Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hanging out by the fireplace on our "chilly" New Years Eve.
(I think the temps dropped below 60. brrrrr )

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Books for this month

We've been reading winter and Christmas books all month long.  Here is our list, so far:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rock Osborne
Mystery in the Stable by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
If You're Missing Baby Jesus by Jean Gietzen (we love this one)
We Three Kings Illustrated by Olga Zharkova (this is the song illustrated)
Mary's Treasure Box by Carolyn Walz Kramlich
Gertie the Goldfish and the Christmas Surprise by Naomi Judd
Cuddly Dudley by Jez Alborough
The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Christmas Pageant by Christy Colby Heno
A Child's Calendar Poems by John Updike
The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jane Brett
Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri
Hopper by Marcus Pfister
A Wish for Wings that Work an Opus Christmas Story by Berkeley Breathed
Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
Father Christmas and the Donkey by Elizabeth Clark
The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke
Norman the Doorman by Don Freeman
Frosty the Snowman musical board book
Biscuit's Christmas by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Madeline Christmas Activity Book
Pooh Christmas Days
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Snow on Snow on Snow by Cheryl Chapman
Snow Shapes by Judith Moffatt
Snow Day! by Barbara M. Joosse
All About Snow and Ice by Stephen Krensky
The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett
Going West My Little House Books
LipLap's Wish by Jonathon London and Sylvia Long
White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt

There are more, but that's all I have time for right now!  I'll come back later and share our favorites in more detail.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's Old Becomes New Again

I'm not sure when it happened.  Time has a way of getting past us without us really paying attention.  At some point we outnumbered in people the amount of bicycles we own.  Or more accurately, we outnumbered in bike riders the amount of bicycles we own.  The girls have been happily content on riding scooters, so we didn't really pay attention to the fact that there weren't enough bikes to go around and the bikes we did have were beginning to show signs of living in the desert. 

Now that S. is actively riding his bike w/o training wheels the girls have taken up a renewed interest in bike riding.  Uh oh, what bikes? LOL  So, today we took the bikes to our local store to have the chain fixed on one and a new inner tubes put into the other.  Having our two bikes ready to go, S. zipping around on his bike (which he has actually outgrown but we're not worrying about that right now ;-) ) the wagon all spruced up for J man and we're left with one girl standing alone.  Kind of like the Farmer in the Dell where the cheese stands alone or more accurately, Musical Chairs where there just aren't enough to go around.  One girl was left standing asking "Can't I ride a bike too?"

Fortunately, a relic of the past came into play at that moment.  A veritable antique LOL was dusted off so that my eldest daughter did not have to stand there all alone asking the question, "What about me?  I'd like to ride too."  What heirloom of familial importance did I pass on to my eldest?  Nothing less than the bike I had growing up. :-D 

The history of my bicycle is grand.  I'm the youngest of 4 (all girls :) ) and my parents in their infinite wisdom bestowed certain gifts on us at certain ages.  Rights of passage one might call them.  At the age of 8 we each received our very own Schwin Bicycle.  We each had to contribute $20 to the purchase and we had to pick out a bike that would last us a long time.  No fancy banana seat bikes for us (mom wouldn't allow them anyway) w/ low seats and streamers flying.  No, we needed to pick out an adult size bike that would last us, well, a life time.  Dad was only going to buy one bike for us, so choose wisely.

The months leading up to my 8th birthday I dutifully practiced on my mothers ancient bicycle in our backyard learning how to kick the pedals up so I could actually ride the thing! LOL  I had many falls, scrapes and mishaps yet managed to not only survive but thrive (bike helmets?  Unheard of back then. :D).  I'm pretty sure I picked out the bike of my choice, one exactly like my older sisters only in a different color.  My bike was a beautiful Aqua blue.  This was the '70s so aqua was quite "cool" back then.  I wasn't with my parents at the time of the purchase nor do I know when and where they stored it but when I woke up on my 8th birthday, there was my brand new shining aqua blue bike. 

