Archive | playtime RSS feed for this section

What to do With All of These Seashells?

2 Jul

Hi everyone!  I hope you have all had a fabulous rainy day….yeah.  Here in the South we are getting quite tired of the constant monsoon.  We have gardening to do!

Luckily, I prepared yesterday morning for the rainy week ahead.  The kids and I (and Noah, whose name is quite fitting at this time) packed up and headed to Hobby Lobby to replenish our craft supplies.

We have TONS, and I mean TONS of seashells from our recent vacation.  Everyone likes looking for pretty shells on the beach, especially my mom, who may be a little OCD about her shell collection.  Not only did she tirelessly search for shells, she washed, separated, and bagged the shells according to shape and texture and color. Thanks, Mama!

So we spent the day making things with our shells.  We had a lot of fun and it was a great way to spend this incredibly rainy day.  Here’s what we came up with:

First, we went out yesterday during a break in the rain and buried all of our shark’s teeth.  We are going to have friends over to dig for them as soon as we can walk through the yard again!

We went to the sandbox during a break in the rain yesterday and buried our sharks teeth.  We're going to have friends over to dig for them!

We’ll have so much fun digging for these again!

This morning, Charlie and I redecorated Goldie’s bowl.  We added some smooth black stones and several oyster shells.

DSC_0395

Goldie loves his new bowl decor!  He has been swimming around happily all day.

Goldie loves his new bowl decor! He has been swimming around happily all day.

When Maddie woke up and we had finished with our morning routine, we made seashell sculptures.

We used Crayola Air-Dry Clay.

We used Crayola Air-Dry Clay.

Maddie is serious about her sculpting.

Maddie is serious about her sculpting.

Charlie's finished project-I think we'll put them in our English garden in a few days when they are dry.

Charlie’s finished project-I think we’ll put them in our English garden in a few days when they are dry.

Then we painted some shells.

Charlie making his Spiderman shell!

Charlie making his Spiderman shell!

And some wiggly-eyes for added effect.

And some wiggly-eyes for added effect.

I also made some magnets with some purple-grayish shells.  They match our kitchen well!

Just use a hot glue gun to secure the magnet to the back of the shell.  Easy!

Just use a hot glue gun to secure the magnet to the back of the shell. Easy!

They look good on the fridge.  I think I will make some with the shells the kids painted, too.  That would make a great gift!

They look good on the fridge. I think I will make some with the shells the kids painted, too. That would make a great gift!

I do have one more shell project I am working on, but it may take a few days.  I’ll let you all know when it is finished.  Then I guess we will dump the rest of the shells in the sandbox.

I am glad we had the shells today.  We had a lot of fun making stuff with them and it helped to make our day indoors pretty fun. Plus, we got a visit from Jill and Addison, so that made our day even better!

Fun Things for Kids on the Beach

27 Jun

Tomorrow is our last full day of vacation!  As usual, time has just flown by.  We have been having a great time, but like any mother on vacation, I feel like I am going to need a vacation to recover from this vacation!

Last week as I was preparing for our beach trip, I spent a little time on Pinterest looking for some new ideas of things to bring to the beach for the kids to play with during our long days on the beach.  I was a little disappointed that every article said basically the same things:  buckets and shovels with a reminder to take plenty of juice so the kids stay hydrated.  Duh!

We take long beach trips since houses on the coast rent for a week at a time during the summer season.  We usually spend all day on the beach, so we need lots of things for the kids to do.

The beach in itself is its own entertainment.  You can jump in the waves, hunt for shells and sharks teeth (which have been in abundance in front of our house), dig holes, and build sandcastles.  However, with a 1-year old, 2-year old, 4-year old, and 2 11-year olds, you need to have a wide variety of entertainment options available to keep whining and complaining to a minimum.

Here are a few things we bring along to the beach to make our trip a little more enjoyable:

1.  A five-gallon bucket.  Sure, it is nice to have some smaller buckets for sand castles, but the bigger buckets are like little swimming pools for children.  You can dig them into piles of sand to make them secure, fill them with water, and the kids have a place to lounge when they get hot or to wash off their hands if they need to.  We actually brought 2 this time!

