Reading List Summary, September 2013

Mom's List
Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

Jack's List
Wonder (R.J. Palacio)
The Pirate's Coin (Marianne Malone)
A Diamond in the Desert (Kathryn Fitzmaurice)
Star Wars: Jedi Academy (Jeffrey Brown)
One False Note (Gordon Korman)
NERDS: Attack of the Bullies (Michael Buckley)
The Ersatz Elevator (Lemony Snicket)
The White Giraffe (Lauren St. John)

EJ's List
Nate the Great Talks Turkey (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and the Fishy Prize (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
The Gator Girls (Joanna Cole)
Nate the Great and the Sticky Case (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and the Phony Clue (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
The Absent Author (Ron Roy)
Nate the Great and the Snowy Trail (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and The Case of the Fleeing Fang (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Nate the Great and The Boring Beach Bag (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)
Young Cam Jansen and the Double Beach Mystery (David A. Adler)
Pickle Pizza (Beverly Lewis)
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies (Erica Silverman)
The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Climbing Cat (Cynthia Rylant)

Olivia's List
Away Go the Boats (Margaret Hillert)
Hello, Beach! (Deborah Schecter)
So Many Sounds (Dana Meachen Rau)
Winter Is Here (Deborah Schecter)

Read-aloud List
Henry Huggins (Beverly Cleary)
Henry and Beezus (Beverly Cleary)
The Chicken Problem (Jennifer Oxley)
Ganesha's Sweet Tooth (Sanjay Patel)
The Watermelon Seed (Greg Pizzoli)
The Smushy Bus (Leslie Helakoski)
Wemberly Worried (Kevin Henkes)
Cowboys Can Be Kind (Timothy Knapman)
Brownie & Pearl Make Good (Cynthia Rylant)
Tiptoe Joe (Ginger Foglesong Gibson)
A Perfect Home for a Family (David L. Harrison)
Cheetah Can't Lose (Bob Shea)
Summer Days and Nights (Wong Herbert Yee)
Busy-Busy Little Chick (Janice N. Harrington)
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Jane Cabrera)
How to Be a Cat (Nikki McClure)
Ol' Mama Squirrel (David Ezra Stein)
Little Sweet Potato (Amy Beth Bloom)
The Table That Ran Away To the Woods (Stefan Themerson)
Flashing Fire Engines (Tony Mitton)
Mama Hen's Big Day! (Jill Latter)
Day by Day (Susan Gal)

Double Digits!

Someone in our house is turning 10 today (although not technically until after he goes to sleep tonight...that kid made us wait).  It's kind of a tough one for this Momma.  I mean look at the little guy above...back when he was chubby and little and shy.  I miss this little guy, but I really love the kid he is becoming.

Back then we had a shy, quiet kid and now we still have a quiet kid but he is so much more.  I see how my quiet kid works hard to get an even quieter kid to feel included on the baseball bench.  I've seen my quiet kid adapt and make new friends time and time again through many changes at school.  I see my quiet kid make sure that his sisters and included and respected by others.  And I love seeing my quiet kid voicing his opinions about the world and his world when he feels things aren't right.  Even if that voicing is directed at me sometimes.

Jack is happiest on the soccer field, but also every serious there.  He wants to play well and do the best for his team.  I love his positive attitude and the way he leads by example.  He's still at the age where they play every position and he likes to play every position, but as his coach says, he's a natural defender (so he spends a fair amount of time there).  It's not the most glamorous position, but he does a great job (and even scored the first goal of the season while playing defense).

Happy Birthday, kiddo!  Hope your 10th year is everything you hope it to be!

My Grandma's birthday was yesterday and we miss her everyday, but always try to remember the happy things...including her many dual birthday celebrations with Jack.  Love you, Grandma!

Filling in the Circles ... Girl's Room Redo 4

{Dream Big prints from The Dreamy Giraffe, photos by Ticklebugs Photography, glitter maps by me}

I filled in those empty embroidery hoops on the girls' walls to finally complete the groupings above each of their beds.  I really like how they came out...similar but unique to each girl.

So, that's the (wonky) overall view, here's a little closer up...

