Friday, August 31, 2012

Astronomical Disruption

I've had quite a few big projects this summer including a marketing campaign to roll out a division of our new company.  I had to wait until the UK was done with their roll out to post any of the details.  It involved hours of addressing envelopes, creating seals, custom branding irons and hours upon hours of work.  I'm pretty proud of the results.  Sorry the photos aren't great!

Instant message of receiving package #1
Facebook was a abuzz with chatter on the release

 Week 1- The introduction
We rented a P.O. Box so that our return address wouldn't give us away.  The first delivery was a letter with a big gold wax seal that said the date of the release and was branded with the Alchemy symbol.  It was instantly on Twitter and instant messenger as people tried to guess who had sent them a strange letter.

Week 2- Money Clips


We sent out laser engraved money clips on a branded note with just the date hand written on the back.

Week 3- From Water To Gold
We customized boxes with a seal that fused onto the inside and then put a vial of gold inside.



Week 4- Astronomical Disruption
About week 4 we had some info leak.  People were calling up manufacturer's and trying to pry info out of them.  Secret messages we didn't even intend were being decoded.  One person found out so we had to hurry and surprise everyone with an evite announcing our release party.
We sent out custom made spinning coins.


 Week 5- Time
We sent out the official paper invites and hour glasses that had to branded with our iron.



Week 6- We sent out custom made longboards.  Originally I wanted these delivered by an actor but apparently that is hard to find in Hollywood.
Week 7- Time to party
Everything was set for our big release and we flew out for the party!



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Black Ninjas

 Yesterday was Red Fish's first official soccer game.  She turned somersaults in the field and spent a good deal of time trying to run across the field while only steping where other kids were casting a shadow on the grass.  It's a very tricky way to run. Pretty hilarious overall.  I think she was a little confused about what was happening or what the rules were.  She is still pretty timid about getting in the middle of the other kids.  She doesn't want to step on anybody's toes.
 She thoroughly enjoyed being the goalie, she understands that part of soccer well.  She knows she gets to use her hands and that she can't let the ball in her goal.  It was her favorite part.  She liked the yellow jersey and she kept flexing her muscles in the goal.  She blocked several balls.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baby Shower

 My sister in law Lee Lee and I threw a baby shower for my other sil M.E. on Saturday.  We decided to make it a crafting shower and we had onsies and hair bows for everyone to make for the new baby girl.  We threw the shower at my Mom's house since mine has been unavailable.
 We did a "shower theme" with these cute little favors and decorated with umbrellas and tissue paper clouds.
 
 There were four sewing machines buzzing while people added fabric and ribbons to cloth diapers to use as burp cloths.  We had fabric paint and appliques for the onsies as well as stacks of fabric. 
 My Mom and Grandma worked on a cute blanket and Lee Lee made hooded towells.

 M.E. got a whole bunch of cute things to help her prepare for the baby.  She is going to be a wonderful Mom and I'm excited to meet the little miss!
 We made quite a bit at the shower- nine onsies (the turtle was made by my brother), five burp cloths, a blanket, 3 hooded towells, 20 bows, a tutu, a taggie blankie and the fun diaper cake made by Lee Lee.  M.E. came away with a lot of cute stuff.
My favorite thing I made was the guitar onsie
The invitations

The Books We Read

I love books and I love to read.  I have been reading recently about the topic of reading to children.  Two Fish and I  have enjoyed reading to our kids pretty much from birth.  The girls and I read almost everyday together.  We haven't been taking many trips to the library over the summer but we plan to get back into a good rhythm when the weather turns cooler.  (Too much fun to be had outdoors right now.)  Sometimes the girls will let me read to them before bed but most of the time, Two Fish reads to them for 30-45 minutes before bed.  We have around 250 kids books.  They've all been read countless times.  Certain favorites have been read hundreds of times, sometimes multiple times a day.

In an article written recently by Emily Swan PHD, she said: "Children who read a wide variety of books and spend longer periods of time reading literally get smarter. How much kids read really counts! Reading is the BEST way to increase knowledge so it makes sense that children who read often and for sustained periods of time learn more than children who do not read for very long or do not read a variety of different kinds of books. These children build background knowledge on a variety of topics and concepts. This background knowledge is key in understanding new information. Voracious readers have an easy time connecting new information to their background knowledge, making school easier and more enjoyable, compared to children who don’t read and who don’t have a lot of background knowledge."  

