Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grandkids Camp Out Invite 2008

In my preparations for the upcoming Grandkid's Camp Out I came across this invitation that I did last year that I had not shared here before. The kids were all thrilled to see pictures of themselves at the camp out from the year before in their brochure invitation. They also loved the personal write ups about each of them. Giving them a camp out schedule created a lot of excitement and anticipation for all of the fun things they had to look forward to.

Baby Killdeer Birds Hatched

Look who's arrived! Three healthy, baby Killdeer birds hatched on March 30, 2009. It was a very windy day yesterday morning when I went out to check on the eggs. To my surprise all three eggs had hatched. There was almost a whole eggshell laying next to them. The last one must have just hatched because the eggshell was still there and the one laying closest to the shell was still wet. I ran for my camera and when I returned the eggshell had blown away.

They all left the nesting area yesterday to run around a bit. The parents kept a very watchful eye on them and their surroundings to keep them safe. They all returned to their spot in the rocks for naps frequently during the day with one of the parents spreading their wings over them to keep them safe.

Today when I went out to check on them they were all away from their nesting place. One of the parents was there to direct me away from the nesting place by using his/her broken wing act. I could not hear or see the other parent or the babies anywhere but I am sure they are nearby.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Morning Tradition with Grandma

My morning couldn't have started better today. I was awoke by my nine year old granddaughter who had spent the night. She climbed in bed with me and said "remember that game we play while looking out the window?" I said, "I sure do....would you like to play it again?"

For quite some time a high arched window in my bedroom was left bare before having shutters installed. The tradition started when she climbed in bed with me one morning when she was just five or six. We would lay there looking out the window and take turns naming things that we could possibly see in the sky above.

This morning she quickly accepted the invitation to play the game again and she jumped out of bed and opened the shutters then climbed back in bed and snuggled next to me. We had a great time coming up with many answers. Some were silly and made us laugh. She said a bathtub for one of her answers and I said bathtubs can't fly through the air. She replied with a very matter of fact "Things happen Grandma!"

My favorite answer that she gave this morning was a cannonball! We have done this more times than I can even count. It is such a simple thing and it has created wonderful early morning memories for both of us.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Helping Hands of Friends

Last Evening we hosted a dinner party  for a group of friends from our church. Some of our guests  brought the salads, breads, and desserts. I did the meat, two potato dishes, and a roasted vegetable dish for 30 . I am in my element with this type of thing so my day had gone pretty well by doing what prepping I could,  pre-cooking, and the tables earlier in the day. 

The last thirty minutes however was a different story. My menu, presentation, and table scape required a lot of last minute work. I had a pot of potatoes that I had cooked. It was the biggest pot I have and it was filled to the top with about 20 pounds of hot boiled potatoes. They had boiled over and had made a huge mess on the top of my stove. The stove top  WAS sparkling earlier in the day. It was time to mash the potatoes with two tubs of sour cream, butter, and cheese and I could not find my masher. I knew I had given it a new home in my kitchen just the day before and I could not remember where it was.

My last minute solution was to use my electric mixer. The beaters were not long enough to reach the bottom of the pot so you can only imagine the last minute mess I was creating on my apron-free self, the counters, the walls, and the kitchen floor.  The stove had a big boiled over cooked on spot too. I had everything hot and plated in time but I was left with a very last minute mess in my kitchen as the first guests arrived at the door. I was using my kitchen island and counters as the serving space so the mess I had created was NOT the look I was going for!

When I opened the door I saw the faces of friends and out of my mouth came "I am so glad to see some friendly faces and helping hands." Without hesitation they willingly and generously pitched right in. Some filled the sink with dishwater and washed up my cooking pans and wiped up the counters, another tackled the stove top, and others filled water pitchers and set the tables with last minute items. They pulled some quick tricks just like I would have done by quickly cleaning my counters and kitchen of unneeded items and placed them out of sight in my walk in pantry. 

Within minutes my friends had saved the day. As the evening continued so did my friends with their willing and helping hands as the tables were cleared, desserts were served, and the clean up completed.

