Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Road Trip Essentials

Well, not really.  A portable DVD player or an iPad would top my list of essentials.  But, since there's only so many times a kid can watch Toy Story 2 (and there's usually a fight about whether we're watching 2 or 3), I wanted to try a little something I pinned for this road trip. 

There are a lot of variations of the cookie sheet travel tray out there, but I wanted to take all the ideas and combine them into one TREMENDOUS TRAVEL TRAY. 

First of all, the little gel clings for the windows are a must.  The idea was for the kiddos to stick them to their "desks", as they like to call them, but they preferred putting on the windows so the light could shine through them.  

Here's one of the desks:

Nothing fancy, just a cookie sheet with some clear contact paper on it.  The dry-erase markers are magnetic, so there's nothing rolling around while Mom careens through Middle Tennessee.

Post-its are key, as are magnets, since my children are fascinated with them.  I don't know if an affinity for Post-it notes can be passed along genetically, but neither Sarah nor I can get enough of them.

I painted the flip-side of the cookie sheet with chalkboard paint, but I wish I had used spray paint so we could have had a nice flat surface.

A lot of playing with this leads to more of this:

And that means Mama gets to control the radio.

Anyway, nobody wrote on the upholstery or got a gel cling stuck in his or her ear, so I call these car desks a success!

Monday, July 30, 2012


There are perks to having a gadget-geek husband: cardboard.

Mike recently bought speakers that are bigger than our children.  He planted them in the den in an effort, apparently, to rid our house of all of its windows.  Even I know that electronics are getting smaller all the time, so I figured these speakers were circa 1992 or something.  They weren't.

But, they gave us a LOT of material to work with in terms of cardboard.  We have a puppet theater in the works, as well as a shadow puppet theater, an airplane, and some pizzas.

First up, was the Viking ship.

Okay, so this is the one on Pinterest.

And here's mine:

Not EXACTLY the same, but what mine lacks in style and flawless details, it makes up for in versatility.  So far, the boat has doubled as a tent, hideout, airplane, toy box, car garage, and, most recently, a pond for Snakey and Stripes.

Oh, and Spider Man was in the mood to go shopping, so the boat also made a great check-out counter at the grocery store.

I did enjoy making the Viking helmets, but Will was less than enthusiastic about wearing his.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Back to the Future

Whew.  We spent today traveling from Memphis back to Nashville, via the Rainforest Cafe and Opry Mills. 

As much as I love visiting my parents, it's good to get home to reliable internet/cell service, and to as much sweet tea as I can brew.  Seriously, I think my parents have dial-up. 

Anyway, that's why I haven't posted anything but the pegs for a couple of days. This unexpected Pinterest detox has me a little jittery.

I discovered something on this little trip: my iPad and I will never be more than friends.  I just can't commit to a relationship with a computer that won't allow me to upload photos to Blogger and send attachments on an email. 

We got some things accomplished, though.  Sarah and Will now trust their Puddle Jumpers not to let them drown, so we have to bribe them to get OUT of the pool. 

Got the flux capacitor all checked out on the DeLorian (read: oil change on the Hyundai). 

And we finally got to hang out at the Rainforest Cafe.  Thanks to my Mom's generous donation to the Snake Rescue Fund, we adopted two amphibian friends to bring home with us.

Sarah's hot pink python with the whimsical moniker "Snakey"

Will's blue rattler "Stripes"
We skipped naps today, so I had to put them to bed extra-early tonight.  Which means they're still up playing, thinking I can't hear their stage-whispers. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peg Side Story

I mean, there's no more to be said.  This is what happens when you hang with hobbits all day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Visit From Pooh Bear and Friends

We had a visit last night from our friends over in the Hundred Acre Woods.  Yup, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and even Owl (maybe his country-bumpkin cousin?) dropped by to sample our "Hunny". 

The kids found this awaiting them at the breakfast table this morning.

Christopher Robin left us a note:

They even used the letters from Sarah and Will's names to climb out of our house and back into their book. 

And, of course, Eeyore forgot his tail:

 Sarah's theory was that Tigger bounced on our balloons, making them deflate.

I'm glad it cheered them up.  There were some tears at bedtime because we miss Daddy.  The only problem is that now Sarah wants to write Christopher Robin a note and leave it out for their next visit tonight.  Which I was unaware of until now.  Since I'm out of ideas. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pink Guitar

Sarah informed me the other day that she's a country girl.  So, maybe that's why my brother-in-law and his family sent her a pink acoustic guitar for her birthday.  Like, the real deal.

When we got it, we'd already had about 2 weeks of birthday celebrating and stuff trickling in, so Sarah had gotten used to thinking her birthday was sort of like the Bicentennial.  You know, it's celebrated for an entire year.

Anyway, I put the guitar in the coat closet and didn't tell her about it until I formulated a plan.  See, one of Will's alter-egos is "Rockstar Will", complete with a lot of squinting, jumps, and pretending to play "Smoke on the Water".  Combine that with his talent for loving completely and overwhelmingly (until he breaks stuff), and you have a recipe for guitar-related disaster that even Nirvana couldn't top.

Finally, we busted out the beautiful gift one night after bath.  Mike's presence ensured man-to-man coverage, and we discussed the rules for guitar worship

Rule #1: No tackling the guitar.
Rule #2: Take turns, but remember it's Sarah's guitar.
Rule #3: No tackling the guitar player.
Rule #4: Strum the guitar like you're petting a boa constrictor - veeeeeery gently.