She goes on to describe the variety of vocabulary and background knowledge that should come from reading a variety of books.  I've been thinking a lot over the past year about the type of books I read to my kids.  We enjoy beautiful illustrations, creative stories and themes my kids are interested in.  Sometimes we get stuck in a rut though.  I'm constantly looking into different styles of learning and different curriculums (because I'm obsessed) and I stumbled on Sonlight.  I liked that the preschool curriculum was just mostly books to read to my kids.  It had science books, myths and traditional stories and rhymes as well as poetry, longer novels (we had never tried reading anything that long or with that few of pictures before),

My kids and I just finished the Pre-K curriculum from Sonlight.  We started in February so we did it faster than the 36 weeks prescribed and we didn't necessarily stick to the day by day schedule in the instructor's guide.  We read a few days a week and we didn't do any of the letter recognition activities because Red Fish already knows them and New Fish wasn't ready until recently.  Plus, we just didn't really have time with everything else on our plate. I loved the books.  My kids loved the books.  It was really good for all of us.  We read about other cultures, learned tons of new nursery rhymes, read fairy tales etc. and it made me feel like a good Mom.  These became "Mommy's special books."  Some of the stories got read twice in a row because they couldn't put them down.  So here are some of our favorites

We did not read the Bible stories or the stories from Africa all the way through.  I was disappointed by both of them.  I would skip those. There are other books in the collection but these were the ones we liked best.

American Tall Tales CD narrated by Jim Weiss- My kids have listened to this CD over and over.  It was a lifesaver on our drive to California last May.  Jim Weiss does an awesome job doing the different voices and the Paul Bunyan story was especially fun. 

A Treasury Of Mother Goose- We have several mother goose collections but this one has rhymes I had never heard before.  My kids love the songs that go along with these and pull this book out on a regular basis to look at the pictures and read through it.  My kids have become very adept at picking out which words rhyme and which don't.  It has inspired several games around our house and helped prepare them to read.  Nursery rhymes are just something every child should read.

 The Lion Story Teller Book- Definitely a favorite from this set.  The illustrations are beautiful, the stories are fun and my kids went crazy over the lion and the rabbit tales.  This one is a keeper.

The Milly Molly Mandy Story Book- This was only the second chapter book my kids have ever read.  I thought it was a little dry but endearing.  The girls adored it.  They kept pretending to be Milly Molly Mandy.

Stories From Around The World- I love the borders and illustrations in this book.  I didn't love every single story, some were a little weird or boring but for the most part I thought it was great for the girls to get a look  into other cultures and traditions.  This book was a favorite.

Eric Carle's Animals Animals- I love Carle and we all loved this book.  It is basically a different animal illustration with a poem or saying about the animal on each page.  It has been read repeatedly. 

The Children's Book of Virtues- Contains stories that every kid should know, like the Boy Who Cried Wolf etc.




A Children's Book Of Art- We have art books all over our house but having a schedule of themed pages helped us to actually sit down and examine paintings together.  We talked about different elements used and it inspired many conversations about art.  I am definitely going to pull out more of my art books to look at with the kids from now on.  Fabulous.

The Classic Tales Of Brer Rabbit- I adore this book.  The illustrations are fabulous.  The stories are American classics. It is so fun to read. This book has become a regular around our house.  It is a definite favorite.

Uncle Wiggily's Story Book- This is the first long novel I have ever read to my children.  I was afraid they would be bored with so few pictures (and only black and white sketches) to look at but I was pleasantly surprised.  They sat in absolute awe of the animal adventures.  They talk about Uncle Wigggily frequently.  We will definitely be reading many long books together in the future.

People- Awesome for creating a discussion on how people are all so beautifully different.  This book was a great teaching tool for my children.

The Usbourne Book Of Things People Do- Each set of pages has detailed illustrations of a career.  There are ballerinas, police people, bakers etc.  I think my children learned a lot from this book and it really got them thinking about all of the different opportunities that await them in the world.  This was a favorite. 

First Thousand Words- I would have thought this book was too juvenille for my kids, or at least for Red Fish but this might have been their favorite book.  New Fish looks at it on a regular basis.  They had a blast learning new vocabulary and finding the pictures.

The Berenstein Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature- had great illustrations and perfectly age appropriate answers to dozens of science questions.  My kids liked all of the scientific books in the Sonlight program but this was by far the favorite.

The Year At Maple Hill Farm- My kids adore all things animal so this book went over very well with them.


