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April 2017: Electronics Free Month

by Chrissie Wainright on June 1st, 2017

April was electronics free again!  We are all skeptical about it the first few days, but by the end of the first week we really enjoy having some time without electronics.  This year, we spent a lot of it playing Mice and Mystics!  It’s a really fun dungeons and dragon style game geared towards kids.  Serenity, Donovan, Eric and I each got to play different Mice characters as they fought their way through a castle trying to save the king from an evil shape changer.  We fought roaches and spiders and rats.  They LOVED it.  They begged for it nearly every night.  It’s set up like a book, in chapters, as you play through the story.  It was fun for all of us!   The big kids also did a LOT of origami.  They hung out on the top bunk in DZ’s room making dozens of cool things.

Mice and Mystics

Origami!

I moved the dollhouse and it got a lot more interesting =) We still keep the Calico Critters in it instead of dolls though.

They love group hugs =)

Serenity and Donovan especially loved finding Easter Eggs in challenging hiding places.  Eric and I both hid eggs for them in the yard, and they didn’t even care if there were treats inside.  I put tiny Pokemon figures in most of them since we didn’t really eat all the candy last year before it was time for Halloween candy.  Maia loved the Easter baskets and carried them around the house until I was done picking up the eggs for the year and hid them in the closet.

This is the tree Serenity gave me for my birthday last year. It bloomed beautifully! And it’s a good place to hide eggs =)

Charizard hiding in the Easter Egg =)

Finding the last Easter Egg. Eric can really hide them =)

Our bunny hunt went really well!  Each of the kids had clues that led them to the next bunny.  Serenity and Donovan had cypher codes to figure out, and Maia read her own clues this year(They led to Blue’s Clues style pawprints, which sent all three kids to their baskets)!  So fun!  They led to the Easter Baskets, which were mostly empty this year.  They each got a book or two and an egg with Skittles or M&Ms, a couple fruit snacks.  The rest of their present didn’t fit in the baskets… they got skates!  I found these fun skates that are adjustable, that you wear with your own shoes.  So they will last awhile.  These turned out to be the most fun thing of electronics free month!  Serenity especially spent hours riding around our living room in her skates!  She’s getting really good.  DZ had a hard time at first but he can get around now too.  Maia wanted to use hers as well, but she mostly needs hands to hold, or the couch.  She can kind of crawl around on her skates, or use them on the carpet.  But she is fiercely determined!  Eric was holding her on the bed while she was wearing her skates, and she stood up on the bed and said “Here I go!” And she skated right off the bed!!! And landed on her feet!!!!  We all heard him yell “WHOA!” from clear across the house.  =)

I’d say the skates were a success if she’s even reading while skating =)

We decorated some eggs!  I found this Emoji Egg kit, and it was hilarious!  After we colored the eggs, each of the kids added stickers to their eggs to make them into Emojis.  Then Serenity and Donovan came up with the idea of taking pictures making faces matching the Emoji Eggs.  SO FUNNY!  I love them =)  Everyone had fun dyeing the eggs.  We don’t hide those eggs, but Eric ate them all =)

Easter activities this year included a neighborhood Easter egg hunt and petting zoo, hiding eggs in challenging places in the backyard, our traditional bunny hunt, and a new nesting egg game that focuses on the actual story of Easter.  The nesting egg has a picture on each egg as you read through the story of Easter.  We ended up reading it all in one day as they were interested to find out what would be inside each egg, but the kids played with it the rest of the month too.

The hat stayed on for about a minute before it blew away but he’s too cute =)

 

Serenity in April:

Birthday treats!

Girl Scouts: Our April Meeting for Girl Scouts was the Pets badge!  The girls had been begging me all year to work on this badge, but I thought it was a good idea to wait for warmer weather so we could maybe have actual animals.  And we did!  We first made fleece toys to give to dogs and cats.  The dogs got braided chew toys, and cats got little sticks with colorful strips of fleece to chase.  The girls loved making it, and everyone made a few toys for their pets or to give away.  Serenity gave hers to Grandma’s dogs and Forrest, and she was so happy when they played with them!  The girls also made budgets for imaginary pets to learn about what it costs to have a pet.  Molly brought Wren’s pet bunnies, so the girls got to love on them, feed them, and learn about being calm and gently with pets.  They were very protective of the bunnies and made sure no one was too loud or crazy with them when other kids came by.  It was a fun meeting!  Serenity had to do a little extra work to earn her badge.  All the other girls already had a pet they were responsible for feeding at home, but since we don’t have pets, she visited Papa’s cat Friendly and fed him, and visited Grandma’s menagerie and helped to feed them as well.

