Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Snowman Week

In an effort to make the winter months pass a little more quickly, the kids and I came up with weekly themes to focus on, with activities based on those themes.  This week was "Snowman Week" and we had lots of fun finding crafts and snacks and projects for our topic.

Our friend J. joined us for a snow-girl-making effort.  With the small amount of snow we've gotten this year they had to really scrape some up!  Our snow girl looks lovely in Haley's cloche and the ruffled scarf Grandma Ann crocheted. 

For breakfast one day we had baked pancakes cut out like snowmen. Powdered sugar and dark chocolate chips finished them off.

We crafted snow people out of paper and cotton balls.  They had glittery noses and punched-paper eyes, smiles, and buttons.  

 We played "pin-the-nose-on-the-snowman."  I removed the muntin bars from a patio door and drew a snowman on the glass with Crayola window markers.  The kids thought this was a super fun game and it was pretty funny to see where the carrot noses ended up! 

 Thanks to Pinterest, we found a bunch of snow people-shaped snacks and treats.  We made mini doughnut faces as well as pumpkin-pancake snowmen with bacon scarves and marshmallow snow.  It was fun to surprise the kids at snack and meal times with different snowman treats.
Check out my board here for links to crafts and ideas!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Speaking of Legos...

If I ever don't know where Jake is, I can usually find him in his room - putting together a Lego set, coming up with an *awesome* new Hero Factory hero, or conducting an epic battle between Transformers and any number of evil foes.

He received a space shuttle Lego set for Christmas and disappeared to his room for a few hours.  He is careful, methodical, and good at following the instructions.  I can't think of a time he's ever asked for help putting together a set, except that he likes me to hunt down and hand him the pieces (He'd make a great surgeon: "Flat gray two-zer please.  Red translucent one-zer."  And I have to say I'm a great Lego assistant...sometimes he'll even let me stick some pieces on if I'm lucky.  Either way, it's fun to see him enjoying something so much!

First Lego League State Tournament

This weekend Haley's F.I.R.S.T. Lego League team competed in the state tournament at UND.  They've been meeting weekly since school started and it was fun to watch all their hard work come together. 

This year's topic was food safety and the team decided to focus on issues concerning transporting pretzel dough (such as refrigeration, etc.).  They had someone come in and show them how to make pretzels, discussed possible solutions for refrigerated transport, and put together a presentation to show the judges.  Their chosen topic also inspired their team names - the Pretzel Leopards.

Meanwhile they had also been building their robot and the challenge board, which has multiple tasks that the robot completes - the more tasks it successfully completes, the more points they earn.  The kids do all of the building and programming themselves, with minimal input from the coaches.

This was Haley's first year on the team and she learned a lot and really enjoyed the experience.  And the tournament was a riot - about 40 teams from all over the region screaming and cheering on their robots.  There was certainly a lot of energy in the air!  It was a blast to be part of it and she can't wait to do it again next year.  Go Pretzel Leopards!

Prepping ingredients for the presentation.

The team was surprised and super happy to win an award!  Only a handful of awards are given out and the team won for their display of teamwork and enthusiasm.  Apparently it's a big deal, especially since it was the team's first year.

Jake is DYING to be on the team, but has to wait until he's in 3rd grade.  He had fun watching, but also spent time on dad's laptop...it was a long day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Snow Angels

A recent sunny afternoon beckoned the kids outside to play.  It's very easy to get in the habit of staying inside here, especially when it's bitterly cold and windy.  But we've had some relatively mild weather and the kids have enjoyed playing after school.  Alex joined them this time and Haley reminded him how to make snow angels.  It's so fun to look out the window and see those angelic imprints in the snow. 

Running errands one day I stopped to snap a picture of this "Sun Dog."  It's often just 2 bright spots on either side of the sun, but this time it was almost a complete circle.
Someone recently suggested I post a few more pictures of me and Rob so that our future generations will know what we looked like.  So here you go, posterity - me in my favorite winter hat.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baking with Kids - Chocolate Bundt Cake

I was in the mood to try a new recipe this week, so I recruited my helpers and we made a sour-cream chocolate bundt cake I'd seen online.  I thought it was just OK since to me a chocolate cake needs to be really chocolatey.  This had a more mild flavor but the kids thought it was great. 

Alex stirred together our dry ingredients...while Haley melted the chocolate and wet ingredients.  

Everyone helped lick the bowl and spatula, of course.

And Jake provided the entertainment.  I love cookin' in the kitchen with these kids!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year, New Goal: Project 365

I've seen a lot of photography friends start a 365 project - taking a picture a day for an entire year.  For some that is probably not a big challenge, but I realized that sometimes I upload my photos and there are weeks that have gone by without me taking any pictures!  So I decided this year I would challenge myself to take one picture every day of each of the three kids.  At the end of the year I will compile them into a book for each one of them with 365 photos.

I've been surprised so far at how fun it has been to look for moments to capture each shot, and to slow down and really focus (pun intended) on each child.  A few (OK, quite a few) shots from our first few weeks of 2012: