Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reading List

Since we have been lame and haven’t done anything creative or fun the past few weeks (other than lots and lots of unstructured play) I thought I would post our reading list.

We finally started going to story time at the library again – they took a break for the holidays, and... well, maybe I forgot to start going again. But we’re going now! We actually went to story time straight from pump class at the rec center (I went to the pump class, the kids played in the daycare). We’ll probably make it our Thursday routine – pump class, then story time. Going to the library every week keeps me from getting overdue fines. Ahem.

After story time we quickly picked out a few books. Usually I look up books before hand and have them reserved so I can avoid the kids area at the library (if the kids get over there, they usually don’t make it back to the car without a fuss). Since, as I’ve said, I’ve been kind of a chump about planning stuff, we braved the kids section after storytime, and the kids picked out some books.

Here are their picks:

Basically this book is just a bunch of pictures of things you might see in the city. It shows the parks, the buildings, the trains, the busses, the nightlife (the G rated version, of course), and other great colorful pictures. The artwork is childlike and joyful, and the main girl (a little curly redhead) can be seen in each picture. The words are simple. Each page has the inscription “Wow! City!” at the bottom of each page (replacing “city” with whatever is shown on the page – bus, train, people, lights, etc). After a while, Little E caught on and started “reading” the book, too. Both the babies loved it.


This book is about a little girl who has tried everything to fall asleep (warm milk, etc) and decides to count sheep, but the 108th sheep can’t jump high enough. The book is cute, but I think the concept was a little lost on Little E, who doesn’t really understand “counting sheep” – but maybe this book will be the thing that introduces that concept to him. We talked about it at the end, when all the sheep are gone (after the little girl wakes up) and he said, “Where are the sheep?” The illustrations are simple and black-and-white, with the numbers printed in a deep red. I probably enjoyed it more than the babies did. (Have you noticed that I call both my kids babies, even though Little E is almost 4? I just can’t help it! They are – and always will be – my babies)

This book was a simple counting one with flaps. Each page says “How many ___ do you see?” and then you count them, then you lift the flap and there are more groups of things (representing the same numbers) and it says something like “How many other groups of ___ can you count?” This one was a good one for Little E, because he likes to count, but doesn’t have a real concrete idea of what numbers actually represent. We’ll be working on that a little more in the coming months, probably using Anno’s Math books. (more about that later)


I heart Tommie dePaola. The first book I ever read that was illustrated by him was The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, which I believe my 4th grade teacher read to us, and then was on sale in the Scholastic Book sale thing they have in elementary schools, and my parents bought it for me. This book was only illustrated by dePaola, not written by him, but the words hold the same profoundness. I have always been enchanted by American Indian (is that the proper term?) traditions and stories. I find their way of life simple, beautiful, appreciative, and understanding. This book (I Love You, Sun) speaks to the tree hugger in me. I want my children to learn to appreciate the earth and all the beautiful creations of our Father in Heaven. This book does that for me.

Baby E loved this one. She basically loves books. She’s always asking me to read her books. Book after book after book. Part of me loves it. And then the part that needs to do the laundry and the dishes and go grocery shopping can’t wait for Vince to learn how to read so that he can read books to her some of the time! This is another flap book, with a cute little rhyme about things that baby likes to do. Simple, solid color illustrations for baby (even those Baby E is nearly 2... not babies, I have to keep reminding myself). The first page shows baby bouncing on mommy’s lap and says “Bouncy baby, bouncy lap” then under the flap it shows the baby clapping and says, “baby likes to clap clap clap.” The rest of the book follows suit with baby splashing, dancing, waving bye-bye, etc.

I don’t know what little girl didn’t read Misty of Chincoteague growing up. I loved those books. This book actually has a letter from Marguerite Henry (the author of) Misty in the front cover, because Susan Jeffers sent Marguerite signed copies of this book. Little E and Baby E liked the pictures of the ponies, but I think they didn’t really understand the story. It took me make to my Misty days and made me itch to go pick up those books again. I’m pretty sure I have Stormy: Misty’s Foal downstairs, but I think I checked Misty out from the library as a little girl. Perhaps I’ll read them to the E’s. We’ll see.

So there you have it. Our completely random book choices for this week. Next week I’ll try to be a little more cohesive. But first I’ve got to get my act together with planning themes. I found a really great new blog that I love. I will be posting more about that tomorrow!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Morning Devotional

I’ve mentioned before that we are Christian (more specifically, we are Latter Day Saints – or “Mormons) and this affects how we parent, and our curriculum.

One thing we do in our home is a morning devotional. It’s really short and simple right now, since our children are still so young. Right now we are following the LDS Primary themes and songs from the 2011 Sharing Time Outline. (it is also available in several other languages here)

We actually do the exact same thing for morning devotional every day for an entire month. Sing the same song, read the same scripture, and pray (of course, the prayer is different each day, but we pray each morning together).  

