Friday, August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well, hello...

Yes... I have disappeared again. The end of summer is upon us and I am trying to take it easy (which is just not happening) while getting ready for the school year to start up again... but I thought I should stop in here and say hello... especially because we are leaving on Saturday for our annual trip to the Adirondacks, so I won't be around here for a week.

Now, this is what I have been up to (and why I am not here writing so much lately) and just some other cool stuff I thought you'd like to know:

• We got another chicken. Introducing Amigo! She was from the same group of eggs that were hatched at the school where my sister teaches, where we got McNugget and Fries. My sister felt bad that the two chickens she brought gave to us originally ended up being males, so she brought us a little girl. Her kids had already named her... I know, it doesn't make any sense... but we kept the name. We usually call her "MeeGee" anyway.
She is very affectionate (can chickens be affectionate?) and loves to be held. Maybe because she is terrified of "the boys" (whom I have taken to calling Dip and Dab because they are so dumb and do everything together). The kids LOVE her.
Speaking if the kids... here is a rare picture of the 3 of mine all together... each with a chicken friend. This may have been the last time "the boys" let us hold them. They don't like to be held.

Sometimes MeeGee does weird things like jump up on my uncle's back....

....or find her way onto our enclosed porch and try to roost on a shelf.

This is what the two dumbies are usually doing.
Ok... other non-chicken related "stuff"...
What we have up to lately:
•Watching the Olympics.... I just love them. Winter, summer, doesn't matter... I love the Olympics.
•Ethan is taking an art class at The Mill... the same place Hudson took one a few weeks ago. This one is a week long deal for little guys. He is enjoying it, but I am thinking that, my god, I could offer classes like that for kids out of my house next summer!! But maybe not... do I really want more kids here???
•My parent's put in a pool and we have been swimming like crazy people over there. It's awesome. They put it in as an alternative to taking the entire family (which would be all my siblings and their husbands and all of our children- so like 26 people in total) on a trip to celebrate their 40th anniversary that will take place on the 14th of December. The kids swam for about 4 hours today.
•We have been letterboxing some more. We are even getting ready to plant our own box... our very first!!
•We are all a little sick... Hudson threw up today (then he felt GREAT and swam for 4 hours... crazy kid). Ethan and I have runny noses and red eyes. Hope we feel better before we leave on Saturday.
•I picked about 10lbs of tomatoes out of my garden today and so far have made one big batch of sauce. I am too afraid to try canning, but I will freeze it instead. Also have been picking lots of zucchini. Made two delicious loaves of zucchini bread yesterday, and also have been grating and freezing zucchini so I can make it all winter long. We may need to invest in a chest freezer.
• Ok... not about me, but also cool... my sister hung out with Ty Pennington last night... fer real! The Extreme Makeover Home Edition crew is in a nearby town doing a house and my sister ran into Ty in a bar last night! They played some video game together. She said he's really really skinny.... and kind of dumb.
Enjoy your last weeks of summer.... see you when I get back!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


My family likes to letterbox... a lot. If you haven't heard of it, it is a fun, free way to explore an area in a scavenger-hunt like way. There is more information here, at Atlas Quest, a letter boxing site, and a great article here, from Family Fun magazine. (The Family Fun article is what got us really intrigued in the activity.) What's great is that we can letterbox near home, and when we travel, so we print out clues before we go on our vacation in the Adirondacks. It adds a little something to our hikes, which we enjoy to begin with, and makes them even more fun. (Who can resist a challenge??)

Alex finding a hidden letterbox.

When we started 2 years ago, we just grabbed a stamp from our pile of stamps and used it represent our family when we "stamp in" the logbooks we find.
Hudson "stamping in" the logbook.

But while browsing through the logbooks we would see some really awesome hand cut stamps, and we always said we'd give it a try.

Someone elses's cool hand-cut stamps.

