Saturday, April 30, 2011

Overheard.4 - Please

This has happened twice now, once to me and once to Vinny.

Bella wanted to climb up on the counter to see what I was doing in the kitchen and I said no.  She continued to ask, even adding 'please' to her request and I ignored her for a while.  Eventually I had enough and I said, "Bella, I said no"

Her Response (said with "yeah I know" attitude): "I said please"

So you did, my you did. Astute observation.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Overheard.Big Words - O

January 8th, 2011
O is for Opulent

Secret Project Reveal

Thanks to those of you who gave me opinions on which pattern to try out here.  A little background as to why I went all ninja crafty this past week.  Ballard designs had these curtains that I was just in love with:

But, at $180 for EACH PANEL, there was just no way it was ever happening.  Not that they aren't worth it...that's a lot of embroidery and a lot of work that goes into each one, I just couldn't justify it.  I had a bunch of sheer curtains, and a bright idea that I could maybe make them.  Not embroidering...I'm not that crazy.  So I thought...what about a Sharpie?  What would happen if I drew a pattern on curtains?  Would it be passable?

So the first thing to decide on was the pattern.  I've been in love with this quatrefoil shape for a long time:
But the pattern on the curtains that were the inspiration were actually this shape:
Hence my post asking for opinions on which pattern to use.  The overwhelming response was for the quatrefoil, so I listened to the masses. 

(BTW, I made both of these shapes in photoshop, feel free to use them)  I printed out my quatrefoil (4 inches across) and cut it out.   

I transferred the pattern to an index card and cut it out there so the pattern would be a bit more sturdy given how many times I was going to have to use it.  (You can see it in green there at the edge of the table)  In retrospect, 5 or 6 inches for the pattern wouldn't have been a bad thing and would have cut a lot of time off.  

Then I used painters tape to tape the edges of the curtain down so it wouldn't wiggle a bunch while I was tracing around the inside and outside of the pattern. (with a piece of paper under it to stop bleed through)  At first I taped the pattern down too, but after a while I was practiced enough to just hold it in place.  Heck by the end I could almost freehand it.  OK, that's totally an exaggeration, but there were a TON of these things.  By about quatrefoil number 20 or so I had a realization as to why Vinny usually gives me a  dubious glance when I explain to him what new project I have in mind.

It ended up using 4 markers worth of ink. I probably could have eeked by with just 3, but 4 was nice and safe.  We had a minor snafu when marker 3 turned out to be a bit more blue and not so much teal compared to the first two, so I had to take a breather until I could go back to the store to hunt down more markers with the teal gene.  At the beginning of each marker the ink spread a lot further and toward the end of the life of a marker the lines were a lot crisper. I tried to switch between using newer markers and older ones sporadically so that the difference wasn't so noticeable.

I lucked out in that the curtains I started with had stripes, so those helped me keep my patterns straight vertically.  If your curtains don't have those, you may have to mark some chalk stripes or something to keep yourself in line.  But make sure it will come off easily, because I currently have no idea how the marker will hold up in the washing machine.

Since I brought it up...washing.  I hear if you let the marker set in the sun for at least 72 hours that it holds up pretty well, but I'm not ready to tempt fate anytime soon.  If you try it, let me know how it goes.

At the end of the first night of tracing, (yes there were multiple nights, I estimate each pattern inside and outside took about 2 minutes to do by the end) I noticed the paper that was catching marker overage under the curtain looked pretty cool.

So when I came back the next time, I used a nicer paper because I might decide to use it either as matting for some art or as art itself in a later project.  Yay for happy accidents.

And well...there was a not-so-happy accident as well.  Bella decided she wanted to help a little and added some extra while Vinny wasn't looking (I was running an errand to the drug store).  We'll call it character and try not to let it happen on the next one ever again.

So at the end, here it is, the final product:

I'm thinking of putting it in the laundry room at the new house, and using the overflow marker paper for some laundry room art.

What do you think?  Wanna guess how many quatrefoils are there? Is it passable?  Should I do the same thing to the other curtain I have like this one? Try the other pattern?  Try a bigger pattern? Toss it all out and burn it and never do another craft again? Let me know if you have questions or anything...I love comments :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Real Montessori - Color Tablets

In the Montessori program (more about how we got started here), colors are introduced using color tablets.  You start by teaching the primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and then move out to the secondary colors, and then you can move on to teaching different shades of each color.

