Hair Spirals

EJ is playing t-ball this summer for the first time and, as you can tell by the look on her face, is very excited!  She's not really a hat kid, so I decided to make her some hair spirals (click for pattern) to match her uniform (which is really just her t-shirt).  She loved them so much that I decided to get a little more creative and make some up for the 4th of July too.  Big hits with both girls and really easy to make.  This is (yet another) time that I am thrilled my Mom taught me to crochet!

A Blanket for Our House

The living room blanket is done! It's not (and probably never will be) blocked as the second I sewed in the last end, it was taken over by three little kids.  It will definitely be a used (and loved) blanket and for that, I am thrilled.

The free pattern is here.  I changed the colors a bit and if I were to make this blanket again, I would do my own edging (but in this case, I realized that after two completed border rows, so decided against it).  Progress posts here, here and here.  Yarn is Vanna's Choice in (order as used) Rust, Chocolate, Brick, Mustard, Silver Grey, Pink, Purple, Dusty Blue, Antique Rose, Pea Green, Olive and Sapphire.

And now...I'm working on a couple small projects, but also have started another blanket for our living room.  What do you think of these four colors together?

Weaving Lessons

We went to a festival this weekend that featured a booth of items created and sold by Guatemalan artists.  It was really fun to meet them and talk to them a bit.  Jack wore his Guatemala soccer team jersey which was a big hit.  There were two women there doing backstrap weaving.  EJ has seen this process in several of her books, but it is truly amazing to watch the women work (and I think she could have watched all day long).  We had a bit of a language barrier, but one of the women gave EJ the job of winding some of the thread into a ball.  Liv "helped" EJ by holding the thread too.  They loved it!

{Jack is looking off to the side here because there was a woman with a tv camera filming us too}

We did some shopping as well and the kids picked out some great things.  It's not pictured here, but my awesome husband also purchased a necklace I had been considering and surprised me with it last night.  Yay for me!

Always Do Your Research...

Or in this case, totally drop the ball!  Ugh!!

Let me back up and say that I always do my research when it comes to books and movies for the kids. I want the content they read/watch to be age-appropriate for them and if there are new things introduced (subjects they haven't dealt with or tough topics) to be sure that we can talk about them in more detail to help them process their thoughts.  Each of the kids (mostly Jack and EJ actually) have troubles with specific themes/issues or plots and so Matt & I both watch out for those things.  This time...not so much.

For the last month or so we have been reading Stuart Little together as a family.  It is a story I haven't read in many years, but I knew it was a story that would interest all three kids.  They loved it (although I think Matt's reading voices/interpretation definitely sweetened their enjoyment).  The kids were loving the book so much that I told them after we finished reading the book, we could watch the movie (which we already owned but had never watched...I think it was a gift).  The movie has been sitting out in the living room and the kids have been getting more excited to watch as we neared the end of the book. 

And then it happened.  We finished reading this week and told the kids we could start watching the movie the next night.  Luckily for us, Jack was unhappy about the lack of closure in the end of the book and asked Matt if there was a second book that might tell us what happens to Stuart in the future.  Somehow in searching for book info, Matt happened upon reviews of the movie and we learned that we were in big trouble.  The movie does not follow the book plot at all and seems to put Stuart in grave danger quite a bit.  In addition, the reviews went into great detail about how poorly the movie deals with adoption.  Others (who have actually seen the movie) speak in great detail about this if you're interested, but from what I understand, this is not a movie I want our kids seeing.

So, we had to talk to the kids and tell them that we would not be watching Stuart Little after all.  They took it better than expected (thank goodness) and I was able to borrow Stuart Little 2 from the library.  Reviews of the sequel say it is a much better movie than its predecessor and stays pretty true to the book plot (as much as a modern movie adaptation can).  Glad we dodged this one, but who knew the story of a talking mouse could be so much trouble.

The Great Gummy Bear Experiment

This weekend we did a great science experiment.  Super low maintenance with a big just have to have patient kiddos.  I liked this idea so much, I pinned it twice (well, two different people blogging about it here and here).  Both bloggers explain things more thoroughly, but basically, you put gummy bears in water and wait.  The photos above show our submerged bears getting bigger (control bears on the table), but it's hard to see how much they grew.  It was a LOT!

After about 24 hours, this was the difference between the control bears and the new super-sized bears.  The big bears lost a bit of their color and became pretty fragile (red lost a foot right after this photo was taken).  Our kids took the job of observation very seriously!

