Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Sister, The Baby Maker

Right after my sister turned 38 this past August, she thought that she was suffering from menopause. A pregnancy test suggested otherwise. After a few months, she stopped crying. She has since embraced said surprise and has plodded along with her pregnancy. She has felt like dirt, can't take her happy pill, which makes her very happy and has been crabby as a result.

She called a few weeks ago to tell me that someone had inquired on when her baby shower would be. Traditionally, baby showers in our neck o' the woods are for your first baby. Anything over and above that are financed by the baby recipient. My sister falls into a different category, though. She moved to Southern PA (Hanover), had her two children, moved again to Southwestern PA (Waynesboro), then moved back to NE Ohio where she has lived in two separate places. Baby paraphernalia went by the wayside back in Hanover. We had decided long ago to have a shower for her, but when she phoned me it sounded as if she was scheduling her own shower. That hit us as kind of tacky.

We've gotten past accusing my poor sister of the tacky self-shower scheduling and have moved on. The shower is no longer a surprise, but life is a little easier now.

So last Friday, I spent some quality time with my seamstress friend and we made some lovely baby things for my sister from the 24 feet of fabric that I purchased in my tired haze at the Day After Thanksgiving Day Sale at Joann's. A couple yards here, a couple yards there . . . 24 total feet. Hmm. Who wasn't keeping count? We made:

6 pairs cotton 1 ply nursing pads
6 pairs cotton 2 ply nursing pads
4 changing pads
12 burp cloths
1 blanket with the silky edge (the silky edge fabric was leftover and in Laurie's scrap drawer)
1 tag blanket (again, made with scrap drawer scraps)
4 bibs

I went to Walmart and used my My Points gift card to purchase:

Lavender Bath Wash
Lavender Lotion
Baby Q-Tips
Wipes and wipe refill
Diaper Rash cream

My friend makes the most beautiful crocheted cotton baby hats, so I had her make one for Baby Pond House. Oh, it is just too great. K- wore a sleep cap 3 seasons for the first couple of years. (She was bald. Way bald.) I thought it made the perfect sleep hat for the new baby!

I added some other things into the basket that I had put up for a baby arrival. Whatever we pass on is something that my sister can use, so why not?

So today we have a baby party for my sister, LeAnne. Soon enough, she will fit back into her regular clothes, she'll be able to see her feet again and will no longer be able to find her floor because of all the baby stuff that she has accumulated.

So congratulations, my sister. Way to bake 'em! Living vicariously through you, my friend!

Friday, March 6, 2009

At, Bat, Cat, Hat

It's sight reading day here at Bailey's Leaf. I'm here to pick a few brains.

I was at K-'s school Thursday doing the once-a-month bulletin board in the hallway and was listening in on her class as I went. She's been coming home spelling and telling me of her "at" words. They've been working on them in class, as well as reading/spelling some colors.

Wow. All this in preschool. I know there are some more intensive programs than what K- is in out there, but I didn't even go to preschool. In Kindergarten, the big thing was not to pee-pee in your pants, to play nicely and learn your ABC's & numbers. I was Goldie Locks in the Kindergarten production of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. (No, my hair isn't blonde.)

So, I decided to go to my normal education supply place-- The Dollar Tree. (Though when I need hardcore help, we have a Holcomb's Knowplace near the mall.) I decided to see if they had some sight word cards. They had sight word selections from K - 3rd grade. I did a bit of cross referencing (and learning for that matter) about sight words and learned that the sight words involve 220 words that are what they consider most common. The Kindergarten packet that I bought was the exact listing on the Dolch list. They have them online, which everyone probably knew except for me.

I made the preschool cards for K-. I'll start doing those with her. It's important to note that she does know her sounds, so it would just seem like the next logical step would be to encourage reading, right?

She has her "My Little [letter of the week] Book" that she learns each week. They did say that it would be more memorization at the beginning and more sight word reading at the end of the year. By golly! They are right.

I just learned that the local public school that K- will be attending does NOT learn phonics. I find that unsettling. If they don't do phonics, what method are they using to teach children how to read? If it is sight only, how can we expect children to progress when it comes to harder, more compound words? No, I don't have an education degree. (Just look at the way I tend to commacize and abuse punctuation.) It seems to me that a combination of the two would be the answer.

My friend said that she is going to begin working with her son with a phonics workbook that she used with her older son. I don't know what curriculum it is from, but she was quite impressed. She did homeschool her older son for a couple of years, but I do think that she wasn't brand specific. She told me that she'd call me and let me know.

