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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coffee Almonds? Yes, please!

This morning I peeked into my daughter's room and found her sleeping like this:

I feel like that most mornings.

Because of that when I see anything labeled "coffee" be it ice cream, scented candles, or actual coffee, I'm immediately interested.

Now, I should right off that I don't usually promote products. I'm not a big product evangelist. Like my hero, Shawn Spencer, if I'm not getting paid for it, I don't usually wear the logo (though he did wear that Apple Jacks shirt. . .). However, it must be the caffeine talking because I am completely hyped up over this product I just found and purchased (with my own money, not even a coupon) and am getting nothing in return for talking it up.

COFFEE ALMONDS!!!

Coffee+Almonds!

I was in the nut section getting some cashews for a cashew chicken stir fry I make occasionally, and this cute little bag caught my eye. They were kind of a splurge item. This four ounce bag was $2.19 and while it says there are four servings inside, I'm going to eat them all in one sitting (perhaps why my typo rate is higher than usual today. Backspace is getting a workout.). I didn't even realize at first they were caffeinated. I just thought they were coffee flavored which was enough to draw me in. When I tasted the first one I thought, "Omgosh! Best almonds ever!" Then I read the back which says that 1 oz of these is the equivalent (caffeine wise) of two ounces of coffee. Who just drinks two ounces of coffee? It comes in tall, grande, venti for a reason.. .  (12, 16, 20oz for those of you who aren't former Starbucks employees or big time coffee drinkers. . .even people who order coffee regularly are still confused about tall being "small," in my experience, but it is because in Europe, or so I was told by a former boss, coffee usually comes in much smaller containers, so the sizes over there were "tall" which is our 12oz and "short" which is something smaller than 12oz, I'm not even going to fathom that.).

So where was I?

Oh, yeah, coffee almonds, by Blue Diamond, are awesome.

Serving suggestion size isn't kidding anyone. Eat the whole bag.

I'm really hyper right now.

Hyper hyper hyper. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tried a new show this week

I don't watch a lot of reality televsion. I enjoy Masterchef and America's Got Talent, but mostly I prefer scripted television with actual stories to people behaving like idiots in order to get their fifteen minutes of fame. However, I was really intrigued when I heard about "Whodunnit." It's basically a murder mystery dinner party game as a reality television series. The guests are staying at a mansion, complete with a creepy butler named Giles, and one by one their "murders" are staged while the remaining guests try to find clues to how it happened in order to survive. One of them is supposedly also the murderer so they have to guess at that as well, but at the rate of one murder/elimination per show, I imagine they are saving that for nearer the end.

I was intrigued. I like campy murder mysteries. I watch Psych, Castle, and CSI. Murder+Humor is my morbid bread and butter as far as television is concerned. . . However,  I was so disappointed in this show.

EVERYONE IS TAKING IT WAY TOO SERIOUSLY!

From the way the people talk and act about getting eliminated, you'd think the murders were actually real for one thing.

Several contestants are bragging about criminology or law enforcement backgrounds.

No one is ever in "character."

No one is having any fun with this.

What would I do if I were a contestant?

Well, the first thing I would do is approach  it as if I were in the middle of an Agatha Christie novel or a themed episode of Psych, rather than CSI or a show that wants you to take it seriously. The murderer is leaving clues in the forms of riddles. This isn't going to be solved by DNA and ballistics. Who cares if you have a degree in criminology?

The second thing I would do is realize that, if one of the contestants really is a murderer, he is both an actor and a plant, so the secret to solving "Whodunnit" is not so much in the clues as in getting to know your fellow contestants and figuring out who is lying about their back story.

The third thing, get a pair of sunglasses, take them off every time I make a discovery and pair it with a bad pun (this mansion is to die for) then do the CSI: Miami yell.

The fourth thing, get a deerstalker hat and start speaking in a bad English accent, call myself Lady Eugenia Victoria Pemmingsworth the Fifth.