I had already planned a few simple science experiments for the kids this summer because of their favorite project last year, but I am now on the lookout for more.  We also attended a library program this week where they demonstrated some easy chemical reactions using things already in your house/recycled objects.  They recommended a book called Cool Chemistry Concoctions, that we will be checking out very soon.  It's fun to watch the kids take on the role of budding scientist!

Fishing with Daddy

We spent yesterday celebrating the awesome guy my kids call Daddy.  As usual, that meant we "took Dad fishing," which really means he does a ton of work helping the kids fish.  He never seems to mind though which is proof of his awesomeness!  We didn't catch much (and what we did catch was VERY small), but everyone had a great time.  I've never been the biggest fisher-woman, but I might need to start because they want to try again...and soon!

Gardening with Grandma

Each year, my mom gets the kids special flowers & helps them plant them in their own boxes.  They absolutely love the tradition and doing it with my mom.  I love that they have fun and that our back deck looks a lot nicer each summer from all the hard work! 

Speaking of hard work...

But there is also lots of fun with Grandma, including bubbles...

...hanging with the neighbor dogs...

...finding treasures (or your mom & uncle's old stuff) to take home...

...and, of course, a super yummy lunch and build-your-own (no holds barred) ice cream sundaes!

Grandmas really know how to do it right...especially ours!  Thanks for the super fun day Mom!

Picking Fun

We went strawberry picking yesterday.  I was really unsure how it would go with all three kids and me as the only supervision (especially because the girls have never gone before), but lately I've been more adventurous.  The girls are getting older and can handle much more this summer.  In the end, it went really well and the kids asked if we could do it again before we had even pulled out of the parking lot.  We picked about half a container of berries and then we picked some snap peas too.  We've never picked the snap peas before, so didn't grab a ton.  Well, we had them with our pasta tonight and they are already half gone.  So yummy!  I have a feeling we will be going back later this week.

I tried a Pinterest tip of washing/soaking the berries in a mixture (1 to 10) of vinegar and water.  It is supposed to stop the berries from molding, but obviously they haven't had the chance yet.  I can tell you that you do not need to rinse the berries.  There was no taste from the vinegar at all.  What I did taste was the amazing difference between fresh, farm berries and store-bought berries (which had tasted amazing yesterday, but were blown away by these new guys).

We wanted to share some berries with our garden partners, and also with Grandma, so I created an easy and cute pint container to hold them.  Start with a sheet of 8x8" card-stock.  Then measure and mark a line two inches from each edge.  The next step is a little tricky, but you need to cut in 2" along one of the lines you've drawn (so until you hit the line going the opposite way) and then do the same thing for the second line on the same side of the paper.  Turn the paper to the opposite side and cut on each of those lines as well.  After this step is completed, you will have cuts on two sides and nothing on the other two sides.  Fold along all the pencil marks and then double-stick tape on the flaps the cuts created to make this pint box.  I swear that it is a super simple process...the directions make it sound much worse!

{The finished dimensions are 4" square on the bottom and 2" high on the sides}

I folded a piece of paper towel in the bottom and then filled the container with strawberries to share (and then took some super blurry photos...oops!).

Summer Kick-Off

{My new "nephew" Michael & I.  I did not want to give him back...or share!}

The first weekend of summer has been pretty great.  Library trips, workbooks, the last soccer game of the season, evening marshmallow roasting and an outdoor movie...

shopping at the mall with my middle girlie, a new behavior modification system (i.e. system with no yelling) that actually seems to be working, brunch with these amazing ladies...

reading with the boy (we kickoff the Gumball Challenge today), getting hooked on the Tiny Tower app with the boy (can anyone recommend something similar for the DS so he gets off Matt's ipad?), and meeting the awesome baby Michael!

It was a pretty great (extended) weekend...busy, but laid back too.  I think that is what our entire summer needs to be like...more "go with the flow" fun.  So we have a punch list of things to do...outings, simple crafts, kid creation, outside fun that we will pull from as we see fit and I'll be blogging less too (I'm thinking 3 days a week tops, but it might be less). I love summer and all the fun, treats, and adventure that comes with it too!

Summer Reading Plans

{Sorry about the terrible photo...I should have taken it before we hung the chart on the dark wall}

Jack and I are embarking on a summer reading club this summer (and yes, EJ is mad that she can't be in the club, but that is a whole different issue).  We/I picked 20 books that we will read at the same time and then talk about as we go (I'm going to try to stick close to Jack's pace so we're at the same points of each book).  I'm hoping this will help with some of the holes I feel Jack is getting in reading comprehension and also encourage Jack to read more at his level during the school year (he has a tendency to pick super easy books in his school library trips).  If nothing else, it will be fun!

