Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daybook for Sunday, June 27

Outside my window... still light out, although it is 8:30 and the girls have been in bed for an hour now. Two nights ago, the mockingbirds were going nuts outside out windows... they make this short, sharp noise, over and over, and it is really annoying. Caroline got up out of bed a few times complaining about them. They were actually sitting on the phone wire right outside her room. When I went out there to try to scare them away, I realized why they were there: Nice Buddy, the neighbor's cat (not to be confused with Mean Buddy) was out there, too. The mockingbirds hate cats and they scold and swoop down at them, actually pecking them on the back! Most cats run away, but not Nice Buddy. He was casually making his rounds, which is why the birds stayed so long outside Caroline's window!

I am thinking... about working on some more homeschool planning this evening.

I am wondering... if this diet is really going to result in a flatter belly. So far, I don't think so, although I have lost eight pounds and feel better due to that. But I still look like I could possibly be about 3-4 months pregnant (and wish that random people wouldn't say such stupid things! I would NEVER assume somebody was pregnant if it only looked like they were slightly "showing").

I am praying... for patience and peacefulness and that my children would stop arguing with each other over everything. Also that Caroline's swim lessons go well next week.

I am thankful... that we have a trip to the beach coming up in August!

I am hearing... the new Tonic album. Yes, still. It has just been continuously playing since I last filled out this spot in the daybook. ;) Although I did have a random urge to put in the King Crimson CD a few days ago... but I just couldn't take out the Tonic disc. I listened to The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin on Youtube a few days ago, though. And the kittens riding the Roomba. I heard that over and over last night, ha ha:

Just be glad I typically post in the evenings... at least reading that I am listening to the same CD over and over is better than reading about hearing my kids arguing, which is what I would be typing here if it was daytime, most likely. ;)

Learning at home... Chris found a turtle in the yard, so the girls had fun watching him hide and then come out of his shell and walk around a bit. Lots of blueberry-picking going on, too. Baby birds in the nest in the fig tree... well, they were there, but the nest has been very quiet and we haven't seen the mother bird since before the eggs hatched... so, not really wanting to climb up there and check it out.

From the kitchen... still diet food, although I am "cheating" a bit and making foods that are not officially on the diet for dinner some nights. I am just trying to eat a smaller portion than usual, around 400 calories, and including the mono unsaturated fatty acid. My new favorite discovery (which is on the diet): apple pie smoothie! Chris is retching as he reads this...
I'm planning to make granola bars with the girls tomorrow, and hummus too. Chick peas are soaking right now.

I am reading... not much. I need to get back into book-reading, or at least read my back issues of my LLL publications (online).

To live the liturgical year... we made Sacred and Immaculate Heart suncatchers last week. I made up our saint magnets for both July and August... lots of saints coming up in the next couple months!

One of my favorite things... this mug:

Okay, maybe that is lame... but I really, really love this mug. Not only because it has my initial on it, but because it is extra-tall. It is more fun to drink tea when I drink it from this mug. All my other mugs are going neglected because I will just rinse this one out a bit and reuse it, ha ha. Thanks to Chris's aunt and uncle for giving it to me for Christmas! Hmm, think I will have to go make some tea in a minute...

I am creating... some manipulatives/Montessori-type activities. I call them "work activities" for some reason... I think I made that up, but with a few years of educanese crammed into my brain during college, it may be a real term I picked up somewhere. I am working on some simple magnetic puzzles for Cecilia. I'll post pictures when I finish. My plan is to have a shelf for each of the girls and put out different work activities each week. There will be a specific time when they are directed to their work activities... probably while I am doing dishes, or getting breakfast ready...

Around the house... I tossed out all the nasty leftovers from the fridge. Good thing, too, since I hadn't done that since maybe the beginning of June...

A few plans for the rest of the week... swimming laps at the indoor pool for me on Tuesday and Thursday evening, dentist for Caroline and me on Thursday, possibly a picnic dinner at a park one evening, and maybe going to the fountains downtown or the lake to swim... it is so hot! I'm also considering doing a cookout for July 4th and seeing if my parents and brothers want to come...

A picture thought I am sharing... I haven't uploaded any recently... weren't the kittens on the Roomba satisfying enough???

