Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Very cool kid's site with NO ADS!

Found this site listed at the bottom of an article my mom sent (see, mom, I didn't just put them all in the recycle bin!). It's a great kid's game site, from France, with no advertising. Love the telescope game, as well as the painting (that allows you to mix colors from the primary ones and black/white).

Monday, February 25, 2008

New favorite book...and it's a SERIES!

I sneaked out of bed this morning at a little after 6 to finish reading this book. Since I don't have time to write my own review (mama's gotta make her latte while little Viv is napping...priorities, you know!), here's what Booklist has to say:
The escapades of the Greek gods and heroes get a fresh spin in the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, about a contemporary 12-year-old New Yorker who learns he's a demigod. Perseus, aka Percy Jackson, thinks he has big problems. His father left before he was born, he's been kicked out of six schools in six years, he's dyslexic, and he has ADHD...Riordan's fast-paced adventure is fresh, dangerous, and funny. Percy is an appealing, but reluctant hero, the modernized gods are hilarious, and the parallels to Harry Potter are frequent and obvious.
I had purchased the first 3 in the series for the JHHS library, upon recommendation from a student. Then friend Kristin told me she was reading (and loving!) them with her older nanny-charge. Going to start # 2 tonight...the 4th in the series is due out this May. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Three books, one week

OK, so I need to update my Shelfari list...but until then, I wanted to post on some reading I've been doing. Last week I finished Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by (local author) Ted Kerasote. Bret received it from Julie and Shawn for Christmas. Very interesting story about the relationship between a man and his dog -- who lives an extraordinarily "free" life for a dog -- lots of roaming in the small town of Kelly, WY, hunting, skiing, etc.

I then went on to another animal book with the fictional Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. Read it in about 3 days -- it was excellent! The narrator is in a nursing home and tells the story of his life, when traveling circuses were abundant (well, declining, actually). Great love story, both between humans and animals. This was our bookclub read for Feb, we're meeting next Tuesday.

Finally, I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road. This was loaned to me by our friend Bud -- who wanted to know what I'd think of it. Well, thanks for the freaky nightmares mister...just kidding, but only kind of! What a strange, futuristic, unpleasant novel...and yet I couldn't stop reading it. A great book for discussion.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dinner swap RULES!

I just got invited by my friends Jen and Polly (both mamas I know from when we did our cooperative playgroup together) to be in their dinner swap. I did a dinner swap for over a year with friends Julie and Hillary when Sabine and Vivian were very little,, and it was a godsend.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, here's how it works. Find a willing friend (or two). It helps, but is probably not completely necessary, if you have a similar # of folks in your family, with sort of similar eating tendencies. If you're lucky enough to have 3 families involved, this is how it works:

Night 1 - family 1 cooks - family 2 picks up and delivers to family 3 (and for themselves)
Night 2 - family 2 cooks - family 3 picks up and delivers to family 1 (and for themselves)
Night 3 - family 3 cooks - family 1 picks up and delivers to family 2 (and for themselves)

So...you cook one night, you deliver one night, and one night you have totally off! Not only do you get to sample new cooking, you have fewer dishes overall (only one night to clean up from cooking), you've built community, and have more time for other things (like writing on your blog...).

Real Simple ran an article on "cooking exchanges" a while ago...check it out for some ideas. FYI, we came up with a budget of $10-$12/family/meal...i.e. for each night you cook for dinner swap, you should plan on spending $30-$36.

FYI, this week, among other things, my family and I enjoyed:

* marinated pork tenderloin, steamed/seasoned asparagus, mashed potatoes
* meat loaf (with chopped veggies), carrots/sugar peas/broccoli, potatoes
* breaded chicken with onions/red peppers/mushrooms, brown butter balsamic asparagus, couscous

WITH leftovers.

And I had time to tell you all this. :)

(Can you guess which one I cooked? I'll post one of my recipes from this week's dinner swap soon...)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The mini art weasel

We were playing "store" last night (I was the buyer, Sabine the store keeper) and she put together a pile of things she wanted to sell. Among them was the mini art easel we had made in the afternoon. I found it here in Family Fun magazine -- leafed through it at the library the other day while Sabine and Vivian were playing on the game computers. I thought it would be a good place to display ATCs (I've been on a sewing kick lately, so I haven't been making any). Anyhow...Sabine was telling me all the things she had for sale (a tape dispenser, a headlamp, etc.) and then she said, "...and this mini weasel." Just cracked me up. BTW, you can see a mini-weasel here.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thanks for the Valentines Day cards!

Thanks for the cards, Grandmother Joan, Boopy and Granny Jean!

This is the card Sabine made for Vivian.
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Igloo building 101

This is how Bret began our igloo. Mining blocks from all the snow that's fallen off the North roof of our house.

He painstakingly set up a circle (using a stake in the ground and some rope, spray painted with surveyors' paint) and added a doorway...and began stacking blocks. While trying to figure out how to build it up, he found the following video (it's long...but extremely valuable...great music...and it's from CANADA! Hey, if anyone should know igloos, they should, right?)

Ahhhh...the magic of the upward spiral, and building in the correct direction -- apparently there's a right and a left handed version. Maybe next time...The Eskimos did their whole igloo in 1.5 hours...Bret's took...a little longer (well, it's not done yet)...he says he scratched his head for that long...just trying to figure out how to do it...
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Princess Vivian

Sabine is her personal photographer. And her tattoo artist in residence.
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I stand corrected...

...and it's not the first time. I guess you can swing on your swingset in the middle of winter, even when there is about 2' of snow surrounding it, when you ask daddy if he could please make it so. (That's Bret climbing up into the playfort to close the door.)
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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Science lesson

Please, don't report me to PETA (is there a PETInsects branch?). For some reason, we have had a few flies in the house -- I don't know where they've been hiding with all the snowy weather -- but Sabine wanted to catch one. So this poor fella (gal?) was buzzing on his back on the window sill, and Sabine put him/her into her bug jar thing and gave him/her a bit of apple to eat...alas, it looks like it just didn't cut it. Sorry 'bout that fly.
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Tape is cheap

Vivian started by putting tape over her mouth (really, I swear, I've never done that to her or Sabine (or Bret!)), then moved on to one of the kitchen cabinets. Fifteen minutes of fun!

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Snow, snow everywhere...

These are from a few days ago...that's the bike Bret rides to the in town ski area with his skis in the makeshift burley...

The back yard swingset...no swinging for us for a while!

The front yard pile...BTW, for those of you in warmer climes, the extension cord you see in the tree is for plugging in the car at night when it gets really cold (like 20 below)...keeps the battery warm (or something...who cares, it works!)
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