Day Four

Today's craft theme was food. We made cookie dough last night and left it in the fridge to chill over night so it would be ready. But when it came time to make the cookies today, I was on my own. All Will wanted to do today was watch TV or play computer games or whine about not getting to watch TV or play computer games. So I made the cookies myself.

And so far, I've eaten them all by myself because Will didn't want an animal "cracker." Dear, they are COOKIES. And Joseph didn't like them though the Williams-Sonoma recipe that came with the circus cookie cutters is quite good. But I still got to play around with something new. These cookies would be really cute for a party or to send to school. Though, it takes much patience ... never could get the lion to work right. The tiger's my favorite.

Since Will was not into the cookies, my next to-do item was peanut butter play-doh. Play and eat! Will likes play-doh and he loves peanut butter (lives on it in fact). I thought this would be a winner. Forget it! I got so much resistance from Will just mentioning the idea that I didn't even get the ingredients out. Forcing him to craft I think defeats the purpose.

So that's our craft week. Overall, I think it was a success. We tried new things; Will worked on skills like tracing and cutting. I think I will have to continue to schedule craft time, and not just for the boys. I see so many wonderful things on the Web to make. Like this ... and this ... heck, I'll just have to print some to-do lists.

P.S. It's under 90 here so I was inspired to make these too ... come on fall!


Day Three

Maybe we just had too much fun yesterday. Neither boy slept well last night and you could really tell during today's daylight hours. But I enjoyed today's activity. Not sure how I missed making potato prints as a kid. At least, I don't remember slicing a potato open, putting it in paint and decorating with it. (You ever wonder how ideas come about? Like who was the first person to think "I'll eat this dirt-covered root I found in the ground?" And then who thought, "Hey, I can put paint on this and make a stamp." Seriously?)

Will lasted about 10 minutes on this. Called it boring. Wasn't too patient with the set-up time (don't forget to put cardboard between fabric layers) and probably didn't like the fact that I kept telling him to put down the paint because we're not ready for it yet. I said PUT DOWN THE PAINT.

Will did the yellow and I did the blue stars. Looks like lemons to me. Very summery.

This one was all me. Where it an art print, I would call it "Gumballs." Inspired by the Poketo Dots tote recently on sale at Target and a music fest shirt at least 8 years old that had gumballs on it. I found the tote bags at a local T-shirt design shop for $2.50. Michael's also sells them for just a little more.

I didn't want the day to be a waste so after dinner I brought outside supplies for making snake bubbles. I live on a wonderful street where the neighbors socialize while the kids play ... almost nightly!* The street has gone from having three kids when we moved in to eight, ages ranging from preteen to babies. We look after each other, our kids and pets, have block parties and cookouts and game nights ... jealous yet? Really you should be. If we ever move, we're taking our neighbors with us!

*Except when it's a million degrees outside. Then we just keep to our A/C comfort.

Supplies are easy — water bottles, rags, rubber bands and dishwashing soap. Didn't make long snakes but they did make a lot of foam.

Here's our neighbor Sophie getting in on the action. Actual amount of time having fun with these things: 5 minutes tops. Would like to know what kind of bubbles they were blowing over at Family Fun. They used towels, I used old flannel. We'll have to try a towel next time.

Tomorrow's theme is food. We're going to make peanut butter play-doh and animal crackers using circus animal cookie cutters found on sale at Williams-Sonoma. Knowing how Will doesn't like much waiting, we made the dough tonight so it could chill overnight. Good thinking mom! 


Day Two

Today we finished the marble run. After a trip to the zoo. Thankfully, the weather has cooled off a bit (heat index only 90? That's nothing!) When we got home Joseph was exhausted so nap time for him, craft time for us. I finished the marble run as Will ate lunch. Lucky grapes got to have a fun ride before being devoured. 

Next, we went outside to make yo-yo balloons. The directions are easy but the rubber bands I bought were not long enough and I had a tough time making loops to go around tiny fingers. Maybe next time. 

Things I learned:

1. You will get wet filling the water balloons. 
2. It is pretty darn impossible to blow up a water balloon unless you have filled it with some water. 
3. Can't make yo-yo balloons, have a water balloon fight instead.
4. It's hard to run in flip-flops when being chased by boy with water balloon.