If we were in a school, we'd buy gorgeous color tablets set into wood rectangles.  But those are pretty expensive.  Luckily for us, the curriculum showed us how to make our own!

We went to Michaels and got a big pack of embroidery floss holders.  As an added bonus they came on the great ring which is nice for organization.  We'll definitely use all of these by the time we've made 2 of each main color and then all the shades too.  I originally thought they felt a bit small for the task, but after using them, they're just right.

For the actual colors I hit up the local Home Depot paint department and got paint chips for each color I wanted.  Then I went berserk with a square punch that I got from Creative Memories a long time ago when I was scrapbooking 24/7.

I started out making the squares before I got the floss holders (aka floss bobbins), so I made them too big.  The right square ended up being 1".

Then I hot glued the squares to the floss bobbins, and let the learning commence. :)

There is a typical way of presenting colors, which I did with Bella, though she doesn't seem to do great with the straight up presentation.  So we also play a game with them.  Right now we're still just working with the primary colors, so we have 6 tablets, 2 of each of the 3 primary colors.  We turn them all over so she can't see what color is underneath and then she picks them up, names the color and gets to put it back in the bowl.

Hopefully then we can work up to a matching memory game too.

Bella seems to like messing with me though, which is why we're still on the primary colors.  I've seen her do the colors correctly so many times, and then sometimes for no reason at all she decides to call the red tablet, "pink." Always "pink."  Drives me nuts.  Oh well, that's real life :)

Here is Bella demonstrating (and you get to see all of her goof-off glory):

She does sometimes get very focused on a task and gets into the "Montessori zone," as I've heard it called.  But with Daddy watching and Mommy filming, it just wasn't happening.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Yeah, I did a little gardening...In retrospect gloves might have been advisable. Look what nice rich soil we have though!

Overheard.Big Words - N

January 8th, 2011
N is for Notorious

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. Saturday we spent the morning running around doing errands and using coupons that were getting ready to expire. (I helped the easter bunny out at CVS and didn't pay a dime thanks to some rewards bucks) Those things always manage to expire before I get to use them, so I was very happy about that trip.  Then, while Vinny and Bella were napping I worked on my super secret project a little more.  It should be ready to reveal later this week, for good or bad. While a dozen eggs were boiling away for sacrifice to the dye cups, I put together the sweet potato casserole for Sunday lunch and Vinny and Bella ran around the house hiding and finding plastic eggs.  Then we all (nervously) plopped eggs into the dye and made Easter eggs.  I don't know what it is, but Easter just isn't Easter until you smell the vinegar.  Vinny took pictures so I'm actually in a photo for once!

Crazy enough, this moment wasn't posed

Sunday Bella woke up and got dressed (very grudgingly) in her Easter dress and went down to see what the Easter bunny brought

She was miserable in the dress and pleaded to get out so we switched her into a t-shirt and jeans (which are probably better for candy eating anyway.

Peeps, an Easter staple

Then Bella realized that there was chocolate inside the gold bunny.
Double fisting, the Easter edition
This was what happened when I told her she could only have a few bites then she needed to eat breakfast.

Then she found out we were having chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

We had a great time with Vinny's side of the family for lunch Sunday and Bella had a ball playing with her cousins.  Monday, I made deviled eggs with the dozen dyed eggs.  Vinny proclaimed them eggcellent (HAR HAR) but said the ones that had more color to them were a bit twangy from the vinegar.  Overall, a very successful and fulfilling weekend!

I hope you had a great tradition filled Easter weekend as well!  What is your favorite Easter tradition?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fencing (and yes swords may be involved at some point)

I blame Young House Love for my newfound irrational confidence that I can do anything and build anything around the house that I want to.  But while Vinny quietly curses them from afar, I've decided that the new fence in our new house should be built by my own hands. (countdown: 55 days til we can say it's our much as renting a house makes it 'our' house at least)

And yes, I could settle for the standard pickets available at any lawn and garden store.  Heck, I could probably just go buy pre-made 6 foot fencing panels in my preferred fence height and slap those bad boys on and call it a day.

Alas, my creativity and design sense (or non-sense, depending on the day) is insisting on a very specific look.  I haven't told Vinny about my vision yet.  Mainly because he's still a bit green from me suggesting we build the fence ourselves, and that was when he thought we were doing pre-made panels.

Apparently living in New England has left me with very specific desires for my new fence.

