Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Okay, so, as promised, here's another Dr. Seuss project that's easy to put together.  I will warn you, however, that it is not so easy to clean up.  And that is why I hurried to get this little busy box ready for my  sweet Baboos, and now I'm not going to let them play with it.  Unless. Unless there's a break in this gloomy weather because we have to play with this outside.

I busted out a batch of rainbow rice (recipe at the end of the post), and laid it all nice and ROYGBIV-style in a plastic storage container.  Sigh.  It won't stay all delectable and pretty for long.

Seuss-themed terrarium, complete with Truffula trees
Anyway, Thing One and Thing Two are characters that are very dear to my heart for two reasons: 1.) their AWESOME hair; and 2.) I feel like I know them because I live with their doppelgangers.  That's why we have puppets AND pegs of these guys.  So, I whipped up some quick peg dolls, hot glued a pom pom on their heads, and there you have it. 

I saw another post somewhere about dying cotton balls to make Truffula trees, but we're kind of instant gratification people over here.  Since I was already in a pom-pom-making mood, I made a few more and hot glued them to craft sticks for my Truffulas.

A view into the Things' terrarium

I would apologize for the crummier-than usual photography, but if you're a loyal reader, it's something you've come to expect.

I almost forgot.
 Here's the method for making Rainbow Rice (originally from Pink and Green Mama):

5 lbs. of white rice
hand sanitizer
basic food coloring

Step 1: Pour 1/6 of the rice in a gallon plastic baggie.
Step 2: Pour about 8 or 9 drops of desired food coloring onto rice in baggie.
Step 3: Squirt about 3 pumps of hand sanitizer onto rice in baggie. (This sets the food coloring so it doesn't come off onto little hands.)
Step 4: Zip baggie closed.  Mix food coloring, rice, and hand sanitizer all around until well coated and desired shade.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1 thru 4 for all colors in separate baggies, eyeballing and mixing any colors that you want.
Anyway, gotta run.  We're meeting with Sarah's agent about a book deal.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Seuss is Loose!

Too wet to go out
And too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house.
We did nothing at all.

And then something went BUMP!
How that bump made us jump!

We looked!
And we saw him!
The Cat in the Hat!

If you have school-age kids, they're probably involved in Read Me Week at school, culminating in a celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday.  There are all kinds of Seuss-related crafts and activities out there, so I thought I'd toss my hat in the ring with a pretty quick and easy little project turning these craft stick puppet blanks:

Into these Seuss-tastic characters to occupy the little ones:

All you need is some paint, Sharpies, yarn, and craft foam. I actually made Things 1 & 2 last summer, using some turquoise yarn to make pom poms for their hair.  The pom poms are just hot glued on to the back of the craft stick.  Done and done.  Mike drew Fish, and I drew Nick, Sally, and the Cat.

Yesterday, during a rare nap for the kids, I decided to add on to our collection.  The Green Eggs and Ham crew was up next, complete with Sam-I-am and the angry unnamed guy. 

Sarah's favorites are the Sneetches and the Lorax.

I dragged our lemonade stand up from the basement, and let the puppeteers go to work.

Dr. Seuss has a special place in my heart.  He rescued generations from the un-entertaining, inauthentic readers series like Dick and Jane and gave us legendary characters, new vocabulary, and profound wisdom, all rolled into a silly, sweet package.  For more Seuss-related fun, check out our Lorax craftivities here.

Since it's Read Me Week, I thought I'd also pay homage to Stan and Jan Berenstein.  I learned to read on the Berenstein Bears books, sitting beside my mother and older brother, soaking up everything they were doing.  Here is the Bear family in all of their 80's inspired fashion glory:

Papa Bear met with an untimely beheading recently, but it was nothing a little Crazy Glue and a popsicle-stick neck brace couldn't handle.  

I've got even more Seuss up my sleeve this week!  Perhaps some Fun-in-a-Box?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Valentine's Day

I had a lot of awesome ideas for Valentine's Day that almost came to fruition.  And a bunch that did.  I made "Love Robot"-themed clothing for Sarah, Will, and the AG/Bitty Baby contingency.

I still owe Will Jr. (the Bitty Twin) a t-shirt.  

The stencil and the dress/skirt patterns are from this blog, one of the first blogs I ever read.

Mike has a slight obsession with family photos.  Specifically, hanging them on every blank stretch of wall he can manage.  So, I thought I would do a Valentine's photo shoot of the kids, and then print the very best shots for him.

That..... didn't happen.

But, I did get some shots of kid feet.

In spite of my grand visions of a bacon bouquet and a completed piece of string art, people got sick, life got busy, and nobody missed what they didn't know about.