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary Suncatchers

In the Catholic Church, June is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart on June 11, but since the whole month is devoted to the Sacred Heart, I thought we would make these suncatchers that I found the idea for here. The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the following day. Since this is a craft that Cecilia was bale to do a lot of, I decided that we could make a suncatcher for each heart - so Caroline chose to make the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Cecilia made the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I cut out the center of four paper plates and then glued a piece of wax paper over the holes on two of the plates. The girls each got one, and they used paintbrushes to apply glue mixed with just a couple drops of water to the wax paper. They started by making a heart shape and covering it with red tissue paper squares and then painting glue around the rest of the area. Cecilia lost interest partway through doing the background on hers, so I finished it up for her alongside Caroline.

After they had covered the area with tissue paper completely, we brushed on a few layers of glue on top of it all to seal it up. Then we glued the other paper plates on top to complete the frame. Caroline scrunched up bits of tissue paper to make the flowers for the Immaculate Heart, and I twisted up some strips of black tissue paper to make the crown for the Sacred Heart. We covered these with glue as well. Then, once dry, Caroline wanted to outline her heart with glitter glue.

Caroline wrote "Hole" on each of them. No, she has not become a Courtney Love fan... she thinks it says "Holy," ha ha!

First Day of Summer!

Okay, so it has felt like summer in Georgia for nearly a month now, but yesterday marked the actual first day of the new season. Here's how the first day of summer looked around here:

Barefoot sandbox time ~ we added some water to the previously dry sand!

Our Garden ~ Squash, tomatoes, and blueberries getting ripe!

Baby Birds ~ in our fig tree (just a few figs have ripened so far)

Whatever these flowers are called... beginning to bloom

Our New Patio

Making Sand Pies

Making Homemade Ice Cream!

One cup of frozen strawberries...

one cup of frozen banana slices...

pulse until coarsely chopped, then add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract...

add milk gradually, about 1/4 cup in all, to get desired consistency...

Enjoy!!! It was soooo delicious!

The girls sprinkled a few mini chocolate chips on theirs...

Welcome to Summer Celebration!!
(Caroline said, "This isn't really a celebration - we'd get to eat lots and lots more ice cream if it was!" Hmmph, I guess Cecilia can just eat it all next time!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Random Bits

So, Cecilia is learning to use the potty. She has had a few days of diaper-free time and has done really well overall, even going to the potty unprompted when she needs to pee... except for when she pooped on the carpet the other day... ha, it was really not as bad as it sounds! She looked pretty bewildered at what had happened!

Here are the girls playing their "guitars." I cut them out of cardboard and drew strings on, and then they decorated them. Cecilia, who seems to have some musical talent (goodness knows she didn't get it from me! ;), says, "Where's my pick? The pick is for strumming."

Caroline continues to teach herself to write. After the Tonic concert, she wrote this message on a piece of orange construction paper. She also wrote the following "grocery list" about two weeks later. Can you read what anything says in either picture? (You can click on either photo to enlarge)

Today I drove past a handwritten sign on a phone pole in a neighborhood... on it was written "Carport Sale." I have never heard it referred to that way... it is either a Yard Sale or a Garage Sale, regardless of whether the sale is actually held in the yard or if you have a garage or not. I guess these people must have wanted to ensure that there was no false advertising about their sale. Maybe they would see it as lying if they'd said "Garage Sale" since they apparently have a carport instead of a garage, and that is an incredibly important, relevant distinction... Strange.

Most recent picture of the girls together.. oh, if only they always cuddled up and smiled like they were best buddies!

Here are a couple pictures from Father's Day. The girls helped me make a tape measure card, which we adapted by adding an accordion-folded paper full of recent photos.

Daddy took the girls swimming at the indoor pool while I swam laps, and he read them some books... that was our Father's Day around here. Hope all the dads out there had a nice day!

Okay, so here's our News of the Weird... this is what I found in the hens' nesting box this morning. On the left, you see a normal chicken egg. On the right... well, I assume one of our birds laid that, but I would rather think that a smallish bird broke into their home and laid its own egg in their nest. I hope that one of them isn't sick and that this is just some kind of quirky fluke! Caroline wanted to crack it open immediately to see what it looks like. Eh... maybe we'll do that, but I am a little afraid to find out what weirdness may be inside...

First day of summer pictures are coming soon!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest, Er, Most Inappropriate Things

Does anyone else have kids who just babble all day long, just to hear themselves talk, asking nonsensical questions and expecting them to be answered? Things like, "Mommy, does your head like your mouth?" "Cecilia, are you a cheese?"

