Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Boxing up the Herb Garden

The backyard is slowly undergoing a total redo.  The end results will be an undulating patio with a pergola, grilling station and scattered seating.  

This means I finally get to tear down the weird detached deck built by the previous owners.  It is more dock or dais then deck.  Standing on the vile thing, I feel like I'm on a watch tower looking into the neighbors yards.  

Before the despised deck can go, I need to make a temporary space for the grill and table.  We don't want to sacrifice nice evenings outside for a prolonged construction project. 

Step 1.  Move the herb garden.  This will let me use pavers to extend the small patio off the back door. 

But I don't know where the new herb garden will be.  So I am building moving crates out of garage scraps.  Lining the crates with newspaper let's me easily shuffle my homeless herbs around or give them up for adoption.  

If you need mint, lemon balm, oregano or catnip, let me know. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The 2012 Mommy Manifesto

Three years ago I taped ten rules for summer vacation to the wall of our kitchen.  Those rules have grown with my kids and evolved through trial and error into The Mommy Manifesto.

Do we stick to the rules the whole summer?  No.  At first we are strict but by August the rules are pretty loose and open to interpretation.

Then why post rules at all?  Because think of how feral my kids would be if I started out lax.  It would be unbrushed hair, jammies all day, breakfast at 11 a.m. and surly moods all around before the end of June.

The Mommy Manifesto
Summer 2012

1.  Have breakfast with Dad on the weekdays.
This ensures that the little dears are up and fed by 7:15 a.m., letting us take advantage of cooler mornings for outside activities.  It also means that the little rotters will be tired by 7:15 p.m., allowing mom and dad some grown up time.

2.  4 p.m. to 5 p.m. is quiet hour.  
Interpretation:  No screen time.  No saying "mom" for one hour.  Other than that, you can do what you want, where ever you want to in the house as long as you don't touch or talk to your sibling.  This lets me caffeinate, cook dinner and head into the last part of the day with a bit of sanity.

3.  No Screen Time before noon.  
If the screen time starts first thing in the morning, the active part of our day bleeds away into one more show or one more level.  Better to leave that junk for the heat of the day and not waste valuable outside morning time.

4.  Screen Time must be earned.  
Screen Time is not an inalienable right and must be earned half an hour at a time.  See the Mommy Manifesto Screen Time Addendum 2012.

5.  Each kid cooks dinner once a week.  
Parental help is provided.  This rule flopped the first year because I tried to have the kids working together to produce a meal.  It has since evolved into a sibling separation tactic.

6.  Go hiking once a week.  
This should be fun this year because we can go hiking then pick up our CSA at Leroy Springs on Tuesdays.

7.  Have dinner at the pool once a week.
Always fun because Dad gets to join us at the pool for an evening swim.  Also, nothing makes a kid sleepier than a little chlorinated water in their eyes.

8.  Three movie nights a week.
I have to state this right up front, otherwise there is constant begging for a movie night and arguing over what to watch.  Movie night every night means that bedtimes runs away with us and my sanity erodes.

9.  Try a new recipe once a week. 
Debuting a new rule this year in honor of our first summer in a CSA.  I'm hoping this keeps the kids involved in meal time and gets them to try more foods.

10.  Have fun!  
An over scheduled summer is like an over scheduled school year:  No time for spontaneous play and plain old fun with friends.

The Mommy Manifesto Screen Time Addendum, 2012
Screen Time may be earned half an hour at a time by:
Reading a chapter book for half an hour.
Walking or running one mile. (Yes, the weekly hike earns screen time)
Writing a NEW story.  Beginning, middle and end required, thank you very much.
Cleaning your room.

All activities can be repeated in the same day (except cleaning your room) to earn even more screen time.  Please!  Read for an hour or more, hike/walk/run a mile or more, write lots of stories.  But a room may only be cleaned once in a day.

Screen time must be used the day it is earned.  There are no roll over screen time minutes.
Family movie night does need to be earned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yet Another Birth Announcement

Look who joined me for coffee this morning.

There was a little hatching mishap over the weekend.

In March I ordered three Chinese Praying Mantis Ootheca.  Unfortunately they arrived when I was ill.  Not only was their home made cage not ready but the poor dears spent a day or two cooking in the black metal mailbox in full sun.

I drilled a few holes in the plastic pretzel barrel and set the ootheca on the bottom, rather than hanging them up from a nest of sticks.  After more than a month, I gave up hope that they would hatch.

This is my very lame apology for the fact that the lid was not all the way on the pretzel jar when at least a thousand.

My son and his friend discovered the hatching on Sunday.  The nymphs must have just started hatching because only a couple hundred were running around loose in the library.

I quickly finished the mantis habitat with a piece of screen and some duct tape for proper ventilation plus sticks for climbing.

My son rounded up as many nymphs as he could.  Obviously a few are still making the rounds of the house.

I'm going to set this little guy outside with the other liberated nymphs.  Hopefully they will eat lots of mosquitoes, grow up and lay ootheca of their own.

Their siblings in captivity aren't faring as well.  I'm not having much success catching fruit flies for the nymphs and the tiny crickets I bought at petsmart are too big.  The nymphs are coping with the problem.