We still managed to have fun and enjoyed some sunshine running all over the yard. 

After Joseph woke up from nap, we ventured not too far away from home to play with our good friend Jacques at his grandmother's house. To say her backyard is 
kid-friendly is an understatement. I wanted to share a few pictures because grandmother is certainly creative in keeping with our theme this week. 

Check out this castle! 

I loved this tiny red door. The clear stones add a nice touch of bling.

Let's explore!

In another corner of the backyard is a large play area with a sand box and pirate fort made out of bamboo. And I didn't get a picture of the tree house. Add in a few popsicles and I don't think it gets much better when you're a kid. 

P.S. I forgot to mention that after we came inside from the water balloon fight, Will wanted to make a list for daddy. Like a to-do list I wondered? Yes, that is exactly what Will had in mind. I drew out the letters in pencil and Will nicely traced them. There is only one thing on the list, "play castle." And actually it's "play play castle." Will said there were two "plays" so daddy knew he had to do it. (Really there are two plays because Will is already a perfectionist and wanted to write "play" again) It's no wonder where he got the idea for a to-do list. I make a least one a day! Little eyes are always watching us! (And yes, he got the perfectionism part from me too. Dear, you are only suppose to pick up mommy and daddy's good habits!)


Day One

Today Will and I worked on a trap door to catch bad guys (for use with his castle). I thought we were going to use the empty cereal boxes to make a garage for cars but craft week is all about going with the flow. I was proud of Will for seeing a box, in this case from a basketball hoop set, and thinking of a way to reuse it. In the picture he was experimenting with clay as part of the design. I also started our marble run ... hopefully we can finish it tomorrow. Unfortunately, most of our crafting is limited to Joseph's nap time. Will seems excited about it which is encouraging. All and all I would call this day a success. More of the same tomorrow. 


Time to get our craft on

I don't craft enough with the boys. I respond to requests to paint (usually made when my hands are busy with dishes or laundry or ... ) with a maybe later which I fail to follow up on 99 percent of the time. Pulling out all the supplies tends to take longer than the actual time that William will be interested in a project. Or (for shame) I get impatient when Will wants to do something his way and not the way I envision which makes him quit and we both leave the table frustrated.

I had thought before kids that it would be fun to sit and color in our coloring books for hours ... but I got a boy that could care less. That I would be that mom that encouraged daily whims to make stuff ... but there is daily life that gets in the way. Turns out I need to put on the to-do list PAINT and schedule creative time like you would a meeting.

I have marked this week on our family calendar the end-of-summer-one-last-hurrah-of-crafty-goodness week. Many of you have already headed back to school while we have another two weeks to wait. It's a long wait when Will asks everyday "Am I going to school today?" I see a lot of crafty goodness of the Web that I think would be great to try one day. Well, today is that ONE DAY.

Well, actually tomorrow is. Today I plan to take everything out of the craft closet (yes EVERYTHING) because I recently discovered mildew growing in the closet. So I'm going to take everything out, wipe the walls and hope that is enough. And when I put everything back in, I hope to make it more accessible for little hands. I also plan to keep only what we need. The closet has gotten a little junky.

Plans for the week include sidewalk paint, yo-yo balloons, decorating tote bags using potato prints and freezer paper, peanut butter play-doh, using empty cereal boxes for a marble run and car garage, snake bubbles and paper airplanes. And just maybe we'll paint.

How about it? Want to craft along? Let me know and I'll link to your projects.


Hot fun in the summertime

This could also be titled, what a midlife crisis looks like. That's what my husband likes to joke. But it is no joke like some friends thought after seeing this picture posted on Facebook. It really is ours. At it is hot to drive because it has no A/C which you actually do need in the South even if the top is down.

I've had one lesson on the stick shift. I do pretty good if there are no stop lights, stop signs, hills, slight inclines ... I think you get the idea. Maybe one weekend soon we'll find some curvy roads to enjoy.


About time for a hair cut



What a heartbreaker!

