Kiddo is turning 5 this month and my best friend won’t be here the day of, so Mommy, Tia, and the Nugget did a birthday Girls Night Out a tad bit early.
We started with reservations at Bucco di Beppo, at the kitchen table. I thought the kiddo would be riveted by the concept of hanging out in the kitchen and watching food get made and processed through the expo line. In the future, she informed me, she wants to sit in the real restaurant. She ate pepperoni pizza, toured the whole restaurant, and inspected the restrooms, with no idea that this adventure was not the main event of the evening.
We took an after dinner stroll through Party City where she declined a new Tinker Bell costume because she was fully satisfied with her old one. Practical and not-as-indulgent-as-I-thought kid I’ve got.
Finally, in the parking lot of Peter Pan 360 – the plan was revealed.
“So, because I’m not going to be here for your birthday, I wanted to give you your present early? Do you want it.” (I’m definitely paraphrasing my best friend. This quote should not hold up in court.
She nodded profusely, despite the fact that she had been insisting to me all morning that birthday surprises could NOT happen on a day that was not her birthday. “YOU HAVE TO DO SURPRISES FOR ME ON MY BIRTHDAY IF IT’S FOR MY BIRTHDAY.” That is a direct quote, screaming caps and all, from my daughter just hours before. And should hold up in court. It also included some foot stomping. I’ve never seen someone so upset at the very idea of getting a present too early.
“Do you want to wear your Tinker Bell costume?” One of us asked.
She shook her head no, but as it dawned on her that I had packed it in the bag that was sitting in the car to her left she quickly changed her mind.
I do not have pictures of my adorable child donned in a bright green fairy costume as we attended Peter Pan because she was too cool for school and uninterested in photography last night. But I’m ok with that, we actually managed to be the people who were completely IN the moment all night, and I love that.
So what’s this magical Peter Pan performance surprise we took her to?
[T]he theater is the world’s first fully 360-degree projected backdrop for a live, theatrical performance with the largest surround CGI (computer-generated imagery) venue in the world. There are 12 projectors that deliver 10 million pixels on 15,000 square feet. 400 square miles of virtual London were rendered and it took 100 computers four weeks to create the Hi Resolution images. If a single computer had been used, it would have taken 8 years to render the images. – http://www.theblondeblogger.com
And it’s in a circus style pop-up tent!
My precocious darling spent the first 15 minutes of the show asking me how they got the pictures on the ceiling. I tried to explain the concept of a projector but – thankfully – the show was too loud for us to communicate effectively (which also meant we weren’t disturbing the rest of the audience). I was able to pull up videos online when we got home and tell her about it then.
Once understanding the mechanics of the show was put off for later, she really got into the magic of it all. Her great critique is that Tinker Bell wears pink instead of green and this bothered her. She insisted they needed her to play Tink and asked to go on stage – a lot – because, after all, Peter Pan needed her. (I thought the performing Tink was pretty darn cool.)
There’s a 20 minute intermission about an hour into the show. Popcorn and drinks were purchased, restrooms were visited I was pleased to discover the portable restrooms were real flushies and a thousand times cleaner than I anticipated. A little disappointed that they ran out of coffee.
After the show, there was a line for a meet and greet with a few of the actors, but being that little girl is still not quite five and it was getting late, we skipped that bit of fun.
Should it come to town again, we would do a repeat adventure in a heartbeat.
I needed a vacation. I’ve been needing one for quite sometime, but it took a bit of time, planning, impromptu not planning, and selfishness to make it happen.
I went to Dallas for a few days, with the nervous approval of my husband, left my daughter with my mother; where I ate, drank, and was merry. And got a tattoo.
The tattoo occurred toward the end, but was the plan from the beginning.
It went a bit like this…
We didn’t book a hotel. It’s Dallas. It was Tuesday. We thought we’d find one. And we did. About ten hotels later. Note to self, book a hotel no matter how silly your destination. I truly never believed this until this trip. I very much enjoyed the fact that in the last ten years, if I wanted a hotel and was somewhere, I just arrived and walked in. Then again, I haven’t gotten out much in the last ten years.
Post Hotel Finding: My old college chums and my best friend since high school all crashed into one group and found ourselves at Goodfriend, a bar and grill with amazing fried pickles and ghost ranch, on the first evening. There I discovered what I shall now always call fancy whiskey, although it’s actually a Classic Whiskey Sour. This is not your Chili’s or dive bar Whiskey with sweet and sour – this involves egg whites and shaking and frothy latte like smoothness and basically heaven in a cup of whiskey. This is also where we discovered that there was whiskey in the water. Not literally, we just found it very easy to become happily plastered there. Props to Matt, the owner, who is amazing. And to the bartender who got me hooked on those Classic Whiskey Sours.
