Monday, November 19, 2012

Tea Party

Carolina and I were invited to a tea party with our good friends Jessica and Lydia today. Jessica and I had been tossing the idea around for a while and she graciously offered to host. I'm so glad she did because she did such a good job. It was beautiful!

Jessica had the table set with fresh flowers and so many special touches. They had their own crowns and menus and placecards.  The food looked so good and Jessica had worked on so many fun details-- down to the flower-shaped cheese bites. :)  She also had dress-up outfits for them to change into and the girls couldn't wait to get them on.

Mike took Clay and Lydia's brothers out for a boys' day so we were able to enjoy a nice calm afternoon tea party while the boys got to have their own fun day. The girls drank out of adorable tea cups and they couldn't get enough of the "tea" (apple cider). They kept drinking their tea really fast so they could refill their cups.

Both girls ate their fruit the fastest and lingered a little on their sandwiches. Their conversation was so cute, "Lydia, do you like the pink dip with your strawberries?" They each ate a little of their sandwiches and then went upstairs to play.

Jessica and I were able to kick back and enjoy our meal while the girls ate and played. Jessica spoiled us with tea, three types of sandwiches, two kinds of quiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and a plateful of sweet treats. She had classical music playing and the girls were so quiet. It was definitely a change of pace from the normal kid parties we do (which we love). It was so much calmer! :) 

The girls came down a couple of times to check in. They were so excited to try all of the cute little desserts. Eventually the boys came back and told us all about their adventures. Mike took them to Steak 'n Shake and Bass Pro Shops. They had a blast and didn't want to come home! I was so glad that they were able to have a special day too.

We are so grateful to have friends like Lydia and Jessica to share sweet tea time with. Carolina and Lydia play together so well and it's neat watching them do their girly things. :) We had such a fun time and we're looking forward to many more tea parties to come!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This Cute Girl...Just Got Cuter!

Carolina got her ears pierced! We were out running some errands yesterday and I noticed that there was an ear piercing store nearby. Mike and I have been talking about having her ears pierced since she was a baby but we just never got around to it. Yesterday was the day!!

We took her in and we talked about it a little with her. I wanted to be honest with her that it would hurt a little but that she would be brave. I will say the salesgirl could have done a little better job of selling it to her instead of saying she should only be a little scared. Not the term I would have used. :(

Carolina started getting really nervous but I knew if we left that she would never want to come back and get it done. Mike sat in the chair and held her and they gave her a teddy bear to hold. It was hard to watch her since she started shaking a little bit and kept saying, "I don't want to get my ears "piered" today."

She had a great cheering section since two pre-teen girls stood and watched. They showed her their earrings and encouraged her. Clay and I told her how big she would look when she was all done.

Apparently, I'm super picky mom when it comes to earring placement because the lady had to move the right dot three times. I wanted it centered on her ear lobe and she kept putting it really close to her head and telling me that if she moved it over too much it would look like a second piercing. She finally got it where I wanted. I hated to be a pain but I also didn't want to have to go through this again if it looked funny or have Carolina complaining about it in 10 years.

We had a good thing going until she got the first one done. Carolina lost it a little. The tears started rolling and she was done. It was hard to explain to her that she was already halfway there so we needed to finish the job. I think she thought that if we just walked out then that her ears wouldn't be pierced and it would all be over--and that was good with her. Poor girl. :(

Before she started, the salesgirl had talked to me about coming back on a weekend so there would be two people to do the earrings at the same time. I thought it would be no big deal. Hindsight's 20-20...

It took a while (a pretty good while) of convincing before the lady could do the second one.We told her we would get a surprise when it was done...nothing. We told her what a big girl she would be...nothing. We told her she would look like a pirate with only one earring...nothing. Every time the girl would come near her with the piercing gun, she would shrug her shoulder up and block her ear. Finally, I got a sucker out of the treat jar and it was just enough distract her to get the other earring in.

She was pretty sad for a couple of minutes after the piercing. It was the same kind of betrayed face we see after we take her to get shots. :(

Once we got to the car, she was a lot happier. She is very excited about them now. We have to clean and twist them 3 times a day and every time I do it she fusses at me about pulling her earrings out. She's so worried that they're just going to fall out.

