Thursday, May 31, 2012

Busy Bag Swap

I just had the pleasure of hosting a Busy Bag Swap- where everyone made 20 copies of  a preschool activity, and then we had a little party, swapped bags, and each went home with 20 activities for our kiddos. I thought you might like to see how I organized it.  Feel free to copy anything below, swap out dates and specifications and make it your own!

Here is how it works:

1) E-mail me by Saturday, June 2nd if you would like to participate in the swap.  I will send out a mass e-mail to everyone with the number of bags we will be making.  If you want to make multiple activities (and go home with two (or more) sets of bags that is fine- but be sure to let us know so we can make the correct number of bags.

2) Peruse my Busy Bag Pinterest Board, the Internet, your own brain...and decide which activity you will make.  Each bag should be the same, geared for a 2-5 year old, and should cost no more than $3 per bag to make.  E-mail the whole group with the activity you have chosen (provide a link or description so we can avoid duplicates).

3) Make the specified number of activity bags.  Put each activity into a gallon sized Ziploc slider bag (the zip top bags will not hold a piece of paper, the slider bags do, and are much easier for kids to open).  Include an 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper with the name of the activity and basic instructions.  Believe me on this one- the paper will help hold the bag up and make them much easier to store and use.  Humor my OCD tendencies here- the host I learned this from knew what she was talking about!

4) The swap will take place at my house.  If you cannot make the swap, just get your bags to me before the swap and pick up your swapped bags after the swap.  Bring: your Busy Bags in a bag, an empty laundry basket, a snack or drink to share.

5) If you are willing to make an extra bag, we are going to pass along a set of busy bags to a family with two little boys who are going through a hard time.

Please pass this along to anyone that you think may be interested.  We can have up to 20 participants- first come, first served.  I hope this will be a lot of fun and give all of us some great activities to pull out for our little ones.  Please let me know if I have forgotten any important information, or if you have ideas to improve the swap!

Looking forward to it,

For the Kids Friday

Little Red Dress



This little red dress is one of my favorite Violet outfits ever.  I am thrilled that Beatrice is getting a chance to wear it as well.  There is something so sweet about a chubby baby in a red dress on green grass.  *melt*

**Violet is in the hat, Beatrice is in the bow.  I think they are starting to look less alike, but I realize that they still do look QUITE alike to the untrained eye!**

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mud Pie Kitchen

Few things are more fun than good old-fashioned mud pies.  We decided to make a mud pie kitchen in our back yard.  We took an old wooden plant stand and set it on top of two empty planters to make a counter (Violet tells me the space underneath is the oven).  We added some old, scratched up, but REAL pans from Great Gramma and Grampa, and lots of REAL utensils...the tongs being by far the favorite.  Sand from the sandbox, rocks from the patio, shells, dirt from the garden, water from the hose...what else could a kid need?!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Last Day

Preschool is out for the summer.  Oh how quickly the year has gone!

Someone has grown a bit since last August!

Violet had a wonderful year in her two year old class.  She adored her teachers, Miss Sue and Miss Kathy, her classmates, and loved all the great activities they did.  We are blessed with such a fabulous preschool and teacher who care so much for the kids!

Matias celebrated his last day with a Circus Party.  He will really miss Miss Annette and Miss Christine next year- he has had them for two years.  Luckily, we don't have to say goodbye because Violet will have them next year. Yea!  He will be moving on up to the PreK class.

We are looking forward to a summer filled with visiting, travel, picnics, playing outside and relaxing.  And come August, I am sure we will be more than ready to get back to school!

Weekend Garden Journal #7

With lots of rain and heat, the growing has begun in earnest.  We have been watering, weeding and thinning (Sigh.  We are trying to be more ruthless, but there is something awful about thinning out baby plants...definitely not our strong suit!)  Here is a sampling of what's up (pun intended!).

Spinach and lettuce thinned, carrots just beginning and broccoli towering in the back
Tomatoes starting to flower in the back, peppers begging to flower on the left side, and a million baby maple trees.  If you look carefully you can see some banana peppers!

The pole beans are starting to climb, and the zucchini and cucumbers are beginning to pop up out of the mounds

Violet's garden is happy!

The peas have almost reached the top of the railing!

Her tomato is flowering.

The nasturtiums are such a beautiful shape

We can't remember exactly what this is...did we plant beets and Swiss chard that happen to look alike, or did we really plant THAT MUCH CHARD?  AGAIN?  Oh dear...
We are fighting a battle against the million maple seeds that are trying to establish a forest in our nice, rich compost soil.  Ugh.  Next year we are going to till the beds and then cover them during the initial seed-drop.  This year we just helped them out by tilling them in and watering them. LOTS of weeding.  Lesson learned.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Last week we had the great pleasure of spending a PERFECT, BEAUTIFUL day at the Brookfield Zoo with some good friends.  We took in the Dolphin Show (which I think is even better than the one at the Shedd Aquarium), saw the big cats, monkeys, had a picnic lunch by the playground, and rode the carousel.  It was awesome!

**Lest you think my life sometimes looks a little too rosy on this blog, I will add that I sprinted a good distance across the zoo carrying one 40 pound child to the bathroom "right now Mother", and then returned to find another child had completely blown out of her diaper.  Good times.**

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Beatrice has learned to control those chubby little hands.  This has meant thumb sucking (which in turn has meant better sleeping), and lots of applause.  I *think* she even signed "more" today...and when I didn't respond fast enough, she kicked those legs and squealed at me.  Yeah, this one will keep me on the if I am not already running?!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tire Swing!

Growing up, Matt had an amazing tire swing in his yard.  They put it up when he was about 7, and I remember swinging on it in our early dating never get too old for a tire swing (perhaps just too heavy or too dizzy!)  We decided it was time to bring that tradition to our yard.

Strangely, we found almost NO tire swings online that were meant for hanging on a tree (and let's face it- a tire swing hung 6 feet up on a playset is just not the same).  After much searching, we found the WOSS-Gear-Tire-Swing-Hanger. They also make slack-lining gear, so we guessed that it would be very strong- and it seems to be.

I went to our local tire store and asked if they had any old tires, and they kindly gave me one for free.  We scrubbed it down with dish soap and a strong hose, drilled a few holes for drainage in the bottom of the tire and sanded down the inner edges so that little legs wouldn't get scratched up.  The tire is pretty small- fits our little ones fine right now.  In the future it would be very easy to get a bigger tire and swap it out.

Installation was relatively simple- using a long ladder up against the tree branch, we looped a strap around a strong tree branch and fed it through a cam buckle.  Using a carabiner clip, attach a 6 foot chain (adjustable) to the tree strap.  Loop each of three straps through itself, around the tire.  Hook these three straps to a carabiner on the bottom end of the chain and swing!  The straps are rated for up to 500 lbs.  I don't think our tree branch is rated quite that high, however, Matt did bounce around on it for a bit, so we feel confident that it is strong enough for our needs.  Obviously, be very careful installing and using the swing.

Of course, when you have a new tire swing, the best thing to do is to invite some neighbors and friends over to share it!

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