Wednesday, April 28, 2010
A friend of ours told me about classes that they have at Lowe's for kids. I didn't give it too much thought. I'm not much of a "handy" person. I can craft up a storm, but hammer and nails... not so much. My brother and sister were granted that talent in our family. But the other day I thought I'd google Lowe's and see what these classes were all about. Was I a fool to not listen earlier!
Lowe's Build and Grow Program is amazing! It is held every Saturday at 10am in most Lowe's stores. You can register online and get more info on all the classes and projects.
So I registered my kids and we showed up at 10am last Saturday. WOW! I am usually pretty good with words but... WOW! It was awesome. They handed both of my kids an apron and safety goggles and a packet with all the supplies they would need for a bird house. They even have little hammers for little hands. The aprons and goggles are their to keep. Yep, keep! For free! Did I mention this whole project was for free?!?! No cost at all involved.
So we went to one of the "tables" set up there. My kids put on their new aprons and goggles (safety first, of course) and we started looking through the directions on how to build a bird house. After reading the directions and looking at all the pieces I was starting to feel pretty confident. Maybe I can actually build something!
Both of my kids needed a little bit of help with the hammering but not a lot. All of the pieces of wood had pre-drilled holes so you knew where to put the nails (thank you Lowe's!)
When we finished our projects and turned in the hammers my kids both received a certificate and a patch. The patch goes on their aprons (did I mention we got to keep the aprons! and goggles!!!) So next time we go back my kids will have a patch on their aprons and feel like they are experts at this building stuff.
Did I mention this was completely free?!?!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Teacher's Appreciation Week is coming up so my kids and I wanted to honor their teachers with something homemade. Each year we do this. (Okay, so it hasn't been many years since my kids are young, but we have included daycare staff in this as well.) We were thinking about making posters again this year but wanted to do something a little different. Something that they wouldn't get 15 of.
A couple of weeks ago I was reading my daughter a book, Fancy Nancy's Tea Parties by Jane O'Connor. If you have not read this series to your daughter you are missing out. These books are fantastic! And the illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser are amazing. My daughter loves them! But in this particular book there are recipes and ideas for having the ultimate tea party. That's where we came across the Lollipop Bouquet.
We went to the store and bought all of our ingredients (different kinds of suckers, jelly beans and a flower pot.) The flower pots we purchased were simple ones but nice. In hindsight we should have just purchased simple terra cotta ones so my kids could paint them. That would have saved us a little bit of money.
I crumpled up a sheet of tissue paper to put in the bottom of the pots. You surely don't have to do this step but without the tissue paper it would have taken 2 packages of jelly beans per pot (and I didn't buy that many).
Then we filled them up with jelly beans.
The sticks on the lollipops were too short so we had to improvise. I used sticks that I had purchased previously at the Decorette Shop in Tigard. Another side note... if you have not been there you MUST! I could shop there for hours, looking for unique cookie cutters, candy molds and cake pans.
I taped on "extensions" to make the sticks longer - voila!
Out of simple green construction paper we cut out leaves and glued them onto the sticks.
Then we arranged them in the pots and put a few more jelly beans on top.
We took them to school this morning and the teachers loved them. Both of my kids had the biggest smiles on their faces when they walked into the building. How great is that! I love that they love giving to others. If I can teach them that, then the mess, the glue on the counter, the countless lollipops eaten when I wasn't looking, was all worth it!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
My kids were invited to a birthday party at the Oregon Gymnastics Academy last weekend. My daughter was beyond excited - running around the house saying she was going to do gymnastics and tumble herself silly. My son was a little nervous. "Is this going to be a big girl party?" he kept asking. I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd never been there. I hadn't even heard of this place before. I was no help in trying to relieve his "girl party" gitters.
We got there and instantly he was relieved (and very excited.) Sure there were all the girl party goers in there gymnastics outfits. But what he saw were trampolines and a bouncy "house" and lots of other great things to play on.
