Thursday, September 11, 2014

The New and Improved Winnie the Pooh Bedroom!

I always knew I wanted to decorate a child's room in Classic Winnie the Pooh decor since, well, I cannot remember when.  A long time.  I had an old Classic Pooh calendar that I saved intentionally for this purpose, and when I was pregnant for the first time with Caroline, I framed many of the pictures from it for the walls of her bedroom (she didn't actually live in her bedroom until she was well over two, but hey, first-time parents, all we knew was that you just HAD to decorate a baby bedroom!).  I also bought a Classic Pooh lamp, light switch cover, and a few porcelain Pooh picture frames, as well as some stuffed animals.  We got a crib bedding set at a garage sale... and then never got a crib, so that has since been resold.  Caroline had a Classic Pooh themed room, and then the years went by, and when Cecilia moved into the room and furniture got shifted, I took down some of the frames and planned to redo it later.  Well, it is much later, and Lucy was ready to move in with Cecilia, now that Caroline is in her own bedroom.  So I came up with some ideas and set them into motion, starting with getting a used IKEA Kura bed to use like a loft so that Lucy could sleep on the bottom.  I decided that I wanted to make a tree to attach to it.  More on that below...

If you have read Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, then you know that many of the animals live in trees, and some of them have signs on their homes.  If you have never read these books, then shame on you.  Stop reading this right now and come back after you have read them! ;-P  Pooh lives 'under the name of Sanders,' and the drawing from the book shows it written with the backwards letters as above.  I decided to make several signs so that Cecilia and Lucy can switch them out if they want to pretend that the tree is a specific house.

This one is for Piglet's house, of course.  Trespassers W was his grandfather (it's short for Trespassers William, or Trespassers Will for short).

This is the sign for Owl's first house, which is named The Chestnuts.  As you can see, Owl's spelling needs a little help.  We love how he tries to spell 'Happy Birthday' in the book and have great fun trying to pronounce it.  After The Chestnuts blows down in a big storm, Eeyore accidentally gives Piglet's house to Owl.  Piglet is too gracious to object, and Pooh lets him come live with him.  Owl names his new house The Owlery but spells it 'Wolery.'  There is a great debate in our house as to how this misspelling would be pronounced.  I actually misspelled Wolery and have not yet made a new sign, ha!  I don't own a copy of The House at Pooh Corner, which is where I could have checked the spelling.  Whoops.

Above the dresser are the six large calendar pictures that I framed when initially setting this room up as a child's bedroom. 

And here is the view of the four directly above the dresser.  I love that they have little blurbs from the books in addition to the illustrations.  Clockwise from the top left we have: Tigger and Roo stuck in the treetop, Pooh and friends trying to get Eeyore out of the stream by throwing a large rock near him, Christopher Robin coming downstairs with Pooh bumping behind him, and Pooh at Owl's house when he is looking for Eeyore's lost tail.

On the sides are one of Eeyore to the left and one of Christopher Robin and Pooh to the right.

The bookshelf next to the windows has the Pooh lamp on it, as well as a picture frame and a music box.  I need to update the photo in the frame - that is a picture of one year old Caroline!  Now that it is Cecilia and lucy's room, I need photos of them in this frame and the one on the dresser of Pooh reaching to get a honey pot off a shelf.

 The music box, sadly, had an accident of an unknown nature.  It happened one day long ago when we had lots of kids over.  Nobody could tell me exactly what had happened, but poor Piglet and Tigger lost their ears. :(  But it is still adorable, so it is still on the bookshelf!  The tiny set of Winnie the Pooh books are from BP.  Yes, the gas station.  I have no idea how we got them, actually, but they have the BP logo on the backs.  Lucy really likes them right now.  They contain excerpts from the actual book.

