Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Vacation: End of Week 2

Our first week of "summer activities" took a little longer than I thought because our trip to Grandma & Grandpa's happened before we could finish everything. It was no surprise the way it concluded either. The Tumbleweed had eagerly completed things during the first several days at home and only had a couple things left to do when we left (she was frantically folding laundry until the last minute). When we returned from our trip she quickly finished the last requirements and earned her prize:

With so much excitement about the new Hexapillar, the Dandelion wanted his too. Unfortunately, he still had 3 activities left to do. After a couple tantrums he finally settled down and got to work on his "schoolwork".

It didn't take long before he completed everything and had his Hexapillar.

So as I prepare for next week here is what I have learned.

1- I will probably not come up with a prize better than this week.
2- The Dandelion needs less to do and the Tumbleweed needs more.
3- Having scheduled chore days written on paper helps.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Vacation: Beginning of Week 1

This week is starting with a bang --- with a loud thunderstorm rolling through.

We are kicking off our first week of Summer Vacation with a To Do list to try to keep everyone from saying "I'm bored".

I gave the kids a run down of everything on the list after breakfast this morning and showed them the pile of supplies I collected for them. I also explained the punch cards and how they were going to earn punches.

Since it was about to storm, it was the perfect time to pick something to do off the list. Both kids chose coloring.

I still can't tell how many things should be on the weekly list and if I have too much or too little, so there may be some adjustments over the summer. We will see how this week goes...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Girl Scouts: June Update

With the school year coming to a close, Girl Scouts is also wrapping up. Today we had our final meeting, which was primarily a badge ceremony.

I had prepared a cute badge presentation for each of the girls with the badges that they had earned since March. Here are the Tumbleweed's badges. She earned a combination of "Old" Try-its, "New" Badges, and Council's Own Badges from across the country.

Someone else was using the Library Meeting Room, so we held our ceremony upstairs in the library. While the seating wasn't perfect, the mantle was a nice place to display the badges and the quilt the girls worked on earlier this year.

The girls did their Girl Scout Promise and sang "Make New Friends" before we honored each girl and their accomplishments for the year. The Tumbleweed has been busy working on badges whenever possible and had quite a few badges to show for it.

It was a great first year of Brownies. Definitely a learning process for me as a leader, but I think, after a summer vacation, I will be ready to tackle Year 2.

Back-words: deja vu

Perhaps you will remember the Tumbleweed's backwards phase where she wrote her name in a mirror image. I don't exactly remember exactly how we got her past it, but I wish I did because look what the Dandelion just started doing...

Just about the same age, too. The Tumbleweed was a few months shy of her 5th birthday and the Dandelion will be 5 at the end of this month. Weird!

I don't really know if this means anything, but I am sort of hoping the Dandelion will pass through this phase over the summer and be back to writing his letters forwards (which he does know how to do) before the first day of Kindergarten.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Girl Scouts: April Update

April 3: WOW! Journey Meeting - Water Olympics and Watershed Model

Today we had fun with water by balancing paperclips on top of a cup of water and seeing how many paperclips would fit in a full cup of water.

Balancing on top:

Adding paperclips to the cup. About halfway there...

Final total of paperclips that fit in the full cup... 164!

After we cleaned up the paperclips, we made an example of how pollution gets into the town water. Each girl got to put some food coloring representing a pollutant in a familiar place and then it "rained" and washed all of the pollutants into the rivers and lakes.

April 10: First Aid

We had a guest speaker from the local EMS come to our meeting to talk to the girls. The girls learned about what an EMT does to help people in an emergency (Philanthropy badge) and then about some basic First Aid and ways to be prepared and stay safe. The girls made their own backpack First Aid Kits and we wrote letters to our penpal troop.

April 17: WOW! Journey Meeting - Project Planning

A small meeting, but the girls decided that their Take Action Project would be a Public Service Announcement for the local channel about ways to save water. The girls continued to decorate their water map with their Water Drop promises.

April 19: Pet Adoption Awareness Day

One of the Junior Girl Scout troops in town held a Pet Adoption Day for the younger scouts during school vacation week, and the Tumbleweed was more than thrilled to attend since she desperately wants a pet!

April 24: Flower Frenzy!

Our opening activity was a windsock made from streamers and cardstock, where each streamer contains one line of the Girl Scout Law.