I'm still struggling to decide if we will jump into the Kindergarten curriculum or not.  It seems more involved and is very pricey. We may just check out some of the books it suggests.  I'm not sure yet.  We have a lot of plans this Fall.   Overall, I highly recommend these books and the Sonlight program.  It has been a great experience for all of us. It has broadened our horizons and opened us to reading things I wouldn't have read with my kids on my own.  I will definitely repeat the program with just New Fish in a year.










Saturday, August 25, 2012

Daddy Date To The Zoo

 Daddy/daughter date to the zoo today.  Favorites included the polar bears, grizzly bears, sea lions and their beloved giraffes.

What's For Dinner This Month

I'm trying to get back on track with my dinners.  We've just been scrambling to get dinner on the table for the last couple of months.  I got off track with making my freezer meals for awhile.  I'm back at it again.  This month was by far my least successful month of making the meals.  I had multiple technical difficulties so it made for a very long day of cooking.  The prep work and actual preparation of all of the meals is a bit grueling sometime.  This month was especially bad. Next month when my family has had fabulous dinners every night for a month, I won't care how much work it takes.  It's just one day of cooking and it makes the rest of my life so much easier.  My family has dinner at the table, I feel like a better Mom and it is less stress on everyone.  My kids even get to bed on time when I have meals prepped. It's definitely a good thing.
I tried a few new things this month that my family has already eaten and enjoyed-
These lettuce wraps- http://www.ourbestbites.com/2011/04/asian-lettuce-wraps/
 This pasta (Lee Lee's was made with Quinoa pasta to make it gluten free) -http://www.ourbestbites.com/2010/02/baked-chicken-penne-freezer-meal/ With this alfredo sauce http://www.ourbestbites.com/2008/08/guiltless-alfredo-sauce/
I added some fresh broccolli to ours.  It was delicious.

Some new ones I haven't eaten yet-
This crock pot Beef and Broccolli- http://www.bsrecipe.blogspot.com/2012/04/crock-pot-beef-and-broccoli.html# 
This Korean Beef- http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef.html 
And a stroganoff with homemade cream of chicken soup.
A stir fry
Another Chicken and Brccoli Alfredo dish 
Ranch pork chops
Pepper Stake
There are also some favorite repeats from previous months-

*Cranberry/apricot chicken- Chicken pieces, 1 env. onion soup, 1 bottle Russian dressing, 1 med. jar apricot jam or can of cranberry sauce.  Mix and freeze.  Thaw and Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.
*Italian Chicken-chicken breasts, 1 10oz can cream of chicken soup , 1 8oz package of cream cheese, 1 package italian dressing.  Thaw, bake and serve over noodles.
*Chicken and Rice Bake- 1 can Cream of mushroom soup, instant white rice, 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp. paprika, chicken.  Thaw and bake at 375ยบ for 45 minutes or until done.  I froze mine without the water.
*Gaint Crockpot Chili- (this will feed us for 3 or 4 meals. I plan to make taco salads and other things with it.)  2 lbs. cooked ground beef, 2 cans northern beans, 3 cans kidney beans, 4- 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatos, 2 med. Onions, green pepper, 1 tsp. garlic, 3 tbsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. cumin, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. salt.  Freeze and then dethaw and put in crock pot.
*Chicken roll ups-  package of crescent rolls, cream cheese, garlic, salt pepper, shredded chicken, gravy
* Crock Pot Chicken Mix-(2 dinners worth for my family) Shredded Chicken, 1 can black beans, 1 can corn, 2 cups salsa.  Heat through in crockpot.  Add cream cheese 30 minutes before serving over rice. 
*Taquitos-  cream cheese, green salsa, lime, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cilantro, green onions, chicken, pepperjack cheese, corn tortillas, kosher salt (This time I accidentally got Monterey Jack cheese- they were still good.)
*Spaghetti- Meat, tomato paste, tomato sauce, chopped veggies and onions, spaghetti spice packet.  Thaw and serve over pasta 
* Shredded chicken tacos 
 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fish


My little fish are off to go swimming.  Gotta make the summer of water last!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Renovations

 Our house is slowly looking a bit like a house again.  Everything is covered in a layer of drywall dust and the floor is a mess but we've got a ceiling and walls again.  We've been to the carousel at the mall, several trips to the park, outside projects, read endless stories and have plans to go swimming.  We're just trying to stay out of the way for the most part.  After the main part of the house is painted and hopefully fixed up, I have more painting to do around the house.  Might as well do it all now.
Find the kid in this renovation