Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I've finally gotten back into the swing of things with my little ones and school. I decided to go with a winter theme since well, it is winter! During the two weeks of winter theme, we also had co-op here. The boys love the time with their friends.

I have found that pinterest in a wealth of knowledge for ideas. I found printable resources here and here. We did three different science experiments. I have been working on using the scientific method with the kids. We currently only talk about the purpose, hypothesis and conclusion. I have the kids draw a picture about the experiment. During this unit, the boys melted colored ice to discover what colors were made. They observed snow and recorded their observations. And they also added sugar and salt to snow to see if that affected the speed in which it melts. They really enjoyed the discoveries they made. Ollie had a hard time realizing that the melting experiment was not a contest. He thought he lost because he was the one who added the sugar and Dawson added the salt. Of course, the salt melted the fastest. Oh, the unfairness of it all!

We did a few different art projects. I worked with the boys to cut snowflakes. On their sheets I wrote the word snowflake on Ollies and S on Dawsons. We talked about the letters and sounds. then they glued them down and used watercolor paints on them. I am huge fan of watercolors. We use them all the time. We also painted with snow paint (just mix shaving cream with some elmer's glue and add glitter). When it dries, it keeps it's shape and makes a nice 3 dimensional piece. I had seen a few people on pinterest sending their kids out in the snow with squirt bottles of colored water to paint the snow. unfortunately, I did not have big squirt bottles so I improvised. I kept my kids inside, handed them a pie plate of snow and some food coloring. Viola! Snow art. They thought this was fabulous.

We made two different snowman snacks. Pictured here:

I found this great game. I wish I could find the source but I cannot. When I searched pinterest, I found about a hundred so I'm sure you can find it too. It's called Roll & Build snowman. The kids rolled the dice to see what part to add to their snowman. It took me a while to realize that the dice had only 1-3 on it! oops. We were able to finish building once I found a proper dice!

For math, we used marshmallows twice. Once, I told them it was snow. Ollie worked on his addition and subtraction while Dawson counted. The second time, I drew little mugs and they places the marshmallows in them. We also made patterns with snowflakes. Ollie cut a snowflake in half, then 4ths and 8ths. We talked about fractions and he identified different ones like 3/8, 1/4, 1/2.

I cut different sized snowflakes and had Dawson order them smallest to biggest. I also cut some in different colors and talked to Dawson about the colors.

We used socks and had a snowball fight. I made snow playdoh (just homemade playdoh. Don't add food coloring. Do add glitter.) I will say that if you make snowdoh, buy bleached flour. I use unbleached so my snowdoh was more of an off white. We read books and wrote stories. We played outside. We watched a few videos about snow and how it forms.

 Our unit was full, full, full!  The kids had a blast and much was learned.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Homemade Christmas

Years ago, even before we were married, Bob and I decided that Christmas was way too commercialized. We decided then to start making each other homemade gifts at Christmas and a tradition was born. Fast forward a few years and we have Ollie. We very quickly we realize that our kids are a priority and making each other something was not so we decided just to do homemade gifts for the kids and do a  house project together for ourselves. It's been a really fun tradition. We make one homemade gift for each child and we help them make ornaments for each grandparent and aunt/uncle set.

This year, I really felt like I knew what to make the boys. they are at an age where what they like is apparent. So we set off to make Dawson a kitchen, Ollie, creature power suits and Nora, a dress. It ended up more like. My Father-in_law made Dawson, a kitchen. Bob and I made Ollie creature power suits and my mom made Nora a dress. Yeah we helped but they did most of the work.

I found a free entertainment stand on craigslist (I love craigslist). Bob and his dad picked it up and the rest is history. Jim (Bob's dad) is a carpenter/handyman. He has lots of scrap pieces of this and that so he happened to have countertop, wood and the necessary hardware. We had an old sink. He put together an amazing kitchen complete with a stove top (can lids), a sink, and an oven with a drawer like a real one. Dawson and Ollie have both loved it! My mom made them matching aprons to use as they cook. Darling!

