Weekend Snapshots

What a gorgeous weekend we just had. The main order of business was this privacy fence that we wanted to get up. Corey and I (with a little help from Erika) spent the bulk of Friday staining it and he and his Dad put it up Saturday. Not a huge home project, but a big one for us.

On Friday, for our five year anniversary (five years!), we went out to dinner at a local brewery and enjoyed an awesome dinner (complete with an eight beer sampler) and uninterrupted conversation with my best friend.

On Saturday night we all went to a party with bubbles, chalk, tons of great food, a gaggle of girls making fairy houses and catching butterflies, and an outdoor movie showing of Bed Knobs and Broomsticks. Yeah, it was pretty rad.

The girls also helped me plant some flowers in hanging baskets on the new fence.

And last, but not certainly not least, we had a live Fish Sticks performance in our backyard. Now, you may not have heard of the Fish Sticks yet, but you will. Corey and Erika started the Fish Sticks this last winter and after many practices they played their single, Hawaiian Cowgirl Robot, to a live audience of two last night. While the girls took their showers, I got the stage ready. It was an awesome performance.

Mrs. Waters Clothes Line

We watering our gardens this morning when Erika came across this.

You see it there? That post with the rope wrapped up around it? It's an old clothes line that has probably been there since 1939 when our house was built. This home only had one owner before us and the grandson of the couple who was selling the house gave us the original blueprints, photos of the home just after it was built, and lease. Having these things has connected me to the woman who occupied these walls with her family in a strange way. Every time I see this clothes line it reminds me of Mrs. Waters, the woman I never met, the woman who lived in this home for so many years. Cooked in the kitchen where I cook for my family, walked up and down the same stairs, and hung her family's clothes on this clothes line. I have never used a clothes line before today, but, with Erika's urging, we got it up.

I've been seeing the pictures that are posted on GardenMama's 'Wash Wednesday' the last few weeks and it gave me the itch. There are lots of good reasons to use a clothesline, but I always thought it was just too much work in an already hectic day filled with chores that rarely get done. What I discovered as I was helping Erika hang up our clothes was that it is actually a break from all the running around. Instead of running down to the basement and quickly tossing the clothes into the dryer, I spent some time outside talking with my oldest about the way things used to be, enjoying the beautifully sunny day, and relaxing. Suddenly, it wasn't a chore. It was a pleasure. I'm sure the allure of this will wear off when I have a giant mountain of laundry in my basement again, but I intend to keep using the clothe line because it reminds me to slow down mentally. And, believe me, I need that.

Beans and Mud

The pole beans I lovingly started from seed didn't do too well. Maybe it was the darn squirrels messing with them, or maybe I just started them too soon. Last weekend at the farmer's market I bought some plants and planted them around our bean tee pee. Here is a picture of the new plants next to seedlings. And also some beautiful lettuce at the market, just because.

And here is the tee pee in the back corner of the yard. The goal is to hide, or at least detract, from that awesome utility post. I will post more pictures if the squirrels don't destroy it.

In other garden news, mud is really fun. The sand box with plastic toys isn't nearly as appealing as dirt, water, and a shovel.

A good friend of mine recently set aside a part of her yard for play with a pile of dirt and building materials like bricks and stones. Of course, her kids love it. It has me thinking about the possibilities for this little corner of the yard.

Make You Own Easel

We ordered pizza last night for dinner and as I was about to recycle the boxes this morning I remembered a pizza box easel idea I saw in Maryann Kohl's book, First Art. Basically, you tape down the ends of the box to create a table top easel, tape on a piece of paper, and let your kiddo paint. We have a regular easel too, but this table top easel takes up much less room when being used, collapses when you're done, and is free!

I found a tutorial here. They painted on the inside of the box so that the flaps could catch drips, but Audrey was painting the tape, the table, and her hands during this project, so it didn't really make a difference that we painted on the outside instead.

Here is Audrey painting away.

Serve It Yourself Tacos

Serve it yourself night is usually a hit around here. Sometimes I do it because dinner is a mish mash of random foods, like this. Sometimes I do it because Erika asks for it. And other times it is my tricky way of getting them to eat something that they don't usually love. Mexican night used to be a staple of our weekly diet until these little kiddos started protesting. Who doesn't love Mexican food?! So, I had to be sneaky.

I gave them tortillas, beans, ground beef, cheese, and sour cream. Start them off with the simple stuff before moving on to grilled veggies and such at a later date.

They started off by filling their tortillas.

And folding them up.

But then they kept losing their ingredients, so they just ate with spoons.

Until I remembered that I had hard taco shells and they transfered all their ingredients to those.

But most importantly- they ate it all! Well, most of it. A lot ends up on the floor on serve it yourself night.

A Semi-Montessori Approach

Over the weekend the girls requested to share a room. Their rooms were directly across from each other before and they played in both rooms, but they wanted to sleep in the same room and we couldn't see why not. Erika said it was the best day of her life and Audrey jumped up and down yelling, "Yay!"

So here is their new shared sleeping room.

I have been drawn to the Montessori philosophy for a long time and have been subtly using it's ideas with the girls. With the change in rooms, I decided to incorporate the ideas for fully. This is definitely just a start using what we already had in the home, but I wanted to share it now so that you can see the process as it unfolds.

This reading nook isn't really Montessori inspired, I guess, but it gives the girls a small, calm place to get away and be alone. I placed it next to a bookshelf where I want to create a small nature center. Right now there is a bird's nest, magnifying glass, and binoculars. I also want to add some math materials here.

To the left of the shelf is a desk which I was ecstatic to find at a garage sale last week. I wanted this to be a desk and self care station in one, so I added a mirror, hairbrushes, and clips for each of the girls. I would love some kind of narrow organization center to keep scissors, markers, glue and such here too. The beloved typewriter is next to the desk, though Erika still needs help setting it up because it's so heavy. That basket of stuffed animals and babies to the left of the bed really needs to go, but both of the girls like playing with the babies, so I will have to set up an organized pretending area for them somewhere.

On the wall next to the desk I put the doll house with all the furniture and dolls in a bin on the bottom shelf. I saw this great room on Ohdeedoh and remembered that I had nature cards similar to the ones used in that room, so I placed them around the girls' new space. The ones next to the doll house are all about space. I put some calming ones in the reading nook, a few around the mirror, and some more above the table on the other side of the room.

This table is a great for so many things and we get a lot of use out of it. I wish that our dining room was larger so that it could be the girls' dining table, but it serves well as a work space too. Other things I tried to do was place the art work at the kids' level, remove clutter, and create centers that were simple and easy to clean. These rooms both still need a lot of work and I will update as the work gets done.

Magical Morning

There is a campus near us that I think is magical. The grounds are filled with gardens, a huge lake, sculptures, fountains, and awesome secret pathways. Cranbrook boasts a science center, art museum, and library too, but we just go for the amazing grounds.

Today was our first visit this spring and the girls just loved it. Erika remembered her favorite spots and forged ahead.

While Audrey stuck close to me, "Hold hand, Mommy."

I suggested they bring notebooks and draw things that inspired them, so they drew the rocks that they had climbed over.

And a pond.

We climbed a tree.

And crossed lots of little bridges.

Had a lovely picnic.

And flew a kite.

Really, I think it may have been a perfect morning.