So, just recently I bought a Speedball Speedy Carve kit from Michael's and decided it was time to make our own. Now, why I didn't try sooner was beyond me, because it was sooooo easy. Now, I'm not saying that these stamps are perfect, but they came out pretty good and I'm pretty pleased with them!

The very first one I cut is the "Rumtum Cat". On Atlas Quest, when you log in you have a member name, and ours is Rumtum. (Sound familiar?) Rum Tum was the name of one of our cats...our favorite cat actually. The name has stuck with us, as you can see. Anyway, I made a Rumtum cat stamp so that we now have a "signature stamp" for our family for letterboxing. (I have to admit that carving the word RumTum backward reminded me a bit of the scene in The Shining when the kid walks around croaking "Redrum, redrum..." and then writes it on the back of the door and then the mom reads it in the mirror.... MURDER. Freaky movie!! One of my favorites.)

Then, realizing how easy this is, I transferred part of a drawing that Ethan did and made a stamp of that.See the little guy in the top right in the drawing? Well, here he is as a stamp.

Then my husband got in on the action and made a second Rumtum stamp...this one is an eyeball... so I guess we have options when letterboxing. And then I gave my niece a piece of the Speedy Cut block and let her draw a fairy on it. Then she wrote she name and I transferred it backwards onto the stamp. (You can see the progression of her stamp in the images we stamped with it... the bottom one was first. She wasn't happy with the eyes. So we fixed them. Then we added her name.) For all the stamps I cut a piece of plywood, stamped the image onto it and then glued the carved stamp block onto the backside.

This was a relatively quick project... Gabby's took about 10 minutes total from conception to stamping with it. And it was pretty easy. I think we'll keep trying to make new ones. I really like the idea of turning one of the kids drawings into a stamp. I have my eye on an R2D2 that Hudson drew. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Shadow play

I try to read to Ethan most nights at bedtime. We'll snuggle down on his bed, turn on his desk lamp and read. Many nights his brother will join us, and sometimes his sister will too. (That's a lot of people in a twin bed!) One night while all piled into Ethan's bed we discovered that the desk lamp created a great set-up for making shadow on the wall. And since I didn't know how to do many we got a book out of the library to help us along. (I can't seem to locate teh exact book we used, but this looks similar.)
This is a dog. (My daughter took these pictures.)

A bunny. Alex, my daughter, had a hard time figuring this one out..but see his big ear and half of his other ear? And his 2 front legs and one hind leg? And take a look at how twisted my hands had to be to make that bunny. Definitely a hard one for the kids to do.

Here's a cow.And a cow sticking his tongue out!

Hudson made a swan....

And Ethan made a turtle.

And then just for fun I tried to get silhouettes of each kid. (That's Alexandra, Hudson and Ethan top to bottom. Hudson looks a little stretched out.) I remember having my teacher do these to us in kindergarten. We would sit with a bright light shining on us and she drew our outline with white chalk onto black paper, then cut it out, mounted it on light paper (usually light blue) framed it and we gave them to our Moms for Mother's day. It must have been all the rage for a few years because I remember seeing framed silhouettes of all my friends and cousins hanging up in their house when I was a child.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Today my sister and I put on a little treasure hunt as a Sunday School lesson prior to our church's annual Service in the Park. This was designed for a mixed-age group of kids, and the kids who participated were from 5 to 12 years old. I think it worked out well because there were some easy clues that they all got, and some harder ones that the "big" kids helped the younger ones with.
Here is an older child helping her younger brother read a clue.

I printed the clues on my printer and then attached random keys I found laying around my house. Only 1 key would open the treasure box. (One child wanted to keep his key and I had to say no because one of the keys was to my back door!)

We started by handing them a clue, which led to the hiding place of another clue and so on and so forth. The kids had to figure things out like, "Head toward the rising sun" which would be east, or "Find the twelfth word in Mathew 14:13 and locate that object." (This could work for a birthday party too, but since we needed it to be a Sunday school lesson we tied biblical passages into it.)Here the clue said, "Face North. Pretend you are looking at number 12 on a clock. Now point to where 10 would be..." Its was easier for some than for others!

