Saturday, November 29, 2008

Handy Holiday Wreath

We have been going crazy with the projects around here, so I will try to update on what we have done. With the kids home from school for many many days over the Thanksgiving holiday (2 more days to go!) we have been keeping ourselves busy with lots of projects and lots of Christmas decorating.

This Hand Wreath is a super easy project that we put together in just a few minutes one night after dinner.

The base of the wreath is a paper plate with the center cut out (like a donut). I actually piled two plates together to make it a little sturdier and then glued them together.

The red hands are Tater's and the green ones are Sprout's. You could do any color combination that works for the holiday at "hand" (ha!). Blue and white for Hannukah, or black, yellow and red for Kwanzaa. Were there official colors of Festivus?

We used full-sized construction paper, with three sheets stacked up and folded in quarters to make 12 of each handprint with only one round of tracing and cutting. If you wanted to kill more time you could make a pattern and trace and cut each handprint separately. I was all about efficiency - but we didn't have a lot of time!

Once the hands are all cut out, space them out around the paper donut to make sure you can cover the whole thing. We did it with the curved side of the plate-donut up so the fingers are sort of fluffed out. Once you have the hands arranged how you like, stick them down to the plate with a glue stick or good old Elmer's.

Once it is dry, you could add more decorations - stickers, cut outs, a bow. Whatever you'd like to jazz things up. We went for the purist version.

I am considering doing something similar to this as a class gift for Sprout's teacher. I was thinking that if we cut the hands out of felt and hot glued them together it could be a more permanent keepsake. If I can just get a traced hand from each kid in the class, I think that it could be very cool. Maybe with the kids names on each hand...I am still formulating a plan.

Hope you enjoy this project or whatever you decide to do with those kids on these days off. December is FULL of days off for us. I need to make a list of projects to fill all of those days!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Cookies

No, not made out of turkey. That would be wrong.

These started out to be turkey cupcakes, but I needed both chocolate and vanilla, and 48 cupcakes seemed extreme. So I took exactly the same amount of cake mix (2 boxes) and made 24 HUGE cookies. Which is exactly the same amount of calories and extreme overabundance of treats - just flatter.

I used the "Funfetti Cookie" recipe (box of cake mix + 1/3 cup of oil + 2 eggs) using one box of devil's food cake and one of white cake. I made big round cookies out of the resulting dough (about 12 from each box - I guess 2" balls of dough?) and baked them at 375 for about 6-8 minutes.

I am sure that this would work with plain old sugar cookies, either from a mix or from scratch. You just need a big round base for the decorations.

The heads and feathers are Nutter Butter Crisps (from the 100 Calorie packs). I only bought one box of them, but didn't figure on breakage...many of the cookies were only halves in the about half of our turkeys were featherless.

For the heads, we used a tube of black cake decorating frosting and just made dot eyes and a "v" for a beak. Tater used red squeeze icing to make the wattles (gobbles?).

Then we iced the rest of the cookies (we used three for each turkey, but that was because we were running out) with vanilla frosting and then sprinkled them with different colors to make colored tail feathers.

Sprout was helping with the icing process, but kept eating the "parts". Rather than test her self-control, she chose to go watch "That's So Raven". Party pooper.

To assemble the turkeys we iced the big cookies, and stuck a head and some tail feathers into the frosting. When we ran out of feathers we just decorated the rest of the cookie with sprinkles. I think both versions look turkey-ish.

These looked super-cute on a big plate for dessert. Of course, now that I am insanely full of Thanksgiving Dinner, they are looking less enticing...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winter Storm Alert

Brainstorming that is.

I have somehow ended up as the (assistant) homeroom Mom for Sprout's classroom. I find this quite terrifying. The "real" Mom (there are no specific titles, but I have decided I am the assistant and she is real) was in charge of the Halloween Party. So I am in charge of Christmas. Only it can't be Christmas (I don't think). It has to be Winter.

So I am hunting around for games and crafts that can be finished in under 10 a classroom...without making a mess.

So far I have these options:
Pin the Nose on Rudolf (or Frosty?)
Paper Towel Tube "Candles"
Candy-Cane Pass
Rudolf Dash (relay with red noses stuck on the kids with vaseline...which sounds gross)
Winter Tongue Twisters
Snowflake Window Clings
Mashmallow Snowmen

And possibly tracing the kids hands to make a wreath for the teacher...

Much work still to be done.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sprout & Tater's New Pad

We finally made the box house today.

After convincing the children that ALL cutting of boxes needed to be done by a grown-up (accompanied by a story about how their uncle very nearly ended up one-eyed after a scissor mishap during a similar childhood project), we put the boxes together, covered them with construction paper (including curtains and a "tiled" floor).

There was a later phase involving chimneys made of paper towel tubes and "smoke" made of balloons...but this is the essential structure.

Then, of course we had to move on to making houses for our toys using shoeboxes, mailing boxes, juice boxes... Copious amounts of packing tape were sacrificed today on the alter of childhood creativity.

