Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Around Waco

I meant to share these pictures BEFORE Christmas but it just didn't happen (also, would have loved to get better ones, but here there are, such as they are.)  I had never seen either of these before...do they do this every year, or did I just miss this previous years?


I love the "Santa on Armadillos" at Pappa Rollo's Pizza.  



And this toy soldier painted on...well, whatever that thing was near
where HWY 6 and HWY 84 meet...was just so charming, in spite of the bleak surroundings.  I've always thought that thing looked sort of like a man.



Linking up at... 


Monday, November 17, 2014

Hunger Games Trilogy: Review and Related Homeschooling Activities



Just finished reading the last of the Hunger Games Trilogy. And wow.   Wanted to share some of my thoughts with you, and for those who are homeschooling teens/pre-teens, some ideas for activities and questions to have your children discuss/write about.  
1. The last chapters of this book left me drained and sort of in a fog, and I think that was intentional. These are stories that will be with me for a while.
2. I thought this with the first one but think it again. This is destined to be a classic...destined to be taught in school, like Fahrenheit 451 and Lord of the Flies. And it should be.
3. I questioned again whether my oldest (age 11) was ready for these. The violence is...well, pretty severe. Not necessarily worse than the first, but well...more of it. But, he's already read the first (he found it before I had read it and was half way through before I realized it, so in stead of ripping him away half way through I thought the best thing was to read it as quickly as I could once he was done and talk with him about it). So I'm keeping with that tack, only this time I have the head start. I've already handed off Catching Fire to him. And, truth be told, I'm glad it happened that way, because he's going to see violence--it's in so many movies, a lot of TV, video games, etc. I can't keep him from it forever, and though I try to shield them from the worst of it I haven't tried to make a bubble around him. And I would rather have him see it presented like this, not glorified. Plugged In Online put it well in their review of the movie (and it applies to the book too): "We feel the violence viscerally and personally, and we're supposed to be repelled by it, not enamored with it." This shows the aftermath, the internal consequences in a way that is never trivial...and so I'm thankful he's getting this side to temper the other portrayals he'll see.
3. ROME is Oh so present. Having studied this era before, I can see it echoed in so many ways here.
4. God is noticeably absent: not only in the main characters, but anywhere, in any form. Any religion that is. No one prays, no one calls out to God or even curses him. I DO NOT think this is a reason to protest this book, or not read it. It even makes sense considering the story line (in a society where dissent of any kind is so repressed, the religious would have been the first to be "removed.") But I do think that it's ironic seeing that Rome, and the "Circuses" where so many Christians died in horrible ways, is so tangible here.
5. It didn't come to me immediately, but in the last part of this book I see a lot of echoes of Lord of the Rings, even thought these books are OH SO DIFFERENT. Hunger Games is steeped in realism, in spite of the sci-fi aspects, and the strange mutant monstrosities that frankly have felt out of place in that realism (my only criticism of the books...while the subtle mutations--the mockingjays and tracker-jackets fit, the stranger "mutts" like the people faced wolfs and the giant walking lizards seemed a bit too cartoonish for the rest of this story). In contrast, Lord of the Rings has it's realistic touches, but is a fantasy adventure at heart--more the kind to inspire people to fight than to show them what fighting is really like. But Tolkien knew about war, and the reality of that war peeked through. Where the two stories are most alike is in the end, the aftermath, the denouement after the fighting has ceased--where the internal war continues. Both leave on a note that is sad...tragic in a sense, but not in the way that a Shakespeare play is tragic. It elicits more of an ache than tears, but is tinged with hope. And it leaves you with a better understanding and appreciation for the men and women who come home from fighting.


HOMESCHOOL/DISCUSSION IDEAS
This is a book series that it is just too easy to think of Essay/Discussion questions and discussions for  (especially .   Here are the ones I thought of.  When ideas are  for a specific book in the series, I've marked them with that.  
DURING READING:  
Honestly, these are the kind of books that I don't think you want to hamper too much with mid-book activities, because once you start you'll want to get to the end.  But the characters and places in it can be confusing to some, so these activities might help readers keep them straight.

