Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: colors

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hues, tones, leap and glow;

party, dazzle, eye candy

thanks to God-colors!

 

colors by Angie Quantrell

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To make these jewel tones, I used gel paste food colors, apple cider vinegar, and warm water.

1. Add several T. of apple cider vinegar to clear cups.

2. Use the handle end of a spoon to dip gel paste and put it in the vinegar. I didn’t mix my spoons or dyes, but used a separate spoon for each color. I was also very generous with the amount of dye I used. I think this led to some beautiful fingers.

3. Add enough warm water to fill cups 2/3 full. Stir each color until the paste is dissolved.

4. Dye eggs!

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Haiku Moment: pizza party

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Homemade whole wheat pizza dough!

ten hands, knead and pound;

recipe for tasty treat,

Grand pizza party

 

pizza party by Angie Quantrell

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The mandatory “silly face” photo

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Autumn, who loves pepperoni but not bread

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Gage has just taken a big bite

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Donavyn knows how to smile, take a bite, AND pose at the same time

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Khloe also loves to ham it up for the camera (she is also super patient, as she had to wait for the second baking of pizza with Nana)

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Hayden who loves projects like this and wanted to make it again for dinner (and that boy can eat!)

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Tea with Me, And Then Monday Happened

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It feels like ages since I’ve just chatted and shared life over a cup of tea (Irish breakfast with a dab of honey) with you, my friends. How is life treating you?

Christmas came and went so quickly! I can’t believe we are back to counting how many days there are until next Christmas. One of the favorite gifts this year among the grands was a whoopie cushion. Can you tell what age group we are?

And Happy New Year! A new year, a new decade, and new numbers to train ourselves to write.

I’m off and running, er, writing my way through Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Writing Challenge.  I was overjoyed to learn that I had won a scholarship to join this challenge. SO many resources available for writers. I just cannot believe the wonderful support and encouragement to be found in the kidlit writing community. Thank you, writer friends, and thank you, Julie Hedlund!

I’m enjoying the challenge of a new editing opportunity. I alternate between extreme joy and mental work and moments of terror and concern over what I feel I need to change. And will somebody please read this after me to see if I did it correctly? What a great adventure that stretches me in new ways. I hope you have something like this in your new year to grow you and make your heart sing.

Alas. My Seahawks finished the year yesterday after they lost to Green Bay. Probably not many of you are football fans, but I have really enjoyed watching my team. It’s fascinating to learn their little tricks and figure out what the announcers are talking about. I still don’t know what a nickel back is or a slot play, but I hear those words over and over. Next year, Go Hawks! Be healthy and come back strong!

And this is the part when Monday happened.

All the grands were at school, though two had minor health complaints.

During preschooler pickup time, I received a phone call informing me about the oldest, Hayden, being in the office in tears with significant eye pain. He had something in his eye, or as the nurse was guessing, pink eye. And he needed to see a doctor.

Before leaving the parking lot, I called and secured an appointment. Pick-up Hayden.

Waiting time until appointment. Rearrange who picks up where and when.

We left for appointment and just as I merged on the highway, received a phone call from Aucutt Mama that second child, Khloe, was in office in severe ear pain and tears. Papa was MIA for phone contact, so Mama left work to drive to the opposite side of town to get Khloe.

While I was at the doctor’s appointment (with Hayden and two preschoolers, which was another fun story all together, because both of them were feeling NO pain and great JOY, which they shared loudly with all), Aucutt Mama and I arranged a second appointment for Khloe to have her ear checked. And I called Quantrell Mama to meet me at doctor and divide the preschooler frivolities by dividing the number in half. She took Autumn, leaving me with Gage and Hayden.

Shortly after they left (we were still in exam room), Aucutt Mama arrived, just in time to find we needed to extend our adventure by heading immediately to the eye doctor. We met in the waiting room, I handed off an extremely talkative Gage, and Hayden and I drove post haste to the eye doctor (yet another valley and opposite end of town). Aucutt Mama stayed for the Khloe appointment.

To wrap up our afternoon of operation organization (OH, I forgot to add Papa and I played phone tag to secure a ride home from school for Donavyn, the only child not involved in the traveling circus of medical events):

~ Hayden ended up having a seed pod stuck beneath his eyelid. This caused extreme pain AND corneal abrasions. Such a tiny thing making such a mess! Eye drops and healing in order.

~Khloe had temp and severe ear infection. Antibiotics, pain meds, and rest in order. Plus, return visit to doctor if ear drum bursts. Which it did, overnight.

~Donavyn made it home just fine.

~Autumn missed us at the doctor visit and left her bunny in my car. Not a happy camper upon that realization.