Moving on… The Double Wide. Yes, that is the name of a bar. Complete with toilet bowls serving as planters that provide extra seating. I laughed, I cried, I was in a ridiculous bar with an appropriately fitting name, and strange men trying to talk to my friends who handled them much better than I would. My response would have been “Go AWAY.” But my friends are way more classy than I am and found themselves saying, “It’s been nice talking to you, but you’re crashing girls night.”
Wednesday, we got pedicures and ate Mexican food. Margaritas, bookstores (The Lucky Dog), lots of coffee, a Ton’s Mongolian Grill Reunion dinner at 7:30 with even more college chums. More bars – Bowen House (way overpriced but I got some more whiskey in) and The Ginger Man (fun beer). It was good to see old friends.
Thursday morning involved Cultivar Coffee and the most delicious vanilla latte I ever had. There was a little hole in the wall taco joint across from it on Peavy called El Ranchito. If I lived in that neighborhood, that’s where all my money would be going… to $1.50 homemade breakfast tacos.
And finally, some shopping, lunch and coffee, another bar visit (The Libertine) where I refrained because I was about to get inked, I found myself at Death and Glory Tattoo. Where a very personable guy named Cole Alexander Davis was able to put Jane Austen’s words and handwriting on my arm forever.
“I am half agony, half hope.”
It was a shockingly cozy experience. My last tattoo happened in a place that felt very clinical to me. The guy was nice, but I don’t remember his name. Here, I realized why people find the practice so addicting. It’s like finding a bar you love, or a coffeehouse you can’t live without. It’s not just about the finished product, or the drinks being made properly, it is very much about ambiance and whether or not you have managed to find a place that seems like home away from home. They have a delightful front porch and a cat that lurked but didn’t touch me. I could have stayed there for hours after, but we had more drinking to do.
One of the guys there said that people tend to tell them their whole life story. They know everyone’s business because they are sort of treated like bartenders and shrinks. I can see that. I was too awkward to take advantage of that ambiance, but I definitely loved it.
My lovely JJ got a tattoo with me. It is also a literary reference to a poem that was read at her wedding. “And then this moment…” This is us, back at Goodfriend, being incandescently happy.
Friday… we had more tacos and Cultivar. We visited the Black Forest Cafe and the Flagship Half Price Books. We drove the many miles home, mostly listening to oldies.
Thanks for my trip, Danielle. I know it was stressful, but it was also lovely.
Teach Your Child to Read Outside and Play – A Lot
It’s been awhile since I shared a bit from our homeschooling adventures. Since my last homeschooling post, we purchased Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and have progressed to Lesson 9. We’ve taken Poet Laureate and Professor Mark Strand’s advice about memorizing 1500 lines of poetry and memorized the first four verses of Psalm 1, with the intent of memorizing a verse a week until we know the whole book by heart (no, I did not do the math on this and I have no idea how long it will take – I think the less I know in this regard the better). We’ve moved, and have done a lot of exploring our new school-site – via bubble blowing. We’ve learned to play Checkers (pretty exciting for an almost four year old), and we’re tackling bead projects.
She got this cool dinosaur coloring book awhile back, but has really taken to it in the last few months. The book teaches your kid how to draw properly named dinosaurs step by step. Whether you’re a die hard dinosaur believer, or a skeptic to their existence, all kids love dinosaurs – they’re just so cool!
Activity books like these teach kids to follow step by step instructions, help with dexterity and handling writing utensils, and keep them busy for thirty minutes to an hour at a time. Win, win for everyone.
Moving and Acoustics
The great thing about moving with a small child is teaching your kid the art of donation from a young age. What we don’t need anymore, we’ve been donating. For a kid who has outgrown those things, it’s time consuming, but giving them the knowledge and opportunity to come to conclusions about their own belongings is an eye-opening experience. I haven’t forced her to get rid of anything, and I’m overjoyed to have so many moments when my kiddo comes to me and says, “Mama, I don’t need this anymore. We can give this to another kid.” And off to Goodwill we go. (At our garage sales she selected things to sell and was quite the little negotiator. She made about $5 off old toys other kids carried off and put that money right in her piggy bank. Now, she keeps telling me she has plenty of money for Chick-fi-la…)
On top of all that, every kid should get a chance to stand in an empty room and shout at the top of their lungs. (Or spin in circles singing All Around the Mulberry Bush while shooting a soft dart gun…)
This book came highly recommended by my sister who has taught 5 kids to read (not including myself when I was 4) and has 2 more that are on their way to starting lessons. The above link is for Amazon.com, but I actually purchased my copy from hpbmarketplace.com.
