Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Favorite "Go-To" Activity

When the kids get bored, the first activity that comes to my mind is usually cleaning objects with a toothbrush. Ok, that's a total lie. It's usually going outside to play followed by putting on a video if I'm feeling particularly lazy. Luckily, they don't get "bored" too often yet. I don't know why the kids love washing things with a toothbrush so much, but they do. It involves water, soapsuds, a small tool and accomplishing a relatively easy task.
Here's the Sadester washing seashells that we collected from the river. This particular river is totally nasty, so the seashells really needed to be cleaned and probably should have been bleached too:Washing rocks in the pool:Eli's carwash, er' tonguewash:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Simple Shape Prints

If you are a Kid Craft Weekly subscriber, you will recognize this print project from this week's newsletter. If you are not a subscriber, you should be. It's free and the newletters come in the form of emails direct to your inbox. You don't even have to go outside to your mailbox; it's that easy. Kid Craft recommends that you use all sorts of different sized boxes (toilet paper roll, Toberlone Chocolate box, matchbox, etc.), but that just seemed like way too much work especially when you have one of those great Tupperware shape sorters. They wash up really easy too if you use washable paint.The kids actually did a pretty good job this time keeping each shape in it's own paint. That's a first, usually the colors get mixed up pretty quickly. Another first: Eli and Sadie enjoyed this project more than me! Yea!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Mini Obstacle Course

We discovered a new way to waste time in our backyard: build an obstacle course. It's been a blast watching the kids create their own, theirs' usually being a lot more creative and difficult than mine. Please excuse the blurry shots. It's really hard to get good pictures of moving kids.
Here's the whole set up. You start at the tunnel and end at the basketball hoop (not pictured): Crawl through the tunnel:Over the table:Crawl under the pool:Go down the slide:Race across the lawn on the "bike":Finally, shoot (and make) a basket:
How have you been keeping busy in your yard this summer?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Muffin Tin Monday

Mommies all over blogland have been doing Muffin Tin Monday for forever. OK, maybe only since June, but in blog time that's forever. Well, yours truly finally hopped on the bandwagon last week and provided this meal for lunch on Monday, of course:
The meal included: Bug Bite cookies, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, black olives, grapes, letter-shaped pasta, mixed veggies, ranch dip, blueberries, marinara sauce, broccoli and cauliflower, and goldfish crackers.
Eli and Sadie thought that this was the coolest thing ever. They loved the choices. They loved that they could eat their cookies first. They loved that they could eat their entire meal with their fingers. They loved that their food was compartmentalized. I loved that they ate almost every single bite (except for the veggies for Eli as he won't go near those with a 10-foot pole).
Yesterdays meal was a little less healthy but we were finishing off leftovers from the party: yogurt, blueberries, pasta salad, tomatoes, corn, watermelon, hotdogs, black olives, potato chips, grapes, ketchup, and carrots.

Check out these blogs for more muffin tin inspiration: Sycamore Stirrings, Little White Schoolhouse, Mama Said..., Make and Takes, Muses of Megret.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eli's Bug Themed Birthday Party

I survived yet another birthday party. You know how these parties make me a nervous wreck, but I can actually say that I remained quite calm, cool and collected at this party. I tried not to over-plan anything. I put "smile" as number one on my to-do list instead of the last thing and I think that made a world of difference. Hubby said he could actually see "Buddha Mom" coming into play as he knows I've been trying to take a whole new approach to my parenting and, well, life in general. But, I digress.
Let's talk about Bugs, Bugs, and more Bugs!
The invitation was made using Microsoft word and clip art. We (meaning Dennis and I; I told him what I wanted and he made it happen all while I was breathing down his neck.) put four invitations on one 8 1/2 x 11 card stock. We cut them into postcard size and mailed them.

The cake was a 9x13 cake (from a box) with green tinted frosting (again, bought). The dirt was crushed Oreos without the creme filling. The grass was made by tinting coconut using 2 T. milk tinted with food coloring added to 1 1/3 cups coconut and stirred together until it was the right color. (I thought this looked a little too much like lettuce.) The bugs and other decorations were made using marzipan tinted with food coloring and sculpted like you would with play-doh and then painted with corn syrup to stay glossy. The animals turned out cuter than I expected and were also much easier than I anticipated. The cake inspiration came from here, here, and here.
Party favors were bug keepers and nets purchased at the dollar store.I had several games planned, but it turns out that 3 year olds are not that into games so we only did one. We played "pin the antennae on the butterfly" our buggy version of "pin the tail on the donkey".
The highlight of the party was the caterpillar pinata lovingly made by my very talented neighbor who graciously volunteered to make one for Eli. Isn't it too beautiful to whack with a bat? We destroyed it anyways. It was a great day. The weather cooperated. We ate simple picnic food. The company was good. The kids played hard. And most importantly, Eli had a fabulous birthday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Should Not Be Blogging Right Now

