Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day Field Trip

 Our Memorial Day was spent at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. We had been there once before when C was two years old but I have been meaning to get back. I don't know why I was struck with the idea to go late Sunday night but I did and we decided to go.

The museum is about 45 minutes from our house and we got there mid-morning. The museum wasn't very crowded and we did the main Hoover history portion followed by their traveling exhibit about The Mob in the 20s. 

I am further convinced after a second visit to the museum, that Hoover was a really upstanding man with a good heart. He was a President who would have been revered I think, had the stock market not crashed. He was dealt a bad hand and did the very best he could. He really had a good heart. I wish someone like him was running right now. 

Then we headed outside for the remainder of the national historic site. It includes the Herbert Hoover birthplace cottage, blacksmith shop, Friend's meetinghouse, school, other historical homes that aren't open to the public and the Presidential grave site. It's idyllic and wonderful. If I ever had a lot of money I would do a wandering production of The Music Man and perform it using the different areas in the areas

The setting was wonderful for taking some pictures. We had a little lunch and then we looped the museum again to see more of it. We kind of had to keep moving the first time through (and the second) as it isn't really geared towards children but it was fun nevertheless. 

We went back to "the little white house" (birthplace cottage) because that was what C liked the best and then we headed home. There was a brass band concert starting shortly after we were leaving and the parking lot and grounds were getting crowded, and the kids were getting precariously past nap time and they were hot to boot. 

It was a great educational family outing and I am so thankful to the men and women in our armed forces who have given their lives in service. Without their great sacrifice I wouldn't have had this special day with my loves. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

(Ant)Arctic Party Planning: Pt 3

I am so excited to tell you about the goody bag. I know that some people go over board with the goody bag and it would be SO easy for me to, I swear but I am really kind of proud of the bag we put together without breaking the bank. My goal for the bags were things that weren't complete junk and not too much sugar, but also reflect my guy and his favorite things.

Each bag included a penguin chocolate bar. Which, okay, is sugar. But since this is it I think we're okay. And they're cute!

A polar bear book.

We love the National Geographic Kids Readers and have a lot of them. We are on our second home copy of this book as one met an unfortunate water spill fate. These books are quick reads and full of educational value so I feel great about their inclusion in the bag. Plus there is a picture of a walrus in the book too. Which is awesome. 

Then, the part I am the most excited about. The walrus shirt. My guy actually has a lot of walrus shirts. I am not quite sure how we get so lucky every season to find at least one walrus item, but we have and we'll just go with it. I wanted to make C a walrus birthday shirt and then I got the idea to have everyone get a walrus shirt too! So we made walrus bleach pen shirts. They were so easy and I think they turned out super cute. 

Bleach Pen is still processing here.
1. Pick a shirt. We got ours at Hobby Lobby, with a coupon so they were under $2 each. We did blue for the boys and pink for the girls. Stereotypical certainly, but two of the girls favorite color is pink and that topic is worked into every conversation. C's favorite color is green but blue matched the arctic theme a little better. So blue and pink it is! 

2. Put a piece of cardboard in the shirt so the bleach will not bleed through to the back. 

2.5 *optional step* Draw your design on the shirt with pen or pencil. 

3. Take your bleach pen ($3.02) and trace your design. The bleach pen will come out fast. Bear in mind that the bleach will spread to much thicker lines. You may want a paper towel handy because sometimes the bleach bubbles and you want to wipe that away. I have also seen recipes to make your own bleach gel and put it in like an old glue bottle. That would be even cheaper than the pen, but sometimes time is money and $3.02 seemed quite reasonable to me. 

4. Let the shirts cure. We let them sit for under 2 hours. Basically, when you can see the design on the underside of the shirt, your design is ready! 

5. Rinse the bleach off under COLD water. The gel will have dried a little and you may have to coax it off. 

6. Stick the item(s) in the wash on cold. Then dry them. 

7. Success! A personalized decorated shirt that is one of a kind and permanent! 

I know that C and M will wear their shirts a lot. I have no idea if the guests will really wear them, but they loved them. "Mom! I have a shirt to match C's!" "I want to try it on right away!" Who doesn't need a good pajama/play shirt in their life? I definitely bought them big so they should work for the kids for a long time! 

All finished! C's had a birthday hat, everyone else's did not.

So those three items made up my goody bags. They worked out great! I put them in blue paper lunch bags with their name written on them. I also used those bags to stash their pinata loot. Easy peasy lemon squeezey! And with that I conclude my 4 part Awesome (Ant)Arctic Party posts.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

(Ant)Arctic Party Planning: Pt 2

Besides Polar Bear Bowling, Snowball Fight and a water table we had a few more activities at the party.

To start, we decorated our own (Ant)Arctic scenes. Husband printed out an iceberg/water scene. I put out crayons and stickers and let them go to town. C is not usually crafty but loves stickers. And awesome cold weather animal stickers are right up his alley. He had a lot of fun with this actually and it was a great way to keep everyone occupied as others arrived.

