Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inspiration from all Sources

My husband has been introducing the girls to anime since they were small.  At first, they were not impressed.  Then he showed them Ponyo, their first Miyazaki film.  They sat still for 101 minutes, mesmerized.  Not an easy feat for what was probably a 4 year old and a 2 year old. He was so proud of himself.  Ponyo is basically a Japanese spin on The Little Mermaid. (Only, much better, in my opinion.)  Other Miyazaki films followed. Met with the same awe by both children.  My Neighbor Totoro  is one of their favorites.

Unfortunately, these great films take time and energy to make and there are a limited number.  Husband had to move on to different anime.  He introduced them to Avatar: the Last Airbender  with good success.  He seeks out interesting things to expose to them.  For the most part he does a good job.  During one showing of some new anime, I did stop short and ask him, "What the heck is this?" It was not inappropriate, it was just very strange.

Most recently, he starting showing them Hikaru No Go.  It is about middle school Go clubs in Japan and nationwide championships for adults and kids.  Go is a game I feel is on the same skill level as chess.  (I never enjoyed chess, btw.)  After watching a few episodes, Ginger really wanted to learn to play Go.  Husband nearly jumped up and down at the interest.  He wants to eventually teach her chess so that he will have someone to play with.  (I, of course, am not a fan, so I won't play with him.)

Anyway, after pricing Go boards on Amazon, I took a step back and thought about things I had around the house that I could make a practice board.  After a little research and some thoughtfulness, I had it.

The traditional competitive go boards at 19x19 (18 squares, by 18 squares, the game is played on the lines that cross.)  I found that beginners sometimes start with 5x5 (4 squares, by 4 squares.)  I printed one and laminated it.  I then went to my craft supplies, and found plenty of flat bottom glass stones thanks to an abandoned art project from my sister.

Thus, my oldest, 7 now, will try her hand at a strategic stone game she saw in a cartoon style setting.  If I found my soapbox about the lack of educational material in American cartoons, I would pass out from standing on it for too long.

I am very glad we live in an age where I can find all manner of educational material from many cultures around the world.  It's almost like the entire world is involved in teaching my girls that they can be smart and have fun at the same time.  I really wish more kids had that.

Girl Power!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nothing Day

Nothing Day was almost a success.  Sugar was sick.  Ginger went to her weekly fun time but Sugar stayed with me.  We went to the post office, stopped in at Target for med stuff for poor Sugar and her raw nose/lips. Then we had lunch with Daddy and the boys.  After a very slow and calm lunch we stopped in at HEB for a few things before getting Ginger from play time.

It was a relatively slow paced few hours. and it was nice to not have to run do this or that, even though we did do things.  Maybe next week, I will be better and finding nothing time.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

This year we are trying very diligently to bring NO NEW TOYS into our lives.  The girls' rooms are packed.  They get overwhelmed having to clean up.  I get overwhelmed stepping into their rooms and I can't yet get the kids on board with my organizational desires.

So, St. Valentine brings this:  
1 sewing project x 2 = delighted children, contented mom.

The girls chose the fabrics.  The internet provided the pattern.  My sewing machine behaved for the week it took me to find the time to put it together.  I only broke 1 needle.  All in all, a plus for our household.

Now, instead of a pile of stuffed animlas that collects dust and constantly overflow their storage location, the girls have a seat and I have 2 messes contained!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scheduling Nothingness

It seems like February has been spent running around non-stop.  We have an extra weekly activity.  I've  been working on a Valentine's Day gift for the girls involving the sewing machine.  I've had appointments and meetings during my 2.5 hours of weekly me time.  I'm tired.

Today, I finally scheduled some nothingness.  I literally assigned 3 hours to "Nothing" in my calendar.  It shows I am busy and I am going to try very hard not do anything during that time.  I don't feel like the girls have too many activities.  The one day we are booked solid is mostly playing.  I just need a breather.

Do you have to schedule down time into your calendar?  Are you diligent about finding free time to recover from your life or are you happy always on the go?

