28 November 2012

b is for...


this week it is all about the letter around thebelfry. elfling thinks it is by far the most fabulous of letters as his name begins with b. you did not really think i had named my children thehobbit & elfling, did you? that would have been fabulous, but alas, no.

in addition to displaying recent art & other bits of fabulousity (real word), we have taken to hanging our letter-of-the-week images on our art wall. i have been poking about pinterest, in search of images that do not make me cringe, & printing them. (i do not own these images, so please, if you do, or know who does, let me know. i want to give proper credit.)

in case you were wondering, b is for (in order): the burrow, broomsticks, barbers/baby/bubbles/bee, & booksellers.

oh! i missed one.

& bow ties. bow ties are cool. 


27 November 2012

of broken rules & red-clad wizards


my rule has long been, no holiday goings-on until the first of december. yes, i am one of those people who constantly occasionally rants voices displeasure at the barrage of christmas items & decor appearing long before the season has even begun. but come on! ornaments on sale alongside hallowe'en costumes?

well, it would seem that all it takes to break me is a tiny elfling sweetly asking if we could go see santa today please. & so we did.

being a great old man of 14, thehobbit did not wish to be seen on film. i did attempt a few photographs, but he managed to ruin them all by scowling at me. except for the above. don't his shoes look happy? (yes, i did cut elfling's beautiful long hair off. i am still in mourning, so do not wish to discuss it.)

the grove is my favorite place to go each year. it is such a beautiful center, & they decorate it stunningly. if you are in los angeles, go earlier in the season, & never on a weekend, or it will be too crowded to enjoy.

faced with the man himself, elfling could not even brave going inside the cottage. instead, we stared at him through the front door, then later through the windows.

he did wonder how it was that santa was up in the sleigh at the same time he was in his cottage. manlyman replied with ooh look at the tree!

i could not get the entire tree in my shot. it. is. huge.

trolley was dressed fancy for the season. elfling refused to ride, even though he loves trolley.

this is how he prefers to visit trolley. with bars keeping them safely apart. toddlers are so odd.

the fountain is a favorite of the entire belfry clan. it dances to music, & there are koi in there!

on our way home we had to pop into a mall for something, & you'll never believe who we ran into. santa! how ever did he manage to get there so quickly? santa is clearly the greatest of wizards.


16 November 2012

chaos contained


it seems as if thebelfry is always in a state of an in-between sort of chaos. the number of times over the past few years that i have rearranged rooms & bookcases boggles the mind. & yes, i am at it once again. nearly every room is currently half torn apart.

having two children (of vastly different ages) actively homeschooling necessitated a revamp in storage. i dug into my collection of baskets, & hit the thrift shops to find what i needed; the beginnings of which you see above.

the basket labeled library books, does, in fact contain our library books. funny how that worked out, would you not say? it also holds a jar of pens, & a stack of bookmarks. the pens have nothing to do with the library books - they are there merely to keep them out of a certain toddler's grubby hands. because i did once lose a library book, i am a stickler about keeping them together. the only other place they are allowed to be left is on the bedside tables; & then only the one that is being read. 

beyond that basket is my recent thrift shop find. it looks to have held files (there is a lid that i am not using) originally. in it i am storing both boys' to-do clipboards, & whatever they are working on. temporarily separating their things is a sturdy piece of cardboard. eventually (yes i will, stop laughing) i am going to cut it down to size, & cover it with paper or pages from a book, so it will be fancy.

i need one more basket of a similar size & shape. having the boys share a basket is fine for now, but larger binders won't fit. if i can give each his own, then i can store their items facing the other direction, which would allow for binders. 

all of this is kept on the long table which sits behind the sofa. because both are within the arch that separates the big room from the dining room, this is the most handy of spots. not only is it centrally located, it can also be used as a work station when the dining table is being used for other things like sewing. or dining. ;)

how do you corral your papers & projects? i would love to steal see your ideas.

ps :: the first used to be a picnic basket. the lid broke off eons ago. if you would like to do this, check thrift shops before buying a new picnic basket. i see them there quite often.