Picket vs. Baluster: prior to my investigation, if it was straight up and down on a fence and it wan't in the ground, a piece of wood was a picket.  NOT SO!  Who knew?  Apparently pickets are wider than they are deep.
So, what is a Baluster?  Well, think about the rail going up your stairs or around your deck, those vertical things that keep you from falling through are balusters.  They can be round, or square, or just about any design you can think of.  (I like the square ones)

Tops of the Balusters: most balusters that I've found are sold for deck building purposes, so they're either flat across or mitered like this:

Obviously that would look weird on a fence, I want my tops to look like little pyramids.  So here, now we're getting closer:

Of course, that's from a fencing company's website...and you can guess that it isn't located in NC. I emailed them to see if we could get materials from them, but no dice.  I'll probably have to go by a local lumber yard when we get there and hope they have them.  If not, I'll have to miter the tops of each picket.  It will take more time, but I think it's worth it.

And then to add a touch more difficulty, I want a scalloped top line.  The curve can technically go either way:

I like the curve going down, like the white fence above.  I'm thinking 3 ft at the lowest point, 3.5 at the highest, something like that.

The whole picture is pretty common with aluminum and vinyl fences, but not with wood for some reason.  So why do we want wood instead of vinyl or aluminum?  Well, price for one thing.  But we also want to paint the fence the same color as the molding on the house so that it feels more like an extension and less like a random outcropping.

I've been asking myself for a few days why I can't find an example of exactly what I want, and isn't that sort of ominous?  I mean, if professional fence companies don't do it, maybe I'm missing something.  I've never even built a fence before, this is all still theoretical!  And then, on the way to daycare, there it was...the fence I'd been dreaming of.  

It's almost even the right color and I'm loving the plantings!

So for now, I'm still scheming and hopefully I can convince Vinny that this really is do-able.  I have no delusions that it will all happen in a single weekend or anything.  

And I think I'm asking for a kreg jig for my birthday (What the heck is a kreg jig? See here) if the base wood shop doesn't have one.  Yep, that's fuel my new obsession further, Camp Lejeune has a wood shop, so I don't have to worry about having every tool known to man (or woman).  Once the fence is done, my next woodshop project is either bench seating for the breakfast nook or forward facing book shelves for Bella's room (like this, though it will probably end up look more like this).  Luckily there are lots of plans out there for those projects.

Have you ever built a fence?  Or modified plans building something else to make it your own?

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Ugly Pumpkin Roll

In preparation for the move, I've been quite stubborn about what groceries I buy.  I've decided that we're going to eat as much of the goods we have as possible.  So tonight I went to the pantry and found a can of pumpkin.  I bought it back in November, when I had intended on making a pumpkin roll for Thanksgiving and gave up out of laziness.  I was feeling inspired, so I looked up the recipe I had originally intended on making, Kristen Chenowith's pumpkin roll.  The recipe I used is here in case you want it.

The rolling of the cake did not go as smoothly as I'd hoped, with more tearing than I expected.  But it was my first time making a rolled up anything, so I'm not terribly insulted.  The icing part that goes in the middle is the yummiest thing I've ever had.  I had to stop myself from eating the entire bowl.

Bella (and Vinny) enjoyed licking the spoons after I finished each step, and ultimately, despite it's ugliness, it was really yummy.  Bella is now walking around the house saying, "I want more pumpkin bread...more pumpkin bread please" and Pippen is licking a plate.  Now I have to decide what to do with the other half of the bag of confectionery sugar...and the other half of the can of pumpkin...coincidence? I think not. (YUM!)

Have you made anything tastebud inspiring lately?

Overheard.Big Words - M

January 8th, 2011
M is for Monopoly

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Secret Project needs opinions

Ok, I have a secret project up my sleeve.  And it involves a pattern.  But I have two patterns I have to choose from.  So I need some opinions.  Hopefully you can choose without asking too many questions.

Option A: The Quatrefoil

Option B: The Firenze

So which do you like better?

EDIT: I realize the fact that I inverted the black and white on the second one could be polarizing, so here it is in the same color scheme:

EDIT: This project is FINISHED!  See the final results here

Why I love the Backyardigans 2 - You'll never get the key!

