Monday, April 30, 2012

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Sunday, we got up early and drove down the Scarborough Renaissance Festival.  The kids all dressed in costume,

and we had a fabulous time.  There was jousting to be done,

sword fights to be had,

and many wonderful sights to behold.

This was our first time at a Renaissance Festival, and we all had a great time!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Little Cottage Out Back

When I was a little girl, my father built my brother and I a playhouse in our backyard. It was a mini replica of my parents' house, down to the same grey vinyl siding. I have many wonderful memories of that playhouse from throughout my childhood. Yesterday, my dear husband spent the day building our kids their own little cottage out back.

 He had plenty of little hands willing to help him build.

The finished product is adorable, complete with working doorbell and a little kitchen inside. Miss M has already picked out fabric for me to make curtains, and is planning which flowers we need to plant in their window boxes.  It was done just in time for them to try it out before bedtime.

I hope our kids make as many fun memories in their little cottage as my brother and I did in ours. 

(The cottage is a build-it-yourself kit we purchased at Costco.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Simple Crafts for Sick Days

We have had a nasty stomach virus making its way through the house, which has meant several days where Miss M and Baby B have done nothing except cuddle on the sofa and watch TV.  The excitement of that wore off quickly for Miss M, and she wanted something to do, but neither of us was feeling up for anything too active yet.  Then I remembered this post from over at the Kiwi Crate blog on making paper doll chains.

It took me just a few minutes to cut the doll chains out of plain printer paper, but it kept Miss M happy coloring and playing for over two hours.  It was the perfect craft for a quiet sick day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

St. George and the Pink GF Dragon

Today is the feast of St. George; a day my kids have been eagerly anticipating. A few years ago I made a dragon cake using the fabulous directions over at Waltzing Matilda, and I promised to make another one this year. Baby B has joined our family since I last made this cake, and since he has Celiac and cannot eat gluten, I had to modify the directions.

I used the chocolate cake mix from King Arthur Flour (yes, I used a box!) and at Miss M's request pink frosting. A dragon can be pink, right? Since I could NOT find any gluten-free ding dongs, I used the GF glazed donuts from Kinnikinnick for the thighs, feet and snout. Gluten free cake is VERY crumbly, and at this point I thought it would never turn out!

I was able to use fruit leather for wings, and GF Easter candies for eyes. I could not find a substitute for the chocolate cookies, so we used Health Valley rice bran crackers for the spikes.

It took a bit of work, but I think in the end it was a fair substitute, and every one in the family can enjoy it.

 A few decorative "swords" are ready to help our fair knights slay the evil dragon (whom Miss M has named Daisy).  We will be reading our copy of Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges after dinner this evening, and then enjoying a bit of pink, gluten-free dragon cake.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Catching Up With J

Baby B has been sick this week, so we haven't had school.  I thought this would be a good time to post a few of the things J has been doing lately.  J's beginning band (he plays the trumpet) recently competed in the regional band festival.  They received the highest score possible from all three judges and took the Best in Class for all beginning bands, winning first in both the district and the region. 

J has been working on a science project on Nuclear Energy. He prepared a great PowerPoint presentation, and then made a clay model to go along with it. He even did an interview with my Dad, who worked at a nuclear reactor, to make sure he got all his information correct.

We were very impressed at how well J was able to explain the process from beginning to end.

Last weekend, J was chosen to join the Order of the Arrow, which is the national honor society for Boy Scouts.  This was one of J's goals for scouts, and he has accomplished it after just one year.  Way to go J!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Plastic Bag Butterflies

I originally had a bird craft planned for yesterday, but Miss M wanted to make butterflies. We have done the coffee filter butterflies before, so we searched through our craft book selections, and settled on the plastic bag butterfly from Kathy Ross' Crafts To Make In The Spring book.

The directions called for a gallon-sized plastic bag, but we used a page protector instead. I simply cut the edge with binder holes off, being careful not to cut it open.