EOYB: For the end of the year party for Girl Scouts this year, the girls wanted to finish up some badges.  So we did the Outdoor Adventurer badge!  I found an idea for a compass game to teach them to use a compass, and Eric made it a reality!  He and Donovan measured went to the greenbelt and placed golf tees at intervals, and wrote compass directions like “Take ten steps North, then 50 steps Southwest.”  They all ended at our favorite tree on the greenbelt for a group picture.  It was SO much fun!

We made four different kinds of bird feeders that we tied into a garland for the birds.  It was pretty and the birds enjoyed it at my house all month!  Each of the girls took some home as well.  We used sunbutter on pinecones rolled in birdseed, and cut up oranges and hollowed them out to hold birdseed.  We also used cookie cutters to cut out suet cakes and hang them on the line.  I also cut out apple slices that they strung, and orange slices in little metal spirals to attract birds or butterflies.  Fun!

They practiced rolling up sleeping bags.  It’s harder than it looks.  Slippery little suckers.

We also did some splatter painting to finish up the Brownie Painting badge.  Serenity and several of the other girls went to the Brownie Painting event offered by council, where they did 4 of the 5 steps, so we did the least one, painting without brushes.  I’d seen a pin about painting with hammers, and it was just as messy and fun as I thought it would be.

 

Field Trip to Earth Day

I got to go with Serenity’s class to the Earth Day event at T.U.  Raegan had a booth with her Earth Matters club!  So cool!  Donovan’s class went to, but I’d already volunteered with Serenity’s class by the time I knew that.  They got enough parents though, with groups of just two kids per adult.  But it was fun seeing Donovan with his friend Jack there too!

So last week, Serenity wore this Jean skirt I got her four days in a row. I told her she had to wash it before she could wear it again and I was thinking, kids are funny.

Then last night I washed this Carly so I could wear it two days running 😂

The favored jean skirt =)


Maia in April:

Maia was very confused by electronics free month for the first day or two.  I finally just kept telling her the television was broken, and since we’d hidden all the ipads, she stopped asking.  It took less time than I thought for her to adjust though.  We played a couple things a LOT this month.  First, Play-doh.  I picked up a play-doh pizza set for something new, and we played it every single day until all the colors were brown and they started to dry out.  Then we got some sparkly play-doh that quickly turned from a rainbow of colors to a medium blue.  It’s still sparkly and soft so we hear a lot of “oooooh pretty!” When she’s working with it.

Playing Chef:  Since we had so much fun with the play-doh pizza, I pulled out the play food tub.  This was a huge hit!  I guess Maia had never really played with it before, and she LOVED her chef’s hat and the apron.  She wore it for more than a week and kept going back for it even after that.  She loved filling the pots with all the felt treats I’d made over the years.  Yay!  I love it when things get used!

Maia is seriously improving on the bike.  Both in ability and attitude.  The first few times we went, she needed a lot of help.  Then she still needed help, but she would say “nonononono” and “I can do it myself!”  Which made the very short ride to the park take a long time!  Now, she is much better at doing it herself, and if she goes off into the grass she asks us to help her straighten it out so it’s a lot more fun for everyone =)
DZ in April:

Donovan’s baseball skills are really improving!  And he loves it!  He begged for a new baseball tee so he could practice hitting the ball at home.  We were a bit skeptical but he has used it a lot!  And now he can catch balls in the glove, and stop them on the ground when they come his way.  The thing I like best about his baseball playing is his enthusiasm though.  He really RUNS for every ball, and he’s the first kid out of the dugout with his glove, ready to get his outfield assignment from Eric.  He really enjoys it and talks about playing again next season.  Well, the fall season as we are skipping summer for sure.  Too hot!

