Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Last Half of 2015

I never seem to find the time to update our blog when school is in session, so now that we are on Christmas break, here are a bunch of pictures from things that have happened since the last time I posted (August!):

Becca and I went to a fun princess-themed night at Chick-Fil-A. We got to ride in a horse-drawn carriage, do crafts, face painting, etc... It was a lot of fun.


Both kids had birthdays in October. Samuel turned 10 and celebrated with friends at a Laser Tag place. Becca turned 6 and had a party at Chuck E. Cheese. It was the first time we ever had parties that weren't just at home, so the kids were really excited. (it was hard to get pictures at the Laser Tag place because it was so dark inside, so the picture below is just in our kitchen.)

Samuel did the youth triathlon again this year. Here is a short video of the bike part and a picture of him with his best friend after the race:

Becca lost her first tooth:

For Halloween, Samuel was a minecraft skeleton and Becca was a cat:

We had Dress as Your Favorite Book Character Day at school. Becca was Piggie from the Elephant and Piggie books, Samuel was the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I was the Very Hungry Caterpillar:

Samuel did this one day when he was sent to the playroom and told to find a toy to occupy himself.

We made gingerbread houses at school and at a little party at home with friends:

We went to South Bend to visit the Brewers. We all went to the fun Christmas activities that South Bend does each year where the kids got to visit Santa, decorate cookies, see Rudolph, etc...

We bought an artificial Christmas tree and the box it came in was the most played with thing in our house for weeks:

Finally, here is a video of both kids pushing themselves across the kitchen floor on a wooden dolly that Samuel made:

Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

1st Day of School

Here they are - all ready for 4th grade and Kindergarten:

We start school ridiculously early in Indiana. Our first day was August 12th so we have completed a week and a half at this point. So far, so good!

Adding Machine and Recorder

I think that in earlier posts I promised pictures/videos of Samuel using his adding machine and playing the recorder. Here are both things:

Books on CD

I don't know what you get to listen to on your car rides, but for the past few years, my kids have been stuck on the same music CDs that we listen to over and over (and over and over...) Then they get sick of a particular song and want to skip it, then they start arguing over which one of them gets to pick the music, etc... It is very frustrating.

Enter books on CD - we listened to them anytime we drove anywhere this summer and, with the exception of the person narrating the book, the car was silent. The kids really really liked listening to books this way. Lots of times when we would get home from somewhere and be pulling into the garage and a chapter wouldn't be finished yet, they would beg to keep listening just a little bit more. The only arguing I had to listen to was whose turn it was to swap the finished CD for the next one. As a bonus, we borrowed all of these from the library, so they didn't cost us a penny!

Here are some of the titles we listened to this summer:

We listened to the entire collection of the Wayside School books - Wayside School, Wayside School is Falling Down, and Sideways Stories from Wayside School. This collection was the #1 favorite of both kids. The whole collection was something like 9 hours long, so it got us through quite a bit of driving time this summer. Each chapter is about a different kid in a class at school that was built 30 stories high with 1 room on each floor. Very silly and fun.

The One and Only Ivan was a book I hadn't heard of before, but it is based off the true story of a gorilla who lived in a shopping mall and the people who freed him and took him to live at the zoo. This was really good, much more serious than Wayside School, but the kids liked it almost as much. We were really rooting for Ivan and little Ruby while we listened and were quite pleased with how the story ended.

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books were a favorite of mine when I was little, and I found they stand the test of time because the kids really enjoyed hearing about how Mrs. Piggle Wiggle cured kids of things like never wanting to go to bed, being the pickiest eater ever, talking back, etc...

The one we finished the most recently was My Father's Dragon, which is about a little boy rescuing a dragon from an island and the adventures they have along the way. Also a big hit. In fact, everything we listened to this summer was a hit. I will definitely be checking some more books on CD out of the library soon.

Summer Bucket List

Summer has drawn to a close around here (1st day of school pictures will be coming soon!) so I am putting away things like bathing suits, squirt guns, and this item below - our summer bucket list.