It was a great evening with friends and it left me feeling very grateful for the new friends that I have made since moving here. I love coming together as friends with a common goal and seeing it completed. Although this time it was very last minute and unplanned the joy I experienced was just as sweet!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

Not a great picture. Not a great presentation YET!. But, these cupcakes are going to be used in a great presentation later today. I am assisting with an activity for girls 8-11 at my church.  It is going to be a treasure hunt with clues along the way. The clues all have a bit of "Irish catch words" in them to add a bit of holiday fun. 

The girls will be divided into two groups. One will be looking for nine golden coins, and the other for nine green coins that have been hidden and have the clues attached to them. Before they are able to read the clue they have to complete a task of some sort. The theme of the activity is "Count your Blessings, and see How Lucky you Are".

The tasks require such things as naming blessings of family, home, education, friends and such. We will meet up at the very end for the final clue to be read. This clue will require listening to their leaders and working together doing the hot and cold game to find the hidden treasure. 

The cupcakes will be the treasure and the treat for this activity day. They will be hidden inside a really, really cute Treasure Trunk. I cannot disclose the location yet since it is still a hidden treasure! It is going to be fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Visit From the Leprechauns

My soon to be eight year old grandson called me this morning to tell me about some Leprechauns that created some mischief throughout the night at his house. They awoke to a tiny note on the kitchen counter that was written so little it had to be read with a magnifying glass. The note said that they had hidden the car keys that were needed for a planned trip to the zoo today. They had  left tiny clues around the house to lead them to the keys. They had played with his mommies favorite angel collection and had knocked one over but didn't break it. One of them had thrown up some green goo on the bookcase.  They had used the toilet and left very green water that needed to be flushed, they had flown down two flights of stairs on a toy helicopter, crashing it into the window blinds where they jumped out of the helicopter and left it still dangling from the blinds. They found the keys near the crash site downstairs.

One of the tiny notes requested that they eat Lucky Charms for breakfast. When they went to the fridge for the milk the silly Leprechauns had turned the milk green too!

The visit from the Leprechauns made for a very fun and exciting St. Patrick's day morning for him, his brothers and his cousin visiting from Idaho. 

Just a little something to file away in your mind .... perhaps the Leprechauns can visit the little ones you love next year too!

An Exciting First for Me

Today when my husband got home from work I said "I think I am going to start getting a house cleaning service." To my surprise he said, "I was going to call you today and suggest that!"

You are probably wondering what condition my house must be in, right??? Not to worry, we are not living in filth but the entire house from base boards to ceiling fans could use a good deep cleaning. 

So, within minutes of getting the green light I was on the phone scheduling a cleaning service that came highly recommended by my two daughters. I have until Thursday morning to get my pre-cleaning done to be ready for the cleaners! That's how you do it right?

The service asked if I wanted it cleaned from top to bottom. Why not? So, that is the plan which I am very excited about. Isn't it fun that we can experience first's in our lives at any age? 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day Tic-Tac-Toe Game

 I created this fun Saint Patrick's Day Tic-Tac-Toe game for the children's singing time activity at my church. It was a group activity with two teams. Each of the squares on the game board were numbered. When they (one child from the team) placed their colored coin on the board the entire group would then sing the song that matched the number. After singing, it would be the next teams turn. The next team would place their coin of the opposite color on the board trying to get three in a row. The entire group would then sing the song matching the number of their choice. The goal was to get three in a row with the prize being getting to sing a song of their choice.

The base is a foam core board from the dollar store. Scrapbook paper cut in strips created the 12" game lines. The computer generated shamrock tic-tac-toe header is placed on a backdrop of matching scrapbook paper. Everything was put in place using a glue stick.  The coins can be found in party, craft, or maybe even dollar stores. I used blue painters tape on the back of the coins so they would easily peel off the board without damaging the game.

This idea could be used for a Saint Patrick's Day Party or a family activity. Instead of singing, you could have the children to do something silly, answer a question about themselves, or just take turns playing a BIG game of Tic-Tac-Toe.

This idea could be used for any holiday by making up the game board and the game pieces to fit the holiday.  

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Treasure from Mother Nature

Mother Nature has brought a wonderful treasure to my grandchildren and I. A species of bird that I was not aware of has made her nest of sorts in our dry river of landscape rocks in our front yard. What an educational gift this has been for our family. 

