Emma’s preschool

Just a bit more thoughts off the whole toy-sorting paragraph below.

We’re not using a formal preschool program for Emma. We don’t think she needs one. I admit, I haven’t done early grades without a packaged curriculum before, so I have knee-jerk reactions to things I think we should be doing, but at the same time knowing it’s not necessary.

When I sorted the toys, I dumped everything that had no lasting play value, things she had multiples of, and things she was too old for or had conquered. I told her the stuff was going to kids who had no toys, and she was fine with that. She only pulled out a couple of things.

So on Emma’s bookshelf of toys, nicely sorted and boxed like a preschool, she has:

– a play oven (her play kitchen is still outside)
– a play sewing machine
– a small dollhouse
– a cash register complete with money (and real money in her purse)
– a set of tools (probably more like two sets)
– a doctor kit
– a dress-up box of accesories, including wings
– a tote bag of costumes (wanted: one tickle trunk)
– her Power Touch with extra books (Mom, get her more for Christmas)
– a bin of small dishes
– a bin of pretend food
– colored wooden blocks that used to be mine
– a bin of Polly Pocket toys (yeah, okay… but I boxed up the barbies!)
– a box of people
– a box of animals and dinosaurs (plus army men? Addison sorted that one.)
– a box of cars and a play mat
– a garage for the cars
– a box of playdough cutters and thingies
– a doll stroller
– one bucket of lego, one of duplo
– Cuisinaire rods, wood blocks 1cm wide by however many cms up to 10, one color for each size
– Patternables, wooden shapes in hexagons and trapezoids, including a set of colored sticks
– a box of fraction manipulatives, a set of animal flash cards, fish cards and a set of Pooh cards (another set of Pooh cards upstairs). I got rid of almost all the other sets of flashcards we had. She either knew them all, or we weren’t going to use them.

On top of that, there is another bookshelf in the room with two of the three shelves full of children’s books, plus a bin of books under her bed for bedtime stories. I cleaned out some kid’s books too. She also has at her desk, a box of crayons, and another box of pencils, pencil crayons and markers that need to be sorted, plus her own paper, her own scissors (yes, I let her use scissors) and access to a dizzying array of craft supplies still to be sorted.

I just remembered she has a bin of puzzles here in the dining room, where the game cabinet resides.

The best containers were from the Dollar Store. Smaller boxes with lids, shoebox-sized boxes and dishpans, oh how I love dishpans. The older kids use a dishpan each to keep their current schookwork in.

My mom bought Emma an activity book last week, which she found fascinating. I bought her a couple more at the Dollar Store, just to play with. Note: the Barbie ones were crappy. Pictures were too small to color effectively for preschoolers, and the writing areas were also too small. I got her a write on/wipe off book of letters to copy, but I had to hunt through the selection to find a decent one. I got a Fisher Price Little People workbook that she thought was cool. She finds dot-to-dots fascinating, and loves the matching questions. We do them whenever she wants to, however long she likes.

Emma wants to write letters neatly and gets really frustrated when she can’t do it. She has almost got her name down pat. We had a hurdle trying to get a small “a”, but she figured out on her own that a large “A” was easier for her to write. We were drawing one day, and I asked her to do a circle so I could show her how to make a happy face. She drew a lopsided one, and wasn’t happy. “That’s not a circle!” she wailed, “That’s a oval!.” I tried to tell her it was okay, but no go. But she can draw pretty good oval fish.

You know, when I list it all out like that, it seems like a lot. Especially when you count how we let her help with housework and cooking. That’s not counting tv, movies and computer games. What is she doing now? Using a large box as a kitty house.

(she typed the above for you)

Meaghan is playing with a bag of elastics, and Sarah has her nose in a book. Again.

more photos

Feel free to start here.

If you ignore Monday, does it still exist?

It’s been raining for two days straight.

I didn’t feel like writing at all yesterday, so I cleaned my house instead. All the toys are sorted, and I boxed up two more boxes. I swear, we’ve reduced the pile by half. And that’s not counting the toys the big kids keep in their rooms. Emma has this, plus a large container in her room, and stuffed animals all over the bed. Everything is sorted and in their proper containers. Emma can find stuff!

I tidied up a lot of things, including my bedroom. Yes, I even rolled up Ron’s socks.

Ron and I went shopping on Saturday for lots of stuff, including more paint for the house. It was on sale, too. I got a navy hoodie on clearance for $2.50, some bike shorts and a new bra. Did you know that “full support” stands for “ugly”? I even told the cashier that, and after it was rung up, she cheerfully said, “Enjoy your ugly bra!” Can they not make bras in my size, without underwires, that look nice? All the ones Ron liked had wires. Ugh. Actually, they do make ’em, we just can’t afford ’em. Helloooo Christmas list.

Sunday, even though it was my turn to do all the cooking for dinner, I called up my Mom and just us girls went to Beaubear Island for the final tour of the season. Even without the boys, we still got the family/group rate. “Is there a bear there?” Emma asked us. There was a bear rug in the Trading post. She thought it was scary. What she didn’t think scary was the boat ride over to the island. She thought it was awesome, and kept up a constant stream of chatter the entire time. When you get on the island, a guide in historical costume takes you around, telling stories of the settlement. At a few stops, you meet certain characters pertaining to the story, also in historic dress. Emma was afraid of a very loud guy, until he hauled out a map. Just like Dora! When we got back to the dock, one guy in costume pushed the other guy in. Then the guy in the water pulled the pusher in with him. Emma thought that was the best part.

