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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Bigger

"She's half a foot high!"
- the little one looks so tiny compared to her big sister, but just give her a few years.

Baby's weight is officially in the first percentile now. At 11 months she weighs a bit over 16 pounds, and I am beyond thrilled about it.

Grow baby grow!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Archaeology Adventure

Over the past few years my oldest has developed a passion for history, so it was no surprise when she asked for her 7th birthday party to have an Archaeology theme. Ancient Egyptian Archaeology to be precise.

We started by making pyramid shaped invitations out of sandpaper inviting everyone to the "dig site."

The party began with all of the kids creating their own tee-shirts using egyptian iron-ons (that I found in our library's 25 cent bin!) and Crayola's fabric crayons. I had never tried these before, but they are great. All you do is hand the kids any paper at all, have them color on it, and then ask an adult to iron it onto their shirt - simple, easy craft project. I love that if they "mess-up" I haven't wasted a tee-shirt, just a piece of paper. Check out these results! A little light, but too cute!

They ate an Egyptian meal of "make-your own-kushari" (lentels & rice w/ lots of various toppings) humus, pita & grape juice - well, it may not have all been exactly Egyptian, but it certainly wasn't American. Did you know that there really isn't a whole lot of Egyptian cuisine? The country has been conquered so many times that their own heritage has been morphed and melded with that of the entire region. It is hard to find anything distinctly Egyptian. And . . . yes . . . the kids really did ALL eat this food, but the birthday girl learned that "humus isn't my favorite." I love that they all tried it anyway.

At the end of our meal a message (written in white crayon on aged copy paper) arrived for the birthday girl, along with "decoding solution" (water paints). It took a few tries, but eventually they discovered how to read the letter.

It read:
"Your help is needed!
A 3000 year old tomb has been discovered near the temple of Amun in Egypt. You and your team of archaeologists are working to determine how ancient Egyptians would celebrate events and holidays. What wonders might be discovered in this tomb? Put on your digging clothes and lets travel to a land of mysteries just waiting to be explored!"
The happy birthday girl and all her archaeologist friends quickly lined up in front of the "decorations" she spent hours searching for and cutting out for her party - I had no idea that we had so many egyptian photos in our home. Gotta' love smithsonian magazine :o)The kids were equipped with an assortment of hammers, trowels, shovel, picks, brushes & magnifying glasses for their adventure. This is what they found:
Pieces of "egyptian pottery"
Gold (chocolate) coins
Treasure rocks with jewelry hidden inside

The treasure rocks had to be smashed apart with a pick or hammer. This got lots of laughs and squeals. Here is how I made them:

1c flour

1c used coffee grounds

1/2c salt

1/4c sand

3/4c water

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add the water until it forms a dough. Tuck toys into the dough and shape. You can either bake them 150 degrees until hard, or allow them to air dry.

After recording all of their archaeological discoveries on their log sheets they worked together to re-assemble the pottery pieces that they found.

They followed the clue which directed them to look under all of our chairs.
I love that photo :o) Grandpa was resting when the kids figured out their clue, and was completely baffled when they evicted him from his comfy chair.

Zipped within a pocket under one of the chairs (I have no idea why that pocket exists btw) they found a clue directing them to look:

Hidden in the risers of our basement steps they discovered a bag filled with tambourines and a cd, but before they could play with them, they had to decode their names in hiroglyphics. This step was actually harder for them than I thought it would be. Go figure.

So, after finding their own name, we read through the original mission again and they discovered that the answer to the question "How did ancient egyptians celebrate?" was MUSIC. We put in the CD (I probably should have handed out advil for all of the adults) and the kids (and goofy dads) marched, danced and twirled around the house banging their tambourines in celebration.

My silly 7 year old had so much fun that she has already requested another dig for her 8th birthday. We'll see how long it takes me to get the sand out of my garage - if it is still there in January, she may just get her wish.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Battle of the Towel

In my house there are several things that I've had to surrender to my current family situation. For example, we no longer flit out for a quick trip to the store. Instead, it is an hour + excursion involving 3 car seats, packing a bag, and making sure that the timing works with everyone's sleep needs.

The cleanliness of our home has suffered too. I simply had to come to terms with the fact that kids play - and that they prefer to play with toys which have lots of pieces - and those toys seem to land everywhere. It isn't a big problem. My kids do clean up after themselves, but not in the way that adults do. The reality is this: A forgotten lego or a tiny doll shoe kicked in the corner isn't something that they will recognize as needing to be moved.

Another of the eternal battles in our home is the bathroom. My kids are great about washing their hands; before meals, after craft projects, or whenever it just seems like a fun thing to do. They have clean hands - but the bathroom has had a tendency to look as if it was hit with a fire hose. We have spots on the mirror and faucets from drippy hands, puddles tracing a line from the sink to the towel, and until recently we fought the battle-of-the-towel. We always had a towel either scrunched tightly between the towel bar and wall, or unceremoniously piled on the floor where it fell after a child failed to balance it properly in it's rightful place.

I never realized that towel balancing was a skill to be learned: A little too much pulled to the front and it slips off - a little too far back and the same result. We have lost this battle many times over.

So I decided to stop fighting.

I'm not sure where the idea came from, but in a moment of desperation (or maybe frustration) I picked up a pin and threaded it through the towel, anchoring it in place. It worked! No more towel on the floor!

So now, each time I replace our hand-towel, I get to pick a new pretty piece of (rarely worn) bling to show off. Problem solved: The towel is now stuck to it's bar - if they can't get if off, they don't have to replace it.

The jury is still out as to whether this look is completely tacky or not - but for now I don't care.

The kids will all eventually learn how to put a towel up so that it stays put. Later. Today, I'm just happy to have it off the floor. That's one less battle for me to fight.

Next I'll work on the magic solution for keeping the playroom floor clean.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Praise of Linemen

Yeah - It has kinda' been a mess around here.

I tend to forget how much I enjoy the luxury of power - until it is gone. I don't ever really think before flipping a switch or plugging anything in. Really, honestly, do you think about these things?
  • Being able to see later than 4:30 at night
  • Taking a bath, flushing the toilet, or getting a glass of water
  • Keeping the house heated to above 40 degrees
  • Making a phone call or using the internet
  • Knowing what is happening in the news
  • Being able to vacuum, or wash clothes
  • Drinking warm coffee
  • Knowing what time it is
Power. It is oh-so-useful.

I love these guys!