Monday, February 28, 2011

Sock Ball Fight

We have gotten a lot of snow this winter. Unfortunately, it has not been good packing snow. No snowmen. No snow forts. No snowball fights. No snow angels. We decided to remedy this situation in the warmth of our living room where the "snow" is always packable.

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Theory Thursday: Adding CO2 to Make Pop

We headed to my parents' house for a little bit of science. They own a SodaStream machine. With a push of a button, it adds CO2 to water. The machine itself is about $100. You also need a carbonator ($30 for twin pack) and bottle ($15 for twin pack.) A bottle of Sodamix flavoring (optional, 50 servings) costs $5. Simply put, you can have sparkling water or pop without high fructose corn syrup or aspartame for a fraction of the price. Plus, it's fun to make.

Gather 1 liter cold water, flavoring, & SodaStream machine. Half eaten apple is optional.

Attach the bottle and press the button 3 times or until desired carbonation is reached.

Taste the sparkling water and make a silly face.

Measure the soda flavoring. We used root beer.

Add the flavoring to the bottle. Again, half eaten Oreo is optional.

Gently shake or roll the bottle.

Enjoy your pop with silly straws!
I like the machine because you can adjust the amount of carbonation. I prefer flat pop. They sell  over 50 flavors including lemon iced tea, an energy drink, and cranberry raspberry. You can also drink the water without any flavor added, but where's the fun in that? (Other than watching the silly faces!) 

The kiddos learned that CO2 stands for carbon dioxide and that is what makes pop fizzy. Pretty much though, they just wanted to drink it.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: George Washington Cupcakes

On Presidents Day in the the midst of studying Revolutionary War weapons, watching videos of firing cannons, and reading multiple books, I mentioned that the next day was George Washington's birthday. Jake, in his five-year-old innocence, asked "How old is he gonna be? Are we invited?" That inspired me to have a birthday party for him. Why not? The Father of Our Country deserves a celebration. 

I like using my free boxes of cake mix and tubs of frosting when we make cupcakes. I measure the ingredients. The kids do the rest, every bit of it from opening the box to washing the dishes. I get to stand by taking pictures til my heart's desire. That is a dangerous thing.

I'm not sure if Alyssa liked the batter . . .   

Alyssa made sure Jake did a good job, telling him, "There's more dirty on there," if he missed a spot. 

Their favorite part was assembling Washington's face using marshmallows, Skittles, Smarties, Mini M&M's, Gummy Life Savers, and Sour Patch Kids.
They each got a candle in a cupcake as we sang Happy Birthday to George Washington FOUR times. As they were eating, we had this conversation:

Jake:  "Mmm, these are delicious."
Me:     "You guys did a great job."
Jake:  "You did too, Mommy."
Me:    "Me? I didn't do anything." 
Jake:  "Yes, you did. You set the timer, put them in the oven, and took them out." What a kid!

Washington said, "I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man." I have a feeling that didn't apply to me when I told Jake that Washington's favorite color was green. Hey, you never know. It may have been!
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Make It Monday: Popsicle Stick Log Cabins

Jake likes to try to guess what each special activity is going to be. I give clues until he figures it out . . .or gives up.

Clue #1 -- The craft is about Presidents Day.
                 "What's the next clue?"

Clue #2 -- It's about Abraham Lincoln.
                "Make a penny!" So ambitious, that child of mine.

Clue #3 -- Where he lived.
                  "Another clue."
Clue #4 -- We're going to use popsicle sticks.
                 "Can you just tell me?"

We used pieces of an old pizza box for the base. Batman was close by, in case there was trouble.

Easy enough.

"Ah, a basic square," Jake said.

Her and that gluing.

They glued sticks across the top for a simple roof.

This may have been the best part. Definitely the messiest.

Alyssa's cabin with multicolored grass. So jealous.

Jake's cabin complete with a garage door, Christmas lights, and starting line.

Oh, no! A bear is attacking and Strong Man is robbing Abe. Where is Batman when you need him . . .

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Monday, February 21, 2011

My First Homeschooling Review

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

The four of us sat and played all the trial games already. We can't wait to start using the full version! 
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Sugar Cookies

Jacob and Alyssa made Valentine's Day cookies for their friends at church. Yes, they got them on the 16th, but none of the children seemed to mind!

2 cups butter, softened                                           1 tablespoon butter flavored extract
3 cups white sugar                                                  7 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs                                                                      2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract                                     1 teaspoon salt

1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and flavorings and mix well. Stir flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to batter and mix well.
2. CHILL 3-4 hours or overnight before using.
3. Roll dough approximately 1/4 inch thick and cut cookies.
4. Bake cookies at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. This dough keeps well in a covered container in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

4 cups confectioners' sugar                                1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shortening                                                food coloring
5 tablespoons milk

1. In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.



We baked the cookies on Tuesday and frosted them on Wednesday. We halved both recipes, and used almond extract instead of butter extract. The cookies themselves are tasty even without frosting. Jake said over and over, "Mmm, these are delicious!"