Miss M stuffed tissue paper into her pouch. When she was satisfied, I folded the top over and stapled it shut. Next, she painted a clothespin purple. I glued the eyes on for her using a hot glue gun.

We gathered the bag at the center, and slid on the clothespin.  Finally, we twisted two pipe cleaners together to make antennae. Here is Miss M's completed butterfly.

We also made a few of the folded paper butterflies from over at Disney's Family site. The accordion folding was great fine motor practice for Miss M, but the twisting the pipe cleaner bodies was too hard for her to manage.

Maybe we will get to the bird craft today.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lunchtime Visitor

The kids made bird feeders at Home Depot last weekend and eagerly attached them to the dining room window. 

Much to their dismay, their feathered friends are not interested in the feeders.  However, we have had one visitor every day for lunch this week.

She usually shows up about 5 minutes into the  kids lunchtime and hangs out for about an hour, eating from the boxes and chattering away at the kids.  They have named her Mama Squirrel and are eager for their visits with her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Picnic at the Airport

Just outside DFW Airport is a little picnic area called Founder's Plaza.  You can sit and eat lunch and watch the airplanes take off and land.  They even pipe the control tower over loudspeakers so you can listen to the conversations between the pilots and the tower.  Since Monday was a holiday, we met some friends there for a picnic.  One of the moms who came with us is a former airline pilot, and she was able to identify the types of planes for the kids.

Baby B was ecstatic.  He would squeal with excitement and point at every plane he saw.

One mom brought paper, and the kids were all able to make paper airplanes to fly as well.

This is one spot we will be returning to again soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Weekend

Since this blog is also our family scrapbook, I want to be sure I capture some of the things that we did over Easter weekend.

Miss M helped me with ALL of the baking for Easter.  My mom made us these matching aprons, and it has reignited Miss M's enjoyment in helping me in the kitchen.  She is usually in there with me whenever I am cooking.

We colored eggs on Saturday evening, and Baby B was VERY much into it this year.  He did make quite a mess, and cracked a few eggs, but he really enjoyed himself.  Miss M wanted to make her eggs as bright as possible (with glitter and sequins added) and J went for a crayon resist effect.

The kids did get baskets on Easter day.  J and Miss M got new bibles and Baby B got a Noah's Ark book.  Then they each got one "fun" item - a Barnes & Noble gift card for J, an animal puzzle for Baby B, and Miss M got a knit cap with braids to be Rapunzel.  I bought it on Etsy here, and to say she is loving it would be an understatement.

Finally, we went to Baby B's godmother's house for Easter dinner and their annual egg hunt.  The weather was pouring down rain, so we ended up doing an inside hunt.  Of course, the kids had just as much fun that way!  Ms. Nicole spoils the kids, and they got wonderful baskets from her as well with special religious necklaces for Miss M and J and a guardian angel cross for Baby B.

It was a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

From our family to yours, we wish you an Easter filled with joy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fingerpainted Bluebonnets

I think it is a requirement that all preschool and elementary-aged kids in this part of Texas must do a bluebonnet craft in the spring.  J certainly did his share when he was younger.  After our trip to the bluebonnets on Sunday, Miss M wanted to do one too.

I went very simple and gave Miss M several pieces of paper with a green construction paper stem and leaf glued to them and some purple paint. 

 First she made this one:

but thought the shape was wrong.  So I glued a blue triangle on the paper and she painted this one:

but wasn't happy with it.  Finally, she did this one and declared it her favorite.

I love watching her process when she is creating art!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Nature Walk

One of the things that we want to include more of in our school time is weekly nature walks.  Yesterday was a good start for us.  Miss M packed her bag with her nature journal, colored pencils, specimen envelopes, tweezers and magnifying glass and we set off with our friends.

Baby B loved listening to the birds chirping, spotting butterflies, and trying to keep up with his sister.  (There was also a mud puddle he had to run through.)

Miss M collected a number of objects on our walk and brought them home for further examinations.

For this first time I just let her explore. Eventually, we will begin to do some sketching, journaling, and researching what we found. Overall, I think it was a great first step.