Alas alack, the fratricide has begun.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Birth Announcement

Look what I found during my morning garden rounds.
This little box turtle is from the 2011 brood that hatched in August.  The 2010 brood had six babies hatch.  When we found Scooter in August, I searched the pen a few times looking for any siblings.  Baby box turtles survive their first three years by the curl up and cope method.  Clearly they are great at hiding.

The older a box turtle is, the more eggs she lays.  Clutches start out at two or three.  Boxer is at least 14 years old.  We thought there would be more babies in Scooter's clutch but figured that predators or the harsh summer took a toll.

Since this little guy hibernated through the winter all on his or her own, I think the name should be Lucky.   However, my husband and son seem to remember a promise that the next turtle be named Gamera.

That's an awfully big name for such a little turtle.  But a promise is a promise.

Welcome to the Garden of Good Intentions, Gamera.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wrapping Up Science Time

This year Peggy and I got smart.  As Science Time wound down and the kids wound up for summer, we made our projects more and more kinetic.  Less and less dependent on glue sticks.

Imaginary play is a great way to learn.  Our three's and four's loved this salt marsh project. 

We gave them an 18"x12" page with the blue tide line already hot glued to it.  The "tide" is open at the top, making a perfect pocket for all the marsh animals we handed out during the class. 

Cord grass is the heart of the salt marsh.  We explained this to the children while they colored the whole page green.  Even during science class, there is always time to hone those fine motor skills. 

Next we handed out wavy strips of brown paper to represent the creeks as the tide goes out.  This was my favorite part because each child got to design their own marsh.  I love it when the kids go home with projects showing their own individual flair.  

Last, we borrowed a story rhythm from Erik caarl to help us introduce the marsh animals.   Blue heron, blue heron, what do you see. . . .

Our marsh animals came from online clip art and were printed on white card stock to make them more durable. The children colored them in while we explained how each animal played a roll in the salt marsh ecosystem.

By the end of the hour, the class room was a din of talking otters, blue crabs, shrimp, herring gulls, sheepshead minnows, periwinkle snails and happy preschoolers.   

Now its time to get ready for our June 11-15 Science Time Summer Camp. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Retail Therapy

 I was in a pretty grumpy mood yesterday.   Annie's dialogue won't write itself.  She is a complex character for a five year old.  It takes a lot of curiosity, mirth and coffee to write Annie.  I had to shake the grumpy mood fast.
Home Depot did the trick.   I bought five boxes of star drive screws.  One of every length they had from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2".  

I don't think this is what my grandmother had in mind when she tried to teach me the finer points of retail therapy. But we do what works, don't we?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Mother of All Hole Punchers

The clock is ticking.  I am racing to finish C is for Centurion before the kids get out of school for the summer.  Four chapters to go and the first draft is done.

Meanwhile, I am also prepping for Science Time summer camp.   This was my excuse at Hobby Lobby when I indulged in a shiny new toy to help speed things along.  

Peggy already teases me for being addicted to paper punches but I don't care because this is the Tim Allen Model of hole punchers.

Fellow art web member Lisa Finley lent me her super duper hole punch this fall and I fell in love.  She uses it for her Recycled Materials Jewelry.  Lisa likes the precision of the smaller punch setting.  

I like the muscle power.  This puppy let me prep 24 felt wallet sewing kits in under an hour, punching through three layers of felt at once.

Prepping these mosaic butterfly cut outs was a snap with the smaller hole setting.  This punch is so stable that my seven year old has fun using it.  

As soon as summer camp is over, I guarantee I will be looking around for projects to test out the rivet and grommet setting.  For now it's back to Titus and Annie.   

Check out Lisa's blog for more great ideas and some fun recipes:  http://www.laspottery.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Art Trek Tryon 2012

Titus and Annie are just not cooperating.  I am too far behind in my work to slip away to Tryon this weekend for Art Trek 2012.


This is a great event.  I go every year to help my mother and sister.  Not only do you get to drive around and see some remarkable work spaces, you also get to meet interesting artists and fellow art enthusiasts.

2012 promises to be the best Art Trek yet because they have moved the event from sweltering July to this new more temperate time in May.

Tryon, Saluda, Columbus and Landrum are some really cute little towns.  If you are in Upstate South Carolina, pack your car with friends and check this out.

Start with the Upstairs Gallery in Down Town Tryon where you can see a sampling of work from the participating artists:  http://www.upstairsartspace.org/

Walk down to La Bouteille and get some libations:  http://www.labouteille.net/
They are the home of local brewer Bottle Tree Beer:  http://www.bottletree.net/

Plot your course through the studios.  Make sure you stop by Warrior Drive and say hello to my mother, Diana Gurri, my sister Catherine Gurri, and our friend Bob Neely.  Three very different artists.  Lots of great work.

Head up towards Saluda and stop by the Purple Onion:  http://www.purpleonionsaluda.com/

If I won the lottery, I would live in Saluda.  I would also make sure I could walk to (and home) from the Purple Onion.  The taps are as exciting as the food.

Have a great weekend and send me pictures please.