But look how happy these kids are...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3 R's

Reduce - I am reducing my use of brain cells for the day.

Re-use - You can read this post over here if you'd like.

Read - Two more Twilight books to go until my brain is mine again...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I am reading through some of the notebooks I kept (still keep, although with less frequent entries) of funny things the kids said when they were very small.

I thought I would share a couple:

February 2003 - Sprout is 3 1/2
Mommy: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Sprout: Batman!
M: Good choice.
S: He has power! (Fist in the air) He has ugly eyes and horns.
M: Really?
S: Yeah, and rosy cheeks.

February 2005 - Tater is 2 1/2

Tater: I see a house with a sign with a tooth and so I'm guessin' that's where the tooth fairy lives.
Mommy: Maybe it's a dentist's office?
T: No, it isn't an office, it's a house - so I think that's the tooth fairy's house.

I have tons of these...and now a 9 year-old and a 6-year-old...who say things like "If you won't take me to get Pokemon cards RIGHT NOW I am never going home."

I am not writing THAT in the cute things book...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dear Santa

I am getting ready to start thinking about maybe planning to consider what we might need to potentially put on our Christmas lists. It is a little early in the season for me. I can't really get into the full flow of the Christmas spirit until Thanksgiving has come and gone.

I did start loading Christmas tunes onto my iPod. But I won't play them for another two weeks. Promise.

However, I do know one thing, Santa. We really don't need any more toys.

Don't let on to the kids that I am telling you this, because they aren't completely on board with this. They think that we do need quite a few more toys.

Like every single one in the Target toy catalog.
And every single one in the Toys R Us catalog.

And then a few more.

But really, we don't. They pretty much play with a plastic yo-yo and a box of Pokemon cards.

And Tater likes the pink Bunco set.

But really - they don't need more. So if you can figure out a way to make Christmas all magical and full of joy and happiness, without more toys - I am all ears.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Poke your what?

My kids have recently gotten "into" Pokemon cards. Apparently they are a hot commodity during the bus ride to and from school.

The five minute bus ride. I can't imagine that they have time to wrestle the enormous tins of cards out of their full-to-bursting backpacks, much less partake in any kind of serious bartering.

I am not clear at all on the valuation method the kids use to determine a "fair" trade. It all seems very arbitrary to me, but I guess as long as they are cool with the outcome and I don't have to develop any significant level of understanding or waste any of my few precious brain cells on this, I should just let it go.

I saw something in a magazine recently about making your own trading cards for kids. Cut their favorite characters out of magazines, or print them from the internet. Glue them on index cards, and voila, happiness will ensue.

I have to say that I think whoever wrote that is delusional. Or has extremely clueless children.

That would NEVER fly with my kids - or the neighbors' kids - or really, any actual cognizant child I have ever seen. They know the real deal and can be amazingly detailed in their requirements for specifics. Anyone who has tried (as I have, I never learn) to pass off cut-rate toys as the real deal knows I speak the truth here.

Do you see up there how very many Pokemon characters there are? And therefore how very many cards my children feel that they need to have? And don't even get me started on the Level X and whatever else there is that makes the HUGENORMOUS pile of cards they each have DRAMATICALLY deficient.

I have been tasked today with taking Tater's allowance (because I am not spending *my* money on these things...although I suppose the allowance came from *my* money...but I digress...) and finding him a Level X Torterra card. Because the Torterra card he already has isn't sparkle-y enough or something.

We were at Target on Tuesday afternoon to pick up some medicine and on the way to the pharmacy, we passed the trading card display. Both children began to dance and plead for cards, but Sprout gave it up pretty quickly when I told her she was welcome to bring her birthday or allowance money back and waste *ahem* I mean spend it to her hearts content on all the Pokemon cards she wanted.

However, Tater collapsed in a small boy shaped ball of misery on the floor and proceeded to whine, and beg, and cry and repeatedly chant "But I NEED them". I was strong, I did not cave. I did not float him a loan, although it would have been significantly less painful.

So yesterday afternoon, he wanted to go back with his money. But homework took forever. And today they have karate after school. And if I have to listen to the begging again, I may have to curl into my own mommy shaped ball of misery.

So here I am, off to Target in search of Torterra.

Unless I can find an index card and some glitter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Breaking up with Myself

This whole blogging thing started as a way to support my business, Stuff for Sprouts. Then I decided that Stuff for Sprouts needed help I could not provide for it, so I started to search for someone to adopt it and take it to the next level. Sort of like sending it to boarding school. Forever.

Now someone (yay!) is interested in buying it and I have to figure out how to take myself out of the Stuff for Sprouts equation. Which is like removing a siamese twin. But less icky.

The first move is breaking this blog, which is intended to support the next venture (and provide an outlet for me to share what is going on, which I am sure you are all enjoying so much!) away from the Stuff for Sprouts blog. There are still links over there so you can get back and forth (and please do).

