Thursday, December 31, 2009

T-Shirts for Bijou

Since I had to finish reorganizing our school room and pass on any New Year's festivities until that was complete, I decided to ring in the New Year by stenciling some t-shirts for Bijou! Here are the brand new t-shirts to add to her wardrobe!

The Manifesto of the Idle Parent

Thanks to the awesome folks over at Ohdeedoh I now have a very fitting manifesto to verbalize my current parenting and schooling style!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me...

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, dear Adrienne. Happy birthday to me!

So another birthday has come and gone and as usual, I really don't feel any different. I'm sure some changes have occurred over the past 31 years of life, but change can be such a subtle thing. Do I feel different than I did on Tuesday? No. Do I feel different than I did in 1994? Well, yeah, i guess so. I have no real complaints about the last year. Yes, I've gained some weight, but I gained a baby with it, so definitely no complaint there. And last year's birthday wish of being independently wealthy didn't come true this year, but I guess I didn't get all 30 of the candles blown out in one breath.

But I look forward to seeing what 31 brings. I've decided that I need to take control of my health and well being this year. I'd been vegetarian for almost 10 years before getting pregnant with Zion. During her pregnancy all I ever wanted was meat - for every meal! The things that I normally ate made me sick every time I ate them. So it has been, for the last (almost) 2 years I've eaten meat quite regularly throughout the week. Opening the door to eating meat again has been an open door, also, to eating fast food, massive amounts of dairy and prepackaged food. These are all things that I stopped ages ago and the reintroduction has taken it's toll on how I feel (health-wise and my body image). I am optimistic about returning to my regular diet. I look forward to losing all of this extra weight (or extra waste, as an old friend would refer to it) and feeling healthy. That's my goal for 31. Healthy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bijou the Birthday Girl

Bijou turned three today. Although I decided that we would only do big birthday parties for the girls between the ages of four and ten, I still feel like I put a lot of work into today (but that's just because of my procrastination). Bijou had a great day. The birthday crown was worn all day, there were cinnamon biscuits and vegetarian bacon for breakfast, a friend came over and had cake with us, she got a handmade bunny from mommy, a T-Rex and stegosaurus from daddy, play food for the kitchen and some dress up clothes. All in all, a great third birthday!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Progress and Portraits

It has been a busy couple of weeks here. I finally finished the boots and hats for the shop on the Square. They all turned out pretty cute AND I managed to print some tags for them on fabric before my printer ran out of ink. As I am still mastering the sewing machine, they are all pretty much hand sewn, but it's progress. I really wanted to get them to her before Christmas, but there were lots of other things going on around here. While I was in sewing mode, I decided to make a new pair of shoes for Zion. I had a nice wine colored wool sweater that I made into a pair of cute, warm winter Mary Janes. I also used my new hole punch (that I found for $5 at Walmart) to add some nice detail to them.

My shoe making was slowed a bit by a large family portrait that I was painting. My friend offered to trade me a washer and dryer for a portrait of her family. Can you ask for a better barter?! We have been in need of a washer since we moved into this house (a year ago). This is by far the largest family I've done, but it was good practice. I usually pride myself on being able to complete a portrait in a day or so, but this time I had to paint seven people. That stretched my work time, well, seven times (at least). I signed it and scraped my palette today so that I will not be compelled to keep touching it up (I'm prone to doing things like that). Hopefully she likes it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Future Clothing Line for Girls?

I've decided that I have issues with little girls' clothes. Well, I decided I has an issue with them long ago, but I've recently discovered what the issue is. It's not the the pink and sparkles that bother me (although I could do without having to wade through all of that too), it's the content. Boys clothes tend to reflect their interests - planes, robots, dinosaurs, sports, trucks, etc. Girls clothes have flowers, princesses, butterflies. My girls have interests and their interests go well beyond ballerinas and princesses! Bijou loves robots and dinosaurs and airplanes and large farm equipment. Where are her clothes to display her interests. Ashni likes rocks and fossils. Where are her future geologist t-shirts? Well, I am taking a stance! I am going to make sure that my girls have clothes that reflect who they are and what they love. Four Bad Apples - clothes for real girls - has a nice ring don't you think? I can see it on the horizon...

