make her own bagpipes (from party horns and a ziploc bag - just nip off the corners, poke one "blower side - out" and two "blower side - in" and use packing tape to seal the joints), create Scottish paper dolls, learn how her lungs, voice and ears work, and how sound travels, plus the thrill of listening to drums and bagpipes for a week.

As a bonus, we finished our week with a trip to the NH Highland Games where we were able to see the pipe and drum competitions, caber toss and other strong man competitions (check out the photo - they really do throw sticks as big as telephone poles), sheep herding, and dance finals, and several others.  One of the most interesting was watching a demonstration of the traditional way to tie a kilt - wrapping 9 yards of fabric around your body isn't as easy as you think!  

The kid's program was wonderful, and they were allowed to make shields, sashes, pins (which the kids know the correct name for, but I can't remember right now), and Scottish flags. It was a bit chaotic with all of the children crammed in one tiny craft room, but they enjoyed the change of pace.

Of course, if you ask them, the best part of the day was listening to the bagpipes and rolling down the hill (not an organized sport, but one in which almost every child participated). Once again, the simple pleasures win!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Yesterday we went to the doctor and received official word that our family will be joined by a NEW BABY in April. We are so excited!!!

In a strange twist of events, my friend Janet was the first to anticipate this baby - way before we even conceived.  I told her this summer that I had begun giving away baby clothes (after several years of trying, and discouraging updates from my doctor, we really didn't think that baby #3 was a possibility anymore). She said to me "you know, as soon as you get rid of everything you will get pregnant again." Well, she was completely right! I am currently 10 weeks pregnant, and so far have done very well. No morning sickness (unless you count my complaints of feeling dizzy during our trip to Tennessee in July), just the average minor fatigue.

The kids were excited to hear the news, and after a bit of discussion have decided that we shouldn't have just one - they need two babies, so that each of them will have someone to take care of. I have a feeling that one will be plenty to keep both of them busy. We are looking forward to having an ultrasound in two weeks, and will post photos as soon as we get them.

Looks like I owe Janet a prediction. Okay here it is:
Many good things will happen in your future - I also see coffee.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boston Public Garden

Since reading the book Make Way for Ducklings, I have been promising the kids a trip to Boston's Public Garden.  We were so excited to go there last weekend.

After finally making it through the morning traffic, we enjoyed walking along the Charles River to the garden. What an amazing treasure among all the hustle and bustle of Boston. The first thing the kids saw when entering the gate was the Duckling statues. They had to wait in a line of wiggly kids and photo-happy parents (note to self - always go to popular locations on weekdays, NOT Saturday) but eventually got to have their turn sitting on Mrs. Mallard. They were so cute patting and kissing each duckling and trying to guess which one was Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, or Quack.

We then walked along the beautiful pathway for a while and stopped to feed the ducks - later on we saw signs encouraging people NOT to feed the ducks because it causes them to quit migrating - oops!

The highlight of our day was riding the Swan Boats, one of the few things you can do in Boston with two kids for less than $5. My daughter was facinated to learn that they really are powered only by 1 person pedaling, are steered by simple ropes which adjust the rudder.

After a picnic lunch, listening to street musicians and a lot more walking we decided to head back to the museum. Thanks to my sister we had free passes for the day, so we were able enjoy the rest of the afternoon at the live animal show, lightning show, and looking at the human body exhibit.

And here is what I overheard on the drive home -
Daughter: "When I grow up I want to take care of ducklings."

Son: "I want to be a superhero when I grow up."

Daughter: "You can't be a superhero!"

Son: "Why?"

Daughter: "Because the Bible says so."

Son: "No it doesn't."

Daughter: "Yes it does! In Genesis God says he created animals after their own kind. You have to be BORN a superhero."  (yes this is a direct quote, she really did mention Genesis)

Son: "But I want to be a superhero."

Daughter: "Sorry, Daddy can't fly, so you can't be a superhero."  

