Monday, November 29, 2010


Can you believe it? Six! Somehow, six just doesn't seem to be a big enough number for all that is G. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. He is such a force, that to count to six is over too soon!

I feel like with G his age would be best counted in breaths. So high would I go, adding all of those counted during the hours I have sat beside him, watching the second hand as he struggled to breathe, so close to being too many, so relieved when it wasn't. Higher and higher I would count, until I had a number as big as him.

Being a younger brother can come down in many ways, and with G he is so ... much. He is a best friend and a good brother, a firm believer in himself, and while endlessly patient also quick to stand his ground.

He has always been nimble and graceful and wows us with his tricks ... dance, gymnastics, performance. So much agility in a skinny body. He loves to explore and be with his family.

He insists on being heard, on playing fair, on managing what is right. He sings loudly, runs fast, and laughs until he cries. He is so shy with strangers, but gives 200% to those he knows and trusts.

He is so good with his brother and is fiercely protective of him. He hates being away from him for even a minute, and counts the seconds even if they are apart for only a short karate class.

He loves color, music, patterns, puzzles, and soft fuzzy animals. He has a wicked sense of humor, and loves to bake. He can do e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. all by himself. Ahem.

He is my heart, and I cannot imagine the world without him.

Six is such a small number, but I don't say that hoping to speed time along, because I plan to savor every moment.

Just like he does.

Happy birthday sweet boy.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

bird feeders.

Every fall we like to make some sort of bird feeder for our yard. This year we had a new idea. We saw a terra cotta pot bird feeder craft in an old garden craft book (which I can't now remember) and we thought it would be nice to try making one, but using compostable bio pots and bamboo/recycled saucers instead of the terra cotta!

We picked up bio pots (with holes in the bottom where you can put a cord) and bamboo saucers (a few inches bigger than the top of the pot so you have enough room to add bird seed).

To start, the boys painted a white base using outdoor acrylic craft paint on the inside and outside of compostable pots and let dry. They then painted their designs on the outside of their pots, and let that dry again. This paint is outdoor paint, so with the combination of the white base layer and the boys' thickly painted designs, we didn't feel we needed to varnish them too.

Once dry, we looped a strong cord through the pot holes on the top and knotted tightly (to create a loop to hang it). I put a blob of glue on the knot just to be sure it held.

We sandpapered the lip of the pots a tad bit, and then I used gorilla glue to adhere the pots upside down onto the saucers (added: you can gently smooth the glue as it poofs out of the crack as it is drying so that there isn't any glue outline on the outer edge). We let that dry too, and then voila! Ready to hang.

(yes, he's trying to slyly stick his tongue out - ha!)

We added some bird seed and hung them on a tree.

We had birds within an hour. The bright designs look great in our bare tree, and will pop once the snow hits the ground. We can see it from our back door so can bird watch all winter!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

bits of days.

We've been settling into the season a bit lately. We have had those days that are busy busy out of the house as we finish up the fall - days where we do so much of a thing and I take photos and want to share. And now we transition to days that on the surface I think are just little bits and feel I have nothing to share - which is funny, because in reality they are SO much more!

Home days are the days we love the most - while we enjoy 'activities' out and about all of us get a bit drained when in crowds and really LOVE coming back home to center and unwind and just be together. Not to mention we have so much we want to DO!

Of course this is the season for home - the weather gets colder, we cozy up, we craft, we read, we make, we bake, we share, we learn, we do, we wander and return, we play ... and then we do it again. We tuck in and keep asthma boy away from crowds and viruses and hopefully keep him healthy for the winter and his birthday (He's turning six!!! SIX! And his head is as big as a GIANT turnip!).

So some days it just seems like there isn't any'thing' to share. It is just bits. But all of those bits together make something very special. My kind of special.

So we go along, big days and small days, life feeling just right. We wait and hope and cross our fingers for snow. We spend time together at home, we are busy with our projects, and wander outside as a family in the nice crisp air.

Just what we all look forward to this time of year.

"In family life, be completely present."
- Lao Tsu

Yep, what he said.


Friday, November 12, 2010

skating the oval.

Yesterday we had such a fun day. We visited the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, one of only 11 indoor 400-meter ovals in the world. Yep, ice skating!

The boys have been looking forward to this for awhile. One of the teens in our homeschool group trains at the Pettit Center, and we have been wanting to check out the oval. After a tour the boys hit the ice...first on one of the skating rinks, and then everyone got to skate on the oval! Very fun.