DSCN4434In January, we sang this song
And read this scripture:
“Banqueteai-vos com as palavras de Cristo; pois eis que as palavras de Cristo vos dirão
todas as coisas que deveis fazer” ( 2 Néfi 32:3 )
“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3)

Then we pray together. Sometimes I pray in Portuguese, sometimes I pray in English. Sometimes I help one of the kids pray, sometimes they both help!

DSCN4435For February, we are singing this song
And reading this scripture:
“Eis que esta é minha obra e minha glória: Levar a efeito a imortalidade e vida eterna
do homem” ( Moisés 1:39 ) “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)

And then, of course, we pray together. So far I’ve been praying a lot in Portuguese. I can’t say a whole lot, so the prayers are frequently very similar, with a little variation in sentence order. But I’m getting to where I’m comfortable “making stuff up” – at least when I pray. Heavenly Father knows all languages, so I’m sure that he understands my feeble attempts at Portuguese.


Sometimes we read stories from the Friend for story time (rarely at devotional – song, scripture, and prayer is about as much attention as I can get from my kids before they are clamoring for breakfast – yes, we usually do devotional before breakfast. It makes for a really great start to our day!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Calendars and Weather


Thanks to a friend who writes about her preschool activities on her blog, I made this calendar for us. We’re going to put birthdays and holidays on it eventually, but right now we have a little heart (it will be a shamrock for March, an Easter egg for April, a flower for May, etc) that moves along the days, we have a little church (igreja) on Sunday (because Little E knows that we go to Church on Sunday), and I made a bunch of “weather words” – faz sol (sunny), está ventendo (windy), nublado (cloudy), nevoso (snowy), chevoso (rainy), tempestuoso (stormy). Each morning we move the “Dia” heart (dia = day, and I meant to write “hoje” = today) to the next day, and then we stick on the “weather word(s)” for the day. As you can see, the day I took this picture it was windy. Today we put on “faz sol” and “nublado”- because it’s partly cloudy and I didn’t make a sticker for that. Maybe I’ll have to add that. Eventually I’ll also add the temperature (but we’ll probably start a new chart just for weather).

I’ll try to post a picture of our calendar each month. Eventually I’ll start putting up our monthly themes on the calendar... once I figure out what they are!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Little Photographers


Do you ever download your pictures from your camera to the computer and find several snapshots taken by amateur photographers on your camera? I’m constantly finding pictures of toes, the carpet, couches, toys (mostly on the floor), children’s fingers, my children, ME(!) ... you get the idea.

Half the time I wasn’t even aware that the kids were playing with the camera, which makes it that much more enjoyable to look through the pictures.

DSCN4382I think these pictures were taken while I was clipping fingernails. Obviously the ones of Little E were taken by Baby E (hey, she’s pretty good!) and the one of me and Baby were taken by Little E. Silly boy.




Saturday, February 12, 2011

Heart Attack

Thankfully not that kind.


This month we replaced the snowflakes on our window with hearts! I know it still looks kind of dreary (that day was pretty cloudy) but really it been pretty sunny. Cold, still, but sunny. And besides, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and we needed an appropriately themed activity.DSCN4439

DSCN4437Little E is mastering his cutting skills and cut a few of those hearts by himself (with a little help in the form of a line to cut along). Both the babies loved coloring the hearts. Even Baby E got some safety scissors and some paper to cut up. I think they enjoyed the cutting part the most. What kid doesn’t like scissors?


DSCN4441Proud Little E with his hearts. (the second heart from the bottom on the far right he colored with a black crayon and said “This is Darth Vadar’s heart.” Nice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Era Uma Vez

DSCN4211 We’ve been getting quite a bit of snow lately, and a while ago, while Baby E napped, Mr E took Little E out to build a snowman. When I went out, this is what I found! A Mr E sized snowman!

DSCN4210Little E loves building snowmen, and playing in the snow in general. Later I found out that he was disappointed in the big snowman, though. We were at the grocery store and Little E saw the bulk carrots in the produce aisle and wanted to buy one so we could make “a E-sized snowman.” Because he couldn’t reach the face of the big snowman he had made with Mr E. He wanted to make a snowman that he could reach so he could put the carrot in on his own. Cute kid.

A few weeks ago, Little E wanted to build a snowman, but there was no snow outside. Then he asked for a big carrot, which we also didn’t have. Then I told him I could make him a carrot. So I pulled out the construction paper and made carrot noses for the babies. It took a little convincing for them to let me tape them on, but after they figured out that it wouldn’t hurt and they would look like snowmen, they consented.

Then we sang this song:

DSCN4301DSCN4300Era uma vez um homem de neve (Once upon a time there was a snowman)
Um homem de neve alto assim (A snowman tall like this)
O sol derreteu o homem de neve (The sun melted the snowman)
Até ficar bem baixinho assim. (Until he was small like this)


You do the actions and stand up really tall, and then crouch down on the ground as the snowman melts.

Here are the words in English:
Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman,
Once there was a snowman, tall, tall, tall!
In the sun he melted, melted, melted,
In the sun he melted, small, small, small.