I already told you a little about the penguin pinata here. But I did, in fact, plan a pinata. I read on some website about how to have a less chaotic pinata experience by bagging the items individually and every kid takes a bag. While critics of this method think it ruins the fun and promotes the "life is fair" mentality that is ruining our children, it worked for us. Not only was this 4/5 kid's first pinata ever but I was planning on it being an inside activity. *It DID rain on his birthday as I knew it would, but it was earlier in the day and we did wind up going out to the patio*

A little order at the expense of possibly ruining the kids forever was worth it to me. Inside each bag was a bag of fruit snacks, a box of yogurt raisins and a penguin rubber ducky. C's current favorite movie is Cars so we payed a little homage to that. As it happens, they were all terrible at hitting the pinata hard enough to damage it. Baseball players they probably aren't. So Husband eventually broke it in a way where we can fix it up and C is quite happy about that.

The other game I am pretty proud of is our feed the walrus game. This is the one area we went a little overboard with cost wise, but I am totally okay with it because we had the capabilities of going overboard. Husband designed the walrus and one of the companies that he uses for large-format printing at work printed it out on coroplast. (Plastic cardboard just like the stuff political signs are made of.) They even laser cut out around the shape of the walrus and the mouth. It is so great.

I found fish shaped bean bags on Etsy and these little buckets in the Target $1 section. Which pretty much just made the whole thing even better than I could have imagined.

So that concludes the overview of our party activities. If I haven't lost you completely I have one more post tomorrow about the awesome and inexpensive goody bags we had.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

(Ant)Arctic Party Planning: Pt 1

When we originally sat down to plan C's Awesome (Ant)Arctic Party, the big question was: what are we going to do with 5 kids? (Our two plus three friends.) I wanted an activity that featured each of the three major animals of the party: Walrus, Polar Beat and Penguin.

During the extensive party prep stage, I found this Arctic Explorer Birthday Party and they had taken a honey bear and painted it for a decoration. Well all the light bulbs went off and I decided right then and there that I was going to make a bunch of them and do Polar Bear Bowling.

In my head I thought we were destined to buy a lot of honey. I was trying to figure out what we were going to do with all the honey because I wasn't going to waste it but where would I keep it? A moot point. After a long discussion, Husband said, "Why don't we just buy empty honey bears?"

Why not indeed? That option wasn't even on my radar but one quick Google search brought me to THESE 8oz Honey Bears. The size bear you would buy in the store is 12oz but I figured it didn't really matter if they were a little smaller. And the price was right. $5.40 for 10 empty bears. They do not come with closures but I didn't need them for my project. I should note here that I did need one closure to paint the bears, but I finished the honey we had anyway and washed that closure for this project.

They came super fast. C LOVED them.  He was so excited!

One night after kid's bedtime I laid out some paper and sat down to work on painting the bears white. Since we did our living room we had some white primer already so I went down the basement and got that.

I took a bear, put about two teaspoons of primer in, put the lid on and shook it all about. It took a lot of effort to coat the whole thing with some vigorous shaking. When the bear was fully coated I held it upside down over the paint bucket. Then on a paper towel for a while to get the excess paint out, for the amount of shaking required I was shocked at how much paint came out in this process. I stood it up right side up to dry and repeated this until they were all white on the inside.

Painting the inside made it so that you could use the black eyes and nose that already come on honey bears, but you could easily spray paint them if you didn't care about keeping the faces.

That is how I made Polar Bear Bowling. Total cost: $5.40 + shipping. A little more if you need to buy paint and closures.

I set up the bowling on our coffee table with a plastic table cloth on top. We used foam baseballs as the bowling "ice" balls. It was a huge success! Perfect for our (Ant)Arctic Party! The actual play of the game was a little harder than I anticipated. But they had fun so it was all good! And the polar bears looked wonderful!

We also had the arctic water table full of blue water beads. We put some of C's Toob animals in, both arctic and penguins and everyone seemed to enjoy that. I love water beads in a sensory table. Hours of fun to be had!

One of our more physical activities was the indoor snowball fight. I just bought a big bag of 200 cotton balls for less than $2, dumped them into a bucket and put it in the middle of the room. And I am telling you it was SO. MUCH. FUN. I really think all ages would enjoy this activity. But buy some more cotton balls if you have more people, 200 was the perfect amount for two adults and five kids 4 and under.

They just ran and jumped, hooted and hollered and it was great. Cotton balls didn't hurt anyone or damage anything. They did leave little cotton strands on my blue carpet but that's nothing a vacuum can't handle! I cannot stress how much fun this would be at a family Christmas or school party.

I will be back tomorrow with more of the activities of the (Ant)Arctic Party.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Awesome (Ant)Arctic Party

My guy turned 4-years-old yesterday. In honor of him, we planned a super special (Ant)Arctic Party to celebrate him and his love of walrus, polar bears and penguins. It was such a wonderful day and just the perfect way to celebrate C! I 100% admit that while I wanted everyone to have fun, I specifically planned things and details that my guy would appreciate. He did. He didn't miss a detail. And bonus: the three party guests who don't live at our house had fun too!

We kept the food simple because it was a morning party. Arctic Punch. Which was Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid mixed with cheapo Lemon Lime Pop. Blueberries. 

