Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012: A Very Relaxing Christmas

This was the Christmas I'd been wishing for for years!  In the years past, we have spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day running around from party to party, exhausting the kids, exhausting ourselves, running on a very tight schedule, and breathing a big sigh of relief when it was all over.

This year was a bit different.  Buds side of the family was out of town for Christmas, so we celebrated with them two weeks early.  My sister worked on Christmas weekend, so we celebrated with my family a week early.

All that early celebrating left us with four days of simple family time.  It was relaxing, not stressful, and blissful.  Here's what we did:

Saturday we cleaned the house and relaxed.  I had to go out and brave the crowds at JoAnn fabrics.  The store wasn't too crowded, but traffic getting there was really bad!  That'll teach me to do last minute shopping!  We just hung out at home after that, and had a movie-a-thon in the evening (Muppet Christmas Carol and Elf), and ate pizza in front of the TV.

Sunday we picked up Kinsey and headed over to Great Grandma Lenore's house for dinner and a small Christmas party.  On the way home, we swung through the drive through at Byerlys and picked up the groceries I had ordered ahead of time online.  Talk about avoiding the last minute rush!

Monday, Christmas Eve, we slept in, went ice skating, went out to dinner (I'd never been out to eat on Christmas Eve before!).  On the way out of the restaurant, Elise said "Berry Cwistmas, everybody!"  It was so cute!  She got quite a happy response from the other restaurant goers.  We then came home and baked cookies.  After we ate cookies, read the story of Christmas by candle light, and called the relatives to wish them a Merry Christmas, we let the kids open the gifts under the tree (gifts from us to them, and to each other).  The kids were eager to get to bed at a decent hour, so they'd be asleep when Santa arrived!  I love Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed!  We bring up all the Santa gifts, open up a bottle of wine, put a movie in, and wrap until the wrapping is done.  So much fun!

Christmas day the kids woke up and tore into their stockings while Bud and I slept in.  When we woke up, the girls opened their Santa gifts.  Elise's favorite was a makeup kit (that Santa thought was fake makeup, but wasn't!).  Millie's two favorite gifts were a Lego set and Pocahontas doll. Kinsey came over around 1ish.  I worked in the kitchen, slaving over a yule log.  Seriously.  It took 6 hours to make.  I'm NEVER doing that again ;)  I also made stew.  Mmmm.  We just hung out, chit chatted, and ate.  It was a fantastic day.

The night is still young (sort of)!  Bud and I are going to watch Miracle on 34th Street before calling it a night.

                          Merry Christmas!

                         Check out what other homeschool families were doing this Christmas, here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Service Project 4 - Humane Society

Today we stopped by the Humane Society with gifts for the animals.

I'd never been to a Humane Society before.  I was really surprised at how clean and unscented it was.  The place was crawling with volunteers playing with, brushing, and petting the animals.

I didn't think we'd actually be able to get up close and personal with the animals, but the staff and volunteers were so awesome, they let the kids get right in there and pet and play with the cats and dogs.

I fell in love with a black cat named Ebony.  She was so sweet!

Included in our gift basket were pig ears, dog biscuits, wet cat food, balls with bells for the cats, hay, and special waffle shaped treats.  The girls also stuffed toilet paper tubes with hay to give to the small and furry animals.

The Humane Society has a list of suggested service projects that we could do.  I'd love to do a few more projects throughout the year!  Millie has already requested that we go back.  SOON.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Service Project 3 - Bell Ringing

This was year 5 of ringing the bell for the Salvation Army!  We always ring on the skyway level in Downtown above Macys.

We started doing it after I heard a story about my Grandma's childhood.  Her family was a poor Italian immigrant family living in a place called "the levee".  Eventually the levee was forced to be evacuated and the place was burned down because of the poor living conditions.  Anyhow, it came out at a family members funeral that if the Salvation Army hadn't been around, the children in her family wouldn't have had a Christmas at all.  So, now I like to "give back" by ringing the bell once per year.

I must say, the girls charm people into dropping lots of bills into the kettle!  They sang, handed out candy canes, danced, and just looked cute.  We had a few $20's, a few $5's, lots of $1's, and barely any change.  Good work, ladies!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Two Cowgirls Preschool - Letter M

I can tell that the season is making me really lazy.  We only did preschool one day this week.  It's very possible that next weeks lessons will be replaced with snowy, wintery, Christmas fun and service projects.

