Thursday, June 28, 2012

Flag Art

Y'all, this time of year, I get all twitchy and crazed because it's birthday season for Sarah and her friends, plus July 4th, and I almost always bite off way more than I can chew DIY-wise.  Like, why did I think it was necessary to make an outdoor table, play grills for the kids, a lemonade stand, a Viking ship (plus coordinating hats), and party outfits for both wee ones?  Pinterest. That's why.

Anyway, I haven't completed any of that stuff (yet), but I did get the kids started on some July 4th decor with a little bit of flag painting.  Here's the thing: when they run the show, they mix all of the colors of paint together and come up with a lovely sludge hue, which they glob repeatedly in one corner of the paper until there's a hole in it.

So, in an effort to control guide their creativity, I only gave my little Monets one color at a time.  Also, I prepped their posterboards during nap time by striping the flag with electrical tape (new crafting weapon).  I thought they would go to town on this, but it kind of took the wind out of their sails when they found out that orange and purple were off the table for round 1.

Here's what we started with:

I gave them an example of the American flag.  They weren't impressed. 

Getting started was easy.

Sarah dutifully painted her flag, while Will painted his fingernails.

Will's masterpiece:

I traced his hand in red paint on the bottom right corner. 
Sarah's work:

They didn't really care about putting on all 50 of their star stickers, but then again, I was getting a little bossy.

Sarah was much more interested in painting the flag of Oceana:

What?  You don't know what Oceana is?  Well, it's mermaid Princess Barbie's realm where good Queen Calissa battles her evil sister Eris.  Their colors are sludge and purple, and their symbol is a dolphin.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Preschooler's Paradise

You may know it by its commercial name: Chuck E. Cheese's. 

Sarah's 4th birthday is this Friday, so we kicked off a week of celebrating with a trip to good ole Chuck's.  Our neighbors have the same birthday as Sarah, so we thought it would be fun if everybody got in on it and had a mini-party.

Let me just say that my kids have never been to this mecca of Whack-a-Mole.  They've seen the commercials on PBS and, if any market researchers are tuning in, they are quite effective. 

S & W started shrieking as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.

If I had Photoshop (ahem, Mike Brown) I could have bathed the front of the building in a heavenly glow and shown angels singing and strumming harps.  I truly believe my children heard the Hallelujah Chorus as we walked through the doors. 

Anyway, once we got through security (a big plus for the big Cheese), I took out a second mortgage, got some tokens, and gave half of them to Will. Which he promptly put into the first machine he came to.  All of them.  And he didn't play the game. 

My bad.

This is one happy girl.  Sitting next to a weird purple dinosaur.

I think this smile just might be genuine.

This is the game that ate Will's college fund. 

I think my kids must have the same aversion to big furry mascots as I did at their ages.  There was a little girl in front of us who couldn't tear herself away from Chuck.  When we walked up, I saw a flicker of hope and relief in his eyes for a beat as he thought I was Miss Velcro's mother, come to remove her from his hairy leg.  After we got our picture and the little girl resumed her grip on Mr. Cheese, I saw him pleading silently with those big, plastic eyes. 

We all left happy with our loot consisting of 2 packs of Smarties and 2 plastic stars.  It's really a shame Chuck E. Cheese's is only open a very few days a year...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Walking on Cloud Dough

Here's another one of those activities that I pinned, tried, and loved. 

During Potty Training Boot Camp, I cleaned out the winter "busy box" and scooped 16 cups of flour (left over from an unfortunate bread-making phase I went through a year or two ago) into it.  Then, after my kids spent a leisurely morning removing all of the couch cushions and playing leapfrog on them, we decided to take the demolition outside.

I poured 2 cups of baby oil on the flour and let the little guys go to town. 

Mmm, cupcakes.

Dig in.

This stuff makes pretty good sand castles.  I saw online that somebody let their kid use a bundt cake pan, but I don't own one of those.  At least I don't think I do.  People must have known better than to even bother to give us one for our wedding. 

Ah, perfection.

Demolition is the best part.

Oddly enough, two drink umbrellas were the preferred toys of the morning.

Paper Papa even got in on the fun.

