Scott’s Home, So It Feels Like Saturday

And Saturday is when I play with my photos.

I love this picture of Beanie admiring a stand of bamboo in the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park.


That was the day we visited the art museum. We had parked behind the Organ Pavilion, which is next to the Japanese Garden, so of course we had to stroll through the garden on our way back to the car.

We were just in time to feed the koi.



I loved the bonsai collection.



Isn’t that one stunning?

Even with five kids in tow, the garden is a peaceful place.


On the way out, we bumped into some friends. Rose took over the camera while the moms chatted.


I think this shot of the Spreckles Organ Pavilion was hers, too.


This next one is from outside the delightfully named House of Charm, which holds the San Diego Art Institute (not to be confused with the San Diego Museum of Art) and the Mingei International Museum, a collection of folk art from around the world.


We haven’t been inside yet, but we found plenty to look at (and climb on) outside the building.




That’s El Cid on his warhorse, by the way. This statue was presented to the park by the San Diego Historical Society in 1930.

And how best to unwind after a day at the park? Relax on your own personal park bench at home, of course! (Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa, for the bench and the countless photo ops it provides.)


From the Files: Auto Mad Libs

I was visiting Becca’s lovely blog, And Together We Learn, and saw there a mention of a game I wrote about at Bonny Glen almost two years ago. I’d totally forgotten about the post, but the game is alive and well—it’s still one of the girls’ favorite car pastimes. Thanks, Becca! (And I sure do hope your gang is enjoying the read-aloud! Hee.)

The Purple Cow Hula-Hooped Boisterously

is a game we played in the car yesterday, all the way to town and back.
I assigned each of the girls a part of speech: noun, verb, adjective,
adverb (one girl had to take two parts in each round). From there it
went something like this:

Me:  Miss Noun, what is it?

Beanie: A giraffe!

Me:  Miss Adjective, what kind of giraffe?

Jane: A hungry giraffe.

Me:  Miss Verb, what did the hungry giraffe do?

Rose: It bounced!

Me:  Miss Adverb, how did the hungry giraffe bounce?

Jane: Enthusiastically!


Wonderboy:  Huh?

In Becca’s post, she shares her own car game, which sounds like fun.

While driving we played an animal classification game where they had
to tell me if something was a mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. We
talked about the qualities of each class, and did a little with some of
the different orders—mostly primate and marsupial. The girls loved
this one. We’ll have to make this a car time staple.


Wonderboy Paints

A few people wrote that they were unable to view the video at the bottom of the last post, so here it is in a different format. Let me know if this one works for you!







My boy sure does love to paint.

Dear Reader Who Searched

…for "what problems did the rabbits encounter in building a new warren in the book watership down"—I implore you to read the book yourself and find out!

Did a teacher assign it for summer reading? It’s too soon, surely, for you to have been assigned a paper for this semester’s classes.

Listen, even if you blow the back-to-school quiz, don’t hold that against the book. Give it a try.

You’ve never met anyone like Hazel and Fiver. Or Bigwig and Kehaar. You want them in your your life, trust me.

I guarantee you the "problems they encountered" aren’t the sort of challenges you might anticipate. They aren’t easily boiled down to quiz answers, either. Those rabbits’ experiences will make your heart pound, and they’ll heat up your brain, too, because what happens down in those warrens is, well, human history.

But wait, if I start spouting in that direction you’ll never pick up the book. Let’s just stick with the fact that it’s a tremendously gripping story. With characters who will burrow into your heart and live there forever.

I know I’m too late. You already landed on my site and Googled right back out again, not having found your pat answers here. (Or there.)

I hope that wherever you wound up, there was something in the information you cribbed that made you want to go back and read the book yourself. Not for a grade, not because you had to, but because some essay you skimmed about Hazel-rah, an average rabbit who was surprised by his own capabilities, whispered to you that you, too, might have latent strengths and gifts to call upon when life bares its pointed teeth at you.