DSC_0423

2.  Different sizes of shovels.  This is really important for digging huge holes and tunnels in the sand.  This year, Jason even brought our huge garden shovel, and it has been a lifesaver!  If all you have are the little plastic shovels, you won’t be able to do too much digging, and the bigger the hole the better!  The kids spend hours playing in these holes, and you can actually SIT at the edge of the hole.
DSC_0344

3. A tarp or some sort of plastic sheeting.  I know this sounds crazy, but with this simple thing you can make an oceanfront pool!  Dig a hole, line it with the tarp, and fill it up with water!  If you have very small kids and don’t want them right at the water’s edge, this is great for them to have to play in! If you wanted to get really fancy, you could bring a little kiddie pool and take it on the beach.
DSC_0325

4. Little fishing poles.  You can buy these for just a few dollars and the kids love “fishing” in the surf with them.  Of course, you don’t really put a hook on the line!

DSC_0330

5. Toy dump trucks, tractors, and bulldozers.  I didn’t get a pic of this, but it’s fun to move the sand around on the beach with these.

I know it will take up a little extra space in the car to drag all of these things to the beach, but if you’re getting a house for a week like us, it is totally worth it!

 

 

 

School’s Out for Summer!

13 Jun

Even though we haven’t officially started school yet in our family, we still love to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation.  Technically, my life right now is just one long summer vacation, but summer vacation still means something to us-enjoying being outside, going to the beach and the pool, and seeing friends who have been in school all year. The library in Goldston where we go to story time every week has a huge party to celebrate the end of the school year and kick off the summer reading program.  

Even though it was absolutely sweltering-over 90 degrees by 12:00- we had fun playing in the shade.  Around 130 people came to have hotdogs and ice cream and listen to good music.  There was a cake walk, face painting, and a park ranger who gave the kids some interesting info about animals in our area.  

Maddie checking out the bubble machine.

Maddie checking out the bubble machine.

Ladderball!  This game is a bit nerve-wracking when pre-schoolers are involved!

Ladderball! This game is a bit nerve-wracking when pre-schoolers are involved!

Charlie got a snake painted on his leg-he just loves it.

Charlie got a snake painted on his leg-he just loves it. When Jason got home, he said, “Daddy, there is a snake on my leg.  Don’t worry, it isn’t real.”  

Maddie chose a sun for her cheek.  She doesn't look too happy in this picture, but she really loved it.  When I showed it to her in the mirror she just smiled and smiled.

Maddie chose a sun for her cheek. She doesn’t look too happy in this picture, but she really loved it. When I showed it to her in the mirror she just smiled and smiled.

My friend La'eeqa and her boys.

My friend La’eeqa and her boys.

 

And another friend Nanzetta with part of her brood.

And another friend Nanzetta with part of her brood.

 

Some of the kids enjoying their hotdogs while they listen to the music.

Some of the kids enjoying their hotdogs while they listen to the music.

 

Cakewalk!

Cakewalk!

 

This is one of Charlie's prizes from the cakewalk.  When he puts it on, he really thinks that we don't recognize him!

This is one of Charlie’s prizes from the cakewalk. When he puts it on, he really thinks that we don’t recognize him!

 

I just love my story time group so much.  I have made some great friends through it and the kids have, too.  Today was a great start to our summer!

 

 

 

Zucchini Bread, Puzzles, and Cartoons

7 Jun

Since Tropical Depression Andrea (I think that’s her name) has come to visit us today, we are stuck inside all day.  While the kids and I love being outside, we also enjoy a rainy day in the house every once in a while.  Charlie is getting caught up on his DVR’d episodes of Max and Ruby and playing with his Batmobile while Maddie is taking a nap.  Great day for a nap, isn’t it?

This morning we decided to make some zucchini bread.  I still have several bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer from last summer that I need to use up before our zucchini starts coming in this year.  Maddie decided to take a break from her princess duties to help me:

Cinderella (before she became a princess).

Cinderella (before she became a princess).

Here’s my zucchini bread recipe, if anyone wants to try it:

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

6 eggs

3 cups white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dark Karo Syrup

2 cups oil

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. cinammon

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

6 cups flour

4 cups shredded zucchini (if frozen, include the juice)

*optional: 2 cups nuts

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour bread pans.  (This recipe will make 3 large loaves of bread, or 6 mini-loaves, and also makes great muffins.) Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugars, karo syrup, and oil.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix well.  Alternately add the flour and zucchini, mixing well between each addition.  Fold in nuts if desired.

Pour into bread pans and cook 40-50 mins depending on loaf size.

Turned out well!

Turned out well!

The kids and I ate zucchini bread with peanut butter for lunch and it was so good.  Hopefully the rain will stop this afternoon and we can get out to deliver our other loaves!