Cheddar Penguin Crackers. Penguin gummies. Which look super cute but also taste great as they're peach flavored! 

And cupcakes, because it was a birthday party. The easiest cupcakes ever. White cake with white frosting in blue foil cups made for our snow and ice. Delicious and easy. Husband designed the walrus, polar bear, Adelie and Macaroni penguin toppers and printed them on synthetic paper so they would just poke right in! 

Last week C's Godmother, Husband and I took a few hours to cut 55 traditional snowflakes and 8 large 3D snowflakes to decorate with. Cheap, handmade decorations that made a big impact. It was magical. It still is, we haven't taken them down yet.

It was the very best party I could have imagined for C. He loved every single second of it. His joy only intensified mine. Gosh I love this kid. And I loved this party. 

I have a series of posts to round out this holiday weekend of ours with some more details of our party, if you're interested. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy Birthday Buddy!

My Wonderful Guy,

I almost cannot comprehend how it is possible you are 4-years-old today. You and I are such a team and it breaks my heart to know that our whole days together are closing fast. In August you will start preschool at the "big school" and you are so excited. I am going to miss you but I cannot wait to watch you bloom!

You have the sweetest, most sensitive soul. You are very susceptible to picking up tension and when people are unhappy. You are a crier, like me. Sorry about that. I hope that you will continue to grow in your ability to use words to express your feelings, but you feel every emotion to the extreme and that is hard. The upside to your big feelings is your propensity for snuggling. Your love language is definitely physical touch and you give the best hugs/snuggles/high fives/wrestles I can imagine.

I love being in awe of your memory. It should probably stop surprising me but it hasn't yet. The things you pick up and remember is astounding. I am going to take some credit for that as well. You spout out some pretty impressive knowledge for just-turning-four and I am thrilled that you love to learn.

This past year you have grown to write your name and draw people but it takes a lot of coaxing and a lot of affirmations to get it done. You just have more important things to do with your time besides drawing and that's okay. Really. You've shown me you can and that's what's important. That's how you and I work though, you decide when you will or won't do something and I just go along for the ride.

You know all your letters, their sounds, the vowels and their two sounds and you're starting to sound things out. I am sure you're going to be a reader, your favorite activity besides animals is paging through books and telling yourself the stories.

My favorite thing in the world is that you still love walruses so much. I never would have ever thought that my 20 month old would have zeroed in on the walrus, but you did. Penguins are giving the walrus a run for their money but it's because penguin books and toys are so much easier to come by! You love them both though and tell everyone that. I know that I went overboard on you (Ant)Arctic Birthday Party, but I couldn't help myself. You have such a unique interest and I want to celebrate that. I am sure there will be super commercial parties in our future, but man I love the creativity of your theme this year.

You came downstairs this morning to see the Arctic land your dad and I created last night while you slept. "I love this birthday party!" And you kept saying it. "This is the best birthday party I've ever seen." And it was little boy, because it was the perfect party to celebrate you. 

When I ask you what you want to be when you grow up you say "A Penguin Doctor" or a "Zoo Doctor." I would not be one bit surprised if that came true. You love animals and science. You have a thirst for knowledge and a tender heart so of course a caring profession makes sense.

On Mother's Day, you came and gave me a hug and said, "I am glad I am your boy." Well, I am too. And I am glad I am your mom. Happiest of birthdays to you buddy! 4 is going to be a great year, I just know it! I love you and you are awesome.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Is All I've Got Today

First off, thank you for your prayers. Henry, my father's Godfather passed away early this morning. Even though we have known for a week now that it was very likely, it doesn't make it any easier. He was a very dear man and I am sad. I am however glad that he wasn't in pain, he wasn't alone and he is now at peace. That is something to be thankful for certainly.

In much much happier news, I have to tell you that I got my Backyard BBQ Scentsy warmer today. 

It was billed as a "Father's Day" bundle. And I get it, dads like to grill. Makes sense. But oh.my.cute. I just love it. This warmer sold out in a week and I totally get it. I am kind of whatever on the wax that came with it. The Man scents aren't my favorite. (Well I totally dig Bonfire Beach so 1/3.) 

I don't usually do the whole "warmers for different seasons thing." We don't have holiday warmers that we rotate in and out. If I am being honest, we do have a Christmas penguin warmer, but if you think C would ever let that be unplugged from his room, that's just not true. I don't even usually buy warmers these days. But this little grill is going in my red kitchen for the summer months. Because I love it. And it really is the brightest spot in my day so I am just going to enjoy it. 

Today was my last normal school day!! We did "cooking." Which in preschool speak means we made Chex Mix and Muddy Buddies/Puppy Chow. And we watched Doc McStuffins. And played outside. I brought my A-Game the rest of the year, and I will on Thursday again. But today... they got my C-Game. 

Ignore the apostrophe that has no place there. Trust the sentiment. I wanted a clean version. That's how I say it in my head too. Look at all the Fs I give. 

I will go out with a bang on Thursday. Mark my words. And I will have the blog posts (yes plural) to tell you all about C's (Ant)Arctic Birthday Party. Because you guys, my guy is going to be 4-years-old.