Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (August 2014)

It happens every year. Summer is going along great -- a variety of vacations, mixed with downtime, camp time, and family adventures. And then August hits. And it brings the heat, and the empty town, and mom's attitude of "enough fooling around, I actually have stuff to do." And it seems like the looooooongest month of the year. At least the heat has taken a bit of a break this year, but this August 12th was a rainy day full of mom trying to get stuff done while we bickered, bored with each other and being inside (where the lack of natural light is amplified on stormy days. yuck overhead lighting!). Even Greens get the blues sometimes. We mostly pulled it together, but are all very excited for school to start.

Don't forget to check out what No Monsters in My Bed and Where the Watermelons Grow were up to this month!

(ps we're not bitter, we still love each other)

9.00 am -- we start out doing a little painting and end up spending at least an hour making squish prints. they actually turn out pretty awesome, but mom's trying to figure out what to do with all of them! (ps mom intended to start photographing when she woke up, but wouldn't you know that we both were awake at 5:45 when she got up to go work out and in her astonishment and irritation, she totally forgot).

10.45 am -- mom uses our dressing time to get a recipe for A Feteful Life started (head over there next Thursday to see what it is!)

11.00 am -- apparently, having not had enough madness at taking us to IKEA the day before, mom schleps us all out in the rain for some party styling supplies.

12.45 pm - what's worse than IKEA with two kids? Michael's craft store, where it's already Halloween!

1.43 pm -- we take our favorite route home through Rock Creek Park and mom keeps pointing out the level of water in the creek. She thinks about pulling over to take a picture and then comes to her senses. Perhaps it's not a good idea to be in Rock Creek right now. Truth. As soon as we exit, the flash flood warning comes through.

2.30 pm -- we rally to make a new batch of bright playdough.

3.40 pm -- mom printed out these awesome playdough mats from the Picklebums. The rain is finally letting up, but we keep playdoughing.

4.45 pm -- it's show time for us and work time for mommy. Metallic garland making for a speakeasy party.

5.30 pm -- mom escapes to the front porch, with cocktail, to order dinner. Because she refuses to cook this summer week.

6.45 pm -- post-din jam session. We've been listening to a lot of Kids Sirius XM radio and love to perfect our "shows" from it.

7.20 pm -- daddy said he left the office at 7, so we wait on the front porch for him. Hmmm....

8.15 pm -- OK, well he did make it home for reading. Pretty cute feetsies.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Grub It Up: Homemade Fruit Slurpees!

I don't know about your kiddos, but we LOVE slurpees. There's a 7-11 right by our dry cleaners and whenever we do a pickup/dropoff with mom, we beg and plead for some of those brain-freezing drinks. They are fine every once in a while, mom says, but apparently there's not a whole lot of healthy in there. So when we put "make fruity drinks" on our Summer Bucket List, mom knew she wanted to try to make some healthier fruit slurpees. And since everyone seems to be pulling down pounds of picked fruit this week, we thought it would be a good time to try it. We used organic frozen fruit, but you can clean, chop and freeze anything you pick and then use it in the drink. And while lemonade still has sugar in it, you can use a variety sweetened without high fructose corn syrup that's a bit healthier (we like Newman's). Happy brain freeze!

Homemade Fruit Slurpees
makes 2 servings
(based off of this Babble recipe)

- 2 cups lemonade
- 1 1/2 cups ice 
- 1/2 cup frozen fruit (we used a tropical mix and separated the strawberries from the mango/pineapple/banana to make pretty layers)

1. If you want to make a layered drink, separate frozen fruit into color groups.
2. Blend 1 cup lemonade, 3/4 cup ice, and 1/4 cup frozen fruit together. Set aside. 
3. Blend remaining ingredients together. 
4. Spoon two frozen mixtures into layers in a glass. 
5. Drink! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Summer Bucket List 2014: Update #2

Well, between overdoing it our first month of summer vacaye and mom putting us in some camp in July, our big lead on our 2014 Summer Bucket List took a little hit in this month. We actually ended up doing a bunch of random stuff that wasn't on our list, but probably should've been. So we've definitely still been busy. We're up to 36, friends. Here's what's what:

23. New library -- The Library of Congress.

24. Historical museum -- we recently had a very fascinating trip to the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Temple and Museum. Stay tuned for that one.

25. - 29. Four new geocaches -- up to 7 out of 10.

30. Spelunking! -- at Crystal Grottoes

31. - 33. 3 new science experiments -- we spent a few days doing some new experiments with colors, polymers, and the sun.