Random thoughts

"I wish you a tolerable Thursday. That's all any of us can hope for."  — April Winchell, comedian 

I just read this awesome post on Amalah. So funny because I too have heard "I've been wanting one for a 100 years" regarding whatever new toy is on Will's dream list. I so want to buy him everything his heart desires but at the same time I don't want to buy him everything his heart desires. (Though I will admit to a weakness to books.) But had I been in Amy's shoes, that pillow would have come home with us too. And some legos.

One of my favorite sites in the whole wide Web is shirt.woot! New T-shirt at midnight, $10 free shipping, limited run. Some sell out, some don't. But even if it does sell out, you can still buy the T-shirt for at least a week for $15. Two T-shirts just arrived today. Check it out and tell me you don't love "Fresh Cake" which will be the next T-shirt I buy. Or will it be "It Came Out of Nowhere?"

My friend Laura just interviewed Alice Walker ("The Color Purple") for a Birmingham Civil Rights Institute oral history project. Laura gets to met all kind of interesting people through her job at the Institute as an archivist. More on the oral history project here.

This could have been us!!!!  We could have met Dolly Parton. I really like Dolly Parton. Sigh ... We love the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. We get a free book each month for both boys until age 5. They are quality books ... like we go into the bookstore and see the same books on the shelf. Some we just read once or twice. Some have become our favorites to be read again and again. I highly encourage you to check the Web site to see if your area is participating.

To watch "The Men Who Stare at Goats" and more Dr. Who!!! To read ... like I have time to read ...


Impulse purchase

When it gets close to my birthday, I tend to start buying a few little things here and there. Sometimes, I buy myself enough that I tell Chris that his shopping is already done. And he ignores me like he should. When I saw Eat Pray Create featured on Paper Crave, I immediate went to check out the Etsy store. (Love me some Etsy. Talk about a time drain in the best way.) I did not even try to resist buying this cute little bird stamp set. I couldn't wait to play with it but I waited long enough to take this picture to show you the nice packaging. Now when Will wants to pull out his stamps, I can pull out mine too.


Fabulous Friday

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way ..."

Yes, I know it is August. But I've got a 4-year-old who's already decided that he is going to put his wish list by the tree so Santa won't miss it. He's even planned to put present ideas for his friends on there too. Santa better get to work in that there workshop of his.

In the meantime, I've started to think about what I can make as presents. Some of my favorite presents over the years have been those that are handmade. In this case, some talented folks have done the leg work. I just have to press print ...

Check out these alphabet flashcards from Jill of Homemade by Jill. She just had a baby for crying out loud! She's one of those moms that makes me wonder how does she do it! All the cards are adorable. Laminated, these would be perfect for my under-3 neighbors. Of course, we'd need a set for Joseph too.

But I have young girly neighbors too. I think they would love the build-your-own-cupcake freebie whipped up in the kitchen by Jessica of vol.25. It's tea-party fun!

For the babies, how about some ABC posters or numbers. Sprik Space has both. And in several colors so you can match nursery colors. Frame it and wrap. I'm going to print an ABC one to hang over Joseph's crib.

"Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright ..."


Random thoughts

"Thursdays child has far to go"

Made "Will's Sticky Toast" for breakfast this morning. Will has been requesting it for days and I couldn't put him off any longer. Broil or toast a piece of bread topped with peanut butter and marshmallows. Yum-Yum! It's a recipe Chris brought to the marriage. As we were eating, Will told us he no longer liked the name and from now on it will just be called "Marshmallow Toast." Until the name changes again. Which it did about five times during breakfast landing on "Sticky Fork Toast." Whatever the name, try it out and let me know what you call it. 

Have you heard of Chocovine? Do you like chocolate? And wine? Then you need to get some. It's red wine combined with dutch chocolate (which I just read is not as healthy as the regular cocoa because of the processing but I don't eat chocolate for my health). I know it might sound yucky but it's actually quite tasty. My neighbor Leslea shared some at the last neighbor gathering. (I have the best neighbors. We have game night, block parties, spur-of-the-moment cookouts, cocktail hour and more. The other day one neighbor had Will over to play for a few hours while another showed up with homemade fried blueberry pies. If we ever move, they are coming with us!) To me, Chocovine tastes like the chocolate martini our local martini bar has on menu as a specialty. It is definitely an after-dinner sipping dessert. Best part, an open bottle is suppose to last six months in the refrigerator! I hate to waste wine but can't always finish a bottle before it goes bad. 