14 November 2012



thehobbit took this photo on a recent visit to a grocery store. i think that allergen labels are a great thing, truly i do. however, i think this one is a bit of a duh.


12 November 2012

skoo is coo


belfrys big & small are having the most fun with the many activities i have been putting together for elfling's skoo, as he calls it. rather than bombard you with post after post of toddler homeschooling activities, i thought i would bombard you with one post of gihugic (real word) proportions.

here, without further ado, is what we have been playing with around ye olde belfrye:

the busy bucket that i chatted about a few weeks back has been swapped of it's hallowe'en theme, & replaced with the above. the left basket holds the scooping set, with the velcro sticks activity in the right.

the wee wooden scoop was purchased last weekend at the japanese $2 store. it is the perfect shape & size for tiny hands to scoop. you can find tiny scoops in restaurant supply stores, & shops like world market, though i cannot vouch for the same low price.

the felt buttons were also found at the japanese store. real buttons would work equally well for the scooping activity, but it seemed easier to me to buy these than  to try to get past the family of trolls currently inhabiting my mess of a studio search for my buttons.

another japanese store find (all in the same trip, do not think (like a certain manlyman does) that i live there) were these pom-poms. i do not care for them myself, but elfling saw the pom-poms & asked if they belong to tinker bell, so i knew i needed to buy a box.

thus far he has: raked them, sorted them by color, counted them, & transferred them with his chopsticks. that is a wicker cornucopia they are filling, in case you were wondering. so much for my pretty autumnal table display.

a closer look at the ugly little things.

if you are following the letter of the week, it is currently o. or it was when i wrote this. i think by now the letter has changed. le sigh. i am a wee bit confused, & most likely in need of some sort of warm boozey drink. anyway...

elfling used the do-a-dots to decorate his o. here is the link to the entire alphabet, if you are inclined to join the fun.

another o activity elfling has been enjoying is this o-road (idea from here. please ignore that her o is much more o-shaped than mine. i could not find the good paper scissors.) i used black card stock, & a silver marker. apparently others do this with the entire alphabet. i am much too lazy, so will probably revisit this only a few times. with the easy letters.

my favorite o this week has been this one:

elfling & i decorated o for obama when we had the do-a-dots out. yes, i did help with the dotting, & yes, if you don't press hard enough you end up with many boobies instead of dots. we have a hand-print boobie tree hanging too, if you're interested.

the last of today's bombardment is our book bucket. this sits on elfling's wee table, & the books get rotated by theme. i try to choose themes by things going on in our lives, saving random themes for the in-betweens. currently we have one such random theme: colors.

he likes to open all of the books to the same color, then chat with us about the pictures. it does frustrate him that a few of the books have more colors than the others, but that's ok. here are the books pictured:

* angelina ballerina's colors
* andy warhol's colors
* richard scarry's color book (could not find the exact copy we have, sorry.)
* van gogh's world of colour
* my  many colored days

2,3, & 4 were given to us by beloved aunties, with the other two coming from the used book shop.

i hope you have enjoyed seeing all of the fun activities we have been up to. when i say we, i mean it. the entire family has had fun helping elfling play at skoo. because skoo is coo.

he asked me to take another photograph of him making shapes with the velcro sticks.

he then asked if i would take a photo of him winking. i love my odd little elfling.


09 November 2012

world lessons


do you recall that episode of friends when monica inherits a dollhouse, & doesn't want phoebe to play with her, because phoebe brings a dinosaur, & ghost, & other things that do not go with the house? well, as much as i hate to admit it - i am monica. in this respect, at any rate.

when i play with elfling, i want everything to match. are we playing cars? ok, well let's go with all wood, or all metal, or all large. to mix them up is madness. i should say here that i agree with this sort of madness - it just is not me.

when thehobbit was little, it was not an issue. he played the same way i did. elfling, not so much. actually, not at all - this boy is my phoebe.

when elfling asked me to set up a campfire for his guys, i set out a little log for each guy to sit upon. each wooden guy. when elfling saw that there were not enough logs for each & every guy, he was not pleased. he quickly set about making the circle big enough so that woody & alien guy could warm themselves as well.

i doubt i will ever completely shed my monica, but i am willing to embrace the phoebe world in which i am now surrounded. it is something my sweet child is trying to teach me, & i am trying desperately to learn.

the world needs more phoebes; don't you think?