For dinner, in my unusually clean dining room, we had an end-of-summer spread of burgers (6 beef, one chicken breast, two soy chicken), potato salad, macaroni salad, tomatoes and cukes from Mom’s garden (our cukes are done and the tomatoes aren’t ripe yet) and some hard-boiled eggs. Mom brings dessert every time. I dunno if it’s some control thing, or she just likes to make sure our guts will bust. It may even be to clean out her leftovers (heck, I know it is) This time she brought a layered ice cream sandwich frozen dessert, blueberry pie and strawberry rhubarb pie.

Sometimes I think she hates me. ‘What is this diet we speak of?” I asked her.

And Ron is working regular hours all this week. So cool. I think he could use the break from us though.

Early mornin’

Okay, it’s not early *now*, but I’ve been up for ages. Late night runs to my Mom’s and the store, early morning drop-offs so Sarah can go to a water park, breakfast with mom and shopping. It never ends. I need a nap. And a walk.

Kim’s comment below got me thinking about how much I really do love this time of year, and how I guess I am a country gal at heart. I want to write more about it, even if it seems I do every year at this time.

Okay, I just spent 20 minutes reading through archives. I guess I only write around what I’m actually doing and how I feel about. Hmm… assignment for this weekend.

If you can’t get enough…

Check out the new background photo of the gourds. Wanna see more from the garden? Start here.

A Finger in every pot

Well. Wanna know what we’re up to? Ron has been painting. Touch up and finishing work on one side of the house, and scraping and painting on the front of the house. He also fixed the front porch light. The side stuff has to be finished before he can go back to the back of the house, to use the scaffolding. Some of the touch-up works includes new calking around the bay windows.

Ron is also sorta kinda working. Hours are sporadic and unpredictable as he sets up some stuff and basically proves he knows what he’s doing, plus hammering out details for the contract, before he really gets the job. It may include work for me! I can’t say anything more than that.

He also needs to get the van fixed.

Our bedroom still smells of varathane. It sets off both my nose and my lungs. Whee! I have a fan in there now, with the windows open, to help get rid of the last of it.

But the garden – it is exploding. The squash have well and truly taken over, plus we planted freaky gourds. We have some interesting cross-breeds going on. The tomato plants are so big, the cages are held up by rebar, and one plant is even being propped up with Emma’s picnic table. There are a couple of freakishly huge and malformed tomatoes out there. They haven’t begun to ripen yet, but I’m sure with the cool nights they will soon. I have to go check.

I have the foyer floor covered in toys that we are still sorting. It’s too big and overwhelming of a job to do all at once. Plus I keep finding more. I stared at some of the pile and thought to myself, “I need some bigger containers” for some of the toys. Then I got smart, slapped myself around a bit and realized that I coudl, you know, if the toys were spiling out the containers I had for them, get rid of some of those toys. Which was the whole point of sorting out the toys in the first place. Emma has so many toys, she hardly plays with any of them. Does she really need 10 purses? I thought not. I cut that number in half. I also would like to to cut the number of children’s books we own by half. We go to the library often enough.

I almost have the corner of the dining room fully set up as a home office. I need to move the filing cabinet (which I cleaned out) but first I have to clean out and get rid of the stationary & school supply cabinet, one of the white plastic drawer thingys. That stuff is going in the desk (somewhere) and the filing cabinet.

The rest of the dining room looks frightful. It’s my turn for Sunday dinner this week.

The romance novel is stagnating. I’m on page FOUR. Smack me next time I roll my eyes and say, “OH!, I can do THAT! That’s EASY!”

On the other hand, I have an idea for my “mom”oirs, and I tracked down a likely publisher. I have to send them a query first. The up side is they have done something similar lately. But for me, I have to slog through almost 800 pages of over 300,000 words I’ve written about my life in general over the past almost-5 years.

I need new but temporary flooring in the bathroom. Right before we moved in, the previous owner placed those stick-on foot square floor tiles down. Well, they’re lifting up near the tub because (duh) they don’t stick well when water keeps seeping in through the cracks. Because I have the World’s Smallest Bathroom, I can get away with a 5×7 remnant of vinyl flooring, and have some left over.

I need to change the picture in this here blog. I have more pictures to upload. I need to set up at least two other sites for Ron. I have to go to the library. I may need some groceries, even though I spent a fortune last week, and we have enough baking supplies to last until the Second Coming.

We have to start school at some point.

My glasses have a definite chip out of them, right in the center of one lens, and I desperately need my teeth cleaned.

Sarah and Meaghan may be going on a day trip tommorow. We were called about it this morning. Addison’s work schedule is erratic. The other night he got home after 7pm, and he had been gone by 10am. Yesterday he worked all day in the woods. Today it’s almost 11, and there’s no sign of them. Emma is still convinced she is a kitty and refuses to wear clothing.

I am thisclose to talking myself out of today’s walk. I haven’t started writing down and keeping track of my food again. Sarah stole her CD back from me.

I remembered this morning that my aunt is supposed to be coming up for the long weekend. That’s next weekened, right? I dunno where she’s gonna sleep.

Oh, and Mom? I signed up for voice mail. You’re welcome, and Merry Christmas.