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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

This is the family of turkeys we have been watching grow up all summer.  I took this photo in October.  They are more than double in size now - that is if they made it through today!

The kids have been studying Early American History for the past few weeks as we prepared for Thanksgiving. They have become completely infatuated with pilgrims and indians, telling elaborate stories, and pretending to be "Columbus" or "Pocahontas" almost every day. I thought that these were stories that I was familiar with, but I have learned more about Thanksgiving in the past 6 weeks than I believed possible. So, in the spirit of sharing that this holiday encourages, here are several things you may or may not care to know about the history Thanksgiving:  
Thanksgiving Day is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, but in Canada it is held on the second Monday in October.

The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621 and invited around 90 neighboring Wampanoag Indians (who taught them how to cultivate the land) to the three day feast at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Over a hundred years later President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795.

The state of New York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, started a campaign for a national holiday of thanksgiving and prayer in 1827.  As result of her efforts, in 1863 Abraham Lincoln officially created Thanksgiving with the goal of uniting the country during the Civil War.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day in the year 1939. He did so to make the Christmas shopping season longer and thus stimulate the economy.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. But it was Thomas Jefferson who opposed him. It is believed that Franklin then nick-named the male turkey 'Tom' to spite Jefferson.  Californians are now the largest consumers of "Toms" in the United States.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Dance with Cinderella

We traveled to New Jersey for a cousin's wedding this weekend. The highlight, of course, was the reception, where my little ones waited (not so patiently) through the meal for the music to begin.

Have you ever watched a little kid dance? They throw their arms out, twirl in circles, and jump up and down just for the sheer joy of feeling themselves in motion. I love seeing their happy faces, and listening to them giggle as they shower themselves with delight. How sweet the innocence of not knowing that other people may be watching, and not caring if they do. How wonderful to know that their own bodies are the source of so much fun, regardless of the "propriety" of their actions. Asking a new acquaintance to dance or being the first one on the dance floor isn't uncomfortable for them, instead it is a thrill! Life is so simple - Why do we adults complicate it so much?

The little ones go out and dance in their carefree fantastic way, and then the adults join in . . . And we think that we are the ones who teach them about life . . . how wrong we are! What a priveledge it is to have a little one ask you to dance with them. All they want is our attention.

It reminded me of the song Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman (I think you will be able to click to hear it below - I didn't want to auto-start it just in case some of you read this at work)

Here are some of our favorite family photos from the reception!

And of course, the beautiful bride and her new husband. Congratulations!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photographic feet

 My three year old loves to use our camera.  (Thank goodness for digital photography!)  He clicks happily away enjoying acting like one of the adults and seeing instant results from his favorite task - button pushing.  It is sweet to watch him take himself so seriously as he experiments with the different settings and camera angles.   I'm sure he doesn't realize it, but he has taken on a funny personal project that keeps me curious as I wait to see how long he will stick with it.  This is his photographic study:  Each time he takes my camera he always spends at least a few minutes examining his feet, arranging them "just so," and then photographing them.  Here are a few of his masterpieces.  

Sometimes he will take pictures of other funny subjects too, but none with such passion as his own feet.  My favorite are:
  • close-ups of his sister's nose
  • the underside of chairs, tables etc.
  • the backsides of people we don't know 
  • car and truck wheels 
  • other peoples feet
Then every once in a while there is a gem like this that appears - I would never think to take a photo of his shadow, but I am SO glad that he did.  

In his shadow you can't tell just how little he is.  That's the funny thing about shadows, they shorten and stretch, and remove all distinguishing characteristics.  It makes me wonder just what he will look like as he gets older. What will he enjoy doing?  Who will he become?

My Shadow
By Robert Lewis Stevenson
From Child's Garden of Verses

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Art is messy.  It is supposed to be that way.  Creativity takes trial and error, time, patience, and lots of experimentation, but in all reality, art with kids can be VERY messy. This makes me honestly want to skip it entirely. I'm all for the tidy coloring page and crayons, but breaking out the glitter or ink pads can make me queasy.

On the other hand, my kids ADORE art of all kinds. They happily draw trees and flowers each time we go for a nature walk, color while we drive to and from our co-op classes, and giggle contentedly when creating masterpieces of clay or fingerpaints, so I know that it is a great way to keep them happy and creative.  Handing them a pile of art supplies with no instructions and waiting to see what they do with it is always a great way to spend an afternoon - it is just the clean-up that I dread.

