Monday, March 31, 2008

Jimmer Teaches Chimpy

Sometimes Jimmer doesn't like to do penmanship just for the sake of practicing and improving. So I'm always trying to devise functional reasons for him to write (write a note to someone, make a sign, copy something funny, etc.). My efforts have paid off, and this morning he came up with his own reason to write--to teach his beloved Chimpy. First he helped Chimpy by using the hand-over-hand method to teach him to write both of their names. Then Jimmer conducted an art class--same method--to help Chimpy draw his self-portrait!Now on to the rest of our studies!

Sunday Breakfast

Ever since Mr. Merle served this up when we were all out to visit at Gramma's last May, the kids often request me to make the same breakfast: waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. So, this morning I set out with make this...and serve it to...Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Decorating our spring?

Okay, one of our Crape Myrtle (or as Joe now calls it, "Crate Myrtle") trees that we trim back every year in our front yard has been "decorated" by the kids like this for almost a week now. Since they do this frequently, I hardly notice it anymore and don't even think to take the "decorations" down. So, all who drive by our house can see our otherwise unlively tree--oftentimes with one or two kids in it! So far, whenever this has happened, we haven't been fined by our homeowners association. I will say that it is quite an attraction for other kids who come over to play. They want to climb the tree to use all the gear.If you can actually see what's in the picture, there's an arrow holder, a cut branch set up as a place to lean/sit, a crate...for whatever other gear they require at the time, 3 different ropes ('nough said), and a bucket to hoist other essentials from below.

Last year, our neighbors returned to America after being gone for a couple of years. After they were back it took me a few weeks before I realized that we still had a kid's plastic chair, ropes, and a small table in their tree that, for the record, is very close to our shared property line!

Also for the record...
This neighbor's tree I just mentioned is the same tree our entire family climbed into for our Christmas photo a couple of years ago! Here's the shot.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Chin Ups and a Green Thumb?

The girls were at the doctor's office with Dad yesterday afternoon, and the boys spent time in the back yard doing chin ups on a tree branch. They were both successful... (Here's Mikey in blurred action.)...until Jimmer said he can't do one when I'm trying to take a picture of him. I suggested that he concentrate on what he's doing instead of thinking about the camera. He said, "I do concentrate, but it makes me turn my head." So, there you have it! I always thought (especially when studying in college) that concentrating tends to make one's eyes heavy, but for Jimmer it makes his head turn! Here is his struggle!After they did their chin ups, they peered over to the much neglected side yard and spotted a new, mammoth sticker plant. Being research minded like his dad, Mikey decided to get out the tape measure. Ack! 3 ft. 5 inches...and I didn't even TRY to grow the thing.
Why is it when I TRY to keep a NICE plant alive, I have much more trouble than the enormous weeds that are completely ignored? I've always joked that any plant that's still alive in our yard (or home for that matter) since we've lived here is simply a "volunteer."

I'm hoping our newly planted seedlings do as well this year in our garden. More on that later...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mary Kate's Recovery

Today Mary Kate went in for her follow up visit with her main surgeon. Since I started this blog just a couple of days ago--after she had her surgery one week ago--I'll fill in with the details first.

Mary Kate had surgery last week to remove a recurring lymphangioma (benign mass). Her first surgery was when she was 18 months old. Since the first mass removed was so large, it left her with a tightly-pulled-together incision and a subsequent LARGE scar. So this time, her main surgeon took out the half-dollar-sized mass regrowth and a pediatric plastic surgeon did a scar revision. Her main surgeon was pleased and estimated only a 10% chance of recurrence. In a nutshell, Mary Kate was an "O.R. Superstar!"

Here is a before picture of her scar, which was about 6 inches long and 1 inch at the widest area.
Here is a picture of her in the post-op room--downing her 2nd popsicle and amusing the staff with how well she was doing!
Here she was today before she went in for her apppointment. She was excited to see her incision. She's still rolling her shoulders forward and leaning forward slightly when she walks but claims she isn't uncomfortable!
Mary Kate just got back from the surgeon's office where she got her bandages removed and a good report. She's still on limited light activity, but will be able to take a shower next week. She will have to wait another month until she can ride her bike. She doesn't care to look at her incision much...probably because it's on her own body rather than on someone else's. I snapped this shot (I'll make it small for you queasy folks!) before I gauzed and wrapped her back up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Homemade Crown of Thorns Lenten Wreath

Again this year we made our Lenten wreath for our dining room table centerpiece. Our kids enjoyed how it was used interactively throughout Lent (by removing individual toothpicks after they did a good deed or act of kindness). We used it at dinnertime lighting the candles and discussing the daily readings. Here's a picture of it before we used it...