Ahhh, freedom was mine at last.  I could travel far and wide on my not so little aqua bike.  Ok, truth be told, I was only allowed to ride in a circle on our driveway, directly across the street and back onto our driveway for quite awhile.  Then, I was allowed to go down to the corner and back for another "quite awhile".  Then, I was allowed to go around the block for even more of "quite awhile".  Eventually, I don't remember how many "quite awhile's" had passed, ahhh, freedom.  I could now go exploring wherever I liked (as long as I didn't cross any busy streets.  Oh, and stay out of the alleys and the empty lot - did I mention my parents were very strict ;-) ). 

I have fallen off that bike so many times, crashed into things, got cut up bruised and scraped but oh how I loved my bike.  Of course, as I got older, like 7th grade, my friends were now getting their cool 10 speeds w/ the skinny tires and handle bars that curled down or if you were ultra cool, you curled them up.  Not me, nope, I had the bike that I was going to have forever. 

I won't say I minded having my clunker one speed as they zipped on their ten speeds, I did.  But, I'm venturing a guess that my circa 1970's Schwinn one speed bicycle has outlasted all those zippy little ten speeds w/ their fancy gears and skinny minny tires.  It was hard when we'd go on long bike rides to keep up, but I did.  For really long rides, I'd just borrow my friends brothers bike so I too could change gears and easily get my pant leg uncaught from the chain - just pedal backwards! (anyone else remember the pant leg getting caught in the chain on a pedal brake bike?  You know, how you're happily riding along one minute and the next your body is being thrown into the handle bars while your leg remains firmly affixed to the chain?  Argh, how many ripped and oily pant legs did I have growing up?  Bell bottom pants and pedal brakes do not make a good combination!)

For my, ahem, 40th birthday a few years back my parents reintroduced me to my bike.  My father had it restored, as best they could.  The seat is original and it shows, there's still a bit of rust on the fenders, rim and handlebars but that bike is solid.  It stood the test of time and to ride it is an experience that brings back memories and just a general good feeling.  There's something about the weight of those old bikes that gives you a whole different experience than when you ride bikes from today.

So now, 35 years later, I can hand down my old bike to my daughter and she can now enjoy the freedom and exhileration of blazing new trails.  She just needs to  watch those pant legs.  ;-)

Me w/ my bike in 7th grade
(please ignore the squint, my mom is a notoriously poor photograher lol)

Reunited :-)

Passing on the legacy


Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Club Christmas Party

Our Mother Daughter Bookclub is in our 5th year of meeting.  Once a month we get together with other homeschooling moms and their daughters at each others homes and discuss our book selection, play and chat.  It's been a wonderful addition to our lives here since we moved.  The girls love it and I've gotten to know several Moms I never would have known otherwise.  Definitely a blessing to our family.

Every year we have a Christmas party where the whole family is invited to attend.  We do different things year to year from cookie exchanges to an old fashioned Christmas gathering.  This year we met for a little mixture of old fashioned Christmas and regular ol party.  :)

Come join us!

The kids played outside, mainly soccer (what else? LOL) for awhile, then came in to chow down on some yummy food.  We had homemade mac and cheese, meatballs in the grape jelly/chili sauce mixture, spinach artichoke dip w/ fresh bread, veggie tray, fruit and cheese tray, pretzels hand dipped in chocolate w/ colored sprinkles (all feingold friendly :) ), homemade Christmas cookies, baklava and white chocolate covered pretzels.  YUM!  Everything was delicious and looked so festive.


Besides playing outside, we had popcorn and cranberries for the kids to string if they wanted to.  This was a first for many of them.  I think they enjoyed it.

Popping corn

The kids also either read a favorite Christmas story, played the piano or did both.  It's always fun to see what books they'll bring each year.  It's also fun to listen to them through the years on the piano as they all improve.

Acting out their story

Just because he's so cute and was everywhere at all times! LOL


It was a great evening spent with friends and family.  Thank you all who came and joined in the fun.  For those who weren't able to make it, we hope your families are well and we'll see you in the new year!

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who's watching you?

Ever have the feeling that you're being watched?

owl in our eucalytus tree