Watercolor Painting: How It Happens Here

I have often remarked to close friends that for me, logistics make or break everything. I can have the best idea in the world, but if I can’t figure out how to pull it off on a practical level, it is no more useful to us than a cloud: something pretty to look at, but impossible to take hold of.

Painting is one of those "nice ideas" that floated airily overhead until I worked out a system to make it feasible on a regular basis. My pal Sarah asked me for the details, and I thought I’d share them here. There’s nothing earth-shattering here, but you should know that I am the easily frazzled type who really must think things through on the most basic level or else my plans go all kablooey.

I use high-quality watercolor paints, the kind that come in little tubes. These are very rich pigments and a little goes a long way. We used to use paint jars but they took up so much storage space, and the lids fell under the table and rolled away, and there was always mess involved.

Then I found these cute little plastic paint palettes at Michael’s for 99 cents each. They have six wells, perfect for mixing colors. I put a dab of the three primary colors in one well each, and a smaller dab of each in two more of the wells, so the kids can mix their green, orange, and purple. Each child gets her own paint palette.


I have written before about investing in good watercolor paper and brushes. (Here’s my long art supplies post from Bonny Glen, and its sequel.) These tubes have lasted us for over a year.

For painting boards, we use some markerboards (dry erase boards) I bought on clearance a long while back. I had actually ordered an official painting board from Paper Scissors Stone, and when I arrived I smacked my forehead because it was—a markerboard. But way more expensive. Doh.

Here’s a tip from a Bonny Glen reader for another inexpensive kind of painting board. Whatever you use, they sure do make painting a lot easier to clean up. The boards wipe right off, and we stack ours near the closet when they’re not in use. Voila—nice clean table.

We use pickle jars for water and a cloth diaper for drying brushes. Oh! And here’s a great tip from—I think—Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources (whose First Grade Syllabus I’ll be reviewing here later this week, by the way, and whose work I praised in my Waldorf series in the spring). If this wasn’t Donna’s suggestion, it was a speaker from a Waldorf homeschooling conference on a DVD I watched a while back. I should tell you more about that, too, sometime. But I digress. The great tip I was getting to: it’s a sweet way to teach children to properly care for their brushes. You take the brush and tell a little story about a gnome who doesn’t like his beard to stay wet. We never leave the brush sitting in the jar of water because that beard will be soaked and oh, what a sad little gnome. And we mustn’t push too hard and bend his beard every which way. He doesn’t like that at all.

Ever since I told this tale to Rose and Bean, they have treated their brushes with special care. No more leaving them soaking in the pickle jar. They carefully dry the "beard" on the cloth and smooth it into a point. It’s nice.

I explained to the kids about the expensive paper, and how in order to use it for our paintings, we have to take great care not to squander it. They understood. They’ve painted on plain white copy paper, and they can feel the difference.

Rose says she "needs to paint at least two pictures a day" or she just doesn’t feel right. She finds it a calming, peaceful activity. Here’s a painting she says was inspired by a poem called "The Little Rose Tree" by Rachel Field:


(As you can see, we don’t bother to tape our paper down flat, as most watercolor technique books recommend.)

When they were younger, I usually wet the paper with a sponge first, per the wet-on-wet watercolor technique you’ll hear about in every Waldorf resource. My very little children, like Wonderboy now at age three, loved touching a brushful of paint to the wet paper and watching the paint swirl around the page. But past the age of five or so, I find that they much prefer to have more control over where their colors go. They know how to use water (either before or after applying paint to paper) to help the paint go where they want it to go, and to blend colors. They love to keep wetting the brush and "pulling" paint from one darker section across a wider area, making a rich blue sky or a lush green meadow.

Sarah had some great art-supply advice of her own to share:

Here is the address for the discount art supplies I was telling you about:

The company reminds me of Rainbow Resource only it is (nearly) exclusively
art supplies.  I have bought things in person at conventions and ordered by
phone and online.  I highly recommend them.  The prices are hard to beat.  I
purchased my class supplies for VBS this summer from them.  Even with
shipping they were the least expensive alternative (and I always love
supporting a small business anyway).