  • Draw a character chart to help you keep track of the characters.  Write down what you know about them on the side.   (You can add details and new characters after every chapter).
  • Make a chart of the 12 districts and the capital, and write down information you learn about each district as you read (or at the end of each chapter).

HISTORY/SOCIAL STUDIES:  
  Here are some acitivites for connecting the Hunger Games with lessons on history and social studies.

 Compare and contrast any of the following:

  1. "The Capitol" and "Rome,"
  2.  "Bread and Circusues in Panem vs. in actual Rome
  3. The gladiatorial Game in Rome to The Hunger Games (and their purposes)
  4. (MOCKINGBIRD) Compare the Government of Panem to Other Governmental Systems (Fuedalism, Republics, Emerialism, etc) or Compare the governments of Panem and District 13.
  5. (MOCKINGBIRD:)  Compare propaganda from The Hunger Games, both that by the Capitol and by District 13,  to propaganda from history (US, Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, etc.).  
Other Questions Related to History...

  • Do you see any relation in Panem to American Society  today?  How it it the same/how is it different?
  • The people of the Districts are described as "Slaves" at one point.  Do you think this description is accurate?    How does it compare to other forms of slavery you know of (both in the past and present day slavery/ie Human trafficking).  

LITERARY & READER RESPONSE

  • Why do you think the author used 1st person for this story.   How would it have changed the story if this had not been in first person.
  • Talk about how any of the main characters (Katniss, Peeta, Gale) changed over the course of the three novels.
  • Talk about how Gale and Peeta are literary foils.
  • How does Collin's portrayal of violence differ from portrayals of violence you've seen on movies or other books?
  • What was the main idea you think Collins was trying to convey in these stories?
  • (Best saved for Mockingbird, but can be used for any of the books) Which character did YOUR feelings about change towards most in the books?  Why?
  • How were the games portrayed?  How had Katniss' perception of things changed?  Ect.?
  • Describe how fashion is used in the book?  How does this differ from the way you've seen fashion portrayed in other stories you've read.
  • (CATCHING FIRE)  How was the feel of the prep for the Hunger Games different in this novel than the first?  How were the tributes portrayed differently?  
  • (MOCKINGBIRD)  Who do you think sent the exploding parachutes at the end?  Who do you think sent them and why?
  • What character in the book are you the most like and why?
  • Why do you think the author did not have any mention of God or portrayal of religion in these books?  Do you think this made the story more or less realistic?  How would the story have changed if religion was present?  (Possible study of the author's interviews or biographies related to this).


BOOKS FOR COMPARISON/CONTRAST

  • Lord of the Rings:  Portrayal of warfar, Portrayal of aftermath of warfar, use of Sci-Fi/Fantasy elements, how the author's lifes shaped their writing--which requires further research)
  • A Day in the Life of Ivan Ivonovich:  Compare/Contrast the Soviet Gulags to the Hunger Games as a means of controlling people
  • All Quiet on the Western Front:  Compaer/Contrast portrayal of way, talk about differences being a Sci-Fi or Historical Fiction makes.
  • Fahrenheit 451, or any other dystopian Novel:  Compare/contrast the "Dystopia's."   What things from their own time (real life) were the author's commenting on?  What were they trying to say/warn against?
  • Lord of the Flies:  1: Both The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies deal with children/teens put in survival situations, and how it changes them.    What messages do you think the author's wanted you to take away from this?  How are the the same, and how to they differ?   2:  (The circumstances of both the Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies result in children/teens killing each other, but the circumstances are very different.  In one the children are left alone, in the other they are very much being controlled.  What does this say about the author's message?  How does it change the things readers take away from the story?). 
TV SHOWS TO COMPARE

  • OK, I'm not suggesting any of these for kids, especially without parental pre-view, but I think all are good for compare/contrast with this book, esepcially where it deals with talking about Government control, warfare, dystopian stories, etc.,  All contain violence, most contain some sex.
  • The  100  (Especially good for comparison between the "Sky" society and District 13.)
  • Continuum  (Basically nature of war, and also propaganda - not as gratuitous on the Sex as "The 100" but it's present)
  • The Colony  (TV Show, not the movie, which I haven't watched)- Yeah, it's a reality TV show, exploring what would happen in a worldwide pandemic.  Not sure how I feel about including it here as a suggestion for comparison for a book that was pretty anti-relatiy TV but, it's definately ripe for discussion.  No sex, save some people stripping down to some pretty modest underwhere at one point.  And, put on by Discovery channel at least it had a better goal than just simply entertainment.
  • (MOCKINGBIRD) Read Poetry by War Poet (such as those listed at the following link) and talk about how it relates to the descriptions of war in the Mockingbird.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_poet)

CREATIVE & OTHER:

  • Write your own story based on these books.  It can be a story that happened to the characters after these novels end, any of the scenes from this story written from another perspective (from Peeta's, Gale's, Prim's, Snow's, one of the other Tributes, etc.)
  • Draw a picture of any scene during the book you felt particularly moved by.
  • Remake any of the others Tribute's costumes as you think Cinna would have made them had he been THEIR stylist.  Explain your reasoning.
  • Write a poem in response to the book.
  • Put music to any of the songs in the book.
  • Put music to any of the songs in the book.
  • Make a map of Panem based on things you know about it from the books.    


PRINTABLES AND OTHER RESOURCES




Hunger Games Lessons Blog (Yes, there's a whole blog about just this)


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GARDENERS WARNING: FREEZING TEMPS!

It's supposed to dip  28 degrees tonight.  According to the Farmer's Almanac, this is a MODERATE which can cause "wide destruction on most vegetation with heavy damage to fruit blossoms and tender semi-hardy plants."   It's a good time to cover your plants.  But before you do that, give them a water which also helps protect them from freezing.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WARNING: Harvest Your Basil!

Friday we're expecting lows in the 40s (not sure if that's friday morning or evening), so harvest that Basil before it turns brown!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Facebook Fun

A recent conversation I had on facebook:


FRIEND: Are you honeschooking?

ME:  Yes, but just my youngest.

FRIEND: Homeschooling. Sorry cannot type on android lol

ME:  I assumed you meant homeschooling, but honeschooking sounds interesting too *grin* That really should be a word for something!

ME:  HONESCHOOKING - The anticipatory "schooking" sound caused by breathing in sharply right as you begin to "hone in on" a target. Usually followed by "blastslapping" (the high-fiving occuring after hitting a target).


.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Waco Voted 3rd Best Texas Destination

Waco got 3rd favorite destination place in a recent poll of Texas Highway readers! Go Waco! We know you're cool!


(PS: Looks like number 1 hasn't been announced. I'm guessing San Antonio because it hasn't hit the list yet. We beat Austin, Corpus Christy, Dallas and a number of other spots I thought would have us beat. But Denton was number 2, go figure!)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Monthly Faves - August

A Deeper Joy
So excited to join up with Montly Faves, a new meme I discovered recently at A Deeper Joy.

Wonderfully Strange August Weather
August in Texas is supposed to be hot...relentlessly, horribly, hot.  But somehow we still got a few days in the 80s!  How did that happen?  Nevermind...I'm not going to question it.  I'll just be grateful and enjoy anymore wacky wonderful weather that comes.

Homeschooling
We decided to homeschool our youngest this year.  He just had a horrid time in KG last year, in spite of having a good teacher.  We decided to try homeschooling where we could give him more attention, and so far I am loving it.

One example of what I love: we were working on "Skittles Math," something my husband came up with where we use skittles as manipulative and along the way get to eat some.  Half way through my son noticed that there was a little X-Box symbol on the Skittles package, which he thought looked like a metal Skittle.  So, he started telling me how he thought if you ate the "X Skittle" it would turn you metal.  And like many times, this grew into a little story, so we stopped math, took out our composition book, and wrote it down...


(He wrote the first few words and I helped him with the rest.)

That's the kind of flexibility I just love...where you can capture their attention while their interested.  We went back and finished math later, but got to write this down while it was on his mind.

Lego Kids Fest!
I won two tickets to Lego Kids Fest!   FUN.  The Dallas Convention Center is HUGE.  It look us like 15 minutes of walking just to get from where we entered (near the Cattle Structure) to where we ended up.  Lots of building, some romping through the largest pile of Legos I've ever seen, and a little crying when we had to go.





(And On a More Trivial Note)  The New Orange Sauce at Ghengis Grill
Ghengis Grill is my husband's favorite restaurant.  I have not always been so thrilled with it.  To me, the idea of a restaurant is NOT cooking your own food, and while yes, they do cook it for you, picking out the ingredients myself was just a little too close to cooking for me.  I'm a recipee Gal (or I used to be), and wasn't the type to even know what would taste good together.  But after long experimentation,  and quite a few meals that I just hated, I found a mix at Ghengis that worked for me.  Well, it just got BETTER.  I've been adding like a cup full of mandarin oranges to my "mix" to try to make an orange sauce, and now they have one.  Combined with my massive mass of mandarins it just tastes orangemazing (too many puns?  nah).  I mixed it with my usually sauce toppings (so, 1/3 honey soy, 1/3 teriaki, and now, 1/3 orange sauce.  YUM).  Other items in my mix are pineapple, steak tips, broccoli, bamboo shoots, sprouts, cabbage, peppers and onions, and those lil bitty corns.


So, what's one of your faves from August?






Sunday, August 3, 2014

Fun This Week! (Aug 4 - 10)

Fun things for kids to do in Waco this week.  Unless specified otherwise these events are free.  This will be the last "Fun This Week" for the summer.  During the school year I just don't have the time to do this every week.


FRIDAY

1:00 PM - Barns and Noble Storytime
A reading from some of today's most popular children's authors followed by crafts and snacks.  Barns of Noble, 4909 W Waco Dr. Waco, TX


7:00 PM - Frozen Friday - Barns & Noble
Cool Off With Olaf! A Get Pop-Cultured with Barnes & Noble Event. Bring in the kids for Storytime, a sing-along, crafts and activities with everyone's favorite summer-loving snowman!



SATURDAY

10:00 AM - Lows Build and Grow 
Build a Monsters Vs Alients Trolly.  All materials supplied and you get to take home what you build - all free.  Register here.

1:30 - 3 PM - Legos Lab - Central Waco Library

Create a masterpiece that will be displayed on our website & at the Library for the following month.  Blocks are provided.  Register Online.   4909 W Waco Dr., Waco, TX 76710, 254-741-9495


Friday, August 1, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ocean Printables


I love all the fun printables for kids I find in the Dover Free Sampler.  Below are links to coloring pages and activities from them about the Ocean for kids to enjoy.









Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mayborn Exhibit: Be the Dinosaur

The Mayborn has a special exhibit over the summer called "Life in the Cretaceous:  Be the Dinosaur".  I was really excited about it because it seemed like something that would appeal to my older kids, and because the exhibits at the Mayborn are always really cool.  And while the kids did enjoy this exhibit, I have to say I was sort of underwhelmed.



It had a couple large animated dinos and an animated dino-baby:  one T-rex, shown above, which was outside the exhibit in the lobby (where you can see it without special admission), and a mom and baby Triceratops inside.


They had a VERY SMALL collection of dino bones.  This large Triceratops head (nearly as tall as an 11 year old boy) was the coolest, though probably a replica since it was out where kids could touch it.  The rest were all small fossils in a few glass cases.


But mostly it was these...a whole bunch of video game screens with basically the same game (you could be a Triceratops or a T-rex).  And while the game was alright, I for one take my kids out to get them OFF of video games, so I wasn't really thrilled.  It was educational, but could be scary for younger kids.  My 6 year old was fine with it.  (Definitely gave him a more realistic perception of dinosaurs:  His dinosaur toys started eating each other in stead of talking to each other after this trip.)



There wasn't much pretend play stuff, save for a jeep you could ride in and these Dino-tails.   If you have younger kids (too young for video games where dinosaurs eat each other), then I would save your money and not pay the extra amount to see this special exhibit (there's plenty of other stuff they'll love in the museum).  If you have older kids, they might enjoy it (mine did...though not so much as some past exhibits).  Or, you can just catch the free museum day coming up August 8.  The Dino Day special events on July 29 and August 5th would also be a good time to visit, since you can get into the museum AND this special exhibit for only $5, plus there will be other fun stuff going on.






Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fun This Week (JULY 21 - 27)

Fun things for kids to do in Waco this week.  Unless specified otherwise these events are free.  Also check out our VBS guide to find free (usually) week-long Bible day-camps in the Waco area.


MONDAY

6:30 - 8:00 PM - Angel Paws Reading Buddies - Central Waco Library
Read to a furry, four-legged friend!  These specially trained animal therapy dogs are great listeners who provide encouragement to reluctant and struggling readers while boosting their self-esteem during a 20 minute reading/craft session.  Contact Vivian Rutherford at 254-750-5952 to schedule your 20 minute session. .1717 Austin Ave., Waco



TUESDAY 

9:30 and 10:30 AM - Summer Showcase - East Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details.  901 Elm Ave., Waco

11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm - Dino Days: DinoRock 
An entertaining, engaging, and education program filled with fossils, dinosaurs, and fun! Show times at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. $5 per person pricing will be offered on Dino Days and will include admission to the museum, Be the Dinosaur and all special activities and events. Mayborn Museum Members and Baylor University students receive free admission. For more information, call 254-710-1110.

4:00 PM - Fitness at 4: Bust a Move or Yoga (Rotating) - West Waco Library
Register online.  See website for details. 5301 Bosque Blvd.,. Suite 275, Waco.


WEDNESDAY

9:00 AM - 9:00 PM - Batman Day - Barns & Noble
All day event celebrating the Caped Crusaders 75th birthday. Learn More Here.

10:30 AM - Hewitt Libary Children's Summer Program
Children's entertainment, every week.  See webiste for specifics on this week's event.
Hewitt Meeting & Event Center, 208 Chama Dr (next to the Library)

10:30 AM & 1:30 PM - Summer Showcase - West Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details. 5301 Bosque Blvd.,. Suite 275, Waco.

4:00 PM - Fitness at 4: Dancersize - Central Waco Library
Register online.  See website for details. 1717 Austin Ave., Waco

6:30 - 12:30 PM - Angel Paws Reading Buddies - Central Waco Library
Read to a furry, four-legged friend!  These specially trained animal therapy dogs are great listeners who provide encouragement to reluctant and struggling readers while boosting their self-esteem during a 20 minute reading/craft session.  Contact Vivian Rutherford at 254-750-5952 to schedule your 20 minute session. .1717 Austin Ave., Waco



THURSDAY


10:30 AM & 1:30 PM - Summer Showcase - Central Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details.  1717 Austin Ave., Waco

7:00 PM - Family Night - West Waco Library
Weekly performances for the whole family.    See website for details. 5301 Bosque Blvd.,. Suite 275, Waco.





FRIDAY


10:30 AM & 1:30 PM - Summer Showcase - South Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details.  2737 S. 18th St., Waco

1:00 PM - Barns and Noble Storytime
A reading from some of today's most popular children's authors followed by crafts and snacks.  Barns of Noble, 4909 W Waco Dr. Waco, TX




SATURDAY

10:00 AM - Lows Build and Grow 
Build a Turbo Taco Truck.  All supplies provided free, and you get to keep what you build!  More info and register online here.

2:00 PM - Movie Night at Hewitt Library
Free kids movies showing every Saturday at 2:00 pm.  This week Frozen.  See website for specifics on this week's event.




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fun This Week (July 14 - 20)

Fun things for kids to do in Waco this week.  Unless specified otherwise these events are free.  Also check out our VBS guide to find free (usually) week-long Bible day-camps in the Waco area.


MONDAY



6:30 - 8:00 PM - Angel Paws Reading Buddies - Central Waco Library
Read to a furry, four-legged friend!  These specially trained animal therapy dogs are great listeners who provide encouragement to reluctant and struggling readers while boosting their self-esteem during a 20 minute reading/craft session.  Contact Vivian Rutherford at 254-750-5952 to schedule your 20 minute session. .1717 Austin Ave., Waco



TUESDAY 

9:30 and 10:30 AM - Summer Showcase - East Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details.    .  901 Elm Ave., Waco


11:00 AM - 3:30 PM - Dino Days - Mayborn Museum
Enjoy storytelling by Vivian Rutherford from 1:30-3:30 pm, the film “The Land Before Time” at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm and Digging for Dinosaur Bones: Dig Site Information from 2:30-3:30 pm. $5 per person pricing will be offered on Dino Days and will include admission to the museum, Be the Dinosaur and all special activities and events. Mayborn Museum Members and Baylor University students receive free admission. For more information, call 254-710-1110 or visit website.


1:30 to 4:00 pm - Teen Movie Party and Shrink Art (Ages 11 -17)
See a mad scientist accidentally allow his kids to get shrunk!  Make and take your own Shrinky Dink Art & make a piece of Jewelry or keychain ornament. See website for details. 1717 Austin Ave., Waco

4:00 PM - Fitness at 4: Bust a Move or Yoga (Rotating) - West Waco Library
Register online.  See website for details. 5301 Bosque Blvd.,. Suite 275, Waco.


WEDNESDAY

10:30 AM - Hewitt Libary Children's Summer Program
Children's entertainment, every week.  See webiste for specifics on this week's event.
Hewitt Meeting & Event Center, 208 Chama Dr (next to the Library)

10:30 AM & 1:30 PM - Summer Showcase - West Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details. 5301 Bosque Blvd.,. Suite 275, Waco.

4:00 PM - Fitness at 4: Dancersize - Central Waco Library
Register online.  See website for details. 1717 Austin Ave., Waco

6:30 - 12:30 PM - Angel Paws Reading Buddies - Central Waco Library
Read to a furry, four-legged friend!  These specially trained animal therapy dogs are great listeners who provide encouragement to reluctant and struggling readers while boosting their self-esteem during a 20 minute reading/craft session.  Contact Vivian Rutherford at 254-750-5952 to schedule your 20 minute session. .1717 Austin Ave., Waco




THURSDAY


10:30 & 1:30 - Summer Showcase - Central Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  This week's movie is Turbo.  See website for details.  1717 Austin Ave., Waco


7:00 pm - Family Night - West Waco Library
Weekly performances for the whole family.    See website for details. 5301 Bosque Blvd.,. Suite 275, Waco.




FRIDAY

10:30 AM & 1:30 PM - Summer Showcase - South Waco Library
Weekly events for children - puppets, plays, storytelling and more!  See website for details.  2737 S. 18th St., Waco


1:00 PM - Barns and Noble Storytime
A reading from some of today's most popular children's authors followed by crafts and snacks.  Barns of Noble, 4909 W Waco Dr. Waco, TX

1:30 PM - Science Shenanigans - Central Waco Library
A science lab for ages 7 to 11,. The theme is “Backyard Chemistry Lab,” with hands-on experiments. Reserve a spot by calling 750-5942. Space is Limited. See website for details.  1717 Austin Ave., Waco



SATURDAY

2:00 PM - Movie Night at Hewitt Library
Free kids movies showing every Saturday at 2:00 pm.   See website for specifics on this week's event.


SUNDAY

1:30 PM - Block Party - Central Waco Library
Block Party for Toddlers and Pre-K ages will be at Central Library on Sunday, July 20th, at 1:30 p.m. Please call 750-5952 for a reservation. See website for details.  1717 Austin Ave., Waco

Monday, June 30, 2014

Wildflower Watch - June

The beautiful chaos of Texas wildflowers in June....


It's a different sort of beauty than the seas of bluebonnets and primrose of early Texas spring.  Those lovely pink and blue shades seemed made for each other...and the occasional red or orange bluebonnet, wine-cup, or other odd flower  seems only a splash of color to highlight the rest, like a red pendant on a blue dress.


June is different.  Colors explode, they clash.  Flowers in red, orange, yellow, purple, and pink spread across the green foliage like a crazy quit...like multicolored sprinkles on green sherbet.


In the above pictures:  The red+yellow flowers are Indian Paintbrush.  The rocket shaped purple/lavender ones are Horsemint, and the wispy lavender ones in the last picture are Texas Vervain.  In the background on the last picture are thistles.  The green foliage in the right half of the first picture is wild Goldenrod, which I enjoy more at this stage then later when it is full of yellow flowers, but also tall and gangly.  There may be some other flowers mixed in as well...but those are the ones I could spot


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Monday, May 26, 2014

Robot Party Ideas

The other day at Target I spotted the cutest Robot Party masks.



I had always thought it would be cute to throw a "Robot Party" for my kids.  I never did, because they always had other themes they wanted to do, but I did incorporate some of my ideas into other parties.

MAKE A ROBOT
For my oldest's 7th Birthday, I spraypainted a bunch of boxes, lids and other things, silver and gold, and also collected metal parts like springs and bottle caps.  Styrofoam works well too:  just leave it white--don't spray paint it, because some paints can cause it to corrode and omit fumes.  You can also do a smaller take home version with nuts, bolts, springs and other junk.




For my middle son's 8th birthday we did something similar for a Transformers Theme...only in stead of odds and ends we used legos.  The original plan was to have each child make a car or plane, and then re-use the same pieces to "transform" it into a Robot.  Because of time we just let them make a Robot or a Car or Plane.








Robot Favors

CRAYONS
We also made robot shaped crayons for party favors at my son's Transformers Party.  They were a big hit.



Making crayons is pretty fun.   First, you need a mold.  Any plastic candy mold or silicon mold will do--but for safety reasons you should not make candy in a mold you've used to melt crayons.   You can find an assortment of Robot molds here.   

There's several ways to melt the crayons, but the way I've found works the best is to melt similar colored crayons in each section of a disposable muffin tin in the oven between 200 to 300 degrees.  Start low and raise the temp if they don't seem to be melting fast enough.  They should melt in about 15 minutes.  Then I use a plastic spoon to spoon the different colors where I want.  Make sure to cover the area well with paper to catch drips, because melted crayon is a bear to clean.  You may have to stick the tin back in the oven again if it starts to harden.

I did not use a disposable muffin tin when I did this.  I thought the
muffin cups would protect it.  Alas, it doesn't protect from drips.

If you have a silicon mold, you can just put the crayon chunks straight in the mold and stick them in the oven.  Unfortunately that would not work with the clear plastic mold I used for the Robot Crayons above, because it would melt right with the crayons.



CANDY ROBOT
Several years ago my son came home with this hand-made Robot valentine.  It would also make a fun party favor.  The paper is folded in a triangle (sorry...I don't have a side view with the candy items glues on--Rolos for eyes and hersheys for feet.  They glued a bar-code for the mouth (which would be collected or printed) and made arms out of tin foil (also glued on).




Anyways, there's some ideas to get you started.  Of course there's lots more on pinterest (definitely check out the free Robot Printables There).


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Waco Area Vacation Bible School Directory - 2014

Photo from Dayspring Baptist Church VBS 2013

Churches all over Waco are hosting Vacation Bible School, fun Christian half-day-camps which are usually free for kids to attend!   Below a some I found in Waco and surrounding area (listed by start date).  This list may be added to as the summer progresses.  

JUNE

Dayspring Baptist Church 
Theme: Wilderness Escape
Ages: Whole Families Welcome
Dates: June 16-20
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm  (With celebration the last night running later)
Location:  Waco  (see map)
Contact Tiffani at tiffani@ourdayspring.org for more info.
More Info Here 


First Baptist Church of Waco  
Theme: Wilderness Escape
Dates: June 16 - 20
Time: ?
Location: Waco, TX,
More Info Here



First Baptist Church Woodway
Theme:  SHINE
Ages:  Age 4 - 6th Grade
Dates:  June 16 - 20
Time: 9:00 am - noon
Location: Woodway
More Info Here 



Highland Baptist Church
Theme: Spy Academy 
Ages:  ?
Dates:  June 16 - 20
Time: 9:30 am - 12:15 pm
Location: Waco
More Info Here 


Community Fellowship Church of the Nazarene
Theme:  Weird Animals
Ages: Age 3 - 6th grade
Dates: June 16 - 20
Time: 6:30 pm 
Location:  Waco
More Info Here 


Trinity Lutheran Church at Badger Ranch
Theme:  Weird Animals
Ages:  3 yrs - Grade 5
Dates: June 22 - 27
Times:  (Light supper served before VBS each night at 5:45 pm)
VBS Times: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Location: Woodway
More Info Here 


Woodway 1st United Methodist Church
Theme:  Kingdom Rock 
Ages: Age 4  - entering 6th Grade
Dates: June 22 - 26
Time:  6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Location:  Woodway
More Info Here


St. Jerome Catholic Church
Theme: Wilderness Escape
Dates:  June 23 -28
Location:  Waco
More Info Here


JULY


Western Heights Baptist Church
Theme: Agency D3
Ages:  Age 4 - 6th
Dates:  July 7 - 11
Times:  9 am - Noon
Location:  Waco
More Info Here


Peace Lutheran Church
Theme:  Gangway to Galilee
Location:  Hewitt
They have a Carnival Kick-Off With Inflatables, carnival games, face painting, and prizes the first day, and Dinner before each VBS session.
Ages: Pre-K — 6th grade 
Dates: July 13 - 17
Times:     6 -  8:15 pm each night
                High Tide Water Party Kick-Off: 3:00 pm, July 13th only
More Info Here 


Evergreen Baptist Church
Theme: Spy Academy
Dates:  July 13 - 17
Location:  Waco
More Info Here


First United Methodist Church of Waco
Dates:  July 13 - 17
Location:  Waco
More Info Here


Brazos Meadows Baptist Church
Theme: Agency D3
Ages:   KG - 6th Grade
Dates:  July 20 -24
Location:  Hewitt
More Info Here 



Columbus Avenue Baptist Church
Theme: Agency D3
Dates:  July 21 -25
Location:  Waco
More Info Here 



First Baptist Church McGregor
Theme: Scavenger Hunt
Ages: ?
Dates:  July 27 - 31
Time:  Evening - Times to Be Announced
Location:  McGregor
More Info Here


Second Baptist Church - Woodway 
Theme: Major Stako
Ages: Age 5 - grade 5
Dates:  July 28 - 31
Time: 9:00 am - Noon 
Family Night July 31
Location: Woodway 
More Info Here 


Central Presbyterian Church
Theme: Feed My Sheep
Ages:  Entering KG - 6th Grade
Dates:  July 28 - 31
Time: 9:00 am - Noon 
Location:  Waco
More Info Here



If you would like your Church VBS info added to this list, please leave me a message with the details in the comments below.



Monday, May 5, 2014

REVIEW: Custom Kids Shirts by Shugie

I received a product discount in exchange for this review.

Every year I get a  t-shirt for my kiddos with their age on it.  It started with my middle son  as a way to help him learn his age and celebrate turning a year older...and has turned into a yearly tradition.

This year I bought my kiddos shirts from Shugie, an etsy shop run by Jess Galvan .  While there's a lot of shops out there that do initial and age shirts, it can be hard to find fabric that's mature enough for my 9 year old.  Shugie had TONS of great designs that I knew even my older kids would love.  It was hard to decide...


Should I go with this cool Batman design?



 Or maybe Star Wars?


After much consideration I decided on....


TRANSFORMERS!

This is my youngest in his 6 shirt.  He LOVED it.  He was nearly as excited
 over this as the actual transformer toy he got for his birthday!   I got his older 
brother the same design in a 9. 


The quality of the shirts are excellent...they just look very solidly done.   The buying experience was great too.  One reason I love shopping on Etsy, especially for custom items like this, is that I get to order from a real person.  It's not just about "supporting handmade"--it's about the customer service you get.   Though Jess doesn't usually keep larger sizes in stock, she was happy to custom order one for my 9 year old (who also got a transformers shirt).  And she even asked me what my kids favorite transformers were, so she could be sure that the right one showed up in the design.  

I really recommend this shop.  It has a lot of great designs for boys I haven't seen anywhere else, and some great ones for girls too.  If I had a girl, I would totally want to get this one for her....




And, Shugie doesn't just have shirts...check out these cuts jackets!





If you like what you see you can