...and here's a picture of it now that Lent is over. The kids are now using it to melt the wax for making fingerprint cups...or flower petals, depending how you look at them.

Here's a link to make the lenten wreath.

UPDATE: I looked back at the link to make this wreath and found that it was a little vague, so I'm adding the directions with some notes to ensure your wreath turns out nicely!

Crown of Thorns--Lenten Wreath

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1-1/2 to 2 cups water (use strong tea or instant coffee for color).
40+ whole toothpicks

Combine flour and salt. Mix in enough water (I like to mix when the water is still warm) to make a stiff clay.

Divide dough into three equal pieces and roll each into long ropes (~24 inches each, 3/4-1 inch in diameter) and carefully braid them as snuggly as possible.
Form the braid into a circle (10-12 inches in diameter) to make the wreath. (This dough is quite forgiving, so you can squish, squeeze, and pat it until you get a uniform look you like.)

Take a candle and make indentations for six candles in the wreath.
Stick toothpicks into the wreath in every direction to represent the thorns.

Bake braid on parchment paper at 300 degrees for one hour or until dry. When done the thorns should be easily removed. Turn oven off and let it cool to avoid cracking. If not all the way dry, let braid air dry for 24-48 hours until rock hard.

NOTE: My wreaths have never been fully dry after baking, so after taking it out of the oven, I take a candle and ensure the indentations will still be a good fit. I also wiggle the toothpicks around, take them out, then replace them. Otherwise, they can be a little difficult for the children to pull out. One year we just had to break them off the wreath. I've also tried dipping the toothpicks in oil before sticking them in the wreath to bake. I didn't notice a big difference, but I kind of liked the effect of the little bit of oil around each of the piercing "thorns".

Here is a good site that explains the use of the wreath.

The color of the candles can be all purple (general color of the Lenten season), five purple and one pink (as is explained in the link above), four purple, one pink, and one red (to symbolize Good Friday). On Easter, we add a white pillar candle in the middle. It has also been mentioned on other sites that you can paint the wreath white for Easter and decorate it with flowers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here We Go!

My first blog posting. Here goes...
Since I've never been into scrap booking but use the computer regularly and enjoy documenting life with pictures, I figured I'd go ahead and give this a try. I admit I'm starting this blog for completely selfish reasons--to document life to help when my natural memory fades, and to encourage our children to start making productive contributions themselves (you know, to show grandparents their current projects)! As a bonus, I like the idea of sharing some of our daily life with family and friends who are too far away to keep in touch and get a true taste of our kids' personalities. At this stage they are just too entertaining at times to keep it all to ourselves! We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Deep Thoughts :: from the kids

Nov. 15, 2010 -- Because she's reading The King's Fifth (O'Dell) about conquistadores, Kathleen reminded me today that when listening to our Jim Weiss audio taped version of Story of the World (Bauer), Mary Kate used to think he was saying, "Come kiss the Doras." MK was probably around 6 at the time.

August 19, 2010 -- Slightly turned off that I (her mom)am proficient enough in Pig Latin, my daughter decided instead to speak with her twin brother in Turkey Irish. New one on me.

June 11, 2010 -- (after watching the western fights in a few episodes of Bonanza)
Mike: "Their cowboy hats always seem to fall off during their fighting. Then, whenever the guy goes to pick up his hat, he gets shot. They really shouldn't bother getting their hats back."

June 7, 2010 -- (Right after Mary Kate pulled out a tooth)
Mary Kate: "Wow, I've lost four teeth in the last month."
Mikey: "Are you sure you don't just have scurvy?"
The sibling love around here is simply palpable.

Feb. 3, 2010 -- While learning some English language idiosyncracies in his grammar and reading lesson, Jimmer asked, "Was this book made in China or something?"

Nov. 24, 2009--Jimmer: "I always have to wear my sweatshirt when my mom is cold."

Nov. 19, 2009 -- Jimmer: "After reading through a book about the brain, my 7 yo declared, "My brain is telling me I'm too hungry to do my math."

Nov. 7, 2009 -- Jimmer: Logic of my 7 yo son: "Now that I'm seven, are you going to have another baby?"
Me: "Whuh?"
Jimmer: "When I was six, we had six people in our family. Now I'm seven and think we should have another baby to make it seven."