I'd probably get kicked off/killed for not taking it seriously, but heck, I'd have a lot of fun instead of sitting there at elimination crying because I might be the  next to have to pretend to be dead while the others continue on without  me. Missed opportunity, cast and crew of Whodunnit. Seriously.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Sensory Play: Flour and Cookie Cutters



Today Coryn was across the street is playing with the neighbors so it was just myself and Claire (and a dog and a cat and a boring beta fish). We read some stories, but after awhile I decided I need to find something she would get her more involved. My first thought, after walking around the kitchen for awhile, was to get out my set of plastic cookie cutters.

It is a cool set, lots of different colors, shapes, and sizes, and for awhile we pretended they were hats, stacked them, wore them as bracelets, and generally examined them. Then I decided that if we were going to have fun we needed to get messy, so I got about a quarter cup of flour and a cookie sheet and we got down to business.

At first Claire just wanted to rub her hands in it, taste it, and throw it around, but then I showed her how to make marks in it with the cookie cutters and draw in it with her fingers.



Fun times, Claire; fun times. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tea Party by Coryn

"Mom, can we have a tea party?"

I'm not a girly girl, so moments like these, rather than being what I dreamed of when I thought of staying-at-home with my girls, often give me pause (playing with dolls and doing hair, also weak points). I'm not particularly good at or excited about games like dress up and parties and my pretend play is only likely to involve princesses if there are also dragons. That's just how I'm wired. 

But today Coryn asked and I said, okay, we can make some tea, got my Japanese tea set down, and set the kettle on the stove. While I waited for the water to boil, I started to sweep the wooden floors in the dining and living room area.

"Mom, can we have treats with our tea?" Coryn asked. 

"We really don't have any treats," I said, which was true. Shopping day for me is Monday. By Saturday  everything good is gone and all that remains is staples and a few vegetables. I also don't buy a lot of "treats" because if they are in the house I will eat them,and I just slipped into a pair of size twos for the first time since high school. Not to be deterred, she started poking around the fridge and cabinets. 

She had me pick out my cup (the tea set has four matching cups but they are matching only in style, not in pattern; each is a little bit different, which I like) and asked for napkins.

"We have paper towels," I said. 

"I guess I can use those," she said. "Can you get them for me?" 

"Why don't you get them?"

"I can't reach."

"Use your stool."

"Oh! Good idea!"

So she got two paper towels and having rediscovered her stool, I soon heard a lot of clinking and clanking coming from the kitchen.

"Be careful in there!" I ordered, wondering what she was getting into.

"Don't worry. I know everything about tea," she informed me.

I soon found out that the clanking was her getting dishes out for the snacks she managed to find. Broccoli, apples, and carrots. It was a very healthy tea party.

This late in the week, she is lucky we even had apples.

I poured the water into the tea pot over a bag of peppermint tea, and swept a little more while we waited for it to cool. Then we sat. Coryn informed me that I had to hold my fingers like this (pinky up):

which, believe it or not, she learned from Sponge Bob. . . Yeah, pinky up is "fancy" according to Patrick Star.

We took some "bonding" selfies towards the end and drank up all our peppermint tea, so as tea parties go, it wasn't half bad. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Dinner with Friends

 



Wordless Wednesday Hop

Drawing With Your Hands: Preschool Art



Last week we went to the library and started participating in the Summer reading program. You are supposed to fill in a square on the chart they give you for every day you read at least fifteen minutes (or are read to, since both my girls are pre-readers) and also whenever you are in the library you can roll one of their large dice which gives you a special assignment. Claire got "read a fantasy book" and Coryn got "read an arts and crafts book."

So I took some time out to browse the arts and crafts section and came up with the book linked above: Drawing With Your Hands.

The ideas in this book are simple, nothing you wouldn't be able to see on pinterest or figure out on your own. In fact, after trying a few of the animals in the book, Coryn came up with her own idea for some "hand art" and made a tree.



