Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What a week it's been.

I took a four day break for family visiting. Matt's brothers came in and helped get the carpet out of the kitchen and put paneling in the mud room. They had enough time left over that they also tore the carpeting out of one of our living rooms and the hallway. We now only have two rooms with carpet. My sister-in-law also kicked down (not kidding) a three foot brick outcropping that had been separating the kitchen and living room. I'm so glad to have that gone. It really opens the house up.

My new kitchen floor.

New living room.

Ainsley helping Matt.

Hannah helping in the kitchen.

The brick partition that my sister-in-law kicked down.

Hannah also made hats for my sister-in-laws and me. It was kind of scary. To make a hat fit properly, you apparently have to cut the fabric while it's on the head it's to fit. My sister-in-laws were good sports about it, especially since they have longer hair than me.

After they left, we had a fuse blow and half of our electricity went out. It just happened to be the half that ran the computer. Luckily when the power came back on, our computer did too. I was really afraid it had blown.

The girls watching the power guys and their dad fixing the fuse in a blizzarding wind storm.

The wind has been howling here. Sunday through Tuesday it didn't go below 30 mph and hung steady for 12 hours at 40-45 mph. We've spent a lot of time watching the trees bend and the snow blow.

We've also got some babies coming! Two of our ewes have given birth - one to twins, another to triplets. We're going to have to pull one of the triplets off and bottle raise it. Head over to my farm blog for more baby lamb pics.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fantastic camouflage footage.

Not life-changing or filled with great insight like some TED talks, but this presentation is absolutely gorgeous - I can't wait to show it to Hannah. She will probably be underwhelmed.

Especially pay attention to the octopus at the very end - I rewound that five times.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Designing woman.

Hannah's always loved going to the fabric store with me. She picks out fabrics and talks about what she'd like to make with it - mostly dresses, but not always.

She's helped me cut out pattern pieces and watched me sew from the best vantage point - my lap - and twirled in the outfits I've made for her in every stage of their creation.

Last night she asked for fabric she could cut and set to work making her own design for the first time.

She made a saddle, saddle blanket, necklace and hat for the rocking horse. That hat's harder than it looks - that took her several tries and a request for advice. We were careful to just give her suggestions and not do it for her or tell her how to do it. It was better that way I think. It was fun watching her think about it and figure it out. I also learned that I must have very predictable reactions to frustration and that she pays attention to that. Although "damn" is kinda cute coming out of a 3 1/2 year old who can't get the fabric to hang right.

Here is the finished product. Notice the sticky backed velcro holding the blanket together - she went through my notions drawer and found that after I nixed the pins as too dangerous for her little sister to be around.

It's funny the tiny things that you're so proud of as a parent. Her first design. On a stuffed horse.

Random shots.

Hannah listening to her heartbeat with the midwife's help.

Ainsley helping me untangle yarn.

Experiments with Daddy.

The other day Matt and the girls had a lot of fun doing a few experiments. One is still in progress but the other had more immediate results. Apparently if you mix baking soda and vinegar you get a large reaction. I didn't realize they were doing an experiment until I heard Hannah's squeals. So I grabbed the camera and headed over.

Matt was combining the two ingredients in a water bottle and then putting a balloon on the top, letting the gas created by the reaction blow the balloon up. Hannah's squeal was because he had misjudged the amounts and hadn't gotten the balloon on top. He needed a towel to clean up.

Then they tried again.

They blew the balloon up a little bit.

Matt figured if they combined the ingredients in the water bottle and then put the balloon on and got a small reaction, maybe they'd get a bigger reaction by putting the soda in the water bottle and the vinegar in the balloon - he could get more vinegar in that way.

He could get an even bigger reaction by shaking the bottle to make sure all the baking soda was utilized.

It did indeed get much bigger.

Ainsley's big lesson learned was that if she tried to blow up a balloon after Daddy played with it, she got nasty vinegar taste in her mouth.

All told, they used an entire small box of soda and over half a gallon of vinegar. They had a lot of fun.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hunkering down.

My body's insisting on a break. My house is showing the effects. But when you're nine months pregnant, not listening to your body does not have good consequences and I want to give myself the best chance for an easy labor and delivery.

