Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mystery Rock

Grandma Louie-Ann gave this to Thing 1 for her birthday this summer. Peanut Head is a Geologist, a Geophysicist actually, and Grandma knew that Daddy would be so proud seeing his girls interested in rocks. Well, I could have told her to save her money, they already love rocks.

Peanut Head started them on the love of rocks early. I used to just have to yell at him to keep his dang rocks outside, now I have to stay on top of everyone all the time. They're always bringing rocks in the house, displaying them here and there, hiding them in their bedsheets, sleeping with them for crying out loud.

And I ask you, do I bring dirt in the house? No. And why not? Because it belongs outdoors. As do rocks. Nobody listens.

In an attempt to bring me over to the Dark Side, Peanut Head got himself a rock tumbler and started tumbling his rocks for weeks on end (the noise is another story entirely) to make them pretty. And okay, they are pretty, but they need to stay outside until they're pretty and shiny and that's the bottom line dang it!

So this Mystery Rock, it's a big "rock" blob with treasures hidden in it. Kids, age 7+, are to use their little plastic tools to carefully scrape and brush away the surrounding rock to reveal archaeological hoo ha.

They love it. Can you see this? Look at their intense concentration. This went on for hours. For days on end. And Thing 1 still begs to go work on her Mystery Rock.

Here she is, with her filthy face and brand new ruined shirt, recording her findings in her field journal. Just like a real scientist. Daddy is so proud.

Thing 2 plays with the paint brush because every time she gets near the rock blob, Thing 1 uses her bossy britches voice to tell her that she's not 7 so she can't do it. This has been going on for years. When Thing 2 started crawling as a baby and she would touch a toy, Thing 1 would freak out and yell "No baby! No baby! You too little!" And ever since that very first day when Thing 2 learned how fun it could be to push her big sister's buttons, this house has been the venue for the Button Pushing Olympics.

Here's the cute little specimen tray. With specimens.

Ooh look, Thing 2 is actually touching the rock blob. See what I mean? Siblings, they're all the same.

Here's that cute little field journal. Thing 1 takes it so seriously.

Peanut Head says that if she can't find all the treasures, we can just dissolve the rock blob in water, because it's just made out of clay. We're keeping that little tidbit on the down low.

So I guess we need to give a shout out to Grandma Louie-Ann. Good one, Grandma! If you want your very own Mystery Rock, you can find it here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Organized Entryway

roundup.jpg picture by Orgjunkie

This month's Monthly Organizing Round-Up challenge is to organize our entryways. I realize that this sort of thing may bore some of you out there, but to organizing freaks like me, this is a good time. Sad, but true.

The best part of the organizing round-up is that it gives me a specific area to work on and a time limit. I'm an organizing freak, yes, but I'm also a procrastinator. In our house we like to joke about the book that I bought many years ago, Procrastination and How to Conquer It. Well . . . I haven't read it yet. I'm not making this up either. It's pathetic.

Anyway, back to my topic. Here's our itty bitty little entryway. When you walk in our front door, hey, you're right there in our living room. What a time saver.

If you don't like coat hooks out in the open, close your eyes.

We have a little closet in our entryway that serves as a coat closet and a utility closet. Since Peanut Head built shelves and cubbies years ago, it works quite well for us. He's a handy guy to have around, let me tell you.

We have two rows of coat hooks, one up high for big people, and one low for the ankle biters. Peanut Head used two different types of hooks and staggered them, which really bugs me because of my symmetry issues and all, but he was making them so I didn't have the control. He always likes to be different, and believe me, he is.

Here's different angled view to better see the cubbies. The long blue thing hanging on the left is my flag organizer. It's hanging on a hook just inside the door.

Here's a close-up of the cubbies. We pretty much just keep our winter stuff in there--scarves, gloves, hat, masks, avalanche beacons. Hey, it's Idaho.

Peanut Head also put two shelves on top. The first one I can reach just fine on my tippy toes and it has our snowman kit, mop pads, vacuum bags, and video camera on it. Stuff I need. Up on top is the air mattress for the guests we don't want overstaying their welcome and the girls' Christmas ornaments.