Snowflake Project Completed

Our snowflake window clings that we started yesterday were dry and ready to peel this morning. We used silver fabric paint because I didn't have white. I had red and black, but I figured silver was a little more realistic than red. Fortunately I was awake before any of the children, so no snowflakes were destroyed while I snoozed. Now, the peeling and sticking to the window was a project all in itself. But I think they turned out great

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snowmen and Snowflakes

The drop in temperature says it's time to switch out our seasonal crafts. It is time to put away our fall leaf "stained glass" and put up some winter inspired decor. Although, generally I despise Disney and all that Disney produces, I love (shh, don't tell anyone). There are always project ideas there that the girls enjoy.

Today we made the corn starch clay that I found here http://http// and the girls put together some incredibly creative snowmen. Their snow man building is extra impressive seeing as they have never seen more than a half inch of real snow in their lives. They really had fun. Unfortunately, the longer their snowmen sit, the more they "melt" into schlumpy snowmen. I'm not sure if I mixed my ingredients wrong or what, but I guess that makes them extra realistic!

Bijou's has the big rock star sunglasses on. She did really well putting most of this together herself. I cut the scarf for her though.

Jena's and his fancy black eyed pea belt.

Ashni's looks like a rapper to me. HA, he's all "blinged" out!

We also made sparkly silver snowflake window clings, also found here We won't know until tomorrow how they turned out, but I think the excitement is killing the girls. I'm sure they will be up bright and early ready to peel them from the paper. Hopefully, they don't get to them before I wake up or they may have disjointed snowflakes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Crafty Crafty

Sometimes I get project ideas in my head before I completely wake up in the morning. I'll be in the middle of a perfectly ridiculous dream and have the nagging urge to make finger puppets (or some other equally random thing). This morning it was a place mat. The very first thought in my mind was, "I have to make Bijou a place setting place mat." Why? Not sure. But before I could even get breakfast, I'd planned, traced, cut and sewn a very cute felt place mat for my Bijou. I'm still getting the hang of this whole sewing machine thing, but it's not bad for a first try. Besides, three year olds tend to not have a particularly critical eye. She thinks it's fabulous (despite what her facial expression may convey in the picture!).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oranges anyone?

I just had to post this. I came into the kitchen the other day to find Bijou all dressed in orange and attempting to juggle two oranges. I guess if you're not into spontaneous monochromatic moments, then this probably isn't so awesome to you. But me? It was the highlight of my morning!

New Ventures and Nutcrackers

The last few weeks have been a challenge around here. But they say it's always darkest just before the dawn, right? So we're staying optimistic! The small shop on the square that sells baby accessories and baked goods (mentioned in a previous post) wants to carry my hats and shoes! SO, I've been sewing up a storm this past week. I am still sewing mostly by hand because 2 layers of felted wool and 2 layers of fleece is just too thick for the machine. We are starting out with just a couple of each item to see how well they do, but that's a step in a good direction. Hopefully I will complete everything over the next few days once the madness of the Nutcracker is over!

Today is the final performance of the Nutcracker. Opening night was yesterday and it was a LONG day. I had to get the girls to the theater by 10:15am. From 10:30 until 12:30 they had spacing rehearsal then 30 minutes for lunch. Bijou wants so badly to be in ballet now, but she was forced to hang out back stage and watch.

(But, check out her fabulous use of colors and patterns in yesterday's outfit. I think she was very cute.) From 1 until 4ish there was dress rehearsal. I did come home during that and we all got a nap before the girls' dinner break. We took the girls for pizza before their big debut on the Ford Center stage. By 7pm the theater was a buzz of guests, parents and grandparents with bouquets of roses for little ballerinas.

The girls did beautifully! We are very proud. It was almost 10pm before we made it back home. It's always jarring to see my kids all made up for performances. They on the other hand love it. They will someday rebel and be VERY girly girls, I'm sure.

Despite my ungirliness, there's nothing I love more than freshly washes, oiled and twisted locks. Check out Ashni's freshed up ballet bun. She looks like a whole new person with her hair done.

This morning I made them their favorite breakfast - cinnamon biscuits! We head to theater around 1:30 to get them all made up and dressed for the 3 o'clock performance today. Technically we are not supposed to take photos during the performance and yesterday I followed the rules and only got a few pictures during dress rehearsal, but today I'm feeling rebellious. So there WILL be pictures from today's show!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today's Bijou-ism

We were riding in the van today and a flock of birds was flying over the airport runway. They were circling and swooping all together. Bijou was amazed.

Bijou: Mommy, look at the birds.

Me: I see.

Bijou: They are flying all together. They are beautiful. And they are all friends.

I thought it was sweet that she thought that they were beautiful.

Sweater slippers, shortbreads and small business plans

The weather has taken a nose dive around here. Thanksgiving weekend was beautiful. We could not have asked for better weather. This week, they are predicting snow. SNOW! It's cold out there. It's also a little chilly in our house too. I promised the girls that I would make them all slippers to warm their icy toes (which they love to put on unsuspecting parts of my body throughout the day). The thought of hand sewing slippers for everyone was rather daunting. So instead, I figured I would take this opportunity to teach the girls some basic stitches and let them make their own pair of slippers. Jena is working diligently on her first pair. Ashni has MUCH less patience for things that take longer than 5 minutes, so she may be wearing socks this winter. I guess 2 is too young to let loose with a needle, so I did make a pair for Bijou. I love recycling secondhand sweaters into slippers, baby shoes, hats and toys. We found a great grey lambswool sweater at Goodwill. So far it has been used to make a pair of legwarmers for Ashni for ballet, Jena is using part for her slippers and the rest has been used for Bijou's slippers. There's still enough material left to make.....something, but I don't know what yet. I finished Bijou's slippers last night and she's had warm toes all morning.

A couple of days ago, I got a hankering for lemon. Lemon something...I wasn't sure what yet. Then I remembered how much I love shortbread cookies and lemonade in the summer and thought, what if I could combine the two of those (I also enjoy lemon cookies). So I whipped out my shortbread cookie recipe and rummaged around the fridge until I found a lemon and a lime. I grated some lemon and some lime zest and added it to the shortbread dough. The I made a lemon - lime icing to put on top. GREATEST THING EVER! We've made about three dozen over the last couple of days.

Now, my mother (who is always trying to come up with business ideas for me), has decided that I need to start a business that sells baby accessories, lemon shortbread and buttermilk biscuits. HA! That's like those place where you can get a haircut, your car washed and a slab of ribs all at the same time. As I was relaying that idea to my cousin (who was partaking in one of the lemon shortbread cookies) she reminded me of a little shop here on the square that does indeed sell baby accessories and baked goods! Go figure. So today, I will be packaging up some cookies, pulling out some of my stock of baby accessories and trucking down to the square to see if she's interested. I will also be going to get a sewing machine! YAY! Happy early birthday to me! Thanks mom.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Even though we do not celebrate Christmas, December is still my favorite time of the year. There's a sort of electricity and warmth in the air, dispite the cold, wet Mississippi winter. We awoke yesterday to the first frost of the season. Our front yard sparkled for about 20 minutes until the sun came out completely. Then it all melted, but for children raised in the tropics, 20 minutes of sparkly grass is still amazing. Just wait until they get a half hour of snow.

December is also the month that Bijou turns three and three day later, I turn 31. I feel like I should have reached some sort of milestone at thirty, but I didn't. Did I miss something? Maybe 31 will bring something different. But I digress....
I can hardly believe that my little Bijou will be three, although I can barely remember life before her. She has grown into a very, very smart and feisty little girl. Most days we all adore her, other days we attempt to find the receipt so that we can return her to the hospital and get a quieter model. All the same, we love her dearly and are excited to celebrate another year of life with her.

I have decided that I will do big parties for the girls for their 4th through 10th birthdays. Not that that means I will be doing less parties, because I have four children and someone is going to fall between the age of four and ten for the next ten years. Anyway, Bijou will be three years old on the 27th. We will do something small with maybe a friend or two. My plan is to make a mini cake for us to share (so that there aren't any leftovers for me to sneak and eat while kids are asleep) and let her choose what we make for breakfast(or dinner, I haven't decided). Knowing Bijou, she'll ask for biscuits because that's what she's asked for every morning since I started making them.
Along with breakfast and cake, she will be getting a hand sewn birthday crown. Over the years I have made a few birthday crowns for the kiddos. There's no rhyme or reason to when or for whom I make one, but this year, Bijou asked for a crown. Usually I am a procrastinator and will wait until the day before a birthday to start making the crown. This year, I went against the norm and made the crown early. I haven't let her see it yet, as I want it to be a surprise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back to life...