As you can imagine, Wisconsin is a big winter sport state. And speed skating in particular has produced many Olympians - like Eric and Beth Heiden, Chris Witty and many others. Even Bonnie Blair, who was born in IL, moved to Wisconsin after high school to skate and still lives here. Almost half of the 2006 United States Olympic speed skating team were born and raised in Wisconsin. And of the 18 skaters who were on the 2010 U.S.Winter Olympic long track team, 7 of those skaters train at the Pettit Center and call Milwaukee home!

In fact, we watched Brian Hansen, a 2010 Olympic medalist, skate on the track for a bit when we were there. Of course we also watched the local favorite who is in our HS group - a long track skater who has his own hopes for the 2014 Olympics. We always hear about his skating, but this is the first time my boys have seen him on track - and they now plan on being a part of his cheering section at some competitions this winter. :)

As this was the first ice skating of the year, the boys started out holding onto the walls and sliding across the ice on their booties, but after a bit of practice, they were up and zipping around - and A even was trying to limbo!

After a great day of skating and visiting with friends at the ice rink, we headed home...exhausted and happy boys. Of course A now wants to know more about things - how do they lay the ice and keep it cold? Why do the long track skates make noise?

Did you know speed skating has earned the U.S. the most Olympic medals of any winter sport? At least one speedskater from Wisconsin has been on each winter U.S. Olympic Team since 1932. Speed skating is a human's fastest means of travel without mechanical aid or gravity. All very interesting!

What a great day! We will definitely be skating there again.


Sunday, November 07, 2010


There are a few events we go to every year that are highly anticipated. Snake Day at the Milwaukee Public Museum is one of those big gotta go events. So, when the night before Snake Day the transmission suddenly starts slipping on the car, we knew we had to jump through hoops to figure out the logistics to get ourselves a rental in time to be at the museum - over 70 miles away - first thing the next morning.

And we did it! We were not there at the moment they opened, but we made it within an hour of opening, with all day to hang out. Snake Day for A is no small matter. He doesn't want to walk through and then is done. He must stay. All day. Touch all of the reptiles. Hold them. Talk to the herpetologists. Repeat.

Both boys love feeling the snakes. Some are smooth, some bumpy, all beautiful. In the sunshine the black rat snake (above) has an iridescent sheen. A even got a few kisses on his cheek by the tongue of that curious snake. He was in heaven. Ear to ear smile.

We wandered and visited the room filled with frogs, crocodiles, snakes, turtles and lizards. A spent hours with the snakes, while G visited for awhile, and then wandered the rest of the (not so busy) museum with me.

It is so interesting to see that the natural feelings almost all children have towards snakes is not fear - but awe. Every child wanted to reach out and touch. And the snakes are so fascinating to watch...and feel.

So as the boys look forward to the next Snake Day - we return the rental car and cross our fingers that the shop will tell us tomorrow that the transmission is under warranty. ;) Hope you had a great weekend!


Friday, November 05, 2010


Once the weather gets cold we love to visit the climbing gym. We are lucky to live not too far from a great kid friendly place. We don't usually go much in summer as it gets pretty hot in there, so it has been awhile since the boys have climbed.

They were both *so* excited to go today, and clipped in immediately. Everything seemed to be going fine - I had G, Brice had A...and then I realized G was sobbing a few feet over my head. I let out his line to bring him down to see what was wrong - he was scared of how high he was going!

So, we sat on the side and just watched. We saw kids climbing. We saw adults on reverse angle walls losing grip and swinging out into open air way up at the ceiling. We saw people standing against the wall way up there with hands off for a minute to re-grip. We watched A climb a few times.

G realized that he wouldn't fall and said he wanted to try again. He climbed up just to my head level a few times "for practice" and then zooooom, he was off!

He was the first to hit the top - he climbed down, changed lines and climbed up to a spot with a ledge. He and A switched back and forth on their favorite line for a while, and then zoomed around trying out new spots. He was quick and confident. Wow! After almost 2 hours we had to go.

Both boys happily took off their harnesses and said he wanted to come back...tomorrow!

My little guy went through a range of emotions tonight...from fear and anxiety to determination to the major rush of sitting all the way at the top. I loved seeing that even though he was afraid he faced it, thought it through, and challenged himself to try again. Sweet boy.

Fear cannot take what you do not give it.
~Christopher Coan