And I set up a new Twitter identity. So now I am both Stuff4Sprouts and FunMommyK (which I think sounds like my rap name, if I had one). Two of me. Yikes. Plus Facebook. I am overwhelmed with myself.

I better start doing something interesting!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Box Turtle

We went to Maryland this weekend to help my in-laws move. The kids were helpful, taking things out of boxes and not breaking anything.

But what they really loved were all of the boxes!
There was much begging to bring boxes home so that they could build a playhouse. So we have two fairly huge boxes lurking in the laundry room waiting for that project to come to fruition.

But while we were still there, Tater asked me to put one of the smaller boxes over him to see if he would fit inside.
And yes, he did. So he decided that he looked like a turtle. And begged to bring THAT box home, too. And could I please cut feet and a tail.

So, yesterday we got the smaller box out and turned it into a "real" box turtle. Tater cut out the circles to glue onto the box. I was thinking larger, octagonal pieces - but he thought circles were the way to go and I handed off creative control (yay for me!)

He was very happy with the final product and sat in it to watch TV last night. Says it hurts a little...but very cute.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Compare and Contrast

It is amazing how different two children coming from the same parents and living in the same household can be.


Sprout keeps losing sweaters and sweatshirts at school. Apparently she gets hot, takes off her top layer and leaves it somewhere. I only realized this when I looked in her closet and there were NO sweatshirts left.

Upon questioning, she shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't know what happened to them. When I suggested perhaps checking the Lost and Found at school (preferably within a day or so of misplacing things) she was dumbfounded.

I had to walk her into the school and dig through the box myself. Uncovering 2 of the 3 lost sweatshirts. She seems utterly untroubled by the one that is still MIA.


In complete and total contrast, Tater left his sweatshirt on the bus today and within 5 minutes had dissolved into a sea of tears. Devastated. How would he EVER find his favorite sweatshirt??? How???

I called the school and, amidst the wailing and screams of great despair, got the number of the bus company. Fifteen minutes later we were in the car on our way to the bus garage (which, luckily is about 5 minutes away). We tromped around over there, found the office, and VOILA, sweatshirt. As a bonus, we also found our neighbor's lunchbox, which had also been left on the bus today.

How do we find the normal, middle-ground reaction here? Constructive concern, without freaking out?

It's a mystery to me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Sprout!!

Today is Sprout's 9th birthday.

Where did 9 years go? That was WAY too fast!

I tried to negotiate an extra year of 8...then MAYBE 9 next year. But she said no.


That picture there is from our traditional decorating of the doors for kid birthdays. Crepe paper decorating the door and the sign hangs at eye level, so when the birthday child walks out of the room - HELLO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Makes them smile every time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Please Touch

After waiting in line for almost 90 minutes to vote today (go Obama!), we hopped in the car, picked up some McDonald's to go and high-tailed it to the new Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.

Traveling on the weirdly traffic-free Schuylkill Expressway, we arrived there in just about 30 minutes, a feat I can not imagine we could ever replicate.

The new home of the Please Touch Museum is Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. A really impressive building and a great improvement over the old, cramped location in downtown Philly.

We were greeted by an enthusiastic man in a Mad Hatter outfit. I found him sort of creepy/irritating, but the kids were amused. I clearly have a different sense of humor than a child.

The exhibits are, for the most part, the same as those at the old facility. However, most are expanded to take advantage of the additional space.

There is a large boating/water exhibit that I do not remember from the old museum. The kids loved this. However, the floor is woefully inappropriate for a water feature and kids were slipping and falling all over the place. They need to put down more appropriate flooring or someone is going to get seriously hurt.

Other features included a human-sized hamster wheel, an extensive Alice-in-Wonderland section with a maze and tea party, and a huge play supermarket. The last time we went the kids LOVED the supermarket. This time, possibly because it was a ridiculous mess, they weren't so into it.

There was also a play McDonald's, a food cart in the "park", a hospital, a shoe store, and a construction site.
My kids enjoyed the "garage" and driving the bus, and car. There were also "real" backhoes that the kids could dig colored balls with.

Lots of the activities would probably be more appropriate for the under 6 crowd. I think Tater enjoyed it more than Sprout, although there were moments when she was very into it.

I am not great at doing the "standing around watching kids play" thing. And I am a nut-case when kids are running in different directions and I can't keep track of them. (Yes, that's me yelling "WHAT DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT STAY TOGETHER???"). I would have enjoyed the day more with another grown-up for coverage and company. But it was a good day anyway.

The kids were very compliant with their $5 budget in the gift shop. Each picked a yo-yo. Sprout picked a strange tube thing that makes a weird noise. Tater picked 4 small plastic cats, which he named Snow White, Fluffy, Princess and Mustard. For some reason I find that very amusing.

So, in short...if you have kids under 6 and a co-pilot, you will probably really enjoy the Please Touch Museum. And don't run around the water feature or you'll crack your head open.

Oh, also - if you have AAA you can get a slight discount ($1.50 per ticket).