In this episode of the Backyardigans, called Race to the Tower of Power, there are two super villains, Pablo and Tyrone  the penguin and the moose and two super heroes, Uniqua and Austin the pink thing and the kangaroo, and they're in a race to get to the Tower of Power (duh) to get the 'key to the world.'  I kludged together some clips so you have some background:

And now for how it emerged through Bella:

It worked out pretty nicely because we're trying to get her to say the "K" sound, so fun time turned into learning time. :)  And yes, she's once again pants-less.  I swear it doesn't really happen that often!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Military move, the next step

With power of attorney in hand (along with pretty much everything from the safe: marriage license, social security cards, birth certificates, orders, and passports for good measure), I headed back down to the Naval Station at Newport today.  4 hours later and I've managed to check these things off my to-do list:

- I got a reserve spousal ID (still have to update them to active in a few months)
- I got myself and Bella set up as Vinny's dependents
- I updated Vinny's page 2 (still not exactly sure what it is, but it's updated)
- Bella and I went to a moving class and got that a step further along
- We got new lieutenant insignia for Vinny's uniforms
- We got vehicle decals for both my and Vinny's car

And we also managed to drop off donations at Savers and the Barrington library.  I'm looking for my super navy wife badge, but I've misplaced it. Now I'm planning on sitting on the couch for a bit and relaxing for a little bit before the dinner rush starts.


After almost 2 months of battling a respiratory infection, Pippen was finally well enough to have his manhood removed, be neutered.

I have a sneaking suspicion that he's just planning his revenge.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Real Montessori - Pouring water

We're using a Montessori curriculum with Bella at home (more about that here).  Lots of Montessori activities are very useful things that a child needs to learn, like how to pour themselves a glass of water from a pitcher.  But the idea of putting a glass pitcher and an empty glass on a shelf and and allowing Bella to take it down, fill the pitcher with water and pour it into the glass (even after some instruction) made me a little green around the gills.  So we have started easing into this activity a little at a time.

When Bella is thirsty, or around snack times, I'll pull down the dishpan along with the empty pitcher and her glass (and a towel).  I fill the pitcher a little over halfway.  Enough to overflow the glass if she pours too much (so she understands why she needs to pour carefully) but not enough to make a gigantic mess.  Then I let her have at it.  She usually pours the water back and forth between the pitcher and the glass (taking sips in between) until she has either drunk it all, or it's in the bottom of the dishpan.  Then we put the pitcher and the glass away and she uses the towel to mop up any water from the bottom of the dishpan.


If you're wondering, we got the little glasses as part of a set (here) and I love it because it's real glass, but it's also unbreakable.  And the little glass pitcher is actually a glass creamer we got from Target, which is the perfect size for her little hands.

How do you make the Montessori activities work better for your household?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CSI - Chalk Scene Incident

It is so gorgeous outside today.  Sunny, 63 degrees.  OK, so 63 might not sound like the perfect temperature, but in direct sun it feels a lot warmer.  Just when you're starting to say, 'maybe it's a little too hot,' a breeze comes along and cools you off.  Ahhhh, thank you spring!

I didn't know it was going to be this nice today, though it was obviously sunny.  So, when Bella did her entire sheet of words that start with the hard 'c' sound (YAY), I was inspired to grab the sidewalk chalk, bundle her up and trot her and Josie out to the front to color the driveway.  I quickly realized that the bundling wasn't entirely necessary.  While Bella drew random lines all over the driveway I got some weeding done and basked in the sunshine.  She was enthralled by the robins hopping in the yard, though unhappy that they wouldn't come to her when she called them.

Then I thought about showing Bella how to draw an outline of a person.  So she laid down and I traced around her and then we stood up and admired the result.  Then I laid down (Josie attempted to lay on  with me, but refused to be outlined so she got ousted from the project) and I helped Bella do my outline.  The result:

First: I was not entirely prepared for how much like a crime scene this appeared.  (That's probably not going to help us sell the house anytime soon - oops)  I'm hoping it rains soon.  In any case it should be interesting to see Vinny's reaction when he comes home this afternoon.

Second: Bella decided to embellish the drawings.  The pink is the original outline and what we drew in to make it look less like a crime scene.  The orange is her embellishment.  I honestly had no idea what she was going for.  When she started drawing around the mouth I thought maybe she was doing lips or lipstick.  Then she went for the hair, and the legs...and I was becoming more and more concerned.  It seriously looked like she was exorcising a demon....hmmmm.  (a close-up for emphasis)

Me (quite concerned at this point): Hey Bella, What are you drawing?
Bella: I'm making an Elmo!

Whew!  Put down the Bible and the holy water, she was just attempting to make herself look furry.