Teach Your Child to Read goes straight into the phonics and skips the step of learning what a letter is called. My kid could already identify all her letters and knew most of her phonics, but she’s enjoying diving right into the decoding process by seeing an “m” and knowing to say “Mmmmm.” We’re only on Lesson 9 and she can already read words like “mat” and “sat,” “am” and “Me” just by sounding them out. These beginning lessons do not teach sight words but sounding out and decoding a word even if it means you don’t understand the word right away. I like this because it allows a child to read outside their vocabulary and have the tools to learn new words.
We do the rhyming and say it fast/ say it slow exercises while outside playing bubbles:
Here, she’s not just practicing the “sssss” sound (and writing it, look at the chalkboard behind her), she’s also blowing some stellar bubbles while sporting a Seed Savers t-shirt, compliments of S. Smith, author of the series. Kiddo adores Sandy and the shirt she gave her.
Beads and Dexterity
No preschool program is complete without crafts!
While moving I rediscovered some craft supplies from my own childhood. I thought about donating these as well, but kiddo begged to do a bead project and I determined that these were worth saving. The star was her first try, it took about an hour to complete; so if your preschooler doesn’t quite have the patience and attention span, be prepared to split a project like this into two sessions.
Check out Klemm University for more frequent updates. We are an online homeschool group based in Texas and would love for other homeschool moms, teachers, and general citizens to pipe in with ideas for keeping our educational journey more exciting, diverse, and thorough. Come join the conversations!
It took longer than expected, but we read through Magic Tree House book #4 Pirates Past Noon and the companion research guide Pirates. We browsed through a pirate cookbook and played with our pirate ship and discussed parts of the boat, identified sails and masts and so on…
While reading the companion book, kiddo sorted sea shells and counted her treasure…
After that we learned about Vikings and ancient maps… even learned how to spell “Map.”
And that’s what homeschooling a two year old looks like.
Looks like this…
I read Magic Tree House #3 Mummies in the Morning and its companion research guide Mummies and Pyramids while she looked at lots of pictures. The books with pictures were The Kingfisher Atlas of the Ancient World, a Reader’s Digest What Life Was Like, a coffee table book called The Pyramids and Sphinx, and a hardback I plan to use as a textbook when we do this again called Life in the Ancient World. I can’t wait to dive into that last one with her. It has activities and projects and all sorts of fun things.
Then we learned that P is for Pyramid. After several pictures, lots of blue lines, a few attempts to write some letters, she can at least say the word and identify the drawing – mostly – sometimes she says triangle or boat instead. I think she sees triangles and thinks of the sails on a crude drawing of a sailboat.
Anyway, that quickly turned into this:
And that’s what homeschooling a two year old looks like.
I finally made it to another one! Critical Mass Houston is amazing and I’m working on making it happen every month. Having a two year old can put a damper in these kinds of plans, but once it’s worked out, it’s worth it.
Last night was the first time we went without a “chaperone.” My bestie’s brother, Desmond, is a bicycle extraordinaire and we rode in a little pack with him last time. This time it was just me and the bestie… and a crowd of cyclists en masse.
The first ride I ever did was the Halloween 2012 ride… see here: https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/when-were-not-reading-critical-mass/. There’s links and info about CM. After that ride, I purchased lights for my bike, both out of necessity and a reward system for myself. This time, I only did 15 miles of the ride because we had to go home early, but I think I’ve earned myself a bell.
What do I love about CM? Well, what don’t I love? I love the large group of people who seemingly have nothing in common except their desire to be on wheels. I love when one thing can bring an entire community together like that. It’s beautiful and exciting. This will sound cheesy, but I totally love the wind in my hair and against my face. Even if it’s cold, I think it’s heavenly to have a bit of a breeze that you’re creating yourself through motion. (But it wasn’t cold last night, last night the weather was perfect.) I love my sore legs the next day, reminding me that I did something fun, productive, and good for me. I love my bike. I love other peoples’ bikes. I love the road. I love the city at night.
And despite my efforts last night to find out where we were headed in advance, I usually love the mystery and adventure of it all. After all, I’m a reader, so mystery and adventure and not knowing what comes next absolutely thrills me.