On a totally different note: I love to make stuff (obvs), and I love to make stuff for other people.  I really want to open an Etsy shop, and I have some ideas of my own in the way of doll dresses, kid dress-up clothes, matroyshkas, and peg dolls.  But, if you have a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Local Tourism

  Yesterday felt like a gift.  Sunshine, mild temps, and after 3 weeks of being sick with everything but the Black Plague, we didn't want to waste it.  And, since gifts are meant to be enjoyed, we did so whole-heartedly with a visit to the Parthenon.

No, not that Parthenon.  I'm talking about the one right here in Nashville.  The sudden onset of illness (other people's, not ours) thwarted our plans for a play date, so the little guys and I decided to go for a picnic at Daddy's Work Park.  In addition to such glamorous skills as middle-of-the-night-puke-cleaner and kid-briber (seriously, there's more graft going on in this house than in the whole of the former Soviet Union), I am also quite proficient in translating kid-speak.  For our purposes, Daddy's Work Park means Centennial Park, because Mike works within walking distance of the park. 

Holding hands was their idea, not mine.

We made a beeline straight for the train engine and the "sock plane", and oohed and ahhhed over how big (and rusty and bird-poopy) they are.

Now, we are Peanuts Gang people at the HOB.  We watch a Snoopy special every time the seasons change or there's a holiday.  Combine that with Will's inherited (from Mike) talent of screwing up song lyrics and all manner of colloquialisms, and you get "sock plane" instead of Sopwith Camel, Snoopy the WWI Flying Ace's airplane. 
People were afraid to get too close, lest the plane fall and smoosh them.
 After we enjoyed a gusty picnic in the shadow of the train engine, it was off to feed the ducks and geese, and yell at the pigeons.  Will has an orniphobia (I just made that up): fear of birds.  But, that didn't stop him from trying to force-feed them entire slices of bread, or bean them on the heads with bread balls.
Once we finished target practice with the geese, we headed up to the grand Grecian building itself. 

I don't know why the city of Nashville chose the Greek Parthenon to replicate, or even when it was built.  But, yesterday, it felt as if they made it just for us to run and hide behind its massive columns and sit on the steps and blow bubbles in the sunshine.

We moved our bubble-blowing operation to another statue, and took in the views of classical architecture,  no doubt philosophizing on the nature of mankind and the laws of nature. 

The doors of the Parthenon have lions sculpted on them.  Consequently, none of us would go near them, because, duh, they might come alive and eat us.  But don't let that possibility deter you from visiting.  Just bring your lion-taming gear. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spy Training: The Greatest Invention Since James Bond

No, I didn't invent anything here, but I did see it on Pinterest and did NOT bother to click on the link. 

Do you have ninjas living in your house?  What about superheroes?  Imaginary animal vets?  I have all of the above in my house, and do you know what they all need on a regular basis? Spy training.  That's right.  I put my kids through their paces just like Sean Connery did for Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment, with yarn and masking tape.

My first foray into spy training, Mission: Impossible-style, was with my 2nd- and 3rd-grade Sunday School class.  About our fifth week into Joshua and Jericho, I decided to conduct some spy training with them, related to the story of Rahab and the Israelite spies.  And let me tell you something: that was the greatest way to entertain 8- and 9-year-olds EVER.  Boys or girls, shy or extroverted, they did it over and over again.

This past week for Valentine's Day, I wanted to make Sarah and Will work for their little stuffed animal gifts, so I put the softies in a corner and strung red crepe paper in a web for them to get through.

For older kids, you can enforce the rule that you're out if you touch any part of the "laser".  For my little guys, not so much.

In my Sunday school class, the web was much more intricate.

Sarah had a lot more fun with this than Will did it.  It's the scalpel vs. the sledgehammer in our house.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Oven Full of Lovin'

The first thing you think of for Valentine's Day is bread, right?

Maybe not, but that didn't stop us from making some for Sarah and Will's teachers for this day of love.  Let's back up.  No-knead bread is kind of phenomenon that was all the rage last year.  Naturally, I jumped on the bandwagon waaaay after the fervor died down.  (You watch, I'll be rockin' the skinny jeans in, like, 5 years when wide-leg is back in style).  Even though we have the 20-year-old bread machine that I stole permanently borrowed from my mom, this no-knead thing seemed like a good way to dump even the smallest bit of work onto the kids.  So, I did.

The real clincher was the fact that I came up with a cheesy pun to go along with our valentines. Cheesy sayings are kind of my thing. 

We tried two methods, but this one was the best. (Sorry, Martha, you know I love you, though, right?) 

Here's the thing: my teacher training (and natural ability to delegate) has put me in the mindset of "Why do it myself, when I can get a kid to do it?"