~Gage continued to talk nonstop to his mama, quite gleeful to have her ear.

~Aucutt Mama met me at eye doctor to fill in forms, then went back across town to grab prescriptions. Not much sleep in that household last night.

~Nana and Papa collapsed after using their super-speed powers to make and consume dinner.

Short story. It’s only Tuesday, but we survived!

How about you? Thanks for sticking through the story to the end. How was your Monday?


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Merry Christmas!

Joyeux Noël!

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Donavyn, Taylor, Jamie, Autumn, and Ginger (the 4-legged one)

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Hayden, Gage (shortest), Chelsie (tallest), and Khloe

From our family to yours,

Peace and joy!

Kevin and Angie

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“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

~ Luke 2:11-12

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The Rock

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Not THE ROCK, Jesus. Or the Rock, Dwayne superstar Johnson. Not even the diamond rock.

Just the rock. As in, “the rock that bounced into my car.”

That rock.

It was HUGE. Grapefruit-sized. Did I mention it was bouncing?

The time: Tuesday morning, between 8:05-8:10 am. I know this because the Nana bus had just dropped off Khloe at her before school study group.

The location: west Wide Hollow Road, near Gromore Market

The perp: FedEx truck (AND the rock)

The victims: white Mazda Nana bus, shocked Nana and 4-year-old Gage riding in backseat; also the fog light grill, bumper, and inner shroud

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How it all played out: The Nana bus was headed east for home. After making the sharp corner around the market, we were barely going 30 mph. Nana spied a FedEx truck who was stopped road side up ahead with a driver who had just completed a delivery.

Said driver headed back onto road and took off headed west for more deliveries.

We were headed east, he was going west, when a huge clod of mud came bouncing out of his rear tires. It was odd, how round and bouncy that mud was. The first big bounce was easily over a yard high. It came bouncing directly into our lane and front bumper, but there were no shoulders on the road for avoidance and the distance was too close to slam on brakes. Crash! We hit the mud clod. Smash, crunch, crumble.

Whew. We were over it. Both Gage and I felt the driver side tires grind over the bits and pieces. But also, whew! The tires were not flat and the car was still driving.

The results: At home, Gage and I searched the car for damage. I noticed the smashed in grill. Gage found peeling paint on the rear license plate cover. 🙂 It was not a part of the rock incident, but good eyes, Gage!

The fog light grill, a very small opening in the front bumper, was smashed clean through and torn loose. Later examination led me to discover that the shroud right behind the grill plate had a huge hole smashed through it as well. Even later, when Papa came home, more pulling apart of the bumper and grill area led to the discovery of the rock still resting inside the shroud amidst shattered portions of thick plastic.

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Evidence! That was why the “mud clod” was bouncing so high. It was a ROCK. A very large rock, which if it had bounced one more time, would have come through the windshield into my head.

I am very thankful. God gave me my own little (BIG) miracle as I traveled my daily route in caring for my grands. Just one more blessing for which I can give Him credit.

Perfect timing, don’t you think? Thanksgiving is right around the corner. In just a few more sleeps, we will wake to excited taste buds ready for the feast that will be prepared. But this year I want to remember to give thanks for all the blessings, protections, and miracles the LORD has provided.

I pray you have a happy and blessed Thanks-for-giving. Look for the miracles.

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Summer Camp

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Alas, with the 4th of July and other extra activities, my guest bloggers were unable to contribute to the blog last week. Nana to the rescue!

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Summer Camp Theme of the Week: Gardening

Gardening is near and dear to my heart. Add outdoor and nature connections, and the setting and theme is just perfect.

Some activities we did during Gardening Week:

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~ We made dandelion play dough! Look on Pinterest for several different recipes. Tips from Nana: Use a LARGE blender or food processor for the boiling water and dandelions. Both of my prospects were too small and leaked. All over. Use MORE dandelions than you think you will need. We didn’t get as much yellow as we wanted, so added a bit of yellow gel food coloring. I doubled the recipe, since 5 gardeners wanted to explore.

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~ We watered. Of course. They are all quite adept at handling a variety of gardening watering implements. We also refilled the fountain numerous times. Like the grands, I’ve been enjoying the quick dip of a smaller watering can into the fountain to tend to tiny water needs. As a result, fountain water disappears much quicker than one would expect.

~ We dissected a sunflower from the Sunflower Forest. We have plenty! It was pretty neat to see baby seeds, petals, the pithy center, and other plant parts in their glory.

