Friday, October 21, 2011

Five... going on retired auto worker.

This week my sweet fella turned five years old. I can't believe how much our lives have changed since my "machine guy" came along. I'm so happy to be fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with Aidan, Adelaide and Annalise. The time goes by so quickly; but, I can honestly say that I have been there for just about every moment. Now, I do plenty of complaining about all the things I have to do everyday and I am definitely not the most patient of moms; but, the truth is, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Everyday is truly an adventure with my crazy troupe. They are always up for anything and the best buddies a mom could hope for.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oodles of Noodles

My children LOVE their noodles. Aidan takes them with butter, Addie takes them any way and they both will sprinkle their own cheese on, so don't even THINK about trying to help. They like noodles of all shapes, sizes and colors. The only constant is that no matter how much I cook, there is never enough. A box of spaghetti used to make three dinners for Matt and me. Now, a box isn't even enough for one family dinner!

A few weeks ago, we decided to make our own pasta. I love homemade pasta and it is so simple to make. I use my mom's old hand-me-down pasta maker and it works beautifully. Pasta machines can be a great garage sale find if they're clean and rust-free. I know pasta maker attachments are available for mixers; but, I've never tried those. You can also use a rolling pin if you don't have a pasta maker.

I use a really simple recipe from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food. Most pasta recipes are pretty similar. I've tried several and this one turns out consistently great pasta. It's also quick and easy. Just make a well in 2 cups of flour and add to it 2 eggs plus 2 additional egg yolks and mix with a fork. You may need to add a small amount of water if the dough is too dry. Knead the dough lightly, wrap it in plastic and let it sit for an hour. Halve the dough and feed it through the widest setting on your pasta machine, flouring as needed. Continue to feed the dough through narrower settings until you're happy with the thickness. You can now either feed it through the noodle blades or cut it by hand. Toss your noodles with flour to keep them separated. Fresh pasta will cook much more quickly than dried and should be cooked right away.

Personally, I find it's always best to have a buddy (or three) around when you're making pasta. For this pasta-making party, I fed the dough through while Addie turned the crank. Aidan manned the camera and Annalise, less than happily, worked the peanut gallery.

A Blue Hat with a Red Button

A few weeks ago, Aidan accompanied me to the craft store. He's always up for a good Joann's run. We were wandering around looking at all the fun treasures when he informed me that he was going to need a new "fall hat". He calls it a "fall hat" because last year's hat was autumn leaf-colored. He very specifically requested a blue hat with a red ceramic button. We found a pretty blue, wool blend yarn on sale and a highly-overpriced red ceramic button.

I used a super simple pattern from my favorite hat book, Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson. The book has tons of awesome hats. Many are beyond my skill level; but they are fun to look at nonetheless. I've made several hats for the kids from this book. I'm looking forward to trying some of the tiny baby hats for Annalise this winter.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bees and Ducks

Our school days and weeks have been flying by quickly. With Aidan's increased workload, Adelaide's new participation and Annalise's frequent need for snacks and snuggling, the hours go by very quickly around here. I have been trying to post a weekly wrap up for our school work; but, I'm afraid I've slipped a few weeks behind.

For the end of September, we read The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco. The kids both enjoyed the book. We are big honey bee fans around here! Set in Michigan, the story gave us the opportunity to learn about our state's geography and symbols. We also studied onomatopoeia, stringed instruments and, of course, honey bees!

Last week, we read Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla and learned about artists and the artistic process. We talked about the sort of activities we could work on over the long winter indoors. Plans were made to craft items to enter in our favorite summer fair. We also practiced a little "play doh carving".

Over the past two weeks, we finished the remainder of Aidan's review work in letter sounds and math. He's very enthusiastic about learning to read and can't wait to work on some new math skills.

Most exciting of all, Aidan began drum lessons. He has wanted to learn to play the drums for a long time. He received a nice drum set from my parents last year; but, I thought he was still a little too young for formal lessons at the time. We just finished our third lesson and couldn't be happier with our awesome instructor and everything that Aidan is learning!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

16, 17, 18... 41.

The Iron Crafters have been very busy over the past few months. The last challenge I participated in was #18. They are all the way up to #41 at this point. I have been following all of their challenges and enjoying seeing the results each week. I've even had some great ideas; but, I just couldn't seem to get things together to participate since Annalise has come along.

This week's challenge, Boo, seemed doable. I already had plans to make some festive Halloween tutus with my friend, so I decided to post the pictures. My usual model, Adelaide, was busy NOT napping in her room. Annalise, who was also NOT napping today, was happy to take on the job (mostly).

I made matching leaf-colored tutus for the girls. I used alternating brown, green and dark orange tulle for the skirts. I chose these colors because I thought they would work well for Halloween; but, the skirts would wear all the way through Thanksgiving. The hats were purchased crochet caps that I embellished with silk flowers. I swapped out the flower centers for some fabric covered buttons. I wove my favorite sparkly ribbon through the hat for a little extra glamour.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Organ Butts and other Science-y Stuff

I feel I should begin by stating that the following puzzle manufacturer did not in any way compensate me for this blog post. In fact, given the opportunity, they may have paid me NOT to write it.

Adelaide is my puzzle girl. She loves puzzles of any kind and will build the same one for hours and hours. I find piles of puzzle pieces all around the house and we are forever fishing them out of couch cushions and from beneath appliances. Amazingly, we very rarely actually lose a piece for good.

Her favorite puzzle by far, the one she builds more often than any other, is her body puzzle. We had a boy version for Aidan that she loved. I found a girl version for her this spring and she is constantly working on it.

The puzzle is actually rather intricate for her. There are several layers to the puzzle: organs, skeleton, muscles, skin and clothing. In order to keep things straight, she has come up with several terms she uses when discussing the many pieces. Working our way from the bottom up, we begin with "organ butt".

"Organ butt" lies neatly beneath "muscle butt" and is complemented by "muscle shirt". She has been a bit distraught lately, as we have been missing a "skin arm" for a few days. The top head, with hairclip, she refers to as "Adelaide".

Our favorite piece by far, is the one she refers to as "Grandma Barb". Here is a picture of my mom. I'll let you judge for yourself.