Monday, February 28, 2011

Amazing Grace

Grace is officially nine today (halfway to eighteen!).  I'm so very proud of our little girl.  If you had asked me nine years ago what I would hope my daughter would be like at nine, she is exactly it.  I'm so thankful that I get to be her Mom.

Here's my (annual) top ten things I love about Grace. 

1.  She's enthusiastic about projects, parties, life.  
2.  She is a wonderful big sister to Harris.
3.  She is passionate about horses.  She reads about them, studies them and loves riding them.
4.  She's her own person and follows her own path.  I say a prayer of thanks for every year that this remains true!  
5.  She loves her family.
6.  She looks beautiful during ballet.
7.  She loves to read and writes in her journal almost every single day.
8.  She's thoughtful.
9.  She still believes in magic.
10.  She loves being a child and is in no hurry to grow up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Polka Dot Invitation

Good morning everyone!  Can you believe that our girl turns nine on Monday? This year, for the first time in 8 years, we are not having a party!  It hurts a little to type that.  Grace asked that instead of a party she, her Grandma and myself go to American Girl to have a girls lunch.  We are pretty excited about it.

However, I couldn't let her birthday pass without a little celebration so we are having a family party.  And our theme is polka dots!  We decided to make it into a true celebration by giving an invitation to Grace's Grandma (she lives close enough to come) and Grace thought that her cousin, Brendan, would enjoy the gum even though he is too far to join us.

We kept everything dotty by getting round tins at Michael's and fitting the text on the bottom.  We covered up the text with round bubble gums and sealed it shut with a polka dot tape bow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heart Marshmallows

Since I last posted about making homemade marshmallows I have learned two very important things that I thought you should know.

1. You can add food color to the mix and cut the marshmallow out with any shape that you want.  Naturally, we had to have pink hearts for Valentine's Day.

2.  I think this one is really important because really, who can eat an entire batch of marshmallows in one week?  They freeze!  I've tried it and it works beautifully!

How happy are they?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Presidents

Yesterday, I had planned an activity or two to do for President's Day, but when the day rolled around I found myself without the proper materials and/or ingredients.  Instead, I saw a post on Design Mom that had a lovely letterpressed poster of all our past presidents.  Even though I thought it was darling I really have no need for such a thing.  However, I did think that it would be really fun to have the children create one.  It turned out to be a great way to talk a little bit about the presidents and how each one brought something different- looks and otherwise- to the White House!

On a large sheet of construction paper we pre-drew the heads for the children to fill in (I got the idea for the heads from this post).  For each President we looked his picture up on the internet and read some fun facts  and stories about him from So You Want to Be President by Judith St. George and Our White House.

Both children did great with sticking with this project, though Grace definitely drew more Presidents.  We had fun picking out patterns (there was a string of bearded Presidents) and changes in style (powdered wigs and ruffled shirts to gray hair and ties).  It was also fun to see how the children would add in details such as wrinkles for the oldest President ever elected and a handle bar moustache for the only President to also serve as Chief Justice.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Harris' Happenings

Happy President's Day everyone! We are working on a President's Day activity, but it's not finished.  If the truth be known, I've really been rather lazy the past few days (but not on Saturday- I'll post about that soon). This morning Harris came in to tell me that he had no underwear and I couldn't understand it until I realized that I haven't done any laundry!

Anyway, Harris seems to have had a lot going on and so I thought I would do a quick post about my very favorite little fellow!

You might notice that Harris' smile is a little different!  His front tooth was knocked out! Harris has a bit of a weird history with teeth.  When he was only 9 months old he was pulling up on a coffee table and teething it at the same time.  Unfortunately, he forgot to stop teething it as he pulled up and it pulled his one bottom tooth parallel to the floor.  Thankfully, the dentist was able to push it back up, but it didn't survive past two years and the dentist had to pull his bottom two teeth due to damage.  On Friday, Grace, her friend, and Harris were playing outside.  A stick was swung, accidentally hit Harris and knocked his tooth out!  Harris has lost three teeth and not one was lost naturally!  Of course, the tooth fairy still visited!

I have been remiss in updating everyone on Harris' scope results.  They were good!  He had 10 eosiniphilles which his Doctors count as a pass!  Wheat has been put back in his diet and he will have a scope in May.  So far, so good!  It could turn out to be corn, wheat or both but I'm just happy that we seem to have found the culprit(s).

Harris just celebrated his 100th day of school.  I'm so thankful that he loves school, his teacher and his good buddies in his class!  (He had to make a t-shirt for 100 day- we glued 100 googly eyes on a shirt!)

We are having a bit of an issue with Harris and the itouch/computer (both of which are the families).  Anytime he is not quite sure what to do he requests to play.  It's like he has forgotten how to play by himself, although it's never been his strength.  He prefers to have Grace play with him (and he says that I don't play with him- which I really don't.  Projects? Yes.  Play?  Not really.  I should work on that.)  Anyway, I foresee some serious time restrictions in our future.  I fear that if we don't set limits now it will be too late sooner rather than later.  And maybe some clean socks would help too!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Grandparents Valentines

I had such big hopes this year to get out Valentine's to my friends and family.  It didn't happen.  I did manage to get Valentines to the children's grandparents though!