The main activities from today were for the Council's Own "Flower Frenzy" Try-it from Pennsylvania. The girls learned about the parts of a flower and their state flowers before getting to our craft - dying bandannas with flowers. Everyone seemed to enjoy doing an activity with hammers!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Communion

The Tumbleweed celebrated her First Communion today. She was very excited to wear her new dress and have our family come visit. At mass she lead the other First Communion students into the church and sat at the end of our row.
She had volunteered to do a reading and was assigned the First Reading. She did a great job reading at the podium and read her passage with expression and enthusiasm. She received lots of complements.
She had also volunteered to sing with several other little girls. When we arrived, the music director asked her to stand near the microphone because he knew she knew the words and would sing. She definitely wasn't shy on stage.
Finally it was time to go to Communion. She was nervous because she had to go first, but decided afterward that it wasn't so bad after all, but she still doesn't like the taste.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lorax Cake

Since seeing the movie the kids have been talking about The Lorax a lot. Suddenly I had a cake idea for the Tumbleweed and her cousin's birthdays --- Lorax cakes! After thinking about it for a week and collecting supplies this is what I came up with...

The brightly colored Truffula Trees --- Peep chicks on a lollipop stick (I drew stripes on)

The Brown Barbaloots --- Chocolate Teddy Grahams made into sandwiches with leftover frosting, and toothpicks to help them stand up

The Lorax himself --- Three mini-marshmallows on a toothpick covered in orange frosting with frosting eyes and facial hair.

The base is just a green buttercream frosting. Finish it off with a mini-marshmallow border, drizzled with frosting and sprinkles and you have a Lorax cake. Or Two.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sock Mixer

The Dandelion's teacher said to me when I picked him up today, "I love that he doesn't care what color socks he wears."

Nope. He doesn't care whether he has a matched pair, or even his own socks. Today at school he was wearing one inside out sock of his own and one of his sister's socks right side out. When we got home he took those socks off and put on two different Lightning McQueen socks.

Most of the time he just picks two socks out of our "lonely sock bin" just as we are about to head out the door. But sometimes he will take one sock from two matched pairs. With all of the mis-matching, combined with his need to remove his socks whenever possible, our single sock pile seems to be growing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Messiest Messy Fingers

We have a great program at the Millbury Library called Messy Fingers. It is science for preschoolers, with a parent. Each week has a theme geared to preschoolers to get them interested in a variety of topics. The kids do hands on activities for about an hour and families can take home a sheet with other related activities and/or check out library books on the topic.

When she was 3 & 4, the Tumbleweed went to these classes and this year it is the Dandelion's turn. There is a big difference in the kids' personalities that makes Messy Fingers a wildly different experience with the second kid. The Dandelion often has his own agenda, which can make it difficult to get him to follow the class. This is particularly frustrating to me because I know he follows along at school without causing a lot of trouble.

This week was the "Messiest Messy Fingers of the Year" on Solids, Liquids, and Gases. The Dandelion did better than most weeks, behavior-wise. He really got into trying to melt an ice cube and the got especially messy with Oobleck:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Lorax

Friday was Dr. Seuss' birthday and both kids had little celebrations at school. As a surprise I gave the kids the book "The Lorax" at bedtime that night, since I knew the movie had just opened and I figured the kids would be excited to hear the story. That was certainly the case, as the Dandelion requested an encore after the first reading and didn't want to give the book up to his sister to read.

After two days of reading the Lorax, we had the opportunity to head to the movie as a family. The time that worked best for us just so happened to be the 3D showing, so the kids got their first chance at wearing 3D glasses. Both did remarkably well at keeping them on, and I will say that they absolutely loved the movie. The Dandelion requested we go to Target to buy it upon walking out of the theater and was less than thrilled to hear my estimate of "Christmas-time" for its availability.

(Side note: I did not feel the previews were suitable for my kids, although they didn't comment on them and seemed to forget quickly. I would recommend a bathroom trip during the previews for younger viewers because they could be a little too scary.)

When we got back we pulled out some craft supplies to make a truffula tree craft. The Tumbleweed had a blast.

