Day Fifty: Camping in the Backyard

So after all our camping activities this week, Daddy agreed to camp in the backyard with Jack & EJ on Saturday night. Of course after being in the 90s most of the week, it was about 50 that night (and it rained), but they made it the entire night! I slept on the couch just in case, but they kept Matt out there until 6am the next morning. Poor Daddy! So enjoy this photo-filled post of urban camping in the backyard...

We started the evening with a picnic...hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked beans, watermelon...campfire staples...made on the gas grill of course!


I had shopped for this during the day when it was warm...things took a turn for the cold around dinner time, so I bundled Liv up in the sling.


Jack and Daddy begin tent assembly...they took this job very seriously!


Slowest...eater...ever!!!


They're getting closer...


Livie supervises from the sling (and she had to add a hat to her ensemble too--thank goodness for cute big sis hand-me-downs!)...


All done and Jack is testing it out.


Bundled up and ready for bed/tent...yes, they did sleep with their bug necklaces on!


This is how many steps they were from the back door...about 10!


So, keep in mind that we have no actual fire (funny & long story about how it is pretty much illegal to have a fire in our city...ask Matt for details if you're interested) and also that I shopped for this before it got cold...we had ice cream sandwiches for our camping dessert. Brilliant right? Well let's just say, nothing was wasted. EJ didn't even let any melt!


Ready for bed (at like 7pm...they were really excited!).


We thought this photo would be hysterical! EJ kind of gives it away that it's a set-up huh?


All zipped in...I snapped this on the long walk back to the house. I wish I had an audio recording of the giggles, the stories, and the fun those 3 had for a few hours until they finally knocked out.


My favorite things learned the next day?
1) Jack asked Matt what they should do if a raccoon jumped on their tent.
2) Matt said he answered many questions about the noises they heard while camping. You know crickets, sirens, city buses flying by, and a guy talking on his cell phone in the alley.
3) That Matt had about 1/4 of the tent space while the kiddos had the other 3/4 and would not budge!

Sailboat Baby Gift

Okay, this may officially be the gift where I took a theme too far...or maybe it's just that everyone at the shower went nautical? That's what I'm telling myself at least...I still think it was mostly cute (and all from etsy!). I hope Finley enjoys!!



Sailboat gingham bib from sewfunknitting
Personalized pail from limabeankids
Sailboat onesie from wagner102000
Sailboat pacifier clip/holder from daizee1976
Wooden sailboat toy (it really floats plus it's pretty) from willow baus

Day Forty-Nine: Magazine Coasters & Basket

How About Orange has some great ideas...I love them! They posted a couple of newspaper crafts that screamed camp craft time to me, but as we don't actually get the newspaper...kind of didn't work out. But then...some cool magazine ideas started springing up for coasters and baskets...and I knew Jack & I HAD to make them!

We started with the coasters because I thought those would go a bit easier. In fact I planned for the coaster to be the project of the day and figured I would tackle the basket while Jack made coaster after coaster. We spent some time picking out the perfect magazine pages for their color and then Jack & set set to folding the strips. It was a little tricky for Jack at times, but I'm really glad I had him stick with it, because the rest of the project? Not so easy for my little boy. In fact...not always easy for me! But I stuck with the weaving while holding the strips in place, while twisting my hands a bit more to catch that strip that escaped, etc. When all was said and done, they turned out fine but not fantastic or anything. And Jack was pleased that he had chosen the colors and made the strips for his coaster (and thought my efforts were very funny to watch and laugh at too)!

Jack left for a sleepover at Grandma's house and I set to work on the basket on my own. The strips are smaller and so I began to panic, but surprisingly, it was easier than the coasters. I think because the instructions gave me the authority to cheat with double-sided tape to keep the strips in place when I needed to. Anyway, it did not come out perfect, but I think it's cute!

So here are the finished products together...


And here is the bowl on it's own...what do you think? It's little (a little over 4" across) and stands up pretty well. I'm going to be gifting it soon in a swap, so everyone keep it quiet! :-)

Day Forty-Eight: Puffball Animals

Pond animals are camping related right? Yes, I may have copped out a bit on this one. Jack had a kit for puffball pond animals, so he & I spent some time during nap gluing them all together. I think they came out pretty cute despite the kit having incorrect & missing pieces (what can you expect from the $1 bin at the craft store though, right?) In true Jack form, they have joined his pretend baseball game that is always happening in the playroom.

