Monday, June 27, 2011

Mother Daughter Project: Our Altered Book

With the start of our first grade school year today came the inception of a new Sunday afternoon tradition for Chloe and I. I plan to spend the afternoon reading missionary biographies to her (just one chapter a week...not the ENTIRE afternoon) and then creating something special and unique for just the two of us.

My mother introduced me to the idea of an altered book about 3 years ago when I was back for a visit during James first deployment. While the notion intrigued me, I never got around to starting one myself. Well, as James was preparing to leave Saturday, the idea took root once again and I knew it was the perfect solution to our lazy Sunday afternoons without him. (Sundays tend to be the hardest for us to get through without our dear man.)

Okay. So, to find a book that needed altering. And you know me...I own just the book.

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Now I am not going to tell you what book this is, because...well...ummmm...there is a slight chance that it may or may not still be under copyright for 3 more years. So...we will just say that this is a VERY old book which I feel no longer needs to be in circulation.

Ahhhh! Now for the fun stuff!

The only rule for our creation is that the pages must reflect Chloe and I together. Our book is an expression of our relationship. We each can bring different elements to the book, but the page must tell our shared story. Sound complicated? It's not, really. Just a bit hard to explain on paper. (I'll just say that Chloe understood when I explained it to her. And she's 6.) So, care to see our first page? Thought so.

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We painted the background with brown acrylic paint. After it dried, we glued a recent picture of us down (recognize it from Me and Mommy Day?) and edged it with glitter glue (from Chloe's art supply box). She picked the pink flowers to add to the page. I attempted to stencil a design onto the background but my pen bleed so we covered up the worst of my mistake with Chloe's giant pink flower. PERFECT! (We work so well together.) Chloe also added the paper flowers down the middle of the opposite page to which I adhered pearl centers. A little more stenciling, Amore written on the bottom and a small do-dad that says "smile" finish off the page.

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We wanted the page to introduce the concept of the book. We needed it to describe our creation in some way. I found one of our favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes and printed it off for the top of our main page. Absolutely Perfect! Chloe and I actually cried a bit together while making this page. It is sooooooo us. (I think the quote is what did us in though, if truth be told.)

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Well, so that's it. Our first page. My hope is that we can create at least one page every Sunday until we finish the entire book. By then, maybe Chloe will feel comfortable enough to create her very own altered book. (Or, better yet...I will feel comfortable allowing her to create her very own altered book.)

And now I am off for a chapter 7 of Mary Poppins Comes Back, snuggles and evening prayers and then I need to work out some kinks in our school plans. Have a stupendously capital evening and I'll chat at you again soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making Masks

Our final school book arrived in the mail yesterday and Chloe could not wait until Monday to start it. I know, I know. But we did so good. We made it to Saturday before diving into our school books. Let me say though...its hard to pass up a good art project. And this book is choke full of wonderful art projects. Usborne What Shall I Do Today? Chloe saw the masks and just HAD to make one. She has been begging for quite some time now to make masks with me. I've put it off because the instructions I find everywhere appear a bit more complicated then I feel inclined to work through.

Not so with this book. So, I found myself pulling out all our art supplies again this morning and designing masks with Chloe. She was thrilled!

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Chloe wanted to make her mask a heart shape. I giggle because it looks a little bit more like Skippy Jon Jones to me. Either way, she loves her mask. I also found it a bit humorous that she opted to write her name on the front. I guess I should explain to her the purpose of a mask? (She claimed she wrote it "so that people will know who I am in the dark." Yea. She doesn't get it.)

And you all know me. I always have to complete the same art project alongside Chloe. (Can't quite decide if its more for her sake or my own...)

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I used watercolor paints on that one and then spread swirly lines of silver glitter glue around. I added the stars for that extra bit of glam. I must say that James was quite impressed with my mask. (He refused to participate in the project even though Chloe practically begged him on her knees.) I do believe I heard "Wow!" escape from his mouth too.

But then I couldn't stop at just one mask. I felt an urge to make another one. James asked, "You really enjoy that???" Oh yes. I do. It seems I can't get enough of kids art lately. Maybe I am re-living my childhood or something. I don't know.

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For this mask, I painted the background with green watercolor. I cut out leaves from tissue paper and drawing paper. I used Crayola oil pastels on the drawing paper. I used a flower paper punch to cut them out of construction paper. Markers added the little edging on the petals and then a dabble of glitter glue on top. I stuck a sequin in the center of some of the flowers. Voila! My bright jungle-esque mask.

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Okay. I am off now to spend the afternoon/evening with my family. James heads out tomorrow morning for 6 weeks. Booo! Not happy about that. But it's only 6 weeks. MUCH better than 6 months. And I get to go visit him at the end and possibly even see some old friends! That is exciting! Gives me something to look forward to.

