Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Part II

Some crafts just seem to require glitter and Christmas crafts seem to top that list.  But glitter glue is way more expensive than plain glue ($2.99 for 3 ounces versus about a dollar for 6 ounces) especially given how the baby girl just LOVES glue.  And the idea of loose glitter with these two is way too scary.  So, after some internet research, I decided to make our own glitter glue.  I had about 15 bottles of elmers glue that I had bought on back-to-school clearance for 20c a piece.  So, I bought gold and silver glitter ($1.99 each) and added it to some of our glue. 

Then we made our bowtie pasta wreaths.  I did have to make the hole bigger on one of the glue bottles and completely remove the red twisting cap from the other.  George was, as usual, very meticulous with his wreath.  He glued green bowties evenly around the plate then added a red bowtie on top of each green one.  Vicki mainly spread glue around and only added a small number of bowties - some red and some green.  I'm waiting to see how the glue will look once dry since it will dry clear except for the glitter. 

Georgie did some simple math while doing his wreath.  I had deliberately given them more green than red bowties since the red were supposed to be like berries on an evergreen wreath.  He had added all except seven of his red bowties and started to realize he wouldn't have enough.  He counted the green bowties left without red bowties (14), then counted his remaining red bowties (7).   He then told me he didn't have enough red bowties to finish and needed 7 more.  This kind of thing seems to come pretty naturally to him.  He's very interested in numbers and adding/subtracting.

After our wreaths, while I was cleaning up the kids made snowflakes.  I gave them large foam snowflakes and a bunch of foam snowflake stickers to put on them.   Stickers are always a hit and, since the mess isn't too bad, they are perfect for keeping them busy while I clean up from a messier craft or set up something new.

We made cotton ball snowmen.  George was more interested in putting on the features and accessories than the cotton balls but Vicki  (who will use glue for as long as possible) put lots of cotton on hers.

We tried making glue and Q-tip snowflakes by putting a large puddle of glitter glue on waxed paper and adding Q-tips.  But, instead of just adding the Q-tips, Vicki used them to spread the glue out.  The idea is to peel off the glue once it dries and stick the "snowflakes" to a window but Vicki had spread her glue too thin and Georgie didn't use enough glue.

Georgie did a couple of writing/tracing pages with Christmas/Winter theme words and his full name while Vicki and I worked on shape activities.  Vicki's activities were printed off from  She was able to name most of the shapes but was a little confused with rectangle and oval.

Vicki ended up catching George's cold and then giving it to me so we took it pretty easy the rest of the week.   We did make wild bird treats with peanut butter and seeds, and glittery soaps as presents.  Georgie helped stir the glitter and coloring into the soap flakes but didn't want to get soap on his hands.  Vicki loved grabbing handfuls of soap to put in cookie cutters to make shaped soaps, or to roll into balls.  We also decorated gift bags by stamp painting using cookie cutters and using foam stickers.

We got a decent snowstorm over the weekend and Georgie kept begging to go outside and play.  We tried to keep Vicki inside since she still has a little bit of a cold but of course, that didn't work.  George took them out to play for a little while with Zappa.   They didn't have much in the way of snow gear so we dressed them in layers, dug out some gloves and out they went.  It was pretty cold so we didn't think they's last too long.

Vicki started out by scooping up big handfuls of snow and throwing them in the air.

Then Daddy taught them about snowball fights.

As a Samoyed, Zappa is just made for the snow and loves running around in it.

They jumped on the snow covered trampoline for a little while.

Then Georgie decided to try and shovel the yard.

After about an hour, they came back in crying because they wanted to stay outside.  They were soaked, cold and ready for more.  I spent about two hours online trying to find snow pants, boots and decent gloves for them at a time of year when stores are already ready for Spring.

Vicki also loved playing with our Little People Nativity set.  She loves pressing the button on top (which plays "Away in a Manger") and singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".  This is the first year she is really aware of what's going on and it's been lots of fun introducing her to everything.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Part I

Since George and I just returned from our vacation in Greece and there's lots of laundry, unpacking and organizing to do, I started really simple with our Christmas crafts.  I printed out a Christmas Tree from for them to glue pompom "ornaments" to. 

Vicki always loves anything to do with glue so this kept her occupied for a while.   She actually did much better than I thought she would at putting the pom poms in the blank spaces.  I wish I had sorted my pom poms by size before doing this project but I just never had the chance.  Of course, now that we're done I found the time to do it.

I'm very thankful lately that I bought a bunch of glue from Walmart for just 20 cents a bottle during their clearance after Back-to-School. 

Our completed Christmas trees.  Georgie decided to draw some presents under his tree.

After the trees I gave them paper and Winter-themed foam stickers.  Foam stickers are always a big hit and keep them occupied for quite a while without too much mess.  Peeling off the paper backing is great fine motor skill work.

Georgie with his completed picture.

Vicki didn't really have a completed picture to show since after a while she decided to stick the stickers to her belly.

We read Thomas's Christmas Delivery and listened to Christmas music while we were doing our crafts.

This ended up being all we were able to do this week.  We lost power Thursday evening and ended up not getting it back until late Friday morning.