As soon as I learned what kind of bird they were I emailed a link that told all about the birds to my children to share with my grandchildren so that they could learn all about the birds. I then invited  all of the children to come and see the wonderful treasure that Mother Nature is sharing with us.

The birds (mother and father) are called Killdeer. They lay their eggs on the ground usually in rock or gravel. They do not build a nest so that the eggs will blend into the surroundings to keep them safe. The eggs are speckled and they do in fact blend in very well. The parents take turns sitting on the nest and they are very vocal and protective if you approach their eggs.

When you approach the nest you are first warned with aggressive chirping. When you get too close they get up and run away from their nest and pretend to have a broken wing hoping to distract you with their injury. Both parents will get into the act to lead you far away from the eggs. Once they feel you are a safe distance away the wing miraculously heals and they fly off and circle around to return to the eggs.

There is a lot of information on the web on this species of bird. It is amazing to see how text book their behavior is. As an added bonus, the baby birds will hatch with their running shoes on. As soon as they break out of their shell and their feathers dry they become self feeders and run around following their mother like baby chicks do. In my reading it said that they will stay in the area for at least two weeks until they learn to fly!

It will take 24-28 days for them to hatch. We don't know for sure how long the eggs have been there but suspect about 10 days or so. We'll be watching and waiting. The grandchildren and I can hardly wait to see the fuzzy  little guys!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Love Spring

Although Spring isn't official until March 20th, I have to say that Spring is in full bloom in the deserts of Arizona. I took a walk around my acre yard last evening at dusk to enjoy the incredible rebirth and growth that the Spring weather has brought to our growing landscape. I love seeing the trees budding out, the bright green new growth on the shrubs, the flowering of heat loving plants, and to hear the beautiful songs of the birds that seem to know that it is Spring too!

To add to my marvel .... our acre lot began as an acre of un-irrigated dirt and rocks just three years ago. There were no birds to hear because there was no tree in sight for them to even perch in. Every single plant and tree has been planted, cared for, and nurtured by my husband and I. This was no small task. We have over 150 living plants including 24 shade trees. A couple of weeks ago we worked together to cut back our shrubs and plants in preparation for the new growth that spring and summer brings.

Landscaping our new place from scratch has been a very rewarding. We created our own design, we selected our own plants, and as I said we have been "hands-on-dirt-lovin- do-it-yourself-er's" through the entire process.

Although we are still far from done, the empty canvas of landscaping space we have left keeps our minds actively thinking of our future hopes and dreams for our little corner of the earth that we call home.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Invention Crafts

These boys were in heaven with an afternoon of invention crafts and snacks at grandmas house. I had arranged it with them the day before. Before they arrived I pulled all of my resources out. These are items that most would throw away that I know are very useful in the minds of my young inventors. 

A variety of boxes, bits of wire, paper rolls, plastic bottles, and anything that I think may inspire an invention filled my kitchen island (their lab) when they arrived. I could see their minds working the minute they walked in the room and they began grabbing their resources.

With lots of tape, glue, string, paper, and grandmas helping hands occasionally the items quickly took form to create an airplane, and a remote controlled rocket. An old ink pen was turned into a joist stick for the remote control and the antenna was finished off with the inner spring of the pen. An applesauce cup into a cockpit. Plastic parmesan cheese bottles were turned into powerful rocket boosters and Pepsi bottles into booming airplane engines. 

The boys have a great time creating and I love seeing their creative minds in action. Most important of course, are the memories created for everyone in the lab!

Distraction Worked!

This little guy has been having a surprising new problem with separation anxiety. He used to beg to come to my house, loved his nursery class, and he would leave his mommies side with a great big happy "Bye Mommy!"

Now when he comes I have to peel him off off his mommy and he is very sad during the separation from his mommy portion of the stay. On this particular day I was ready with a distraction that worked well. Kid safe scissors, glue sticks, and colorful paper did the trick. The tears and anxiety stopped within seconds.

Another surprise .... when mommy returned he wasn't ready to go and it took a bit of pleading with him to get them on their way.  Since then, the anxiety continues. His mommy stopped by my door with him the other day to drop something off and he just kept saying "bye grandma" every second. I assured him with my own good-byes every second too!