Why the Tree of Life?


Cat's Cradle

Look at that self-satisfied smirk. Kirven and I have been logging in many hours trying to learn the entire sequence of Cat's Cradle for Two from Michael Taylor's Pull the Other One!: String Games and Stories. We have made it all the way through exactly one time, and we have not been able to repeat our success. We keep getting stuck on Fish on a Dish! Blast it! We're gettin' it though, slowly but surely. Kirven is fascinated with string games now and is constantly making up his own figures and asking me to guess what they are called.


Beware the sleeping Dragon!

He breathes fire when awoken!

Cornstarch Dough

Dunagan and I made a cornstarch dough for him to play with, but it was a dud of a recipe.

I'm not sure I combined the ingredients correctly.

It was basically equal parts salt, cornstarch and water, but ours was very lumpy and really stuck to the pot.

Dunagan enjoyed playing with it though--- for about 5 minutes.

Blueberry Faces

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Don't Eat Pete!

Thanks, Hannah, for passing on the link to the game "Don't Eat Pete!" It's a free download, and an incredibly simple game. When I first read the instructions, I thought, where's the 'game'? What is the point? And then it dawned on me: eating m&m's and yelling DON'T EAT PETE! is the point. And I thought to myself, "Oooh, yeaaaah, my boys are gonna love this." Chocolate and yelling.

Not only did they love it, they were incredulous at the fact that it was almost an m&m free for all. And it was so funny waiting to pounce on the person who was it as they reached for 'Pete' and then yelling at the top of our lungs. There's nothing 'educational' or even "edutainmental" about the game; it was just plain, three-year-old-on-the-edge-of-his-seat-and-yelling fun.


Bird Cookies

We did it! We made a messy, seasonally appropriate craft, and mommy didn't lose her cool. Self-congratulatory pat on the back here. And for all you peanut allergies out there who have been saddened by the fact that you cannot make bird cookies or the traditional pinecone-peanut butter-birdseed version, they make Sunbutter now. It is made from sunflower seeds, and it actually tastes amazingly like peanut butter. I like it anyway, and it makes a nice sandwich with jelly. So, what you see before you are Sunbutter-bagel-birdseed Bird Cookies.

We've seen several squirrels swooning with joy from the unexpected bounty, but we have seen nary a bird taking a nibble at our cookies. Where the heck have all the pigeons and white wing dove gone? It's usually like an Alfred Hitchcock movie around here.


Our poor, ridiculous dog, Geena, stuck in her e-collar for 14 days post-surgery, but obviously over her initial humiliation and embarrassment and soaking up the warm January (hello?) sun. If only a squirrel would fall out of the tree and into my mouth, this would be heaven.

Color Dancers




Color Dancers is a style of kindergarten wet-on-wet watercolor painting where the paper is left a little extra wet and the paint is just dropped on rather than brushed all that much. The colors literally dance across and magically transform into secondary colors (though the colors didn't come through very true in my photos). This allows the child to experience the color combinations and discover a little color theory on their own.

My mixed paints seem to be getting old. They've lost a little of their vibrancy, though they've lasted awhile in the refrigerator. Time to mix up some more. Dunagan's tempera paints had not been stored in the frig, and they stunk this time. Guess I'll keep them in the frig as well.



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Things have been...

... a little crazy around here. I find myself thinking that we aren't getting around to much learning at the moment because my brain is fried, but then I step back and look at all the things we are actually fitting into our day, and I think we are right on track.

Evan's office has moved WAY UP NORTH. We're southies, and we're spoiled, and we're thinking about moving so that Evan's commute isn't 30min-1hr. Evan has been working 12-14 hour days, over the winter holidays and weekends, overseeing part of the construction of his company's new office building. We have missed our Daddy terribly, and Mommy is grumpy. Some days he has been gone before breakfast and home after bedtime. Happily, that sort of thing is beginning to slow down. We were even able to sleep 'late' this morning, and I think we have all had a good reset.

We've been keeping up with our Enki stories and crafts, but we're having a hard time with our movement work and getting outside. Ayla makes the getting outside part hard since she wants to get down and taste everything and the boys sometimes won't go out without me; plus we still have the same issues with circle that we have had the last month or so.

