Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Welcoming Fall

We had a simple first-day-of-fall celebration this evening.

First we hung up a new fall banner we made over the weekend, simply by painting fabric paint directly on the back side of leaves and pressing squares of muslin onto the painted leaves.

I just cut the squares with pinking shears (btw--did you know you can sharpen even very dull pinking shears by cutting aluminum foil with them? I hardly believed it myself until I tried it; it was nothing short of miraculous) and sewed them to a length of twill tape. Very simple, very easy.

E decorated our "nature windowsill" with our autumn stuff while I made dinner. The whole nature table concept got kind of pushed aside all summer, while our spring naturey items never got put away, fell off the sill repeatedly, got soaked by rain, got mushed by DVDs and remote controls and ambushed by stray socks. I finally cleaned it up and lined up some shells and driftwood and sea glass along it a couple of weeks ago (I had actually collected a lot of nice shells and rocks and things last time we went to the beach, but someone, ahem, left them all there, along with our bucket, two shoves and a net, so I had to scrounge among our existing shell collection). Z later added a tiny bird nest he found and a perfectly intact (but dead) monarch butterfly he also found (he's my finder). E basically crammed some squirrels and owls and corn dollies in with the existing stuff, but he enjoyed himself. We can tidy it up later. Maybe.

For dinner, I made a simple squash soup, served with grocery store multigrain bread.

And for dessert, this pie, which is the whole wheat apricot apple pie from Apples for Jam, only with a lot of adjustments, as I lacked half the required ingredients. It's basically a whole wheat crust with C's applesauce inside and some brandied plums that I made last summer on top. Everyone went wild about the boozy plums--first they thought they were beets (which made E cry) and then they were appalled that I served alcohol, but I'm sure 40 minutes in a 400 degree would burn off all the alcohol, don't you think?

 Our nice evening went south when we discovered, at 8:00 that E and Z had homework--and two pages of it, which means one page was probably left over from last night, when I never even checked their bags. Of course lots of drama ensued, because they were overtired from staying up 20 minutes late last night and getting up waaay early this a.m. And that Z, he's something else. He will purposely put in a wrong answer if he doesn't feel like doing something--last time it was 18,000 as the answer to 6 + 2; tonight he glued all of the days of the week in the right places, but upside down and sideways, and for a picture of what he likes to do on the weekend, he drew himself shooting a gun. I definitely see myself in him, though not me as a first grader--I was a goody-goody then--but me now; when I'm made to do something I don't want to do, I dig in my heels. It's a trait that gets me into trouble sometimes, but I can't help but admire him (when he's not aggravating me); someday he'll be one to right injustices (or spend his whole life frustrated by injustice he can't write, perhaps, but let's hope not). In the meantime, they'll both spend 15 minutes dramatizing over two minute's worth of work. I think, perhaps, six is a little young for homework, don't you?


  1. Lovely celebration, but I'm loathe to let summer go.

  2. Yes, I think 6 is nuts for homework but, then again, I hate the concept of homework in general...;)
    That banner is the bomb - I know what crafty goodness the kids and I will be up to tomorrow. I thank you for that :)

  3. btw, what do you think of Apples for Jam? Worth a purchase? TIA!

  4. Rachel--Me too, sistah! I'm trying not to dwell on it too much.

    Kelly--I hate homework too (hated it when I was a kid; hate it as a mom). Am very thankful for 5th grader who can sit down & do it with minimum of helicopter action on my part.

    Oh, can't wait to see your take on the banner. FYI, we pressed the leaves (b/w pages of a phone book with dictionaries stacked on top) before painting, to make them nice and flat.

    Apples for Jam--meh. I bought it in a fit of Soulemama copycatism (there should be a support group). It's pretty to look at and there are a couple of recipes that I like a lot and use often (macaroni & cheese, lasagne), a few desserts that I have made more than once & enjoy, and a few other things I made once but don't even remember. That being said, there are probably a million lasagne or mac & cheese recipes online for free! Also it has a lot of meat dishes, and I don't eat/rarely cook meat, but they look interesting. Also, everything takes a long time to cook (like 2 hour mac & cheese!), which is fun sometimes, but not on a regular basis. I'd recommend getting it through interlibrary loan before buying!

  5. I love that banner! We made a "Give Thanks" banner last fall with corn and beans, but we just glued them to paper, I love the muslin squares! Something else to do in my spare time :)
    Also, I feel your pain with the battle to do the homework taking longer than the homework itself.

  6. Raina--it doesn't take very long if you happen to have the supplies on hand (the fabric paint was leftover from a freezer-paper stenciling binge, and the already cut muslin squares were originally destined to be halloween ghosts, I think!)

  7. The banner is amazing. You are ahead of us-- I guess both geographically and metaphorically-- in thinking about fall. The constant rain has made the season not summer-ish or fall-ish but just plain rainy. But the boys are still wearing shorts daily. I guess it is time to get some pants out.

    YES-- six is definitely too young for homework. I've been working in education now for 20 years (so weird to think that!) and I have come really, really far on this HW issue. Having my own kids helped push my thinking. HW for early elementary students ends up often as parent work, wanting/forcing parents to get involved in their children's education OR just the school/teacher saying, "See--we are academically rigorous." But kids spend a lot of hours in school and many working parents in formalized after-care as well. They NEED downtime. Unstructured play time. Yes, families should be reading together or playing with numbers or crafting or cooking together. But worksheets? NO WAY.

    I could not be more thankful that my school has a very consistent policy about HW-- none until the middle of third grade when kids start literature circles, and then increasing-- but still manageable-- HW in 4th - 6th. It should be about time management and the kids learning some out-of-school study habits but it shouldn't be introducing new concepts and there is a time limit: if you've worked on this thing for 20 mins. (whatever, depending on the grade) then STOP. It isn't always about always finishing the HW and HW should never be a kid-parent battle.....

    "Race to Nowhere" seemed to ignite quite a bit of conversation on this topic. Has your school screened it? I wonder if the conversations that seemed to happen in lots of places resulted in new thinking about HW.


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