She was very brave and we were so proud of her but we were also proud of her big brother. It is so neat to see him play the encourager. She got her ears done and got a sucker and he never said anything about getting something for himself. There's only 17 months between them so it could have been hard for him but he handled it so well.  The lady did end up giving him a sucker but he didn't even ask for one.

When we got to the car, Clay reminded Carolina about holding the phone to her ear gently so she wouldn't hurt her ear. This morning when I said it was time to clean her ears, he jumped up and came in the bathroom with us. He didn't know we had done it a couple of times already and he was ready and willing to do the job himself. He got on the stool and got the bottle of solution out and grabbed a Q-tip. I had to tell him that I would do it but I love his servant/encouraging heart.

Carolina has looked in the mirror several times to check on her earrings. She's noticed cartoon characters that have them and she's drawn some pictures with earrings on herself. She's always asking me for the gray crayon because she thinks they're gray (they're teeny, tiny diamond studs).

So...we made it through one more rite of passage with our little girl. She looks beautiful with her little sparkly studs and she couldn't be prouder!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clay and Our First Homegrown Watermelon

The kids have been watching the watermelon plant grow since the spring. A couple of days ago, the stem turned brown so we brought it in to see if it was any good. Surprisingly, it tastes great! (Not surprisingly, Carolina hates watermelon...)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bug Camp

The kids had one of their best weeks ever this week. Each day they came home from Bug Camp exhausted and talking how they didn't have enough time at the house they were at that day. At their ages, it's VERY hard to get stories of interactions throughout the day or even what projects they did but thankfully, each mom sent a follow-up email to say what they had done, learned and what projects they made.

Day Two was at the Coleman's and it was Spider Day. From Leslie's rundown, I learned that the girls and boys played separately all day. They made a spider web craft with their fingerprints, crawled through spider web cave (AKA the closet under the stairs covered in cool webbing) and watched a Hermie movie about spiders.

I was able to get from Carolina that they had ding dongs at lunchtime which they made into spiders. Clay's not a chocolate man so he said he didn't eat his and Mike and I were not surprised at all. On Ladybug Day, he wouldn't eat a ladybug cupcake but couldn't get enough of the honeydew melon from the strawberry ladybugs. :)

They also made yarn spiders and watched capsules grow into foam insects in the water. They wrapped up the day by going outside and having a water gun fight and eating popsicles.

They brought home mechanical bug pencils and glow-in-the-dark bug stickers along with their crafts from the day. Clay told us over the course of the evening that a spider molts his skin because he gets too big for it and that every spider in the whole world has 8 eyes. I'm so glad he was listening! They had a great day and were ready for more the next day!

Day Three was Caterpillar Day at the Birchfield's. It was a rainy day so they stayed inside for the day. Their first activity was caterpillar jars. They cut and hole-punched food out of green paper for their caterpillars and then strung caterpillars out of Apple Jacks and dental floss.Jessica said they were very quiet and focused for this activity. :)

While they worked on caterpillars, Jessica pulled each one aside to work on bookmarks. Working with them individually was something each of us did and it helped so much with focus for the kids.

The kids ate a lunch with a caterpillar theme of PB&J crawlers, veggie straws, holey cheese, yogurt with strawberry butterflies and cherry limeades. They watched some educational videos about caterpillars while they ate. Most of us planned a book or movie while the kids ate and everyone had good eaters and a not-so-crazy lunch table.

They read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Caterpillar Spring Butterfly Summer. They played with balloons for a while that were left over from the caterpillar decor and then played follow-the-leader with hula hoops. I heard it was interesting with different heights and levels of understanding the instructions but a good time was had by all! 

Jessica sat them down for another more in-depth lesson on butterflies and she said they were a very captive audience. Yay for 8 kids 5 and under listening quietly!! 