Last night, though, I had an old school mate trying to meet up with us part way in. So before the ride began, I was asking people who I thought looked like they might be in the know… “you know where we might end up tonight?” Of course, I got a wide variety of answers:
“Wherever our legs and wheels carry us.” I know, I know, how very zen of you. But tonight I’m actually trying to find out a real answer. Just tonight. I’ll never ask again, I promise.
“My house!”…. Ok I totally opened myself up for that one, come on man, really? Really. It turned out, the guy was supposedly actually planning an after party. Something I would have gone to in college before I was married and had a baby!
Later, at first break when I was trying to determine where exactly Foodarama and Speedee Mart (the buildings I was standing in between) were located, I started asking around. Sorry, people, it’s not that I’m helpless, it’s just that I don’t have one of those fancy phones with all the map apps. Frankly, I was too lazy to walk out in the middle of the street and hunt down a street sign. So I tried to convince my bestie that sometimes it’s ok to talk to strangers. At which point the guy telling me we were at Ella and West 18th grinned and offered me candy. He dug out a cough drop from the bottom of his pack. Funny. Very funny. Also, kiddo, when you’re old enough to read, if you stumble across this blog post your mama wrote – DON’T talk to strangers. Although I thought Candy Man was kinda adorable for being a smart ass.
If you were at CM last night – or any night for that matter – leave me a story in the comment section. I’d like to compile them sometime.
P.S. Thanks again to everyone who complimented my bike. It makes my night every time. See you next month!
(… Castles! And Medieval Times!)
Today we read up on everything Knights and Castles we could get our hands on in our house. We started with The Magic Tree House #2: Knight at Dawn then moved onto the Research Guide Knights and Castles. While I read these two easy readers aloud to the kiddo, she perused The Kingfisher Atlas of the Medieval World, mostly staying on the page on European castles in between jumping on my bed shouting our Feudal System chant.
“A Feudal System has four parts! From top to bottom it goes: King, Barons, Knights and Serfs!” Sadly, I’ve already forgotten the tune to which we were singing/chanting this bit of information, maybe one day it will come to me again, or maybe we’ll find a new tune. Either way, munchkin was climbing in and out of the laundry basket this morning singing, “King! Baron! Knight! Serf!” so I win.
It was at this point that I decided: in addition to reading through this pairing and prepping kiddo’s future education (when she’s old enough to tackle these projects properly with crafts, writing assignments, and vocabulary tests), I’m going to blog our prepping routines… separate from the Weekly Low Down on Kids Books installments. I know I will find it handy for when we repeat this reading exercise in a few years, but maybe someone else can find it handy now.
I can’t wait to take the kiddo to Medieval Times. I’ve always enjoyed the place and once she is old enough to go, I think it would be a great way to end an educational adventure. As she’s only two and today’s reading was somewhat (though not completely) impromptu, I took her to the closet thing to a castle we have readily available.
The Spring Community Playground, part of Liberty Park looks like a giant, wooden castle to me. It has several keeps, a palisade, horses to ride, and all sorts of castle/fortress styled fixtures. According to the park’s website:
This playground was built by the Spring community for the betterment of the Spring community ultimately for the enjoyment by our children with community donations and community volunteer labor. It was built in 5 DAYS from January 29th to February 2nd 2003 with over 900 community volunteers. A large majority of the volunteers were parents, grandparents and friends of students from Hirsch, Smith and Jenkins Elementary Schools. We also had volunteers from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Kingwood, Conroe, Laredo, and Mexico.
Obviously, there’s a huge difference between this and an actual castle! But it’s fun to walk the park and read the engraved pieces of wood that tell who donated what. I want the kiddo to grow up with a strong sense of community… our neighborhood is our manor, and all that.
When she’s older, we’ll be able to spread the study over the course of a week and add more books and activities. For instance, on day two we could read The Time Warp Trio: The Knights of the Kitchen Table over breakfast. I like the idea of making a lap book with artwork, tabs, and pop-ups out of a manila filing folder afterward. (Visit this pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/118923246380148367/)
This unit would also be a great opportunity to spend the week going through one Sir Cumference book a day for the start of math lessons.
For lunch, I’ll take the opportunity to serve “feast foods.” I found an entire web page dedicated to recipes of the day, and I love to eat to match our educational themes. Plus, I want my daughter to know her way around the kitchen before she goes off to college, unlike me. So as she gets older, we’ll be making all our meals in the kitchen together – themed or not.
I would definitely try to work in her first horseback lesson during this week if she hadn’t started them already, after all knights, caballeros, Ritters, and chevaliers, are all just soldiers on horseback, as the MTH Research Guide will tell you.
