Wednesday, December 30, 2009

good news and Habari Gani

Got the post-Christmas blues?
There's always Kwanzaa.
From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 you can celebrate African heritage. That's just what we needed to get us through to the New Year.
If the morning paper had not had a full spread describing Kwanzaa we may not have known anything about it. That reminds me I need to send a Christmas tip to the delivery guy... Anyway,
The girls got right to work decorating with the Kwanzaa colors of red, black, and green.
We checked out a book at the library about African folktales that we'll spread out over the week.
And, we'll try to remember to say the traditional Kwanzaa greeting to each other as much as possible "Habari Gani!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Need a Little Christmas...NOW

Today we made these snowflakes out of pipe cleaner and pony beads. No two are alike of course!
First we worked on memorizing the 3rd stanza of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." This is just so our brains don't freeze completely from having a couple of weeks off from school. We also read a short little story, "The Apple Tree Christmas." The story almost made it sound fun to live in a barn. It's about the simplicity of Christmas-es way back before there was W-mart. It also inspired the girls to eat some of our apples.

Yesterday, our neighbor taught the girls about Christmas traditions in Germany, where the tradition of decorating pine trees originated. They had rice pudding and decorated gingerbread houses with graham crackers and lots of gooey frosting.

We were lucky enough this year to have a spontaneous ice skating rink form in our yard. Kate was the first one who discovered it and since then it has become a main attraction for all the kids. Oh they've had their share of falling, wet bums, and cold hands, but they still like to go out. Kate will bring out the radio and blast the Christmas music. Today she spent a whole hour with Adrie choreographing a lovely skating dance complete with whirls and twirls.

While I was planning all the fun activities we'd do this week Kate (who's 8 and great) taught me a great lesson. She had just read the newspaper and came to me after we had read our bedtime Bible story. Apparently she had come across a picture of an ad that showed an old man with a plate. It said something like, "Can you help the hungry?" I had remembered seeing that ad running for a few weeks now and I hadn't even given it a second thought. But, Kate, who is so sensitive and compassionate was visibly moved by it and wanted to help. The next day we had a true CHRISTmas activity. The girls cut out that picture in the paper and went around the neighborhood collecting money in a jar to send to the homeless shelter. With their own contributions and that of the neighbors they collected $16.30. That is enough to give 9 people Christmas dinner. Thanks Kate for teaching us the true spirit of Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last December we took the whole month off from schooling. It was glorious. We spent the whole month celebrating Christmas: baking, making Christmas crafts and reading Christmas stories.

This year our schedule has been a little different so we will just be doing 2 1/2 weeks.

Our plan is to read a short Christmas story everyday then do an activity: decorate a tree outside with popcorn/nuts/seeds for the birds, make gingerbread houses, paper snowflakes, ...

Last week we made salt dough ornaments. How easy and fun! We actually extended it into two days. One for making and baking and the other for painting. The girls are very proud of their decorations. Kate even went beyond the cookie-cutter versions and molded her own Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. The little girls in the neighborhood have taken to him so fondly, that Kate made another batch this week and cloned him.
Recipe from
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Mix the above . Roll out 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters or use a knife to free-hand your own shapes. Be sure to poke a hole in the top. (We used the back end of a paint brush)
Bake 250 degrees for 2 hours. Flip every 20 minutes or so to prevent curling.
Cool and paint!