This is above Cecilia's bed.  Hers is the top of the loft, but as you can see from the photos, it is not very high.  I didn't want Lucy to climb up and do acrobatics up there and then have a six foot fall.  Cecilia's crucifix is above her head.  I have to figure out where to put one for Lucy - attach it to the bed itself, I guess.  There are also these two smaller framed pictures from the old Pooh calendar - it had a section in the back with tear-out postcards.  They were the perfect size for smaller frames... there are also two above the lamp in the above photos.

Three more postcard-pictures in frames beside the closet door. 

And here are the stuffed animals... I had the Eeyore since I was in high school.  He came to college with me.  The kangaroo is from some random place and is not actually meant to be a Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animal, but it works for Kanga.  The other three were bought when I was pregnant with Caroline - same brand as Eeyore (Gund), but they had changed them to a fuzzy style.  Piglet was one of Caroline's favorite stuffed animals when she was two.  She called him "Me" because of the part in the story when he wrote the note that said, "Help!  Piglet (me)!!"  She also insisted that Piglet was a she and also gave "her" elaborate extra names: 'Piglet Me Plip Ditz' was the longest and funniest one!

The chair they are sitting on belonged to my mom - it was in her kindergarten classroom!!  They redid the furniture in the school and gave the chairs to the parents or something along those lines... so cool!  We repainted the chair pink - it used to be painted a dark brown.  I think my mom made the cushions on it.  It was in my room when I was a child.

The bed came still partially assembled from the previous owner... you can switch the slats so that they are either all white or all blue.  That was a hassle, so we just left them.  For Lucy's birthday, she is getting a vintage Classic Pooh flat bedsheet and pillowcase from eBay.  I love eBay!  I'll just use a plain white fitted sheet with it.  We have some other flat sheets that were my brothers' when they were little.  Apparently old fitted sheets don't hold up too long.  Although those green sheets on there in this photo were mine in college, so... But the fitted sheet from my Snoopy set is long gone.  Yes, I had Snoopy sheets in college.  My kids still use the flat sheet and pillowcase.  Old sheets are the best - they are so soft!  We even have one that from the 80s that has Snoopy playing what looks like an Atari-style game, ha.

The tree was a blast to make.  Well, it was for me.  You can ask Chris if he had fun cutting it out with his jigsaw in the thunder.  Making big trees out of paper was almost a pastime of mine... I made several for my mom's preschool, and Chris and I made one together when we first started dating, awww.  (I tried to put a heart here, but Blogger apparently sees the little pointy thingie as being code and it messed up my post and gave me a long section of html saying "Blogger data escaped you."  Oops!!)  The trees I have made in the past typically had each individual branch cut out, and leaves could be attached, but I figured that Chris and the jigsaw would not appreciate all those curves and points, plus I was going for stability.  There is a separate panel of branches/leaves that is attached to the end of the bed - I initially wanted to make a trunk on that part too, but I ran out of wood.  So it is just the leaves on the end, to keep anyone from falling off the end of the bed, or so they will break the leaf section off if they do fall, ha.  You can see just a little bit of blue above that leaf panel on the end - that is a tent that came with the bed.  Cecilia doesn't like how dark it is when the tent is pulled down the entire length of the bed, so it is bunched up at the end for now.  When the tent is fully extended, I bet it will look kinda like a treehouse sticking out of the treetop!

I don't recommend spray-painting an entire six foot tall tree.  Maybe they used to make spray paint cans easier, but I thought I had given myself carpel tunnel or something for a few days afterwards!  It was cheaper to get spray paint than a can.  The leaves and bark are just acrylic paint that I sponged on after cutting some old sponges into the shapes I wanted.  I was hesitant about the bark; it is not quite the look I envisioned, but it is better than a bare, flat-color trunk all the way down.

The tree is screwed into the wood of the bed in a few places, and we plan to get an L shaped bracket to attach the two panels together on the backside of the leaves, just for added stability.  I freehanded the tree and then adjusted it a bunch until I liked it before Chris cut it out.  Maybe I should sell templates, ha. 