It was so nice I pulled out the beach chairs and we sat in the front driveway (trailer park style) and ate lunch.  Then I made a gallon of sweet ice tea to celebrate the clear indication that spring is actually on it's way here in the frozen north.  Can't wait to hit the park this afternoon!

30 seconds - Dancing

Last weekend we went to a surprise 40th birthday party for Vinny's cousin Eugene.  They had a DJ and face painting and of course tons of food.  Bella took a while to come out of her shell but she eventually got down with her bad little self.

And so did her cousin Lily.  How cute is she?

Good music is a definite must-have for a good party!  What else do you think is absolutely essential for an awesome party?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Overheard.Big Words - J

January 8th, 2011
J is for Jovial

All the pretty horses

Bella and I headed down to Windswept farms yesterday to take some pictures of my friend Ashley during a jumping lesson.  The horse's name was Mama...which confused Bella a little bit.

Bella did pretty well and was quite patient given that she is a 3 year old.  She got to pet a few different horses and was very happy, if a little cold.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bella's Beloved - Color Wonder

If you have kids, and have not yet discovered Color Wonder products...boy do I have a life changing experience coming for you.  This stuff is absolutely a must have if you cringe when your kids ask for markers or paint (which is totally me) and while I manage to let myself go and let her have the real stuff from time to time, Color Wonder paper and art supplies let me indulge her without needing medication.

The markers, finger paint, paintbrushes...all of it only colors on the paper!  GASP!  I know...I'll give you a minute to catch your breath.  So at the end of art time you have a relatively clean kid that a quick hand washing will return to pristine condition, a clean room (well, as clean as it was before you started), and a beautiful picture your kid can be proud of (hopefully).

Notice there that Bella is wearing a smock?  TOTALLY DIDN"T NEED IT!!!  It was there to make her feel like she was getting to make a mess...but shhh, that's a mommy secret.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bella's Beloved - Skippyjon Jones

Shortly after we got Pippen we discovered this little series about a siamese cat named skippyjon jones.  Basically, this cat thinks he is a chihuahua, not a cat because he has a big head and big ears.  Then he proceeds to get himself into all kinds of silly pretend situations where he saves the day.  We have 3 of the books pictured here.  

We don't have Mummy trouble.  And there are tons more in case grandparents are looking for good gifts (HINT HINT).  Bella just adores them.  And so far all of the ones we have gotten have come with a CD where the author reads the story.  Which is nice because there are a few places where he sings and it's awfully convenient and makes you look like super-mom (or dad) when you can sing the words properly.

Obviously, Pippen shares some resemblance to the main character, so we've been calling him Pippyjon jones, Mr. Fluffernutter, Mr. Kitten Britches, and a few other names Skippyjon gets called in the book.

What are your kids' favorite books?  Or what were your favorite books when you were a kid?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My funny family

On our recent trip to North Carolina to go house hunting, a few amusing things happened.  Pardon the complete and random disconnects between amusing snipits.

The first happened when we went out to eat at the mexican restaurant on Emerald Isle.  Fitting of a restaurant at the coast, there were tons of seafood options, which I was thrilled about.  So I order the fried talapia with burrito fixin's.  Well, what came out was an entire fish...deep fried.  Head...Scales, Fins, everything.  I was proud that I even bothered to try to eat it, but in the end it just wasn't working for me.  Vinny then decided to pick it up and play with it.  Bella and I have been giving one another 'fishy kisses' pretending to be fish, so Vinny suggested Bella give this fish a fishy kiss. *insert eye roll and deep sigh here*

And then of course he had to do it:

And he even managed to get Nanny on board:

So a few good laughs there, even though they were a bit gross.

Second random amusing thing: On the way back from picking up Joseph, Bella decided she wanted to brush his hair, so she ordered him to be her customer.  It was so cute I thought I should share:

Right off Emerald Isle there is a little shopping area with a Lowe's foods and a Lowes home improvement.  I don't know why, but this struck me as absolutely hilarious.  The double rainbow of Lowes...only better because there was food and home improvement projects.  We've taken to calling that shopping center the Loweses.

And if you don't know the whole double rainbow joke:

And last but not least: when I was going through my phone photos, I realized I had about 20 photos that look like this:

Where apparently Bella had stopped playing the game she borrowed my phone for and instead she decided to do a detailed photographic session with her shoe.

Love you guys...thanks for the laughs! 

What about you?  Has your family done anything funny recently?