Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spooky Window Treatments

How fun is this?

We were at home yesterday. An in-service day...following a day off for Yom Kippur = desperate for things to do!

Even though it is not yet October, we decided that it would be a good idea to get started on Halloween decorations.

Yet again we started with an idea from Family Fun Magazine. They suggest doing this with cardboard. I thought poster board would be infinitely easier.

We carefully measured our upstairs windows. This is unlike me. I usually eyeball it and wing it. And then regret it and rig it. This time I was smart and patient and measured. And promptly left the paper with the measurements at home. Oops.

Luckily my intermittent dyslexia (which kicks in when I am attempting to tell someone my phone number and I blank...) didn't strike and I was able to remember that the windows were each 33" X 64".

We went to Target and found black poster board for $0.69 per sheet (which rang up as only $0.57 each...ka-ching!) Each sheet was 28" x 22" so I figured we could stack 3 together with a slight overlap and end up in the 28" X 64" range.

Aren't you glad I am sharing the specific numbers since your windows will totally be a completely different size? I just want to show off how good I am at math. Impressed?

We laid the sheets out and taped them together with packing tape. Then the kids each drew Jack-o-Lantern-ish faces on the boards. Sprouts window has a seam down the middle, so she did it as one big face. Tater was doing two separate windows.

Then we (I) cut out the holes. I did offer to let them cut. They didn't want to. Really.

Is it some measure of progress on the Zen-Mommy front that I didn't yell at Sprout about sitting on the table until after I took her picture?

After we (I) cut out the faces, the kids took white tissue paper and taped it over the holes. They each did a "Dracula" face and used red tissue on the "blood".

Tater felt the need to use the longest pieces of tape he could possible tear off.

I wasn't all that zen about that.

After all of the holes were covered with paper, the faces were ready to hang up.

How happy is this kid?

We used masking tape to stick the finished faces into the windows. Of course, since I didn't actually measure the sheets as we taped them together, the first three were a few inches too long. But we rigged it to fit. Improvisation is our friend.

Sprout's window. Now her room is like a cave. No light is getting in there. She can peek out through the eye holes if she wants a glimpse of the outside world.

Tater decorated our guest room (his room is in the back). He is sad that he can't look at the faces all the time.

I suggested he could sleep in the guest room, but he was freaked out by the double bed. And the fact that we call the room "Grandma's Room". Like she might sneak in at any moment. Scaaaaarrrryyyyy!!

Now we are all set for Halloween. Although I think that the kids are on a roll now and will want to keep going. Tater had some interesting ideas last year. I wonder what he'll come up with as the month rolls along.

This was a fun, easy project that took up a decent chunk of time. And the final results are, I think, "spooktacular"!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tiny Treasure Cubbies

We are paper towel tube collectors. They are one of the best craft materials.

We have made castles out of them.
We have made
marble ramps out of them.
We have made
other marble ramps out of them.

Last week the drawer was full again and so we made these little display cubbies. I found the idea, as I often do, in Family Fun Magazine. Love them.

First we rummaged through closets until we found two shoe boxes.

Then we rummaged through our gift wrap collection to find something fun, but sort of occasion-neutral. Stars seemed to work.

Then we wrapped each box in the paper, leaving the top open.

Finally, we cut our enormous stash of paper towel tubes so that they filled up the boxes. We got about 2-3 box-height tubes out of each paper towel tube.

There was one minor injury, Sprout cut the tip of her finger. Minor cut, thank goodness. But I did feel slightly vindicated for the heart palpitations I have every time I watch the kids cut towards their fingers.

Is that wrong?

Anyway, once the boxes were filled up with the tubes, the tubes held themselves in place. Tater was a little worried about everything falling apart, so we put glue on the bottom of his box to make things more secure.

Then we were ready to fill the little cubbies with all of the little mementos the kids have filling up their rooms.

Sprout filled hers completely. Finding rubber bracelets, bouncy balls, bug key chains and everything else she could fit to occupy each little space.

Tater left most of his open for later acquisitions. Although he did think it was a handy place to put his collection of (2) clown noses.

The best thing about this project was that it was completely FREE. All of the materials were things we already had and most of them are recycled.

Time to start filling the drawer again. I wonder what we'll make next!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Am...

Sprout wrote this poem at school, I hope it isn't wrong to share it.
I think it is awesome.

I Am by Sprout

I am smart and weird.
I wonder if my PopPop likes dogs.
I hear a choo-choo train puffing along as I fall asleep.
I see smooth thestrals flapping their wings.
I want an electric scooter.

I am smart and weird.
I pretend I am a famous director.
I feel uncomfortable in the presence of a crowd.
I touch my snack of apples and peanut butter.
I worry about black bears chasing me.
I cry when my mother doesn't buy me candy.