This cloud dough stuff was great, and the kids played with it for quite awhile with minimal fighting.  But, I might as well have just given them plain flour, because this was MESSY.  It didn't look that messy when other kids did it.  Maybe it's just mine.  Or maybe my mixture was a little off because I had to use a quarter-cup measuring cup to measure my 16 CUPS of flour.  Or maybe I lost count because I had to put some people in Time Out during the measuring.  Whatever.  This is why I don't bake.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roaming Gnomes Flat-Stanley Style

We have family all over the place.  Of course, we don't live any closer than a three-hour drive to ANY of them, so holidays and vacays are usually spent visiting kin (yeah, I'm Nash-vegas like that).

With in-laws in Miami, Orlando, Daytona, and the uber-exotic South Bend, Indiana, it's no wonder we like to go visiting.  But, this summer we can't.  So, we're going to approach this challenge as an opportunity to capitalize on two things my kids can't get enough of: pictures of themselves, and receiving letters in the mail.

I got the idea from the Delia Creates blog and immediately knew we had to do it too.  I mean, come on, my brother-in-law is an English teacher in South Korea (awesome, right?), and my brother is training at West Point this summer.  Also, the kids had some good friends move out of state recently, so I thought this project could give my chilluns some perspective on the situation. 

So, here's the letter that we're sending out to our peeps:

Dear family and friends,

Mommy is always threatening to do it, and she finally did!  She put us in the mail to YOU! 

Since we can’t visit you in person this summer, we thought you could take the Roaming Gnome versions of us along on any adventures you might have, and then take a picture of us (and you).  Take us to the beach, to lunch, on a camp-out, or just hanging out at home, and then hold us up and snap away!  If you’re in a location with a famous landmark, take a picture of us in front of it.  Once you get your pictures with us Flat Stanley-style, snail-mail or email us a copy, along with a little note about what’s going on in your world. 

We love to learn about new places, and we’re going to mark it on a map when we get your letters back!

We’ve kicked off the fun with an example, so check it out.

Now, it’s YOUR turn!


Sarah and Will

Here’s Mommy’s email:

And here's one of our examples, with our very own Roaming Papa (Mike's dad):

Ahh...there's nothing like cloud dough and a drink umbrella to relax you.

And here are the cuties that are going out to friends and family to pose with in front of monuments and such:

Here's Flat Papa in front of the Nasvhille Parthenon:

And here we have Flat Sarah and Flat Will at the Parthenon:

Real Sarah and Will wanted to get in on the fun!

So, if you get two little roaming gnomes in the mail, please send us a picture and a little note back.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Sledding

I've been wanting to re-try this homemade slip-n-slide for awhile.  We tried it last year, or maybe even the year before, but my peeps were too scared.  So, even though I looked super-cool careening down a plastic drop cloth by myself covered in dish soap, the idea was shelved until such a time that some short person might like to try it too.

This go-round I had two partners-in-crime, but they had a few clauses in their contracts.  Will would only slide with me, and Sarah would only go if the sprinkler was off.

So, she kept getting stuck.

Wow.  Doesn't that face just make you want to try it too?

This is more like it:

And, oh, yes, I remembered another problem with slip-n-slide 1.0: rocks, sticks, and even grass result in a sore behind.  Is that an issue with the real Slip-n-Slide, or am I just old and cantankerous? 

This time, we came prepared with our saucer sled.  I love it when a product does double-duty!

But, as much fun as my little fruit flies were having, we soon had to change gears.  Here's an equation for anyone who wants to make some pre-schoolers happy:  water table + dish soap + cars = FUN.

It totally makes me an awesome photog because I captured the water in motion, right?
See, cars = smiles

If my guys are this happy with plain ol' soap bubbles, wait til I unleash the glow-in-the-dark bubbles!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lowly Worm(s)

Will's favorite books are Richard Scarry books.  You know, with all of the super-detailed pictures, bazillions of words, and characters dressed in lederhosen.  Every night, at least one of these books is part of our bedtime repertoire.  Every night we look to see how many Lowlys and Bugdozer guys we can find, and I get caught trying to skip pages to speed things along. 

It goes against everything I believe in, but I'm seriously thinking about banning these books.  At least until he can read them on his own.  I mean, I don't even get to do any cool voices. 

Last fall, I saw where this lady did a Busytown birthday and made Lowly Worm softies for each of the guests.  She had a pattern from an out-of-print book, which I never could find.  I combed the web for a pattern, but came up empty-handed. So, just when I resolved to wing it, some saintly person posted the pattern on her blog!