George and I just returned from Greece.  He had to go on business and I was able to accompany him.  This meant that for two days he was at work during the day and for two days we were able to explore together.

Our flight out had a lay-over in Milan Italy so we flew over the Alps.  We also had a decent view from the airport terminal.  I have never seen Mountains like that so it was very neat.

The first day George was working I went to the Archeological Museum.  I found it very interesting looking at statues, jewelry and stoneware that was over 2,000 years old.  Other than the museum visit, I mainly looked around at shops and explored.  It was a lot like being in Manhattan, if you ignored the funny-looking letters on the signs.  Although, many things were also written in English and many people spoke at least some English, making it much easier to get around.

A couple of the items seen at the Archeological Museum.

We stayed at the Hilton Athens.  It was nice but very expensive.  If we weren't there on a business trip, we probably would not have stayed there. 

We had a nice view of the Acropolis from our balcony.

We did climb to the top of the Acropolis while we were there.  You do have to walk all the way up there.  It wasn't too bad and the view was absolutely amazing. 
The Parthenon.  It was interesting to hear the history of the temple.  It's in poor shape but not mainly from the passage of time.  Over the years it was burned by the Persians in 480 BC, blown up in 1687 and looted many, many times.

the Erechtheion

The Theatre of

The Odeum of Herodes Atticus

We also went and visited the Temple of Olympian Zeus which was one of the largest ancient temples......

and saw ruins, including Roman baths.

The trip was a lot of fun and I'd love to go back sometime.  Because we went in Winter and the weather was a little iffy, we didn't get a chance to visit any of the Islands and more time to explore would be wonderful.

Monday, November 30, 2009


George caught the biggest fish of his life November 22nd.  It was a Striped Bass, 41 1/2 inches (that's as big as George Jr.!!) and 22.3 pounds.  He caught it the Atlantic City Inlet.  

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Part II

We got back into our Thanksgiving studies this week, even though its a short week. It seemed like a good time to do our crafts.
First we made a Thanksgiving Wreath. We glued foam fall stickers to a paper plate with the middle cut out. Vicki loves anything having to do with glue, so this was a big hit.  Georgie was very methodical in lining up the stickers on his wreath.  He finished with an almost symmetrical design.
After the wreaths, we made the first of our Turkeys.   Georgie just glued his "feathers" to the back of the turkey's body.  Vicki seemed a little confused so she glued her's to a paper plate first and then added the turkey.  Once again, glue was a big hit with the little girl.

Vicki's wreath and turkey.

Georgie's turkey.

I don't like the way the glue makes anything printed on the ink jet change color and look weird but I haven't figured out a way around it yet.

After the paper turkeys, we made baby turkeys by sticking feathers into a styrofoam 1/2 ball, then putting a turkey body on the front.  Vicki was definitely more into the feathers than Georgie.  He spent a lot of time coloring in his turkeys body but only wanted to add a few feathers in a very definite pattern.

Vicki's baby turkey.

Georgie's baby turkey.

Our last project for the week was Cornucopia's.  Ask Georgie what a cornucopia is and he'll tell you "a cornucopia is a horn shaped basket filled with all the foods we are thankful for".  I wish I could say I taught him that but it actually came from Moose on Nick Jr.   Unfortunately, no pictures of the cornucopias, which were made by gluing pictures of fall harvest fruits and vegetables to a picture of a horn shaped basket, since both children went totally crazy with the glue and the pictures ended up getting stacked together before they were fully dry.

NEXT WEEK:  Greece!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Teenagers, preschoolers and toddlers....OH MY!!!!

We've still been keeping things pretty light.  We had our YMCA classes on Monday, Mom's Club meeting on Tuesday, the usual running around with Steph and most of what we did this week was play games and a little reading. 

Vicki has been on a rampage this week getting into all the stuff that we thought was safely out of reach.  Not quite as bad as when she dumped all the fish food around their room, but bad enough.  Three rolls of toilet paper have been unrolled over the course of the week, she's scaling the fence around the fireplace and pulled out the candles and backing I had in recesses in the stone fireplace.   She emptied two boxes of wipes all over the floor, destroyed three boxes of tissues and repeatedly threw the diapers around.  I had to rearrange things to get all diapers, wipes and extra toilet paper out of her reach.   Between the two of them, Georgie and Vicki managed to totally destory the floor lamp in their room.  We're going to need to convert to a wall lamp of some sort.  So, it feels like I spent most of the week just following them around cleaning up messes.

Last night I took Stephanie to the midnight showing of New Moon (the Twilight sequel).  The theatre was running a special showing of Twilight right before it, which allowed for much better seating and less line waiting.  So, we arrived at the theatre at 7pm to line up, saw Twilight starting at 9pm, then New Moon at midnight.  We finally got home around 3am and, of course, Georgie was awake at 7am.  Sitting in a theatre in the middle of the night with hundreds of giggling, sighing, gasping teenagers - what a way to spend a night.  The things we do for our children.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Straight A's for Stephanie!!

