Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rise of the Machines!

Today was the big day. I had been talking about it for a week. My husband finally agreed I could, and so we dragged the big CD player out of the garage so we could take it apart. I have wanted to take something apart with the kids for a while but couldn't figure out what. All of our appliances seemed to be in working order, but after a quick look around the garage I noticed the CD player. It had a 3 disc changer and  two tape decks but the CD part was broken and only one tape deck worked. It was in our house when we moved in and we never had gotten rid of it. Perfect!

The fun part was teaching Birdy how to use all the tools. We've used hammers and nails before, and had even used a wrench, but this was our first time with a drill! After a while she was drunk with power! She worked and worked, using her drill to unscrew all the screws she could find until we finally had taken all the sides and the top off.

Once we got inside she spent some time admiring all the inner workings. She found two quarters, she rubbed the circuit board and used her wire cutters to snip all the wires she could find.

That was when big sister decided to join us. She became immediately interested in the project and how to best extract a chip which had been attached to the circuit board. We each pulled out our favorite parts. Mine was a row of tiny light bulbs. Birdy's was the bowl full of screws. My friend Cristina who had joined us found a cool tiny roll of copper wire. We each glued our favorite pieces on to a piece of card board.

This activity took up most of the morning and the funny part was that each child delighted in a different part. Birdy liked the initial unscrewing of the case. Ivy liked demolishing the circuit boards. Bug spent a great deal of time examining the gears and pulleys used to open the CD tray. Right when one child would start to get board, the next would find something exciting. I loved having them all involved in the same activity. And honestly, Cristina and I had as much fun if not more.
It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Monday, July 25, 2011


Matthew 13
The Parable of the Sower
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.
One of these is roots, the other, wings.
Hodding Carter

This month in church we have been talking about the parables of Jesus. The Parable of the sower was always one that spoke to me as a parent. For what greater job do we as parents have than to, not only plant good seed, but to nurture the soil in which that seed is planted? I feel that, as a parent, I spend a good deal of time working to ensure that the environment my children grow up in is one that will nurture them and not only allow for growth, but also for deep roots. If they have roots that grow deep then the storms of life will not blow them over. If they are allowed to reach their full potential then they will bear amazing fruit.

To finish the month's study this Sunday, we had an outdoor service followed by a picnic. Our pastor asked me to come up with a craft for the children to do that might relate back to our parables. I decided to use bird seed. I dyed the bird seed using this tutorial. The bird seed doesn't come out quite as brite as the white rice, but I think it look great any way.
In all the business of getting ready for the big picnic, I forgot to bring my camera. So no photos there, but Birdy and I did wake up early an make some more bird seed masterpieces the next day. I think they turned out great and Birdy loved playing with all the colored seed.

I gave her the glue and just let her choose her own pattern.

Then she would select a color and sprinkle it over the glue dumping the rest back in to the little plastic tubs. After that she would add more glue and pick a new color.
She spent all morning working on her masterpieces. She made three total. The finished product is a little heavy for the paper so I think I will glue it on to poster board. If I did it over again I would probably find something heavier to start with. Other than that I think it was a success!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wind Chimes

 We have been working for some time on our out door area. I'll have more on that as it progresses. As we moved along with our climbing structures and natural elements, I thought that it would be nice to have some pretty elements made by the kids to brighten things up out there. And so we began this little craft.
 I hate TV dinners, but I love the trays!

I found my self with a little free time on my hands and so I popped in to Hobby Lobby and found these cute little wooden flower pots and wooden letters. I got a set for each of the girls and then let them have the run of it.


You can see Birdy hung sticks from her wind chime, Ivy kept it simple. We hung them in the back yard from one of our oak trees and I just love them. I also love the idea of having child created elements in the middle of every thing. I think next I want to let them make stepping stones, then maybe a totem pole! The possibilities are endless!Classified: Mom

The best toys

I just happened upon this scene and grabbed my camera to capture it. Some times the best toys don't have to cost a ton of money, and don't have to have all the bells and whistles.

You should see the fun they can have with a roll of scotch tape!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Its a hell of a place that we've got for a hell.

There is a song which becomes my anthem each summer. It's called, "The Devil Made Texas" and it pretty much sums up what it is like to live in this state during the hottest season of the year. In one verse the song writer describes the climate...

 The heat in the summer's a hundred and ten
too cold for the devil but to hot for man

 Yes you are reading this correctly. 111 folks!

I wish he were exaggerating. The truth is that my dear state is not only in a record breaking, national news making drought, but we are also experiencing an almost unprecedented heat wave. We have had temperatures breaking 100 degrees almost every day since May!
Taking advantage of the sun to burn some wood!