This is the stack of books we have been working on today:

DSC_0325

Sometimes rainy days are so good!

How Motherhood is Like College…

4 Jun

1.  You find yourself wearing a bathing suit and going down a slip-n-slide at 10:00 in the morning. 

In college you do things like this at random times just because you can and because you want to wear a bikini as much as possible.

I had to go down the slip-n-slide this morning to show Charlie and Maddie how to do it. I was praying the entire time that no one would walk around the house and see my in my bikini.

2. You eat lots of peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese sandwiches, ramen noodles, and macaroni and cheese (out of the blue box-not the gourmet kind).

In college, these things are cheap and easy.

As a mother, these things are cheap and easy.

3. You go to lots of parties.

College: frat parties, tailgating, hurricane parties, the list goes on.

Motherhood: birthday parties, library parties, tea parties, the list goes on.

4. You worry about exams.

This is what college is all about, isn’t it?

College didn’t prepare me for the kindergarten entrance exams!  Thank goodness I am not dealing with that yet, because I have some mommy friends who are really stressing out over this!

5. You spend a lot of time listening to other people talk about things they think are really important.

I spent thousands of hours in college listening to college professors drone on and on about different things that they thought were just so important.  Aren’t college professors so self-absorbed?

Now, I spend several hours every day listening to a 2 and 4-year old drone on and on about things like Superman, Batman, toys, legos, etc.  I am not sure what Maddie goes on about, but she does end every sentence with “okay?” and I always agree with her.  Aren’t preschoolers so self-absorbed?

6. You play lots of games.

I won’t mention the games we played in college.

As a mother, I spend a lot of time playing Candy Land (which Charlie always turns into a strange superhero game where he rescues me from Lord Licorice), Hi-Ho Cherrio, and Hide-and-Seek.

7.  You’re always late, and it is usually someone else’s fault.

Well, okay, in college it was my own fault.

Now, I totally blame the children.

8. You sometimes stay up all night.

Remember when it was nothing to stay up all night?  It just didn’t effect us one bit.

As a mother we are sometimes up at random times during the night dealing with sickness, nightmares, or loneliness.  Charlie scared the living daylights out of me at 4:00 this morning when I woke up to find him standing next to my bed staring at me. It was so creepy.

Now, being up at night makes me really grumpy.

9. You share a bathroom with a lot of people who don’t give you any privacy.

In my freshman dorm we had a huge bathroom that half of the floor shared.  Anytime we flushed the toilet we had to yell out “FLUSH” so the people in the showers could stand out of the water and not get scalded. I yelled “FLUSH” for years after that out of pure habit.

Now I see that the lack of privacy then was just preparation for being a mother.  I hardly ever use the toilet, or shower, without a little person watching me or asking me what I am doing.  A friend once told me that anytime she needs the entire family’s attention, she just sits on the toilet and everyone (including the hubs) suddenly appears!

10.  There is always a wild child or mama’s boy you try to avoid.

In college, there were certain people you tried to avoid.  The crazy kid who would end up with an eyebrow missing by the end of the night, or the grown man who didn’t know how to do his laundry or clean his toilet because his mama did everything for him.

These same people are still present now!  The crazy kid who will cut a chunk out of your child’s hair or the kid with the hovering mother.

 

College and motherhood are both wild times, aren’t they?  You just never know what to expect, but it’s so fun.

Any more comparisons between your college experience and your mothering experience?  I would love to hear them!

Charlie’s 4th Birthday Party!!!

2 Jun

Am I the only one who just cannot believe that Charlie is 4?  His birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but yesterday we finally got around to celebrating with a superhero party!  We had such a great time with our family and our friends.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by people who love us!  When I woke up yesterday morning and started stressing about the party, I just asked Jesus to help make this a special time for Charlie, for everyone to come and just celebrate his little life, and that’s what happened!

The party was themed around Charlie’s latest obsession: superheroes!

Batman and Superman on their favorite form of transportation!  The Batmobile!

Batman and Superman on their favorite form of transportation! The Batmobile!

It's a bird! It's a plane!  It's Supermaddie!  Maddie was really upset when I had to explain to her that she couldn't literally fly.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Supermaddie! Maddie was really upset when I had to explain to her that she couldn’t literally fly.

Emma and Casey

Emma and Casey

 

Batman and Iron Man

Batman and Iron Man

 

Aaron with a Nerf gun-they had some sort of complicated game they were playing!

Aaron with a Nerf gun-they had some sort of complicated game they were playing!