We grouped the books into sets of 3 or 4 and color-coded the dots.  Jack made our chart and named our reading club "The Gumball Challenge," so each time we read a book, we will move the gumball to one of the boxes on the outside of the chart.  He is going to pick the order of the books we read, but each time we complete a color set, we were have a reward (Rewards are not really determined at this point, but I hope to make them somewhat thematic).

Our books (listed in their groups) are:
Hoot, Flush, Scat, Chomp
Frindle, The Lemonade War, Matilda
Baseball Crazy, Guys Read: The Sports Pages, Guys Read: Funny Business
Bad Kitty for President, The Kid Who Ran For President, N.E.R.D.S
The Cricket in Times Square, How To Train Your Dragon, Time Cat
The Indian in the Cupboard, The Westing Game, The Sixty-Eight Rooms, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

If you don't want to do your own reading challenge (not everyone is a big reading nerd like I am), there are so many summer reading programs at the library (we're signed up for two and they rock), at the bookstores, and online.  I highly recommend signing your kids up for one, or more, of these programs.  You get coupons, free books, fun, and best of all...your kids stay on track until school resumes in Fall.

Some free programs we are using this summer:
Barnes & Noble - read 8 books & receive a free one
Scholastic Summer Challenge - track your reading time & earn prizes
We Give Books Read For My Summer - free books online targeted for the 5-7 year old set
memetales - online books & a free app with "read to me" option making this perfect for pre-readers

Welcome Summer!

It's the last day of school for the big kids, so I thought I'd share this summery treat I made for EJ's school picnic.  My beach ball fruit pizza wasn't quite as bright as the original, but I'd call it a win (found via Pinterest).  I made the crust and "sauce" according to this recipe and copied the beach ball fruit idea from this recipe.

Hope everyone in our 'hood has a great last day of school.  Welcome summer!

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 30

The blanket progress continued this week, but it has been hard to get time to sew in those crazy ends (I hate that job).  I'm about half done with sewing and then, it's finally time for the border.  At one point, I began doing an additional set of stripes (so there would have been 5 repeats), but decided that it would make the blanket oddly skinny and long (like a table runner), so went back to the pattern as written.

Hopefully I'll get some time this afternoon to finish up with the ends.  I'm waiting to find out if I have jury duty this afternoon, so everyone cross your fingers that I am not needed!

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.

Teacher Gifts

It's not the last day of school yet, but our teacher gifts are all set (mostly because I'm a reserve juror the next couple days, so I'm not sure what our week is going to look like).  We wanted to do a bookstore gift certificate for Jack's teacher, but wanted to make it just a little cuter than an envelope.  I asked Jack about the reusable cup idea (it can be frozen too) and said I would add some candy or something to go inside.  Olivia and I went shopping at Target and I asked her what color nail polish I should get.  Her response was, "Green, of course.  Everything should be green."  Now that is a girl after my own heart.  Of course we should make all the silly things inside match the we did.

We went in on a class gift for EJ's teachers, but wanted to do a little something extra.  So we went back to an old idea but EJ added a note and drawing to the back of the Stay Cool cards.  Both teachers are parents, so I think these summer treats will come in handy.

{photo courtesy of Green {D} Designs}

Each of Olivia's teachers (she has 5, so I like to do the same thing for each) was gifted one of these gorgeous necklaces from Green {D} Designs.  Karri made each necklace in a different color and used scrabble tiles matching each teacher's first initial (the letters show on the back of the necklace).  I loved that each was similar, but special and personal.  And the teachers just loved them.

And with that, we are ready for summer...two days left!

Thank You With A Pop!

There is a fabulous group of volunteers at my son's school that I get the honor of organizing.  Really they do all the work, I just send them reminders each week.  But I do like to give them a little something at the end of each school year to say thanks for all of their time (especially the time spent coming out in the snow and rain and cold to help).  You can see the gift's from past years here and here.

This year the gift was simple, so I asked the always amazing nellie*design to take my ideas and dress them up!  As you can see, her work really made a simple gift special and super cute!

Movie popcorn containers - Target
Microwave popcorn - Koepsell's
Glassine envelopes - office supply store
Tags - nellie*design

I printed the popcorn tags on sticker paper so they attached easily to the bags.  Double-stick tape worked well to add the Redbox buck tags to the glassine envelopes, but I also used it to adhere the envelopes to the popcorn bags.  Attaching everything together made it much easier to deliver them given the quantity I had to fit in the passenger seat of my car.  I added a quick thank you note to the back of the main card and then set out to quietly deliver them while the majority of the volunteers were at school.  I hope they enjoyed finding a little surprise when they arrived home!