July 24, 2014

Montessori Moments: clank cans

I stumbled across a brilliantly easy idea: clank cans.  Over at Making Learning Fun there is a post about using old oatmeal canisters and canning jar lids to create an interactive storybook review.  Intrigued, we finished up our oatmeal within days and then created a clank can based on the book "Brown Bear Brown Bear" by Eric Carle.

I printed out the pictures from the site: a title page and smaller pictures of all the characters in the story.  The title page was glued, then taped onto the canister, and a slit cut into the lid.  I used packaging tape to affix each character picture onto the canning lids and then we were good to go!

As I read the story, the boys placed the appropriate character into the can as we came to that animal's page.  They caught on quickly and soon Bear was retelling the story page by page while Ace was placing the character lids sequentially into the can.  We keep it on our center shelves and both boys gravitate to it- independently reading through the story and clanking the lids into the can.  Such fun!  And an easy, tangible way to improve on an already awesome storybook.  I am on to contemplating the next clank can we will create as soon as we finish up this latest container of oatmeal.  

July 18, 2014

I just returned from a date at Tire Warehouse

Today is Friday- I should finally get around to mentioning that the boys were not here for the week; they are with their sets of grandparents and assuredly living life to it's fullest.  This has happened before (oh that's a fun link, isn't it?  I'm so chipper!), and before and before... enough that I am getting better at knowing what to do without kids.  

Oh please!  I do other things too, but a gin and tonic with mint IS quite refreshing to partake of throughout the week.  And I can muddle that mint whenever I want to.  Champ and I had friends over 2 nights ago and the gig didn't even start until 8pm.  Say what?  A gathering at 8pm on a worknight?!  We are getting wild up here in Vermont with the boys away.  Calling everything from replacing old tires, to grabbing lunch, to thrift shopping "a date" because well, it felt like it!

Have you figured it out?  That paragraph is basically a big giant thank you to Grammy and Pappy, Nona and Pa.  We owe some thank yous for this party too, while I'm at it.

Those are pool noodle light sabers, and it's Ace not Bear (just sayin'). More on Bear's Star Wars and Smores parties to come later this week.  In the meantime, a few simple housekeeping items:

-a few weeks ago, I mentioned changes around here.  They are headed here soon-the kid free week has helped to propel the project forward

I've lamented over how to photograph my twiny, twin niece and nephew while holding them... it doesn't work.  Well over Bear's birthday season, there were practically fights over who would hold the babies.  During one particular instance these two won 

and so I still made my hands useful by grabbing the camera.


My next goal is to get photos of them in lovely compositions and without the camera shaking from my excitement.  Wait!  While that seems a bit of an outlandish request, maybe it won't be.  We are all headed down to Virginia this weekend for cousin J's wedding (yay J and B!!!).  A happy wedding, some southern landscapes, and a sprinkling of twins? Seems like the perfect excuse to take my camera along.

What good excuses do you have for the upcoming weekend?

July 11, 2014

Birthday gift ideas for a six year old

                                            time has flown

Birthdays and presents just go together.  They need not be extravagant, or provided in bulk, but on the day of the year when each hour is all about YOU, presents should totally be involved.  At least, that's how we do it in my household and to date, no one has complained about it.

This year I felt a little out of sorts with Bear's gifts, but thankfully in the 11th hour everything pulled together.  Nothing too wild or out there, but a few token gifts picked out with love and greatly enjoyed by Bear.  In fact, he seems so smitten with this year's treasures that I'm going to share them here- just in case there is another frazzled birthday shopper out there who is desperate for some quick, yet winner winner chicken dinner ideas!  

~ our lake is looking like a marina these days, so it was high tide- I mean "time"- to get Bear a toy version of the sailboat he so loves to cruise our waters with. 
~ playing pretend and dressing up are still favorites here.  Bear is working toward knighthood, so he got a shield for his birthday to help with his journey.
~ his interest in knights stems from the many fairy tales we've been reading.  These castle/fairy themed shadow puppets are gorgeous and handy for bringing those tales to life.
~ Each day brings new questions of how? why? where? and The (New) Way Things Work" by David Macaulay is my favorite resource for finding the answers-both with it's text and impressive illustrations. 
~ How do knights go to bed?  Night Knight by Owen Davey answers that question in an imaginative way.  The birthday boy has been tucked in to bed with it all week long
~ and then there are always Legos.  Bear picked out his own set for this year's birthday.

This weekend Bear tops off his birthday season with one final party.  Seriously, to be six again!  

Happy Friday!  Remember to fight brave and fair this weekend.


July 08, 2014


Today Bear turns six.  As is our style, we've been celebrating, and we will continue to celebrate in the days to come since birthdays are very big deals no matter what age one is turning.

He's got serious plans for today: play with Mama and Ace, eat "unhealthy" things, go on a hike, and meet up with Papa after work for a birthday dinner out.  So very simple, the birthday wishes of a little boy.  I am charmed by his requests.

Last night I tiptoed into the boy's room with my camera after they were asleep.  My point and shoot simply set to auto, but the photo rendered is more important to me than any other picture I have, or will shoot, this month.  My boy on the eve of turning six: I am just about flabbergasted by it all.

Happy Happy birthday, Bear!!!

June 30, 2014

Keeping us busy

(the groom photographing his brand new bride)

Weddings + June.  Not much else tops that for love, now does it?  Add in a strolling minstrel (the groom made the boys each a ukulele out of a cigar box.  B is super talented-and thoughtful- like that!), a waterfall infused ceremony, and an adorable wedding outtake - suddenly it's the pinnacle all June weddings must forever more strive towards.  Congratulations again B and T!!!!!!!!

Now in it's 3rd year of family tradition, we spend the day in a state of amusement park haze.  Devouring rides and funnel cake equally, we wandered around from section to section, gathering up family memories as we went.  This time around my parents were able to join us for a bit, so the boys got to experience first hand my genetically acquired love of park rides.      
the diving show is a perpetual favorite of ours

On the cheap, mini vacations are rockin' fabulous when time is of the essence and money need remain in your wallet.  We took a mini tour upstate, thanks to:
1) Champ's prescheduled meeting in the capital
 2) the calendar smiling upon us and providing 3 days -THREE WHOLE DAYS-of family time
3) my husband's talent for scoring the best silent auction loot (free memberships to places=yay!)

                     {Vermont History Museum}
(for a total of 4 dollars!!! the boys and I spent a very interesting hour learning about our state's history while Champ had his meeting in another part of town.)

{Comfort Inn, St Johnsbury Vermont}

I have to count the hotel as part of our tour: we picked it especially because it had an indoor pool and an actually nourishing, hot full breakfast.  Well worth spending the bulk amount of our vacation cash here!

{Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium}


A natural history museum with a Victorian era vibe.  The amount of eclectic, unique items fit into a relatively small space is mind blowing: that pattern up there is made completely out of butterflies and beetles.  The planetarium show was equally good!

{Quechee Gorge}

Quechee Gorge is familiar ground to us.  Anytime we are returning home from the north, we pause here to stretch our legs and eat Gifford's ice cream at the snack stand.  Oh and to walk and explore the gorge, as well...

{Billings Farm}

Full of cows, sheep, chickens, horses and lots and lots of history. The day we went, the boys made wool balls and explored the farm house.  It is an open, friendly place; much accepting of children (and adults!) who want to be side by side with the animals.

{Long Trail Brewery}

  It wasn't even a question of if we were going to stop or not

In a way, over those 3 days, it felt like we were the ones on a honeymoon... a clear sign of a successful trip.