A few years ago when I still went to MOPS meetings, this was an idea that was introduced at one of the meetings. Write down lots of ideas of things to do over the summer. Each idea goes onto 1 clothespin. Then you put all of the clothespins together in a bucket. As your kids are whining and saying "we're so bored! what can we do?" over the summer, pick a clothespin out and do that activity. Then clip it to the top of the bucket when you are done. At the end of the summer, you have a nice way to remember all of the fun things you have done. We've done this for a few summers now and it really seems to help with making sure we get everything done that we want to do.

At the beginning of the summer, I sit down with the kids and we brainstorm things to go on the clothespins. If there was something we did last summer that we want to repeat, we just use that clothespin again. Each year we seem to add clothespins to our bucket as we think of new things to do. Here are the things we did this summer:

  • play with playdough
  • get $5 to spend at the Dollar Store
  • go to the bank and deposit the $ from the allowance "save" jar that we have been saving all year
  • make oobleck
  • play in the sprinkler
  • go to a movie
  • kid interviews
  • have a picnic
  • 3D printing at the library
  • build an indoor fort
  • make a craft at Michael's
  • play a board game
  • water gun fight
  • pick wildflowers
  • go to the beach
  • go to South Bend
  • have Dairy Queen for dinner
  • visit a splash pad
  • make our own popsicles
  • paint a picture
  • go to garage sales
  • make homemade pizza
  • playdate with a friend
  • sun art paper
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • water bottle craft
  • visit the Little Free Library near our house
  • read a book under a tree
  • visit a new playground
  • lollipop factory
  • nature walk
  • write a letter to cousins
  • wash the car/bikes
  • make s'mores
  • Chuck E. Cheese
  • concoctions
  • water balloons
  • have a lemonade stand
  • mop the kitchen floor
  • visit Fox Island
  • Yes Day

I realize some of those sound more fun than others. (Honestly, though, the kids love to mop the kitchen floor. Probably because it involves getting water everywhere.) I try to have a variety of activities - some inside, some outside, some free, some that cost $, etc... We have other clothespins we never got to this summer (like "sleep in a tent in the backyard". Yeah, I'm okay with not getting to that one) so we will save those for next year. I really like having this bucket list. It helps us plan out our summer days so that everyone gets to do the things they want, and we all have fun.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cake Pops

At a garage sale a few weeks ago, Becca found a cake pop maker for a whopping dollar.

They also had a little stand for the cake pops to dry on for another $1, so we splurged and bought both things. Then we took them home and tried them out.

I had never made cake pops before, but they were pretty simple to make. The machine came with a little recipe book, and we picked a chocolate recipe to start. We mixed up the dough, spooned it into the machine and then waited 6 minutes for them to cook. When they were done, we took them out and put the next batch in (that was probably the most tedious part of the process - you can only cook about 10 balls at a time, so you have to do it like 5 times to cook all the batter).

Once they were cool, we dipped them into melted chocolate chips and added sprinkles. We didn't have the special sticks cake pops are normally on, so we just used popsicle sticks from our craft supplies and they worked just fine. The finished cake pops were yummy! Here's Becca eating just as many sprinkles as she is putting on the cake pops:

(At this same garage sale, Samuel bought an adding machine for $1, which he is loving playing with. I will try to get some pictures of him using it and post those next). We love finding garage sales where they sell things for $1!

Concoctions Class

One of the classes we are doing this summer is Concoctions Class (I think the official title might be "Icky, Sticky, Messy Fun" or something like that, but we always call that kind of play at home Concoctions, so we just call the class that too). It is offered through our Parks and Rec Dept, which always has really great programs for kids. So far in the class we have made:

  • Moon sand (like Kinetic sand)
  • Silly Putty
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Oobleck
  • Slime
  • Fake Blood
  • Playdough
  • Flubber
  • Ninja balloons
  • Slimy frosting

And we still have one more session of the class to go! This class has been awesome. Both Samuel and Becca love to mix things up, and they have no problem with getting messy, so they are having a blast making all of these things. After the final class, we are supposed to get recipes for all of these fun things, so if anyone is interested in making any of them, let me know.

Here are some pictures from the first few weeks. (And, yes, we almost always have to come home and change clothes after class because they get very messy! Thankful this is held in the Community Center and not my kitchen!)