So we've been cuddling on the couch, eating freezer meals that I made for after the baby is born. Grateful for the organizational projects we've done in the last few weeks that have made it easier for me to keep some semblance of order in the house. Worried that my husband won't have that dag-blasted carpet out of the kitchen before the baby gets here.

The down-time has curtailed blogging but it has had an interesting side-effect. All of this sitting around, chatting, and cuddling has really made Ainsley have to communicate in different ways. She hasn't been interested in signing very much. She knew signs but preferred to drag us to whatever she wanted and grunt or whine until we guessed correctly - very frustrating when you know they can sign exactly what they want. Now, though, she picks a book and wants to know the sign for everything in the book. She's signing up a storm. Also, her first words are in. Daddy, Matt (her daddy's name), stuck (not a surprise if you have been around her for five minutes) and milk.

They grow up too fast. And I grow them too fast - I'm not ready to add another one.

Ready or not...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Multiplication tables.

A friend of mine stresses about unschooling - he stresses about homeschooling in general, but unschooling puts him over the edge.

We had a discussion one day about how unschooled kids would learn their multiplication tables and how vitally important it is to actually memorize them. I started laughing because I have *never* memorized my multiplication tables. Sure, I can *do* all of the multiplication and, if asked to recite them in the table form, I could do it, but I can't just ramble them off as a memorized "fact".

"Isn't what I can do more effective?", I asked him. No. According to him, it's the memorization that needs to happen. Never mind that I can figure out the answer to a multiplication problem in my mind quickly and correctly using math "tricks" and shortcuts. I should be able to ramble the facts off in order and at great speed.

I saw this posted on one of my unschooling lists recently. The question had come up - again - about multiplication tables and at what age your child should learn them. My favorite answer to almost any unschooling question was given (your child can learn anything they need to quickly and efficiently when they have the motivation) along with an example of how many facts they actually have to learn when learning the multiplication table.

"If your 15-year-old still didn't have the times tables memorized, but
then got a part-time job that somehow required those math skills, do
you not trust that she would at that point take it upon herself to
learn them, and would subsquentially become more and more versed in
them as she used them in the everyday life of her job?

I see people fret more about times tables that almost anything else
when it comes to math. Really though, if you're motivated and have a
need to do so, it would not take that long for most people to
memorize them--certainly not years, or even months or weeks! Look:
there 100 facts in the 10x10 table, but only 55 unique ones thanks to
twin facts/commutative property, minus 19 for the 1's and 10's which
are cake, minus 8 more if you know your doubles, minus 7 more if you
can count by 5s...that only leaves 21 facts to memorize. Learn the 9
trick and you're down to only 15. Only 15 facts to learn at age 15,
so that you can do your job well and earn money to save up for
a car or a Wii or whatever...what teen wouldn't be able to pull that


At the bank today I found a quarter in my purse. I showed it to Hannah and said "Do you want me to hold this for you so that you can spend it at the grocery store?" Pointing to the candy machines in the corner, she said "No. I'm going to go waste it over there." The tellers thought that was extra cute and gave her more suckers than she'll be able to eat in a week. Ainsley appropriated most of them.

I'm wondering where she got the idea that it was "wasting" money to do that. We try to have quarters on us when we go out where we know there will be quarter machines and have never labeled it wasting. Strange.... but oh so funny.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The largest known star.

If you are interested in the solar system, check out this link. It shows you the relative size of different planets on up to the largest known star.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

One reason I raise my own animals and produce...

In our society, growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can—and will—overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world—we change ourselves. ~ Jules Dervaes ~

Getting ready for baby: Home edition.

I’ve done some rearranging in preparation for the baby. Stuff that will hopefully make life easier for me with three.

The bookshelves are know a ‘book nook’. I turned part of the couch around so that I could sit comfortably with the girls to read with them, put down a blanket to warm things up, put Ainsley’s board books in baskets, and made Hannah’s bookshelves more welcoming. There is already a marked difference in how willing I am to read with them (I can go for an hour or more now instead of a break after ten-minutes because my pregnant body is uncomfortable.) and how engrossed they stay (if I’m reading a book that only one is interested in, the other will sit on the floor and read another book until I’m done). Our reading has gone from an hour and a bit every day to several hours every day.