Their final activity was to spin themselves into crepe paper cocoons and then burst out and fly around the room with imaginary butterfly wings. The kids wore butterfly headbands and Jessica said it was quite a sight to see the graceful flying--especially for our rough and tumble boys! The crepe paper quickly turned into mummies and ninjas, though. :) 

They had a snack of banana-PB-grape-pretzel caterpillars. Cute! They brought home treat bags with a sugar cookie decorated to look like a green apple with a red worm crawling through it. Carolina asked Clay several times in the car if he was going to eat all of his. :) They also got slinky caterpillars, stickers and punching bags left over from the caterpillar decorations.

Jessica hasn't had the chance to upload pics from her day yet but I'm looking forward to some good pictures from that exciting day!

Day Four was Bug Day at the Keeney's. We were all a little nervous for Gretchen since she had the last day and we knew the crew would be tired from a big week. She said they did really well and were cooperative throughout the day. Good for them!

They made egg carton caterpillars and bug fingerprint pictures for their crafts.

They had caterpillar bread for lunch (a fun recipe with bread, sausage and shredded cheese), a cheese sticks grapes and dirt pudding with worms for dessert.

I absolutely love the picture above because it totally captures a little of my kids' spirits. Carolina is making funny faces at her friend and Clay has his arms crossed like he's too cool for school (although his silly side is just as big as hers).

Gretchen read The Very Busy Spider over lunch and the kids got free play time for the afternoon.This crew LOVES to play so this was a great to finish out Day 4. She had coloring pages for them to do and also pattern blocks with bug patterns (fun!).

They had a snack of Ritz crackers in butterfly shaped packages and Gretchen read The Very Quiet Cricket.

Gretchen asked them some questions about the things they learned during the week and she was impressed by how much they had retained. I know my kids came home with several fun facts during the week that I learned from, as well! They took their last group pictures of the week and called it a day!

On Friday night we had our end-of-camp celebration at the Birchfield's. The kids got to swim and the parents got to visit and eat dinner together. There were no pictures taken because we were all too tired from the week and too busy talking! Clay said last night was his favorite part of Bug Week, though.

Everyone had positive things to say about their day of hosting and I'm so thrilled. This was so much bigger and better than I expected when I threw out the idea of a friend camp. The mamas all went above and beyond my expections. I was really nervous to try and get any kind of guidelines for the week because I didn't want anyone to feel too much pressure or that it would be tons of work (even though taking care of 8 kids for 4 hours is tons of work as it turns out!). I also knew that this group of women is very creative and the kids would be happy doing anything any one of them planned. Each day was different and the kids had nothing but good things to say about the whole week. They enjoyed everything!

Jessica made each child a memory book folder to remember their week. Each day has a paper craft that they did or something from their day along with the synopsis about the day from the mom. Monday's is the Ladybug Quiz, Tuesday is a spider web with fingerprint spiders, Wednesday is a caterpillar page with a different kid's face for each lump and Thursday has fingerprints made into bugs. I love that the kids have something they can look back on and remember their week and since it's a folder, I can always add pages with the pictures from the week.

What a great week we had. The kids had a fun, educational week while the mamas got some free time (and precious memories of their day with the kids)--mission accomplished!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ladybug Day

A few months ago,  I started looking into different summer camp options for the kids. I soon realized that either A) Carolina wouldn't be old enough for most of them B) They were really expensive or C) I wasn't sure the kids would love enough to do it the whole week.

I really wanted them to do some different things away from home and I knew that I would need some school planning time, as well. That's when I came up with the idea of a friend camp. I proposed the idea to a group of moms I love and trust and whose children are close friends with mine. Thankfully, they were on board for my crazy idea!

There are four of us and we decided to do one day at each house Monday-Thurday from 10-2. Our theme is "Bugs". Each mom does one day and then has three days to herself. Friday is our end-of-camp swim party celebration.

Today was Day One and we did Ladybug Land! Here are a few fun things from our day:

We started working on our first project at 10:30. We had eight kids so we divided them into two groups (youngest and oldest). They each painted a 4" clay pot with their favorite color.


We got the groups working and took lunch orders while they painted. They played for a little while and then came back for lunch at 11:30. I read "Ladybug Girl" while the kids ate. It worked out nicely since they ate well and listened intently.