Caroline has always played with language... making up random rhyming words (once when she was three or four, she was saying "sh1tty" because it rhymed with something... "itty bitty," I think it was). She also just makes up words, or she uses real words in places where they don't belong, thinking it is wildly funny, and causing her to, for instance, proclaim that 40 year old rock stars are "yum yum." If somebody was to overhear this, I am sure they'd be appalled, thinking that we are actually saying these things and she is picking up on them... Or how about when she makes up her own abbreviations for words, like when she was once asking for crackers at snack time by saying, "I want some more crack, please."

There is a kids' song called Apples and Bananas, and for each verse, you change the vowels... so it starts as "I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas," and then it becomes "I like to it, it, it ipples and baninis," and so on. So Caroline and Cecilia like to sing, "I like to nip, nip, nip, nipples and baninis."

I hope I'm not the only one whose kids say such innocent yet horrifying things...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Year Olds and Water!

A great combination!

I took Cecilia with me to Huntsville to help my sister-in-law around the house and with my nephews for a few days last week. Baby John was born six and a half weeks premature, so even though his birthday was back in April, he was about the age of a one and a half week old baby at the time of my visit when you adjust for the prematurity factor. He is tiny and precious, newborn-baby sized! Unfortunately, I realize now that I uploaded my photos, that I didn't take any photos of him!! That'd be because, as a newborn baby, he was almost always nursing or sleeping! You will have to take my word for it that he's precious!

So, Caroline got to visit Gran and Grandad in Nashville for a few days so that I could actually try to be of useful help. All mothers of new babies, especially when they also have older children, deserve to have as much help around the house as they can get so that they can concentrate on resting, getting nursing figured out, and not worrying about much beyond the very basics.

So, the only pictures I took were of Cecilia and cousin Andrew in water-related situations (they also took a bath, but I took no photos of that). They enjoyed splashing in the backyard kiddie pool. Ahh, a fine example of parallel play in the above photo. ;) So very Two of them... and the interest in the pouring of water as well...

We took the kids to these fountains on my last day there. Cecilia was a bit shy at first... she is rarely scared of anything, but she is often intimidated for a few minutes before plunging (literally!) in headfirst! She is a bit cautious, but certainly not overly so. Andrew seemed to be the same way - sizing up the situation for a minute and then proceeding to get right in the middle of it and get completely soaked! Neither of these kids minds getting splashed in the face!

Water fountain, anyone?

a cute expression from Andrew

They had a great time!! We now have fountains in our very own downtown area... we will have to go sometime soon!!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 07, 2010

Tonic Concert!

Last Saturday, June 5th, we went back to Atlanta for a free event called SummerFest held in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood near Midtown. It is an arts festival with food, kids' activities, and music. I wanted to go especially because Tonic was performing at 6:30 that evening! I also hoped that we'd get there in time for some of the children's activities... but I knew Cecilia should have a late nap before we went, to prepare for the late night she'd have. So we didn't leave from my parents' house until close to 4:00.

Now, this post is really long, particularly because of all the photos, so just warning you... If you come to this blog to see photos of the kids, those are all at the beginning here and then again at the end, with a few shots in the middle somewhere. If you want to see pictures of Tonic performing, those are in the middle, so you can skip there if you don't want to read all the details of our trip. If you come to this blog to read parenting or Catholicism-related stuff, then sorry, this post doesn't cover either - unless taking your children to a concert would be a parenting topic...

Anyway, we arrived a bit too late for the kids' activities. They were having activities like face painting, games, crafts, etc. until 6, and when we got there at 5:40, everything was pretty much over. But they had a great playground that the girls enjoyed!

I had read that parking for this event would be limited, and it would also cost $10. So we decided to take MARTA, the city's light rail/subway system. We parked at the station near my parents' house and then rode down to the Midtown station. This took longer than usual, because not only do trains run less frequently on weekends, but we also had to get off the train we were on because it was going to be taken "out of service," whatever that means, and then board the next train that came. Since it was after 5:00 when we got to Midtown, we started walking rather than waiting for a bus, which we could transfer on to. And as we walked, no VaHi-bound buses passed us, so we walked the whole way. It was, according to directions online, a 1.5 mile walk. It sure felt farther than that! Caroline was a trooper and walked the whole way with no problem, and Cecilia rode in the backpack on Chris's back. The cost of MARTA round-trip passes was $13.50 total (Cecilia was free, and Caroline just barely qualified as being tall enough to need a pass), so it was worthwhile, even with the long walk. And the kids think riding MARTA is great fun!