You might have noticed the pictures above the bed... these were Cecilia and Caroline's addition, completely their own idea.  Cecilia drew each character from the book, then Caroline wrote names on them and colored them with watercolor pencils, and they painted over parts of them.  They really wanted to help decorate the room, and they spent a long time on these.  I love when they come up with ideas like this... I only wish they'd mentioned it to me so I could have given them watercolor paper.  Chris suggested that we laminate them so they would hang flat.  I put them up above the bed with a strip of ribbon to connect them, making a sort of border along the top of the wall above the bed.

Cecilia put the drawings in the order in which she wanted them to be hung along the wall.  Below Tigger, Rabbit, and Owl, you see her Guardian Angel craft she made at some point.  Caroline made one for Lucy, too, so it is hanging on the underside of the bed on one of the inside panels.  That awesome framed picture is an amazing, huge cross stitch picture from my college roommate, Aura Lee.  It is a gorgeous fairy tale scene with the alphabet and numbers in the border.  Caroline pointed out that it is actually hers... it does have 2005 cross stitched into it, after all... but for now it will stay in Cecilia and Lucy's room.

Here are close-ups of their artwork, taken before I hung them up:

Piglet and Pooh are my favorites of their drawings here!

Above their Pooh and Piglet lightswitch is their little "shrine" area, ha.  Except it might be sacrilegious to put Anne of Green Gables's house and a cross stitched baby bootie picture in a shrine, so...  Really, I just put little breakables up here out of reach.  The St. Clare and St. Cecilia statues came from my brother Tim, who bought them in Italy for Cecilia, his goddaughter.  They are her patron saints since her name is Cecilia Clare.  The little one of Saints Francis and Clare is one he got in Assisi, and we decided to make it be Lucy's.  I think my mom might have made the baby bootie cross stitch; I will have to ask.  It has my name and birthdate on it.  The three crosses belong to each of the three girls: the Noah's ark one was given to Caroline as a baby, the small one with the girl praying was for Cecilia from Uncle Tim on her baptism, and the baptism cross was given to Lucy by her Gran and Grandad.  Caroline has another pink cross that I think is hanging somewhere in her own bedroom now...  At some point, I have thought I might put pegs on the underside part of the shelf for them to hang up rosaries (or, let's be realistic, push pins or nails are much more likely!).

Some varied views of the room....

My grandfather made that wooden circus wagon when I was little - it is a great place for keeping stuffed animals.  It used to be in my bedroom and has survived over the years, maybe because my mom got on to us whenever she found us trying to sit in it and pull it around!

The frog organizer on the closet door was something like $5 from IKEA many years ago... their socks, tights, and bloomers/cartwheel shorts are stored in there.  The fairy picture on the wall was made with a tracing kit by Caroline as a birthday gift for Cecilia one year.  The "Child of God" wall hanging was given to Lucy by my parents (and her godparents) for her baptism.  The Holly Hobby-type hooks were in my room when I was a kid - Cecilia keeps her dance bag hung there as well as a couple little purses and bags.

Cecilia and Caroline also drew this Pooh scene, so I hung it on the back of the door.

These two are my favorites of all the framed Pooh pictures... Christopher Robin nailing Eeyore's tail back on, and Pooh meeting Tigger in the candlelight... so sweet.

So, the room is a mixture of my favorite way of doing things: reusing/repurposing old items, secondhand furniture and such, and handmade pieces and touches. 

Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Classic Winnie-the-Pooh bedroom!

Update: The sheet came in the mail - here it is!

And this evening, Cecilia showed me the setup she had created in the tree... All I can think is that Tigger has some amazing skillz to be staying in that position by himself!

And she made an elevator too - Pooh is going up into the tree to join the other animals:

Monday, September 08, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Today we celebrate the birthday of Mary, Mother of Jesus!  I made a cake to celebrate... this is a chocolate peanut butter "ice cream" cake.  I have tasted it and am about to go get myself a nice-sized slice!!