So, do you think I could talk James into spending his last afternoon with us at the Thrift Store? I have a couple of projects in my head that need to get out but I need to stop by the thrift store for supplies. I wonder if he'll say yes! (Maybe I could entice him with chocolate chip cookies.) Anyways, I better run along. Have a fabulous weekend. I'll chat at you again soon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Does Chloe REALLY Need?

I tend to fret over everything. Am I reading to Chloe enough? Am I cooking the right food? Does she get enough vegetables? Did I choose the right curriculum for her? Am I stifling her future because I didn't put her in ballet? Gymnastics? Theatre? Are we involved in enough extra-curricular activities? Too much? And boy oh boy but we don't get out in nature enough. It's all so mind-boggling and leaves me feeling defeated.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you aren't measuring up to some standard someone (or you yourself) created?

Read this post.

Yea...makes me want another Me and Mommy Day. Or at least a dress up tea party. Or even a snuggle under a blanket with a pile of books which we may or may not read depending on how the tickle war progresses. I have tears in my eyes as I sign off to go hug my little girl and smother her face in kisses. I highly recommend you do the same with your dear children. They are such a precious gift from God. Let them know that. Right now.

Anadama Bread

Nothing beats the smell of baking bread. I start salivating as soon as the scent wafts my way. James questions me numerous times as to when it will be ready to eat. We just love fresh bread, straight from the oven, smothered in butter. Yum! Can you beat that? I think not.

Yesterday, I found myself with a hankering to feast on some homemade bread. I searched through the cookbook to find just the right recipe. (Meaning one that I could locate the ingredients for in my cupboard.) Ah Ha! Anadama Bread. One of the ingredients is molasses. I LOVE MOLASSES!

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I tried my hand at shaping a round loaf. I even went so far as to make the cross marks on top. Artful, no?

But alas...we did not care for this bread. Sigh. I don't know. It could be the fact that the recipe called for "light" molasses and I chose to use my "full flavor" variety instead. Or that I failed to "constantly stir" the cornmeal/water mixture. as it boiled. Don't get me wrong. The bread is edible. We will finish it off, no doubt. But normally we eat an entire loaf within 20 minutes of it coming out of the oven. Not Anadama bread. I only nibbled one slice.

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Well now. I must be off to ready the house for playgroup! Chicken and Dumplings in the crockpot? Check. Dress up clothes? Check. Clean house? Okay. That's what I forgot. Gotta run. I'll chat at you later.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden Collage

I thought I would share this little art project with you today since if I don't I probably won't remember or get around to it in the future. Chloe asked if I would "play" with her this morning. We've had so many Me and Mommy Days lately that I didn't quite feel up to another "My Little Pony" episode or such like. I suggested to her that we pick an art project from her 365 Things to Make and Do book. She gracefully agreed.

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We began by painting the background on our watercolor paper. Then we rummaged through our pile of fabric scraps for the flowers, butterflies, bumblebees and dragonflies.

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Four hours later, we completed our creations. Here is mine.

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And here is Chloe's collage. I am always amazed at her artistic abilities. While I merely copy something, changing only a few things as needed based on supplies and whatnot, Chloe will take the general idea of the project and create something totally unique. There is no copying for this creative genius.

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I think I will frame these and hang them in Chloe's bedroom. Wouldn't they just fit with her garden flower theme? And now, I have found a bread recipe with ingredients I have on hand, so I am off to make bread for supper. Yum! Have an amazing evening.

Cake for Breakfast

I can't recall the last time I baked a crumb/coffee cake for breakfast. Many years. I miss it. But in my endless (and futile) effort to eat somewhat healthier, cake for breakfast was the first thing to be removed from my diet.

Last night, after dinner, I proposed to Chloe that we bake something for dessert. "Chocolate cake!!!" she quickly suggested. "Brownies!" was my immediate response. Quietly, James voiced his vote. "How about a crumb coffee cake thing. We haven't had one of those in a while."

How could I deny my husband? He never asks for dessert, let alone a specific one...unless it is chocolate chip cookies but that's different. Completely.

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Anyways, Chloe and I whipped up the crumb cake last night and savored a piece before bed. The first thing out of her mouth when we walked into the kitchen this morning was, "Cake?" Ahhhh...that's my girl. I couldn't very well say no. After all, I planned on having a piece myself with my coffee.

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This simple recipe came from my Good Housekeeping Great Baking cookbook. (I know I've mentioned that book on this blog before. It is, hands down, my favorite cookbook.)

And now I am off to dream about baking some bread. Fig Walnut Bread to be precise. Doesn't that just sound scrumptious? Problem is, I can't seem to find any figs in my cupboard. Weird, eh? So, plain ole white bread must suffice. (I am out of whole wheat flour.) Have a delectable day everyone. I am sure I will.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Grapevine Wreath

I guess bluejays love peanuts! A friend of mine suggested smearing peanut butter on a grapevine wreath and hanging it in our back garden to see if we can attract some bluejays. I sure hope so. They are gorgeous birds.

