“He’s only 4 years old,

do you think he knows the person he’d like to marry?”
This is where our conversation led to last night at dinner, my boy and me. O shared that Nyan at school was married to another Grandi, Charlene. He was pretty sure you don’t know who you are going to marry at 4. But I wanted to know if he had any idea who he would marry and without hesitation he screwed his eyes shut tight and declared, “NO! I don’t want to get married!” Oh. “But you can’t have kids if you aren’t married, buddy. Don’t you want kids? “No. I just wanna make a mess. And drink soda. And eat soda crackers {which we heard about in Little House} And eat candy!”

There you have it. He’s got it all figured out.

Ancient Greece

A highlight of my day was when our read aloud turned into a maker’s fury of creative learning. After Ollie got home from school and Em was napping, we started a child’s version on The Odyssey .  We learned about Helen of Troy, the Trojan horse and the lotus-eaters.  By this time, L had had enough and asked if we could read another book we reference called Story of the World ; last time we read about the Minotaur on the island of Crete and today we learned about great warriors, the Mycenaeans. Since we didn’t know what invention allowed the Mycenaeans to overtake their enemies I explained what a chariot is and we built one with our mag-formers, an elephant, and some binocular strings. O got the idea straight and made a much better, more elaborate, quad-chariot.



We needed to make a set of warrior duds and ended up using a lot of aluminum foil.


And we wondered what the Greeks wore so we got some old sheets to make a peplos.

IMG_3355Lily noticed from her reading this morning that many Greeks wore things on their heads and so we made a laurel wreath.


The afternoon was so much fun; nap time was over in the blink of an eye.  Our next mission (at least mine!) is to locate a good Greek restaurant so we can sample some {modern} Greek food.  Fun day!

President’s Day in Pictures


Building an Olliescraper. It was 69″ high. We spent time building other, though not nearly as tall, structures. In pink PJ’s.


Cold weather begs for chocolate chip cookies.


Lots of imaginative play going on. Much of it cooperative!


We covered a little bit of history, too.


After messes were made, we cleaned up. Em is especially handy with the little vac.


Lily was measuring all sorts of things, looking for the longest thing she could find. Our hallway won…the entire length of our tape measure: 30′


Humble meal of noodles, butter and cheese.


Lucky readers in more temperate climes, please take a moment to appreciate it and soak up the sun. Em and I went out early this morning to church and the car thermometer showed a temp of -2*. At other times during the day it ranged from 0* all the way up to 10* around 2:30 when we were scurrying out to our car from a fun, energetic family swim. I notice people are leaving their cars run as they stop quickly at a store. I’m not sure how environmentally friendly that is…but climbing into a warm car after the bitter cold we have been experiencing sure is a treat.

Happy V Day

All you need is love but a little chocolate helps, too

Valentine’s Day dawned bright and early here…with purple pancakes, lilies, giant Knuffle Bunnies, adding machines and RoboBots. Everyone enjoyed a little sweetness. And some all day snow was inspiration for an afternoon viewing of Big Hero 6.



I’ve got an attitude of gratitude:
1. A day full of face painting, popcorn, Valentines, and Legos
2. A cooperative night night
3. Scheduling playdates for one and all
4. Sprucing up the place
5. Dr. Heater
6. A most thoughtful oldest daughter, a snuggly and silly middle son, a wild child babydoll
7. A husband who knows all the good stuff

Attention! Achtung! We’ve got a SWIMMER!!


About a year ago we started swim lessons–and then stopped because the pool was too cold.  I waited (im)patiently for Goldfish Swim School to open so my little swimmers could enjoy the 90* water.  Today our patience and L’s persistence paid off!  She is SWIMMING!  Her instructor asked, “Who is this girl?!?”  It was a thrill to see it happen!  I am just so proud of her.  She was pumped up and didn’t want to stop when her lesson was through.  She asked to go to Family Swim over the weekend.  And she hopes she can take one of her make up lessons {tomorrow, please!}.  It reminds me of when you fall in love and just want to hang out with that new person and figure them out.  She has conquered a new skill and wants to make it hers!