I finished these babies during naptime on Saturday.  Mike was especially helpful in turning the Lowlys right-side-out and choosing accessories.

Sarah said,"She has a red boot, just like me!"
Hmmm...They need some mouths.

Sarah thinks every doll of hers must be female, so she has a "Miss Lowly". 

I wish I'd put some wire in them so they can wriggle and move like storybook Lowly. 

Next up, I'm going to try to sew up little Bugdozer/Goldbugs to go with our Worm friends.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day 2.0

Check out Will's eerily insightful interview about Mike. 

We have a few more things up our sleeves for Father's Day, and I think Sarah might be more excited about this little holiday than her birthday.  Which is in 14 sleeps, by the way.  Not that we're counting.

Sarah and I made the menu for Sunday's breakfast in bed, which will include, but is not limited to: piping hot porridge, cookies and milk, cupcakes, steak, and lemonade. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day Interview

I think those questionnaires they do at preschool, asking little kids basic questions about one or both of their parents are hilarious.  But, since my kids (much to their chagrin) aren't doing the school thing this summer, I thought I could do my own for Mike for Father's Day.  It's also nice since it fits into my budget.

Sarah's up first.  I thought she'd deliver with some real zingers, but she plays it straight.  I will say that Mike is pretty advanced for his age, according to Sarah. 

 Here are the questions and her answers:

1.  How old is Daddy?       4

2.  What is Daddy's favorite sport to play?   Tennis

3.  What is Daddy's favorite food?  Mac & Cheese

4.  How strong is Daddy?  Super strong. He could lift a bus.  But not our house.

5.  Where does Daddy work?  At the office.

6.  What is Daddy's favorite TV show?  Survivorman or Superman

7.  What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?  Jessie (from Toy Story) and Tag

8.  How tall is Daddy? Gestures (I'm starting to lose her here.)

9.  What do you like best about Daddy?  Piping hot porridge.

10.  What's Daddy's first name?  Michael Brown.  Mommy, you call him, "Miguel."

11.  What should we serve him for breakfast in bed?  Cookies and milk.  Maybe you should bring me breakfast in my bed.

There's my little diva.

Will's up tomorrow, as long as we can ransom his video from the camera.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stoop Painting

Here's another pinned-it-tried-it beauty.

Around our house, when the kids want to paint, I try to get them to paint part of the house or patio with water.  This has been working quite well until lately they're getting all "we know our rights" and demanding "real" paint.  You know, with color in it.  Humph.

So I mixed up a batch of this stuff found here and poured it into muffin tins (since I'm sure not going to bake anything in them).

We tried painting the blacktop on our driveway, but it didn't work so well.  There are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, and Mike doesn't want anything harsher than a chamois cloth to touch our new patio and walkway, so I squeezed my budding artists onto our old concrete stoop (are people in the south allowed to use that word?) and told them to have at it.

Yummy colors

Of course, Will had to paint his feet.  There's a theme here.

Sarah's handiwork

Don't tell me you can't see S-A-R-A-H in there.  I am so proud of that girl and her writing.

Will's handiwork

Thank you, thank you.

Take a bow. 

Drop Everything and Potty!

I had a Father's Day-related post planned for today, but life took things in a different direction.

I've been putting it off and putting it off, but finally the potty training became unavoidable.  Will is ready.  I am not. 

Since we are stuck hanging around the house for a couple of days, it seemed like an opportune time to try some of those kid things I've pinned since Pinterest so graciously allowed me in their club.

The first one we tried yesterday was blowing up Ivory soap in the microwave, found here.  The look on the kids' faces tells the whole story.

I will say, the soap is too hot for kids to touch when it first comes out of the microwave, so we had to let it cool. 

Our Paper Papa found the skiing on soap clouds to be quite delightful. 

I'll explain why we turned my father-in-law into a paper doll next week.  Let's just say, we're doing our own little Flat Stanley project around here.

After the soap cooled, we took the party outside, along with some cookie cutters and toy cars.

Green Lantern makes an appearance

One of Will's many superpowers is that he can turn ANY activity into a messy one.  Even playing with soap.

Aftermath of a soap-ball fight
This stuff kept them occupied for a lot longer than I thought it would, and the only prep is unwrapping a bar or two of soap.  Two thumbs up from me.