Monday, February 28, 2011


For January, our FIAR group read the book Framed. Plans for the book fell into place easily because there happened to be an exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts called Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries. A great go-along with the book plus, for the girls and me, a chance to go to a museum we'd never before visited.

Between the DIA's schedule, trips out of state, weather, illness, and other commitments, we had a terrible time finding a day we could all manage to go. Finally, last week, everything worked out and we were able to enjoy our day together.

The kids didn't have any homework assigned ahead of time but they went on an art scavenger hunt once we got there. Julianne mentioned to her friend, Molly, that she wanted to do a copy of a picture from the DIA and Molly chose Poppies by Henri Matisse:

Here is Julianne's version:

I still find it surprising when my girls decide to do something like this-an un-assigned homework project. I can't quite imagine my younger self getting excited about something like that. Yet, I love the fact that they are so engaged in what we study that this isn't "homework", it's just something to be done for fun. I think that's the best kind of learning of all.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthday Cheesecake

It's been a crazy week around here, between the weather and our schedule, and it's only Wednesday.

One highlight of the week is that Clarence had a birthday on Tuesday. He used to always want a banana cake for his birthday but when I offered cheesecake as an option, he chose that this year.

After scrounging around in the pantry, I determined I had the necessary ingredients to make a cappuccino cheesecake. It was a new recipe for me and it was definitely a success!

Happy Birthday Clarence! I love you and am so blessed to be married to you!
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Friday, February 18, 2011

February Quiz

Last Saturday, the girls' quiz was held at Earl and Kathy's church-which is less than an hour away for us, making it the closest quiz (read: we can sleep later) of the year.

Allison's team took first place. They had an additional teammate until lunchtime, when his family left for vacation, so although the afternoon rounds were more challenging, the girls managed to maintain their undefeated record.

Julianne's team lost a teammate at lunch, too, but it didn't have as much impact since only three players can quiz at one time. They also brought home a first place trophy.

In individual competition, Julianne took third place and Allison had to go into overtime, as she was tied for third. She ended up fourth.

We enjoyed supporting the quizzers at Earl and Kathy's church by purchasing some of the mocha brownie bites they donated. They were fantastic! (But you didn't hear that from me-Earl and I have a years-old competition over who makes the best brownies. My girls obediently sweetly told me that his were good, but not as good as mine. Have I mentioned before how smart my girls are?)

Earl and Kathy invited us over for dinner following the quiz and we enjoyed a relaxing dinner and a couple hours of catching up with them and my mom. We don't get together often enough and it was so enjoyable to spend the evening with each other. Good times.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Allison's Valentines

Allison loves to make pie.

I've tried to give her advice-as if I make pie very often at all. I've watched her, shaking my head that her crust won't turn out well because she re-rolls it so many times, and she patches the places that don't hold together. But, I've discovered that she has exactly the right temperament for pie making. She has fun and doesn't worry how it will turn out. And it always turns out beautifully.

That said, I knew she'd be excited about the idea I saw on Our Best Bites a couple weeks ago.

Valentine's Day hand pies.

She made these cute, and delicious, apple pies for her friends in our FIAR group last week. She made a few extras in case some didn't turn out well so Clarence and I got to sample them, too.

She wrapped them in red Saran Wrap, then added a tag with a little riddle/pun to go along with our activities for the day ("What is the sweetest number?") taped to each one.

Julianne crocheted little hearts to use on her Valentines but I didn't get a single picture-in fact, she never even showed me her finished ones-but I'm sure they were cute. ;-)

Happy Valentine's Day to each of you!

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth

Our FIAR group read The Phantom Tollbooth this month. It was a great book and we had a lot of fun with it yesterday.

We started with the kids assessing various quotes from the book and determining if they were wisdom or nonsense. Some great discussions took place as we looked at the quotes from various perspectives, some of which made the same quote seem like wisdom and some like nonsense.

Next, the kids acted out the literal meanings of some idioms and the rest of us guessed the idioms. It was as hilarious as I'm sure you can imagine it being to see idioms like "The dog days of summer", "Flying off the handle", "Letting the cat out of the bag", "Skating on thin ice" and "Rome wasn't built in a day" acted out.

The kids then took part in some estimation activities. They estimated how long it would take to...move a certain amount of salt, grain by grain; move 8 cups of water, drop by drop; and pick apart a Styrofoam cup with a pin.

When it was time for lunch, we had the Synonym buns I had made.

After lunch, they did more math problems like figuring out the average number of children per family for our group, some distance problems using the distances between our homes, and counting the hairs on their head.

They distributed their Valentines to each other and played a game of Balderdash before sharing the homonym jokes and riddles they had found or written themselves as homework.

It was the best kind of day-one filled with laughter and learning.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow day

Clarence stayed home today due to the big snow and he got Julianne to try cross country skiing for the first time. By wearing a thick pair of wool socks, she was able to use Clarence's boots and skis.

She was outside for quite a while and says she only fell twice. Already, she's a better skier than I am. Really, I'm not sure what possessed me to think I needed a pair of skis way back when-I'm pretty hopeless on them.

Allison has a miserable cold so she didn't venture out with Julianne (my boots should now fit Allison-how do they grow up so fast?). Maybe in a couple days she'll feel up to trying it.

I'm not sure how much snow we've gotten already but it's still coming down steadily. I think we might be on track to end up with 10-12 inches as promised. Plenty of snow for Allison to try her hand at cross country skiing once she feels better.
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