 

Greenbelt:  We spend a lot of time in April in the greenbelt!  The weather is pretty, and we like it when it rains and there are extra puddles to splash in!

I got to play with flowers for the Gala for Uschool

DZ working on his Star Student Poster

Maia loves the big girl legos! She doesn’t build them exactly, but she plays with the people and the buildings a lot! She is just beginning to put them together.

Lots of Game Night Fun in April!

March 2017!!

by Chrissie Wainright on March 30th, 2017
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Since electronics free month is coming up soon, I’m just going to do one post for March for all three kids.  If it’s not too gigantic maybe I’ll do it this way from now on!  We’ll see =)

 

Maia:

Our daffodils bloomed! All Maia’s gifts bloomed =)

3/30/17

Maia in March!  Maia’s days are filled with dress up lately.  She’ll go to my closet, find the tubs that she can recognize by the labels, and then come out dressed as an explorer, or a pirate, or a mermaid! It’s adorable!  I never know what I’ll see. =)  Right now she’s wearing a superhero cape and mask.  She’s SuperMaia!  Love love love.

She’s potty trained now, which is awesome.  She has a few habits that we’ll have to break before school starts, but right now I’m too happy that she’s doing the hard part herself that I am just rolling with the fact that when she needs to go, she strips wherever she happens to be and runs around with no panties until she finds me afterwards and I put them on for her.  She also needs me to flush and squirt her with soap.  The toilets are actually really hard to flush, but the soap thing is just one of her routines that make her happy.  Two squirts, one on each hand, and then she washes it.  Letting it go for awhile. =)

She can read!  Donovan brought in the little first readers set he has, the bob books.  They played some kind of complicated game, but a bunch of them ended up in her room, and she reads them to me now!  She sounds out words I don’t think she should recognize, and actually knows a bunch of sight words like and, these, and please, probably thinks to the endless reader app.  Or SuperWhy.  It’s fun!  So whenever there’s a word or sentence in a book we are reading I think she can figure out I let her do it.

She sings along in the car to Moana now.  I love the soundtrack, and it is even more adorable with her little voice singing all the words, even the ones in other languages.  =)  She has seen the movie once too, so she inserts various phrases she remembers too, like “I got something shiny for ya!”  and it never fails to make us laugh.

She’s playing more and more with Serenity and Donovan.  They were chasing her in circles playing tag the other day.  She would run from my room, around my closet, through the laundry room and kitchen, back to my room, over and over.  After ten minutes, the bigger kids started just lying in wait, DZ in my bathroom, Serenity in the hall, and you could hear her shrieks and giggles every time she passed them.  They love games that involve collecting and piling cushions and blankets, and things that involve jumping off stuff.

She has found a board game she likes!  Two actually!  She loves Obstacles, which sounds like “popstacles” when she says it.  It’s a game that you have a hand of cards with pictures on them, and you are supposed to think of creative solutions to get past obstacles.  She just loves telling me what her cards are, but sometimes she really does say how she would use them, which is fun.  She also loves the Paw Patrol beach clean up game, but she plays that by her own rules.  She does invite me to play it though which is nice. =)

Her other favorite toys right now include the train tracks, the huge puzzle foam mats, all our wooden puzzles that have about 12 pieces, uno moo, and her super sorting pie.  She still loves the little computer, we will see how she does for electronics free month which is coming up Saturday!!!

Another Maia Approved outfit =)

Maia loves Tilly the Turtle, made by her Great Grandma Bair!!!

Maia’s first lego set! She was too busy playing at Kiddlestix to choose toys, so I decided to try this. She loves playing with the big kids lego sets, which drives them crazy. She loves it! I built it for her, but she spent hours playing with the figures, putting oars in their hands, moving them around, and just enjoying having a set of her own! And she played with it for the whole week, until she started taking off Maui’s arms and abandoning it, so I put it away for awhile. But she maybe spent more time with it than DZ even!

She wanted to be a clown… and we don’t have a clown tub or clown costume! But we improvised pretty well =)

Fancy Fox Power =)

Grandma came to the botanical gardens with us!

SuperMaia!