Ayla is really and truly walking now. She walked the length of the kitchen, no problem, and she's choosing walking over crawling, unless she really needs to get somewhere fast. And she is so pleased with herself.

Dunagan is currently a baby birdie, and Ayla is his teeny birdie, and I am his mommy birdie, and he only eats worms. This is an improvement over his being a rattlesnake. Believe me.

Kirven and I have been working on cat's cradle and other string games. I'll post a picture and link to the book we're using soon. It takes a lot of fine motor control.

Kirven has also really turned a corner with the fairy tales. He is able to sit through the scary parts, a big step for him! He laughs at the funny parts and recites the verses from the stories all day, but if you asked him if he liked a particular story, he will say no, that it was too scary. We read Matreshka this last week, and Dunagan had fun spinning these Matreshka dolls that we found at the appropriate parts in the story. By the way, babies can open these dolls, and the red paint is not slobber-proof... just a word to the wise.

We're getting a lot of Spanish listening in the car (I've got a playlist of Spanish children's songs going), and our friend Cristina is still coming over on Friday afternoons to play with the boys in Spanish. She upped the anty this last week and spoke a whole lot more Spanish, which I was really pleased about and the boys seemed to do well with.


Ecological Calendar

I found the coolest calendar. It is a not like any other calendar you've ever seen. It's a seasonal calendar rather than a monthly calendar, and it's called the Ecological Calendar, and it has all sorts of cool things on it like tidal charts and astronomical happenings. It consists of four long panels, one for each season, and it illustrates the flowing change of the seasons quite nicely from winter solstice to spring equinox to summer solstice to autumn equinox. Kirven has been enjoying highlighting each day as we come to it and discussing what is going on in the natural world.

And on a totally unrelated note, on Feb. 10th the U.S. Government is going to put into effect the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. This act will require all makers of children's products to have their products tested by third party testing. This also includes second hand clothing and toys. This means no more children's consignment shopping, no more thrift store shopping. No more handmade toys from stay at home moms, no more hand made diapers!

Here are some links to some things you can do.





Grubs & Snails

... are tasty treats for a PorcupineSkunk. Never heard of a PorcupineSkunk? Where you from? Round these here parts, PorcupineSkunks are as common as Dunagans:

Be careful: If he takes a dislike to your demeanor, he's apt to SPRAY-POKE you. Repeatedly.

Now, with regards to the proper care and feeding of a PorcupineSkunk, it is best to present only the tastiest morsels that are sure to sharpen his quills and strengthen his stink. You can get a PorcupineSkunk to eat anything, even lettuce, as long as he understands that it will make him the pokiest, stinkiest creature in the room.

He also tends to be a nocturnal creature, so if he begins to get loud and rambunctious, you can remind him that it is daytime and time for all little baby PorcupineSkunks to go sleep in their den. He usually likes to scamper away and curl up in his box when he is reminded of this. Be sure to have a rattlesnake or two available for him to snack on when he wakes up. They're his favorite! Unless they are his friends, and then he won't eat them and will apologize to them with thick, bottom lip that Mommy PorcupineSkunk mistook them for food.


Yellow Bird

We gave Kirven My First Sewing Book for Christmas. It has turned out to be a perfect activity for him because it has been something that he couldn't just do in one sitting. It's held his attention, and he has a real sense of accomplishment on finishing this little yellow bird.

We had initially tried to do a introductory sewing craft from the Enki Craft book, but Kirven was very resistant to it. I wrote a story to try to help him mentally picture the movements, and I think it did help. He seemed to like it anyway, and he approached this sewing project with a lot more confidence. The booklet that came with the bird was well-written, each step in rhyming verse, which also seemed to help.

Kirven finished it and stuffed it today, and he has promised to make Dunagan one.


We spent Saturday together as a family, and ended up spending most of the day outside raking leaves. It was a beautiful day, in the 70's.

Evan has a co-worker with a big garden in Buda who likes to compost our leaves. It saves us having to bag them!

Ayla's Hair



Ayla keeps making this funny face whenever she sees us. She looks shocked. Wow, you again! You just don't go away do you? And then she giggles sometimes, especially when she makes the face at Kirven.