Day Forty-Seven: Camping Lantern

I've had this craft bookmarked the entire summer and it finally fit perfectly with our camping-themed week! And of course it worked out great for me as it seemed like the perfect Daddy craft!! Of course I did have to wash out peanut butter jars (a task that always stinks, but darn it if those jars aren't useful! Jack has a bunch hanging from the wall above his desk holding all his treasures too) and get supplies ready but it was a small price to pay.

Of course during Daddy crafts, different ruled apply. Like when the 5-year-old got to run the drill (I did not take pics of that because I seriously was at the ready for dialing 911). You can also see from this pic that instead of using the LED votive candle we used a flashing red bike safety light we got at our National Night Out. A good repurpose and it made for a much fancier end product!


Here's Jack with the finished lantern...worked out perfectly. Didn't get a pic of EJ with hers (but we did make 2)...nighttime crafts take a bit longer than we anticipate most times!

Day Forty-Six: Bug Catcher Necklace

So what do you get when you wake up with no plan for the "project of the day?" Well first you get a morning of searching frantically through your blogroll to see if anyone posted anything cool/easy you could do! And on this Monday morning, I was in luck because I found this! Since featured EVERYWHERE, this was the perfect easy craft for both kiddos. Seriously lucked out this time!

We had some errands to run (and it was a rainy day anyway), so we were able to run to the grocery store and purchase some of the capsules we needed. Did you know those machines take 50 cents now? I swear it was only like a dime when I was a kid! The kids got a mixture of baseball pennant stickers & miniature dog toys, so it was a win-win for them! We even bought some extras to make necklaces for friends.

During naptime, I made holes in the top with my awl. I would not recommend this method...stick with the thumbtack as suggested (I just didn't have one). We used baker's twine for the string and I did the taped end method again to make it easier for the little guys to string. We already had a bin of beads (I have a habit of buying those assorted packs of kid's beads which tend to be in girlie colors, but Jack doesn't seem to mind too much, thank godness), so after nap the kids started to work stringing!

Here they are modeling their new creations (which, by the way, seem to only come off at night...EJ would wear hers to bed if she could!).


And of course, because we are city mice, we did not run out and find bugs to put inside. Nope, my kids raced to the playroom and found some plastic bugs they had...which are still living in there happily!




This was such an easy craft (and the kids loved it too), that I am considering making some for Jack's school holiday shop (you know the ones where the kids come in with their $5 to buy gifts for 50 people in their lives)...it might be fun to have something different to buy for siblings...we'll see though!

How cool are these bikes?

Seriously? All 3 of my kiddos could ride in here...and it's girlie too! I love these!

They are giving a bike away each Wednesday and how I would like to win...click here to check the bikes out and I just might! :-)
Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Day Forty-Five: Lemonade Stand Debut

So they decorated the stand, Jack & I made brownies and cookies, Jack made a price sign...and the captains of industry set up shop! Now all they needed were some customers...


I mean come on, how cute are they...come buy some lemonade please!!!


It didn't take long for EJ to dip into the profits! :-) Actually Grandma may have given them some cash to support their habit! They did well...they had a solid hour of customers (I mean not constant but still) including a group of thirsty people just returned from the State Fair (thanks Jo & Chris) and made $7.25 (of which Jack pocketed $5 and gave EJ $2.25...let me just remind you this is HER stand!! But she didn't mind...good sis to have, eh?)


For the second hour of sales (during which there were no sales), we had a picnic on the front lawn for dinner. Matt snapped this pic of the kids and I "manning the lemonade stand."


Liv would rather eat her hand, fingers, fist than the goodies (and actually by now the goodies were lost in a freak wind accident that sent the stand...and everything on it...flying!)...


I wish I knew what these two were doing here...Matt snapped this one, but it was too good not to share! Despite these faces, our first lemonade stand was a success! We even got raves on our products! We'll def. do this again...and Jack might even rent you "his" stand if you're interested!

Day Forty-Four: Lemonade Stand Construction & Splash Pad

Let me tour of horrible quality camera phone photos continue! We were supposed to visit the neighborhood splash pad (this is literally 3 blocks from our house) with some friends in the morning. However, as often happens, the mommies hadn't seen each other in awhile & got to talking. Next thing we knew, their baby was ready for lunch and our morning had slipped by!

So after we had a little lunch, we packed up and headed out to the splash pad on our own (they had plans :-( ). Jack & EJ had a blast!!! Of course when did I finally get the kids to the splash pad? On the last day of operation! What was I thinking? This would have been awesome fun all summer long. I guess that is proof that it hasn't been very hot this summer!


Then while EJ napped, Jack & I set to constructing our lemonade stand. Well, technically it's EJ's lemonade stand (and I can't tell you how many times I was forced to say that over the next 2 days), but it was tough to assemble so we decided that job was for me & Jack. Here's a Jack camera phone pic of me in action.


