Monday, June 28, 2010

Who's the Boss at Sunday School?

Karl and I enjoy "teaching" the toddler Sunday school together.  It's always full of life...
and fun!

This week the lesson was "Noah's Ark."

We have a wonderful flannel board at Sunday school and Karl gets there early to set it up and lay out the pieces.

The kids love to take turns answering questions
and putting the flannel pictures that tell the story
up on the background.

Then we draw pictures,
or make things ... like paper arks.

This week we had a cute craft. Before they came we cut pasted a picture of Noah's ark to a background paper. We cut a flap door that folded down. The kids were to color an ark and then insert pairs of cut out animals in it.

The directions usually go something like this:
 "Kids, color your ark."
The older kids choose crayons and get going.

One girl loves to color precisely and never makes a mark outside the lines.  She needs a bit more time, therefore, to finish.

Jack stopped coloring. He was peeling his crayon and pounding it on the table. Karl (Jack's grandfather as well as his Sunday school teacher) said, nicely but firmly, "Jack, color your ark."

Jack lifted out of his chair, pointed his finger at his grandfather and said in a command voice that was somehow vaguely familiar, "YOU are not the boss!"

I couldn't help; I had to hide because I was laughing too much.

A couple things strike me about this. First is that Karl, my husband, Jack's grandfather is obviously the boss. Confident and dependable, he stands out in a crowd. People look to him for direction and support. But I suppose he wasn't always that way.  I suppose when he was two he sometimes felt the rub of always being bossed.

And I wonder if Jack would actually enjoy being the boss.  He's so independent and creative.  He did color three or four brown lines on his ark.

Then he came over to give me a couple of hugs and ask if I had remembered to get a certain toy he's been wanting. I didn't. I also didn't have any fruit snacks in my purse.  He decided to join Joey,

 who was concentrating and oblivious to Jack's affection.

Maybe being the boss isn't everything in life. What would life be without those people who have other  strengths? Aren't we taught that the servant is the greatest among us?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Port Discovery Baltimore's Children's Museum

We took a day trip to Port Discovery, Baltimore's museum for children.  It's so easy to find. Just get to Baltimore from whatever direction and go to the inner harbor area.  Look for Market Place and there it is in an big, old Baltimore building complete with huge brick arched windows at the top floor.

It's the kind of place that your kids could play, learn and discover all day long. I'm not exaggerating.  We went with three tots between the age of 2 and 4.  They loved everything. No one cried, had temper problems or was bored for many hours!

The museum occupies three floors. Visitors are given wrist tags which provide security for the parent knowing that if the child is out of his or her vision for a minute, they can be tracked down.

Stretching up through the middle of all three floors is a contraption of rope bridges and slides that form the most intricate, fun and clever place to climb and romp.  There are more challenging climbs for the older or more nimble and brave children and easier ones for the timid.

The  museum has created spaces allow children to explore the details of every day life.

So what they are seeing is familiar, but by exploring and playing and trying things out, they see into and understand more about the everyday world around them.
the organs come out of the model

 The kids loved the supermarket.  After they shopped, and checked out, Andrea told them that part of the job was to "stock the shelves." Never was cleaning up so enthusiastically done -- and they worked on their sorting skills, putting candy boxes on the candy box shelf, green beans with the vegetables, etc.
On the other side, there's a drive through - complete with a VW Beetle kids can "drive!"

On the top floor the kids loved the "Bob the Builder" exhibit.  At first all I saw were the great vehicles, but there was so much to do!

There were potatoes and carrots to plant, then to harvest.

Someone thought to plant flowers where the potatoes were!

A stone wall to build, puzzles made from cut outs of hammers and saws...

and a simulated water pump. The pump used blue balls to show how water moves through the contraption! Hours of fun and learning!

I loved the Ancient Egypt exhibit.

There was a bridge/raft that you moved across the "river" by pulling on a rope! How cool is that?  Baskets of spices, hidden alligators, the chance to write your name in hieroglyphics... something for everyone and all ages.

We finished our visit in the "toddler room." Nothing like a ball pit to put the final touches on a great day.

There are links to the Port Discover website throughout this blog entry. On Fridays, they have a special program called "Freaky Fridays" where they invite children to participate in science experiments.

The museum is clean, safe, friendly, well thought out, and all together fun.

 And they slept all the way home.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fight That Trouble in "Paradise"

I was minding my own business in my garden. I was standing at the edge of the patio, one foot on the grass, staring at the flowers, thinking about some editing I had to do when a wasp flew up -- totally unprovoked and stung me on the elbow.

Mind you, I am the one who planted the flowers this wasp is continually buzzing around. I'm the one who feeds and waters the flowers so they are nice and flowery for whatever the wasp wants from them. Yet, he stung me.

I could feel the poison moving up my arm and it started to swell.  My hand turned slightly blue and went a bit numb. This made me mad, so I decided to clean out the hummingbird feeder. I put on  my gloves because I don't like touching the ants that crawl on the feeder, and a thorn lodged in the thick leather cut my other hand.