The kids always enjoy rolling, cutting, and  decorating. I bought a little decorator bottle set from Pampered Chef (as seen in the post here.) The bottles are perfect for their little hands. Also, we can have 3 different colors without emptying and refilling my large Decorator Pro. There are not as easy to fill, and we did have a casualty early on when the purple top popped off, but overall, I love them.

They were so proud and excited to give the cookies to their friends and teachers on Wednesday night. It makes me happy to see my kids with a giving spirit. "It is better to give than to receive."
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Make It Monday: Valentine's Box o' Love

Full of love.
The kids and I filled a box with hearts for Leighton today. They weren't just any hearts though. Written on each was a token of our affection for him. Zachy helped a little before heading off for a nap. Alyssa did a lot of random coloring. Jacob drew pictures and explained their meanings. For instance, he drew a pair of hands and wrote "tickle" because he loves when Daddy tickles him and  a "J" pancake because Daddy makes the best pancakes. I filled out my own hearts, though the content will go unmentioned!

Attempting to color.

Deciding to eat it instead.

Mommy took away my paper? That's Ok, I'll just throw the crayons on the floor.

Filling their hearts with love.

Writing captions for his pictures.

Preparing to cover the box.

Decorating with thousands of stickers.

Couldn't you just squeeze her?

Dropping in the hearts.

They were so excited to tell Daddy, "Happy Valentines Day!" and give him his box. They were very proud of our gift. Jake made sure Leighton read each and every heart. There is no denying that he is a very loved man.    
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Leighton and I are very different in some ways. He is the geeky one. He loves all electronic gadgets. Before we were married, he had the latest and greatest. Now that we have 3 little ones, he has settled for listening to podcasts about the newest technology. He got the new iPod Touch just before Christmas. I tease him that it's part of his anatomy since it's always with him and he's always using it.

I am the domestic one. I love raising my Leafs. I enjoy cleaning. I enjoy organizing. And you all know, I enjoy baking and cooking. I am the one who loves cooking gadgets - bread machine, food processor, Kitchen-Aid, crock-pot, electric skillet, roaster, griddle, etc. These get used on a regular basis. We have a second full kitchen in the basement where I store any overflow from the main kitchen. Both are full.

I hosted a Pampered Chef cooking show a few weeks ago in order to get more cooking supplies. I was ecstatic last Friday when the order came in! Below is a picture of everything I got for around $60 (valued at $274.)

stoneware mini loaf pan, stoneware large bar pan, square baking pan, deep covered baker, nesting coating trays and tongs, mini serving spatula, biscuit cutters, mix 'n chop, nylon knife, decorator bottle set and cleaning brush, mini tart shaper, medium scooper, master scraper, micro scraper

As you can see, I seasoned the bar pan in order to show you what it looks like. (Actually, we just really wanted bacon before I could take a pic!) We've used that pan many times in the past week - the aforementioned bacon, homemade biscuits 2 times, homemade sandwich rolls, homemade pizza, cookies, and pizza rolls. I've used a few of the other tools as well, and can't wait to use the rest.

Jake and Alyssa were happy to get new kitchen gadgets too. They helped me pull everything out of the box and wanted to keep the stuff in their own kitchen in Alyssa's room. Leighton was not nearly as excited since these gadgets don't need to be charged, don't have a circuit board, and can't be taken apart. He was, however, excited to see me using them. This is why we get along so nicely. I don't try to take his iPod or fix the computer, and he won't try try to take over baking again.    
* Side Note: My geeky hubby added some new features to the blog. There is now a search function, on the top right-hand side, where you can look up posts about various topics or find a recipe or craft that we've previously featured. Also, at the end of each post, there are similar posts that you might like to read. Enjoy!
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Theory Thursday: Shiny Pennies

We've been doing a lot of money counting lately (and it's not because we got our taxes back.) We've practiced with fake coins, M&M's, chocolate coins, and real money. I even had them help me separate and roll coins. (Ok, that was more for me than them, but they don't know that!)  Jake knows how to count pennies and dimes well and is getting pretty good at nickels. This week's experiment coincided well.  

A few old, dingy pennies                Non-metal bowl
1/4 cup white vinegar                     Paper towels  
1 teaspoon salt                               2 cute helpers (optional)             

1. Pour the vinegar into the bowl, add the salt, and stir.
2. Put the pennies into the bowl and count to 10 slowly.
3. Take out the pennies and rinse them in water.

Gather your supplies.

Add vinegar and salt.


Drop in the pennies.

Slowly count to ten. Then rinse with water.

Admire their shininess!
Chemistry is at work here. Since vinegar is an acid and reacts with salt, it removes the dulling copper oxide, leaving the penny shiny again.

Repeat the process without rinsing with water.

The penny will turn greenish blue as malachite forms.
Leighton explained to Jake and Alyssa that this is the reason the Statue of Liberty is green. Jake thought it was pretty cool and proceeded. to recite the Pledge of Allegiance for us. He was even more impressed though that the "vinegar smelled like ketchup." Oh, and that they got to keep the pennies in the end.
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