After nap, Jack & EJ got going on their decorating duties...


Stay tuned for lemonade stand opening day...

Day Forty-Three: LAAF Zoo Outing

Today we met a great group of friends...some old, some new (some new friends visiting from Texas even)...and checked out the Zoo! We had a blast...animals, picnic, and for EJ a lot more time exploring free of the stroller than Mom normally grants her!

Here are the bulk of the kiddos (we tok this after some had left) after we met the new jaguar (he's tucked away in the back between the zebras & camels for locals who might be interested). Took this with my phone, so the quality on these Guatecuties is not the best! I love the "glow" off of Jack's crocs though!

Day Forty-Two: State Fair Visit

We talked Daddy into taking the morning off and Grandma into coming to spend the morning with Olivia...all so we could head to the Wisconsin State Fair! Well worth the bribery!

We saw some animals of course, but the big highlight was me & the big kids hitting a big burlap mat to take on the GIANT SLIDE (as Jack said it)! Too much fun!

And we definitely enjoyed one of these, some of these and the best thing of all...a couple of these! Can't wait to eat there again next year!!

Sisters & A Winner!

This is my favorite photo of my girls (so far...liv is only 4 months) for so many reasons! First off, I (as their momma) think they are gorgeous, expressive little ladies who actually both smiled for me here...at the same time! Second, I think it's so amazing how much these two love each other (especially as it's only been 4 months)...I am very curious as to what the future holds for the two of them!



And finally...the outfits! I swear these were not purchased as "matching" outfits. I actually bought them early last summer (before Liv was even a possibility). I started with one set, but EJ is a very tricky girl to fit (very tiny waist but long body), so I originally bought the shorts EJ is wearing & the top Liv is wearing, but had to go back and buy things to make 2 sets. EJ wore the set Liv is wearing all last summer & switched to the current set for this summer. I think the match-ey-ness of these outfits is hysterical on them (something on the order of Danny DeVito & Arnold in Twins, but much cuter). However, I'm not sure which I should be more concerned about...that Olivia is wearing 12mo shorts (at 4 months) or that EJ is wearing 18mo shorts (at 2 1/2 years)...at this rate we'll be in the same size soon (won't that make things easier)!!!


AND THE WINNER (as picked by Jack via the old scraps of paper in Mom's hand method) of the butterfly Bugged Out bag is Angela...author of Mommy to 2 Princesses and Cooking for my Girls. Hope you and your gorgeous girls enjoy!

Thanks for playing everybody! I promise more giveaways to come...when something awesome strikes me (let's face it, the next one will probably be food or food-related!).

Day Forty-One: Homemade Ice Cream

I found this recipe and have been holding on to it all summer waiting for the perfect combination of warm weather & baby sleeping time. Daddy came home early one Monday (like while EJ was still napping) and I took advantage!

So I know you've all seen those ice cream balls...we are not that cool! :-) This recipe is for Ziploc bag ice cream! Yep, that's how we roll!
So you take the following items and put them into a quart-sized bag & seal it.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Then you fill a gallon-sized bag with ice and add 6 T of rock salt (normal salt is okay too if you have that much). Put the quart-sized bag inside, seal, and shake or toss the bag around for 10-15 minutes, or until the ice cream hardens up a bit. The recipe suggested using freezer bags, and even though we did not, I think I'd suggest that too!

So we take ourselves very seriously and these bags got cold fast! Jack busted out his batting gloves for protection (of course more hijinks ensued as his gloves got slick and he kept dropping the bags or getting slammed in the chest with them) and I armed myself with a kitchen towel. I'm sure the neighbors thought we were nuts as we played catch with the bags in the front yard!


Jack in action...


EJ woke up just in time to take a couple catches and then enjoy the ice cream with Jack. Jack thought it was too salty (perhaps we were a bit rough in our throwing) but EJ loved it! Not the greatest ice cream in the world, but a really fun project to do together with a little reward in the end too!

Reminder: byob giveaway

Okay people...I know you can't resist this face!! Click here, make a comment, & be entered to win this bag (bunny & 2-year-old not included)!!

(fine print: the actuary in the family said I wasn't clear on the last post, so...please comment on the giveaway post to be entered...any comment will do & the kids will pull a random winner out of a hat on Sunday!)

Day Forty: Colored Ice Water Play

One more stolen idea to round out color week! I saw this and hung on to it for awhile. And I glad I did because I took a little trip to IKEA with the girls and found these lovelies!! Perfect for making our colored ice play even more fun! I did the food coloring based on the tray color as I didn't want to wreck my new trays (I have big plans for these babies)!