This made me madder.  After cleaning and refilling the hummingbird and picking the wandering ants from it off my neck and shoulders (don't ask me how they got there!) I decided to fight the evil forces and air root some hydrangeas.

My daughter recently described this process in her blog. Here's a bit more info and some pictures.

Hydrangeas are easy to air root.

Find a branch that is close to the ground. Better yet if it is already sort of curved or bent. Gently pick off the leaves around the place on the branch (mid branch).

Make a tiny slit in the downward side of the curve of the branch at one of the junctures where you just pulled off the leaves.
In the picture above, if you look closely, you can see the slit I made in the green part of the branch.
Wet this with water.

Sprinkle on Rooting Hormone which can be purchased at any garden center.

Put the powdered, slit section of the branch into the dirt and cover it with a bit of dirt. Put a rock on it to keep it there and to help you remember what you did.

Water all summer.
this climbing hydrangea was climbing along the ground and already forming roots.  I'm helping things along with the rooting hormone and the rocks.

Roots will grow.
Here you can see roots forming on the branch! 

In the fall, or if you forget -- in the spring -- cut the branch away from the "mother" plant and dig up the new hydrangea. Lots of roots will have formed and if you transplant it and take care of it, you'll have a healthy bush in no time.

When I do this, I usually plant the baby hydrangea in a plastic pot that can be left out all winter.  I water it and watch it. It grows in this semi-sheltered environment and then is ready to be transplanted to the garden when it is a bit bigger.
one of my plant "nurseries"

You can flower your entire garden by with hydrangeas this way and enjoy blooms of brilliant blue and poignant pink and purple in the garden, and bring bountiful, beautiful bouquets inside, thereby creating a bit of heaven.
And now, my arm feels better.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I know my readers may think I'm obsessed with the "Anderson girls" and maybe I am. To clarify, the "Anderson girls" are no longer Andersons as they are all married. They are my daughter in law, Andrea, and her sisters and there a many good reasons why I think so highly of them. Call me enamored or obsessed, I'm sorry, but I think they are each beautiful and smart and lovable and together well... they're incomparable.

I suppose they might have some faults, but when I see them at "family" functions (I'm an in law and former teacher and happy to be included!) I love how they show up with cheerful dedication, work together, know each other's children, make all the guests feel comfortable with genuine conversation and are generally lovely and charming.

For one thing, they come from fine stock. I love and admire their grandmother Libby, a loving, kind-hearted real, hardworking woman whose life has been inspiring to me.  Their maternal grandmother, Danuta, or "Bobcia" as she's known to the family is also a favorite as we share common interests in gardening and sewing, except Danuta's skill outshines all! And their parents, Rodger and Barb are fun-loving, creative, hard-working people who have instilled a generosity of spirit, a love for life and a respect for both scholarship and nature in their girls.

This weekend, the youngest sister, Stephanie, married Brett Coonradt at our church.  I can't believe I took no good pictures of the radiant bride and her handsome groom!  (If anyone has one, send it and I'll post it.) I was thrilled to be invited to attend the wedding of two former students.
The food was fragrant, fresh, plentiful and delicious.
The three sisters were the bride's attendants, supervising children and running a lovely wedding...

The room was transformed, the tables comfortable, the crowd as friendly and happy as you might have dreamed.
Joey and Jack were transformed into gentlemen wearing suits, but I couldn't get them to hold still for a photo.

Children were welcome and enjoyed, though weddings are not particularly easy on kids... all that sitting.
Jack was told he could have M & Ms if he stayed good through the ceremony. At every pause between the scripture reading and the giving of the rings, etc. Jack called out, "Can I have M-ah-Ms? Can I have...?
not very happy despite carrying on the family tradition of wearing a discarded holiday ribbon on his head

The kids prayed

and played. Joey didn't know how to dance and so he got a bit bored...
what you can't see are the new freckles on his nose

 until I found some tiny colored pencils and a notebook in my bag.

Joey drew jellyfish, people and pebbles for about an hour and kept Clare and I company.

Andrea gave a poignant toast and we all cried, wishing Brett and Stephanie every happiness.

My daughter Valerie sang, her husband took the wedding photos,

so I visited with Clare. She met lots of friends...
Clare and Jake, (who is married to one of the "Anderson Girls")

while cousins and brothers and sisters...
aunts and nephews
swing dancing with Aunt Val

and uncles and nieces danced and had a jolly time...
Clare and Uncle Joe 

celebrating the start of a new family. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chesapeake Boys Meet Robin Hood

It was one of those rare days in June with clear sky, cool temperatures, plenty of sunshine, a bit of the breeze, two imaginative boys.

We found a dead bumble bee. They took turns holding it by the wings.

Jack said, "Can I touch his nose?"
"Yes," said I, "but not his stinger."

"But can I touch his nose?" He did and it turns out that bumble bees have what looks like a stinging tooth where their mouths should be.  Jack avoided injury, though.

