Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Recap

Thanksgiving for us was a day full of feasting and celebrating and laughter.

I overheard Alexi giving Cal an anatomy lesson about the chambers of the heart while preparing the turkey.

Battleship and chess and puzzles:

Games and puzzles with Grandma and a cousin:

Who knew all that cooking and feasting could be so tiring?

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent Calendar Ideas

One of our family's favorite holiday traditions is our advent calendar (purchased from Garnet Hill a couple of years ago and no longer available - here is what they have now). If you are looking for a quick, easy way to create a beautiful advent calendar, I saw this neat idea on Design Sponge last week. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what little treats with which you can fill an advent calendar:

Instructions for a magic trick
A joke
A small joke book

Glue sticks, markers, crayons, (colored) chalk
Beads to string
Materials to make an ornament
Small tablets/journals
Disposable camera
Fun erasers/pencils

sea glass
Pine cones
A beautiful rock

Holiday cookie cutter, with the promise to make cookies
Coupons for special activities such as getting the tree, watching a movie, a tea party

Small toys:
Finger puppets
Miniature cars/tops/toys
Small flip books

Ornament for the tree

This picture shows the numbered flaps. Cal is eager to get the calendar filled and hung!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Self-Calming Cards

We have found these Self-Calming Cards to be useful in coaching Cal and Abbott, and ourselves, how to recover from emotional upset more quickly.

Click to enlarge:

The back side of the above cards. These describe ways to teach the strategies (click to enlarge)

These are just a few of the dozens of self-calming techniques explained in this card deck. Each of the cards describes how one can self soothe with a different method—physical, auditory/verbal, visual, creative, self-nurturing and humor. The materials also discuss how adults can model the use of such self-soothing techniques as taking a warm bath, making a joke to defuse a situation or singing a silly song. Each method includes suggested activities for a range of ages, from toddler to adult.

These helpful cards are available for purchase here. The author, Elizabeth Crary, is a parent educator and author based in Seattle. We loved her talk at our local cooperative preschool, and highly recommend her as a speaker.

Friday, November 21, 2008

play time

I hope you find time to get out and explore this weekend! It has been unseasonably mild in Seattle this November, and we've been taking advantage of it at every opportunity.

A few things that caught my eye this week:
Thanksgiving place markers and Thanksgiving traditions
Deconstructing the Art Wall
The cutest onesie ever
Driftwood art

I hope to have a little time to read my book this weekend.

I really need some new music - what are you listening to these days?

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The beach in November

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." Rachel Carson, as cited in Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

We had a busy weekend. Alexi had to work, and it was late Sunday afternoon before we got to spend time together as a family. Abbott was cranky and tearful from being tired and scraped up from falling off his bike. Cal was recovering from being sick. I was sick. Alexi was exhausted from a weekend of call. Yet after 30 minutes at the beach, we walked home new people; happy and relaxed and energized.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What God Looks Like

Last week at Sunday School, Abbott was given the assignment to draw how he pictured God. Here is what he came up with. Note the cape.

by Abbott 11/9/08, age 6 yrs 3 months

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Comment part II

I was walking to Vivace for my morning latte this week when I spotted this in the window of Tottini - the follow up to this.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boys will be boys!

What you see pictured below is becoming an increasingly common occurrence in our house. For some reason, it occurs most frequently in this stairwell.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Almquist Family Cellars

UPDATE: Check out their website here!

Over the past couple of weeks we have had the fun of watching our friend Mike Almquist crush grapes for wine making. He has made wine for years, and this year's vintage will be for sale. He and his wife bought a warehouse two blocks west of the Fremont bridge in Seattle that they are converting into a winery and restaurant. The restaurant will have an open view of the winery (and a view of the ship canal), and will open after the first of the year.

The grapes are brought from eastern Washington.

Here is Mike driving the fork lift, dumping the grapes into the crusher (I am to the right):

Abbott and Cal watching grapes go through the crusher:

The degree to which the grapes are crushed is part of the art of wine making.


Mike with crushed grapes:

This part of the crushing machine removes the grapes from the stems:

Mike and Abbott at work:

the pressing machine

Pressing will be done several times this week. If we're able to go when the grapes have sufficiently fermented (the process takes between 3-10 days, approximately) due to addition of yeast, enzymes, nutrients and/or nature, we'll also get to see the pressing. Mike plans to produce approximately 40,000 bottles this year. Watch for the Almquist Family Cellars!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spawn 'Til You Die

Mascots of the hatchery, Gilda and Finlay. Cal is in the blue and green coat.

Cal's preschool class recently visited the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Alexi went along as a chaperone.

demonstration of the salmon developmental progression

feeling the temperature of the creek water

looking at fish swimming

Death is a natural part of the fish life cycle. After spawning the salmon die. The air smells like decaying fish; Cal is sensitive to bad smells - that's why he's holding his nose in this picture!

spawning fish in the Issaquah creek

a model of a nest of salmon eggs called a red

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead altar at Abbott's school

Last week Abbott's school celebrated the Day of the Dead. Here is an email from his Spanish teacher explaining the event:

"Dear Parents
I would like to inform you that next week we will be celebrating the Day of
the Dead
 "El dia de los muertos". It is voluntary for the children to bring
offerings for the altar that we will prepare. They can bring a picture or
photograph of a relative or pet that they want to honor and remember who has
passed into the next world. They will tell the class why that person or pet
was so special to them. They can also bring Marigold flowers. Day of the
is celebrated not only in Latin American countries like Mexico, Peru
and Guatemala, but here in the United States in certain cities like East Los
, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Antonio, etc. Spanish speakers in
these cities preserve the basic tradition of Day of the Dead. It is a
celebration not only to death, but also to life, as families prepare a
special altar in their homes for the Day of the Dead celebration, honoring a
specific family member or members. In Mexico, sugar skulls, marigold flowers
"zempasuchiil," tissue paper cut-outs "paper picado" and candles are
traditionally used to decorate the altars. They also make bread of the dead
"pan de muertos." They put out some fruits and nuts and on the Day of the
Dead they cook the traditional food that the deceased used to eat. You are
welcome to come see our altar. Remember that it is voluntary for the
children to bring any offerings.

Muchas gracias."

Abbott brought in pictures of our cat, Piper, his great Grandfather, and his great Grandmother.