Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Week two of my MOMS Camp has begun! My theme for this week is "How Does Your Garden Grow?" I plan to plant some flowers, tour some gardens, and visit the local Farmers Market this week. We'll also do special crafts, watch special movies, and read special books having to do with gardens, flowers, and vegetables.

The first morning, which was Memorial Day, we picked out flowers from Home Depot. Molly chose petunias with purple and white on them, and I got orange marigolds for Ben, which he promptly grabbed and "de-petaled" in the cart! While Molly helped me push the cart through the aisles, I announced we were turning "left" or "right" to help Molly learn her directions. As we looked through all the plants, Molly was very interested in smelling the roses and finding certain colors of flowers. We talked about buds on a plant which were about to open, and the difference between plants that need all sunlight versus those that need shade (like our yard, which is filled with trees!).

During Ben's nap, the two of us went out front to plant some flowers. We didn't get many in the ground, but what we did was fun and I'm glad that one little corner of our front yard is a bit brighter. Most of the work was done by me, but Molly was excited to put the flowers in the holes, pat the dirt down around them, and of course to water them. She also was interested to find worms and lots of insects, as always.

The movie I really want to watch this week is Gnomeo & Juliet. We haven't seen it yet and it just came out at Red Box, but it's already checked out everywhere. I attempted to reserve it online, but there was an error and when we got to the one McDonald's in our area with it, someone else had already gotten to it. I'll keep searching for it though! Meanwhile, Molly chose Megamind so we just watched that instead.

Today we headed to the library to check out a bunch of new books I'd ordered about gardens. Today we read Dinosaur Garden by Liza Donnelly, Oswald's Garden by Heather Feldman, and Watch Me Grow! Blue Plants a Seed by Lauryn Silverhardt. The one with Blues Clues was really cute and pretty educational. I loved the lesson it taught that it takes time for a seed to grow so that Molly won't be hoping for instant growth on anything we plant this week!

At preschool earlier this month, Molly had planted some bean seeds which she brought home. Until now they've stayed in their little cup on my kitchen windowsill, but they were getting way too long to stay there! Our yard is complete shade and we really can't grow vegetables of any kind, so we opted to plant her bean plants in my mom's garden. Any trip to her grandma's house is a fun outing for Molly!

I have some pictures of us shopping for flowers and then planting them, but will have to post them later since I'm not at home tonight. The weather has been so nice this week, I'm glad we've been able to be outside. I hope it stays this way!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our First Week Comes to A Close

My first week of MOMS Camp didn't get a grand finale as I had planned, but I'm happy with everything we did accomplish. I had hoped to take the kids to a hot air balloon festival tonight but Ben had a slight fever and wasn't feeling 100% so I decided to skip it. The whole thing was called off on account of wind anyway and we had a good time at my folks for a cookout so it was still a fine evening.

Most of this week was unseasonably cold and misty, or storms with tornadoes so that took away my options of flying kites or going to the zoo to see tropical birds. Instead, we did extra craft projects and played at home. We made paper plate hot air balloons, which were really simple. Molly really enjoyed that one so she made three of them, which now decorate my kitchen window. She loved cutting out a square for the gondola and then cutting yarn and taping it together. She also liked painting craft sticks and gluing them into a diamond shape to make a kite-shaped picture frame. I plan to fill it with a picture from our first week of MOMS Camp!

(I don't know why blogspot sometimes flips my photos, so sorry the kite is upside down!)

One day we watched "Pippi and the Balloon", a DVD I checked out from the library. I used to love Pippi Longstocking when I was little but this cartoon version wasn't so cute. Molly seemed to enjoy the first episode but that was about it. I had checked out Mary Poppins to watch for the kite scene, but we never watched it because we didn't get our own opportunity to fly kites this week due to weather.

Finally, here's a list of books we read this week that were all checked out from the library:
The Berenstain Bears We Like Kites by Stan Berenstain,
Curious George Up Up And Away by Margret Rey,
Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon by Margret Rey,
Felicity & Cordelia by Lisa Jahn-Clough (very sweet story!),
Let's Fly a Kite by Stuart J. Murphy (good lesson in symmetry and sharing),
The Parrot Tico Tango by Anna Whitt (great rhymes and rhythm),
Princess Penelope's Parrot by Helen Lester, and
Sally's Great Balloon Adventure by Stephen Huneck, which was really really cute with amazing artwork.

Tomorrow begins my second week of MOMS Camp. I decided to start each camp on Monday so the grand finale day would be Sunday, which is usually the one day we get to spend with my husband. Anyway, get ready next week for "How Does Your Garden Grow?"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bird watching and watching the weather.