We finished lunch and had more playtime as we called the kids in one-by-one to do ladybug spots on their pots and make Ladybug Crowns. I measured heads while Mike monitored "spotting" at the table.

While they were eating their ladybug cupcake snack, I crowned each of them "Ladybug King" or "Ladybug Princess". It was totally on a whim but they loved it and couldn't wait for their turn.

We also read "Ten Little Ladybugs" during snack and they loved doing the counting. We wrapped up with a talk about the life cycles of ladybugs and I passed around a kid-sized laminated chart while I held up the larger poster. The kids also got to pass around the plastic figurines of the life cycles. 

The kids played for the last few minutes while I did a page for their scrapbooks for the week (another mom volunteered to make these :)).

When it was time to bring Ladybug Day to a close, we sent our friends home with some special memories of our day. They took home ladybug bubbles and a bug microscope necklace. The ladybug table decoration that I found was made up of treat boxes. I loved the double-duty decoration and so did the kids!

They also took home their handmade wind chimes and their ladybug crowns.

And the day wouldn't be complete without a snack for the road so everyone got a ladybug strawberry too!

We had the BEST day and my kids loved it. We are blessed that our friends were willing to share their little ones with us for the day and are willing to take ours for the next three!

Clay asked me at dinner tonight how we could learn more about ladybugs. I was thrilled to have piqued his interest! When I asked Carolina about her favorite part of the day, she told me she didn't have one because it wasn't long enough (her daddy disagrees ;)). Tomorrow is SPIDERS!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Awana 2011-2012

The kids wrapped up their second year of Awana Club earlier this month. Each week, Clay would go to Cubbies and Carolina would go to Puggles. Clay has been a Cubbie for two years and Carolina has been a Puggle for two years.

When we started Awana last year, it was the first time we had ever dropped our kids off and left the building. It was tough on everyone. Well, maybe not Clay. Carolina screamed and hated it and they called us to come and get her the first couple of times last year. This year was better, although she was never really excited to go.

Carolina had Buddy and Ally for teachers both years and we couldn't have loved them more. :) They are a young married couple who were super sweet to Carolina and just loved her. At the end of last year, I asked Buddy if they would be back and he said they were already looking forward to next year when their crew would be out of diapers and a little older. Buddy told me that they already knew what roles the kids would be playing next year (based on that year) and Carolina was the one in charge of the class. Guess they knew her pretty well!

Clay had to memorize a scripture each week and he did so well with it both years. He's very auditory so we would only have to review it a couple of times before he had it down. Mike would read from the Cubbie Bear book each Wednesday at dinner and then we would work on his verse.

Clay wore his blue Cubbies vest proudly each week and made several new friends. Ampanee (AKA Anthony) and Clay became fast friends the first year and they were the same class again this year. Mike and I would go and have dinner and then come back and sit in the parking lot and watch as Clay's class would be on the playground. It was funny to see him in his element with his friends.

                                                      (Clay and his teachers from this year)

Clay filled up his vest with patches each week and by the end of this year, it was full! He will be a Cubbie again next year (you graduate to the next group when you start kinder) and so will Carolina. While she was hesitant to go EVERY week this year, we're hoping she'll enjoy being a Cubbie with her brother next year.

Carolina's teachers, Buddy and Ally, moved a few weeks before the end of this year and Mike and I were definitely sad. She was almost two when she started Puggles and they were the first ones we trusted with our baby week after week. They were so sweet with her and we knew how much they cared for her. I got teary-eyed picking her up that last time from Buddy and he did too. :(
                                               (Ally, Carolina and Buddy on Pajama Night)

Carolina did fuss every week about going but she would say to me when I was getting her dressed, "What's Sarah going to wear tonight?" or some other little girl. She was always playing when we looked in on her and listening to the story and singing songs. Even though it was hard to leave her when she was unhappy, she loved every week.

It was another great year at Awana and on the last week I was telling Mike I couldn't believe we were already finishing our second year. It felt like it had just started!

We're already looking forward to next year! Go Cubbies!