The party was an hour and a half. My son informed me it "wasn't enough time to get totally sweaty". But it was a great place for a birthday party.
Two "coaches" were assigned to the party as guides. They split the party goers into two groups so the groups weren't very big. This was nice to have smaller groups. The kids weren't jumping on top of one another this way.
But then the fun started! They had the kids do three different activities. The first one was the foam pit.
It was a giant pit filled with foam blocks. The kids jumped on a small trampoline and plunged into the foam. They were instantly buried and loving every minute of it!
The next activity was the bounce structure. What child doesn't like to bounce?
Then came the trampoline. The kids lined up and bounced their way down the trampoline and onto a huge, thickly padded mat.
When all the activities were done it was time to have cake and ice cream. There was a nice room set up for the party so kids could eat, relax and have fun.
It was a great facility! I think if I asked both my kids if they wanted to go back they would scream "YES!" So if you are in Beaverton, check them out.
Monday, April 19, 2010
What better to eat for dessert than ice cream???
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Friday, April 16, 2010
With all the great gadgets and Play doh toys out there it's funny how my kids always gravitate towards kitchen utensils and things we already have in the house. My daughter wanted the melon baller to make little ice cream cones. My son asked for the rolling pin (I have a smaller pastry one) so he could make pancakes and toast. And the egg slicer is a huge hit. We make a small ball of yellow dough and then wrap it in white dough to make an egg. Then slice it in the egg slicer and voila! A hard boiled egg.
Unfortunately with Play doh when you make all these great concoctions, it's hard not to mix up the colors. Our Play doh always ends up looking like this...
And to buy new Play doh all the time gets expensive. I know there are cheap types of dough out there but I'm kind of a Play doh snob. I like the Play doh brand. It's soft and pliable and doesn't feel like it has wax or something else weird in it. But then I found this recipe. It's great and really feels like the real Play doh. And it's easy to make.
1 cup flour
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon oil
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl (except for the food coloring, of course.) You will need to need it with your hands to get it smooth. Add food coloring and there you go. Homemade Play doh.
Store it in zip lock bags so it doesn't dry out!
We had a play date the other day. My kids love it when we plan play dates. We invite friends and meet at my work. (I work in a middle school and have the great privilege of being able to go to the school on the weekends to play.) Usually we have a craft project set up for everyone to do and then play. This time we took all of our Play doh and gadgets and everyone went to town making amazing creations. Even the adults had fun! (A huge thanks to our friend Joe who played and played with the kids!!!)
The kids loved it and I didn't have to worry about buying enough Play doh for everyone or if it would get all mixed up. I just let them at it, knowing I could always make more another day. It's amazing how much fun I have when I'm not worrying about all of that. And in turn, my kids have more fun too!
Enjoy and have fun creating!!!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
My kids have followed in my footsteps (yeah!) and also love to bake. They come in the kitchen with me and look at the recipes and help me gather all the ingredients. It's wonderful. It's time that we spend together. It's time that I can tell them stories about when I was a kid (and not the stories about walking 5 miles to school. The good stories about how I used to bake with my Mom too.)
So this past weekend we wanted to make cupcakes. My kids love cupcakes. Well, let me rephrase that. My son loves cupcakes. My daughter likes to lick the frosting off of them. But we wanted to jazz up our cupcakes so this is what we came up with... Rainbow cupcakes. Who doesn't like something colorful?!?!
A couple of years ago I gave up trying to not make a mess when my kids helped me in the kitchen. I used to wipe the counter off as soon as something spilled or would not let my kids add an ingredient because it was "too messy." Heck, now I let them go at it. It's more fun for them and it's definitely less stressful for me. And how better for them to learn than to try?!
So they measure and mix.
Cody even cracks the eggs for me. (I do have him crack them in a separate bowl so we can pick out all the egg shells.)
But when he got the second egg cracked without crushing the shell and breaking the yoke - you would have thought he just won the marathon. He was so pleased with himself!
We mixed up the cake mix. (We used a boxed white cake mix for these). Then we added the food coloring.