Caroline was grumpy because there were only two big kid swings, both occupied, and Cecilia was swinging in a toddler swing. But then Caroline got involved in pushing Cecilia, and surprisingly, Cecilia thought this was funny and didn't scream at her to stop.

See the smile of happiness?

I had dressed the girls for the weather - nasty hot and humid - (what else would one expect of an outdoor event in Atlanta in June?). So they were wearing clothes that were as cool as possible. Kids don't seem to notice the heat much... they didn't really complain!

This playground ride was pretty cool - it's basically a big wheel that spins around. Chris and another dad pushed it while several kids rode around and around.

Then it was time to head to the stage area. It was a bit after 6:00, and we planned to eat dinner before the show. I had brought in two turkey/cheese/avocado wraps in my purse (so I could try to stay on the diet), and Chris bought some gyros from a food stand ($15 for two things - ha!). While he waited for the food, I made my way in to the stage area to scope out a spot. It looked like it was a baseball field, surrounded by a fence, with the stage set up on one side. Once Chris had the food, we walked to the back, where there were a bunch of tables and not nearly enough chairs. Caroline had to make a trip to the bathroom at this time, so Chris had the pleasure of taking her to the porta-potties while Cecilia and I started eating.

Just had to include this because of the facial expression - it looks like she doesn't like her wrap, but she ate it all... just a random face, I guess!

See? She likes it!

Cecilia sat on the table to eat (that Red Stripe beer is not hers ;). Caroline and Chris came back and had some gyros (Caroline ate most of a chicken one along with part of a wrap, and Chris ate the actual gyro - the chicken one was called a "chicken pita").

Caroline ate a bunch, so we didn't regret buying two items!

This was the girls' first real concert - they have been to a few small, local outdoor concerts in our community, but nothing this loud and with a "famous" band. My first concert was the New Kids on the Block when I was 11 - my poor dad had to take me to that one! ;) Chris actually went to a Grass Roots concert when he was really young, maybe Caroline's age. so, I guess I'm not too crazy to take my children to a rock concert before they are even school-aged!

The concert started just after we finished eating. Chris pulled out the camcorder, which was new at Christmas, to try it out shooting in this environment. It did a nice job - videos embedded further on. After two or three songs, Cecilia and I made our way to the front so I could take pictures. Chris looked through some later on the preview screen on the back of the camera and said I still had my photography skills... I used to take photos for my high school yearbook, and I always enjoyed taking photos of events... back then, I always took my camera with me to Atlanta Braves games and Florida Gators games to take pictures. Now that things are digital, wow - I don't have to worry about "wasting" shots like I did with film. So, there are many, many photos below... as usual, click on any to see them larger.

Emerson Hart, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Tonic. This is the first photo I shot once I got to the front and was pleased to get a good picture immediately!

I love the trees in the background... they made a nice backdrop!

Dan Lavery, Tonic's bass guitarist

And Jeff Russo, Tonic's lead guitarist

He is probably thinking, "That lady is getting really obnoxious with all the flash photography!" Ha ha.

Emerson has a captivating stage presence... he smiles and makes eye contact with people in the audience. He looks genuinely happy to be doing what he is doing! In a smaller venue such as this one, that makes it even better and more personalized... not like in a huge arena where there is a massive sea of thousands of people.

They did this at the beginning of several songs, I assume to make sure they were in sync with each other... maybe somebody who knows more about guitar-playing would know for sure!

Cecilia lasted for several songs up in the front - she just cuddled up to me while I held her in one arm and the camera in the other hand. After awhile, she wanted to nurse, so we went back to the tables. Add "at a Tonic concert" to my list of interesting places in which I have nursed! Then Caroline wanted to go up front with me, and Cecilia stayed in the back with Chris. Caroline only lasted two songs in the front - I convinced her to stay for one more after that, but it was too loud for her!

More Emerson photos...

And now for some videos, all shot by Chris (I don't know how to make them fit correctly in this column, but you can watch them in Youtube without the right side being cut off!):

Here's my favorite song off the new album:

Back at the table... Caroline found some pieces of shoelaces on the ground, and she and Cecilia were playing with them for some reason...

Standing on the table and looking at the stage

Here is what the stage looked like from the tables... Summerfest sponsored by a radio station, alcohol, and more alcohol. I guess the radio station put up lots of money for this, because everything was free, and they had to pay the bands somehow!

The encore - singing "Irish," a loud, fun tune to end on!