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~ After coloring cardboard egg carton sections, we went on a nature collecting hunt, looking for bits of nature that matched the colored sections. Rocks, flowers, petals, leaves, pine cones, bark, pottery shards, glass marbles . . . The grands did enjoy this activity even if all colors did not exactly match.

~ I’ve been wanting to have a nature loom for a long time. With freshly cut wood chunks from a recent trip to wood hunt, the oldest grand Hayden hammered in nails around the edges of one log. I looped jute around and back and forth to create a loom. I think Nana enjoyed this most, but I hope over time they will wander back and add to the nature weaving. I think next week I will have to allow them to hammer all the  nails they want into a sacrificial log. That seemed to be the biggest draw.

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~ The two girl grands, Khloe and Autumn, loved helping Papa transplant root-bound mint out in the pasture. Just for fun. Since it will be mowed with the pasture grass.

~ The youngest, Gage and Autumn, enjoyed giving hair cuts (mowing the hair) to paper plate faces.

~ Swimming! This involved puppy power and hogging of the big pool, but still, cooling fun was had by all.

~ Gardening books were read. Always books.

I had more plans, but the mid-week holiday took out a huge chunk of our Summer Camp time. Until the next week of Summer Camp (camping!), enjoy your July and the rest of this quickly evaporating summer vacation!


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Welcome, Summer Guest Bloggers!

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Note: Nana Angie here. For a bit of fun, I’m challenging (urging, coercing, guiding) my grands to be guest bloggers. This first time, I typed as we discussed and they told me what to write. Perhaps the older 2 will be able to type their own posts later this summer, which I know will zoom past. I’ll probably alternate blogging families so that I can keep up with what is happening behind the scenes as two of us at a time focus on blogging…(5 kids + 1 puppy = 8).

Hope you enjoy our escapades. Happy first day of summer!

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Hi, I’m Hayden. I’m 10 years old and just finished 4th grade. Next year I’ll be in middle school. I’m so glad it’s summer.

This summer I’m spending lots of time with my Nana. Last week we were learning about birds. And we made a bird nest out of play dough and pine needles. I found a fallen bird nest at our apartment and it was just sitting on the ground. I picked it up and took it to my Nana’s house and we observed it. It was cool and stinky!

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We also went on a walk around the field and looked at birds. We found a hawk. It was cool. It was looking for food. Other bird activities we did were painting bird houses, stamping bird pictures on paper, and reading bird books.

Next we are going to learn about gardens. See you next time!

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Hi, I’m Khloe. I’m almost 8 years old and just finished 2nd grade. Next year I’ll be in 3rd grade. I always swim at the pool at my apartment in the summer. That is going to be fun!

My Nana is teaching me and my brothers French words. I know “Bonjour, Grand-mere, merci, s’il vous plait, and counting to sept (1-7). It was fun learning about French.

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We also learned about birds. My brother picked up a bird nest for us to look at and study. My favorite bird activity was making a bird nest out of play dough. I used sticks, pine needles, play dough, and leaves and rocks for my nest.

I will see you next time!

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My name is William Gage Aucutt. I’m 4. I’m going swimming. I’m going to the apartment. And I go to the RV. Then I go to the park. I liked painting my bird house. I like to paint. And I like to go everywhere. Everywhere.

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Mud: The Perfect Nature Sensory Activity

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First we had February. Snowmageddon and all of that. The season of snow.

Next we had the melt. Flooding, slush, and slippery ice. The season of melt.

Now we have rainy April days and plentiful water. The season of mud.

Does mud bother my grands? Not in the slightest. Nearly all the kids I know love getting dirty, playing in the mud. From what I’ve observed, most of the problem with mud comes from the adults. The ones who have to do laundry, wipe mud trails off of floors, wash boots, and repair muddy landscapes.

Forget all of that worry. It’s time for the season of play!

Enter mud play. A fine mist was falling, water stood in the wagon and various items strewn about from building fairy houses, and mud was plentiful.

They dug, scooped, buried, and transported mud, rocks, and sticks. They gathered water, poured it around, and put a dead worm in the mud in case he wanted to wake up.

They painted small pieces of logs by using a stick as a paintbrush, using the stick to smear mud across the flat surfaces. And then they decorated the wagon and fairy gardens with mud-encrusted artwork.

I love it when I see preschoolers and children (and even adults) use their creativity and imagination. I love it even more when nature and messes are involved!

I’m not sure if the parents agree, but playing in mud is excellent for sensory engagement and exploration of nature.

So…put on some old clothes, just in case, plop on the wellies, and head out for some messy fun.

 


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Picture Books of the Moment: Gage & Autumn Picks

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Meet Gage (3 going on 4) and Autumn (2 going on 16). Gigi is also featured above, all 3 of them enjoying a Babybel cheese break.