So, I let the kids measure and dump (and squish, and make a mess), and then we put the dough down for a nap.  Apparently, this bread can sleep through ANYTHING because Will kept yelling at it to,"WAKE UP!!!".  Here at the House of Brown, we excel at many things, but waiting patiently is not one of those things. 

While the bread was in the home stretch, I decided to try a little something I saw on Martha's page for packaging Christmas gifts.  So, I punched out a bunch of construction paper hearts, sandwiched them between two pieces of wax paper, and ironed them together on low.  That, combined with some baker's twine and a hand-stamped tag, made for a festive little package to give to the teachers. 

Seriously, you can't mess this bread up.
And here's the finished product, complete with kitschy saying:
Will "loaves" you very much!  (Get it?)

Even though Valentine's Day is over, these would make a great end-of-the-year teacher gift.  Maybe even with some homemade butter.  (Hmmm, I think I know how I can get the kids to churn some butter for me...) 


Thursday, February 7, 2013


Last week, in between the flu and strep, we got a little some of the white stuff around here.  I know all of the northerners out there just loooooove to make fun of us southerners about snow.  But, seriously, look at these blizzard conditions:

The funniest part about the whole thing is how I was dressed: full-on ski gear, heavy-duty boots, and a pair of Mike's gloves.  Fortunately, I scrapped the idea of a neck gaiter just before I walked out the door.

The thing is, we had to get out early and fast in order to enjoy the snow, since it was a couple of degrees above freezing and the sun was melting everything fast.  But, have you ever dressed pre-schoolers for snow?  Exhausting.  Also, Will has gotten really picky about his attire lately, and he threw a world-class tantrum about his gear versus Sarah's "pink marshmallow pants and jacket".  It turns out, he wanted his own "blue marshmallow snow suit", instead of the black waterproof pants and jacket.

We called his bluff, though, and he decided to suck it up and come outside to engage in his favorite Alpine sport: eating the snow off of the car bumpers.

Looking at these pictures, I think we've got ourselves some real contenders for the first-ever, brother-sister Olympic bobsled team.  Check out that technique.

The pink marshmallow was working it.

This picture reminds me of the artwork from Ezra Jack Keats' A Snowy Day.  Isn't it funny how the really great books can change and grow with you over time.  Just a few years ago, I remember thinking this book was really lame.  Now, it's definitely a favorite.

Ever since we got snow the day after Christmas, the kids are convinced that I am able to conjure up this magical substance through a special wish that I make.  It's a REALLY big responsibility, I have to say.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

We Live in a Horror Movie

Now that both kids recovering, it's like we're living with those horror-movie kids that keep popping up out of nowhere.  You think they're fast asleep in their beds, and then you turn around and almost step on them.  Or, you wake at 2 am to disheveled hair and saucer eyes blinking at you over the edge of the bed, willing you to wake up and let them climb in.

These pictures are old, but, alas, a 2:30 a.m. wake-up call from a kid saying, "I'll never te-ell," is not my idea of a Kodak moment.

Speaking of demonic possession, I have a sweet little vignette to share with you from our adventures at Mike's clinic yesterday.

 Let me back up a minute to say that Sarah is THE TOUGHEST out of all of us when it comes to illness.  She never complains or even shows the slightest trace of discomfort. Of the handful of times in her life that she's been sick, we didn't know it until she was on the mend.  Meanwhile, I whine on the web, Will milks a cold for three weeks, and Mike is always the sickest of all of us (according to him), requiring Gatorade and bed rest for a hangnail.

Anyway, all this to say that when Sarah puked all over her bed the other night, we sat up and took notice.  And changed all of the sheets, scrubbed the floor, and did laundry.  Mike made an appointment for us to come on in and be checked out, so we dragged in late (of course) and generally made a spectacle in the waiting room.  Once they called us back, the examination revealed a double ear infection and Strep throat for Sarah. Wha?! Trooper, I tell ya.  Since we had one kid with a positive Strep test, the NP recommended that we get the little man tested too, a task that proved much easier said than done.

Will has a natural fear of doing anything that another person (especially a parent or authority figure) wants him to do.  We wanted to perform a perfectly painless procedure of swabbing his throat with a Q-tip, so, therefore he did NOT want this done.  Even as I held his arms still and clasped him against me, he thrashed and kicked while the nurse tried to find a way to swab his mouth.  She did finally get the Q-tip in briefly, so I let him go.  Will ran to a corner, folded his chubby arms across his chest and hissed at all of us like the feral beast that he is.

So, what were the results of all of these efforts to tame the wild man? Inconclusive, due to the patient EATING the test.