We have done this for several years now... bake a birthday cake, put ten blue candles in it, light each one as we say a Hail Mary, and then after completing a decade of the rosary, sing Happy Birthday to Mary and blow out the candles!

Our Mary statues were still out on the nearby speaker, so we moved them back to the table, along with a few Mary holy cards.

Cecilia made one of the Mary statues help to blow out the candles... it was her cake, after all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our 2014-15 School Year Plans

We have begun the school year!  I have both a first and fourth grader this year.  My philosophy on education is that we use plenty of good, real books - not textbooks! - and learn about real things around us, making sure to get the kids outside each day that is possible... and having relatively short lessons makes time for that.  Here is what we are doing this year and a bit about how it is going so far...

Morning Basket
(note: it does not all fit in the basket!  Shh, don't tell anyone!)

This used to be our "Circle Time," and it has evolved to remain as a whole-family together time while not merely being about the calendar and singing seasonal songs (although we still do that for the youngers!).  Now it also includes more meat... read-alouds from different books daily, picture and composer study, and poetry and Shakespeare memorization.

Here's our Morning Basket daily schedule:

Circle Time/Morning Basket 2014-15

First and Fourth Grades


* Recite Monthly Prayer

* Sing Hymn (at least 3x/week)

* Calendar/Vestments on priest – Cecilia; Caroline does finger plays with Lucy
* Caroline: Problem of the Day (math word problem)

* CCL: Time/amount of day, word families, counting patterns, odd/even numbers at easel

* Read about saint of the day; oral narration (alternate between the girls): Saints for Young Readers for Every Day Volumes One and Two

* Poetry reading/recitation; Shakespeare quotes

Our calendar with saint magnets to mark feast days


* A Nest for Celeste, oral narration (alternate)

* Burgess Bird Book for Children, separate written narrations (I write Cecilia’s)

++after Nest for Celeste is finished, we will read from various other bird books like Bird Watchers and Feeders, etc.++
* Peterson Field Guide Birds coloring book


* Among the People (start with Pond, then move on to Forest); oral narration (alternate)

* Composer Study (bios, listen to specific pieces, draw the song: Handel, Beethoven, Wagner)

* Life of Fred - one lesson, each girl in own book; written 'Your Turn to Play' in notebooks


* Catholic Mosaic/liturgical year story; oral narration (alternate)

* Picture Study; oral narration, sketch from memory on easel (alternate girls wkly.) - Giotto, Michelangelo, Raphael

* Nature Walk in yard: find one thing for Nature Calendar of Firsts, collect specimens/photos for later work in Nature Notebooks

Last week, we studied our first Giotto painting... after looking closely and making observations, the girls close their eyes and visualize the painting, then try to recall everything they can.  Caroline made a rough outline sketch from memory on the easel and then I put the painting up next to it.


* Among the People (start with Pond, then move on to Forest); oral narration (alternate)

* Plutarch’s Lives of the Greeks; written narration from Caroline

* Once Upon a Time Saints for Cecilia only; oral narration (transcribed by me)


* Handbook of Nature Study (girls choose one relevant topic to read about each week)

The girls in the mirror above their watercolor crayon project from Artistic Pursuits
Each day the girls also have independent "morning work," which consists of things they can do on their own.  Cecilia's includes hands-on manipulative type materials such as puzzles, which she can do along with Lucy.  On Fridays, they listen to prayers in Latin on a CD so they can begin to learn some of them.  The guy reading the prayers sounds like he is about to fall asleep whenever he says, "Amen," but hey, it was a free CD.