Both boys stood spellbound when a male humming bird hovered at our feeder.

Then a live bee buzzed around our flowers.  We watched him buzz and wander while Joey explained to me that bees "pollinate" flowers. Jack hid behind Joey and peeked around at the bee.

We found a very strange caterpillar which I said they shouldn't touch.

 Since I also wouldn't allow them to poke it with a stick, for some reason, the logic of which I think I follow, this made the boys think they needed bows and arrows.

I didn't have any at hand.

But Joey said, "You're super Grannie.  You can make anything.  Can you make a bow and arrow? We'll be Robin Hood!"

Can I?

Yes, I can.

I cut green branches, slit the ends and slid in a piece of raffia.  Around the end I wound the raffia and tied it.  It twanged!

For safety's sake we decided to use "pretend" arrows.

It was so pretty out that we decide to go to the water where Robin Hood 1 and 2 hunted the great Chesapeake Whale and the mighty Chesapeake Crocadile with their mighty bows and imagined arrows. All creatures escaped without injury.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Homies Party Hearty (or is it Hardy?)

This weekend, the homies helped Jo-Ann's family put on a party to honor her years of teaching. 

At one time, all the original "homies" worked together at AACS.
We prayed together in the morning, visited each other's classrooms, borrowed dictionaries, laminating machines, colored pencils (at least I borrowed all this stuff and more from them), escaped to the beach for a weekend of talking, sewing, crafting and fun.

We became dear friends.

One of us had a smart "alec" (you can spell that any way you wish) son who, wishing to mock us, named the group "Mom's homies." We loved it and began to call ourselves this.
arranging flowers from our gardens at Wendy's lovely home
I love the homies.  Maybe this is because they've have been so good to me.

When I was a new teacher, they helped me, listened to me, supported me, encouraged me.

 They also taught my children (who attended the school where I taught) and were wonderful teachers and mentors to them.

They encouraged my writing, and praised my cooking and were loving dear friends to me.

I love being around them, learning from their particular personalities and gifts; I love hearing about their families, their art, their careers and I love doing things for and with them. 
everything's ready for Jo-Ann to arrive
When one of us offered the community a spectacular Christmas concert, we put on a cookie reception.  So much glorious fun making cookies and decorating! 
nobody makes cookies like my homies do!
As our children grew and graduated and married, as our lives and careers changed, there were lots and lots of parties and events to produce.  We helped each other.
the cheese tray that looks like a still life painting -- another homie tradition
Wendy made beautiful, sheer pink checked tablecloths from some bargain fabric.  We LOVED these and used them for everything from weddings to recitals for years.  We called them "magic" tablecloths and two of us (I'll not reveal who) actually wore these as shawls (for luck) when we went to buy lottery tickets to help raise money for various programs at our school. 
getting a little creative here with blossoms from onion plants and flowers grown in Jurassic Park
 For years now, we've shared two tubs of gi-normous round white tablecloths bought from a party supply company who was upgrading their linens. We've shared votives and vases and chairs and dishes and tired feet and moments of poignant joy during our millions of parties. 

When I got the crazy and impossible ideas of putting on a rehearsal dinner at my very own home, they made it happen, not once, but twice (so far!) doing all the delicious gourmet cooking and creating the most lovely, home-based parties, making my dream come true.

When my mother died, they made a beautiful luncheon that soothed my family's hearts and comforted me so much. 

And when my daughter got married, I very much wanted to honor my friends and just have them come to a nice party and enjoy.

But it wasn't to be. Because part of the fun of being a homie is doing all the home-y things that happen before a party -- planning, treasure hunting, cooking, polishing up the house, decorating.
They helped me find the hundreds of little, old vases we used for the table decorations,
helped me sew the table runners, helped me plan, think, organize.  They helped me clean, decorate and st the tables.  They baked cookies and made cheese trays, stuck roses on the plain cake and arranged the food in the most beautiful, cosy way!  I needed them and they were there for me in the most generous and loving way, as always.

And over the years, we started calling our newly adult daughters and very welcome daughters in law "homettes" (they may not know we call them this behind their backs so don't tell).   They are now working right beside us; the beauty and fun continues!

Jo-Ann's party had all the required homie components:

flowers as you've seen above and these, too,

good food and especially cookies, (maybe we should be called the cook-ies?)

singing to bless Jo-Ann
welcome friends

and more friends from close by and very far
lots of friends and family

many of whom were former students

from years past and not so far past

with families of their own

and Jo-Ann's own beautiful family...
and more family

and more

not necessarily in that order...

The parties are something we've done together, but it's because I think we understand how important these life events are. The parties are the outward, community celebration of life-valuing events.  Whether Christmas, or a new family or a poignant goodbye parties celebrate life and the love of life.  I know I can call on my homies not only for work, or parties but for anything at all. They are true, dear friends and my heart will always be devoted to each of them. 

Hey, Homies! You put on a great party for Jo-Ann!  I love you all, forever!