And so, when someone complains that children are spending the majority of their days indoors others might cry out in anger, but I squirm with guilt. I know what its like to run and hide from the heat in the glorious glorious air conditioning. And so I have decided to provide for your reading pleasure my very own, no exuses, if we can do it any one can Summer Outdoor Survival Guide. (the name is a little long, I know)

Here are the tricks and tips I have come up with to ensure my children are not indoors all day plugged in to a T.V.

Tip #1. Get up early. I actually set my alarm. No sleeping in for my kids. If we can get up and to the play ground or even just out in to our own back yard at the crack of dawn the weather is bearable and, more importantly, the play ground equipment won't burn your flesh off! A friend of mine wakes up early and packs a breakfast picnic. That way she can get her kids out and let them play for a while then eat breakfast at the park. I think its a great idea and one that I might steal.
Veteran's Memorial Park

Tip #2. Think out side the box. So even when we get out early some times the sun just can't be beat. Yesterday morning at 8:30 Birdy comes up to me with sweat dripping down her face and hair sticking to the back of her neck and says, "I might have more fun in a tent." Another great idea! I rummaged around in the garage until I found one. I also have friends who erect big pop up tents all around their play areas to stretch play time just a little farther. The shade can do wonders!

Tip#3. Drink plenty of water. I know this seems like a no brainer but, my husband who works as a paramedic is constantly called for heat strokes and dehydration related emergencies. Children who have been out playing in 103 degrees suddenly fall over in the middle of the park because they have sweated out more water than they have taken in. It may sound gross but pay attention to your child's pee. If you see clear or light yellow then they are good to go. If it looks darker than that, they need more water.

(I don't have a photo to go along with the pee)

Tip #4. Pools, lakes, beaches, splash pads. Another no brainer. When hot, add water. Our family has been making the rounds all summer. Neighborhood pool on one day, splash pad the next, Community pool after that, YMCA pool the next day. Even 100 degrees is bearable in the water!
Veteran's pool

Tip #5. Stay up late. This kind of goes along with #1. We have found lots of fun things to do at night out doors. Flash light tag, late night picnics, bubble blowing...any thing really. Just go out side and enjoy the sunless evening.

Tip #6. Hibernate. All that getting up early and staying up late make us a little sleepy. So why not save that nap for the hottest time of the day? When the pavement starts melting the rubber off your shoes, its time for a nap. Get re energized so you can party all night!

 Nap time with great grandpa.

Hope this post inspires you to brave the heat! Remember, children NEED play. So lets all get out and get sweaty and have fun!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Luring the creature out of its cave

 If someone who did not know me read my blog, they might think that I only have two children. Those who do know me might wonder where my oldest child is. Allow me to clear this up. I have three children, "Bug", "Birdy", and "Ivy." Ivy, who chose her own blog nick name because she didn't want to be named after an animal, is 12 years old. She has been gone for a great deal of the summer at camps or off to visit family in another city, which is part of the reason she is not featured in a lot of the fun things that we have done this summer. The other part is that she is 12. I must admit that I have an easier time engaging Birdy and Bug in an activity than I do Ivy. Ivy has always been a "loner" even when she was a little girl. As a preschooler she would spend hours in her room playing with dolls and listening to books on tape. Once she got in to school her teachers were quick to point out that she "does not work well with others" preferring to do an entire group project by her self than to try and collaborate. Now she still spends her time in her room, reading books, writing stories, and listening to music. I told her that she needed to exercise and her response was to walk to the library for more books.(Not that there is any thing wrong with that)
Every now and then, however, I am able to lure her out of her cave.
 This time the trick was her love of story telling. Birdy has just picked up on this love as well and so I have tried to incorporate this in to the sensory tubs I've been creating for her. She was growing bored with the same old tub, with rice or beans but with no story to tell, but last months dinosaur tub was a huge success, so I tried to recreate the effect with this ocean life tub.
We took aquarium rocks, aquarium plants and some toys we had laying around and made this tub, but the surprise came when Ivy walked in and saw it. She immediately started moving the animals around and helping Birdy decide who lived where and which ones were friends and which ones were family. Then Birdy was treated to an entire under the sea drama played out for her by her sister. It was so sweet to watch them play together even though they are 8 years apart.
I have a whole post which I am trying to prepare on the art of story telling. But because this is such and important part of our family, I want to make sure I do it right so it may be some time before I get it finished. Until then, I would encourage all of you to find a way to share a story. Its a great way to bring a family together.
Thanks for stopping by.