School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apples and Pumpkins

I debated with myself over whether this post is really about a project or not.  In the end, I decided that it was a project for me to pack up and transport four kids to any location or event, so even if the event itself wasn't a project, it still counted.

One of our annual traditions is a trip to the pumpkin patch.  We always go to the same place: a semi-rural home whose owners grow pumpkins in a small field behind their house and fill the front yard with their yield.
Each kid gets to pick a pumpkin based on the dollar amount that corresponds to their age.  That way we inspect the entire place, but the individual choices and meltdowns are contained to much smaller areas!
I "helped" Cam pick out his - I wanted at least one pumpkin that wasn't the traditional pumpkin color.  Somehow I doubt I'll be able to get away with that next year.
I got my annual workout loading all that orangeness into the back of the van.
 As if pumpkins weren't enough fall bounty, we had to go apple picking for the second time.  
 This time we visited Auntie Margo's house.  As an added bonus we got to visit the newest cousin.  No pictures though, because she was napping for most of the time we were there.
Stay tuned for future posts on what we have been doing with those pumpkins and apples!

Happy picking, everyone!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Six Kids in a China Shop

When I was a kid, one of the things I got to do was "Go up to Green Bay" for a few days and stay at my grandparent's house.  While I was there we would go on outings to museums or the mall, play games like Hi Ho, Cherry-Oh, and "do stuff".  She had this great closet tucked behind an upstairs bedroom, under the eaves of the house, and from it she would pull artsy-craftsy projects for me and my siblings and cousins to "do".  It was all great fun.  Now my Grandma Naomi is in her 80s.  She has eight grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren (plus three more on the way) and she is still pretty spry.  She doesn't live in the same house anymore, so the closet is gone, but she still managed to keep up her reputation and find a pretty awesome project for the kids.

Yesterday, my sister, my brother and sister-in-law, our assorted kids, my mom, and I traveled "up to Green Bay" so that Great-Grandma could take the six biggest great-grandkids to "Paintin' Pottery or Bead It" a hands-on, walk-in art studio owned by her niece (I believe that makes her my first cousin, once removed).  The grandkids who were too little to participate in the pottery painting project stayed at my grandma's house with most of the grow-ups, while I, along with my aunt and grandma, took the chosen six to the studio.  I will freely admit that the idea of taking six kids, ranging in age from 3 to 8, into a pottery shop had me more then a little nervous, but it turned out to be a really fun and child-friendly environment.

First the kids had to choose a piece of pottery from a very extensive collection and then use a sponge to clean off their piece.

Next, they got to choose their glaze colors.  That many bottles of "paint" was almost overwhelming to them.  In the end we limited them to three initial choices.
Then, it was on to painting.  This step was probably the easiest, although only the oldest kids might have understood the explanation of the glazing process and how the colors would be darker with more coats of glaze and after firing.  Mostly they just wanted to paint.
You might have noticed the kids were not wearing smocks.  I realized this a wee bit too late to do anything about it, and felt several minutes of panic.  Then I was reassured that "it all washes out really easily" and my heart rate started to come down.  In the end, only a surprisingly small amount of glaze ended up on clothes, shoes, faces and floor anyway.
My distant relation Carolyn and her employees were very helpful and full of suggestions and tips, which was nice when questions came up.  Questions like: "Blair just used a wet sponge and washed the glaze off the back of her piece.  Is that okay?"  It turns out she just had to repaint it.  Whew.
Great-Auntie Lynda was also full of fun, patiently trying to contain the littlest one's "creativity."
Once all the kids finished their pieces, they were labeled and dated and then left to dry and be fired.
In about a week, Great-Grandma can go back to the shop and collect the creations.  Hopefully the kids will have them back by Christmas!  I'm really excited to see the finished products.
If you ever get a chance to give pottery painting a try, I would encourage you to do it.  If you live in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area you should check out my cousin's shop (there is coffee too!).  I was very skeptical that the kids would last more then fifteen minutes or manage not to break anything, but I was totally wrong.  They had great fun, broke nothing (!), and lasted for well more then an hour.  It was a great hit with my kids, and I suspect they might be begging me to do it again sometime soon.  Maybe I'll even join them!