Simplicity aside, she did get a lot of inspiration from seeing all the different animal shapes in one spot and we took turns tracing each others' hands and coloring them in to be different animals. She also labeled a lot of them which was good for her early writing/spelling skills. 

The following are some pieces of art work she did:





I only was able to find used ones on Amazon, so I'm guessing the book itself is out of print, but if you can get a hold of a copy it definitely sparked some fast and furious art production around here. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

My new note cards


Aren't these awesome? These are my new note cards ordered from the Etsy shop of fellow blogger Sarah. You should check out her blog (A Cat-Like Curiosity) and Etsy shop. I really need an excuse to send someone snail mail now!

I love these cards because they were specially designed for me. I love her art but don't have a lot of wall space to hang prints, so I asked if she ever did cat prints in note cards. I basically got to pick out any of her art to have placed on my cards. I love this particular piece because of the "baby cats/mama cats," which, as you can see from my blog name, I am all about. I call my girls my kittens or "Bitten and Litten" (big kitten and little kitten, I know, weird, right?). 

So, yeah, awesome cats!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tooth Fairy Time

Today Coryn lost her first tooth.

Of course, being Coryn, she did so in her own unique way. The tooth was loose for a couple of weeks but lingered long enough that the "big girl"tooth came in behind the baby one before it fell out. I never remember that happening with me. I remember having gaps and holes in my mouth for weeks on end after the tooth fell out before, finally, tooth 2.0 would appear. From certain angles you can't even tell Coryn is missing a tooth; it just looks as if one of her teeth is slightly shorter than the others.

She wanted to show her friends across the street the tooth (I gave her a box to put it in) right away, but it was after  nine by this point, so I convinced her that it could wait. I wrote out a quick note to the toothfairy on her behalf and told her to sign it and up it under her pillow so that if the toothfairy came tonight she would know to come back tomorrow.

I'm trying to figure out some sort of cutesie "note from the toothfairy" to sneak in there tonight. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Spider by Coryn

So the other day Coryn came in and announced she and her friends had seen a "window spider." This is the drawing that she did a little later of said "window spider." Unnerving, is it not?

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Saturday, June 8, 2013

More Sensory Fun: Colored Rice

To me Sensory Play is just a fancy word for what kids do when we don't have them on short leashes anyway. Be it in the dirt or  toilet paper or with markers, kids just love to make a mess. I have a personal belief that children should be free range/feral/unrestricted the majority of time. I have very little concern for how they are dressed and what they put in their mouths and sometimes I find it cathartic to let them tear the house to pieces. My husband, however, has a problem with how long it takes me to get the house back together after such explosions so with the weather good (though perhaps a little too hot) I've been moving some of our play time outside.

Yesterday we did chalk paints (recipe here; unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take pictures), but we've also recently done sensory activities with pasta, beans, colored ice, and rice . . . the previous rice play probably deserves its own post because it was brought about by nasty weevils.

weevils in my rice


I don't know if you can see the little nasty monsters  in there, but when we got back from Oregon a few weeks ago they had moved into an unopened bag of rice . . . the fact that the bag was still sealed makes me wonder if there had been weevil eggs in the rice when I purchased it, but there was a pin prick sized hole they could've gotten through, so I'm not sure which it was. . . but since I am not a squeamish person, I picked as  many weevils as I could out and let Claire play with the rice. I later froze that rice to make sure I didn't miss any weevils (I found a few frozen corpses when I took the rice out of the freezer for our next play time).

a close up of a weevil; they are tiny but for some reason Matt won't eat them
The resulting chaos of the rice play time, however, was what made me determine to do  the rest of our play times out side.

rice chaos
Last night, inspired by the colored ice success, I decided to up the fun level by dying the rice. I used the recipe I found here, but it is a pretty basic process: just a few drops of vinegar and a few drops of food coloring in a bag with some rice, let it stand until dry. 

So today we brought out the colored rice and the girls went colored rice crazy.

happy girls
Emptying the rice into various containers
 
Claire, of course, always eats our sensory activity. It's just part of exploring her world. Uncooked rice in diapers is kind of off putting, but as far as I know not harmful.