Wednesday morning started out great, with a special breakfast for my little kiddos: birds nests! I had found a recipe for this in a magazine, but of course I couldn't find it that morning. So I kinda made it up and it turned out well! Here's what I did: Used a big cookie cutter to make slices of bread into circles, then flattened them out. I buttered them, then sprinkled on some cinnamon, and pressed them each into a greased muffin pan... making the shapes of nests! I baked 'em for about 8 minutes at 375 degrees until slightly hard. Finally I filled the nests with scrambled eggs and voila!

The rest of Wednesday kinda got crazy with tornadoes, meat lockers, locked keys in my car, and staying at my folks... so we just scrapped our other plans and called it a day! Hey - it happens.

Thursday was another story! We crammed in a lot and my housework kinda took a back seat, but as always it was worth it! Right off the bat we hit Leaping Lizards in Olathe with a friend (no theme... just fun!). We did two craft projects today to make up for yesterday, but I was a little bummed that Molly didn't get into either one as much as I'd hoped.

First, we made a birds nest with yarn and homemade glue. For this, I modified a project I found in Family Fun magazine in February and it's still drying so we'll see how it turns out! I heated 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water until it was kinda glue like (the recipe actually called for cornstarch but you do what you can) then let it cool. We took 12" strips of yarn and dipped them in the glue; ran our fingers over it to get off the access; then dropped the yarn into a round cookie cutter to make a nest shape. Keep the whole thing on a sheet of parchment paper (or wax paper, like I had). I thought Molly would really dig this craft, but she didn't want to get messy (sooo uncharacteristic!) so I did the dirty work. (why is this picture sideways?)

Later, I pulled out a surprise project I'd found at Michael's earlier this week for $1.99: one of those melty beads craft kits to make a blue bird. You know what I mean? I know she did really well with a small peg board in preschool, so I thought this would be perfect. It was actually listed for ages 6+ but she did really well. Unfortunately, they failed to give instructions for the bird so we just had to look at the picture. I did the bulk of the body for her, though she did all of the wings herself. It was also really fun to work with patterns using the beads so it was definitely a teachable moment. She felt really cool doing a "big kid" project, too!

She brought that little bird on our outing today too: bird watching! I took the kids to Sar Ko Par park in Lenexa for a wagon ride and we spotted a few birds. Molly enjoyed using her new pink binoculars (and showing them to kids we met at the playground). We didn't see many varieties, but that didn't stop Molly from chasing them down. I was disappointed that we didn't see the crane (or whatever it is) that usually resides next to the lake but at least we got a chance to slay the dragon by the playground and watch one family catch several fish. Did I mention the weather was BEAUTIFUL!!??

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Edible Eagles!

Today was Molly's last day of preschool so she had field day (which I volunteered at - fun!) and Ben got to hang out with Captain (my mom) while I was gone so it was a win-win situation. No extra outing necessary. Molly was still excited for MOMS Camp, though...even before I got Ben down for a nap, she was asking what our project was going to be today! Then at bedtime, she insisted on only reading books about birds!

For quiet time (because I was exhausted from two late nights and an early morning) we watched the movie "Up" which I checked out from the library. It was pretty weird, but at least it had balloons and a big bird, so it fit our theme for the week.

We also did a really neat sequencing puzzle from Simply Fun (a direct selling company I used to work for... I'm still signed up but haven't scheduled any parties since I had Ben last year. But message me if you're interested in purchasing one for yourself! check out this and other games/puzzles/family activities at www.simplyfun.com). The puzzle is a series of wooden sticks that line up to count to 20 and make a great flying scene. I came across it in Molly's toy closet when I was looking for rainy day activities and realized it was perfect for this week's theme. Here is a shot of her working on it:

Instead of a craft project today, we made a special snack: Edible Eagles! (http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/appetizers-snacks/sweet-snacks/edible-eagles-699768/) This was really really easy and not even that messy. I was surprised that Molly actually liked the coconut too. She sampled all the ingredients but didn't like eating them as a final product. Funny girl. She also insisted on only making two: one for each of us. I didn't mind that because it was quick and clean... but you mean to tell me I bought a whole bag of white chocolate chips and a whole bag of coconut for two stinkin' eagle heads!?? I guess I'll need to find a recipe to use those up so they don't go to waste. Stay posted for what I do with it....Oh! We used chopsticks in special kiddie holders to handle the marshmallows, and devils food cookies for the bases. ;O)

The big 3-0 and Rio!

So my MOMS Camp is underway! A few special plans for the day go a long way in making it meaningful.

Since it was my birthday, and a Monday, and a work day.... the day was pretty packed. We were all over running errands and trying to stick to a tight schedule. It was tricky to make it all work but I'm happy to say we squeezed in everything I wanted. I'm proud to say the TV was hardly on at all! Woo hoo!