Here they are waiting to be delivered to the tub...so bright and cheery huh? Not like you couldn't figure it out yourself but I put about 4-5 drops of coloring per 2 cups of water.


Matt was on bath duty that evening and I was on Livie duty, so I didn't watch the happenings firsthand, but they took the ice one at a time by color. Matt said they were super interested in watching how fast the ice melted based on what they were doing with it and also in watching the water color change when new ones were added. When I was drying them off, I got two HUGE "Thank you Mommy"s! What more could I ask for (especially for such easy prep work)?

Tried to keep the blog G rated so left out tub pics, but couldn't pass up sharing this one! (and don't tell my kiddos but I still have half of the ice cube batch in the freezer for a rainy day)

Day Thirty-Nine: Jollypops



This entire project (including the name) comes from The Decorated Cookie blog...thank you! So easy and simple that we were able to do it as a make-up project doubled up on another day (yes this was truly done on Day 41...oops the end of summer is messing us up!).

Basically, you need to buy Jolly Rancher hard candies & lollipop sticks...the rest you should have around the house. The instructions are great at the link above, but short-handing it for what we did, you line a baking pan with aluminum foil & then parchment paper. Place three candies side-by-side on the tray and place in a 275 degree oven for about 5-6 minutes. Take out...roll the lollipop stick in the hot candy (don't touch the pan doing this...it hurts)...lay the stick down and let it cool!


We also put some of the candies in a Ziploc bag and beat them up with a rolling pin. Then Jack arranged the shards into a circle and we made ones that looked a little more stained glass-like.
While the crushed ones are my favorite in terms of prettiness, please note that we only made one tray of them. That is because slivers of Jolly Ranchers + hot little bare feet = a sticky mess on the hardwood floor! Oh well, they were pretty and I know to put down tarps next time!


All around...super easy project! The results aren't perfect, but they are super cute & colorful. The hardest part was telling EJ she had to wait to eat them!!!

One last thing...if you were to put the lollipops on a plate to take a photo and then leave them on the dining room table for the morning where the hot sun shines on them, they may melt to said plate. If this happens, we recommend really hot water to melt them a little and some scraping (like for about 45 min or so) with a really hard spatula. Not that anyone here did anything like that!! (fyi, one was saved from the garbage for the kiddos to enjoy)

Day Thirty-Eight: Initial Watercolors

Back to the watercolors for today's color project...I saw this great tutorial here and thought we'd give it a shot! The directions say to use contact paper, but we busted out my trusty blue painter's tape & it got the job done really well. I didn't take a photo of my lovely tape job (let's just say the curves in the letter J were a challenge), but I think I did alright.

Here is Jack concentrating on what color to put where...I don't think anyone will be surprised to know that Jack worked on this for 2 days before it was completed!


And here is the finished product (sans tape). Pretty cute right? I'm thinking this could be adapted next time if we wanted to create shapes (or really anything) with the tape too. Endless possibilities right?


EJ started one too, but her watercolor skills are still coming along slowly. She painted and painted, but when she was "all done" there wasn't really much paint on the page. So she busied herself in other ways...

playing with her penguin (no idea what that face is about) and...


making snow angels on the kitchen floor. You think I could outfit her with a scrub pad suit and set her loose on the wood floors?

Day Thirty-Seven: Paint Chip Matching & Collage

So continuing on our color theme, I branched out to a new media...paint chip samples from the local home improvement store! Did you know they have these big 2" square samples now? Jack and I went and grabbed a bunch (2 per color) and then also grabbed a bunch of the traditional strips on a card. I then spent the remainder of the night cutting them into tiny pieces (as seen in the bowl below)...


We used the squares to play a little game of Memory. Jack & EJ played first and let me just tell you...that wasn't pretty! EJ didn't really want to follow the exact rules (cause you know...she's 2!) and Jack will NOT play a game unless strict rules are kept. Let's just say we didn't get too far. It went much better when Mom played individually with one of them. Still, if you don't have an age/style difference in your house, this a nice, easy, cheap way to play Memory and a good way to work on colors with the little ones too!


After EJ went up for her nap, Jack took on the mosaic paint chips glue sticking them to paper to make cool art. The white paper is "a tree falling over" and the black paper is "a big rock hitting a turtle." You can see on the second one he was drawing as well as gluing...a little mixed media action there! We still have a big bin of tiles and Jack says he has many more ideas, so I guess the endless cutting was worth it!