34. Fancy popsicles -- loved our Jamaican-inspired pops.

35. Rock candy -- we are still working on perfecting a recipe to share, but these were a good start.

36. Baseball game -- we hit up the game when the Phillies were in town. They lost 11-0 -- serves us right for cheering against our Nats for the game.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Keep It Local: Library of Congress

We seriously hadn't been to the library all summer! So when mom pointed out that we had a "new library" on our Summer Bucket List, we figured we'd go straight to the top -- to the "library of last resort," as it's known -- the Library of Congress. We're going big this summer.

Mom told us all about how our Grammie B traveled to DC with her parents when she was in grade school and received special permission to research in the Main Reading Room. And we couldn't wait to get a look at it ourselves. So we headed down early and waited just a few minutes for one of the free tours. We had a great docent and the tour was super interesting, but, to be honest, at 45 minutes long was probably a tad on the long side for us. But it's mom's general feeling that it's good for us to learn to do those kinds of things and there was so much for us to look at that we were well behaved, even if not entirely attentive. We were pretty excited to learn, however, that the Library of Congress houses many unique objects besides books, including the contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night he was killed. You know how much we love us some Lincoln! Plus we got a quick peek at the beautiful Reading Room and giggled as we made up stories of Grammie B sitting down at one of the little desks working away. 

(btw, anyone over 16 years old can become a Registered Reader and get access to the Library for research. While there is a limit on the number of books you can request per day (10), there is no limit on the number of days at which you can stay and research. Word is that if you're there for more than 6 months, they'll give you an office. If we ever can't find mom, we know where to look).

After the tour, we hightailed it to the Young Readers Center, which includes a tot room (with story hours), an elementary age room, and a teen room. HOLY COW. We could have stayed there all day. So much cool stuff, including the Harry Potter series in braille. We read and read and read. Until we were too hungry to hang any longer. There is plenty of room for comfy reading, playing games and puzzles. Such a cozy, free spot to read! 

In addition to the Young Readers Center, the visitors desks offer a great Treasure Hunting packet for kids, which we took but didn't have time to do. Obviously we'll be back. Plus, since our visit we've been repeat watching both National Treasure movies, which feature the Library -- can you guess where else we're headed next? You can check out more suggested activities for kids and families right here

Monday, August 4, 2014

Keep It Local: Antietem National Battlefield

It must be clear by now, but mom and dad have created two little history buffs. Mom finds this hysterical because history has never been her strong suit (remember our drive down to VA and Colonial Williamsburg last year?). It's not for lack of interest, but she just has a finite room to remember things and that's not the stuff that sticks. Fortunately we remember pretty much everything, so we help her out now. In any event, we are both big fans of historical sites -- Kane particularly so with war sites and presidents. And partially because I'm interested myself and mostly because I'm the best little sister in the world, and always like to make Kane happy, I too have taken up an interest in such things.

So we were both excited when mom told us that our spelunking trip was close to Antietem National Battlefield. After we rocked out our trip to the cave and ate lunch, we drove just about 15 minutes away to check out the site of the bloodiest one day battle in American history. While there are more involved guided tours available, we were a bit tired from Crystal Grottoes and so we planed to try for the self-guided driving tour. We went first to the visitor center, which showed a great short movie on the history of the war and the site. The movie wove together on-site reenactments with commentary from historians -- it was really well done and kept our attention (mom loved that we were able to identify actual site locations later on our tour from watching the reenactment -- it really added a nice layer and primer for our imaginations).

After the movie we poked about the small museum at the center, but we didn't spend a lot of time there -- we wanted to get outside. But we made sure first to pick up our Junior ranger packets and our passport books. You might recall from our visit to Fort Washington Park a few years back, that the National Park Service offers two awesome programs for kids:

1. National Park Passport Stamps Program -- in which you can collect in a passport unique stamps from almost all of the 397 national parks; and

2. The Junior Ranger Program -- many national parks offer activities for kids that allow them to earn park badges. Antietem also offered a Junior, Junior packet for kids under 6 years old.

We've been to several National Parks, but had yet to partake in either of these programs. This time, we picked up passports from the gift shop and Junior, Junior Ranger packet from the rangers. We then did the self-guided driving tour around the site, stopping at a handful of important spots to get out and explore. It was a beautiful evening and it was totally amazing to walk out in the fields and imagine the scenes that played out there. Plus, we scored our first Junior Ranger badges.

And as if spelunking and civil war battlefields weren't enough for the day, we decided to make the drive over to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia for dinner. It's a little touristy, but we had a great time and, especially given how unexpectedly close it is to DC, it's definitely somewhere we'll head back to check out further.

Phew. That was a lot of activity for a Sunday!