My girlfriends told me on Tuesday night that they wanted my blog to be "more real" and "less super-mom". So, I'm going to work on that. I promise to blog more about my imperfections because everyone loves to hear about other peoples problems! I might even post a picture of my hall closet just for Jennie so she can see that there are parts of my life that are total chaos and a picture of my shower because it is the most neglected part of my house as the black will surely point out. Actually, my whole mind is in full chaos mode as I prepare for Eli's b'day party this weekend which is why I should not be blogging. I need to be putting glitter on a butterfly, making a grocery list, and making insects out of marzipan. Don't ask me how this is going to turn out, I've never made marzipan insects in my life, but I need them for the cake that I'm making, which is really why I'm freaking out. I should just buy a cake like a normal human being or make a cake and then put plastic bugs on the top (which is plan B if plan A fails). But, my mom made beautiful birthday cakes for me so I'm making them for my kids dammit!! Eli's fire truck birthday cake from last year was a complete disaster, but his fish cake was sort of a success if you forget about the melting frosting. Sadie's cat cake turned out real cute, but my mom helped with most of it. Maybe I should take a class. Anyways, I'll let you know how it goes on Monday. Now, I must go and put glitter on a butterfly...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Friends, Fondue, and Fun

What do you get when you take 3 pots of cheese, 4 loaves of bread, 4 pots of chocolate, a ton of fruits and vegetables and other yummy goodness AND 10 starving moms desperate to have a night out?


I've already mentioned that I have the coolest mommy friends ever and it was once again reiterated last night. Every month we have MNO (Mom's Night Out) hosted by one member of the group. We usually go out to dinner, but last night we had a pot-luck fondue party in a room we rented at a community center followed by bowling and bubble tea. Each lady brought something fondue-ish to share, which meant that there was way too much food, but everything was absolutely delicious. The conversation took all sorts of twists and turns from showering with husbands (sex has to mentioned at least once every MNO's. It's an unwritten rule.) to problems getting pregnant (so heartbreaking) to blogging (of course!) and we got to do it all without any interruptions from our children. Yea! We all walked away filled in every possible way. Some of us even had our pants unbuttoned but still managed to eat 3 more brownie bites covered in chocolate and drink a milk thai tea with bubbles. Here are some highlights.
Chowing down:
Me getting into some serious bowling action. Don't worry. I only scored an 85 or something rediculously low like that. I tend to be a gutter-strike-gutter-strike kind of person:A kiss for good-luck:

Enjoying (or not) the bubble tea:

I think karaoke is next!!!

P.S. Thanks Alyssa for letting me steal your photos!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Little Gift For A Sweet Girl!

We had some dear friends visit us this past weekend as they were passing through to spend the next year in Vegas. Gabriella shares a birthday with Eli and she will be 4! Because her dad is a writer and because they are going on a very long car trip and because she's a very smart and creative little girl, I decided that a notebook and pencil holder would be perfect. I am amazed at how fast I whipped this little thing together. Dare I admit that I'm getting a wee bit better sewing.Eli picked out the notebook:
P.S. I think she loved it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sadie's Sun Catcher

Sadie is a short nap taker and her brother is a long nap taker which means that Sadie and I have a lot of alone time in the afternoon while we wait for Eli to wake up. Yesterday, Sadie made a sun-catcher out of contact paper, tissue paper, and glitter. This was an excellent project for her because she didn't need my help. She ripped the pieces of tissue paper and put them onto the sticky contact paper: She added some glitter:
After putting another piece of contact paper over her finished product, it was ready to hang up:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Activities from Around the Internet

There are so many fun activities floating around the blogosphere that we've tried here at home. Here are some of our favorites:
Spin Art: What a fun activity this is. It's easy and satisfying. It makes a contained mess, unless you have a toddler that chooses to dump paint on the floor instead of on the paper inside the salad spinner. I used washable paint and it came off the salad spinner easily. You can find directions at PlumPudding here.

Betz White has two fun water toys. One is the foam-erator and the other is a sponge ball.

Re-purpose your gallon milk jugs by making a milk-jug catch game. (thanks Alyssa for the tip)

Once last plug: on last week's Speaking of Faith Krista Tippett interviewed Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play. He discusses the purpose of play and it's importance for teaching children empathy, trust, and limits and for the prevention of violence. You can download the podcast here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Painting Clouds

This activity is a blast. It's messy, but clean-up is easy. The hard part is keeping the mixture out of the kids' mouths because it looks a lot like marshmellow fluff. Keep a bucket of soapy water nearby for easy clean-up.Mix together equal parts shaving cream and white school glue. I used 1/2 cup of each and it was enough for 4 kids to make a couple of pictures each. Paint away. (I must admit that Ienjoyed painting way more than the kids did.)
Let dry. It takes several hours but the result is a soft fluffy cloud!

**If you wanted to tie this into a book, you could always read It Looked Like Spillt Milk by George Shaw.