We gave the Grandparents child made cranberry scones, homemade butter and some tea bags that we added hearts too.

The children made the scones all by themselves (except for the oven part) and they were really, really tasty!  We used Martha Stewart's recipe but substituted Craisins for the whole cranberries.

Making the butter was all sorts of crazy fun!  I followed the initial instructions for homemade butter that I found here, but I ended up taking it a few steps farther than what I understood her instructions to be.  She also has a very cute printable.

I thought I would share some tips that I learned while making the butter.
1.  Your butter will get very, very thick and feel like it is finished but if you continue shaking it will once again get very sloshy and feel like you are back to the beginning.  This is good!  Apparently, it means that the cream has broken and you have butter.
2.  The butter will now be in a ball surrounded by the buttermilk.  Dump everything out into a sieve and rinse the butter.  It will sort of fall apart but will easily go back into a ball.
3.  From what I read this is the only way to insure that the butter will stay good for more than a day or two (this was important since we were shipping cross country)!
4.  It's shockingly good.
5.  We found the best (and the funniest) way to make the butter was to have a dance party.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chocolate Spoons

We don't always give the children a gift for Valentine's Day but this year inspiration struck!  Remember the garden markers that I made this past summer?  I had the idea that I could make chocolate spoons with a little love note stamped on them.  I loved the idea that they wouldn't know that there was a surprise message for them until after they melted the chocolate!

It was easy coming up with what to stamp- the children and I always go round and round saying, "I love you... MORE!"  I believe my Mom started that when I was a child!  

After stamping the spoons, I melted chocolate (I used dark chocolate) in a coffee mug.  I used the mug so that I could get some good depth to cover the spoon.  After dipping the spoons in the chocolate I let them sit on waxed paper for a bit before I dipped again.  I dipped three times and then popped them in the refrigerator to completely harden.

We warmed up some milk and the children made hot chocolate with their spoons!  

Grace has already asked if she can give it to her children!  Wouldn't that be lovely? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Food


I know that Valentines has come and gone but I still have a couple more days worth of Valentine's posts.  Can you stay with me?  Yesterday was really all about the food...

Since Valentine's landed on a school day we had to fix a quick breakfast for Grace before she headed off to school.  I made a cute breakfast sandwich which was very tasty and quite filling.

Bryce made me a latte with a foam heart!  It was delicious.

I gave each of the children a piece of fruit with these adorable stickers on them.  I sent the pear with Bryce to work!

We went simple with lunch (Harris' at home and Grace's packed lunch too!).  I just cut out hearts from their cranberry and turkey sandwiches.  They also had strawberry yogurt with a few heart sprinkles.

Again, we kept it simple for dinner with a salad and a heart shaped pizza.  As an extra treat we all had strawberry crushes (and it was a treat- the children never get soda!).  But really?  What's Valentine's Day without a crush?

For the salad I made heart croutons, heart beets and heart carrots so that it was very heart healthy!  This little tip on how to make heart carrots came in handy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Harris' Valentines

Even though Harris' Valentines were a month in the making I do believe they might be my favorite Valentines we've made! I love that they were a learning experience as well as a fun craft to make for friends!

A while ago,  Harris and I were looking through a book trying to find a science experiment to do.  I came upon a recipe for rock candy and we thought that it would be fun to make for Valentines.  We proceeded to make a test batch which quickly proved that it would not work for what we were intending to do (it stayed too liquid).  After a little bit of research on the web I came upon a recipe that got lots of great ratings and was very straightforward.  Harris and I went to work (the candy must get very hot so Harris was well supervised!) and made a new batch of candy.  This time we put lollipop sticks in the mixture hoping that the crystals would form on the sticks.

Two weeks later, the crystals had indeed formed on the sticks, but unfortunately they formed so well that the lollipop sticks were stuck to the bottom! This meant that Bryce had to pull out the mallet and chip away at the candy!  Apparently, I should have heeded the recipe's advice to hang strings into the mixture.

Bryce was able to safely get each lollipop stick out of the jar and even though they were far from perfect we used them all.

After watching Grace watercolor her Valentine's, Harris wanted to do the same.  The colors worked out perfectly with the candy (which turned out a pretty pink).  Again, we cut the hearts out using cookie cutters for templates.  Harris also had the idea to make the lollipop the arrow through the heart which I think was brilliant.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Love Finders

Happy Valentine's Day!  Last week the children played "love finders!"  Their mission?  To find love of course!  They even went so far as to make heart eye patches, which I thought was pretty clever.  And wrapping paper tubes were the perfect telescope!

A pet mouse got in on the action.

Of course, there were love boats!

I hope to post Harris' valentines later today!  I hope you all have a very sweet day!
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