Jumping games with DZ =)

 

Donovan:

New fancy hat =)

3/30/17

Donovan and Serenity have started a book club in his room.  After I finish reading to them, they troop along to his room, and Serenity has been reading Rainbow Magic Fairy chapter books to him.  Love it!!!!  And then he reads his I Can Read books to her.  Even more LOVE!!!!  It’s awesome.  He’s been doing a little bit of speech therapy, so he corrects his K’s and G’s a lot now.  It’s even easier to understand him, and his reading is improving a lot too!!!

Donovan has joined a baseball team!  They had their first game last Saturday, and Donovan got a run!  It’s progressive t-ball, which means they can have the first few pitches as coach pitch, and the last couple off a T if they miss the pitch.  He hit one pitch, and one off the T.  I was proud that he really did run to his bases, and he paid attention to the ball in the outfield and ran for it a few times.  He loves batting, and he gets to see his friends Hatcher and Trip from school so he’s been really excited about baseball!  Catching is a work in progress, the glove is new to him, but so far, so good!  Eric is assistant coaching, which is like herding cats of course.  He has to remind them to watch the ball so they don’t get hit.  But it’s an exciting thing!  We’ve only had the one game, but I was very happy with the parents on our team.  Everyone cheered every good play, no matter which team did it.  They cheered for good swings, for solid hits, for outfielders actually trying to collect the ball… it was a fun atmosphere, just right for 6 year old ball. =)

We went to Kiddlestix over Spring Break so the kids could get some new toys to play with.  We are doing a big trip this summer, so we didn’t go anywhere over Spring Break, and frankly, it was an awesome week.  The kids loved just relaxing around the house, most days they didn’t even want to go anywhere.  They played together, played on the computer, played in the yard, just had lazy fun days.  DZ got a new lego set, of course.  It was a big Star Wars one with Kylo Ren.  He wants to see the movie now =)

DZ is still my Perler Bead boy =) He made Greedo and Dooku over spring break =)

Baseball boys!

 

Serenity:

Serenity got a pair of leggings too! She was amazed how SOFT they are!

 

3/30/17

Serenity had her drama festival!  She was Loki, which made Eric and I totally geek out.  She was an awesome Loki, very expressive!  I got to have the fun of making her costume, and a couple pieces for a few other kids, raven hats and wings, a tunic and crown for the frost giant, that kind of thing.  And I made Mjolnir out of a Samoa boxes!!  It was such fun!  The play was so cute and the kids did great!  Serenity rehearsed at home so much that Maia even knew the lines.  She’d repeat over and over, “Did you find my hammer?”  And “Where’s my hammer!!!”  And Serenity would patiently respond “Chill Thor.” Over and over.  So sweet.  Although I was worried she’d do it during the performance and try to take the hammer.  It was fine. =)
Serenity is passing on her love of reading to DZ!  They’ve started their own book club in his room during quiet time.  She’s reading him chapter books, which he hasn’t even asked me for yet.  He tends to ask me to read his encyclopedia of lego characters, or skylanders, or some other manual like that.  I love that she’s getting him into longer stories!

We went to the botanical garden at the end of Spring Break.  It was cold!  But the tulips were SO beautiful, I’m so glad we didn’t miss them.  And the hyacinth!  I just love that smell.  It was a blast, especially for my nature girl.  She asked me to take pictures of her cartwheeling over the rock bridge.

Papa cut all these branches just for them to play with. At least that’s what they think =)

cartwheely

Serenity and I went to see Beauty and the Beast! We got the soundtrack and are obsessed. I love it!!! She took this pic with the Cherokee Princess Dogwood she gave me for my birthday =) It’s blooming!

 

More:

I got some new clothes from a LuLaRoe party that Jen hosted! These skirts are SO comfy! Expect to see me in them all summer =)

I also went slightly out on a limb and bought a pair of leggings with an actual pattern… not my usual style because nearly all my clothes are solid. Then when I tried it on, Maia went to the dress up box and got out her mermaid tail and the blue wig. So now they are my mermaid pants =) And I love them more =)

If you want to know what I’m up to… Agricola. On the ipad solo it is SO fun.

I don’t know how to take selfies =) But I went on a Mom’s night out planned by Ashley and it was SO much fun! I wore real clothes. And put stuff in my hair. lol

Daddy is still a jungle gym =)

Love the tulips!!!!

Coffee filter crafts =) Maia and I made the first 8, and then the big kids saw them and have been doing them ever since. Such fun!

Serenity in January and February

by Chrissie Wainright on March 5th, 2017
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Serenity Year 9 2017

3/3/17

Serenity has been really busy with Girl Scouts the last two months.  It’s cookie season!  She wanted to sell 500 boxes so she could earn an adorable music box.  That was more than double what she sold last year, so I was hesitant.  I ordered enough for her to sell about 275, and she managed that  by doing two booths at Papa’s house, going door to door in our neighborhood once, and selling at Eric and Kyle’s work.  Plus, Papa is a big fan of the new S’more’s cookie, and so are his students, so he bought a bunch of those.  So she made it to 275, but I thought she was pretty much done after that.  She went to all the booths, partially because I had to go to take the cookies, and so she got about 80 more in sales.  So I told her, if she really wanted that music box, to sell all the leftover cookies, and if she did that then I’d get her more to keep going.  And she DID!  She sold out of Samoas and was down to 7 thin mints, so I got her two more cases, and she sold all those and all the boxes in our donation box to get more.  So I happily replaced those boxes and now we’re DONE with cookies for the year.  I’m so excited that she made it to her goal, and that she actually went out repeatedly until it was done.

Besides cookies, her girl scout troop finished their Home Scientist badge, thanks in part to Science Saturday, their Household Elf badge(making natural air freshener, reusable bags, saving water and electricity, and other helpful things around the house), and their Water Journey(Love Water, Save Water, Share Water).  They finished the Water Journey by making reusable grocery bags with slogans that urge people to save water.  Hopefully it starts lots of conversations so they can talk about what they learned on their journey.  They also decided to spend some of their cookie profits helping an orphanage in Tanzania with their water needs.  Lillyan voiced the idea that they should help an orphanage, and the girls unanimously agreed.  So sweet =)    They also earned their World Thinking Day badge.  That was a fun one.  A few girls came to my house and helped me cook some Tanzanian food, coconut rice, fried plantains, and chai tea.  We listened to African music and did a craft project designing Kanga fabric. So fun!

Besides Girl Scouts, Serenity is learning to play piano!  She had lessons in the fall, but didn’t practice often enough to get to continue them.  I told her if she practiced enough on her own, she could have the lessons back, so I’ve been teaching her the little bit I know.  She’s been playing scales and learning to play Do a Deer from her Sound of Music piano book.  It is sounding really good!  She plays mostly the right hand, and I try to do the left.  I need more practice too.

Serenity spends about half her playtime upside down these days, doing cartwheels.  It’s so cute and fun, at least until she kicks someone in the head.

She still loves reading. We checked out the whole Sisters 8 series again so she could reread it.  =)

Ann and John came for a visit, and Serenity is learning card games!  She asked to learn bridge, but we are starting with Spades.  She also learned Own Trump.  She went on lots of walks with Vanaema.  She’s fascinated by her fitbit, and she loves being in nature.

We are gearing up for the Drama Festival.  Serenity is Loki!  Eric and I both geeked out over that.  I got to make her a costume =)  And I made a few other props and costumes.  Two ravens, a Frost Giant, a belt, and Mjolnir.  Thor’s Hammer was so much fun to construct!  Thanks to all the Samoa boxes in my garage from cookie sales it was a breeze.  One Samoa box filled with floral foam for the middle, two more ends of boxes angled to add some dimension to either end of the hammer, a cardboard tube wrapped with duct tape and leather for the handle.  Some black paint covered with silver paint, and some runes on the circle on top of the hammer.  Easy and fun!  Hopefully it stands up to some abuse as they rehearse.

Hovercraft from Science Saturday

Diorama from Esperanza Rising. It was a long and complicated book, and very emotional, but she loved it so much I read it too!

Serenity loves this little fox she named Lyra. She sleeps with her often! It’s soo sweet. She got it because she wanted to donate to save foxes this year.

Cirque!

Water Journey

Card games!

Little Hikers at the Book Fair