Ollie has been obsessed with Wild Kratts for at least a good 6 months now. Because of this obsession, he has learned to tell time (mostly hours) so he knows when it is on and can remind me. One day on pinterest, I saw some creature power suits. Light bulb moment here folks. So i set off to make them. I quickly discovered that making an actual vest shape out of a t-shirt was dumb. Instead, I just cut the sleeves off and forgot the V. I used "wonder under" to secure the design to the shirt before I sewed it on. I discovered this through trail and error. Sewing a circle is hard especially is it moves on you. Bob redrew the creature power disks using Illustrator then printed them onto iron on sheets. He found an old pair of Khaki shorts that he ironed them onto and then cut additional circles to make them more sturdy. He sewed the velcro onto one circle and then sewed that circle onto the one with the design. I hand sewed the spots onto the gloves. We were pleased with the result and the kids rarely take them off.

For Nora, I really wanted to make a little dress. My mom was willing to help me and she had some leftover fabric from her quilt so we set to work. I did cut the pattern and sew some of it together but unfortunately her machine started acting funny and I couldn't finish it while there for Thanksgiving. Being the good daughter that I am, I left it there for her (-;  She did a marvelous job finishing it up and Nora looks darling in it.

The ornaments we made this year were a pinterest project. I'm sure you saw them. The darling little hand prints that you transform into snowmen. Haha. So easy right? Tell that to my 2 year old. Have you ever tried having a two year old gently grasp a round object while having paint on their hand and then let it go? It took a while but I did manage to teach him to catch & release! I put all three kids on each Christmas ornament. I made less than usual because of the difficulty and a few people who normally would get them, didn't. Sorry!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


It has been forever since I last posted. Three kids is marvelously wonderful but very, very busy and sometimes (for my sanity) I have to put less important things on the back burner. 2012 has been a big year for the Gray family. Two babies were born--Nora and my niece Jocelyn. We also had a wedding. Jason Gray (bob's brother) made Amber his wife on December 1st. 
They had a small but beautiful ceremony at my Mother-in-Laws house in Polk city. I volunteered to do the food. It was less than 20 people (including kids) so how much work could this be, right? Haha. Let's start with November 20th, the day before the wedding. We got up much as usually and I brought my kids to a friend's house while I ran to the store quick for a few last minute items. When I got back, she invited Ollie to stay there while i went home to cook. Another friend was coming at 11:30 to help me cook. We got home and I got to work. Tara showed up with her son Micah. The boys played while we cooked. 

I made creamy chicken and rice soup and broccoli cheese soup. I had already made chili and it was in the freezer. While the soup was cooking, I got a phone call from my dear friend who had Ollie. She was crying saying that her dog had hurt him. I really wasn't following so when she offered to bring him home, I said sure. Ollie showed up and I realized it was more serious. He had been bit near his eye. Luckily, it was small dog and he had missed the eye. Her husband and I got back in the car and drove to the ER where my hubs met us. I then left him there and drove back to my house where Dawson, Micah and Tara were. I anxiously waited to hear about Ollie. He is fine and it healed nicely. 
We get back to cheesecakes and such. Then I find out my sister is back in the hospital after a surgery she had a few days prior. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster! After some IV fluids, she, too, was fine and sent home. 

Ok. Back to focusing. We cut and arranged things for sandwiches--three kinds of meats- turkey, ham and roast beef--four cheeses- pepper jack, munster, colby jack and cheddar--for kinds of breads- buns, vienna, 7 grain and marbled rye. I also did a condiment tray and picked up three kinds of Mayo-garlic herb, hot and spicy and regular. I really wasn't thrilled with the flavored mayo. If you wish for some, I recommend making your own. They tasted very "preservativey." 

For the mini cheesecakes, we cut up fresh strawberry, mango and kiwi. I also bought whipped cream, cherries, strawberry and chocolate syrup. 

 I was so pleased with the happy couple's reaction. They loved it! I was so worried that my meal would not be fancy enough but they were so appreciative. I wish them all the joy in the world.

Jason and Amber

 Baby Jocelyn