There is something magical about snowmen and playing in the snow. Maybe because it only lasts such a short time (unless you have below freezing temperatures for a week or more... then it sticks around for a little longer). Maybe because it brings out the kid in us. Either way, we love the snow, and Little E can’t get enough of his snowmen!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Borax Snowflakes

Well, we actually did this project back in December as part of our “winter” theme (I say theme very very loosely... we haven’t really had a distinct theme for a while. We’re still kind of in survival mode. But I think things are getting better.

So here’s what you need to make Borax snowflakes:DSCN4177

  • -Borax (of course)
  • -a pot of water
  • -a glass jar (I didn’t have glass jars, and I guess since it’s not really canning season, they don’t sell them at the grocery stores, so I went with a glass measuring cup)
  • -a stick to hold the snowflakes in the liquid (popsicle sticks, skewers, dowel, etc)
  • -string
  • -pipe cleaner (any color will work, really, though white probably makes the best snowflakes)


DSCN4186DSCN41871. Cut the pipe cleaner into three even pieces. Cross them all at the middle and twist them together to form a six pointed snowflake. You can get fancier than ours were, but, well, I was working with and impatient toddler and a perhaps less patient preschooler, so we just did ours quick. Tie a small loop of string around one of the spokes of the snowflake.

DSCN41882. Suspend your snowflakes from a stick across the jar. Most people do just one snowflake in each jar. Like I said, I was miserably unprepared and had no jars, so I just did all four in the measuring cup. I had to check on them to make sure the crystals didn’t grow together, and I had to knock them apart a few times, but it worked okay. I would definitely suggest using multiple jars.

Now it’s time to make the magic juice! (which is really just science – a fascinating subject of discussion for older kids. My 3 year old didn’t really understand the concept, and my 1 year old just wanted to drink the stuff – not a good idea, by the way...)

3. Bring the water to a boil and start dissolving the borax in the water.  You can do a google search for Borax snowflakes and find a little more precise instructions, but I just kept dissolving the borax until I was pretty sure I couldn’t dissolve any more.

DSCN41904. Pour the saturated solution into the jars (or measuring cup, in my case).

5. Stand back and watch science happen. We started ours before nap time, and by the time dinner rolled around, they were already well on their way to becoming snowflakes for our tree!


I’m bummed that I didn’t get pictures of the finished project. They looked great, and were pretty sturdy! I wish I had sprayed them with shellac or mod-podged them or something, because the little hands got a hold of them and crunched a few, but they still look great, and are now a permanent part of our Christmas decor!

Sorry this was so late – I’ll post a “reminder” link when it gets closer to Christmas this year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Wanderings – Toombstone, AZ


Mr. E was doing some job training in Arizona last year (we came down on the tail end of the training). We went with some friends out to Toombstone. It was fun. Little E got to shoot a genuine Colt revolver. He got a kick out of that (literally!) – the bullets were filled with paintballs, and you got to shoot at targets across the room. DSCN3863I think it was $3 for 6 shots, or something like that. Not too bad for a tourist attraction. And Little E loved it! Baby E didn’t seem to mind the noise too much, but she’s used to her brother making lots of commotion.


DSCN3868At one of the many gift shops, we bought some little $.99 horses which Little E and Baby E held on to for the rest of our visit. They loved those horses. I think one has since been lost, but the other one is still around and gets played with, so I’d say I got my buck’s worth out of it.

DSCN3879We also took the kids to one of those shoot out shows. We ate some lunch and watched some cowboys shoot blanks at each other. Baby E was a distracted by her horse for the most part, but Little E loved all the guns and shooting. It was a little too much for me, and I don’t know if I would have taken them after seeing it myself. Mr. E probably would – he’s not as opposed to Little E watching violence as I am. We do try to teach E about the value of each life, and that it’s always a very serious thing to take a life (or give life, for that matter). But you’ve gotta give a little in a marriage, and I guess this is one place where I give a little – I just make sure we’re reinforcing the “every person is worth something” so Little E doesn’t just go around thinking he can shoot people (or slice their arms off with a light saber... but that’s another story...)


Value 2star Maybe it would be a better value for older kids and adults, but taking my kids there wasn’t really worth the money I ended up spending on food and entertainment. Although we did end up in a reptile exhibit that was free and we talked a lot to a really knowledgeable lady. That was cool. And free. So that part gets five stars. Vincente loved the snakes and tarantulas and other creepy crawlers. We learned a lot about some of the reptiles and insects native to Arizona.

Location3star Kind of a long drive from Tucson. And boring. Through the middle of nowhere. Once you get closer to Toombstone there are some cool mountains/rock formations, but other than that, pretty lame.

Fun Factor4starIt was pretty fun, I have to admit. There were people dressed up in character all over, there were photo places (where you can get your photo taken all dressed up like you’re in a western) and stagecoaches and horses all over the little dirt roads. Just the feel of being in an actual Western was pretty cool. I half expected to see John Wayne walking down the streets.

Your Turn! Go write a bout your Wednesday Wanderings and link up here! Here’s the html for the button to post on your page:

Wednesday Wanderings

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