Monday, June 14, 2010

Do Caterpillars Sleep?

Well, we're not really sure if it's technically "sleep", but a caterpillar does take a long rest in his chrysalis. We did a caterpillar project from the book, Explore Spring! Yes, it's still spring, even though the temperature was in the high 80s yesterday.

E and I colored pictures of butterflies and caterpillars that we copied from the book. Baby m colored everything, including his arms and the table, and he graciously helped me finish coloring my butterfly. The good news is that he does get excited when I ask him if he wants to do a "project"! When we were finished, we cut the pictures into strips and glued them to construction paper. Then we folded them "like a fan" (according to E) so that you could see only one or the other. I had hoped that she would do the cutting herself, but she was nervous about getting the lines straight enough. I probably shouldn't have done mine first.

I couldn't get E interested in the butterfly life cycle...she was much to intent on getting her pink and purple wings done the way she wanted them. But on the plus side, I was reminded about this cool type technique, which you can also use with cutouts from magazines and such. I had forgotten totally how neat they look!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teaching Fractions

Not sure how it started, but E is very interested in math. She always wants me to quiz her on addition, and she uses her fingers find the answer. We haven't gotten past ten, for obvious reasons (ie not enough fingers), but I have been impressed with her level of understanding!

She asked me a while ago, what "half" means...okay, well, you try it! I stumbled around talking about cutting a pie into equal halves, wait, I mean parts, and you have the same amount on this side and that side...finally she lost interest. I really didn't think she was listening, but the next day before nap time she said, "I only ate HALF of my snack. I'm saving the rest for later." Oh, I thought, she gets it! Then she handed me her bowl...
Yes, she ate HALF of each M&M and each Cheez-it. Now it's your turn to judge whether I'm a terrible teacher, or a terrible mother for letting her eat any fraction of that!

Monday, April 5, 2010


My babies have been especially funny lately...E talks non-stop and Baby m is struggling to keep up. Today he greeted me at school with a big hug and stuttered, "I love...I love..." I looked down at his precious little face and his teachers had that "awwww" expression as he struggled to find the words to express himself. "I love...I love...I love....Daddy." Oh, well. I already knew I was a distant second.

Spring has brought some new vocabulary to the house, as E picks "daffadillos" from the garden and watches the "red robin orange breast" look for worms. And by the way, did you know that "Wedgies are bad. They can kill you, even."

In addition to her unintended humor, E has discovered knock-knock jokes and she can deliver a few pretty well. Her favorite happens to be the same as mine...have you heard the one about the "Impterumpting cow?" Moo. Oh, and her second favorite one is a bit over my head, I guess...the punchline is "Poopypants underwear." Get it?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Why is Everybody So Mad at Jay Leno?

Regardless of your opinion on the quality of their shows, the whole Jay/Conan fiasco has been difficult to watch. What an all-out mess. I heard a quote from Jay on the radio yesterday that said something like, "I don't know why everybody is so angry. They offered me my job back. Who wouldn't take it?" Good point, Jay. A job is on the table, big bucks, fame and fortune, who wouldn't grab it?

So I found myself contemplating why I, too, was angry at Jay. I mean, he may be a perfectly nice guy, probably won't be meeting him any time soon...why am I really, really mad? It's because I, like most of middle Americans these days, am fearful for my own position. I am darned lucky...I get a paycheck every two weeks, and I supposedly have job security. But hey, "in this economy," who knows. Jeez-Louise, poor Conan and his entourage pulled up stakes and MOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Now what? Granted, he's not going to have trouble putting food on the table, but Conan represents us. We the people, terrified of a pink slip, counting on stability. Jay is apparently the one holding the cards, the one we're all afraid is going to sneak up and pull the world out from under us.

Be aware, Jay, that your audience will be changing. Many of your faithful will leave you as soon as Conan is allowed to show his face again on TV. He is one of us, you no longer are.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Cheese Queens of Okemos

Among the many activities planned for the Clark family visit was one I've been dreaming of since reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." We, humble suburban family in middle America, made cheese. In the kitchen. And it was good.

Barbara Kingsolver describes it as "easy", and multiple websites said that it would take a half hour, but I just couldn't believe that mozzarella could be produced from milk so effortlessly! Until I read up about it in preparation for the event, I didn't understand that there were quite a few soft cheeses that can be made without aging and without expensive equipment. I did need to buy "rennet" (we went with the veggie kind) and citric acid, which (truth be told) pushed the price of our batch up to about $14 dollars, but if I make it even once again, it will be totally worth it financially speaking.

The brave girls went to work in the kitchen, stirring and testing the temperature so as not to overcook the milk. The menfolk stayed a safe distance away, in the living room, watching the Jets accomplish the impossible! I can't blame them for not getting involved, considering the incredible football game and the prospect of having to acknowledge what curds really are. But for real, this cheese thing was nothing short of miraculous. Check out the curds and whey!

Honest and true, if we had been a little less nervous, we could have done it in about 25 minutes. And after N pulled and shaped and pulled again, it looked an awful lot like spectacular cheese. And with a little salt, it was freakin' awesome. S and I feasted on little cheese slabs on tomatoes with olive oil, and we were very happy. So happy, in fact, that we endeavored to take the next step and turn the leftover whey into ricotta.

Now, I had read that this was not so easy, and more than one website said, "Don't try it, it doesn't work." But after much heating and stirring and straining through cheesecloth, we ended up with about three tablespoons of darned good ricotta. If you paid us by the hour, that cheese was worth about $36 per pound. But let me tell you this....there is nothing, I mean nothing, like a bowl of pasta covered in your own stinkin' kitchen cheese. Seriously.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Little Star (with no video attached)

A few weeks before Christmas, M and I heard a rumor that there was going to be some sort of holiday presentation after E's Sunday school class. We asked E about it, but couldn't get anything out of her. We went to church thinking we'd probably hear a pre-school rendition of "Silent Night", and then we'd eat cookies. No big deal, right?

Wrong. It was a whole production based on a story about little pine trees in the forest. One of the teachers read the script and the kids carried birds, bunnies, trees, and stars glued onto sticks. First the little trees stepped up and "grew" on command, and two of them were picked to be Christmas trees. The one that was left looked sad (also on command) and the forest creatures tried to cheer it up. The bunnies brought berries and the birds brought feathers...they decorated the tree and everyone was happy. Then, the stars came out.

E marched up into place with the other "stars-on-a-stick" and held hers high in the sky above the tree. It was so sweet, and I was really wishing we had brought a camera. Then all the stars moved away except little star took its place right in the top branches, and guess who it was! AHHHH! How could she not have told us that she was THE star? My little baby girl star, on top of the tree. Another little girl star walked up and tried to take her place, and E did the only thing she could...whacked her with the stick. I have NEVER wanted a video camera more than at that moment.

I never really understood the "ooohhing" and "ahhhhing" that parents do at every little thing their kid accomplishes...that is until I saw my daughter perform in her first play, a star in every sense of the word.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr