Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crazy Sock Day!

My kindergartener, who could barely read an easy three-letter work when school started, has reached another milestone. Yesterday, Micah had officially earned enough AR (Accelerated Reader - a little computerized quiz you take after reading a book) points to earn the privilege of wearing crazy socks! (Plain old white or uniform-colored socks are part of the standardized dress code.)

We're so proud of you, Micah-Man! It's been incredible to watch you learn and grow over the past few months!
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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Rocket in the Living Room

For Christmas, Griffin got Josiah a huge color-your-own cardboard rocket ships. No really, it was huge. At least five feet long. You get the idea here. It just about took up about half of our little living room.

Josiah was very excited about it, and we got it out within a few days of getting it. Everyone helped color it.

Micah, artsy-fartsy Micah, even added a window with a view of an alien on another planet. (But I don't have any idea why he was making that face!)

And then they played and played and played in that thing - hide-and-seek, stuffed animals, blocks, you name it. Except space travel - I don't know that they every really pretended that the rocket was actually a rocket! :) Griffin excitedly joined in the fun on the days he was here, too!

But...after a month-long landing in our living room, the rocket has just about seen enough. It's barely holding itself together. And I'm ready to have the living room back. (There's no way it would fit in any of our other tiny rooms.) And the boys aren't playing in it quite as much. In fact, about a week ago Micah said, "Mom, when are you gonna take that rocket away? I'm ready to have the living room back so that we can play karate." ("Karate" has been temporarily outlawed in our half-living room until the rocket goes away.) "I haven't played karate since 2011!" :)

So last night I somehow managed to get the rocket out the backdoor. I didn't completely dismantle it - I wasn't sure what the reaction would be, and if it was bad, wanted to be able to offer to let them play in it outside. (Until it rains, anyway!)

Goodbye rocket. You provided many adventures and lots of entertainment! Thank you Griffin, for such a fun Christmas present!

**Tuesday update - Josiah noticed that the rocket was gone during the night when he got up to go to the bathroom. And he was very upset. It looks like the rocket will be going out with a bang in the yard for a few days!
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cutting the Grass

No really, they've been cutting the grass. With scissors. I don't know what gave him the idea, but Conner decided to take a pair of scissors out with him on Friday, and just started cutting. And then everyone else got some scissors. And they've been cutting the grass like that all weekend. Literally, for hours. Crazy...but hey, they've certainly been entertained!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fun with Uncle Ira and Aunt Kelley

The last several times we've seen Ira and Kelley (probably Thanksgiving and Christmas), we keep saying that we need to get together. And then the kids hear us talking and tell Uncle Ira that it's been forever since they've been to his house - they can hardly remember what it looks like. And then I agree - after all, I haven't seen his house since Kelley got her hands on it after they got married! And then Bret hears us talking and agrees - he hasn't seen the fish tank that Ira made out of an antique tv. And the boys hear that and well...then it's settled - we do need to get together. But then we never pick a date...and well...it's another casserole exchange or holiday before we see them again.

But finally, this week we made it happen! But Bret didn't get to come, so I guess we'll have to do it again sometime soon! The fish tank was very cool, just like we knew it would be. My brother is pretty awesome.

Their house looks fantastic. Ira had it looking good before Kelley came in - very nice and appropriate for a bachelor. And now she has definitely added her own feminine and beautifully creative touch.

Ira grilled hamburgers, the wellsbrothers impressed him with how much they could eat, we made ice cream sundaes (and Josiah had a little bit of ice cream with his sprinkles!), we played hide-and-seek, we played with glow necklaces, we played with our dog-cousin Charra, we played Risk, we watched Rio...and just had a wonderful time with family. Thanks, Uncle Ira and Aunt Kelley!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Peanuts, Pipe Cleaners, and a Rain Forest Diorama

We just spent two weeks researching golden lion tamarins, and we thought we were done with them. Then on Monday Conner came home with an assignment to make a diorama of his chosen mammal's habitat. Ooooookay, I guess we weren't done, after all!

Conner and I talked about it. Some of his friends (who had older siblings) had already known that the habitat diorama was coming after the research report, and had already finished theirs and turned them in. They had been able to find little plastic figurines to represent their animals in their habitats, and Conner wanted to do that for his. So we googled  it...there were no little plastic golden lion tamarins (glt's) to be bought. (And I didn't tell him this, but I had doubted that if there were some, that they would be a price that I was willing to pay!) So we talked about looking for pictures in magazines or on the internet - or even drawing them - and then cutting them out. But no...apparently that was a terrible idea! So we were down to making them.

That was all that we did on the diorama on Monday afternoon. I spent the rest of the evening brainstorming how in the world to make little orange maned monkeys. I think I probably even dreamed about it, because I woke up the next morning with a rough idea. And then, after brainstorming with a teacher friends of mine, I had a plan - peanuts and pipe cleaners. So after preschool on Tuesday, Josiah and I were off to Hobby Lobby. That was a pretty fun little shopping trip. :)

We added what we got to the few things we already had, and ended up with a pile that looked like this:

Conner helped Bret spray paint the box green. Then Conner and I played with the pipe cleaners and peanuts for a little while, and ended up with a little glt that looked like this.

I was in love - it was adorable! Ready to make at least a dozen, I asked Conner how many he wanted in his rain forest. "Oh, probably about two," he mused.

"What?!," I said, "Two? Just two? But look how cute they are. Don't you want a few more than that?" Nope. Two was all he wanted. "Ok," I said. "It's your project. But I'm so stinkin' proud of them and think they're so cute that I'm still gonna make a bunch of them. I'll just hang them from the ceiling by my kitchen sink if I have to." Boys...

By the way, here's a real glt. I think we did a pretty good job making a replica, don't you?!
While we were making them, we realized that I forgot to get plain orange pipe cleaners. We only had the kind with the sections of super-fuzz on them, so Conner had to cut the fuzz off to make their tails. He loved doing that...and we had orange fuzz everywhere...

Then over the next couple of days Conner painted paper towel rolls, and made trees out of them. (Yes, he did it. (Except I worked the glue gun and just let him stick the stuff on it.) I made a sample tree while he was at school one day, and he got his feelings hurt when I told him that it was mine for my class's unit on jungles. He had to make his own!)

He had fun cutting the leaves off the silk flowers, too...but the wire was a little hard to cut sometimes! :)

A finished tree, complete with a glt nest in it!

We made another tree, found a rain forest photo on google that we printed and used for a background, and then glued it all together. Here's the end result - finished a day early! (Yes, he did finally decide - after he realized that they could hide in the trees and hang from the vines! - that he wanted a few more than two glt's!)

Of course, Micah and Josiah got into it, too. They each ended up with their own glt. Josiah took his to show and tell on Thursday. His teacher thought the way he said "golden lion tamarin" was so absolutely adorable that she recorded it. ;)

...and we're now in the process of making another rain forest for Micah's glt to live in...

...and this morning, Josiah and I got to go to the zoo for a little while. While we were there, we decided to check up on the glt's again. And hooray, they were out playing today! You can really only see the shadows in this video, but we need to remember what funny little monkeys they are. :)

Update - Micah's rainforest (which he plans to give to his class for his birthday!):

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Junior Firefighter

I had a ton of work to do the other day, so Josiah and I went to Chick-fil-a. I took my computer, and planned to let him play in the playground while I worked. (Hooray for Christmas gift cards! :) He was very excited. But when we pulled up into the parking lot and found a fire truck there, it was more excitement than he could contain. "Firefighters eat at Chick-fil-a??"

I explained that firefighters have to eat, too. And when he asked if they were eating hamburgers or cheeseburgers, I explained that they were probably eating chicken at Chick-fil-a. :) When we walked in, we found that they were sitting at a table near the register, and Josiah asked if he could talk to them while I ordered. Of course you can, sweet boy! (I'm pretty sure that they were some of the same guys that took us on the tour of the fire house with the Cub Scouts a few months ago, and then another time when we got to go help them wash the fire trucks with our church.)

Well...I don't exactly know what all was said - I only saw a lot of smiles and jumping - but the next thing I knew they were all asking if Josiah could go outside to see their truck. They said they hadn't seen anyone this excited about a fire truck in a long time. Once again, of course you can, sweet boy!

He ended up deciding to play shy once we were out there. But we did manage to get him in the driver's seat. (I had to let one of the firefighter lift him into it - I couldn't lift him that high!) He even got to turn on the lights all by himself.

Very cool. Well played, BFD! You've got a few fans here!
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


They said on the news a little while ago that today was "the wettest day in January ever." Wow. I believe it. It rained and rained and rained and rained last night/early this morning. We had a lot of thunder and lightning yesterday evening, and even ate our dinner in the dark so that we could enjoy the lightning flashes! (It's been so long since we've had a good afternoon thunderstorm with lightning that my kids (who are never woken up by storms) acted as though they'd never seen it.) But the rain let up around lunch time, so Josiah and I had to go explore outside. It seems like it's been forever since we've had some good mud to play in! Plus, it's always fun to go look at the creek when it's flooding out of it's banks.

I finally had to make the kid come in - it was still in the 40's, and his hands and feet had been wet long enough. But a "super duper bubble bath" is always a great reason to go in! Thank you Lord, for the rain!
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fort Worth Stock Show

As a part of our museum membership, we get to get into the Fort Worth Stock Show for free. Some of our friends from The Gathering have memberships too, so we all went together. I've lived in the Fort Worth area for the majority of my life, but this was the first time for me to go. Bret had been a few times, but only as a little kid. So of course, our boys had never been either. We were all excited!

We sat on tractors,

got to pet Borden's Elsie the cow,

saw tons of chickens,

got to pet another cow - this time a show heifer,

and even got a real cream soda! (Think that's a crazy pose for a picture? Well, that's the best it got - because they were crazy!)

We saw all kinds of other things, and even got to watch a magic show and eat some popcorn and cotton candy. But then our visit was cut a little short by complaints of upset tummies. It was okay though - it was fun, and now we all know what it's all about!
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

More Basketball

Today was Conner's 3rd basketball game. And we had a special treat - Bubba and Griffin came to watch! (Isn't he cute in those little boots?!)

So Conner put on a good show and played a great game for them.

Until the end, that is. I think the long and busy week of late nights working on golden lion tamarin research reports and pinewood derby cars is officially taking a toll. He really slowed down at the end. I love the blue gatorade tongue hanging out while he's panting. :)

Good game, Conner. Way to go out there and give it your all, even when you're tired! (He actually went to bed tonight voluntarily a little before 6 pm!) And thanks for coming, Bubba and Griffin! post signature

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby was last night! The boys each got a box containing a block of wood and some nails and wheels before Christmas. So we've been working on pinewood derby cars for about a month now.

Each of the boys started off with a plan.

Then they spent some time with Bret tweaking and finalizing their plans, making them a little more feasible and aerodynamic.

Then we waited for a time when someone's band saw was available to cut the wood. It was super-exciting when Conner came home from a Cub Scout meeting with all of the cars cut into their shapes! Then we sanded. And sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded. Believe it or not, Josiah gets the prize here for the most diligent sander!

Then it was time to drill holes for the weights. That mostly fell under Bret's responsibility. I came home from school one day and found him at the kitchen table like this. (Someday. Someday, we'll have a garage...)

Josiah wanted to help, so he went and got his own little tool box. :) Yes, there were a couple of nights in there that we didn't even try to make or eat dinner at home!

Conner was very excited to get to help with the drill!

And Micah, bless his heart, was equally excited to help with the dustbuster.

Then it was time to prime...

and finally, it was time to PAINT!!!

And then we kind of started getting into a time crunch, during a week of crazy amounts of homework...and I didn't get pictures of stenciling the designs on (I made the stencils from vinyl on my silhouette!), spraying on the clear coat, adding the wheels, or perfecting the weights. It's ok though - there are plenty of pictures of them working on it up to that point!

Here's the final products. Micah and Josiah ended up deviating from their original plans quite a bit!

When it was finally time to go to the race today, Josiah was ready with his tools and tool belt, "just in case somebody needs some help!" Love that kid, spaghetti on his face and all!

Conner got to race his car first.

I'm loving that I've figured out how to do digital video now! :)

Conner and his car, "The Wolfmobile," ended up getting third in his den. That meant that we got to stay for him to race in the finals!

He also won "Best Use of Decal." Those vinyl stencils worked so good that everyone thought the paint was stickers! :)

Conner's little car didn't last long in the finals. Most of the younger, more inexperienced kids' cars don't. But he hung in there for several races!

And after the finals was the Open Class competition. There aren't as many rules here - siblings and parents can enter cars. And the cars can have special wheels and axles that aren't allowed in the regular Cub Scout competition. They only have to meet the size and weight requirements. Bret went ahead and made Micah and Josiah's by the regular Cub Scout rules though. It was good experience!

Micah's and Josiah's hung in there for a little while.

(By this time it was after 9pm. Josiah was so very tired!)

But eventually, Josiah and "The Fireman" got two x's and were out.

And then Micah and "The Skull" got two x's and were out. He fought those tears so hard!

...but being done meant that they finally got to play with those silly cars!!!!

...until they got in trouble. They weren't supposed to roll the cars on the floor because the graphite used in the wheels messes up the floor. I didn't know that it messed up the bleachers, too. Sorry guys...

Conner, Micah, and Josiah we are so very proud of you!!! And I'm proud of your daddy, too - and all the time and patience and work and patience he put into this for and with you!

...but I'm happy to reclaim the kitchen now! :)
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