Thanks for stopping by to peek inside my house. If you want to see more of my organizing projects, click here. For more entryways, go to Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ball-Point Pen Flower Arrangement

I see these little pen flower arrangements at the doctor's office, the dentist's office, the chiropractors office, everywhere really, and I've always admired them. They are such a great idea because you have function and beauty all rolled into one.

I decided that I needed one of these for myself darn it. I am so, so, so tired of never having a pen when I need one in the kitchen. I have gone to great lengths to keep pens in the kitchen, nagging at my family to not take the pens from the kitchen. I even labeled the pens with my label maker so that everyone would know which pens belonged in the kitchen.

Can you believe that didn't even work? I think that my family can no longer see the labels for the trees in this house. I find my kitchen pens throughout the house, usually with little handwritten notes from Thing 2. "Mama, pleez giv me sum mor munee. I need mor munee." What?!!! What the heck does a five-year old need money for? Do I not give her everything she needs?

Well, from now on my pens are going to stay in the kitchen. They can ignore the label, but they cannot ignore the sunflower.

So take a look at how easy these things are to make.

First you need a container or a flower pot, some dried beans (I used pinto beans), ball point pens, floral tape, fake flowers (get the bouquets with five flowers per stem), scissors, and maybe some pliers or wire cutters.

First cut the flower according to how tall you want it to stand above the pen. Next, hold the stem against the pen and tightly wrap the floral tape around the stem and the pen, stretching the tape as you wrap it. The tape is stretchy and it grips as you stretch it. Don't worry if the tape breaks, just squeeze it onto the pen and continue on with a new piece. The tape overlaps and seams together very nicely.

Cover the stem completely and most of the pen, down to about a half inch above the ball point tip. You can go back and cover any spots you missed. The idea is to make the pen look like the flower stem.

The pen is now covered and you can throw the cap away.

Pour some beans into your container and stab some pen flowers in.

Ta Da!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crazy Stalker Mom

No, that's not a typo. It's not supposed to say Soccer Mom. It's stalker mom. That's me, for sure. But I get the pictures. Nobody can accuse me of not having any pictures of my kids, no sirree.

This particular picture is Thing 2 waiting for the bus. Today was the first day that Kindergartners got to ride the bus. And this bus riding is a big deal, let me tell you.

While we were waiting for the bus, Thing 2 and I discussed and rehearsed the picture taking procedure. She was to climb the first two steps, turn around to wave good-bye, and then I was to take her picture.

Yeah, well, somebody was a little too excited to remember the correct procedure. The bus pulled up and Thing 2 jumped on and started barrelling her way onto and into the bus. She disappeared completely into the bowels of the bus. I was left standing there, camera in hand, mouth open, dejected.

Luckily the bus driver knows about us crazy Kindergarten moms and knows how important "the picture" is. So here is Thing 2, after she came back.

Bye Sweetie! Have a nice day.

Oh, and would you look at that? Already! Here she comes, home from school.

Thing 2 is the first one off the bus.

Look at her. She's so proud of herself. And there's Thing 1, behind Janae's kidlet. She looks a little disgusted with me, doesn't she? She's getting to that age where she tries to be cool. Now that is a funny thing to watch your child try on. I should write a book. No, I think I'll save that for the teenage years. I'll have so much more material then.

I'm sure the bus driver thinks I'm a crazy helicopter parent and I'm okay with that. Really.

Hey, I get the pictures, don't I?

UPDATE: The day after I wrote this post, I was at a PTO meeting where the principal was explaining how he wanted to have Back-to-School-Night before school started so that the helicopter parents (his words) wouldn't feel the need to hang around the classroom on the first day. I had to hide behind my clipboard.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What A Croc!

Now is this a scary bunch of cupcakes or what?

I made this guy Saturday to celebrate John's birthday at my weekly Saturday night crop. His birthday was actually in July, but he had pneumonia and then I was on vacation, so we're playing catch up now.

I took this idea out of the Hello Cupcake! book that has been in all my baking thoughts lately. There are so many cupcakes in this book that I still want to make.