Son: (sad whisper) "I still want to be a superhero."


Friday, September 12, 2008

In love with Mud


few days ago the kids discovered that the large mud puddles in our backyard  that I wrote about earlier are good for more than simple squishing between the toes.  We found them . . . jumping off of a small hill and into the puddle, practicing their "swimming," digging, sculpting, and generally having a wonderful time.  It's one of those things that you just simply can't get away with as an adult, but kinda' wish you could.  

I'm in love with mud,
It's sad, I know, but true.
I just can't help but splash in it,
Or stomp a path right through.

It's sticky and it's dirty,
And it covers all my clothes.
But when I see it lying there,
A voice inside me grows...

...You can't resist, you know I'm right,
It's fun to play in mud!
Look at it just sitting there,
I really think you should!

"I Love to Play In Mud" ©2003 Gareth Lancaster

Saturday, September 6, 2008

End of Summer, Beginning of School

Labor day always makes me feel a bit sad - there are so many fun things that can only be done during the summer, and we never seem to get to them all. Right off the top of my head, I am now realizing that we never went to Goldenrods for ice-cream, and my daughter's promised ride on "Little Boy" at Charmingfare hasn't yet happened (I'd better work on that one). Just to prove how much we love summer; this was the scene at my house on the morning of our first trip to camp for the year. Yes, my children attempted to pack every single article of clothing that they own - oh, by the way, this photo was taken at 5:30 AM on Memorial Day weekend. We were VERY excited for the beginning of summer.

Now summer is over, and we get to energize ourselves for the changes that Autumn brings: 
  • more time for renovation projects 
  • the beautiful foliage and the fun craft projects it inspires 
  • sleeping more (thanks to less sun) 
  • trips to the apple orchard 
  • and new for our family this year, the beginning of school.

My daughter was so excited about her first day of kindergarten (co-op) that she began complaining the night before of her stomach feeling "funny." It took me until the next morning to realize that she was suffering from a classic case of Butterflies!

The new lunch bag and school supplies helped some, but she continued to fuss about not feeling well until we got her in the car and on her way. After that she was pure excitement. Before I even got the car unpacked the kids were racing around chasing their friends and enjoying the sunny day.

By the way - the somber faces on all those cute kids are because we asked them to smile. Before that comment, everyone was all giggles.  Go figure! 

When we got home I asked what the kids thought of school.  My daughter explained: "I didn't like the learning part so much, but the kids are fun, I showed them my rocks for show & tell, that was good, and I liked lunch." (Another mom in our co-op did reading and math evaluations to figure out which topics to cover - this is the "learning" that she balked at.)

The next day was our first "school day" at home. We snuggled in to read "Trumpet of the Swan" and "Make way for Ducklings" in bed. Both books were hits! Later she read a story to me, we made some phonics games, practiced handwriting and worked on numbers up to 30 using dice for math. We also began a bit of geography (okay, I know that using that word is a stretch, but I can't think of another way to say "map stuff for kids" and sound normal). We looked at the Google-Earth site so that the kids could "fly" down from outer-space, to the Boston Public Garden (from Make Way for Ducklings) zooming from the world, to the continent, to the country, state . . . you get the idea. We chatted about our trip there later this month, and the kids pointed out things that they want to see (the duckling statues, swan boats, and Charles River) and colored their own maps. Not bad for a first day!

I love that we get to dictate our own school schedule, having Mondays off to spend time with Daddy while he is home. I also enjoy having the opportunity to tailor the kids' learning around the things that they love. My daughter has some loopy interests, including bagpipes, the human body, ancient history, and elaborate storytelling.  I have worked to make her lessons fit her personality - She will get to throw herself into her favorite topics and probably won't even realize that we are "doing school" most of the time.

So, goodbye summer! We are off to do bigger and better things - but we'll be packed and ready for camp again on Memorial Day weekend 2009 (but hopefully we get to sleep a bit later than 5:30)!