Report cards came home from the high school today.  Stephanie got straight A's!  According to her, it's the first time since 4th grade.  She is taking a few "fluff" courses - Acting, Art and of course, PE  - but she's also on the College Prep course with Chemistry, Algebra 2, Sign Language and Latin 2.   Since she attends one of the top high schools in the state, has dance 5 days a week and cheerleading - this is quite an acheivement.

School pictures came home the same day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksgiving Part I

Things have been a little light the past few weeks.   We're shutting down our campsite so there's been a steady influx of stuff that places need to be found for and laundry to be washed so it can be stored.  I've also been reviewing some of what we're doing since Georgie seems to be getting bored a lot.  I've decided to take a break from The Reading Lesson.  He already knows most of the letter sounds so the concentration on a few letters at a time wasn't interesting or challenging enough.  We're trying Progressive Phonics which is a free program that uses simple readers.  So far, Georgie seems to like it much better.  We're starting with the first reader (short a sound).We're also doing more games.  I found a generic board game online and modified the cards to emphasize what we're learning.  So, Georgie will roll a dice and pick a card.  The card will have a word to read or something to act out.  For example, I'll tell him he needs to read and act out the phrase "I am a big duck".  He's having fun with it but, of course, Vicki also wants to play.   We're managing but it definitely doesn't resemble any traditional game-playing I've ever seen.  Vicki is learning to give Georgie the dice when its his turn so I guess that's progress.

We've also talked about getting a more structured Math program after the Holidays are over.  I've looked into a lot of them and Math U See seems like a good fit for Georgie.  He's already counting to 100 and doing simple addition problems.  Since he's a very visual learner I think the manipulatives and DVD's of Math U See will be fun and educational for him.

We're studying Thanksgiving (including Native Americans and Pilgrims) for the next few weeks.  So far, we've read The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Greene, The Very Last First Time which is a story about a Inuit girl, and a few Native American legends.   We discussed totem poles but our attempt to make some didn't go too well.  The kids had trouble gluing their images to the paper tubes so we ended up putting them on paper.  I didn't really expect Vicki to line them up but Georgie also decided that a pole wasn't what he was shooting for.  I have to remember that Georgie really, really prefers more open-ended crafts.  He doesn't particularly like following directions in his worksheets so why would he with his crafts?  We may end up with some very interesting looking turkeys in the next few weeks.

Our Totem "Poles".  Vicki's is actually the more complete one, Georgie doesn't like getting his hands sticky from the glue.
Attempting to play our board game. 

Vicki has been playing a clothespin color matching game.  Each index card has a color name on it written in the correct color.  Each clothespin is painted with a color.  She matches up the correct clothespins with the correct index cards by clipping them on.  She did two of them, decided they made great wings and "Mommy I'm flying".

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Our theme for this week was Halloween and Pumpkins.  We started the week with a trip to the Pumpkin Patch.  Thankfully, after a really bad thunderstorm Saturday, Sunday ended up being the perfect Fall day - sunny and beautiful.   The Farm had all kinds of activities but we settled on just the bouncy house before heading out on the hay ride. 

Searching for the perfect pumpkin.

Success at last.

That night was our town's Trunk or Treat - an activity where people decorate their cars, park them together in a public lot and kids can "Trick or Treat" from car to car.  This is the first year Vicki is really aware of what is going on.  She had a great time and said "Thank you" to everybody.

Georgie was a bat.

Vicki was a Princess.  She wore one of her dress-up outfits.  This is probably the last year we can get away with picking her costume for her.

During the week, we painted some of our pumpkins....

and cut one open so we could see what's inside.  Georgie did not want to have anything to do with the "icky stuff" but Vicki was right in there with her own spoon scooping out seeds.

After letting the seeds dry out overnight we used some of them to make pictures showing what the inside of a pumpkin looks like.  We glued a yellow pumpkin shape to an orange pumpkin shape, then added strips of orange paper for the "icky stuff" and glued on seeds.

We read a few stories about Pumpkins and watched "The Magic School Bus Goes Batty" to finish up our Halloween theme for the week.   

Georgie just recently started getting very interested in counting to 100.  He can do most of it with very little prompting but to help reinforce it we're playing some games using the 100 chart.  His favorite so far is to use a die and, starting at one, move a marker the number of spaces rolled until he reaches 100.   He's doing very well at identifying the numbers he lands on. 

For reading, he pretty much knows all the letter sounds so we're working more on sounding out words.  I laminated a bunch of lotto sheets - a 3 x 3 grid with a word in each space - and he enjoys crossing out each word as he reads it or finding them as I read them (throwing in a few that aren't there but are close to see if he's really paying attention - ex.  "find got" when only "get" is actually there).  I just discovered that he recognizes the 9 most common color words (red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, pink, brown, black).  We're also working on reading "Hop on Pop" and "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish".  Right now, he can get through almost half of each one with a little prompting.

We finished up the week celebrating Grandpa Charlie's wedding.   Since it was on Halloween (but I had already taken apart Georgie's bat costume) the kids dressed up as an Eagles football player and an Eagles cheerleader (clothes they just happened to have).

Go Eagles!!!

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