I am smart and weird.
I understand how people get jittery if the expectations are too high.
I say "eat at Moe's Southwestern Grill".
I dream I have a huge house.
I try to make a good impression.
I hope I get a sister that gets along with me.

I am smart and weird.

I don't know how much to read into this. They were given a set of prompts to frame out the poem...but I think her responses are very cool. It is amazing all of the places that the mind of an almost-10-year-old can go.

Sorry about the sister. Sprout - that isn't happening.
But your brother is super cute and you (mostly) get along great!

Monday, September 14, 2009

DIY Lunchables

My kids have a love affair with the Lunchable.
(I would insert the trademark thing here, but I can't figure out how. Lunchables are made by Oscar Mayer and they are a fine product.)

Oh, the tiny compartments!

Oh, the itty-bitty pieces of cheese. The itty-bitty slices of ham. Even the tiniest hot dogs ever. Swoon.

And then there is juice! And chips! And, if you are lucky...candy!!

But then...the turkey one (which Tater prefers) has chocolate chip cookies...which he does not prefer at all. Or the ham one (which Sprout prefers) has (hold's scandalous...) no Kool-Aid!!

And really, those tiny stacks of cheese and lunchmeat are tiny...not really enough for a growing kid's lunch.

So, I started to make my own "packaged lunches".

I took a big one-gallon sized zippered bag. And into that, I put smaller bags...with a couple of cheese sticks, some crackers, maybe some grapes, a few cookies (in the case pictured - little donuts...I was going WILD!) Along with this I packed single servings of milk (Tater prefers Silk Vanilla Soy Milk, Sprout likes these Horizon ones).

I told them that I made them their own special "Lunchable" (sorry Oscar Mayer) and they totally bought it!! And they ate it all up!


* less packaging. If you are really diligent you could reuse some of the bags.
* healthier ingredients. (Except for the donuts...)
* more customized to what the kids like.
* much less expensive.

A big win on all fronts. They can have this kind of lunch much more frequently, and I actually feel good about it!

Which is not to say that I don't wimp out and get the "real" ones from time to time. I am still a bit of a sucker for the itty-bitty compartments!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just a little word...

Tater was getting ready to work on his spelling last night.
He was going to type out his words on the computer.

He turned on the computer, turned to me and said:

"Should I start up Microscopic Word?"

How cute is that??

Monday, September 7, 2009

Homework Helpers

The kids started back to school last Monday, and then promptly had a four day weekend. So now summer is officially, unofficially over!

In preparation for the first day of school we did our normal school supply shopping. Sprout is quite the connoisseur of school supplies, and is in possession of the world's largest collection of novelty erasers. I am thinking about submitting her to the Guinness Book of World Records. But regardless of how many pencils, pens and erasers (shaped like ice cream, and lipstick, and small animals, and hearts, and...) she has, there is always a thrill when "the list" arrives and we have to hit the Target to stock up for the year.

I have to say, I share in the thrill of the hunt for just the right notebook. And of course, an excuse to hit the Target is always welcome!

This year, we added some extras to our shopping list. I saw these homework cubbies in Family Fun Magazine and thought they might help the kids focus on getting through the dreaded homework hour (hopefully keeping it from becoming the homework four-hour-nightmare...)

We started with a cardboard presentation board and cut it in half height-wise (I did the cutting - utility knives + children + neurotic mother = too much for me to handle.)

After we had two half-height boards, I scored an additional line down each seam (described in the directions from FF Magazine, so that the cubby can be folded up with "stuff" inside.)

This picture shows Sprout holding the (closed) utility knife and ruler. Just to show you how...I did the cutting, but couldn't figure out how to take a picture of my own hands...

The lines are just scored through the top layer of cardboard so that the board can fold.

Like this...

After the cutting, we covered the inside of the cubby/board with contact paper.

Sprout was so traumatized by my inability to line things up correctly that she decided not to cover the outside of hers. Tater went along with covering both sides. We had to re-score the folds on his from the outside so it would fold with the covering on.

Then we used mounting tape to hang up hooks and supplies inside the cubbies. Each kid has a little white board to write down assignments or reminders, one side is covered with cork squares so they can pin up things, and they each have a pencil box mounted with Velcro so that they can take it down to get the pencils out.

Here is Tater's finished cubby:

And here is Sprout's. She is very excited about her protractor.

They were so excited when they finished these that they immediately went and got some workbooks to do a trial run. They were both sitting on the porch with their cubbies up, working on crossword puzzles or something...

Then they realized school hadn't started yet and they went to watch some Phineas & Ferb.

I hope these will be fun for them to use when they are doing real homework.

Maybe I need one, too. And some fun pencils - and an eraser that looks like a hamburger - and a protractor...