The girls each have favorite songs (like hands down, no guessing, these are their absolute favs for ages) and so I decided to use a lyric from each of their songs and stitch it on their hoop.  I like how each lyric works well with each girl as well.  The girls picked the fabric for the backing.  It's a little crazy but it adds a nice pattern to the wall and they both felt it was very big girl.

On EJ's, I used stem-stitch and just one color embroidery thread (her favorite...purple) for a more grown-up girl look.

For Livie's, I tried to make it more fun and playful by using a couple different colors of thread and mixing up the stitches between backstitch and chain stitch.

I think these are the girls favorite things on the wall and I'm very thankful for that.  I am thrilled that I was able to capture songs they love (Coldplay & Michael Franti, by the way), use colors they love and capture a little of them right now for their room.  That is why I love handmade gifts!

To see more Girls' Room Redo Posts, click here...

Still Partying, Still Not Ten

Jack's friend party was planned a couple times in several venues, but in the end a birthday party flier switched it all again to a Marquette men's soccer game.  It was possibly the easiest party I've ever planned/hosted for kids and I loved the low-key approach needed when it comes to a group of 10-year-old boys.  It was a lot of fun, despite the weather.

Yes, our outdoor party was plagued by a day of thunderstorms and cold temps (the rain cleared partway through the party at least).  I ran out after Jack's morning soccer game and picked up Dollar Store clear rain ponchos.  The boys were not having that AT ALL.  I heard from everyone of them that I was trying to make them wear garbage bags.  Then one of them came up with the brilliant idea to use the ponchos as seat protectors (the bleachers were sopping wet), so they came in handy anyway.

The rest of the party was pretty simple.  They made fun of me for rain ponchos and making them hold up a soccer ball sign so parents could find us for drop-off (which given the rain wasn't too tough) and we filled them with hot dogs and sugar and this cookie cake.

I had kept the favor bags pretty simple and was thankful for the (cheap) plastic packaging I had chose given the rain.  I was thrilled to fins a bunch of soccer stuff on sale at Michael's (from the cheap finds section to start with and then on sale) and then filled in the rest with OTC goodies.

This was the first year that we didn't do a donation that lined up with the party's theme (in lieu of gifts).  In fact, this year Jack picked the donation on his own and collected money to support his favorite radio station (it's public radio so run on donations), 88.9 Radio Milwaukee.  They just moved into a brand-new space and are planning lots of community events, so I know the donations will be put to great use.

We had a much smaller group of kids than expected due to some last-minute illness (stupid weather), but I was glad for that because at halftime the boys could sit still no longer.  They spent the second half of the game playing pick-up soccer on the turf field behind us.  I told you it was the easiest party ever!

In the end, the boys had a great time and our contact at the University was fabulous.  There were some things that we had planned that couldn't happen because of the weather, so they invited us back for another game.  So cool!  I'm looking forward to heading back with Jack's soccer team (and their parents) for more fun!

No joke...

Some things this week that mean business...

*this towel refresher tip (just an image I saw on post included)
I have now refreshed every towel in this house and couldn't be happier with the results.  I had just been thinking that our kitchen towels were smelly (and who wants that) and now they are fresh and awesome again.  Just be careful not to pour vinegar all over yourself as you will then smell like Easter (in a bad way) for the rest of the day.

The girl has an awful back-to-school cold, but will not be stopped from going back-to-school.  She is determined to be there and get the most out of every second of every day.  I think she might be the hardest working 4K student of all time.  

*The Right Stuff
I recently read The Astronauts Wives Club (which I loved) and in that book they mentioned that Tom Wolfe started researching his book The Right Stuff towards the end of the program and how much all the wives hated the book when it came out.  I knew I wouldn't make it through the book, but thought I might be able to make it through the movie.  At over 3 hours long, it was a bit of challenge but I'm glad I watched.  On it's own, it's a great movie.  Given what I know about the wives (and husbands) from the book, I didn't like it as much.  Of course, I also read that Tom Wolfe didn't like the movie either, so maybe I should read the book.

Such a great cast though...everyone was so young (especiall Jeff Goldblum) but was awesome.  And I figured out (and then confirmed) that Ocean Eleven used a scene from The Right Stuff as inspiration for the fountain scene at the Bellagio.  Pretty cool!

