Monday, February 28, 2011

Homeschool art class: junk bugs

Last week in our weekly homeschool get-together we pooled all our recycled materials, plugged in the glue guns and set to work making bugs! They came up with some pretty amazing creations!
L-R Mr. T's butterfly (which is the first junk sculpture he's actually participated in making), O Boy's bumblebee, Valon's bumblebee, Little Sweetie's butterfly (made by Andrea)
L-R: Little Sweetie's butterfly (made by Andrea), Rowan's spider, Doris's dragonfly, Saphire's 4 legged spider

Little Sweetie turns 2!

There were 3 sweet little girls born to 3 friends two years ago, just weeks apart. So now that they are all turning two, we three moms decided to go with one "big" party, rather than 3 separate ones. Since two of the girls are little sisters of big brothers, we moms wanted to do a very girly party. So we all combined efforts and came up with a very simple, very fun butterfly party for our 3 sweet little butterflies. I found wings for each of the girls down in Portland, Megan made amazing cupcakes, Mary hosted and decorated. The girls got very girly gifts including their first fingernail/toenail polish sets and fun fluffy skirts. The Little Sweetie was pretty shy and serious at first but warmed up after a while and had lots of fun on this very special 2 year old birthday. Thanks Megan and Mary for helping make this an amazing Mommy/daughter memory! Wonder what we'll come up with for next year?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

O Boy's slingshot birthday party

For almost a year, O Boy has been insisting that he is going to have a tanker birthday party. He loves tankers and is sure he'll be a tanker captain someday. Then Aunt Julie gave him a super cool slingshot as an early bday present while we were down in Portland and everything changed. Suddenly he decided he wanted a slingshot birthday party. Now, I can make a tanker cake and probably even come up with a few tanker games. But slingshots??

Thankfully, God brought many helpful, creative people and websites into my path over the last month who gave many good ideas on how to bring this crazy idea to life. I'm mostly thankful to my hubby who was willing to go ahead with the plan! For the actual party we started by ordering a dozen cheap slingshots from Oriental Trading Co. Then we began brainstorming different obstacles and stations they could shoot through, into, on or over. In the end we just set these up in a big circle around our church chapel area. As each kid came in they got a slingshot, a balled up sock, and a lesson on how to use the slingshot from Phil. Then we just let them go at it! There were socks flying everywhere! It was very casual and very fun. Here are a few shots of the different stations we put up for the kids to aim at:

This is O Boy with the slingshot that started it all off.

Mr. T and another boy decided that it was more fun to just throw socks at the targets rather than use the slingshots and even they had fun!

Here's BW showing me that it's a lot more fun to just fall into the blocks and knock them over, rather than shoot them down with a slingshot!

Of course you can't have a slingshot birthday without a slingshot cake. I have to admit, in all my years of intricate and crazy cake making for these boys, this was by far my easiest yet! I think it took about 10 minutes total! I used fruit leather, Twizzlers and a jelly bean for the details. The rest is just a plain chocolate cake cut into the shape of a slingshot!
I asked Phil to help by getting plates and napkins and he decided that camo was really the only way to go for a slingshot birthday party! Perfect!

Ice Towers

A few years ago I made ice people with O Boy and blogged about it here. We haven't come back to it since then so I thought we'd try it this year. It's still a "pile them up as quickly as you can and get back inside" activity because of the cold. Maybe someday they will appreciate the art aspect and actually try to experiment with different stacking combinations. :-) Even still, the finished result is always mysteriously beautiful.

The first step was the fun one of filling up all the containers and putting them out to freeze.
When we made these last there wasn't any snow on the ground (and I actually had to resort to freezing our containers in the freezer!). This year we had very cold temps and tons of snow on the ground to be the "glue" between the pieces of our towers. That made the stacking a lot easier! You could just dip an ice shape in the snow and then stick in onto another ice shape and Presto! They would stick together!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Late February Snow fun

Uncle Scott Gotter would be proud of Mr. T's mountain climbing abilities! To the top!
He's all about safety first - especially when on the peak of a steep sided snow slope!
This year the boys discovered that they could get some good air jumping off the pile of snow at the end of our driveway. This pile just keeps getting higher and higher as it keeps snowing and Mr. Bryon, our faithful snowplow man, keeps piling it up!