I wasn't too sure of this at first. The tubs of cake mix looked like slime.
We layered the different colors in the muffin tins. We weren't able to put in more than about 3 layers because of the size of the muffin pans. And we put all different combinations of colors in the cups.
Then we waited....
We were pretty pleased with our creations. And after adding frosting! Well, we thought we were ready to open up a shop. Okay, maybe not but we thought they turned out great!
And yes, I actually did eat some of these. They were delicious!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
We were down in Salem over spring break and I saw a sign for Pietros Pizza. I haven't seen a Pietros Pizza in ages so I thought my kids and I would check it out. Wow! I was amazed at how cool it was inside. This particular Pietros is called The Pirate Adventure and has a pirate theme going on inside.
My goofy son loves going on "adventures" to new places.
There is miniature golf that we didn't have time to play. My son was sad about this. The course looks like it's all done in neon and black lights and you can wear 3-D glasses. How fun would that be?! They also have laser tag for the older kids. On a side note - I went with all of the 6th graders at my work to go and play laser tag. It was an absolute blast! If you have older kids and want to do something fun with them, laser tag is it. It's a little pricey but well worth it.
My kids love all the video games. These aren't the "shoot 'em up" games. These are kid friendly games that give you tickets for playing. The tickets are then redeemed for prizes. I don't know about your kids but my kids LOVE the redeeming part. They oohhh and aahhh over everything and take forever to decide what they want. It's half the fun for them.
Cody turning in his tickets to get counted.
The menu there is more than just pizza. They have a great salad bar and pasta and sandwiches as well. I was delighted to see a kid's menu that wasn't $6.00 a meal. A kid's meal costs $3.30 and comes with a drink and either a mini pizza, spaghetti or salad bar. We ordered one meal with pizza and one with the salad bar and my kids split both of them. It was perfect (and reasonably cheap!)
So if you are down in Salem, check it out for yourself. Definitely a fun place to go and the pizza was delicious!
1637 HAWTHORNE NE
SALEM, OR 97301
Thursday, April 1, 2010
We lucked out over Spring break with the weather. It reminded me of how much I love summer here in Oregon and how many places there are to take my kids and play... for free! My kids and I love going to the park. We pack a picnic lunch and a blanket and head out for the day to play.
One of our regular hang outs during the summer is Murase Plaza / Memorial Park. It's kind of confusing on the name. The water park area is called Murase Plaza at Memorial Park and the slide/play area is called Memorial Park at Murase Plaza. (Who did that make sense to???)
Murase Plaza is located in Wilsonville right next to the library. It is great for kids. And it's perfect for my kids (ages 5 and 6). I like it especially because it's not filled with bigger kids knocking over the littler kids.
The water park area is amazing. There are waterfalls and fountains and small "pools" of water for the kids to play in. The water isn't deep, maybe 3 or 4 inches, so it's great for younger kids too.
The play area is just over the grass hill and it is fantastic too. The slide is amazing! There are cardboard boxes there torn into pieces that the kids sit on to go down the slide. This makes is so fast they all shot right off the bottom and onto the sand pit area at the foot of the slide.
My daughter chose to not use a piece of cardboard at first because she saw how fast the other kids were going. So she slid down a couple of times and then look out. She grabbed a piece of cardboard and she was off and running!
There's a large dome climbing structure for the kids to play on.
There is so much to do there is is hard to tell you all about them. The sand area is huge. There are two different areas. One is a large sand area for the kids to play in. A simple sand box.
The other is a sand area with stairs and running water flowing down the stairs so the kids can play in the water and the sand. The kids love this but let me warn you... it's REALLY messy! I'm sorry that I didn't get a picture of this part. The water isn't turned on until Memorial Day.
There are picnic tables and trees and grass and lots of shade for picnics. There are swings, both for little children and those for bigger kids and a teeter toter to play on.
If you haven't been to this wonderful park, you are missing out. And who knows ... we may see you there!