Here's what we did this week:

We read The Tomten and the Fox.  It was not my favorite, but the illustrations are super.  After that, Elise practiced writing the letter M. When we were done with that, we got on to the really fun stuff!  We went outside and gathered a cup of snow (full to the rim).  While the snow was melting, Elise practiced cutting.  When she was done, the snow was melted, and we got to see how little water there is, in fact, in a cup of snow.  It was pretty cool to observe.

That's it!  See how lazy I've been??

Here's what else we did this week:

The girls had skating lessons on Tuesday, and got to spend day with Grandma, Anna, and Kinsey, who were in town. Thursday, Elise was supposed to be in the Ballet Minnesota production of The Nutcracker, but she chickened out at the last minute.  She was already in costume and everything!  She was deathly afraid of the "rats".  So, we watched from the audience instead.  It was a fantastic production.  Next year I want to do a week long unit study about it.  Friday, cousins Ben and Patrick came over and swam for a bit.

And, just because Elise likes to challenge me, today she stated that her favorite subject is Physics.  Guess what my LEAST favorite subject is!  Oh boy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Two Cowgirls Preschool - Letter H

We have officially wrapped up the Harvest Time session of the Wee Folk Art preschool curriculum.  It was so amazing, I can't possibly give it enough praise.  Be sure to check it out!!  Now that Winter is here, we're starting up the Winter Wonderland session.  Here's what we did this week:

Day 1:

Today we started working on the letter H, using Jan Brett alphabet printables.  We also read the book Snowballs by Lois Ehlert.  The book is really simple, but the pictures are fantastic, and we spend a lot of time talking about what we found on each page.  When we were done with our "book work", Elise started a science project.  Since we're learning about snow, we decided to make "snow crystals".  Here's how:

First, gather supplies.  You'll need:
 - 2 small jars (the ones I used are about a cup each)
 - Yarn about the length of your arm
 - 2 paper clips
 - Cups (enough to fill up both jars)
 - About 6 tablespoons of baking soda
 - Plate
Once you have everything, heat up the water in the microwave until it's boiling.  Of course, you'll do this part, and make sure your tot doesn't touch the hot water ;)  Once it's good and hot, pour it into the 2 jars.  Spoon in about 3 tablespoons into each jar and mix it up.  Tie a paperclip onto each end of the yarn and place one end into each jar.  Place the plate between the jars.  Droop the yarn so it's not touching the plate.  When I set this up, I rubbed the yarn with some of the water from the jar to get it started.  Leave it for a few days, and see what happens!

Day 2:

Today we read The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson, Ph.D.  This book was great, and Elise actually talked about what she learned about in the book, later in the week.  I love when she demonstrates what she learns!  After that, we took a look at our snow crystals, both with our naked eye and under the microscope.  It was pretty cool!  Both girls really enjoyed this experiment.  When that was done, we painted with water colors, then sprinkled salt over the wet paint.  I don't think it did what it was supposed to do, but we had a great time, anyways :)

What else did we do this week?

Elise did great on the ice in her new ice skates at skating lessons.  We went to the Minnesota Childrens Museum to do some art.  Elise played with clay, then played with the sensory bin.  When the kids were done there, they went and listened to a talk about rats.  On Thursday evening, we went out to the University of Minnesota physics and astronomy lab, and listened to a talk about space, then had an opportunity to look at Jupiter and its two moons through a HUGE 120 year old telescope.  It was really impressive!!  Lastly, the girls made salt dough ornaments for the relatives for Christmas.  Fun times :)

Oh, and just for fun, here's our family enjoying the first big snow of the season!!  (Actually, it's the first big snow in 2 years).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Service Project 2 - Forest Critters

Did you think we'd forget the forest critters??  No way!  Not with my forest critter lovin' kidlets.  :)

We strung up some cranberries and popcorn, and brought it down to the "island" at the farm.  The island is a magical place at the farm (which is really more of a peninsula than an island), where Elise has a castle made out of a fallen tree.  Her castle is complete with a kitchen, bedroom, TV, and upstairs :)  I dream of having "island school" out there next Spring.  Imagine a tent, lap desks, nature study up the wazoo, and wading in the creek...

I'm not exactly sure who will eat our popcorn and cranberry stings.  Perhaps some squirrels, mice, or birds will enjoy an early Christmas feast.

Elise is in the kitchen section of her castle
Bud is in the upstairs section of Elise's castle

I can't keep this kid out of the creek!
Check out Service Project 1: Operation Christmas Child