Monday, April 30, 2012

It's National Screen-Free Week; What are you up to?

We are very excited about the challenge of our annual screen-free week. It is happening all over the country. Are you ready to try? Just turn off the screen and turn up the life experiences. Here we go, and here are a few ideas from the past months of things that happen when the little noise boxes are turned off all around the house. Enjoy your week!

More Screen-Free Ideas

Paint the playhouse in the back yard
Try our hand at Pysanky egg-dying
Give hair cuts in the kitchen
Draw tatoos on our brother
Build a skate ramp and a theatre stage in the basement
Make a perfect "buche de Noel"
Or pot of gumbo
Try out new ways to wrap a pretty present
Make candles in muffin tins
Build a plant shelf (thank you, mon amour!)
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Screen-Free Things We Like to Do

 Lego Palooza
 Do a Puzzle
 Have fun with Grama
S Knit a blanket
 Hang out with uncles
 Dance to great Irish music
 Paddy O Furniture Band
 Celebrate and Decorate
 Hold a warm puppy
 Make homemade pizza
 Try on hundreds of bracelets
 Make some music
 Give a concert
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Girl Bird

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Boy Bird

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Sounds from my Daughters' Room

"...there may be a stranger, across a crowded room. And somehow you'll know, you'll know even only sunshine, you make me ha-PPY, when skies are banner yet wa-ave, o'er the land of the free-EEEE, and the home of, do, do, DOO. Da do, do, (Andy Griffith theme song, in case you hadn't recognized it).DOO Da do, do. Do-da-do. raaak. purty birdy. Wolf only sunshine."

Alienor's pet cockatiel is definitely a boy bird. After four years of living with a quiet, girl bird, he is a big change in the house. He doesn't sing the above words, but man, can he whistle, and sometimes he actually makes it all the way through a song. Mostly, he specialized in medleys. He can now say "pretty birdy," (though why the girls thought it necessary to teach him that is beyond me.) I love to whistle new songs to him and hear them incorporated somehow the next day.

The best part is, after years of knowing I cannot carry a tune to save my first-born's life, I am much gratified at hearing all of his whistling is perfectly on key. He is awfully pretty, too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Best Dog

Tuxy, the great big yorkie poo of ours, turned one on Monday. He came stretching and rolling out of his kennel like any other day, and until the kids came down, he thought it was just any other day. I'd frankly forgotten what day it was, but the munchkins had not. They congratulated him and gave him lots of extra love (and most likely treats he shouldn't have when I was not looking). 

I had to work, but I promised Arthur and Alienor, who were most anxious about it, that I would bring him home a gift later in the day. I did keep my promise, and brought him home a long, stuffed thing that looked like no animal I'd ever seen, but had a black and white striped tail and was named "Stinky".

Stinky's Bath

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Into Africa

A couple of years ago, we made a map of the United States out of cookie dough. The project was a great success, though I do not know how much real progress we made in geography that day. Now that the kids are a little older, I thought we'd have another geography baking day, this time with Africa, as it had come up often in conversations of late. It is also; one spot in the world where millions of people speak French and English that we do not often think about. Linguistically rich, there are hundreds of tribal languages spoken and written in the many countries of Africa. I wanted to help the children realize the scope and rich variety of what is collectively called Africa.

The candy part being fun is a given. Aragorn had a moment of genius in the supermarket, when I sent him for posterboard for a base (last time we put it on a cookie sheet or a tray, whatever it was, it was not big enough and I did not get it back for days and days.) We had been searching for blue candy and wracking our brains over what we could use to create water without resorting to frosting (no one in our house will eat the stuff). He came up to the check-out with blue posterboard; just add waves~

Creating Africa, sorting out borders, deserts and rivers was fun. I think those were crocodiles in the Nile and pyramids in Egypt, jungles in the Congo and Rwanda. We tried at first, to form borders for each country out of thin strips of candy, but we did not find it easy tostick on without the danged frosting we had eschewed. We gave up after Togo, Benin and some lines for Senegal and the Cote d'Ivoire. Burkina Faso was too tiny to do right, and in the final photos, it is hard to see any borders at all. We did not forget Madagascar, la Reunion and Ile Maurice, since la Reunion had once been the destination of our dreams, pre-children. (The kids could not believe we did not go when we had the chance, what can I say? Toulouse held other promises at the time. I still love Toulouse.)

The next assignment dealt with research; Lily did research on how many African countries spoke French and Aragorn drew a map of not just Africa, but the world, so that we could all situate Africa, free-hand. I would like to say that this was a difficult and laborious task for him, but he likes to draw too much for that. Alienor poured over picture books of island nations with beautiful blue water, including la Reunion, and did a report on Tahiti, nowhere near Africa, but they do speak French. Arthur built castles out of the remaining candy. They all stuffed themselves silly and needed a week to recover from a sugar overdose, of course. Do we know a ton more about Africa now? We know it's there, it is beautiful and that our African friends may each come from very different places. The munchkins say that if we can make another map, their recall will much improve. Nice try.

Exploring Africa

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