I had more free time before kids, of course.  I don't think I really felt things HAD to be done before taking on 2 little people's lives and stuff.  Now, I feel like there is always something that needs to be done.  If I am home, I clean something. If I am out, I run an errand (usually grocery.)  I try to lunch with DH on my few free hours.

I think I need to remember what nothingness feels like.

x:00 - x:00
Show as busy.

I hope next week I will be able to tell you I used it especially for nothingness.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How to Interest a Reader

I never had to think up amazing ways to get Ginger interested in reading.  She wanted to learn at 3 and so we just taught her.  We used some videos, some games that I made and we read to her.  She seemed to pick it up quickly.

Sugar, on the other hand, tells me she doesn't like books.  This makes my heart break.  I am a writer at heart and I LOVE to read.  I can read a 600 page novel in under 24 hours, if the writing is good. I belong to and help run a book club for some of my best mommy friends.  We read 1 book a month of the hostess' choosing.  I used to have enough books to fill an entire guest room.  When I read, I get sucked in, I frequently have to stand up and shake off the book world when I and finished with a reading spell.  I have to try very hard not to stay in the book once I put it down.

I LOVE BOOKS.  We try to read a chapter of a semi grown up book every night before bed, not only because it calms us a little, but because I want to share worlds with them.

Sugar makes me feel sad.  I want her to love books as much as I do.  Ginger doesn't LOVE books yet, but she can read and sometimes she surprises me and will sit for a bit with her own book while I have mine.

Today, I had each of the girls make their own books.  Ginger used a lot of words, because she can, and illustrated it.  Sugar made a few words, and lots of illustrations.  I am not sure yet if it made an impact on Sugar wanting to learn to read yet or not, but it's a step in the right direction.  I hope that when DH gets home, they are excited to show him what they wrote and read it to him.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sick Days

We had to take all last week off from our normal schedule.  No School.  No Park.  No leaving the house really.  It was not fun at all.

Ginger went down with what I thought was allergies earlier in the week.  She developed a cough the next day, which isn't a big deal for her, because she's prone to asthma-like symptoms and a cough is just par for the course.  Day 3, Ginger gets a fever and stays in bed watching movies on an ancient laptop that luckily still worked for our purpose.  She dosed on and off all morning while Sugar was quiet and subdued on the couch. (No big deal, probably just a cold/infection.)

Afternoon, day 3, both have fevers both are watching movies in separate rooms.  Since Sugar didn't have the respiratory symptoms, I figured the little one definitely had flu.  :(  Her fever spikes faster and stayed higher.  She had a couple of luke warm baths because the tylenol didn't do it's job on my time frame. Day 4, fevers and exhaustion.  Day 5, exhaustion, even me.

I'd like to thank the heavens, DH and I stayed healthy through this.  I owe this in part to the awesome Spring weather we are having locally, my windows stayed open during the germ fest and fresh air made me not so claustrophobic.  I am not good at being still.  Today is the first day both girls have been back to previous energy levels.  

Being forced to take a whole week off is hard.  Groceries did not get bought, dinner was hit and miss with the little ones not feeling like eating, no one had the energy to do much of anything.

The one thing I am glad for it that school does not suffer when we are forced to miss a week.  We school year round at each girls' pace.  We take mental health days and still managed to get in more than the required 180 days of school.

But today it was back to work, we shuffled our schedule a bit because Sugar is just not ready for math on Monday mornings.  I think we enjoyed our new line up and I know we enjoyed having something to do.

A week of being sick is BORING!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Creating in the Kitchen

I love to get creative in the kitchen. My favorite medium is bread, but I like to dabble in anything edible. I guess I dabble so much that Ginger has noticed. She has started a cookbook with her favorite recipes. She even found one that the whole family loves. It is a fancy, yet easy, chicken nugget recipe and no matter how much chicken we start with, we never have leftovers.

She wants to start getting creative in the kitchen too. She is working on some sort of egg recipe that sounds silly and yuck to me, but one day I will let her make it, because even failures make us better. Who knows, maybe it will be good with a few tweaks. :)