The rice is actually really pretty and I think would be great at a wedding (people still throw rice at weddings, right? They didn't at mine, but I'm not much of a planner and probably over simplified everything) or in clear containers as a decorative element.

The containers we used were various items from our kitchen and the recycling bin. Funnels are great. Coryn asked if she could  go get more stuff and came back with a wooden spoon, my strainer, and some measuring spoons.

Yummy
a rainbow on the patio
We also have a tiny broom/dustpan set that I got in the Target dollar bins which is one of the best tools for play like this. Coryn, towards the end, was pretending she was Cinderella, cleaning the floors. Claire, at this point, is too young to care that her sister kept calling her an "ugly stepsister."

I'll close with one more close up to show how pretty this stuff is. Seriously awesome.




Friday, June 7, 2013

Coryn and Vincent






I like to use my daughter's pre-existing interests, be they in pretty dresses and princesses or animals or Doctor Who, to tie into learning opportunities. I have done a lot of this regarding space (here, here, and here), and recently I thought I would try it out with some art appreciation (originally mentioned here).

There is an awesome Doctor Who episode called Vincent and the Doctor where the Doctor senses something is amiss in Vincent Van Gogh's timeline and goes back to visit, fight a monster, and help the troubled painter find some inspiration. I googled some of Van Gogh's paintings and showed Coryn what he had painted and then we were off to the library.


Similar to our study on space, I wanted to get a mix of fiction and non-fiction as well as some books that were "above her head" just to start introducing her to ideas. Since art is very visual, I also wanted some books where there were good, full page photos of the pictures in question.


Coryn's absolute favorite of all our choices was Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew, a story about a little girl's trip to the art museum where she learns she can jump in and out of several famous paintings by three different postimpressionist painters (a word you learn if you read the afterword which gives some biographical information about the painters): Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cezanne. The story is clever and really appealed to her and it does introduce a child to several famous paintings. The story is obviously fictional/fantasy and Coryn didn't want to sit through the biographical paragraphs at the end, but the main take away from this book is learning to recognize the works of different painters (Five famous paintings are shown in detail and a few more are in the background in the scenes that take place inside the museum rather than inside the paintings.). This is definitely one of the better art focused children's books I have read and it is now on Coryn's Amazon wishlist.



Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt is more historical. The story is about a young boy whose family befriended Van Gogh and whose picture he actually painted. While Coryn likes the fantastical storyline of Katie better, she did ask to read Camille more than once. The story does involve some details of how Van Gogh was treated poorly--children throwing rocks at him, people not appreciating his work--without touching on his depression and ultimate suicide (something that is dealt with to some extent in the Doctor Who episode so I was prepared to explain it though hoping I wouldn't have to), and Coryn was a little upset that the people in the story were mean to Van Gogh.


The First Starry Night by Joan Shaddox Isom has, in my opinion, the best illustrations of the bunch because the author was very good at producing pictures in the style of Van Gogh, but the story did not appeal to Coryn as much as the other fictional books we found. The story is told from the perspective of an orphan boy who befriends Van Gogh (I'm pretty sure the character is pure fiction) and does have some more details on his depression/illness. The main draw, however, is the pictures.

The non-fiction selections I made all turned out to be over Coryn's head. They had too much text, too many technical words, and not enough story. I did get them mainly for the pictures of of the pictures, however, because a lot of them had full page photos and detail photos and other illustrations that allow Coryn to get closer to the art if she so desires.

These include: Van Gogh (Famous Artists Series)

and

Vincent van Gogh

and

Vincent's Colors

The last of which isn't "wordy" but just has a short line describing each picture on one page and a picture of one of the paintings or a detail from a painting on the other.

With art at this age, I think what is most important is just giving the child a sense that it is important and the rest is simply a matter of exposure.  I'd like to do some art projects involving these paintings, but I haven't had the time to arrange it yet.