Happy pottery painting, everyone!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Chores Are Getting Easier

These days SOME of my chores are getting easier (notice the emphasis on SOME).
 When I started making trips to the dump with yard waste, this kid was in his rear-facing infant carrier car seat, usually asleep.
Now I bring him along for his muscles.
Happy yardwork everyone!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Breakfast Treats

A few days ago I woke up a little earlier then usual and decided to make a treat for breakfast.  This cool fall weather has gotten me into the baking mood and good old Pinterest supplied me with this recipe from the website Camille Styles to make some breakfast donuts.  Now, I have noticed from some of the blogs I read that there is a controversy over baked donuts.  Some people consider only fried donuts to be truly donuts and the baked variation to be some sort of cake.  I was curious what other people thought, so I asked my Facebook friends and most of them agreed: donuts must be fried to be donuts.  One friend did muddy the waters a bit by comparing baked donuts to bagels, but we can just ignore that idea.  In the end, it was decided that I made breakfast muffins, not donuts, but since they tasted really yummy it didn't really matter.

As I started making the batter for my donuts-muffins, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet and two little helpers appeared.  First we mixed the batter, then we baked the donut-muffins,
 and finally we dipped the tops in melted butter and swirled them in cinnamon-sugar.
 My little helpers taste-tested the donut-muffins as soon as they were cool enough to handle
 and gave them a big thumbs up.
Whatever they are, we'll be baking those donut-muffins again, probably very soon!

Happy baking, Everyone!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Autumn Things

October is almost half over and the fall colors are just about perfect right now.  The weather has been perfect, so we have been busy doing "fall things."
One of those things was to make a pumpkin pie.  Brynnie is being very domestic these days and made a very able baking assistant.
 She wanted to know "why" the edge of the pie crust was decorated.  Does anyone know if there is a purpose that goes beyond visual appeal?
 Ian was not to be left out, and he made us a non-seasonal batch of jello.  He is quickly becoming a jello expert!
 Finally, on the perfect fall Sunday afternoon, we took a walk in the woods.  It was lovely.  We walked the three mile Butler Lake Trail, which is part of the Ice Age Trail through the Kettle Moraine North State Forest.  My poor husband had to be at work, so my kind brother-in-law took on the project of hauling Cam through the woodlands on his back.
Blair bummed a ride whenever she could get one, but for the most part she was quite the trooper.
 A hike in the woods is never complete if you don't head off the trail once in a while to inspect hollow trees
 or collect wild apples and hickory nuts along the way.  That's my Dad, carrying the bounty.
 Happy hiking (and other fun fall activities), everyone!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sewing School 101: Pillowcase

My oldest daughter, Brynn, likes to watch me sew.  She hovers nearby, entertaining me with her chatter, and watches every move I make.  Sometimes she sits on my lap while I use the sewing machine and she calls it sewing school.  I decided that age four (almost five) is not too young to start actually sewing, so I asked her if she wanted to work on a project with me.  Oh, you should have seen the joy in her little face!

For her first try, we decided to sew a special pillowcase for little sister Blair.  Brynn tried valiantly to cut the fabric, but my scissors are a little dull and her hands were a little too small so she let me handle that step.
 She watched me place one pin and then she took over.  "Pinning is EASY, Mom!" was her comment.  I may have to call on her more often in the future!
 Then we got to work on the actual sewing.  I was in charge of the pedal, Brynnie handled the reverse button and together we fed the fabric through.  It was a good sewing school system.
(Ian wanted to be involved, so he handled pressing the seams and photography.  He was quite pleased that he thought of doing a close-up without me telling him.)
 Then, we tested out our end product and were pleased that it fit a pillow perfectly.
 Finally, Brynnie got to enjoy the best wrap-up to a project possible: excited appreciation from the person who received it.
Next up: Hemming Hankies (which I think was MY first sewing lesson.)

Happy sewing school, everyone!

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