Preschoolers have discerning tastes and interests. I’d like to add that both of these magnificent grands are eloquent, opinionated, book afficionados. Here are their current favorite picture books. And why I think each has preschool staying power.

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“Again!”

This remark nearly guarantees a great picture book. They should call it the AGAIN Award. SPOILER ALERT: Both grands love Peter and his adventures in the snow, though Gage is convinced the snowball did not melt, but is in fact, tucked beneath Peter’s chin as he sleeps. Don’t believe me? Look at that page. The background white section looks exactly like a snowball. They both love the snow adventures.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Simplicity of text, universal preschool and young reader experiences, nature focus, playfulness of a child’s day in the snow

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Froggy and his silly antics keep Gage and Autumn glued to the story. They love me to read this to them as they eat lunch. They love jumping to the conclusion before I even get there. The laughing portions of the book have great child appeal.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Humor, age-appropriate excitement and desire to enjoy life, Froggy’s disregard for reality (hibernate in winter), repetitive language

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Of all the books we read, this one surprises me. Not that it’s a bad book, but, you know, she dies at the end. Despite that, Gage LOVES this book. He knows the ending and he loves how the old lady gets larger and larger. I always use a sing-song voice when I read it, so music complements the retelling. Who knew?

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Illustrations, musical options, repetitive, cumulative, silly, full of exaggeration, contains extra details that can be shared as readers mature

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This book was a hit the very first time I read it, with both Gage and Autumn. They love memorizing the story and retelling it themselves. I did hear that older brother, Donavyn, was purposely saying the wrong thing as she was reading to herself. This made her very angry! (This might have happened with the next book instead…). Preschoolers love reading about the caterpillar.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Nature aspects of change, life cycle, eating, growing, overeating; days of the week; interesting pages and features like holes and different-sized pages; simple text and easy to recall story; classic picture book tale

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This was one of the first books I dug out to share with Gage and Autumn. They loved it and immediately memorized the pattern of text and wanted to read it alone. This book is easy to figure out by simply turning the pages. The bright colorful illustrations help readers retell and enjoy the story.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Predictable, patterned, colorful illustrations, teaches colors, simple text, imaginative (blue horse?!), fun to read, readers enjoy being in control and being the ‘teacher’ as they read

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Anything with a flap is award-winning for preschoolers. This simple book has repetitive text and involves visual and textual clues to use to guess the answer. Fill-in-the-blank reading is lots of fun and both Gage and Autumn love shouting the answers. Animals, flaps, mystery! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taped this book back together.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Lift the flaps, simplicity, animal connections, emotions, cause and effect, thinking skills to figure out which pet is best

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Three words: Hug, Bobo, Mommy. Who says you can’t tell a story with only 3 words? Everybody knows about hugs and mommy’s. Gage and Autumn love this book because of the mommy factor. Mommy’s are important and it would be horrible if she went missing. All the animals work together to help Bobo. So many good things in three words and great illustrations.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

The mommy factor, hugs, friends, helping, simple text, universal needs and desires, family, being lost and getting found

Introducing the AGAIN Award. You heard it here first, friends.

Let’s find other books that deserve the AGAIN Award. For in those beloved books, we will find the joy of reading and the shared experiences of lap time.

 

 

 

 


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Snow Day Tea Party

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In our area of the northwest, we often have winter snow days or late start days when the roads are slick early in the morning. Just recently, an overnight heavy wet cold snow fell, causing slippery roads and perfect conditions for a late start (for school to start). It’s only 2 hours late, but one can have plenty of fun in those 120 minutes.

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First up was sledding down the pasture hill. The 5 grands did a wonderful job sharing one sled, pairing up with each other and racing to see who could travel the longest distance down the slope.

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Once the proper bright red noses and cheeks were acquired, we trooped inside for a snow day tea party, all ages included. This was not the traditional apres snow play hot cocoa and cookies, as both Nana and mommy (Auntie) were fresh out of hot chocolate mix. This was find what’s in the pantry and enjoy it to the fullest. So tea it was.

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Tiny tea cups, spoons, saucers, and tea pots were filled with tepid herbal tea. Honey dripped stickily into cups and was stirred in. Spills were mopped up with place mats and towels, and peanuts stood in for tea cakes. For one young girl, those tea cake peanuts tasted marvelous when they were soaked in tea and scooped out with a spoon.

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A fun time was had by all. Pinkies up for the next snow day late start!

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Once the 3 older grands went to late school, the 2 younger ones had another type of snow day.

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