Nov. 3, 2009 -- Jimmer: Home alone with 7 yo (3 others at piano) making paper pulp. His profound statement to me while we were bonding: "Have you noticed that I'm growing hair on my big toes now?" "I have some on my thighs also."

Oct. 13, 2009 -- Jimmer: Listening to her younger son read riddles to his siblings. He thinks he's the funniest person alive! "What does the crab use to call his mom? (His shell phone!) What does the corn chip say to his pal? (Should we go for a dip?)

Sept. 30, 2009 -- Jimmer: My younger son wanted to help take care of his ailing older brother by feeding him crackers one-by-one with the tongs.

Sept. 5, 2009 -- Jimmer: 6 yo son: "You know, unbrellas really don't hold you up very well."
Me: "Whuh?"
Jimmer: "I tried jumping off the side of the house with one. It really doesn't work...but I didn't break it."

Sept 4, 2009 -- Jimmer: Our 6 yo son has created his own excitement (mischief?) in doing math subraction problems. Instead of saying he's "borrowing" he tells himself that he's "robbing" from the other columns. The little bandit!

Aug. 28, 2009 -- Jimmer: Just heard my 6 yo son say to my 10 yo son: "You call me names. My strength you doubt. Pardon me while I knock you out!"

Aus, 12, 2009 -- Jimmer: Quote from my 6 yo son (quite seriously): "Prunes are for special occasions."

May 12, 2009 -- Jimmer: 4th time around -- when 2 vowels go walking, the first one does the, usually. So many "disobedient" words in the English language. My son calls them "naughty" words! If he only knew...

Feb. 16, 2009 -- Jimmer: Mom is thinking about the willpower it took to refrain from violently making gestures to stop her son's sword fight with his violin bow on stage yesterday.

Feb. 16, 2009 (Jim? Mike?) -- Mom is wondering how she missed a 12 oz. plastic margarine tub going through the wash. She found it in her son's cargo pocket.

Sept. 28, 2009 -- Kids: Our road trips have proven quite lucrative for our kids. In all the nat'l parks, gas stations, laundromat, and stores we frequented this time around, they found $25.33 + a pocket knife. It got embarrassing, though, when they put straws together to reach under a machine.

Nov. 11, 2009 -- Kathleen -- My daughter wants to use her brother's night vision goggles and stay up all night if necessary to see when the tooth fairy comes.

Nov. 2, 2009 -- Kathleen -- Just heard daughter from the breakfast table, "I just alphabetized all of my Halloween candy."

Oct. 30, 2009 -- Kathleen -- When I asked my daughter to make up a sentence with a predicate noun, she used her brother as an example: "Mikey is a gasbag."

Aug. 20, 2009 -- Mary Kate -- Quizzing my 8yo daughter on the skeleton.
Mom: "What's the longest bone in your body?"
MK: "Um..the one in my leg, um...oh, the thyroid?"

Aug. 14, 2009 -- MK -- When I asked my soon-to-be nine yo duaghter what she wants for her upcoming birthday she said, "A volcano cake with tropical flowers, a crank flashlight, a watch, and (drum roll please) a swim cap."

July 27, 2009 -- MK -- Daughter arriving home from a pool outing wth neighbors) "Mom, they had a Code Brown at the first pool, so we had to go to a different one after that."

July 25, 2009 -- one of the girls? -- Quote of the day from our house: "Hey, I just found a leopard-print purse with a hand grenade in it."

July 19, 2009 -- Mike -- First words of the day I heard as I walked into one of the kids' rooms: "Mom, don't talk to Kathleen--she's trying to hold her breath as long as she can."

Feb 22, 1009 -- (re: Mikey) Mom is hoping her son changes his mind about wanting a job someday that requires a G-suit.

Deep thoughts from our boys...

Since I just started blogging in March and because Jimmer is still so young, he is dominating the area of current funny quotes around here. I may add some of the other kids' quotes I've documented throughout the years in an archived posting sometime. Until then...Jimmer almost has a monopoly in this area!

Jimmer: "The only thing about malls I like is the smell of fresh giant pretzels. I really don't like anything else about them."

4/4/10 (During Easter Vigil Mass during the repetitive kneeling of the litany of the saints)
Jimmer: "If we kneel any more times, the spring in my Jack-in-the-box is going to break."

6/15/08 (World Economics)
Mikey: "Our ping pong table and Playmobil toys were made in Germany, we have a hat that was made in Vietnam, and other things made in different places. But most everything seems to be made in CHINA! Things CAN be made in America, but I guess we don't see much of that stuff."

