Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve

I hope you all had the Christmas celebration you were hoping for. We had a lovely Christmas Eve and Day. We got some nice video, although I'm a little miffed that our camera card ate all of our Christmas pictures.

The three of us spent Christmas Eve just playing. We made some sugar cookies in the morning while J was at work, and they were a hit.
J brought home a pre-made gingerbread house, so that was next on our list. Boo was very meticulous about her decorating. Did I ever mention that her preschool teacher describes her as 'fastidious'?
Boo opened a few presents that evening and fell in love with her finger paints.
She got some darling Christmas pajamas and the softest robe and slippers from Grandma. The pajamas had embroidered butterflies, so she couldn't wait to get them on. The robe was another story. She spread it on her lap and used it for a blanket, but we'll have to work up to actually putting it on.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Lights at the Zoo

We went to see the lights at the zoo the other day and had a great time. It was foggy and drizzly, but that meant no crowds. Boo was so happy to be outside and running. We took a walk through the aquarium while we waited for it to get dark, and Boo enjoyed watching the polar bear sleep.

Eventually we made it outside to see the lights, and found that Boo was more impressed with the puddles than the lights. She found a long puddle and stomped on through. When she got to the end she ran around to the beginning of the puddle and sloshed her way through again. She kept busy this way for quite some time.
But the lights did earn some respect from her after she was pretty wet.
They had a light show set to some Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs that I really enjoyed. Not as impressive as this guy's house, but still very fun to watch.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Understanding and compassion

In the November 2008 Reader's Digest there was an article by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend about her father, Robert Kennedy. I found this part of the article especially moving. Not only because it involved Indianapolis, but also because one man, at great personal risk, used what he learned from his own grief to reach out to others also feeling overwhelming grief.

The day that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, my father was on his way to deliver a speech in Indianapolis during his campaign for president. He received word of Dr. King's murder and then word from Mayor Richard Lugar that he should not come to give the speech, as it was too dangerous downtown and the mayor could not guarantee his safety.

The mayor was not being unreasonable. Across the country, cities were about to break out in angry desperation and rioting as the awful news began to spread.

But my father believed that he had to go. His campaign was about reconciliation. He could not refuse to go. On his way there, he scribbled a few notes to himself.

Standing on the back of a flatbed truck, my father addressed the crowd and told them about Dr. King's death. They had not yet heard the news. After their gasps of grief and lost hope, he delivered a speech that, sadly, still resonates today (as my father also said to the crowd that day, "I had a member of my family killed...he was killed by a white man"):

"My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote, 'Even in our sleep, pain which we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

"What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need is not violence or lawlessness - but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice for those who still suffer in our country whether they be white or whether they be black.

"So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King. But more importantly, to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love - a prayer for understanding and compassion."

While riots broke out in more than 100 cities that night, there were none in Indianapolis. A black assistant chief of police said that the senator and his family could have slept outside all night and remained unharmed. My father had reached people with his own understanding of suffering and pain and with what had been his clear determination to serve and to help. His actions gave his words credibility.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lying is Bad

Do you find it hard to be honest? Read more on why Lying is Bad.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gingerbread House

This morning we had some friends over to make gingerbread houses. As much as I love to eat gingerbread, I didn't feel up to the challenge of making the gingerbread and the glue. So we made gingerbread houses preschool style - quick, easy, low stress, great for groups of kids. The kids had a great time, even if we did all eat a bit too much candy.

In the past I have used the little goldfish cracker boxes that look like tiny milk cartons as a base, but at Target they had these perfect animal cracker boxes. I just cut the handle off of the top and it was perfect.

First, cover a sturdy paper plate or piece of cardboard with foil, put a dab of white frosting on the bottom of the box and press it down so it doesn't slide all over the plate.
I love this picture because it looks like the package of graham crackers is floating.

Next, frost all four sides of the box and press graham cracker pieces all around the box. (Note: Target brand graham crackers break apart beautifully - did I mention I love Target?).
Now, frost the 'roof' and decorate with candy. Boo mostly used M&M's and Hershey's Kisses.
The more, the merrier.
The finished product....
Some of the kids frosted the graham crackers and added candy to the sides of the house too. We also had a bit of coconut colored green to sprinkle around the house as grass.

Next week I think we'll try sugar cookies. I strongly dislike store bought cookie dough, so I will be forced to actually make the dough myself. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guitar Hero

I've never played Guitar Hero, but I'm crazy about their commercials. It could be that I love that song...but then there's also the guys dancing in their underwear...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More gluing

I thought up a fun Christmas craft that involved a lot of gluing. Here it is, our paper plate Christmas wreath:
1. Cut a circle out of the middle of a paper plate.
2. Rip a piece of green construction paper into randomly shaped 3-4" pieces.
3. Glue the green pieces all over the paper plate to make the wreath.
4. Cut out shapes from different colors of construction paper and glue them on the wreath as decorations.