In the works is a week-long "Summer is still here" hoopla. Starting August 23 I plan to craft with the kids daily. I'll post the day's craft the night before so if anyone wants to craft along they can. This is a good challenge for me, both for the blog and for crafting with the boys. I have a craft closet but I don't engage the kids nearly enough. I'm busy searching The Crafty Crow for ideas. Goodness, I want to do just about everything I see!

Think I can make this myself? Or these lovely napkins? Probably not but a girl can dream.


Reading with Joseph

About two months ago, I had just about had it with Joseph. Reading to a child is important. "Read to your child 20 minutes a day." I know, I know stop reminding me Nick Jr! But Joseph didn't want me to read to him. All he wanted to do was flip the pages. And dang, he's got a temper. It was sooooo frustrating. So I would just grab another book and read that one until he ripped it away. And I'd let him play in Will's room while we read books before bed. Sometimes he would seem interested, sometimes he wouldn't. I did try not to make a big deal about it — no forcing him to read a book or anything. But it was a big deal to me.

This was not a problem the first time around. Will always loved to be held and read to from the beginning. (I'll admit reading to him while breastfeeding. Not really thinking it would affect his intelligence, mostly I was just bored. No, Joseph didn't get that.) We read at least three books with Will's nightcap. 

When I signed Will up for the library's summer reading program, I signed Joseph up too. They both had to read 30 books to gain entrance to the big end-of-summer-reading-program party complete with bouncys. Will loves this party. I needed the motivation to keep working with Joseph. I tried really hard to create reading opportunities through out the day. Joseph and I made it to the finish line just barely. (Will read double what was required. Book-lover after my own heart.)

Then about a month ago, Joseph started bringing me book after book to read. And sometimes we'd get all the way through. Most of the time, we'd read a few pages and then he would be off to the bookcase to grab another. I WAS SO HAPPY! I love to watch him toddling around the house with his favorite book of the day in hand. I don't even mind reading "Big Red Barn" 20 times a day. (That one he likes to flip straight to his favorite page with the kittens.) Now one day he's going to have to learn that mommy is not always going to drop everything to read X right now RIGHT NOW! 

But right now, I will. 


Annoying habit

I've got a new annoying habit. (What are the others? You'll have to ask my husband. Sometimes I just drive him nuts.) When we're out and about, if someone is having trouble hearing another person, I just jump right in to translate. Case in point, at the Bodock Festival a man was trying to ask a vendor where she was from. After two attempts, I spoke up and repeated what the vendor had said. I got a snappy "I heard her" as a reply. Okay, maybe you did but I was just trying to be helpful.

This was not the first time I've butted in. But I've figured out WHY I'm doing it. I've been translating so long for Will. Will's got a great vocabulary. Since I'm around him the most, I recognize the most words. At the doctor's office during checkups I remember there were guidelines for language. Here's a chart. Basically, at age 3 a stranger should be able to understand about 2/3 of what your child is saying though you might recognize more. At age 4, it goes up to 90 percent. So that still leaves 10 percent that I repeat if I see someone didn't hear or understand what Will said.

So what new annoying "motherly" habits have you picked up since having kids?


This is a bodock

I promised to show you what a bodock is after mentioning the annual Bodock Festival in Pontotoc, Miss. This is a bodock. Also know as Osage Orange. From my father-in-law I learned that this tree has very strong wood that is good for fence posts. But what do you do with a bodock?

You find something pretty to put it on for a centerpiece. (Pretty bowl huh?*) And I was told that if I cut it in half, it contains a natural insecticide for killing roaches and ants. I'm so going to try it!

And what do you do at a Bodock Festival?

You get your face painted.

You ride the train.

You pay a godawful amount to slide on the bouncy.

You buy pottery from your friend Julie Jones (*yep, she also made the bowl). 
In her hands are my new tumblers. Love 'em!

(Psst ... this is what okra looks like.)


