Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Butterfly Boy

There's a blog I follow called "I Can Teach My Child" that featured a fun mask decorating craft the other day. Since we're doing crafts with friends every Tuesday now, I decided to adapt it to my purposes. Our friends couldn't make it today (baby due any minute, and mama was feeling "weird" - could today be the day?!?!), so the J-bird and I did this craft together while Miss V took her morning nap.

I had sketched and cut this one out of heavy card stock last night (along with a bear shape for our little friend who didn't make it), so all I had to do was get out the craft supplies, and we were ready to rock.

The first thing the J-bird did was draw on his favorite kind of "zig zag" face.

He spent a long time with crayons, colored pencils and markers, and then he obliterated it all by mixing watercolor paints on top of it. Because he's 4.

After the paint was dry, we glued on feathers, pennies and bits of paper. I punched some holes and tied ribbon on, and....


I tied this in to spelling and writing the word "butterfly". We talked about how butterflies in nature have symmetry, and he worked on adding things to each side equally. I'm pretty sure butterflies in nature do not wear "birthday party hats", but...maybe they should.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Heart Cherries

My neighbor brought me a grip of cherries last week. Delicious cherries, and we ate a bunch, but I wanted to try this recipe I found online - it was calling my name - so I did.

I keep reminding myself to buy a cherry pitter, but then I forget. Then I have cherries, and I have to take the pits out the hard way, which leaves my kitchen counter looking like a crime scene. Did you know that cherry juice will stain your fingers for 900 days? Well, it will. So I use gloves.

This recipe ended up being very simple (thank you, Epicurious!). You cook the cherries with some sugar until they juice, add some corn starch and cook down. Cool. Then fill and fold rectangles of puff pastry, seal, eggwash and bake.

Easy peasy and pretty delish. I'm a novice with puff pastry - in fact this was the first time I ever used it, and I bought the pre-made stuff (which was pretty good, I thought). I'm looking forward to finding more uses for it and perhaps *gulp* attempting to make my own.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

And a-One, And a-Two

Is there anything better than finding something you've been wanting to buy (but putting off, because it's moderately pricey and you have other stuff to pay for) at a rummage sale for $2? OK, I'm sure there ARE better things, but I was pretty excited to score this awesome bubble machine yesterday!

The kids and I played outside for a long time, amidst the bubbles, while James walked around, muttering to himself about how to fix a drainage problem in our back yard ;) . There's no place my kids would rather be than outside, and the bubbles just make it even more awesome.

Like Lawrence Welk awesome.

In other news, I have always loved the Lawrence Welk show.

It's the dimples. They get me every time.

No matter how hard I squint...

...he's still humongous. I swear, he was toddling around out here in diapers about five minutes ago.

Speaking of diapers - I sometimes put disposables on Miss V, but I hate the way they look. Is that weird? I think that's a little weird.

"Hey Mommy..."

"I have this boat from the sand box. It's totally gross...."

"I think I'm going to eat it anyway."

After a crazy-busy week, we've had really lovely, silly, relaxing weekend. I hope you've had the same!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is This Still Oregon?

Our part of Oregon isn't exactly known for hot weather, but today was...dare I say it? EXTREMELY WARM. We hit the park with some friends to make the most of it.

Miss V and Little S enjoyed the thrill of flight.

The J Bird and Big S compared the weights of four year olds on the teeter-totter.

We met Big S when she was a fluffy haired little baby, and now look at her! Gorgeous and humongous.

Kind of like my J-bird. His hair hasn't changed a whole lot since then though, other than that he has more of it. It still sticks up in every direction. I think we're just saying "It's distinctive" and going with that.

Some other friends showed up, and we had a great time until Miss V busted it again (she does that a lot) - this time on her sweet face. BIG bruise on her nose, of all places. So sad. Add that to the molars she's working on, and the misery was just too great. My cheerful girl had had it, and that's extremely rare for her, so we trudged back to the car, ran our errands and went on home, where she promptly napped and then felt MUCH better.

