Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pool's Open!

We spent a lot of time at the pool last summer, when I was very pregnant with Abigail and very hot and uncomfortable. Some days, the pool was the only thing that made this cranky mama happy.

I think Abigail likes it just as much as I do.

She tries to leap directly from the Solarveil and into the pool.

Betsy is finally tall enough to stand (on tiptoe) in the shallow end! Last summer she could swim a few yards by herself. She's said that she wants to be able to swim all by herself this summer. Sounds like a good goal to me.

I like tiny Abigail with giant Matthew. Betsy picked out the pink tutu swimsuit for her, by the way. I think it's pretty cute.
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Biking with Betsy

Guest blogging today is Matthew.
Today's awesome bike riding adventure by the numbers

8.6 miles ridden
100s of tadpoles, so many they churned the water when we walked close to the edge of the pond
2 water snakes in the same pond
1 snake on the path
2 blue dragonflies
2 downed trees to navigate around
2 fantastic stories from Betsy while riding
1st muddy back of the season

Betsy's stories:
1. How she saved a mouse cast adrift in a puddle with a rope from her pocket as we rode by.
2. The frog who grabbed the seed with a fly on it from her handlebars as we rode past.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ten Loves (#7: Discovering the Sweetness)

In honor of the last ten days until (or somewhat soon after) graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.

#1: Family
#2: Doodling
#3: The Farmers' Market
#4: Thursday Afternoon Playdates
#5: Graduation Bingo
#6: Party Preparation

#7: Discovering the Sweetness

Yesterday I watched my baby make a great discovery. I offered Abigail a little white rose to sniff. At first she thought it might be food (everything is food to her), but her face lit up as she breathed that thick, sweet smell. She grinned at me, and leaned further into the rose to inhale again. I think this may have been the first time she ever smelled a rose. Can you imagine experiencing something so wonderful?

Of course, I did experience it decades ago, and I don't remember it. But judging from her reaction, it was something like how I might react to seeing Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon today. "Wow--can you believe this--what an amazing world we live in!"

It really is one of the best things about parenting, watching one's children discover the beauty and sweetness in the world, and falling in love with it all over again yourself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thoughts on the Last Day of Preschool

By Betsy, transcribed by Becca

I'm sad that we have to leave, because it's the best preschool of all. And if anyone comes to it with me and N to Vacation Bible School, come to this school. It's my favorite, favorite school in the whole entire world.

I love my teachers Mrs. O and Mrs. D because they taught us about dinosaurs and when dinosaurs drink soda they die and then they leave their whole bones attached. I love them so much that I feel like I'm gonna cry but I'm not going to cry.

On S's birthday we had cupcakes and on the last day of preschool we celebrated the school because of having popsicles for the snack at the 3-year-old class, because it's for 4-year-old Betsy.

We drawed with chalk. We took a class picture. We painted with car wheels and we painted with marbles and we painted with bottles and we painted with books (we just flipped over the book two times and three times and four times).

My favorite toys were cars, and princesses, and kitchen, everything. When we went up to chapel and sang "This Little Light of Mine" today, a grown-up used a real candle. I like "Wake Up Warm Up" so much that I jump so wide. I love my mommy. Mrs. O and Mrs. D, I'm glad that it's the last day of school because I want to be in the 4-year-old class and I can still visit Mrs. O and Mrs. D because I can go to their house.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Plans

Well, the good news is that I found the post that had disappeared nearly two weeks ago, the one about Thursday Afternoon Playdates. Unfortunately it re-posted as if it were written today. Annoying. Sorry if you got it twice.


Today being the penultimate day of preschool, with my first full summer as a stay-at-home mom approaching, I feel like I should have some plan of action.

And I have virtually no plans.

Most of my stay-at-home-parent friends think this is crazy talk, and I admit it's a little daunting, all that unstructured time that might be filled with such activities as whining and sibling rivalry. I guess, after many busy months, I'm just ready to not have to do anything.

Now there are lots of things I want to do, like:
fruit picking
traveling to visit friends
exploring Portland, Maine
finding the magic laundry elves
swimming at the pool
swimming at the beach
going for walks after dinner
finally getting the house picked up
working in the garden
visiting some local Civil War sites for the 150th
walking to the library
fixing the sewing machine
volunteering with the big girl
learning to make jam
and much more!

If I can be creative with finances, I think I'm only limited by what I can sanely do with the kids.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Loves (#4: Thursday Afternoon Playdates)

For the last ten days until graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.
#2: Doodling

#3: The Farmers' Market

#4: Thursday Afternoon Playdates

I really do have the best job in the world. Just look at what I get to do with these beautiful friends the Ni family, nearly every Thursday afternoon.

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Technical Difficulties

I'm having some problems with pages not saving, or saving and then being lost. I'll be back with the rest of the series once we get these fixed. Sorry!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ten Loves (#6: Party Preparation)

For the last ten days until graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.
#1: Family
#2: Doodling
#3: The Farmers' Market
#4: Thursday Afternoon Playdates
#5: Graduation Bingo

#6: Party Preparation

The planning is half the fun, isn't it? I'm especially thankful to the family members who are doing so much work to celebrate our girl's baptism, and to those who have traveled to be with us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ten Loves (#5: Graduation Bingo)

For the last ten days until graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.
#1: Family
#2: Doodling
#3: The Farmers' Market
#4: Thursday Afternoon Playdates

#5: Graduation Bingo

Oh graduation, you tease. You start out all fun, with the pomp and the circumstance and the silly hats, but somewhere after the first hour this big special ceremony becomes, well, boring.

How to pass the time while appearing interested? May I suggest Graduation Bingo? You'll have to make the cards ahead of time, so if you even think you might be bored, you should probably whip up a few to stash in your pocket, plus a some extras for anyone who might want to play along.