OR, if you run out of paper plates, or are interested in less gluing, you can make a wreath this way:

1. Cut a wreath shape out of green construction paper (I used the aforementioned paper plate as a guide).
2. Cut out shapes from different colors of construction paper and glue them on the wreath as decorations.
Great activities for practicing shapes and colors, fine motor skills and starting AND finishing. A skill I am determined (though probably not qualified) to teach my kids.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Did you know...

...that if you have gmail, you can do a weather theme background for your gmail display. And it will display the type of weather you are having. Today my gmail is snowing, and my chat window has a little pile of snow on top. At first I thought this was really cool. But now that I have to go out, it makes me a little depressed. Soon that little pile of snow will be on top of my car.

Glue, baby, glue

Boo has fallen in love with crafts. With gluing, really. Fortunately for me, she is meticulous about her gluing. I told her the first few times about just using a "tiny bit" of glue, and now as she is about to glue something she looks up at me, holds up one finger and says emphatically "tiny bit, tiny bit". You'd think I'd beaten it into her. I am glad that she picks up some things faster than others (does anyone else get tired of saying "wipe your bum"?).
At preschool a couple of weeks ago, she came home with a piece of green construction paper with a Christmas tree drawn on it and buttons (in different shapes) glued on. By the time we got home she had picked all the buttons of and was begging to glue them on again. So this is our cycle. We glue on the buttons, wait for it to dry, pick them off, then glue them on again.
I feel okay about this though. It's a great fine motor activity, we talk about the shapes and colors of buttons, and I don't have to come up with a new craft activity every day.
And really, could I come up with one as exciting as this anyway?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nativity stickers

Boo is a sticker fanatic. When we were in California, Grandma got her a new package of stickers nearly every day. Heaven.

This week Boo got this great sticker activity from preschool. There's a paper with the stable background, then a sheet of stickers with all the nativity characters.

Boo had a great time sticking everything on.
And no mess!

Christmas shopping

Last night we made it out Christmas shopping. All of our babysitters were off seeing The Nutcracker, so we took Boo with us. And it's actually possible to get shopping done if one entertains the Boo and the other does the shopping. And then we're together in the car. So I tossed my grand idea of doing all my shopping at Target for the silly reason that I had a $5 off coupon at United Art and Education. Since I planned to get a lot of crafty things for Boo, this seemed perfect. Get all the crafty things at UAE, save my five bucks and then finish up at Target. But what I did not realize is that for being an ART store, UAE is possibly the most disorganized and lacking store ever. I found the crayons on my own, and the glue by accident, but had to ask an associate and traipse all over the store for everything else. What a pain. And then later at Target I walked down two gleaming aisles of everything I could have hoped for IN ONE PLACE. Now I know that Target will always be the answer, even if you have a coupon for someplace else.

We spent quite awhile in Target and nearly finished our Christmas shopping. Another 1000 points for Target. Does anyone know where I could find an easel?

Boo and I spent the morning wrapping presents and watching the Peter, Paul and Mary Christmas Concert. Boo is enthralled by Peter, Paul and Mary - FINALLY, someone who is happy to watch it with me! What good taste.

Boo is unbelievably good about letting us wrap up all this good stuff. After it's wrapped she puts it under the tree...and leaves it alone. She occasionally reorganizes the packages, and is FURIOUS when J tries to 'fix' them...who's in charge here anyway? But she hasn't yet tried to open them. Although she remembers what's in them. I told her we would have some cold pizza for snack this morning, and while I went to the kitchen, she dragged out the wrapped package of play food from under the tree. That happens to have some pretend pizza in it. What a smart girl.

Monday, December 8, 2008

TV online

I've become a big fan of watching tv shows online. J found a great website with a ton of great old and new TV shows for your viewing pleasure. I've watched a couple old episodes of Barney Miller (they didn't have the mooshie brownies episode, but I did find that on youtube), Benson, and Bob Newhart just for kicks. And now J and I watch The Colbert Report every evening. Who needs TiVo?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bring on the snow, we've got mittens

Last year, Boo wasn't such a fan of the snow, or and she wore socks for mittens. Grandma sent her a few pairs of really cute mittens this year to try to entice her into wearing them. I bribed her with chocolate and got her to put one on for 2.3 seconds. But that only worked once.

But I guess it's just a matter of the right motivation. Yesterday it was snowing and Boo wanted to go for a walk, so we told her she had to wear her big coat and her mittens. And ta-da...
The mittens went on without a fight. And we had a nice winter walk.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Carol of the Bells

Enjoy this old clip of "Carol of the Bells" from Claymation Christmas. This video was a classic at our home when I was growing up. I watched this with Boo earlier in the week and still laughed out loud.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What the Smith boys said...

Check out this list of hilarious kid sayings. I laughed out loud at most of them. A few of my favorites:

Simon, in a toga, with an accent: “I am Caesar Augustus! And I decree that from now on, all children in this house may consume candy at their pleasure!”

Simon, about to put his face in the empty donut box: “I will now glean the fields.”

Nathan: “Since I’m not going to college, can I have that money in my allowance?”

Nathan, to the waitress at SuperSalad: “May I see the wine list?”