The Tumbleweed's Truffula Trees and Lorax

After she finished hers she added onto the one I helped the Dandelion with (he got side-tracked midway):

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Girl Scout Update

It has a busy month for our Girl Scout troop! As usual, the Tumbleweed has been hard at work doing individual badges in her free time, especially during February vacation. I have been keeping busy finishing up the troop quilt, planning the badge ceremony/open house and trying to keep up with the Tumbleweed's requests for badgework. Here is a quick run-down of the month's activities:

2/4-2/5: YWCA Swim & Fun Overnight The Tumbleweed was counting the minutes to her first sleepover. She had a great time playing & swimming, but wasn't all that thrilled when they started a movie at 10 pm when she was ready to fall asleep. She was the first one to sleep and the last one to wake up... and she followed up with a 4.5 hour nap in the afternoon. Even with the lack of sleep she was eager to plan another overnight!

2/12: Cookie Booth #2 Yet another frigid day to sell cookies. Thankfully they let us sit inside the entryway! We didn't sell nearly as many cookies at this booth, but we had great troop participation.

2/14: Troop Meeting We received our first letters from our New York Brownie pen pals. The girls were so excited to read them! We set up sewing stations for the girls to make their troop quilt while earning their Stitch It Together badge. Thanks to lots of extra hands, the girls learned to sew on a button, stitch a felt patch and sew on a sewing machine.

2/23: Pajama Dance Party Despite needing to arrive late because of dance class, the Tumbleweed had a blast at the Pajama Dance Party. She got a tinsel strand put in her hair, had her face painted and dance & tumbled until they turned off the music. I thought I might regret taking her out to an event after dance class (8-9pm), but she held up well and had a great time.

2/28: World of Girls Open House We concluded our World of Girls journey by finishing the last story in the book, talking about all of the places we had learned about and what Brownies are called there and having an open house for the parents to see the things the girls had been working on. We had a display of the girls "Historically Speaking" projects (the Tumbleweed did Egypt, Israel & Italy) and I had completed the troop quilt (except hand stitching the binding) so the girls could show their parents the squares they made. We concluded with a patch ceremony.

And while that might seem like a lot, March marks the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting, and is going to be just as busy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Color Splash Party

The Tumbleweed is turning 7 this year, and due to our busy schedules, and particularly full March weekends, I decided to do her party during February school vacation. For the first time we had the party at an outside location, Michael's Craft Store. The Tumbleweed wanted her party "somewhere other than home" but she did have some ideas of what she wanted to do at her party. Most places that hold parties in the area have package deals and it is hard to incorporate the themes & crafts she wanted. However at Michael's you can just rent the party room for two hours and I could do the crafts and activities that she wanted. Perfect. No mess at home, a helper provided by the store and a location parents are familiar with.

The Tumbleweed had selected some badge activities out of her Girl Scout books and I helped her modify them a bit for a party setting. We started the party by giving her friends shirts in all the colors of the rainbow so they wouldn't get their clothes dirty. The first activity was a pointillism painting (her current favorite technique) on a cover of a homemade notebook. I had thought this would be the messiest part of the party, but I was wrong, the girls stayed pretty clean!

The cleanliness was short lived, as next we made chocolate fondue. Yummy & messy. I only wish I had eaten some myself! We moved straight from fondue to frosting cupcakes with a rainbow of colors. The girls got to try some of the different cake decorating tips, making flowers and writing letters. After a little singing, they got to bite in and found that the cupcakes were rainbow-colored on the inside too (the Tumbleweed had found the idea in the American Girl magazine).

After presents & pictures, we made a much cleaner craft - braided and beaded belts. Each of the girls had their own style. The Tumbleweed, of course, had to put her beads in a rainbow.

The Tumbleweed was thrilled, the kids had fun and I was exhausted --- I'd say it was one successful party!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grow Your Own Cat Toy

The Dandelion has been enjoying checking out cat books from the library. His favorite is "Kittens". Coming in a close second is "How To Care For Your Cat". So yesterday, as he was picking out a few books I spotted another book I thought he would like, "Grow Your Own Cat Toy"

Of course, he was thrilled about the idea of "growing" a cat toy, so this morning I got some catnip seeds and after school he planted his seeds. He is sure they will "grow a cat toy" for Kitty to play with. Not sure he understands that it will grow a plant that can be made into a cat toy.

We will wait & see...