Caroline's Stuff

Caroline's major topics in 4th grade are Ancient Greece and British History.  She is also beginning some study of Shakespeare this year for the first time, which she LOVES (ask her to quote from Midsummer Night's Dream if you want proof! ;).  She is continuing with Math U See (Delta) as well as doing Life of Fred for math.  She whizzed through the younger LoF books late last year and is picking up with the Honey book to start off this year.  These books are so hilarious, in a really odd way.  It's learning math concepts through a story.  A story for nerdy people.  Perfect.  For instance, an excerpt from the third book in which place value is being taught: "Fred turned to the nurse who had just finished stacking up 324 boxes.  He asked her what she thought about stacking up 5,367,948 boxes in the hallway outside his classroom.  She laughed and left the room."  Earlier in the book, Fred gets a cat scratch on his nose and consults his alphabetized bookshelf to find out what he should do, and he finds these titles: "Castanets for Everyday Use, Casual Pizza Restaurants, Cat Scratches: What to Do, and Cattleman: What it Takes to Be One."  My kids love these books so far.

Here are the books Caroline will be using throughout this year:
* Famous Men of Greece
* The Children's Homer
* Archimedes and the Door of Science
* Science in Ancient Greece
* D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
* Tales from Shakespeare
* How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
* Children's Encyclopedia of British History
* Our Island Story
* Augustine Came to Kent
* Beorn the Proud
* If All the Swords in England
* Castle Diary
* Our Island Saints
* 57 Stories of Saints
* St. Jude, Friend in Hard Times
* Simply Grammar
* Intermediate Language Lessons
* Faith and Life 4
* St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism No. 1
* Paddle to the Sea
* Seabird
* Maps, Charts, and Graphs D

She is also using a neat science kit on light, and she is continuing with her recorder using the nine-note recorder book.

There are some other chapter books she will read this year set in South America, and she will begin studying the countries there on maps.  She will also continue exploring the United States - learning capitals, locations of states, general information about the states, and doing a project/report on one specific state of her choosing.  I have tons of fun puzzles, kids' atlases, games, etc. for learning about the states, and once a week she will select something to work with from the crate full of this stuff.

Doing a states puzzle with Lucy

Cecilia's Stuff

Cecilia will be using these books this year:
* New Catholic Picture Bible
* Little Angel Readers A and B
* The Earth (water section)... and this is hilarious, but this book costs $260 now used on Amazon.  I, of course, paid much, much, much less than this a few years ago!
* Math U See Alpha
* Draw Write Now (water animals)
* First Timeline and corresponding booklist
* Aesop's Fables
* This is Our Family
* St. Joseph's First Communion Catechism
* other books all mentioned in morning basket plans

Cecilia works with "Decimal Street" for a Math U See lesson

She is also excited to be starting a journal this year where she can write and draw about whatever topics she chooses.  She is making a book about Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans in which she will draw or put photos of visits to a local stream/pond area plus things such as drawings of the water cycle as she understands it, water-related experiments, etc.  Another fun thing she is doing is Family Geography - learning about her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents and where they lived.  This maps maps relevant to her life as she begins to grasp the idea of what the United States looks like and where we are in the world.  She is making a book for this with her family tree, old photos of family members at their homes or in their hometowns, recipes from family members or regions they were from, saints who lived in those areas, etc.  Google Earth has made this so cool... we were able to find the house where my mom first lived as a baby, just for maybe a year, and compare the street view to an old photo of my mom outside the house with her mother... it had the same awnings over the windows!!!  My dad recently showed me the lot where his father's childhood home was in Superior, WI and the bar his uncle owned around the corner, the church near their house where they went, etc.

She will also be hearing several picture books... each week she will hear at least one from Catholic Mosaic related to a saint whose feast day is celebrated that month, as well as the First Timeline books - lots of good ones there.

Some of our liturgical year and first timeline books, plus a story about Handel, our composer for the first term.  Yay for interlibrary loans!