Reading more clues.
After all the clues were found they lined up to see if their key was the special one that would unlock the treasure! (Also, we had 14 kids doing this and only 9 clues and it worked out fine... there were no hard feelings if someone did not have a clue card and key, and lots of swapping and sharing going on.)

Once opened, there were final instructions and a treat. Inside the box they found a small treasure box for each child to decorate and take home. In each small treasure box were Smarties, because they were so smart to have figured out all the clues, a compass necklace to decorate and wear to remind them to always be on the right path, and some small gold coins. One small box had a treasure chest shaped trinket. The lucky finder of the trinket got to keep the big treasure box!

My sister and I set up a table for painting and decorating the boxes and the necklaces. We really didn't offer much, just paint, glue, glitter and beads, but the kids loved it! It all worked out really well and we were super pleased with the lesson and the resulting creativity.
Here are a couple of the necklaces. I got the idea from Jean at The Artful Parent to use Sculpey to create them. I stamped an actual stamp (that you would normally use with ink) into each one before I baked them.And this is my son Hudson's finished box. I wish I had taken pictures of the other kids' too.

Ok... moving on.... here is a bag I made for my daughter's friend's birthday. I guided Alex in the fabric choices, but she made the final decision. We also made a freezer paper stenciled shirt for the birthday girl, but I forgot to get a picture of it :( Also in the bag was a cool lip balm, a little notebook with the b-day girl's initial on it and a bag of potato chips. (I know...strange selection of items, but Alex picked it all out.)
Now, just for fun... you've seen this picture before... it is of my neice Gabby with one of our chickens, McNugget, on May 27th.
And here is Gabby holding McNugget just the other day! Let's just say chickens grow fast! (And poor Gabby broke her elbow the other day, but it doesn't slow her down one bit!)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Amber tagged me!! My very first tag. I have often read other peoples "little known facts" and wondered what I would write about myself if I had to do one of these... and always thought of witty and clever things to say. But now that I have to do it, I can barely think of one.... and I know I am supposed to tag six other people (or is it seven?) but since I don't really know anyone in the blogisphere well enough to tag, I'll leave it as an open invitation. So, if you feel like playing along then write seven little known facts about yourself and leave me a comment so I can go read them and say how witty and clever they are compared to mine :)

OK, here goes:
1. I have an extra vertebrae. My doctor told me that I would be about an inch to an inch and a half shorter if I did not have it! (And my cousin has one less vertebrae than normal...weird!) And speaking of vertebrae, I had surgery on a ruptured disc in 2006.
2. I was in an ad back in the late 80's for Massachusetts tourism, along with my sister and aunt, after a photographer snapped a picture of us on a beach in Cape Cod.
3. This isn't really little known, but I named my first son Hudson because it is my maiden name and I wasn't quite ready to give it up. People still to this day say to me, with a look of confusion on their face, "His name is Hudson Hudson?" duh- no, he has his father's (and now my) last name.
4. I can't eat tuna fish or most potato salads if someone else makes them (I would never order either in a restaurant) in case there is something crunchy in there. Crunchiness of unknown origin makes me gag.
5. Songs make me cry. I was part of my senior class choir and I couldn't sing at our graduation because I was crying through the whole thing. Sporting events and plays make me cry too... whenever someone is doing really, really well at something I get all teary- even if I don't know the person.
6. I love(d) JFK Jr. I even called his office when he was as Assistant DA in NYC to ask him to speak at my college graduation. I talked with his secretary. He never got back to me :(
7. Ok- nearly done!.... I really don't like Ann Curry. I can't even watch the Today show anymore because she makes me insane... which is too bad, because I do like me some Matt!
8. Wait...I have one more!! I just discovered that I cannot spell because with out messing it up and spelling it becasue... thank goodness for spell check!

Now, its your turn...