Ben's nap time is key to my MOMS Camp plans: it's the only time in the day when my 4 year old gets me all to herself. Usually, though, I think of that as time to get something done like housework! During his nap on Monday, we made "Paper Birds" which I found online. (http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/paper-birds-674358/) I thought Molly would want to cut out the bird shapes herself, but she opted to have me do it. Her favorite parts were picking out the paper (I let her choose from of my scrap booking sheets) and then gluing the pieces together. Here it is step by step:

Our first MOMS Camp outing was a SUPER fun success: I took Molly to see "Rio," just the two of us. The movie was really cute and it was the first time I was actually able to pay attention to a movie because Molly did so well! The next day at her preschool field day, I did face painting, and Molly picked out Blu (the main bird from the movie) for me to paint on her hand, which I thought was cool.

Finally, at bedtime, the third and final part of today's MOMS Camp was some special "night-night books" I had checked out from the library. Even on regular days I pick out books to read that reflect the day so this part wasn't anything new for Molly, except the books, which were cute: The Parrot Tico Tango by Anna Witte, and Princess Penelope's Parrot by Helen Lester.

So, one day down... the rest of the summer to go. I think my MOMS Camp idea is completely doable and WORTH IT! With a couple simple plans in place, I was able to have some special time with my Molly and I feel like the day wasn't wasted!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Get Ready For MOMS Camp tomorrow!

I'm so excited for tomorrow: it's my 3oth birthday and the official start of MOMS camp. Molly's last day of preschool is Tuesday so I'm counting it as her first week of summer vacation. I know some moms whose preschoolers are already out so I don't think it's too much of a jump start. ;O)

The past couple days I've been busy with a special birthday trip to the Omaha Zoo, so I'm just now getting around to listing what you might need for this week's MOMS Camp. I printed out and mostly planned everything last week, but I'm kinda putting it together today so I'm all ready. I'll give you a list of supplies and ingredients you might need. But first...

The first week's theme for MOMS Camp is: Up, Up, And Away! A week of birds, kites, and hot air balloons. :O) This week was inspired by the movie 'Rio' which is still in theaters, and the 3rd Annual Kansas Hot Air Balloon Invitational. The hot air balloons will be at Celebration Park in Gardner, KS from Thursday thru Sunday... check online for a full schedule of launches and activities. I'll be taking the kiddos on Sunday evening probably.

Here's a list of supplies you might need this week for crafts I'm planning:
  • Popsicle sticks
  • construction paper or cardstock
  • yarn
  • paper plate
  • corn starch
  • small bathroom paper cup
  • helium balloon
  • the regulars (crayons, markers, glue, scissors, etc)
Here's a list of ingredients you might need this week for snacks I'm planning:
  • coconut
  • white chocolate chips
  • chocolate cookie like devils food or those fudge covered oreos
  • bread
  • eggs
  • nuts and dried fruits

I hope to post tomorrow with pictures of our projects so you can follow along. Our first big plan is to go see Rio at the movie theater! Message me if you wanna join us and I'll send you the time and place!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Big (little) Summer Plans!

Well, summer (2011) is almost here and I can't wait to spend so much fun time with my kids. We have a few big plans for the summer, but I'm really excited for all the little plans. Here's why:

I feel very emotional that my little girl will be in preschool for THREE days a week this fall, and then next year she'll be in KINDERGARTEN! My baby boy is getting bigger now, and I never know what my work schedule could bring down the road. I feel compelled to make every moment count.

I recently came across a quote I liked: "A good mom has sticky floors, a dirty oven, and happy kids." I think that will be my mantra for this summer because I don't want a single moment to go to waste. I've come up with a plan to help that: MOMS Camp!

MOMS Camp is my own creation, where I've given each week of our summer vacation a theme. Within each theme, I am finding books, movies, outings, crafts, and snacks for my kids (mainly my 4 year old, since my 1 year old will go along with almost anything right now!). There will be plenty of down time for regular good-old-fashioned fun, of course, but I feel confident having an outline of ideas so we never get bored! I'm sure we'll learn some things along the way, too.

In preparation, I've placed a small order from Oriental Trading, spending under $20 (including shipping) for just a few projects we'll use during the summer. Otherwise, most of my plans cost little or nothing. I plan to use the library often this summer, requesting books, movies, and music online so we can make a weekly pick-up. I'm going to try to have each theme ready a week or two in advance (supplies & ingredients in hand) but I already have lists of ideas ready, though!

So hopefully we can follow along and you and your kids can participate in your own MOMS Camp this summer, or join us in ours. Have fun!

And by the way... MOMS Camp stands for Make Our Moments Special!!