Jimmer (after brushing his teeth with his spin brush...):
"Do you know what I just did, Mom?
Mom: "Brushed your teeth?"
Jimmer: "Yep, but I also washed my face...with my toothbrush. I just got some water on it and brushed all around."
Mom: "You washed your face with your toothbrush turned ON?"
Jimmer (with a very big, proud smile): "Yep!"

Jimmer (getting out of bed in the morning): "Mom, do you know how I fell asleep last night? I was like this (on his stomach) with this hand here (under his pillow) and this hand here (hanging down the side of his bed). I think having my arms like that turned my brain off, and I went to sleep!"

Jimmer (trying to take a nap on the living room couch): "Mom, do you want to know why I'm not sleeping yet?" (short pause) "I can't sleep because I can hear the clock ticking and it sounds like Home on the Range...and it makes my tummy hurt."

(I was explaining Mikey and Kathleen's English lesson to them one day with Jimmer sitting on the school room floor next to me sweetly rubbing my leg. We had been talking about using good picture words to describe something--comparing similar features to other things and pointing out unique characteristics.)
Jimmer: "Well, Mommy has whiskers on her legs, so that makes her unique."

Jimmer (to Gramma): “Some of your front hair looks like Elvis, but you’re a lady!”

Jimmer (steering the conversation as someone was talking about having to weed the garden): “Speaking of weeds, this is something NOT about weeds…”

Jimmer (as Gramma talked about comparing costs of goods—down to each “square" of toilet paper): “Well, I like the circled kind of toilet paper because then it just unrolls from the wall.”

Jimmer: “When you have a birthday, if you don’t have a cake, do you still turn an age?”

Mikey (looking at the speedometer): “Daddy, did you press the gas pedal down to 70?”

Jimmer: “I want to do something special without the big kids like the 6, 7, and 8 year olds. I want to do something special with some young year olds!”

Jimmer (Right after he saw me hurriedly slip on the same clothes as the evening before.): “Mom, you look like the same person you were yesterday.”

Jimmer: “When Kathleen and Mary Kate are older, they can go to bunco with you, Mom. And when Mikey and I are older, we can go to work with Dad. We won’t have our own rooms there, so we’ll just stay in Daddy’s room (office).”

Mom: “Jimmy, why were you being naughty?”
Jimmer: “Mom, my head was just making me do it, and I was just trying to make my head stop doing it.”

Jimmer (sticking one of his fingers deep into his eye socket): “Mommy, when I do this, it looks like you have four eyes and glasses on your forehead.”

Kids: “We’re going to do a Christmas play.”
Jimmer: “Yep, Mikey’s going to be the housekeeper, and I’m going to be the three wise men. I don’t know who the donkey is going to be.”

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Story Craft

As I'm trying to make sure all of our holidays (holy-days) are learned and remembered by our kids as holy, I've done some fun activities with them to help them remember the "reason for the season". Here's one Easter activity we've done. I did this with our kids when our oldest ones were 7 years old and our youngest child was 3. Since it focuses on Jesus passion and death, it seemed too brutal to have the kids concentrate on this when they were younger.

Fill an egg carton with plastic, colored eggs. Number the eggs 1-12 and fill the eggs accordingly:

Egg #1: 3 dimes – Judas was paid 30 coins for betraying Jesus.
Egg #2: a piece of bread – This represents the Last Supper.
Egg #3: a piece of red cloth – Jesus was dressed in scarlet robes and mocked.
Egg #4: a piece of stick – They placed a crown of thorns of Jesus’ head.
Egg #5: a piece of string – This represents the whip used to scourge Jesus.
Egg #6: pieces of toothpick glued into the shape of a cross – Jesus carried the cross.
Egg #7: 3 small nails – Jesus was nailed to the cross.
Egg #8: a strip of paper reading “INRI Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” – They nailed this inscription to the top of the cross.
Egg #9: a piece of sponge – They soaked a sponge in wine and tried to give it to Jesus while He was on the cross.
Egg #10: a toothpick with a red tip – They stuck a spear in Jesus’ side.
Egg # 11: a small rock or pebble – They rolled a rock in front of His Tomb.
Egg #12: empty – Jesus rose from the dead.

Resurrection Rolls & Cookies

Every Easter morning our kids look forward to making these really yummy rolls. The rolls ends up being empty tombs! How could it get any better--a meaningful AND yummy recipe! See the recipe here.

Another meaningful recipe to represent Easter is this one for Resurrection Cookies.