That last was the longest sentence ever.

The end.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bag Puppet Play Date

My friend, Wendee, who lives across the street has two little girls, (one of whom is 5 months younger than my J-bird and who is his very best friend). We have a regular Tuesday morning playdate, and we've started adding some directed activities. This morning, I put together a craft, and we had a lot of fun with it.

Because the kids are pretty small, I cut out and used markers to decorate different eyes, ears, arms, noses and decorations, putting them in different little containers ahead of time. Each child got a bag and then chose all the parts and glued or taped them on how they liked. They had markers as well (which they mainly used to add belly buttons, for whatever reason - ha!). The craft took them maybe 30 minutes, then they ran off to play while the glue dried, and Wendee and I got a few minutes for some coffee and a chat. I love chatting over coffee with Wendee :).

The kids were thrilled with their finished product!

*Disclaimer - Miss V had a lot of help with hers, of course. She's a delight, but "proper" placement of facial features is obviously beyond most 16 month old babies, including mine. We didn't want her to feel left out though, and because she wants to do whatever the J-bird does, she was over the moon to be sitting at the table with all the big kids.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Last Blast

Today was the J-bird's last day of zoo camp, so Miss V and I capped off our week with a big morning adventure together.

After dropping big brother off at the zoo, we sat out on the deck at a nearby Starbucks, watching the crazy traffic whiz by on the highway below and waiting for our destination to open for the day.

It was a fairly pleasant wait, due to the company.

Our first stop was the Japanese Garden. If you live in or around Portland, or if you ever plan to visit here and haven't checked this place out, you really should. It's one of my all-time favorite places to go, but I hadn't had a chance to get out there with Miss V yet. Today was the day.

It's SO beautiful, and it reminds me a lot of my visit to Japan with a school group when I was 15.

I carried Miss V in the backpack carrier for most of our hike, but I let her out a few times to (gently) explore and stretch her little leggies.

She particularly enjoyed the koi - she kept signing "fish" and saying "ishy! Ishy!"

There are myriad paths around the garden, up and down hills, in and out and around and over various water features, with beautiful little bits of art placed in surprising places and gorgeous bowers and benches to sit and enjoy. We didn't do much sitting today, but...you can imagine how it'd be if we DID (wiggly and noisy. Let's be real, Miss V is 16 months old. Quiet contemplation isn't really her thing.)

After wandering, you fetch up here, with a view of the city of Portland through the trees.

There's a little building here with a deck that overlooks a sand and rock garden. Miss V enjoyed herself immensely, walking back and forth and flirting with every patron she came upon.

About to bust it.

About to bust it again.

I love the Japanese Garden with all my heart, and it was fantastic being there with my girl.

Across the way from the Japanese Garden is the International Rose Test Garden. That was our next stop.

This rose was as big as Miss V's head.

Because parking at the zoo around noon is bizonkers, we left a little earlier than we otherwise might have, to make sure I could get a parking spot and get to where I needed to be to pick up my J-bird on time. It took a good 15 minutes of circling around (and getting snaked TWICE on spots I was waiting for - it's cutthroat, man) to get a spot, but we were still there early enough to investigate a big patch of wild flowers across from our pick-up spot that I've been eyeing all week.

The J-bird was happy and full of stories about the animals he saw today (elephants and warty pigs), the "dirt cup" snack they made ("Mama! I ate DIRT!!!"), and the very good friend he played with again, whose name he didn't think to ask. Four year olds. Nothin' like 'em.

It's been a great, hectic, crazy, wonderful, fulfilling week, full of adventures and fun and lots and lots of driving (and circling around, attempting to park). And now, I'm ready to get back to our regularly scheduled home-body-ish-ness. Hanging with my kiddos at home, working on Miss V's potty training and the J-bird's piano lessons and life skills and "school", playdates a few times a week...aaaaaahhhhhh....the simple life. ;) Peace out, zoo camp. We'll definitely see you again next year.