For the most part, though, we will spend our days reading, making lap books, journaling what we’ve learned, playing dress up, and gearing all our artistic energy at the topic. Homeschool Mom and Blogger of My 2 Small Boys has images of her kids’ notebooks on Knights and Castles here: http://my2smallboys.blogspot.com/2012/01/middle-ages-knights-and-castles.html.
When the weekend roles around, if the study lands in the summer, perhaps we will go to the beach and build sandcastles; If in the fall, maybe we’ll head out to the Texas Ren Fest.
Knights and Castles Library List
Saint George and the Dragon (a great precursor to have on hand for Spenser’s The Faerie Queen, we’ve already read it quite a few times)
Castle Diary by Richard Platt
The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne
Knight by Christopher Gravett
Knight ~ A Noble Guide for Young Squires
100 Things You Should Know About Knights and Castles by Jane Walker
If You Lived in the Days of Knights by Ann McGovern
Castle: Medieval Days and Knights by Kyle Olmon
Knights in Shining Armo by Gail Gibbons
Knights and Castles by Seymour Simon
The Usborne Book of Castles by Lesley Sims and Jane Chisolm
What If You Met a Knight? By Jan Adkins
Imagine You’re a Knight by Meg Clibbon
Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas
The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie DePaola
In the Castle by Anna Milbourne
The Castle That Jack Built by Lesley Sims
The Tournament by Heather Amery
Some more ideas: http://www.angelfire.com/dc/childsplay/castleunit.htm
January 10th, 2013, I sat down for the very first journaling night at Half Price Books in Humble. My customers weren’t exactly sure what to expect, and honestly, neither was I. I brought my prisma colors, glue sticks, some fancy pens, and scrapbooking scissors. We had magazines, scrapbooking paper, free unlined journals for all who attended, and a whole lot of untapped creativity.
Hanging out with others while they drew, doodled, wrote, glued and pasted, was kind of awesome. It’s relaxing to be creative with others, pool your resources, and brainstorm techniques. Relaxing and stimulating, actually; so much so that we plan to gather monthly.
2nd Thursday of the Month from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, plan to sit around a table and really tackle the art of journaling with art. This first meeting was a bit of an experimental night, but in the future I hope to incorporate some of those fabulous Pinterested projects that are floating around the web, possibly even start binding our own journals.
There are just so many things we could do at these gatherings and I can’t wait to dive in and pursue every avenue of this hobby.
Come be crafty with me.
Also, check this out: http://artsyville.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-village-in-my-mind-full-color-friday.html
A short car ride to a friend’s house and the kiddo and I find we have all of the Heights at our fingertips… or our toes, rather, as we don’t walk with our hands. My favorite part of the drive is passing those town homes pictured above – they remind me of Full House.
I love the Heights. There’s always something new to discover, and today we stumbled across Sparrow and the Nest, a little art boutique off Studewood.
Undaunted by a two year old waltzing in amongst their treasures, the people (Andrew and Stephanie) are really nice and took the kiddo to the back and let her play with markers while my best friend browsed the shop. I came away with a priceless masterpiece from my offspring, while the bestie picked out a gorgeous bookmark. We were on our way to get coffee at Antidote, so we didn’t stay long.
As their website says, Sparrow and the Nest is really best experienced in person, there’s so much to see that I just couldn’t capture on camera. Lots of tiny origami in frames and on pins, teensy handcrafted things you won’t find anywhere else, and all of it so beautiful. Cool pieces of furniture, paintings, quilts… the shop is as good as visiting an art museum, better actually because you can take the stuff home if you’ve got the cash.
I’m not the best photographer, but I took some pictures to share anyway.
Today we went to Trader’s Village where we attended the 23rd Annual Texas Championship Native American Pow Wow. Singing, dancing, bright colors, people, and corn in a cup… what more could a girl want?
So many people were gathered to honor Native American Indian culture today, and to dance for a $15,000 prize. The young man featured above picture was dressed to the nines and dancing his heart out when the drums were going. The entire competition was pretty awesome.
There were a few times Kiddo was moving and grooving and clapping to the beat. And every time we took a break from sitting in the stands, we were able to get pictures with some of the friendly competitors.
Books are wonderful sources for information, but when it comes down to it I want Kiddo to go out into the world and experience first hand what she reads about in books. In honor of our adventure today, we’re reading Pocahontas: Princess of the River Tribes.
I definitely plan to take her to this event every year, as it is only $3 to park and free to attend.