Thursday, June 28, 2012


The girls' good friends Hannah and Isaac came over for a playdate this morning.  (With temperatures in the high 80's by 9:00, even water play had to happen early.)  Who knew a couple of laundry tubs full of water and some random containers could be so much fun?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sand Art

Summer weather is here, with temperatures over 100 degrees.  It's HOT.  We are stuck inside and, well, bored.  So I have been searching the internet for things to do.  (I am only moderately creative on my own, but I'm terrific at stealing ideas.)  This morning's project was making sand art.  And it was fun!

The supplies were easy - salt, colored chalk, and small bottles.  Plus some pans and a funnel.
We poured some salt in a pan...
...and then rubbed chalk in the salt until the salt changed colors. 
The more you rub, the brighter the salt.
Then we poured the salt into the bottles, using a funnel.
The different colors formed layers in the bottles and made neat designs.
The girls thought this was great fun and worked for a long time.
By the time we were done, our chalk was pitted from the salt!
Our finished bottles were beautiful!
This was a good not-so-rainy-day project - cheap, easy, and a whole lot of fun.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tie-dye Project

Our friend Dante came over this morning.  I've known his parents since my college days.  He is here spending the summer with his grandparents. 

Dante and Katherine are the same age (they figured out that she is 4 days older than him) and have met each other, but didn't know each other well.  So I invited Dante over to try out a new tie-dye project.  And we had a lot of fun!

I had gathered all the supplies...
And prepped Rachel's shirt.  I put the cups inside (Rae's shirt was so small that it didn't hold many) and wrapped a rubberband around the top.
Then we drew designs with sharpie markers.
After that we dripped rubbing alcohol on the designs and watched them blur together.
After the alcohol evaporated and the shirts dried, we took off the rubber bands.  Tie-dye without the mess!
While the shirts dried, I sent the kids out to the driveway with Katherine's rubber volcano, a jug of vinegar, a box of baking soda, and some food coloring. 
That, of course, attracted the attention of assorted neighborhood kids and some friends who happened to be driving by!  The kids spent an hour erupting the volcano.  We had blue lava...
and green lava...
and purple lava.
My kitchen reeks of rubbing alcohol and vinegar, but we have some fabulous new shirts and three happy kids. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Rachel is taking a tumbling class through the summer rec program.  Her classmates, too, are "challenging" and it's really hard for the preschool teacher in me to sit and watch them misbehave.  Rachel comments on how "naughty" the other girls are, but she loves her teachers and she loves tumbling.

Rachel is a whiz at stretching.  She can do the splits and then lay her whole body flat on the floor!
She can also do sommersaults from one end of the gym to the other, all in one continuous motion.
She can walk the balance beam frontwards, sideways, and backwards.
And she gives the hula hoops her best try.
But Rachel's favorite is the trampoline.
The girl can JUMP!
She loves motion and she loves moving her body, so this class is just fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Playing Tennis

Katherine is taking tennis lessons through summer rec.
And she loves it! 
Most of her teammates are, ummm...challenging.  (That's a nice way of saying they're whiney, bratty, and oppositional.)  Katherine is not.  She pays attention and works hard.  She wants to get better so she can leave this group behind!
And she adores her teacher, a local college tennis player.  Kate pretty much sticks close to her coach.  When I go and watch I hear a lot of "Watch Katherine swing.  That's what you need to do."  (This pleases us both.)
Kate even works hard when it's time to pick up.  I think she actually enjoys carry the ball basket.
And, of course, her biggest fan comes along to watch longingly.
I think Kate may have found her sport.  And it's a good one for a reserved, brainy girl.  Many of the high school girls who play tennis in our town are quiet, well-mannered, studious kids.  Just like I hope my Katherine will be.
So I hope my girl keeps on playing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Living History Museum

On our way home from Chicago, we visited the Living History Museum near Des Moines, Iowa.  What a fascinating place!  They had 3 working farms and an entire 1870's town with people in period costume going about their daily chores.  Katherine was in heaven!  (Me, too, actually.)  We started by riding a trailer out to the woods.
We took a short hike through the forest to an Ioway Indian farm, circa 1750.  There were little shelters, a garden, tools made from deer antlers and bones, and this winter house.  Rachel asked if it belonged to the Three Little Pigs!
Then we followed a path through the trees to a settler's "ox-driven" farm from 1850.
I believe Katherine would have happily stayed there all day!
The girls helped grind coffee, move coals to the smokehouse to smoke a ham, and watched the chickens strut around and take dust baths.  It was oh so interesting!
Then it was off to the 1900 "horse-driven" farm.  It looked like something straight out of Charlotte's Web.
Rachel was fascinated by the enormous work horses...
...and the kitty chasing mice in the corn crib...
...and the sleepy piglet (and his HUGE mama).
Katherine was interested in watching the horses work a machine that cracked corn.
Both girls were more than happy to pump water at the yard pump.
Then it was time for a tractor ride back to the 1875 town.  We wandered through a church, doctor's office, blacksmith, lawyer's office, and assorted other businesses.  The school, of course, was the girls' favorite!
We also toured several houses, of various levels of affluence.  These were all fully furnished and just fascinating to poke around in.
We had a wonderful time at the Living History Museum.  There were just so many things to see and do and learn.  I only wish we lived nearer so that we could visit more often!

Granny offered to buy each of the girls something at the museum store.  Katherine deliberated a long time and finally chose a slate and chalk, so she and Rae could play one-room school.  Rachel had spied a set of McGuffy readers in the school and wanted to take them home with her then and there.  We managed to talk her out of that, but when she saw the same readers for sale in the gift shop, she was insistent that we buy one.  She wants so much to be big!  Once we climbed back into the car for the long journey home, Rae sat looking through her new book.  Until sleep overcame her, that is.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way