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All you need to make this wreath is a wreath that you don't mind getting messy (I found mine at a yard sale for 50 cents last Saturday) and some peanut butter. (I used creamy since that is all I found in my cupboard but I imagine the blue jays prefer chunky for the nuts.) A knife might be useful but not altogether necessary.

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Find a place outside to hang the wreath. I hammered a nail right smack dab in the middle of my fence.

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And now we wait for blue jays.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Me And Mommy Day

I love Me and Mommy day. We started the concept while James was deployed. I don't recall exactly how it came about, but I do remember it had something to do with Chloe feeling forlorn and I felt horrible and so I instigated a Me and Mommy day. Chloe wrote her very own to-do list for us and we spent the entire day working our way through it. She even crossed off the items herself as we accomplished them. By the end of the day we felt so connected and we both had a truly delightful time.

Well, you can imagine that I receive multiple requests every day for more Me and Mommy days. It was clearly her favorite. So, last week I finally said yes. (You have to understand the concept. I don't do ANYTHING all day except what is on Chloe's list. So if she doesn't write "vacuum floor" I do not vacuum the floor. It can be quite intimidating to say yes to a Me and Mommy day. But oh, the joy and the fun. It makes it completely worth the double list of chores the following day.)

I scribed Chloe's "to-do list", only this time I added a little twist to the concept. I wrote out the to-so list the night before while she was sleeping. All the ideas were mine. (She was a bit apprehensive at first, but soon realized my ideas were totally cool too.)

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This face says it all.

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First item: Read a book.

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Item #2: Play Trains. (We find it imperative to build a large city and a countryside surrounding our train tracks.)

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Item #3: Play Kitchen. This time we decided to play restaurant instead of "kitchen". Together we made a menu and took turns being the waitress/cook for each other. We even rated the restaurants based on service and whether we received the items we ordered. (The restaurant seemed to be out of 3/4 of what I ordered.)

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Chloe gave my restaurant five stars. Hooray! She said she loved the added touch of Romano Cheese I put on top of the soup.

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Item #4: Draw Castle. I bought Chloe the Usborne Book titled 365 Things to Make and Do for her birthday. I thought we needed to make more things out of it so I added Draw Castle to our to-do list. Chloe is fairly good at drawing and it is something she enjoys so I am hoping to help her increase her skills in that area this next year.

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I want to increase my drawing skills too so I drew a castle with Chloe. (It WAS Me and Mommy Day after all.)

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Item #5: Read a chapter of Mary Poppins. We are currently working our way through Mary Poppins Comes Back. Chloe thought it would be a good idea to read all the Mary Poppins books after having met Mary Poppins at Walt Disney World last month. (More on that when I finally gain access to my photos on the hard drive.)

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Item #6: Color a Picture. This is not Chloe's favorite thing to do, but I just loving coloring pictures with her, so I added it to the list and she obliged. I suppose solely for the fact that it was Me and Mommy day and she just enjoyed basking in my presence all day.

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Item #6: Build with Legos. I hope this teaches her logic. I don't know. But she loves it when I build her things for her playacting. She hasn't quite mastered the concept that she too can build things. She would rather I do the hard work so she can then play with it.

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This is a house I built while watching a you tube tutorial. (Can you believe what you can find on You Tube? How did people do ANYTHING prior to the internet???) Chloe then tried to mimic my house.

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Item #7: Put Together a Puzzle. I allowed Chloe to pick a puzzle and she pulled out this simple 24 piece princess puzzle. I told her if she wanted that puzzle, I would not help her. I only help on the 100 piecers. She was perfectly okay with that.

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Item #8: Go Swimming. Nuff said.

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Item #9: Tickle War. Nuff said about that too.

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Item #10: Play with Kitties. By this time we had reached the end of the day and neither kitty seemed interested in playing with us. It was almost bedtime thus their snuggle time. I usually snuggle with them for a bit after Chloe retires to bed. They stood around anxiously awaiting for that moment. But we still tried and Chloe enjoyed racing across the kitchen floor with the toys regardless of whether the kitties chased her or not.

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It amazes me that we never seem to be able to finish our to-do lists on Me and Mommy Day. I shorten them each time too. Sometimes I even set a timer on each item, but we still can't get through everything. Oh well. We have a fabulous time anyways.

I have an idea regarding our next Me and Mommy Day. I plan on homeschooling for 6 weeks and then taking a grace week. 6 weeks on, 1 week off sort of a rotation. We could appreciate a Me and Mommy Day full of playful fun during our break from school work. I might just employ that idea.

So, what do you all do that is special for your children? Got any wonderful ideas or favorite activities that your kids beg you to do over and over?