One of my favorite items is their sketchbook journals.  They have all sizes
in both 60 and 80# paper.  They are $3 for a 6×9 size which are perfect for
little laps in the car.

Always good to know where to stock up on more supplies. We get very excited about painting around here, as you can see. (Kindly ignore the girls squabbling in the background.)

(This clip doesn’t keep replaying every time you load the page, does it? It isn’t supposed to.)

Where Oh Where Has the Carnival Gone?

Cclbuttonlarge I’ve had a lot of inquiries this week. What happened to the Carnival of Children’s Literature? Isn’t there going to be an August edition?

What happened is: I’ve had a ton of company this month, and no one else was lined up to host. But we’ve had some new volunteers step forward, so the CCL is back on track. Hurrah!

The August Carnival will be hosted by Silvia of Po Moyemu. She’s a champ, jumping in at the last minute to put together a Carnival before the month ends. Let’s make it easy on her by sending all submissions through the site. Follow the link and use the orange submission button there.

The deadline is 8 p.m. Eastern time on August 30th, and the Carnival will go up on August 31st.

I believe our September host will be Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library. More details about that to come.

So dust off your very best posts about children’s books from the past month, and clicky-clicky to send them Silvia’s way. And spread the word!

The Promised Planner Post

Updated with more information!

I know, I know! It’s practically September! I would assume you’ve all bought your planners already, except every day I’m getting zillions of hits for "planner for moms"-related phrases. Some of you out there are still shopping.

Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner

SamplelgThe ever-popular Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner by Family-Centered Press is in fact so popular this year that the small size, the one I like best, is already sold out. In the school-year format, that is. The 2008 Jan-Dec calendar is still available in both sizes. The school-year version is only available in the 8 1/2 x 11" three-hole-punched size. If you use a binder for your planner or home management book, you’ll definitely want to take a look at Michele Quigley’s lovely pages.

Two page weekly spread with daily mass readings, all feast days & solemnities plus a daily rosary mystery reminder. Two page monthly spread with the Holy Father’s prayer intentions and all major feasts & holidays. Daily prayers, prayer journal, address book, web log & year-at-a-glance.

All styles have the full color cover page and include 13 plastic permanent stick-on tabs (12 printed months -1 blank).

You can also order menu-planning pages and lesson-planning pages. I’ve used this planner (the small spiral-bound version) for two years and I really love it. I did wind up wishing I hadn’t gone for the extra lesson-planning pages. I liked the menu pages very much, but I just don’t have a need for lesson-planning pages. What planning I do happens right here, in blogland. I use a planner for scheduling our bajillion doctor appointments and for recording—after the fact—what we did, read, ate, saw. "Planner" is probably not the right word for my purposes—"chronicle" would be more accurate.

Michele’s planner made a lovely chronicle. And I love having the saints’ feast days printed on every day.

Here’s my glowing review of last year’s Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner.

8 1/2 x 11" edition, $24.99.
With menu planning pages, $28.98.
With lesson-planning pages, $29.48.
With both menu and lesson pages, $33.47.

Also available: a men’s version. The Family-Centered Student Planner is already sold out for this year.

Oh—and I love Michele’s lovely nature journals, only $5 each!


Now, you may recall from last year that I wound up with both the Catholic Woman’s planner and the deliciously pretty MomAgenda. The MomAgenda’s soft pastel pages and satin ribbon still make me swoon. And I still think the format, with sections for mom and up to four kids on each weekly spread, is brilliant. You can read what I wrote last year if you want to know more about it

What I wound up not liking, and one of the reasons the Catholic Woman’s planner won out in the end, was the binding. In the beginning I actually thought the sewn binding with its sturdy-yet-attractive shantung cover would be a big mark in this planner’s favor, especially with the ribbon sewn in to mark your place. I am a sucker for ribbons.