So for you teachers, homeschool parents and parents in general who have been there, what are your suggestions for my diving into sight reading/reading with K-? Am I expecting too much? K- just turned 5 this past December. She's in 4 day a week preschool and seems to be really blossoming as of late. I don't want to miss the window, but I don't want to overwhelm. (She is sight reading some already, and was reading some of the cards to me that I was writing for her.) Help!

Edited to add: Okay, first I changed the name of the sight word listing to the actual name. (Dolch not Dolce.) Um, helps to be a little more precise, eh? At any rate, my mommy friends have been so kind! Thank you so much for all of your suggestions. I did go back to The Dollar Tree and purchased the rest of the sight words. (No, we don't need them now, but will need them eventually so why not buy them and put them up?) We've been playing the game that Rach suggested and K- loves it. I also purchased a few more workbooks to have on hand once we get to that point. We always work on some summer homework to keep her mind fresh, so we may get to those then. (Pre-K Math, Counting to 100 and Sight Reading Workbook.) Thank you again! Keep those ideas coming!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I don't have any particular topic swirling in my head, so I'll give you a random list of stuff. (Written Wednesday night.)

1. Hubs went to the Wildlife Diversity Conference today and brought us back some loot. I love free conference loot! (Sad, I know.) I totally scored another butterfly identification book and a great, new re-useable shopping bag. I use them a ton and have a few that are starting to wear. Hubs thinks that I'm just trying to collect the whole set.
2. K- has been great, but had a little bit of a tired breakdown on the way out of the in-law's. Ack. Baby steps. She lost her Polly's-- again-- but, hopefully we can start earning them back again tomorrow night.
3. My co-worker went home with the start of a head cold. I hope that I don't get it, but it gave me time to work with the Gallery Director. She's never closed down the particular part of the store that I work in, so I kind of showed her the closing ropes. I was able to have some great conversation about artists that we know, worked with, learned from and such. The 2 hours flew by!
4. My in-law's picked spaghetti up for me tonight. Hubs usually picks K- up from their house, but since he was in Columbus all day, I went. It was very kind of them to think of me.
5. My mother-in-law took K- swimming today. They have a standing Wednesday afternoon swim date. It gives my mother-in-law some therapeutic exercise (she has rheumatoid arthritis) and allows them to do something nice together. It also saves me a night of bathtime at home!
6. Hubs is playing the Incredible Hulk with K- right now on the Game Cube. She loves the "green guy."
7. I hated that the Biggest Loser ended without us knowing if they made the 77 pound mark last night or not. Ugh.
8. I'm tired of hearing about The Bachelor. Jason is a glob of goo and I feel like I should flick a booger at him. No, Jesus wouldn't be happy that I'm flicking a booger at him, but he understands that Jason was a butt and could have handled the dump so much better. For the record, I only really watched the last bit of The Bachelor.
9. Did America's Next Top Model just start back up? Hmmm. Must go and watch! I think that this is the beginning. Yes, it has to be the very beginning, because wow-- they are way full of themselves. Pardon me, I must go watch!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Vinegar as Weed Killer

We organically garden. We also have a limestone driveway that is plagued by weed growth. I hate the idea of Round Up and I don't like the cost. Our herb garden is along side the driveway and I wasn't fond of eating Round Up. We found a solution, though. Vinegar.

That's right. We were at some museum or zoo in Columbus and they had a sign that said that you could use vinegar as a Round Up replacement. Fantastic! I can do that!

Put straight vinegar into a spray bottle. (I have a manual pump sprayer-- thank you, Cj!--that works well for me.) Spray the vinegar on the weed when it is sunny and dry out. In a few days, you will see that your weed has turned a nice brown. Just pull the dead stuff up and you are good to go.

Voila! Vinegar is a super duper thing, though. Last week's Washer Maintenance WFMW netted a tip from Jennifer. She said to run a cup of vinegar through your wash once a month to get rid of build up of soaps and whatnot. Here's even more good stuff about vinegar!

Next week: CFL Lifespan Tips.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Consumables in the store

Okay, I'm going to strike a nerve with many people. I apologize in advance, but I'm just saying how I feel.

I hate that we've come to the point where we must have some type of liquid beverage with us at all times. More specifically, I had a gentleman bring a gigantically enormous coffee mug in from his home brimming with hot coffee. I said something to my co-worker about it and she had to tell me that later, gigantic coffee mug man came back because he realized that he forgot his overly large beverage container and couldn't remember where he put it. Somewhere in the gallery, he rested it in a display amongst handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items that could potentially be damaged by his coffee being spilled. Today, I also had to confiscate a McDonald's Shamrock Shake from a 5 year old left unattended in our toy room (after all, I'm the staff babysitter, right?). First, what would possess someone to bring a child into a gallery with a substance to consume, let alone let her loose in a room with many fiber items that could be ruined in a heartbeat with the spilling of her lime green drink? People come in all the time with coffee cups that they just bought. We are not a coffee house. We are not set up as such. As much as I love people finishing their drink and leaving a Starbuck's cup as a part of my display, I'm wishing that the general public would refrain from consuming beverages while in stores.

