Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rhythm & Blues in the Park

It's always hard when Steve goes out of town for work, but last night ( the 14th) we took our minds off missing Daddy by having dinner with my friend M and listening to a great band perform in the park.

At first it was chill-out time on the lawn chairs,

but pretty soon the kids were up and running around the pavilion. For some reason, Jared didn't want to eat hamburgers at M's house earlier, but he sure had no problem eating this free hot dog. He actually almost ate the entire thing - something highly unusual.

There was some dancing, a little singing, and a whole lot of running around. The band, Chicago Express, played a nice selection of oldie R & B cover songs like Sweet Home Chicago. I think Alexa had the most fun playing with 3 month old baby R.

After five or six songs, the kids were ready to head to the playground. It was a hot, sticky day and everyone was soon all sweaty and dirty, but we sure had a lot of fun!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Days of Knights and Damsels

Days of Knights and Damsels: An Activity Guide (A Kid's Guide series)

We've been having an awesome time doing several projects from the book Days of Knights and Damsels.  Both kids have had an on-going interest in castles and knights, and Jared recently loved the graphic novel about King Arthur that my mom bought him, so I ordered this book about a month ago for us to look through. We've made several of the craft ideas in the past two weeks.

Here's our attempt at making Robin Hood caps, which we found are really called bycockets. I really misjudged the amount of felt to use, so the poor hats really just perched on top of their heads, but they enjoyed watching me hand sew them (a first for me!). It brought up a great discussion about how sewing was so important until very recently - how most people didn't just throw away a pair of socks because they had a hole in them.

This was probably our most fun project in the past few weeks. As you can see, I couldn't resist making my own castle,too! The book called it "A Castle in Your Pocket."

Ok. This one definitely didn't turn out great at all. It was probably just me not following directions correctly, but these princess hats were way too small for our heads. Also, the kids were in a mood to throw glitter all over the floor and smear glue all over the table rather than decorate their hats, so I was the only one to finish the project since I was still really into it.

These cloaks didn't really turn out like they should have either, but I think it was because the paper bags were too small. This was actually the first project Alexa said she wanted to do when the book first arrived in the mail, but I didn't have paper bags at that time.

She was so excited at first to do this project, but within a minute of having the cloak on, both she and Jared wanted it off, and they've been laying on the counter ever since. Ah, well. You just never know for how long kids will be interested in something.

After we get back from the Smoky Mountains, I'm sure we'll be perusing the book for more ideas. It has several medieval games and recipes that look fun. Look for a part 2 to this post in the future.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Random Summer Fun

Here are a few random moments from the past few weeks.

Jared's been very into putting together different "mummy ghost" costumes. I think he's perfected it with this one. The pirate hat and his sister's white tights do the trick.

An impromptu science experiment. One day the food coloring was out, and Jared poured it in some water. I took out the vegetable oil to see how the coloring would dissolve in that liquid.

A fun game of Scooby-Doo Memory and Popsicles.

A request for hard-boiled eggs for lunch.

I walked in the living room one day to see Alexa stamping Jared all over. Yeah - he had taken off all his clothes, so it literally was all over.


...and bouncing basketballs with Daddy.

Lots of bike riding.

Giving his dinosaurs a bath.

Helping me stir seasonings for the pot roast.

And snake love.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Legos & Dolphins @ Brookfield Zoo

We didn't know beforehand that there would be a Lego exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo, but it was a welcome surprise.  We actually spent more time here than looking at animals.

It's absolutely amazing at what people have been able to make out of Legos. And to think that someone gets paid to do it!

We bought a membership today which entitles us to four tickets to a dolphin show, so we decided to see the show today ( which was really on the 10th). I didn't realize how crowded it would be or how we would have to stand in line a long time in the hot sun, but we were able to get a good seat in the center.

We've seen one other dolphin show at the Shedd Aquarium which cost us about $55 for the family and was more about a theatrical experience than really seeing the animals. For $13 our whole family sat much closer to the tank, saw more of the dolphins and learned a lot more for much less than half the cost of the Shedd.

I really wish I had a better camera because I would have been able to take some incredible pictures. Jared fell asleep in Steve's arms halfway through the show (funny, he did the same at the Shedd, too!), but Alexa really enjoyed the show.

After the show, the kids watched the dolphins in the underwater viewing tank while I headed to the bathroom. The sea lions were right next door, so Alexa and I watched them glide around for a while. They'd swim right up to the glass, so you could literally get nose-to-nose with them if you wanted to.

Alexa wanted to look at the grizzly bears, but we found out they moved them to a new location on the other side of the zoo. It really was hot, and we were sweaty and tired, so we just decided to come back another day for that. Since we live only a five minute's drive from this zoo, we can come for only an hour and not feel bad about it! I'm so looking forward to coming back many times over the next year.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Fun With Friends

In the past few weeks, we've spent a lot of time hanging out with friends. I think it's the hot weather and just wanting to be out in the sun more. On the 6th we met up with a family, who now lives in South Carolina, at a nearby playground. They are a military family, so it was interesting to catch up on what they are up to. They have a son who is almost three months older than the twins, a 7 year old, 9 year old and 10 year old.

We didn't stay long, since my kids started to get very whiny and wanted to go home, but for the time we did have, it was good to catch up.

When I was putting together this post, I wanted to include our fun day at my friend M's house, but I can't find the pictures anywhere! I must have deleted them somehow, and it makes me feel horrible. We went over the morning of the 7th, and it was great just to relax in her backyard while the kids splashed in their little pool (except Jared, that is. For some reason, he didn't want his suit on that day. He did get a little wet before we left for home). Splash pads and big swimming pools are great fun, but it's also nice to have a nice low-key day of just backyard picnics and splashing fun.

On the morning of the 9th, we walked next door to my neighbor's yard for a pancake breakfast. Both kids love to visit other people's home, and they had been asking my neighbor when they could come over for a few weeks (which, I must admit, made me a bit embarrassed). So, it was so sweet of her to invite us over for a pancake breakfast. The kids rode their bikes over and ate at the little picnic table with their 14 month old daughter.

They climbed all over the little play house, bounced a beach ball to each other, and rode around the yard while I had a great time talking with the neighbors.

And just two day ago, we met with two families at a favorite park for a picnic. There were supposed to be a lot more, but most people didn't show up for some reason, but my kids like smaller settings anyways. They can be very social in a small group, but tend to get shy around crowds.

They haven't been digging the regular playground equipment when we go to parks lately, so after about ten minutes on the equipment, they wanted to go feed the ducks. The other families were still eating, so we headed out by ourselves to the creek.

At first we found one lonely duck who quickly ate up the two pieces of bread we had brought.

Then we found a spot where someone had left half a loaf of French bread all torn up. Soon the creek was littered with floating pieces of bread.

We followed the creek bed up a ways and finally spotted the rest of the ducks.

The kids were really excited to spot a mother duck with six ducklings. She let us get really close to the babies. Jared and Alexa wanted to pick up the ducklings, I think they were remembering their time at the farm this spring, but I convinced them that these ducks were wild, and the mother duck would most likely bite them if they tried.

We walked back to the playground to get our blanket. Only the one mom with her two year old son was still there, so we told them about the ducklings, and they headed down with us to see them. We didn't stay that long, but it was such a treat to interact with the cute, adorable creatures.