Sam shooting down Aaron and Nick.

Sam shooting down Aaron and Nick.

 

Superman (John) whacking the pinata

Superman (John) whacking the pinata

 

Noah getting the final hit!

Noah getting the final hit!

 

And Charlie getting in one more for good measure!

And Charlie getting in one more for good measure!

 

We had a great afternoon!  Charlie has been busy playing with all of his new goodies.  Thank you to everyone!

 

Taking the Zoo to the Zoo

26 Apr

We are so lucky to live just a short drive from the NC Zoo.  It is a wonderful habitat zoo broken up into 2 continents: Africa and North America.  There are polar bears, lions, chimps (we saw the little baby chimp riding around on its mama’s back today-so cute) elephants, bison, giraffes, and so many other beautiful animals there, all living in miniature versions of their natural habitats.

It was quite a day for a few of my mommy friends and I to take all of our kids to the zoo! All together we had 7 kids, and I will just tell you that I am exhausted.  The stroller logged in many, many miles today, and so did my feet.

I was feeling pretty good about myself when I was pushing the stroller around the zoo, sometimes up hills and with 3 kids squeezed into it. Then I looked over and saw one of my former students AND HER 3 CHILDREN!! Now that was an eye-opener.  Someone that I taught has grown up and has a family BIGGER AND OLDER than mine! Suddenly the stroller became a little more difficult to push.

All I had was my cell phone camera today, so I didn’t take too many pictures, and the pics I did take were mostly of the kids and not the animals.

Madster posing in a boat in the swamp.  She is such a diva-this was before she dropped her pants and peed like a man in the middle of the playground.

Madster posing in a boat in the swamp. She is such a diva-this was before she dropped her pants and peed like a man in the middle of the playground.

There is a spiderweb in the park at the zoo.  This was Charlie's dream come true!

There is a spiderweb in the park at the zoo. This was Charlie’s dream come true!

One of the highlights of my day was seeing Charlie’s reaction to the dinosaur exhibit.  This exhibit is so awesome.  It is full of really big, really lifelike dinosaurs.  They move and roar and make other noises, and one even spits water at you.  Charlie thought they were real, and told his friend John, “No, they are real,” when John told him they were fake.  He still thinks they are real even now.

Charlie was afraid to turn his back on the dinosaurs.

Charlie was afraid to turn his back on the dinosaurs.

 

 

Digging for fossils.

Digging for fossils.

So I would consider this a very successful trip to the zoo.  The weather was perfect, and both kids and I were in bed at 8:30.  I bet the former student that I ran into today got in bed even earlier.

 

Spreading Weeds

16 Apr

Jason is going to kill me if he finds out that the kids and I spent the afternoon spreading daffodil seeds all over the yard.  When I looked out the window and saw that our front yard was peppered with large, perfectly round daffodils, I knew I had to introduce them to one of my favorite ways to make a wish.  We went outside and the kids raced around to pick daffodils (and to argue over daffodils), then they made a wish (Charlie’s favorite wish was “gibbeldy, gook, gook,” and so forth…he loves gibberish right now.), and blew the seeds everywhere.

Running to a daffodil patch

Running to a daffodil patch

Found one!

Found one!

Spreading weeds

Spreading weeds

Maddie screamed out "There's one!" every time she saw a daffodil.

Maddie screamed out “There’s one!” every time she saw a daffodil.

 

I saw a HUGE patch of daffodils in our back yard later in the afternoon.  We’ll have to take care of that tomorrow!  Sorry, Honey!

*4/17/13: I just woke up and realized those weeds are dandilions, not daffodils! Oh the difference a good nights sleep can make!*

Dying Easter Eggs

28 Mar

We have had a lot of fun this week beginning our Easter traditions.  This is the first year that Charlie really understands what is going on, and of course if Charlie likes it Maddie is totally into it!  We have been learning a lot with our resurrection eggs and some library books about the whole point of Easter-that Jesus died and was resurrected.  We have also been doing the other Easter stuff, like Easter egg hunts and dying eggs.  We dyed our eggs on Monday, and I am just now getting around to posting about it!

I had aspirations to do lots of great, creative things with our Easter eggs, but ended up just buying the good ol’ Paas Easter egg kit and going for it.  We didn’t even write on them with crayons before we dyed them!  Maybe next year…

Both Maddie and Charlie got a big kick out of watching the color tablets dissolve in the vinegar.

Both Maddie and Charlie got a big kick out of watching the color tablets dissolve in the vinegar.