Start with a list of at least 24 things you might see at a graduation ceremony (the 25th can be a free space). This works best if you have a mixture of easy and hard things. Here, I'll give you a start. Feel free to leave other ideas in the comments.

a copy of Oh the Places You'll Go
flowers in school colors
mortarboard reading "Thanks Mom & Dad"
beach ball
shoes that belong at a night club
shoes that belong in a trash can
air drumming
monkey (real or inflatable)
a gown with plaid on it
someone doing a handstand or cartwheel
a crying child
a sleeping child
a crying adult
a sleeping adult
pizza being eaten
a dog in a purse
a heated discussion about where to eat
a bug

Or if you're really bored, try words in the graduation speech, like:

class of
journey (the trip)
Journey (the band)
Lady Gaga
Jon Stewart
cats (the animal or the musical)

Then go to a free bingo card generator. There are lots online. Type in your terms, print them off individually so the spaces are scrambled, and you've got yourself a good 2 hours of fun, not including parking time! If you're playing against yourself and you make a row, you can choose to repress those happy feelings and reward yourself later. But if you're playing against someone, you have to say "bingo" to win the game and therefore their lifelong admiration, and you have to say it loud enough so others can hear. You can, however, pretend that you are saying it in response to something in the ceremony, as in "Bingo! This is the best graduating class ever!"

Have fun!

With special thanks to Matthew, who sat through so many graduation ceremonies, and to the work friends who played so many games of bingo with me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ten Loves (#3: The Farmers' Market)

For the last ten days until graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.
#2: Doodling

#3: The Farmers' Market

Oh how I love the seasonal farmers' markets.

We actually have a year-round one on Saturdays, too. But there's something that feels so luxurious about being able to wander amongst such fresh produce four days a week if I wish. To run into friends, to talk to farmer who picked the strawberries this morning, and to enjoy selecting healthy, delicious food for my family in this relatively cool, still part of the day. It is truly a feast for all the senses.

I have memories of going to this particular market last August, when I was so pregnant with Abigail and it was so hot, to buy boxes and boxes of tomatoes to freeze. And returning in September with my two girls, one so tiny and asleep in a carrier. And now she's happily bouncing around, trying to swipe produce. The time has just flown.

I realize that not everyone can afford to shop at farmers' markets, which is why we also support the Volunteer Farm, which provides fresh produce to 2 food banks and more than 800 food pantries in Virginia. We'll have more on that later, but for now I encourage you to check out the link, and check out your own farmers' market if you are able.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten Loves (#2: Doodling)

For the last ten days until graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.
#2: Doodling

There is something about being physically stuck somewhere boring that gives the mind permission to wander. Official Art Time can be intimidating, what with the nagging desire to Use Time Wisely and to Create Something Great. But doodling isn't supposed to be great art; it's just fun, a way to escape.

Some of my best creative ideas have had their roots in doodles scrawled during math class or staff meetings. I miss that time when I had no choice but to sit still for a while and draw. (In between Important Intellectual Discussions and lots of Learning, of course. Ahem.) I don't have that forced down time anymore, but I am trying to make time to doodle. And it is still great fun.

But I fear that dooding will soon be a lost art. I'm resisting getting an iPhone because I don't want to be tempted to spend more time online. Really, does the world need another status update of "Waiting to pick up the kids," or "Tuesday again!"? Next time you have a few minutes to spare, why not try a little doodling instead?
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Ten Loves (#1: Family)

Ten days until graduation, ten things for which I am super thankful.
#1: Family
A few images from a wonderful Mother's Day celebration with the Breeds yesterday. An entertaining bunch, to be sure.

Grandmother and granddaughters

Grandpa airlines

Driveway theatre

Portrait by my loving husband

Granddaughter and grandmother

(Soon to be) Godmother and Goddaughter

The astonishing Uncle Frick

Lawn Dance

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Certificate of Big Sloppy Thanks

While cleaning up a series of large and particularly nasty messes I thought, "Wow! This is probably the biggest mess in the whole history of this home! I sure am working hard! Someone should give me an award."

I wiped my sweaty brow, leaned wearily but proudly on my mop, and waited to receive my award.

And waited.

And then I drew my own award. Here it is, just in time for Mother's Day. Feel free to print it out, fill it in, color it if you feel particularly zesty, and give it to a person to whom you'd like to say, "Thanks for cleaning up that time/all the time. You are great, and I appreciate you."

It's fun! Free! A great last-minute gift that looks like it took you WAY long to write out by hand!

Perfect for messy occasions such as:
the morning after a party
raising children
the science fair
home repair/remodeling
insect invasion

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

Do you know the difference between antlers and horns? I do, and I learned it just this week, from a great teacher. (The answer is at the end of this post.)

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and of course the Pepper girls had to get crafty about it. We started to make flowers for Betsy's two main preschool teachers, but we couldn't forget her two other teachers, and then she wanted to give them to the school director and administrator and, well, we ended up making a whole garden's worth of flowers.
That's okay, it was a lot of fun. Raiding the button stash is always a good time.

And I think they turned out to be quite pretty.

Animals shed antlers, but they keep horns. Think deer vs bull. Thanks for the informative nature talk at Betsy's preschool, Mom!
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baby Love

This has been a hard week. After too much time with teething and stomach viruses and overtime work and overtime school, we're all a little grouchy and burnt out, and this socially overstuffed month has barely begun.

Thank goodness for baby love. Every time I sit on the floor, Abigail comes padding over on hands and knees, ready to smother me with her sweet baby versions of hugs and kisses. And how I adore those soft head-on-my chest hugs, and drooly open-mouthed baby kisses.