Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fun Run in the Sun

The school does a fun run every year for a fundraiser.  They set up a small circle with an inflatable tunnel for the the kids to run through and every time they pass the checkpoint they get a tally mark on the back of their t-shirt.  It's about 90 degrees and the kids get all hot and sweaty from running but, still, they think it's the greatest thing ever.  I don't get it.

Jumping jack warm-ups to get their hearts pumping.

Running around and around and around in a circle...with a big smile.

Those poor teachers are stuck in a classroom with 30 stinky, sweaty kids after the run.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mad Science Birthday Party

This is one of my favorite birthday parties that I've thrown for my kids.  The experiments were quite fun and easy to do.  The stressful part was remembering to pack every component for transporting to the park where we held the party.  I'm very glad we decided to do it at the park.  I needed time between experiments to set everything up so during that time the boys climbed on the playground equipment.   Plus, I didn't have to clean my house beforehand and I didn't stress over potential messes the kids could make.  It was lovely.


Our first activity was making flubber.  The kids thought this was the funnest stuff they ever made.  By the way, I recommend having older siblings or other adults assisting with each experiment so the party runs smoothly and you're not running around like a complete crazy person.  To make flubber, each person needs their own large bowl.  I found some at the dollar store.  In each bowl we mixed the following:
  • 3/4 cup cold water, 1 cup Elmer's glue and a few drops of liquid food coloring.  Stir with a spoon.
  • In a separate container have 1 teaspoon Borax dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water.  Add this to the glue mixture. 

We started out mixing with spoons but when the warm water cooled down and the mixture became thick, it was easier to just use their hands.

Flubber feels like thick slime or thin Silly Putty.  The boys liked to see how far they could stretch it before it broke.  We put it in Ziploc bags to keep it from drying out and they got to take it home with them. 

Morgan, Zander, Van, Jake, Simon and Adrick

Dry Ice Bubbles

While the kids played with their flubber, we set up for the next amazing science display...dry ice bubbles.  I followed Steve Spangler's directions to build your own bubble maker.  You can buy a kit but, honestly, it's way cheaper to make your own.  I bought a funnel at the dollar store, tubing at Lowe's for two dollars and the rest of the items we had at home.  (I used a normal-sized plastic cup because I didn't have a 2 oz. one and it worked just fine.)  We bought the dry ice about an hour before the party started but everything else we had assembled beforehand.  You need mittens to be safe handling the bubbles.  Lucky for me we've collected enough mittens over the years that I had a pair for each kid.  Which is pretty funny considering the fact that we don't live in a cold climate.

It was so entertaining to watch their eyes get big with amazement and their huge smiles.

It took Justin just a couple tries and adjusting the funnel to get it to form these perfect spheres that you can hold for a couple seconds before they pop in a cloud of smoke.

Even the parents were wowed by the dry ice bubbles.  This experiment is a must-do!

Balloon Experiments

After the dry ice bubbles, the boys played on the playground while we set up more than thirty empty water bottles I had collected from friends and neighbors.  The experiment was to test different combinations of vinegar, baking soda, candy and Diet Coke to blow up balloons. 

  1. First, an adult would fill the bottles about half way with Diet Coke.  You could use single serving bottles of soda but it's much cheaper to buy 2 liter bottles and pour just the amount you need into an empty water bottle.
  2. Using a funnel, fill a balloon with candy.  A regular funnel was too narrow and took a long time to get the candy down into the balloon.  I ended up making my own funnels by cutting the top off of extra empty water bottles, maybe 3-4 inches below the neck.  The balloon easily fits over the top (where the lid used to be) and the opening on the opposite end is wide enough for candy to be poured in. The first candy we tried was Pop Rocks and they poured the whole packet into the balloon.
  3.  After you have put the candy in the balloon, remove it from the funnel and attach it to the top of the bottle of Diet Coke.  Be careful not to pour any candy into the bottle as you do this.
  4. When the balloon is completely attached, shake the contents of the balloon into the soda. 

We did the same thing in a second bottle using Diet Coke and Nerds.  We filled the balloons about 3/4 of the way with Nerds.  And a third bottle with Diet Coke and three Mentos.  The fourth bottle we poured in about 3 inches of vinegar and filled the balloon about 1/3 of the way with baking soda.  The vinegar and baking soda produced the most gas and blew the balloon up the best.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Being mad scientists can make little boys hungry.  Our last experiment produced some sweet results...ice cream!  If they had any extra wiggles to get out, they used them up shaking their bags of cream until it turned into a cold dessert.

  1. In a pint-size Ziploc bag mix 1/2 cup cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  2. Fill a gallon-size Ziploc bag half way with ice.  Add about 6 tablespoons of rock salt and mix it up with the ice.
  3. Place the sealed pint-size bag inside the gallon-size bag; seal it and shake vigorously for about 5 minutes.
The kids ate their ice cream right out of the bag.  I was surprised at how good it tasted.