We’ve also redone the toy area in the living room. Before it was just a big pile of toys that was pushed back to the wall every night. Not good for the adults contentment and they were pulled over the entire floor by mid-morning as girls looked for fun toys. We went to a Target and got these wire ‘box’ shelves. They were fun to put together and make it so easy to keep the toys more organized. We got each of the girls a few boxes for basic – very basic – organization. We weren’t surprised when horses and ponies filled up one of each of the girls boxes.

The only big thing left to do is the carpeted kitchen – we need to replace the carpet with paneling. I’ve threatened Matt with a pregnant wife doing it all by herself if it’s not done by my due date. “But it would look awful”. Exactly, bucko. Exactly. But I refuse to have a carpeted kitchen with two littles and an infant.

Different ways of learning.

I was reading this post on one of my favorite blogs and really enjoyed it.

It's been obvious to me since Ainsley was only a few months old that my two girls are very different in their learning styles. They may be young, but the differences are clear.

Using the two classifications in the post above, Hannah is clearly a story-teller. Our day is filled with stories, singing and dancing. Toys are merely props in her stories. Every person or toy in the room is likely to get roped into the story in some way. The stories can be elaborate ones that go on for months or quick, short ones done in a few minutes. Car rides are filled with requests for "Diego stories" and bedtimes are a chance for Daddy/Daughter bonding over daddy's stories. Her imagination is amazing and seems to be growing by leaps and bounds as she gets older. I noticed the other day for the first time that she incorporates what she is learning into her stories to more fully incorporate the knowledge. It's fascinating to watch.

Picture below: Hannah introducing one of her 'old' horses, Female, to her newest horse, Flowerboy (Breyer's War Admiral - how the mighty have fallen. She wanted a horse to name Flowergirl, but his anatomy didn't make the name seem right, hence Flowerboy.). At this exact moment he'd told Female that he was a race horse and Female had said, in a rather snotty tone, "You're kind of small for a race horse aren't you?". He was responding with "Oh, REALLY? Well you don't have a TAIL!" Which made Female start to run away to cry and he went after her to say he was sorry. Funny stuff. And very similar to something that had happened in Hannah's own little world a few weeks back.

Ainsley is an engineer type. Since she was a few months old and conciously grasping, she's been grasping at anything and everything within reach. We'd gotten rid of most of our toys after Hannah since she'd had no interest in them. Now we're replenishing our toys. Easy shape puzzles, magnadoodles, stacking toys, ball and hammer toys, noisy electronic toys, push along toys, marble toys, she loves them all. It's equally fascinating watching Ainsley take something she learned after hours of play with her toys and use it in a "real-life" situation as it is watching Hannah work out emotional situations in her own life using her horses.

Ainsley playing with a puzzle we had for Hannah as a baby that Hannah still, to this day, has no interest in.

They are similar in a few ways, places where they cross the divide. Both are voracious readers and unstoppable dancers. (Ainsley dances constantly. Any music, from Hannah humming to a cell-phone ringing, gets her moving.) Also, one of Ainsley's favorite types of toys are baby dolls. She carries them around, nurses them, potties them, cuddles them, feeds them. Hannah's forays into the "engineering" side are timid but increasing. I'll post soon about her experience with Ainsley's rainbow stacking toy. Also, she's really enjoying horse and unicorn puzzles that I've gotten for her and she has been playing with the dominoes a lot lately, using their colors or numbers to arrange them, or just making interesting designs with them. One of Hannah's favorite pasttimes is going through my patterns and fabrics and picking out something for me to make for her. Trips to the fabric store are filled with her touching different fabrics and wondering out loud if "this would be a pretty dress".

It would be nice to have all of our children be the same "type" of learner, so that I could just use the same strategies, but these children are definitely different in their learning styles.

Hannah using all of the My Little Ponies to tell a story.

Yummy waffles.

As I said, we taste tested a waffle recipe the other day and it was yummy. Not only was it yummy, waffles are easy for little girls to make.