*The end of the job
I've done a volunteer job at Jack's school for the last few years and it's relatively easy, but there is always a last minute push the night before to wrap it up.  As I completed everything last night, I said "I'm never doing this again!"  I'm sure I've said it every year in the thick of things, but this year it was true.  I got a little giddy about that.

*My daughter the super reader
EJ loves Nate the Great books...a lot.  Recently we switched her to reading chapter books out loud to us, so she was given the green light to read Nate the Great (and other books at that level) to herself.  Well, that opened the vault of speed-reading (and a very happy girl) and now she is on a mission to read every single book.  I was getting confused, so did what any Type A mom would do and made a list.

Hope everyone has a fun weekend!  We're celebrating a boy who is still not quite 10, but keeps partying anyway.  Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain for soccer or his outdoor party...please.

Long-Range Plans

At the top of our stairs, we have a rather large landing/hallway space.  This area is virtually unused (except for a nook where the girls low dress is stashed and a toy bin) but I've had grand plans for the walls for years.  Literally years!  I bought these Ikea frames when Livie was a baby with plans to spray-paint them.  I bought shadow boxes on that same trip and set aside a special outfit for each child.  And at the same time, I ordered these adorable personalized hangers from Lila Frances.

And then, for the last four years, I've moved everything from the hallway to our bedroom to the hallway to Jack's bedroom to the hallway to our bedroom.  In other words, not much has gotten done!  When I started painting the girls' room, I got inspired to get the hallway done too.  So, I painted the walls and the frames and begged Matt to help me get everything hung on the walls.

And now the wall space looks like this (keep in mind, this is not the easiest space to take photos of or in)...

Did you notice that there is still a big blank in those groupings?  I'm not really sure what I want to put in those frames I painted.  Originally, I had thought of making silhouettes of each child, but now they seem too grown-up for that action.  I could do something with their initials, but I already have their names on the hangers, so that seems a little odd.  I'd like to do something to correlate with them being older (given the baby stuff in the shadow boxes), but I'm not sure what and I'd rather not be responsible for updating it too often (because I'm obviously not so good at follow-through).  Anyone have a great idea for me?  Please...

Busy, Busy

This last week cleaned my clock...back to school, soccer practices & scrimmages, school meetings, big presentation for Matt, 3 volunteer gigs all needing a lot of me, post-summer house cleaning.  And then this weekend was soccer and a big family party.  Still super busy, but lots of fun too.  Anyway, that means this post will be filled with pics and just a few words.

All of the cousins are in the photo above (minus the one on the way), but these are the birthday cousins...10, 2 & 10.  The 10-year-olds are very different people/personalities, but they have a strong bond (and a love/hate relationship too).

Never seen a kid so excited to be in charge of collecting the garbage during present opening.

Jack's team played in a tournament this weekend and had one loss, one tie (called due to lightening) and one win.  Jack is the kid in white putting on the defense in the pic below.

He's not 10 yet, but we let him pretend a bit this weekend.  Nothing like drawing the celebration out a full month, right?

Tulle Valence ... Girls' Room Redo 3

School started this week and my clock is cleaned.  This first week is always hectic, but somehow every September I wake up and think, "what the heck have I been doing all summer?"  I can tell you on thing, it is not cleaning!  And so, the kids leave and I work to get things back to normal.  Ugh!

I have also been working here and there on the girls' room.  A major point on contention with both girls was the "baby curtains" they had hanging above their window seat.  Apparently cute animals & gingham are not their thing anymore.

So, I hit the interwebs for some inspiration and found some great ideas...for sale.  As I'm attempting to keep this mini makeover low-cost, that was no bueno.  So, we hit the fabric store and bought obscene amounts of light pink, dark pink and lavender tulle.  Do you know what a pain it is to cut tulle in a straight line?  Luckily it is also forgiving.  I cut 6x16" strips, tied them to the curtain rod itself, and voila!

You may have noticed a wall color change as well.  It's a little brighter in the girls' room these days, but the green looks fabulous with all the pinks and white.  The room is such a little nook that it's nice to brighten up the space.  We even got their new wall items up on the wall.  I still have some stitching to do for the hoops, but that will happen later!

To see more Girls' Room Redo Posts, click here...