But I discovered I really, really have to have a spiral-bound planner. I need to be able to fold the cover back; I need small and wieldy. You know, as opposed to big and unwieldy.

Now that’s just my preference. The 7-hole-punched Franklin Covey-style
planners in nice leather binders have never worked for me either. They
wooed me with their nifty pockets (I got a used one on eBay a few years
ago), but you can’t fold them back like a spiral.

Well, I’m in luck. I may have been too late to snag the small-sized spiral bound Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner, but MomAgenda has a spiral-bound version, too. They sell it alone for $19.95, or in a perfectly gorgeous (and fearfully expensive) leather binder.

The spiral (sold as a "refill") has a sturdy plastic cover, metal
(not plastic) rings, and those same pretty, pretty blue calendar pages
with the special kids-and-mom format. In the back are also some
planning pages (green) and note pages (purple). The month-at-a-glance
spreads are all together in the front of the planner, which I love,
instead of spread out through the year in front of each month’s weekly

This is an August 2007 through December 2008 calendar. So is the bound version, which they call the "desktop" model.

Here’s a look at that clever layout (click to enlarge):


There are quotes at the top of the weekly pages, and last year one
or two of the quotations were not the sort of thing you’d want your
tender young readers to grab hold of. MomAgenda creator Nina Restieri
responded to customers’ complaints with concern, and my guess is that
this year the quotes were chosen a bit more carefully. If you can’t
leave your planner out on the counter all day, what good is it?

Spiral-bound planner, $19.95.
Spiral-bound planner in leather binder with pockets, address book: $119.50
Desktop planner with sewn binding: $42.


The BusyBodyBook

I reviewed The BusyBodyBook last year (here’s my post,
which was quite detailed), and this year’s version is similar, with
some improvements. Like the MomAgenda, the BusyBodyBook provides a
weekly grid with space for five separate people. It’s a totally
different layout from the MomAgenda, though—the people columns are
vertical and the days of the week are horizontal. Like this:


The left-hand pages are for notes and lists, and the weekly grid is on the right.

I quite like the light brown shading on the weekly grids (though not
nearly as much as I like those blue MomAgenda pages), but this year’s
covers don’t do much for me.

Dots_index  Stripes_index

Actually, the striped one isn’t bad; it’s just that my taste tends to run more to vintage botanicals. Or anything Lesley Austin makes.

Last year I complained about the photos that decorated the bottoms
of the left-hand pages, and what do you know? This year they’re gone:
big improvement.

There are six-month-at-a-glance pages up front, covering July 2007
through December 2008. I like the idea of seeing six months at a
glance, but of course in putting that many months on a spread, the
grids must be much smaller, and these are probably too small for my
purposes. The month-at-a-glance part of my planner is my most-used
part. The rest is for notes and jottings. It’s that monthly calendar
that keeps all my balls in the air.

In the back are some extras, including perforated to-do lists (nice
touch!), note pages, address pages, and a pocket. (There’s a front
pocket too.)

What strikes me about this planner is that it would work really well
for scheduling lessons and activities for multiple kids. I like its 7 x
10" trim size and spiral binding. The cover is heavy card stock. The
planner covers August 2007 through September 2008. (There are 2008
calendar-year versions available as well, with fun, funky covers.)

Price: $16.95.

BusyBodyBook also sells a 7-column magnetic Fridge Grid Pad. You write the names of each family member across the top and their activities through the week. Here’s a peek:


More planner posts:

Small Meadow Press: A Circle of Days
The Mom’s Daily Planner
Reader suggestions
More reader comments

Elsewhere on the web:

How Ann uses planners
Kim’s home management binder
Stef on the Levenger Circa paper/digital system
Free planning resources at Donna Young
Jen on her Teacher Plan Book

If you’ve got a planner post, send me the link!