Don't go in the water!

Because the sharks will get you!

(Our library system has the most wonderful summer reading program. This year's theme was "Make a Splash" into reading. We attended several puppet shows and such all summer long. One program was "The Misadventures of Thalassa the Mermaid Princess" by Starshine Faces. In a unique twist, the storyteller used face paint to tell the story and needed several volunteers. Will's hand shoots up faster than a rocket when volunteers are needed! I didn't have a camera with me but snapped this when we got home.)


Random thoughts

"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays." -- Arthur Dent

Awesome quote from one of the most awesome books in the whole universe, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I hadn't read it in awhile so I packed it for our annual summer trip to Memphis to visit family before school starts (for my mom, she's a math teacher). It's pure-hilarious-genius. And a quick read, finished in three days. Guess who also turned out to be a big fan of Hitchhiker's and most all things British ... yep, the husband. One of the reasons we work. We've got an autographed picture of Douglas Adams and briefly flirted with the idea of naming one of the boys after him. I shouldn't even tell you that I wore a bathrobe and Chris dressed at Ford Prefect for the movie premiere. And yes, I travel with a towel because they are so handy to have around. 

We were in Memphis and now me and the boys have arrived in Pontotoc, Miss., "Land of the Hanging Grapes," for a few days. Joseph is going to have his one-year portrait taken in the morning by a friend of the family. Will also had his picture taken by Trent and they turned out fabulous. Can't let the second kid miss out now can we. Our arrival also coincides with the 17th annual Bodock Festival. What's a bodock you ask? It's a tree that has big green balls as fruit. (Listen, I'll take a picture and upload it when I get home, promise.) It's very hometown stuff with pancake breakfasts at the fire house and a pep rally Friday night for the area school football teams. This year they are honoring a famous son, Jim Weatherly. Who? How about "Midnight Train to Georgia?" Heard of that one? Jim wrote it and a good many other hits. If I was in any shape, I would walk the Twilight 5K run Friday night but I hope instead to catch a beer with good friends Steven and Julie. Both are from Pontotoc (high school sweeties, ahhhhh) now residing in N.C. Julie will be selling her pottery in the arts and crafts fair on the square. I plan to go home with a bunch of it! 

We eventually will get home sometime Saturday after being gone a whole week (a whole week!). Waiting for us will be a new Miata. Okay, not new. It's a 1996. That needs a little work hence the low price tag. And I can't drive it because it's a stick shift. Chris tried to teach me once and let's just say, it didn't end well. But hey, a Miata! Top down, take the long, winding road home Miata! The neighbors are going to hate having another car around! We'll have to bribe them with rides around the block. But we don't plan on having the Mustang too much longer. It's time for us to find her someone who will have the energy, time and money to restore her. That way when Will turns 16 he can say, "You had a Mustang? And you sold it?!!!" which is what I said to my dad when I turned 16. Instead, I got a '78 Caprice Classic. 


A long, hot August

August is here. Yes, and it is wicked hot. So we'll be doing more of what's pictured to beat the heat. But what else to do? At the beginning of summer I wrote out a quick "summer plans" list to motivate me to make the most of the long days of sunshine with the boys. While most folks we know are starting school this month, we have all of August to enjoy. Our Parents' Day Out program has two short summer sessions but takes a long break to gear up for the fall. So I'm checking our list, checking it twice and here's how it stands. Items in green are considered crossed off.

Pick blueberries
visit The Barnyard in Tuscaloosa
have Christy and kids over for play date before they move 
splash in fountains at the zoo
don't forget to use pool membership
Check out the farmers' markets: Pepper Place/East Lake
visit Anniston Museum of Natural History
visit Gardendale Splash Pad
spend weekend at family cabin
Have JoJo over
Have Hudson over
Have Jacques over
Have Sykes over (getting a theme here? Will wants company!)
check out the newest yogurt places in town, Yogurt Mountain first
annual visit to Memphis 
reschedule 4th of July cookout canceled do to illness
Plan Girls Night In
Make margarita popsicles
let Will stay up late to catch fireflies
A plethora of summer craftiness

How about you? How will you spend the rest of the summer?