Monday, December 9, 2013

Sunday Art

ZB has a few friends over on the second Sunday of each month for some arts & crafts time.  It seems so much more justified to pull out all the supplies and make such a mess when there's more than just one child doing the project!  Last Sunday was the first one, and the kids made Salt Dough outside, squeezed, poked and prodded it into interesting creations and then baked it  while the toddlers snacked and played. 

This Sunday they made sun catchers by markering on coffee filters and then painting over that with water.  They didn't turn out as bright as we had hoped, but the kids had so much fun making them!  Even a couple of the big kids joined in...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Enjoying the Fall

Everywhere I look on the internet is cute crafts and photos all getting ready for Christmas and Winter.  I am enjoying the great Fall weather while we still have it!  I'm not a huge fan of snow (if God could only make warm snow, I'd be all about it!).  A pumpkin is roasting in the oven right now prepping for a nice batch of pumpkin ale homebrew, and a rich veggie soup is simmering on the stove as the night cools down a little from the 60 degree days we've been having.
ZB seems to be ready to nest into Winter, I guess.  She had the idea to make a box house, which I thought was pretty neat for a 2yo - I don't think she's ever seen one before!
But she is sure enjoying these last Fall days...

 when she can still get good and muddy and not too cold!

  ZB and her friend Jude had too much fun adding dandelions and pebbles to the mud and then jumping with reckless abandon.
I had to make sure to get a couple shots before the headed in for a bath :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Clean Sparkly

ZB is still really into dressing herself, or at least being a part of the process.  She may even decide to have a kitchen dance party (so she can watch herself in the oven-door reflection).
Sometimes she gets all dressed up! Yes, she even has a tutu on under the dress for extra poof :)

A lot of times, the dress up involves face tattoos with markers.  As I'm typing, she has black stripes coming from the sides of each eye!  As you may be able to see in the bunny ears photo, she has the remains of a rainbow across the forehead.  That night, I told her, "Tomorrow you can take a shower and get all clean and sparkly".  ZB exclaims, "Green and Sparkly!? Yah!"
She woke up the next morning asking for green and sparkly.  Well, I got her clean, and then went searching for green sparkles.  I thought we could do a sparkle project, but alas, green glitter was not in my craft supplies.  I asked, "Purple and sparkly?"  She set to work with her glue paintbrush:
Learned how to gently sprinkle glitter over the whole picture, and also gently shake it off onto the butcher paper-lined table:
As the project seemed done in my eyes, ZB had other plans.  Another coat of glue was obviously needed to ensure extra-long drying time.
And to finish it off, and make sure we keep seeing glitter stuck under fingernails for a long time, a little bit of finger-painting needed to happen.
Our art class at co-op is over for the semester, and we've started an art group for ZB's toddler buddies here at the house.  Can't wait for that cuteness!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

The skies are cloudy with an big rain storm coming in - the kids are hoping to collect their candy loot before the rainfall, but the cloudy skies give the night a nice eerie backdrop.
Reed (Harry Potter) and his friend Chiron (Hermione Granger) posing with "Wands at the Ready!" before they hit the streets for trick-or-treating.  Reed read the entire Harry Potter series this year and was excited to dress as Harry using a robe I made for Clay's Grim Reaper costume a few years ago (sewing the sleeves smaller), and also a Gryffindor tie he made in the H.P. class at co-op, and of course taped-up glasses.  He even has "I must not tell lies" written in red ink on his hand (he's been planning this costume nearly the whole year):
Clay and his friend Solomon decided to be the main character's from Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog.  Clay is the self-centered hero Captain Hammer.  And Solomon is, of course, the lovable villain, Dr. Horrible.  If you haven't seen this movie, you must watch it - it's on netflix, and only about 45 minutes long.  Anyhow, their costumes were fun and they did a really good job on them!
Everyone is off trick-or-treating now, ZB and I are having a quiet night at home, very nice!  Happy Halloween!

In the Halloween Spirit

Wednesday was our homeschool co-op's annual Halloween Party - great fun as always!  All of the co-op parents are asked to help out somehow.  I set up a craft table making Autumn mandalas, a great craft idea from the Twig and Toadstool blog.  We used old CD's from the thrift store and sharpie'd simple designs on them.  Then glued section by section and sprinkled each section with seeds or spices.
  The big kids made really cool designs.  The younger kids liked to draw and then smear glue and a mix of seeds/spices over the whole thing - very abstract :)  We used turmeric, paprika, dill seeds and poppy seeds.
I brought the set-up again this year for the "Donut-on-a-string" game, but since we're not doing sugar or grains, I didn't want to actually run it!  However, Reed had no such dilemma, and gobbled down his donut pretty quickly!
ZB escaped the party chaos, to the lobby of the venue with a couple other toddlers and had a fun time, none-the-less:
Back at home, our garden is taking a rare break (well, mostly).  I covered the beds with Fall greens planted over with netting, and opened the gates for the chickens to come in!  I sprinkled a bit of chicken food in the garden beds to prompt the ladies to start scratching.  This will not only get the beds fertilized on the spot, but also they will dig out bugs that may be hiding out awaiting next Spring's planting.  Happy chickens!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hammer Time

Look at these two-year-olds go with their hammers!  ZB and her friend, Jude made "Junk-O-Lanterns" today.  This is also what I did with my 3-5yo art class in homeschool co-op this morning, and there were lots of leftover junk drawer supplies.  This was the perfect material for the kids to practice their hammer skills - I could just poke a nail in, and the little ones could pound it right in without worrying about bending the nail, or have to have anyone hold it in place.  Very satisfying for them!  And a sweet finished product :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Road Home

So, of course the government decided to open for business the exact day that we left Washington, DC... go figure.  We had a fun ride home through Virginia, enjoying all the pretty Fall colors along through the Shenandoah Valley.  There were numerous caves to tour, and thanks to the Trip Adviser app (I love that one!), we chose the Shenandoah Caverns.  And what do you know, the first thing that was pointed out on the tour was what were commonly called the "Bacon Formations" - you know this put a smile on the boys faces, even ZB was excited to see bacon growing from the walls!
The caverns were full of beautiful rock formations and the guide was so friendly.  This happened to be a very kid-friendly cave as well, especially with the multi-colored lights they were using, and the old-fashioned gated elevator, it had a fun vintage feel.