Working...

Working…

They immediately wanted to take the eggs out of the dye!  I had to make them leave them a little longer so the colors would be a little brighter.

They immediately wanted to take the eggs out of the dye! I had to make them leave them a little longer so the colors would be a little brighter.

Green hands!

Green hands!

Our eggs had a slightly more "natural" color since our eggs were blue and brown instead of white!  I like how they turned out.

Our eggs had a slightly more “natural” color since our eggs were blue and brown instead of white! I like how they turned out.

...and displayed on the table.

…and displayed on the table.

Now the kids can’t wait to destroy the eggs on Easter day!  They want to crack them open so badly.

I have seen some other really cool things with Easter eggs.  One of my favorite blogs is Glitter ‘N Glue, and she had a great post today featuring DIY Glittered Easter eggs.  I wish I had seen this before we dyed our eggs!  Click on the link to see her idea: http://glitternglue.com/2013/03/28/diy-decorative-glittered-easter-eggs/.

This site also has some really cool ideas: http://www.thegirlcreative.com/2013/03/24/creative-ways-to-decorate-easter-eggs.html.

Next year, I am definitely getting more creative with our eggs!  Or I may just stay up late one night and do it myself…

 

 

 

 

 

The Innovative Easter Bunny

25 Mar

This is the end of another great weekend!  The kids and I traveled to Mt. Airy on Friday to spend some time with our family there.  We stopped on our way at the Children’s Museum in Greensboro and had the most fun time.  They basically have  a town set up for young children, complete with a grocery store, theater, a doctor’s and dentist’s office, a post office, a news studio, a firetruck, and tons more stuff.  I wish I had videoed Charlie’s reaction when we walked in.  He kind of doubled over with his arms out and just went “OOOOOOOOOOOOO.” It was the funniest thing I have ever seen.  I love being there for experiences like that with them.  We had a great time there and I could barely get them to leave.

We had a great visit in Mt. Airy as well.  I am always glad when we can go and spend the night rather than rushing back home in one day.  Even though I don’t get much sleep that night, it is worth it to get to spend some time with Daddy and Grandma and Julie.  Daddy spent time coloring with the kids and he and Maddie made pancakes on Saturday morning.

Today was a busy day at church for us.  Jason and I taught Sunday School, then after the service the youth sponsored a lunch to raise money for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.  It is always great to spend some extra time with my family from church!  After lunch the kids had an Easter egg hunt.  Because of the cold, rainy weather, we had to “hide” the eggs inside, but it was still fun!

Maddie getting a lift to reach one of the harder-to-find eggs.

Maddie getting a lift to reach one of the harder-to-find eggs.

Charlie going through his loot.

Charlie going through his loot.

The whole crowd! I love these kids.

The whole crowd! I love these kids.

Maddie with some of her friends from church.

Maddie with some of her friends from church.

After we got home, Charlie and Maddie dumped out their baskets and started going through their findings.  Of course it was mostly candy.  I have been thinking today (especially considering that Charlie has a dentist appointment tomorrow) that there have got to be some alternatives to candy in the eggs!  Here’s what I came up with:

1. stickers (you may have to cut a sheet of stickers into smaller pieces to fit in the eggs)

2. necklaces (I found some good ones here:  http://www.orientaltrading.com/bright-cross-necklaces-a2-36_1494-12-1.fltr?Ntt=crosses)

3. hair bows or clips for girls

4. quarters, nickels, and dimes

5. magnets

6. stamps and ink

7. small containers of play-doh

8. bracelets

9. stuffed animals (these baby chicks are too cute: http://www.orientaltrading.com/baby-chicks-a2-48_8752.fltr?prodCatId=550678&tabId=6)

10. packets of seeds

11. raisins

12. toy cars

13. Silly Bands

14. erasers

15. tattoos

16. bouncy balls

17. rolled up socks

18. Lego pieces (look at this cute bunny and chick set: http://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Seasonal-Bunny-Bagged-40031/dp/B007F824HW%3FSubscriptionId%3D14H876SFAKFS0EHBYQ02%26tag%3Dhubp06ac0-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB007F824HW)

19. Band-Aids (the kids love these)

20. little plastic animals

21. lip gloss or chap stick

22. nail polish

23. mini hand sanitizer

24. pencil sharpeners

25. fruit snacks

Any more ideas?  Comment below!  I am sure I’m not the only mother who would appreciate having the Easter bunny leave things other than candy behind in those baskets!