Here she's shouting "I did it!" Finally she can climb to almost the same heights as her brothers!

Now that's some good jumping form.

They decided to check out the hiding place in the woods officially known as "the Fort." I was of course recruited to come along. The only problem was that, with all the snow both on the branches hanging down and piled up on the ground, the crawl space to get to "the Fort" was barely big enough for us to squeeze through. Did that deter them? Not for one second!
Our snow angels: O Boy
Little Sweetie
Mr. T
We had several weeks of warmer weather and rain a while back which brought our snow charts down to a half inch (on the lawn) and zero (on the deck) at one point. No fun! So we were thankful for this fresh batch of beautiful snow which shot their chart lines up to 13 and 15 inches! This is O Boy measuring the lawn.
I came inside to see what Mr. T was up to on the deck and found him out there like this:
(after I stopped laughing I just had to snap a picture)
The last time we went sledding on the loooooooong airport hill the Little Sweetie decided that she not only wanted to sled by herself but also carry her own sled all the way back up to the top. She was pretty adamant about it too! "I go 'self!"

First taste of adrenaline

A few weeks ago we went over to decorate cookies at our friend JC's house. She has a HUGE driveable jeep that is really meant for outside. Of course our boys wanted to drive it inside. The Cooks may never get all the dents and dings out of their walls.
O Boy went into absolutely hysterical laughter at the bumping, banging craziness that ensued when he and JC were in the car. It was exceptionally crazy mostly due to the fact that O Boy steered and JC pushed the gas pedal - whenever O Boy least expected it! So they were jerking and crashing all over the room. Hopefully he'll remember this lesson when he turns 16: it's never a good idea to have more than one person at the controls of a car.
But it sure is funny!

I wish I had a video of him and JC. I'm not sure I've ever seen O Boy laughing so completely hysterically. Now we know how adrenaline affects him.

How do they come up with things like this?

We came in the other night to check on the boys before we went to bed and found Mr. T was sleeping with this...

Pretty Little Lady

New hairstyle to keep all her pretty long hair out of her eyes (and food!):
She loves the sparkly red "Dorothy" shoes from Mimi!

One of her birthday presents was a very girly, very flouncy purple skirt. As you can see she loves it!
Here she is on the phone telling Papa all about her new "pitty" purple skirt.

Uncle and Aunt Potato Head

I did already post these on FB but I thought I'd put them here too since I unlinked my blog from my FB account recently.

O Boy made this fantastic rendition of Uncle Brian and Aunt Julie Salwasser (Uncle Brian is a policeman in Skamania County, WA).

Here is the comments thread from FB about these great creations:

Brian said, "Reach for the skyyyyyyyyyy!!"
I said, " Can you get those dentures in straight, Officer? And how 'bout those ears?"
Brian said, "Those are tactical ears."
Julie said, "I think it is quite accurate. I have always wanted a mint green hat."
Brian said, "Ha ha! Thanks! ...I am sure Brian would look lovely in that hat..."
Christiane said, "I love Brian's BIG smile! And may I say, Julie that you look DIVINE!"
I said, "He wins over the criminal element with the time tested 'wiggle the ears and flip the dentures' trick but keeps the 'cuffs in sight for the tough cases."