We are finally back to a regular week around here. Everyone is in good health, all of our guests have returned to their rightful homes and school has resumed. Unfortunately, after almost two full weeks of no school (thanks to illness and holidays) getting back into the swing of things is like pulling teeth (with tweezers!).

I decided to take yesterday to assess where we are academically. In hind sight, it would have been better to do that after everyone's brain had recharged from the extended vacation. But, we all know what they say about hind sight. Anyway, after a slow start and much frustration on my part, I know what we need to spend a little more time on and what area the girls are very strong in. Reading has always been an important factor in teaching the children and they continue to read well above their grade level. Math is also very important. We tend to struggle a bit with various aspects of math. One of the reasons we school 12 months out of the year is because my children tend to forget things if they are not regularly revisited. Math is a subject where things have to be revisited VERY often so that they stick. Assessing their math progress would have probably been easier if I'd done it at the end of the week instead of the beginning, but they both seem to be performing at grade level. I would like to see them work more independently in math, but everyone has to work at their own pace. I'm sure that they will improve with time.

I have also decided that I would like the girls to start reading some biographies. It's female pilot week in our house. Jena will be reading about Amelia Erhart and Ashni will read about Bessie Coleman. Next week, they will switch.

We are still discussing Mesopotamia in history. Yesterday the girls tried their had at cuneiform writing. We shaped sticks into our stylus and used play dough as our clay tablets. Today, we discussed the Code of Hammurabi and built a ziggurat from blocks. I would like to do an ancient Mesopotamian style feast when we get to the end of our lessons. We will see how that works out and what recipes I may be able to find.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tardy Thanksgiving happenings

Well, my Thanksgiving update is pretty late. But in my defense I was attempting to post a video to make you all VERY jealous of my Thanksgiving festivities. But blogger is not cooperating with me. So I'll have to post a still picture instead. BOO! The video was of our friend Guelel playing and singing for us on Thanksgiving. The prefect end to a fabulous family get together. Oh well....

So, the Thanksgiving festivities have come to a close for another year. The family and I had a fantastic time. It was everything that I could have hoped for. The girls got to spend time with their cousins and the house was filled with the sound of children's laughter (loud, piercing, high pitched, shrieking little girl laughter). For three days and nights house rules were forgotten, meals were trucker sized, bedtimes fell by the wayside and the love and laughter were plentiful. We all return to our normal lives full. Full not just on the vast menu of tasty goodness that was consumed, but full and replenished in the strength of our family bond. I wish that we could spend time together like this more often. It reminds me of why we returned to the mainland - why it was so hard to live across an ocean from our family. The holidays there were small, and though they were no less filled with love, they were different. Now, I will have to admit that a Thanksgiving dip in the Caribbean Sea could not be replaced by even the cheesiest of macaronies, but I would trade that for the soft brown cheek of my newborn baby cousin any day!

Alright, all mushiness aside. Here are the top five reasons that MY Thanksgiving was sweeter than YOUR Thanksgiving! 5.) This year's Thanksgiving spread consisted of dressing (made from my homemade buttermilk cornbread), green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, greens, smoked turkey, roast duck, basil and lime marinated salmon, sweet potatoes, homemade pecan and apple pies, lemon bundt cake, caramel cake, almond cake, peanut butter cookies, ginger snaps, lemonade and sweet tea!

4.) The population of our humble little abode swelled from a meager seven to a mind boggling 25+

3.) The awesome place mats that the girls made for the kids table AND the newly refinished red drop leaf table (belonging to my great great uncle) which served as the kids table.

2.) My girls and my niece. Nothing more to say there. They're awesome.

And the number 1 reason my Thanksgiving was sweeter than your Thanksgiving - our Senegalese friend Guelel gracing us with post dinner entertainment. A very awesone video should be posted here, but as you can's not.