When did this sudden urge to bring something liquid at all times everywhere everyone goes come from? I mean, for centuries people have managed just fine to wait for 15 minutes without a beverage in hand. The child today just tipped me off the edge of that pet peeve cliff. What's funny is that the mom was completely clueless.

This problem isn't even exclusive to the gallery. I remember a gentleman in the grocery store, walking along eating fried chicken, licking his fingers, picking things up off the shelf and pushing a cart. K- was cart seat age at that time. Then, people wondered why I put her on one of those foofy cart seat covers. I mean, really!

Now please know that I understand that there are certain health issues that call for the need of a snack at possibly an inopportune time in the store. My friend who has MS said that she'll eat a granola bar in the store (from the box that she is purchasing) because sometimes she needs the lift as she is going. I've also seen people with diabetic issues and low blood sugar problems needing to consume something to feel better.

I'm sorry. It is a pet peeve. I realize, but please o' please leave your beverages unattended for a while. They'll understand. They'll be okay without you for a little while.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

A little late in the day, but better late than never!

Right now I have a chicken pot pie baking in the oven. I roasted a whole chicken in my spankin' new Paula Deen 5 qt lidded casserole yesterday and used the leftovers for our pot pie. Here's how our eating this week is looking:

Monday: Macaroni Monday (Daddy's special. Yes, out of the box.)
Tuesday and Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie and salad (chicken and carrots from Sunday's meal)
Thursday and Friday: Crock Pot Turkey Tenderloin
Saturday: LeAnne's baby shower- Hubs fends for himself.
Sunday: Baked Pork chops, Herbed Barley and a vegetable

Ooo! What will we eat next week? Will I break out of my food rut? I see Chicken Corn Chowder on the horizon!

Spring Fever Monday

This is a Great Spangled Fritillary that I spotted at Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park when we were on vacation this past September.

I sign of summer arrived to our house. When we got home on Friday, I found this in our mailbox:
I forgot about entering the Seeds of Natural Beauty Contest, and while I didn't win the grand prize, I did win these. I'm not a great user of sunblock (I have skin that doesn't burn and I know it is a bad excuse), but this will be great to use! The lavender seeds? Those will go into my seeds to start pile in the next week.

So, thanks Aveeno! My skin thanks you, too!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Things For a New Year: March Update

1. I would like to lose 13 pounds. -- I've lost 6 and have kept them off. That is a step up. For the most part, that is typically the fluctuating 5 pounds.
2. We will eat better. -- We've been chugging along on this. I've hit a cooking slump. I intend on breaking out the crockpot more often. I need to meal plan and it will resolve much of my lack of creativity issue. We are eating better, though. Just not creatively.
3. We will keep a tidier house. -- We have done well. The livingroom is tidied each morning, Hubs handles the dishes and I've been making a conscious effort of keeping the laundry not only done, but put away twice a week. K- has been making her bed. We've been having the growth-spurt battle of the wills over picking up her toys. It seems as though taking many of her worldly possessions away and making her earn them back little by little has helped immensely. Thanks, Mom.
4. I will unearth the studio and make work again. -- This months goal. There is an opening at work in mid-April and I intend on having fresh, new work there.
5. I will concentrate more on Mommy School with K-. -- K- seems to be getting the true hang of her numbers, has been doing well working on sound identification, memorization and clarity of speech.
6. I will be certain that we get that bedtime story in every night. -- With the punishments and going straight to bed, the stories have not completely fallen by the wayside, but they have fallen by the punishment wayside.
7. I will begin devotional readings again. -- Okay, I haven't started reading devotionals, but I have started reading for enjoyment. That is something that I don't do often, but I have been reading before bed. I managed to finish Strange Fits of Passion and I've moved on to A Walk to Remember.
8. That TV will be turned off even more. -- K- has lost many TV privileges and will be without the box for a week. We've found that she has managed to have way more creative play. I told her that when she does get TV back, I'll be giving her a specified amount of time each day. When it is spent, it's gone.
9. We will do walking in the evenings again. -- Well, the weather has been less than walkable. But! Spring is upon us. I like to walk outside much more than walking on a treadmill.
10. It's not about me. -- It's a process. It's a work in progress.