This is a rendition of their new baby, Zae:
The comments on FB ran like this:
Baby Isaiah, as portrayed by Mr. T. Well accessorized like mom, gun belt like dad, and a mustache that makes him unique...
Julie said, "Nicce Work Mr. T--I believe he chose our very best assets to include--haha!"
Christiane said, "I LOVE babies with mustaches!"
Brian said, "I pity the foo' who messes with that guy..."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Clifford Unit: Vet clinic

One day during our Clifford unit we built a very well-equipped vet clinic in our office! With O Boy, as usual, in the imagination lead, they transformed cans of olives into medicine jars, hammers into otoscopes and even made a machine to catch vomit out of a foot pump for air mattresses! Like I said, well-equipped. Even though our kids typically have more fun building imaginary worlds than playing in them, this set up made for some pretty fun prolonged play that even the Little Sweetie was able to get in on. I was very impressed at Mr. T's stamina for this game as well, especially since he had to wear so much gear to be a vet (something he's not usually willing to do!). But he was really able to play out specific roles, like being the guy in charge of surgeries. In between bringing new animals in to be examined I snapped some shots of the action...

Oregon trip: Children's Museum

Another special event from our January Oregon trip was a day at the Children's Museum. After several stressful trips to the CM over the past several years (with a newborn, kids running away and everyone wanting to go different directions), I can honestly say this was the first time I really enjoyed myself (and enjoyed watching the kids)! We went with Papa, who of course gets into the fun as much as the kids do, and our good friends the Johnson ladies again. All the kids played and played, no one ran away, and everyone was old enough to know what to do in all the special pretend areas. A very, very good time was had by all! You will see from the series of pics when we were in the stage room that Mr. T absolutely came into his own. He could have probably spent all day in there, singing, emceeing whatever action was going on around him and generally giving everyone a really good comedy show! As his speech therapists will agree, he's always happiest when he has control of the microphone!

Good Alaskan Buddies

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oregon trip: Knights of Veritas

One of the first things I do when we get to Portland is to check out the Metro Parent calendar. and see what (preferably free) things are going on around town. We have discovered some amazing activities that way and I'm extremely thankful for the people who put out that publication!

On this trip one of the fun things we did was to go to a presentation at a Portland library done by the Knights of Veritas.

The first demo fight: this is what we see in Hollywood movies as "real swordfighting". Big noises, big sword clashes, dramatic ending.

The "real" fight - done in a style governed by the 4 fighting positions used in the 1300s. Much quicker, more efficient, less dramatic.

This video goes through the 4 fighting positions and demos how they used them to respond to different methods of attack. It's a lot like chess!

Unfortunately Skylar even lost the race to put on the armor due to the fact that he got completely hung up in his mail while attempting to put it on. He was a good sport about it though!

Here's the fight they demonstrated in answer to the question, "So how do you attack a guy wearing a full suit of armor?" The fight, as you will see, is over in about 2 seconds.

A win for Skylar!

But Sir Eric takes the final victory!

Misc. Fun in Oregon

Even though we were in Oregon, the Beloved Thomas Friends came along. In our home, any well-loved stuffed animal is called a Thomas friend since, in O Boy's words, "I love Thomas the tank engine and they do too."
So Mr. T brought Hospital Bear (from his tonsillectomy this summer) and Otter (not in picture).
And O Boy brought his faithful friend Sheepy.
The Little Sweetie was delighted to discover that Mimi and Papa had broadened their toy stock to include some very fun girl toys. They included this stroller which logged many miles while she was in Portland.
Our Bobbalou (my grandmother, their great grandma) was in a hospice center not far from my parents' home while we were in town so the boys and Papa travelled over one day during the Little Sweetie's naptime to say hi to Bobbalou. O Boy took along a cool Lego spaceship he'd built to show her and they took her on a tour of the zoo via the pictures that Papa had taken on our zoo trip.
One morning the Little Sweetie got to be the second chef in command in the kitchen while Papa made pancakes. It looks like she's trying to convince him to turn to the waffles page instead.
I tried her very first headband on her to try keeping some of that pretty, wispy hair out of her eyes. She froze and wouldn't move, as if she felt like it would fall out if she moved even an inch. As you can see the "keeping the hair out of the eyes" plan wasn't working so well.
Yum, syrup straight from the pitcher. Why was Papa taking pictures and not STOPPING her from doing this!?! :-)