The instrument is still in one piece, so I'd say the meet-and-greet was a success. 

I didn't realize the girl was sneaking out to the Bluebird after we went to sleep...

Now she's mad at us because neither Mike nor I know how to play.  Guess we're going to have to do some research on YouTube.  I'm just glad shipping drum sets is cost-prohibitive...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On the Brink

I know, I know, this is not a craft blog.  But, since that is the type of blog I read, I try to get a little piece of the action sometimes, too. 

Anyway, my kids are my muses and "necessity is the mother of invention" and all that.  So, I have been working piecemeal on a lot of different projects, mostly for them.  But, there's one thrown in for me.  Here are some of the projects that are juuuuuuuust about ready for my munchkins.  Some are 100% mommy-powered, while some are ready for the kids to paint/annihilate/bring to life. 

Big cardboard boxes= hours of fun.

 Puppet Theater/Superman Telephone Booth

  Viking Ship

 Guess what these will be?

 Bumblebee Boy Cape

 A dress for me.  I'm convinced it's my job-landing dress.

 Lemonade stand dress for Sarah

 Lemonade stand/Puppet Theater.  (I like things that do double-duty.)

Labor of love/Red Woolen Sweater (This one's been in the works for a year.)

Anyway, maybe you'll see the finished products in action soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Warning: Excessive Pictures

For as long as I can remember, there's been something of a rivalry between Memphis and Nashville over size and some other stuff, and generally which is better.  Being a native Memphian living in Nashville, I have my biases of course.  But, as the Activities Director for Little Critters in my family, I can say with a hefty dose of objectivity, that Memphis has the upper hand on kid-friendly places and adventures.

Fortunately, my parents and the rest of my family live in the area, so we have lots of reasons to make the 3-hour trip. 

Our recent trip was necessitated by the adoption of a buffalo named Buzz (Lightyear) and free babysitting provided by g-parents. 

We rode the heatwave of 2012 into town, dropped off our stuff, picked up more (sand-digging) stuff, and headed to Shelby Farms to visit the aforementioned buffalo.  And the jaw-dropping new park there.  

These pictures don't do it justice, but there are three giant pits with different things to play on and do in them, appropriate for all ages.  I mostly get suckered into sliding with people. 

The weird cage-like fence surrounding the play areas will eventually be covered in vines.  Right now, though, the place is like being in a giant frying pan. 

The next day, we hit up the Pink Palace.  I have no excuse as to why I have no pictures of the outside of the building, but it's so pretty.  There is a special exhibit about megalosaurus or something, so some of us wanted to check it out. Some of us, but not Sarah.

My kids are into dinosaurs (real original, I know) in different ways.  They both enjoy pretending to be dinosaurs, but Sarah is scared of the animatronic ones and dino skeletons. I have taken this challenge as an opportunity to discuss carnivores (animals that will eat us) and herbivores (nice animals who only eat leaves and plants). 

She doesn't mind excavation, though.

Dad and Will got into dinosaur rubbings.

Look, Mom, somebody else made this!

Mike beating the toddlers at their own game.

We couldn't peel Will away from this gigantosaurus for very long. 

Meanwhile, Sarah just wanted to get away.

My favorite part of the whole museum is the miniature circus, carved entirely by hand by one man.  It's nearly 100 years old, and I can remember looking at it for what seemed like hours when I was little.  Things have changed since then, and you can't push a button to make it come to life anymore, but it's still spectacular. 

The Big Top

My kids were less impressed.  Another change at the Pink Palace from my early years is that you can't "shop" at the old-timey Piggly-Wiggly anymore.  Bummer.  The Civil War exhibit is just as creepy as ever, though.  I've got one word for you: leeches.

In an effort to escape roaring robot dinosaurs and scary skeletons, we went down to the permanent exhibition of quiet robot dinosaurs and regular skeletons. 

Flamingo and teensy-tiny Hummingbird skeletons
The Berenstein Bears: Too Much Junk Food has Sarah pondering her innards, so maybe some of the human skeletons helped illustrate one system of the body.

This triceratops used to greet visitors at the front door, but she's been retired.  I think she and Sarah made friends.  Will staged the introductions and tried to climb up and pet her.

"Diamonds, Mommy!"

"Can I have one of these for my birthday?"
Will's favorite might have been this Wooly Mammoth.  He seemed to think those giant tusks would be fun to try swinging from.

After a full morning of evading dinosaurs, Sarah just really needed a pedicure.  Thanks to my mom's Caribbean blue nail polish, all three generations of girls got twinkle toes. 

Sunday morning was spent at the Memphis Zoo,

checking out the big cats:

visiting my namesake, Julie Hippo:

Julie and her daughter Splish
and going to China:

Will made a new best friend who, apparently, loves to eat as much as he does.

Le Le and Ya Ya are the giant pandas and fellow gastronomes as well.
There's a little play/exercise area set up for the pandas, but the idea that they would actually use it is a bigger myth than glow bubbles. 

Sarah was apparently so enamored of this Chinese dragon/lion sculpture, that she forgot that looking at the camera might steal her soul. 

Twirling in the little splash pad was necessary.

We loved seeing all of the animals of the Northwest Passage, especially the grizzlies.

Too hot to move.  I feel ya, wolves.

The little explorers stole Grumps and DD's hats. 

Ready for safari

And the peeps passed out on the ride home. 
Next time we go, Sarah wants to see the King.  Me too, Sarah. Me too.