Hannah quickly learned the safety rules of waffle making and set about learning the filling rules of waffle makers. It took a few ... days. We're still tweaking.

What shape is this?

Hannah's been into shapes for about a week. Out of the blue you'll get asked what shape something is. And then something else and something else and something else. Then she'll twist her straw around making different shapes and checking with you on their name. Or toothpicks become shapes. Or yarn, or her body.

I gave up on this one. What shape is this?


It's been so snowy here that the girls and I have been home-bound. Last night Matt came in from feeding and asked if we wanted to go get pizza. Of course we did.


"Mother, why does the stapler have a smiley face on it?"

"Does it?"

"So it does." Followed by an explanation, demonstration of turning the smiley face upside down, and much stapler play to test mother's knowledge.


Yesterday one of the books Hannah and I read was her Mythical Creatures book. She was fascinated with the unicorn and pegasus stories as always, but yesterday Fafner the Dragon caught her eye. She asked me to read it several times and then said "I don't understand, Mother. Why did Fafner kill his daddy?" "Because his daddy had a lot of money and jewels and Fafner wanted them." Pretty heavy stuff for a three and a half year old. We talked about it a bit more and then she moved on to the pegasus.

That night when Matt walked in the door she ran up to him. "Daddy, I am never, ever going to kill you for your money." Matt, without missing a beat: "Well thank you, sweetheart. I appreciate that."

He did ask me later when we were alone what that was all about.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Overheard last night.

Matt was trying to sleep, Hannah was trying to get him to tell her stories - it's how she's been falling asleep the last few weeks.

To be fair, his story-telling-on-the-fly ability has been getting steadily better (it far exceeds mine), but last night he was almost asleep.

Matt: There was a little fairy girl who had such pretty earrings. She was a magic fairy with very strange powers - her body could come apart and then come back together. When she tried to show off her earrings, she shook her head and her ears flew off. But not just her ears. Her nose flew off, her eyes flew off, her arms and legs and toes flew off. (Meanwhile I'm snickering in my pillow. He is sooooo tired.)

Hannah interrupts him: Daddy, this story is odd.

I'm getting better at not laughing out loud when she says funny things. I didn't succeed last night.

Big Think

Touted as the "YouTube for Intellectuals". I haven't had the time to really check it out yet. If you do, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Question of the day -

How do mermaids go potty?


Capturing a day.

Not long after I stumbled across this blog, I became transfixed with the idea of documenting our day with pictures. Where she can have up 15 pictures or more of what they did in a *morning*, I thought I'd be lucky to get one or two each day.

So I started taking pictures and I've found out that we actually do more than I thought. I started putting my camera in my purse and taking it with me everywhere and getting really fun pictures. I've also started really appreciating the small things with my girls. It's hard not to when you live it, record it, and then relive it when you download and blog those pictures.

Here's one recent afternoon with the girls:

Ainsley went down for a nap, so Hannah and I went in the craft room and she stayed busy while I worked on our meal plan for the month across the desk from her.

Painting a unicorn she asked me to draw for her. I'm not a good artist, and this girl stretches my talents.

Swirling the colors. We've just barely, in the last month, started painting, so Hannah's still enthralled with the way colors mix together. I started putting paints in egg cartons because otherwise her paint pots look like this. It really is pretty.

After painting, she moved on to coloring.

And then dressing her princesses.

Then writing letters with her alphabet stickers. For the first time, she asked me to help her write a word with her stickers. I would tell her what letter to use and she would find it and put it on the page in order. That got boring pretty quickly.

Then Ainsley got up and joined in on the painting.

Painting on the cardboard got boring in a hurry.

As soon as Ainsley picks up a paintbrush, I start the bathtub.

Hannah started playing with her Sleeping Beauty doll.

While Ainsley started playing with one of her favorite toys - LOTS of plastic animals frolicking on a habitat map. We were going to get rid of this map and the 12 animals it came with since Hannah's never had any interest in them. Ainsley, however, has loved them so much that Santa brought her a bunch more animals to play with on it.

Then Hannah found the dominoes and for the first time started matching them up and noticing that they didn't just look different, but that there were different amounts of dots on the blocks. It's a lot more fun when your child points these things out to *you* instead of the other way around. Ainsley was dancing on the dominoes.