I had much more success with these cupcakes than I had with the Shark Attack cupcake carnage.

In fact, if it wasn't for the ingredients list, I would have been home free, they were so easy. The problem ingredient was Newman's Own Alphabet Cookies. They're basically square chocolate cookies and you cut them in half diagonally and use them to form the reptilian scales on the crocodile's back.

Between Peanut Head and I, we went to six different stores looking for them. The second to last place I looked had something close.

I figured if I couldn't find the alphabet cookies, then I could improvise and use these Pepperidge Farm Chessmen. I think they would have worked just fine, but I finally found the Newman's cookies at Fred Meyer.

Here's what they look like in case you ever go looking.

I almost didn't find them at Fred Meyer even. They were in the health food section with all the organic food. I wonder if the other stores we looked at had them as well, and maybe we were just looking in the wrong section?

This isn't the best picture because of the glare, but I like the angle. His snout is just so long.

Here he is from above.

One last view. I have to say I had a heck of a time getting the frosting tinted the right color. I was trying for the green in the book, but I didn't come close.

Here's the professional version. Isn't he a pretty green? At least I didn't end up with Croc Carnage.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Missing: One Gingerbread Man

Stinkerbell, aka Thing 2, came running up to me when I picked her up from school. She was running, she was jumping, she was twirling for crying out loud. All at the same time she was telling me in one big run on exuberant sentence "Mama!  We made a gingerbread man today and we went to go on our sign hunt and when we came back he was GONE! He ran away and we have to find him we have to run home and we have to look everywhere in our house for him NOW!"

Hee hee. I love her Kindergarten teacher. I absolutely love her. She is having fun with those kids and they adore her.

It takes a special person to teach Kindergarten, I truly believe that. I am so thankful for the Kindergarten teachers of the world. Well, all of them really, but Kindergarten is where it all starts. This is where the magic is.

Chore Charts

I made a couple chore charts to share with everyone for Works for Me Wednesday. We've been using chore charts with our girls for several years, and they've changed over time to reflect their abilities.

I believe that making kids responsible for chores is important to developing responsible adults. As parents we're responsible for preparing our children for adulthood and the many responsibilities that come with it, regardless of the fact that I'd really rather just freeze them and keep them little forever.

That being said, chore charts are one tool that we use in our house. I'm sure they're not for everyone, but they work for us. Here are some examples of chores in our house:

Grooming: Brush/floss teeth, comb hair, wash face

Bedroom: Make bed and tidy bedroom

Laundry: Keep dirty clothes in hamper and sort into bins in the laundry room three times a week (on designated days).

Trash: Empty bedroom and bathroom trash cans into main trash (again on designated days). The girls aren't strong enough yet to take the trash out by themselves, but that's coming down the road girlies.

Water Plants: This is mainly a summer chore and it's a daily one. The girls are responsible for watering my porch flowers and herbs which are in pots and dry out quickly.

Pick-Up Toys/Put Away: This is their least favorite chore and they tend to drag it out waaaaaay too long.

Dust: I give each girl a very specific area to dust and it's not a very big area because they are easily distracted. For example, Thing 2 is responsible for doing the kitchen chairs because they are low enough for her to reach and she can't topple anything over while doing it. "Oopsy is her favorite word right now."

Lay-Out Clothes for the Week: Every Sunday night the girls pick out five outfits for Monday through Friday, and place them in their days-of-the-week closet organizers. This saves time on school mornings. I try to put their clothes away in sets so that the matching is already done for them.

Make Lunch for the Next Day: Obviously this is a chore for the school year.

Skill Practice: This varies depending on what we're working on. Sometimes it's flash cards, reading, tying shoes, telling time, whatever we happen to be working on. It's just something we do as part of their bedtime routine and it's 5 or 10 minutes.

Homework: If they don't have homework from school and it's Monday through Friday, I give them something to do. It's not a big deal, we just do it to keep them in practice and to avoid the whole "I don't have any homework" argument.

Read 20 Minutes: Strangely I never get an argument about this one.

Here's a girlie chore chart for you. Enjoy!