No birthday party is complete without cupcakes....made to look like brains!  There's even a cherry from a can of cherry pie filling in the middle.  Bite into the brain, and red goop comes out.  Boys like that kind of stuff.

I was quite pleased with my brain icing.

Besides taking home their flubber, the boys also got ingredients to make homemade snow at home.  One box of baking soda and one can of shaving cream from the dollar store is a pretty cool $2 party favor. 

Zander opened his gifts...

...and the mad science party came to an end.  Zander thought it was the best party ever!  And I'd have to agree :)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Zander Turns 7!

This seven year old requested warm, gooey, delicious monkey bread for his birthday breakfast.  He was all set to blow out his candle...

...when a pesky older brother beat him to it (notice the already smoking candle).  Candle blowing out take two...


Let the present opening begin!  He had a ginormous mystery box to start with.  (Lazy thrifty wrapping job courtesy of Kylie.)

Zander loves to play Trac Ball and his old set broke beyond repair so he was happy to get a new one.

Zander is very interested in science experiments these days so we got him a kit to make slime.  It worked quite well and was easy enough that he could do it mostly by himself.

The rainbow slime was pretty amazing.

Grandma House got him a kit to make some germs.  Zander discovered that yeast has its own special smell.

And no birthday at our house would be complete without Legos.

Zander also got his own Minecraft account and  Lego Movie video game.  Pretty lucky kid...especially with those photobombing siblings he has.

This was Zander's year for a birthday party with friends.  We did a mad science party and it was such a hit, even the parents had a good time.  Post coming soon!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Musical Performances

Bryn's third grade class was studying the galaxy and they shared their new found knowledge with us through song.  We're still singing, "The planets, the planets, we're learning about the planets..."  It kinda gets stuck in your head.  Bryn was super excited that she was chosen to be part of the rap group.  She really got into it and busted out some rap moves.

Kylie and Brayden had a half day of school and begged to be taken out early to watch Bryn's performance.  Any excuse to miss school.

Kylie tried out and was invited to participate in her school talent show.  I only had my phone so this is the best picture I could get.  She played a medley of Disney songs and did fabulously.

Her hair looked good while she was doing it, too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Junior Master Chefs

We've become big fans of  "Master Chef Junior".   The amazing kid chefs on the show cook things that I've never even heard of, let alone know how to prepare.  In one episode they cooked Gordon Ramsay's salmon en croute.  We thought it'd be fun to give it a try!  If Chef Ramsay had been judging our dish, he might've said that our ratio of pastry to salmon was good.  We had a nice golden brown on the pastry.  And it was plated nicely.  Most importantly, it tasted good!  Look out all you home cooks, one of us might be the next master chef!  We might need to expand our menu a bit first.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Medieval Times

If you ever want to go to Medieval Times but don't want to pay the high prices, go on Presidents' Day.  The tickets were steeply discounted and when we arrived we discovered why.  The entire top tier was empty and the row below that was only partially full.  It probably would've been even emptier if they hadn't offered the deal.  I thought the price was well worth the experience.

We were in the green knight's cheering section.

While we waited for the show to start, we browsed the cool souvenirs.  For awhile we've been wanting to get the kids a small trinket of some sort.  Years ago one of Justin's church leaders told him that when his kids were growing up he gave them a trinket that they could use when they wanted to talk to mom or dad.  They would give their parent the trinket and the parent would just listen.  They wouldn't lecture or offer advice, unless the child asked for it.  Which, he said, they often times did end up wanting to hear mom's or dad's thoughts.  It was especially useful when their kids entered their teenage years.  The trinket represented a kind of "safe zone" for sometimes serious discussions.  We thought it sounded like a good idea but hadn't been able to find a trinket that was just right.  At Medieval Times we found little metal figurines.  Our family enjoys fantasy books and movies and the figurines also serve as a reminder of a fun family memory.  Each kid picked out their own.  I hope they get used they way we're hoping they do.  Anything to keep those teenagers talking!  

There were other cool things to look at while we waited for the show to start.

And props to sit on.

Then it was time for the show!  Those servers definitely earn their wages and tips.  They took orders, then dressed up as pages and marched in with the knights, then back to serving food.

There's a whole storyline with the king and his daughter and some evil dude from another kingdom.

This was the brave knight we cheered on.

He had to face some fierce opponents but the green knight came off conqueror! We may have laughed a couple times when we shouldn't have.  But the kids thought is was pretty funny when knights would take dramatic flying falls off their horses seconds before they were struck with the joust.

The dinner was delicious and they give you large portions. 
Of course, the kids thought eating with their fingers was the best part.

It was a great afternoon!  We're very blessed to be able to do these kinds of things with our kids and create memories together.