This is my favorite floatie that my kids have used, it’s called a Puddle Jumper. We tried a lifejacket, and a swim suit with built in flotation devices when my son was really little, but those floaties didn’t help them directionally keep their face above water, so felt more dangerous than helpful. The Puddle Jumper is awesome, because it gives kids the flotation in the front so that their face stays above water.
But right now, I am trying to teach my five year-old to swim, and we need less flotation for our lessons—but some would still be helpful as he learns. Instead of buying something new, I decided to modify our Puddle Jumper by removing the arm circles so that my son can work on learning to use his arms, while having flotation still around his trunk. I found that this modification was really simple; it required no re-sewing of a hem or anything, just ripping out two seams.
Even better, it is working really well and is just what my son needs.
In March I had the incredible opportunity to go to a two day painting workshop led by Bee Sieburg (check out her paintings here!), a family friend. If you have ever considered painting—even for a millisecond—you need to go to a workshop with Bee. She is amazing. She is a delight to be with, with her laid-back enthusiasm and encouragement and her love for beauty. If that wasn’t enough, she is a genius teacher with a step-by-step process that works for people like me who have no idea how to paint—and for people who’ve been at it much longer. There were six of us students at the workshop, and everyone painted two paintings, and all of the paintings were things you could be proud to put on a wall. Really.
This barn and sheep were the paintings I did in the workshop—my first paintings since middle school art, and my first in oil ever! It was so much fun, I’ve started painting on my own, so will post pictures of my next creations as I finish them.
Here are pictures of just a few of the paintings other people did! Aren’t they great?
Our yard is now officially smaller, with a mix of native trees and shrubs. Right now it looks like a moonscape of tubes, with hugely long grass everywhere (our lawnmower broke so the whole yard’s a jungle.) Here’s the list of trees: sugar maple, paw paw, hickory, beech, black gum, sourwood, white oak, red oak, black oak, white pine, norway spruce, chickasaw plum, and Allegheny chinquapin.
Shrubs: hackberry, viburnum, witch hazel, indigo bush
We bought everything as bare-root saplings which are only a foot or two tall, for $1 a piece. The tubes to protect the trees were actually more expensive than the trees themselves! Almost everything has successfully leafed out, even the bare-root paw paws that we planted that are supposed to not like to be transplanted bare-rooted.
The kids and I made “stained glass” to sparkle in our windows. We grated some crayons onto waxed paper, then I put another layer of waxed paper on top, and a dish towel on top of that and ironed. The crayon melted, leaving a pretty little craft behind.
The only problem with this craft is that grating crayons is actually not a preschool activity. My son can easily grate cheese, but crayon was too hard for him to do without risking slicing his fingers. So, if you do this, you may as well grate the crayon ahead of time, and then let the kids sprinkle the crayon in the patters they want on the paper and ooh and aahh with delight when it melts.
Personally, I prefer a craft that I don’t have to do lots of prep work for, and that leaves the work for the kids. Also, it did take some work to get the grater clean.
I saw this little snake (it was pencil thin) on our basement floor several weeks ago and immediately went for my snake book. We’ve only ever had black rat snakes at our house, non-poisonous, and not aggressive. I have come to terms with our snake population by reminding myself that where there are black snakes there are usually not copperheads because black snakes are territorial.
But this little guy that I was looking at had markings suspiciously like a copperhead.
If these were the two options, which snake do you think that juvenile is?
[Copperhead image source: Steve Karg, Wikipedia]
It is actually a juvenile black snake. I was shocked to learn that juvenile black snakes have wildly different markings than adults.
I have the bad habit of trying to carry too much in from the car at one time, which means I sometimes shove old snacks and cups into the same bag that’s carrying library books—with bad results.
I have never tried to iron a book, but decided this one was worth a shot.
I waited until the book was dry (hoping the damage would miraculous go away), then, I turned the iron on, and lowered the heat from the “steam” setting to the “dry” setting. Next, I got a clean dish towel and placed it over the book and started ironing.
I quickly discovered that it is much more effective to directly iron on the page, without the dish cloth. I used a quick pressing motion from the inner part of the binding out to the edge. The iron didn’t damage the page, except a couple times when the iron accidentally creased the page I was working on because my motion wasn’t smooth enough.
My verdict is that the ironing definitely helped, but probably not enough in this case that we won’t end up buying the book because since it is a paper back, the cover was particularly sensitive and shows some damage still. Plus, this is an interlibrary loan so it’s extra important that the library is satisfied with its condition upon return. But, if this was hardcover and from our library, ironing the pages would’ve been enough.