In order to keep my desire for orderliness and the kids' desire for general chaos in balance, I have gotten a little creative myself and re-purposed our downstairs bathroom into their personal art studio. Yup, that's right, it is kinda' embarrassing to admit, but my kids do their messiest art projects in the tub. We tape their paper right on the wall, and they stand on a non-slip mat while they paint away, smear glue, and sprinkle glitter 'til their heart's content, and when they are all done, I just pull their creations off the wall and they get the fun of washing all of the "oops" that didn't make it to the paper down the drain.  Then they are ready for a quick bath and the house and kids are all back in order.   

Sometimes the silliest of solutions are the best.

By the way, in case you can't tell, the kids tell me that the first picture is a "map of the round world." (I can't take credit for initiating this project, but I'm sure it was inspired by our recent study of the Vikings and Columbus as part of our Early American History unit.)  The second is my daughter's experimentation with color mixing.  "Red and yellow - that's orange!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mac&Cheese Politics

I took the kids to the polls this week so that they could see our political system in process.

I expected our wait to be long.  Four years ago we waited for well over an hour, maybe two, to cast our votes, so I brought along pockets full of toys and lollipops to keep the little ones content. Much to my surprise, the lines were non-existant, and we were able to go straight to the booth. I chose a booth with a low table so that they could see me filling in my ballot - then they got a chance to fill out their own family ballots with the "special pen." What were they voting on??? . . . Our dinner - Chicken or pork, Green beans or corn, etc.

They had fun voting on what I would make that night - and then when we got home they called Daddy and asked him to phone in his vote.

So, the results of their election . . . drum roll please . . .
A yellow dinner. 
We ended up with Hotdogs, Mac&Cheese, Corn and Squash.

It was a fun way to make voting relevant to them, and it certainly gave me a break in usual lonely chore of deciding what to serve our crew for dinner.

They were actually very excited about the real election, and had loud (funny) opinions about who they thought should win - probably because of the rally that we took them to a few weeks ago.

Okay, now that I've mentioned the rally I'm going to go off on a tangent, so forgive me if this is long.  That rally taught me that there's nothing like a large gathering of people to make you feel like a lemming. (Lemmings are funny rodents that will migrate in large groups when their population becomes too big.  If the group reaches a cliff, they will pause there, but only until the pressure from the lemmings coming from behind causes them to then jump, or more accurately be pushed, off the cliff.)

So why am I telling you about lemmings? Well, when we took the kids to this political rally we waited in a gi-normous line for several hours in order to enter through the metal detectors and onto the highschool football field. Everyone was having fun, chatting and joking with one another as we waited.

After we got through security we were "herded" (there is no better word for it) toward a large stand of bleachers . . . oh how nice, you think, they got there early enough to get a "good" seat. Nope. We got there early alright, but the seats that they were ushering everyone to were not even facing the candidate. These were the backdrop for all of the TV cameras. That's right - the longer you waited in line, the LESS likely you were to be able to see the candidate's face.

So, we dutifully followed, for no other reason than the fact that the person in front of us was going that direction and the person behind was urging us forward. After reaching the bleachers one of our friends realized what was happening and decided to balk the system. He found out where the entrance to the field (in front of the candidate) was, and encouraged us to wait there. Well, there were a few not-so-thrilled volunteers who told us several times that the field wasn't going to be used until the bleachers were filled. Okay, we politely replied, and settled in with our picnic dinner as we waited. Again they would come back to our lonely group of 8 - you can't go on the field . . . Okay we replied.

After the political yahoos were well convinced that the "back-drop" for the cameras was sufficiently full, they finally let us in and we were able to find spots right in front of the podium. SOOOOOO much better than the ones they were trying to push all of us lemmings into.

Despite my sassy comments, we really did have a lot of fun at the rally. The kids sat on our shoulders wearing glow sticks and waving pompoms.  They thoroughly enjoyed joining in all of the excitement.  

Voting is such an important part of what makes our country wonderful.  I'm glad I got to share it with the kids.  And when it comes right down to it, sometimes your candidate really does win -  I got to eat Mac&Cheese for dinner, typically a no-no in this house!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Costume Photos

Here are the adorable photos that would have been with my previous post if I had actually realized it was a day during which mothers usually carry cameras.  

Even the dog got into the spirit!

In case you are wondering, my son is dressed as "Super J..." When I asked him what he wanted to be, he replied "a superhero." I asked which superhero he wanted to be, and named a few, but he wanted to have nothing to do with any of them. He decided that he wanted to be himself with superpowers. His costume is his own design - a green cape "with clips, no ties," pants, and a shirt with a big J on it. I guess he was still thinking about our conversation a few weeks ago (see here if you don't remember) He certainly proved his big sister wrong. He IS a superhero!