O had a great swim day, too!  With a reward of 1 M&M for walking in alone or 5 for walking in with no crying…he aced it!  5 M&M’s later…

Hmmm-I think I am going to do that tomorrow morning for school!

He’s (not) in the Army now


O got a set of army guys for Christmas.  He played with them today in his room which is now going to be a playroom (his suggestion since he sleeps in L’s room with her).  For bedtime reading he chose a Curious George story: Curious George Goes to a Toy Shop.  On the last page, after having helped the customers reach toys too high on the shelves, George becomes an official toy store worker complete with a toy shop apron to wear.  I said as we closed the book, “And now George has an apron.  He is an employee there.” which inspired O to ask what an employee is.  Dada is an employee at PNC, I explained, he works for PNC.

O: And he was an employee of the Army?

H: Yes

O: When I am big, I’m going to be in the Army, too.

H: {heart breaks a little} Really?  You could be a doctor or inventor or artist or writer.

O: No, I’m going in the Army.

H:  If that will make you happy, O…but you know, in the Army they tell you when to go to bed and what to wear and sometimes what you can eat.

O:  Do they have gravy in the Army?

H:  What?  Oh, yes, they have gravy there. {One Sunday we ate out and S ordered some biscuits with gravy…he learned to like it in the Army, he told us.}

O: Gravy rhymes with Navy.

H: Yes.  {A story we read today was about the Minoans and the original navy}

O: Are there different navys?

H: No, just the one in the water.

O:  I mean the color navy.

H:  Hmmm.  Yeah, I think there are different shades of navy.

The conversation meandered.  He has such a great memory.  He really listens and takes it all in.  Smart and cute, in one little package.

Self education


I just started a little at home learning {for myself} and it is hard to describe how much I enjoy it and remember doing it for years and years through college and such.  And then while teaching.  When we first had babies, especially with L, I found it really hard to have the attention span to read a book and down-shifted to magazines for about a year.  I mourned my ability to read and comprehend what I was reading.  It had less to do with the fabled mommy brain and more to do with fatigue and ability to concentrate on things other than this brand new baby I was in charge of helping to live.  I joined a book club in CLE but that was not very enjoyable since I was trying to figure out the difference between footloose single and preoccupied new wife and mom.  I almost never drove after dark when we lived there; I distinctly recall coming up to our drive in the dark once after book club and I really had no idea if it was ours or not-I had never seen it at night.

But, as with everything, you learn as you go.  By the time O joined us, I was back to reading and understanding what I was reading.  Of course, by that time I had memorized many new books and songs…all preschool level.  I have a memory of reading Goodnight Moon to L when she was 2 and I realized I could say it all through without picture or prompt.  Like the Pledge or Nicene Creed-a recitation.  And since CA, I’ve been on a steady reading streak.  Getting an iPad while in the hospital with O was brilliant.  Bring me food, meds and let me read and watch while I nurse.  Heaven.

And this year I am thoroughly enjoying-no, that’s too mild a word-I am beyond thrilled to start reading some of the meatier chapter books to the kids.  This is by no means an indictment of anyone reading this {ahem, Mom}, but I know I was a huge reader as a girl but I don’t ever remember reading some of the truly great classic children’s literature.  I blame it on school.  We worked out of basal readers for a BROAD swoop of literature but seldom read entire books {gasp}.  I think I was required to read The Red Pony.  And I wrote a term paper on Willa Cather’s My Antonia without ever having read that one through, though I have since then and I loved it!  I got to college without reading To Kill A Mockingbird or any Jane Austen.  So reading aloud is really important here.  Some afternoons we read for an hour or more.  Its a small slice of perfect-even if sometimes fights break out and I need to make hot cocoa to ensure we stay engaged.

This all leads me to my own study that I just started.  It is a writing course and one I wished I had read when I was teaching in a classroom.  I am happy to have found it though I am teaching in my dining room and basement and playroom.  It feels like returning to myself a little bit to sit with a highlighter and pencil while listening to some Enya or other New Wave mumbo jumbo.  And anything that makes you more you is going to benefit everyone around you.