Later that night was more fun:

Dinner with Daddy.

Playing while the grown-ups clean.

Playing spider solitaire with daddy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Library Thing.

Have you seen this site? Apparently most bloggers have and I'm slow on the uptake.

I was surfing blogs a few weeks ago and ran across it. I've been trying to figure out how to get one of those cool "What we're reading" lists on my sidebar, and saw one similar to what I wanted on someone else's blog, powered by 'Library Thing'. So I went to check it out.

My brother suggested that I catalog my bookshelf so that it would be easier to compare our bookshelves, recommend books, etc, but the task was just too daunting. I'm a raging bibliophile and I was just not up for typing out each book's name, author, etc. Enter Library Thing.

This amazing site lets you catalog up to 200 books for free. I've entered 193 and am far from done, so I am seriously getting a membership, I like it that much.

To catalog a book, you simply enter the ISBN number, add a tag if you want to organize them, click enter, and it goes into your 'library'. So easy, and so rewarding to an anal list-maker like myself.

I still have to enter all of my cookbooks, most of my kids' books, and all of my young adult books which will likely raise me past the 400 book mark. Yikes.

I ended up using an Amazon widget for my book list since I'm kind of a dud at computer stuff and couldn't figure out how to make my Library Thing widget show "Currently Reading" books.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A full day.

But no pictures.

This baby has decided to do the same thing that Ainsley did at the same point in my pregnancy with her - ride so low that I can barely move. It wasn't until 2:30 this afternoon that I was able to walk without pain. However, if the pattern follows Ainsley, this won't last. Crossing my fingers.

So the first hour of the day was playing in bed, the next few hours were spent reading on the couch with the girls, then watching Howdy Town - a movie my dad sent Hannah that is guaranteed to get even a paralyzed person up and moving to get out of the room. Then a My Little Pony movie.

Then we updated our Netflix list to include more My Little Pony movies and found the entire "A Very Minty Christmas" on YouTube.

Then we made vinegar and salt fries and orange chocolate chip scones. Delicious, and both were easy for the girls to help with.

Both girls actually went down for a nap - a rare but appreciated occurence around here - as did I.

Now it is somehow 9 pm and time for a bath.

A slow day, but a full day. A good day.


"Mother, can I wear this?" - holding up her ballet leotard

"Of course. It's yours. You don't have to ask."

"Yay! I love doing things I want to do."

And I have yet another blog...

Besides my family bare-bones, mostly pictures blog, and my Napping House "this is our life" blog, I've started up a blog that's mostly about my own personal interests. Local food, raising our animals, gardening, etc. I tried posting topics like those in this blog, but they just didn't fit, they made it too scattered.

So come visit my new blog, give me advice, let me know what you think!

I need a name for the blog. It's simply 'Farming' right now. I haven't had the mental prowess lately to come up with anything clever. If you have any ideas, throw them out there!

Squeezing the baby out of her.

My little one is only 15 months old. That means that she'll be 17 months old, max, when this new baby comes. That seems so young compared to her sister who was 2 1/2 years old when Ainsley joined our family.

I've only got five to nine more weeks with my baby girl before she's not my "baby" anymore. I'm trying to squeeze every last bit of it out of her while I can. Granted, the new baby will spend the first little bit simply nursing, sleeping, and cuddling, so Ainsley will have those few weeks, but it still seems like so little to me.

So while I'm trying to notice and appreciate my baby, she's trying to grow up. Here she is trying to nurse her dolly...

and insisting that her doll go potty with her.

This EC business has worked out really well for us. Hannah was a "graduate" (out of diapers - reliable at getting herself to the potty or telling us she needed to go) at eighteen months, and it looks like Ainsley will be there at least by the time the baby is born. It will be wonderful if she is because I would only have one baby in diapers at a time. We haven't pushed it - that's more than a bit counter-productive for EC - so if she's still in diapers when the baby comes, I won't be stressed about it... just very happy if she's done!

It's a strange mixture of feelings for a mom - to want to stop your babe from growing up, but to be so excited to watch the "next" thing they do.