For more great ideas, check out the links at Rocks in my Dryer.

During 2010, we moved over to a more Flexible Chore Chart. You can read about that here.

UPDATE: I've received some comments asking for the download link for these chore charts. Tip Junkie referred to these as a download and they are, in fact, not a download because I had to upload them as jpgs to get them on blogger. My intention is for you to be able to use them though, so you can save them by using the right click on your mouse, or just drag and drop them onto your desktop. Before you do this though, click on the chore chart image you want. It will open larger and you'll be able to save it in a much better resolution. This is an important step for the best results. I hope this helps everyone. Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Garden Picnic Sandwich

This recipe is one that my husband and I adapted from a Pampered Chef recipe. The only difference is the sandwich bread. The Pampered Chef recipe calls for their Pizza Dough mix and Italian Seasoning.

We wanted to be able to make this sandwich even when we didn't have any mix, so Peanut Head played around with an herb bread recipe he had and came up with this.

Here is a close-up of the top of the sandwich bread. It's delicious, trust me.

Peanut Head likes to use the bread maker, so this recipe reflects that. You could still make the bread without a bread maker. Just dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, knead as you would any other bread, and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

And here's the sandwich. If you think it looks a little top heavy, it is. It's not always easy slicing the bread loaf horizontally, but I promise you, it tastes the same any way you slice it and it's divine.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Container Love

Aren't these locker containers gorgeous? I couldn't believe how cute they were when I saw them. They even had a teal one. I found them at the Family Dollar store, but they weren't just a dollar. They were $4 each. They are metal though, and real sturdy, so I think they were worth it.

Here's another angle. Container modeling.

I found these at the Target Dollar Spot and I had to grab some. I'm not sure what I'm going to use them for yet, but I couldn't pass them up. They fit in our bathroom drawers, so I might use them for hair accessories.

The cupcakes are so cute, I could almost lick them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

First Day of School

You'd think with both my kids in school now I'd have a little peace and quiet. Ha! Somehow I'm busier without them at home. I'm so discombobulated that I managed to delete my Internet Explorer altogether. Note to self, when booting up computer and said computer says "Internet Explorer blah blah blah is trying to access the internet, do you wish to allow access?" DON'T EVER ANSWER NO. Yep, it was that simple. I get the bonehead award today.

So, I am back in commission, but late with today's post. My kids started school yesterday and here are my layouts. Thing 1 got off to school first because she is in second grade and goes all day.

This is Thing 1 on the first day of school last year, first grade. She's a weed, isn't she?

Thing 1 on the first day of Kindergarten, 2006. What's up with those freaky ponytails Mom?

Thing 2, my baby, started Kindergarten yesterday. She walked into her classroom like she was in charge. Her body language was all "Get out. I'm good. I need ta learn. Go away Mom. Get the dang picture and GET OUT!"

She's so sentimental.

Here's Thing 2 last year, second year of preschool.

Thing 2 on her first day of school EVER, age 3. Even then she was all GET OUT on me.

She's wearing her favorite "Pink Hot Boots" as she called them. We got our money's worth out of those Target boots. I only wish they came in my size.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Backpack ID Tags

The girls are back to school this week. Zoe will be in second grade and Annika is starting Kindergarten. I'm so sad about that. I'm going to try very hard not to stalk her on the playground like I did to her sister in her first week of Kindergarten.

I'm excited about school starting and getting back to a routine, so when I saw this idea to make backpack tags, I came out of my shark carnage funk and went to town.

I got this idea from Tip Junkie in her back-to-school post. This led me to Adventures with the Provosts to try for a closer look. Mique uses luggage tags for her tags, but I couldn't find any clear ones (at the one store I looked, because I'm impatient like that), so I improvised.

I found these badge ID holders at Wal Mart, and I figured they would work great combined with these book rings. They were dang cheap too, so I'm all over that.

They were pretty quick to put together too. I spent the most time trying to find pictures that were the right size. I adhered the piece of ribbon all around the top with photo tape to secure the opening and keep moisture out.

My ID tags for 2009-10, which I've changed a little, are here.