07 November 2012


the newest keeper of the bins


you know how much i adore old things. if they come with a story, even better. if they were also handed down within the family, perfection! such was the case with these two boxes. my mother-in-law; also a lover of old things; recently gifted us with these treasures. here is their annotated history:

they were constructed by manlyman's stepfather's father over eighty years ago, for his children. eventually my father-in-law gave them to his own children, & in turn kept them safe for the many grandchildren to come.

years ago it seemed that the last of the grandchildren were too big for them, so my mother-in-law painted them white, added wheels to their bases & cushions to their tops, & moved them into her guest room.

which brings us to now. not quite the next generation of babies, but elfling is the most recent by a decade. my mother-in-law decided that the bins should be no longer collecting dust in her guest room, & lovingly gifted them into my keeping. i get chills just writing that!

so why were so many children in the family given bins with which to play? well, you see, their true treasures lay within.

you need only lift their lids to see.

treasures which were also made over eighty years ago, by my father-in-law's father.

blocks! both hollow...

& solid.

& 'lincoln' logs.

thehobbit scarce recalls playing with these blocks when small, but he did. now they are being used by elfling to make all sorts of fire stations glorious things. & i? well i shall keep them safe for my children's children.

ps :: yes i know had a few too many blocks already, but these don't count. they are nearly antiques! & family heirlooms! also, be quiet.

05 November 2012

confessions of a tape addict


hi, i'm kat, & i am addicted to painter's tape. we are using it near daily now. in addition helping pass the time on our road trip, we have: decorated pumpkins, decorated one another, taped things to other things all over thebelfry, created pictures on the table in the dentist's waiting room, & constructed roads.

this is the most recent highway, courtesy of thehobbit.

it was played with, off & on, the entire day. yes, even by my great old man of fourteen.

who, of course, declined to be photographed.

i most especially loved the wee hill.

in researching i have learned that painter's tape is basically blue low-tack masking tape. which is good, because a) regular masking tape is a fraction of the price of the blue stuff, & 2) we need more. a lot more.

notes of note :: if you are going to buy the low-tack masking tape, you need to make sure it is truly the lowest. anything too sticky will ruin surfaces when pulled away. 


02 November 2012

impromptu art day


monday we packed a basket with sammiches, grabbed our cameras, put on comfortable shoes, & went on an unplanned outing to lacma

usually we avoid a good portion of their exhibits, as we aren't huge fans of modern, contemporary, expressionism, & the like. (fortunately, my dear pom does not often read this blog, or she would be yelling at me for that last.)

this time we did meander into some of them, & whilst we did not like most of what we saw, there were a few things that caught our collective eye. even in the surrealism exhibit!  my intent was to actively search for something in each exhibit that i did like. in some cases it was quite difficult, but i did manage, & am glad for it.

after that we enjoyed a leisurely lunch out of doors, soaking in the sunshine, & snapping photos. just out of the shot (above photo) was thehobbit, taking a photo for his woefully neglected tardis blog.

i could have spent many hours just sitting amongst the streetlamps, & would have, but a school group descended, which was my cue to get out of there, & fast.

next we went to the exhibits that we do love: european sculpture & painting, ancient art, impressionism, & so forth. inspired by all we saw, we decided to get our paint-groove on in the children's gallery. happily there were few people in there, so it was a lovely, quiet way to end our day.

it was interesting to see our different ways of expressing ourselves: i painted a realistic tree, manlyman sketched the chinese dragon that was painted on the wall, elfling clearly was inspired by the jackson pollocks he'd seen, & thehobbit played minecraft on his ipod.

heading back to the car we stopped to get our yayas out. in one of their courtyards is this giant thing. the yellow bits are long rubber strands, that stretch. people are encouraged to play within it. i am sure you can guess which of us had to be pulled away when it was time to go. really? you guessed thetoddler? nope. manlyman.

however, elfling did ignore the thing's request. i just cannot take my menfolk anywhere ;)

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