So, we have completed a little over a week, officially.  I have to keep days marked off for attendance-reporting purposes, but other than that, we are pretty free to school as we wish here in Georgia.  That means a day in the field of nature study plus a book on CD on the car ride home are a school day.  I know all the books listed above look like a lot... but the great thing is that every lesson takes anywhere from 5-30 minutes.  We might read just a short chapter at a time and stretch a book over an entire year.  For Cecilia, her first grade lessons are no more than about 20ish minutes for each different book or topic.  Now, she will spend another half hour illustrating her Old Testament story, but that is fine - her own interest is leading that.  By having short but focused lessons, it leaves them with plenty of free time - all afternoon, pretty much, after a bit of book work right after lunch when Lucy is napping/resting (meaning I can work with the older two relatively undisturbed!)... and they can explore their own interests further, draw, write, play outside, read whatever other books they want, create things using art materials and such...

illustrating Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Lucy tries out the watercolor crayons while the older girls do an Artistic pursuits lesson

Fridays are "fun days," I say... they have fewer lessons in books and get to do an art project that day, plus we try to have "tea time" when we can, where they have a fun snack and tea, and they listen to me read a book aloud.  last year, we read the entire Catholic Treasure Box Book series.  This year we have started with The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air

Tea Time last Friday, celebrating the Feast of the Queenship of Mary with a "crown cake," aka apple butter cake made in a cathedral cake pan that was Almost a Big Mistake (see explanation of random caps further below in this post).

So here is a bit of what we have done so far...

This is one of Caroline's language lessons.  Her sense of humor shines through in her work so far... wonder if this would be frowned upon were she in school?  Note what she has written in #3.  We had just read and listened to Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne on CD:

Caroline picks up on the humor and other interesting quirks about author's writing styles now that she is older and rereading books that she had read aloud to her in previous years.

This one is her retelling of the story of Saints Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents.  She adopted Milne's writing style in her own writing, as well as her own quirkiness in her description of Joachim's age and what the temple leaders may have thought about him:

"Not Having Any Children at the age of Probably Past Thirty," "Ponder About This," and "What Had Happened to Joachim"

Greek history narration of The Children's Homer... and here she includes pronunciation keys to say the Greek names, as well as writing a forward which you should "keep in mind" as you read the rest of the book...  She also adds footnotes to her own writing and references previous things she has written or defines terms that may be unfamiliar.  Like I said, quirky.  How did she get this way??  I'm going to guess genetics/personality plus tons of reading of good literature.  She is very self-motivated when it comes to reading and breezes through books every time we get some at the library.
Caroline has a notebook in which to keep all her written narrations.

This is one thing I am most excited about:
We got a set of maps that go with the books Paddle to the Sea and Seabird and some lesson ideas for using them.  These books by Holling C. Holling are fabulous... they teach science concepts and geography in a way that is not at all boring, but instead through engaging stories.  We are reading Paddle to the Sea first.  In it, a boy living by a small lake in Canada just north of Lake Superior carves a wooden canoe which he sets in the melting snow.  He knows that the Great Lakes flow into each other, "like great bowls set into a hillside," and wants his canoe to flow all the way down into his lake, through all the Great lakes, and eventually into the ocean.  So by reading this book, we follow the canoe and learn all the states, cities, lakes, rivers, and other geography along the way.  Just by reading the book and coloring/labeling the map, we will learn the Great Lakes region.  Another of Holling's books will take us down the Mississippi River.  So cool!  After reading the first few pages, this is what Caroline did on the map.  In the top left corner, you can see the small lake, Lake Nipigon.  Then she found Canada's border and labeled it and colored it.  For some reason she got carried away and randomly labeled and colored Maine, even though the canoe has gone nowhere near that far yet, ha ha.

Caroline decided that all our Mary statues needed crowns for the Queenship of Mary.  Our Lady of La Leche already has one, so the others got paper crowns.

We are working through our second full week of school now and have upcoming travel, hands-on family geography study, field trips, and the start of dance class, religious education classes at our parish, and our first Catholic homeschool Friday Mass and get-together.  This school year is officially underway, and I have been enjoying the calm (somewhat - I do have a red-headed two year old, after all ;) settling into of a rhythm for the year.