The gift shop had an adjoining museum of vintage animated window displays - ZB was enthralled and it was really a chore to convince her to leave!
Down the road, we saw a sign for Rt 11 Potato Chips.  This was a short but really neat stop!  You could peer in the windows and watch the entire chip making process from cooking all the way to packaging and shipping.  I have never heard of this brand, but the woman at the counter said they are sold at Food Lion and Whole Foods to name a few.

 Of course there were samples, some were still warm from the fryer...

We left with a couple choice flavors that were freshly cooked, yummy!  There were lots more attractions along this stretch of interstate we wish we had time to stop at, but those will have to wait until next time.  We spied this guy at a rest stop - anyone know what it is?  They were common in the area, a rest stop worker told us, though they must not get as far as North Carolina, or at least I haven't noticed them before:
We're glad to be home safe and sound, unpacking all our Big City souvenirs and rehashing the fun trip.  Thanks for joining us on our little adventure!
- Julie

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vacation Shutdown

It felt very cathartic and a little sad to toss out the schedule that had been pinned to our wall at home for the last month, empty our pockets of subway passes, clean out my purse of the bus schedules and the Fodor's New York City 2013 guidebook.

We shuffled onto the Amtrak train with 4 hours ahead to Washington DC.  The ride was quick thanks to Netflix, cheap little toys recently acquired from Chinatown, and a whole carload of UVA students headed back to school from Fall break, who all seemed to love ZB!

The Kelly's have once again welcomed us into their home, even though this is the typical result:

Today we took the Metro into downtown DC to find it pretty vacant in the usual tourist spots, due to the government shutdown.  Most everything was fenced off.  We saw the back of the White House:

Got pretty close to the Capitol Building:

And did some sight-seeing and general goofing around, in between:

Here the kids are doing gymnastics and yoga in front of the beautiful but quiet EPA building:
I am glad the kids got to spend one more night playing with their cousins, and hope to see them again soon!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Big City, 7 - The End of the Line

wait.  Itinerary interrupted (as it should be on any decent adventure, I'm sure).  Reed was upset when he wondered when we were going to the Empire State Building, and found out it was never on the schedule.  So, we took the train one stop down to 34th St and walked through a barrage of "Buy your discount tickets for the Empire State Building here!" yelling for a few blocks.  We saw it, went in and checked out the pretty lobby and left.  One more thing checked off Reed's personal "to do" list.
 Back to the itinerary!  Number 1 (or 2?): Chinatown!  Well, this neighborhood was a really fun way to spend part of a day.  Just seeing the cost of things put a smile on my face!  Bakeries with their delicious red bean or coconut buns for 90 cents... perfect.

We all bought some souvenirs on the cheap, and grabbed Dim Sum for lunch at the huge Jing Fong with waitresses wandering the aisles with carts of goodies to try.  We couldn't understand a lot of what they described, so we were going on looks alone, but made some yummy choices (and even after eating them, we still couldn't figure out what some of them were).

We couldn't leave Chinatown without a trip into Aji Ichiban, the candy and snack store.  Lot of samples - we left with a few handfuls of unusual-flavored candies, and I was actually totally okay with it (anything to get the flavor of dried sesame fish snack sample out of my mouth)
Number 2: Take the train as Downtown as it would go - straight to Battery Park.  We toured the Castle Clinton Monument, which was really neat - I'm a geek for dioramas of the timeline of cities :)  It started out as a fort to protect New Amsterdam, and eventually was given to New York by the Army and became a number of things including a pre-Ellis Island immigration processing station, and concert venue and an aquarium.

I had originally thought I would be feeling guilty for not forking over the cash to do the Statue of Liberty official tour, but as it turns out, the Statue of Liberty is a National Park, so is closed down due to the government shutdown.  My original plan is now the plan that most people are doing (well, you still could pay for the tour, but you don't get to go inside the statue, just to the island, and I was surprised people were actually waiting in line to do this).  We boarded the (free) Staten Island Ferry and had great views of the Statue of Liberty, as well as Governer's Island, the Southern tip of Manhattan and lots of boats going in and out of the harbor.
 (above): ZB is convinced that the wake of the boat is actually lots of milk in the water.  No convincing her otherwise.

That was actually my whole plan for the day.  Now up to the kids on their last night in the Big City.  Clay wanted to walk in Times Square a little more, and we went back to the Element skateboarding shop, no purchases, though.  Then, Reed chose to spend the last hour before dark at a playground in Central Park.  He found it was a very good place to spin in circles and practice moves with his new Chinatown wooden sword.
Saying goodnight from the the Big City on Columbus Day in Columbus Circle (just a coincidence, we really did not seek the place out in honor of a holiday that I'm not a big fan of :)

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