Caroline singing "Irish" is hilarious... she basically just jabbers because she can't tell what the words are. She was singing, "Didgety-dah, didgety-dah," after hearing it, and then later said that it was "Zippety-dah, zippety-dah," as in Zippety-Doo-Dah (a song she does not know, by the way)... listen in the video above and see if you think her interpretation is accurate! ;)

The show was great - Tonic really rocked it!!

I cannot remember the whole setlist, but here is what I do remember (not necessarily in order):
Open Up Your Eyes
You Wanted More
I Want it to Be
Bigger Than Both
Release Me
Soldier's Daughter
If You Could Only See
Precious Little Bird

Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac cover)

I know there were a few more that I am leaving off that list...

After the show, I acted like I did when I was 12 and begged to stay after to try to get autographs (my dad would always humor me and arrive at sporting events two hours ahead of time and then stay by the players' parking lot afterwards so we could take pictures and try to get autographs!)... ha ha. We went around to the back of the stage, where some police barricade fences were set up around the band's bus. Caroline was excited that the drummer, who is not technically in the band but is touring with them (since you kind of need a drummer to perform!), came over and handed her a drumstick from the show, and then he autographed it. And what a beating this drumstick had taken!!! It is very splintered... Caroline was calling it "my guitar stick," ha ha!

When Emerson came out, he signed Caroline's drumstick too, while I told him how much I loved his solo album... it was the first CD I had actually bought in probably ten years. I discovered it earlier this year because I was listening to "If You Could Only See," Tonic's most well-known hit, on Youtube, and I discovered his solo work there and liked it so much that I bought the album. From there, I learned that Tonic was back together and was releasing a new album and going on tour... which gets us to this point, how we ended up coming to the concert!

Me still babbling about liking the album yet forgetting to ask him if his house survived the Nashville floods...

Caroline telling Emerson that when she gets a guitar, he can sign it for her, and me trying to explain to Jeff that I have the new Tonic album at home, autographed already, which is why I was only getting Emerson's solo album autographed (since he walked up while Emerson was signing it and pointed to it, joking, "Who's that guy?").

Emerson handing back the autographed album and saying thanks again for the compliments on the album... and Chris was actually videotaping all of this while he was also taking these photos, amazingly... not that anyone else wants to listen to it after I have written out the play-by-play here!

Group photo - how nice they are to pose for pictures with people!

I am realizing that Cecilia's diaper was making a grand appearance here... oops.

Walking back to the Midtown MARTA station after the show... it was after 9:00 at this point. Late, late, late night for the littles! If you click on that previous group photo, you can see on Jeff's watch that it was 8:30 at that point... so, knowing we had this mile and a half walk ahead of us, we got our moment with the band quickly before we started to head back. It was quite a process to get there and back, but I think it was worth it for the great show!

Preparing to enter the station... the last time I'd ridden MARTA, they still used tokens. Now you buy a card, and you scan it on the blue circle for the gate to open and let you through... the directions say to "tap" your card, which was extremely confusing to me...

Caroline on the other side

Yes, this is a mouse in the station, right near the tracks. You would not believe the fit these two women were having over it... literally shrieking at full volume every time they say it, and looking deathly afraid as they attempted to sneak past the mouse from fifteen feet away... yelling to other random people when the mouse got within ten feet from them... Caroline and I went up to get a closer look (and a photo!).

Riding the train home... once again, we had to get off the Doraville train (sorry, I mean the yellow, er, the GOLD line) and then board a North Springs (red line) train.

After we got home, my mom asked us, "So, how was the Poison concert?" When I looked at her funny (especially since I really don't like Poison very much!), she said, "Oh, not Poison... Toxic. How was the Toxic concert?" I had to tell her, "No, Mom, not Toxic... TONIC." Ha ha!!

The next morning with Gramma, after being up until 10:30 the night before... concert hangover. Actually, Caroline was also suffering from cat allergies, we think...

Lazy Dutch, you didn't walk 3 miles and stay up until 10:30 the night before!

Here's Caroline holding up her autographed drumstick... ELH would be Emerson, and the top signature is Kevin Murphy, the drummer, although I cannot decipher what it says... I assume he signed his name, ha ha!

So, a fun time was had by all, although we experienced post-late night fallout with the kids. They usually go to bed between 7 and 8 most nights! It is fun to do something like this every once in awhile, though! And now when they are older, they can have a much cooler answer than I do to the question, "What's the first concert you attended?" ;-P