A Story

A "made-up" story is usually part of the kids' bedtime routine: they lay in bed, in the dark, and I (or Jon) tell them a story.  Sometimes I am tempted to make it a very simple story with a quick resolution, so they can go to sleep sooner.  But sometimes, Kaia has other ideas.  Tonight, our story went like this:

Me:  Once upon a time there was a butterfly who wanted to play with her friend the bee, but she couldn't find the bee anywhere!

Kaia:  Can I add a bigger stress?

Me:  Sure.

Kaia:  The bee had been taken prisoner by a mean witch who locked her up in a tall cage, and she couldn't get out.

Me:  So the butterfly decided to rescue her friend.

Kaia:  Can I add a bigger stress?

Me:  Sure.

Kaia:  But the cage was made with bricks and really strong wood glue, and the butterfly couldn't knock it over!

Me:  So, the butterfly couldn't break it down.  She decided to try wiggling through one of the cracks in the bricks, but she couldn't find any that were big enough!  She almost gave up, but she really wanted to save her friend the bee, so she kept trying to find a way to get her out.

Kaia:  Can I add a bigger stress?

Me:  Sure.

Kaia:  And then, while the butterfly was trying to free her friend, the witch came home!  And she grabbed the butterfly and said, "Oh, no, you don't!" and she put her in with the bee!

Me:  So then they were both inside, and they decided to make a plan to get out.  They knew the witch came every morning to give them breakfast, and decided to wait by the door until she opened it the next morning.  Then, when she came in they could fly away!  The next morning, when the witch opened the door, the butterfly and bee flew right through it!  But the witch snatched them out of the air and said, "Oh, no, you don't!" and threw them back in the cage.

Kaia:  Can I add a bigger stress?

Me:  Sure.

Kaia:  And then she turned the butterfly into a frog!

Me:  And the butterfly was so sad!  But then she and the bee began plotting their next escape plan.  The butterfly had an idea!  After the witch turned her into a frog, she saw that the witch stored her magic wand in her pocket.  So the frog told the bee to make some honey and squish it into the witch's magic wand, so it wouldn't work anymore.  The bee thought it was a great plan and started making some honey.  The next morning, when the witch came with breakfast, the bee flew right up to her and stuffed some honey inside her wand.  The witch pulled the wand out and waved it at the bee, but it wouldn't work!  The witch tried cleaning it, but nothing got all the honey off.

Kaia:  Water didn't clean it!

Me:  Right, so finally the witch asked the bee to help.  The bee said she'd only help if the witch freed them and stopped catching little animals and putting them in big brick pages.  The witch said, "Oh, all right," and the bee took her wand and was able to suck the honey out for her.  The witch turned the frog back into a butterfly and the bee and the butterfly went home.

The end.

Wordless Wednesday: Angry Birds Live Action

My brilliant sister introduced us to this awesome activity.  The kids love it.  I love it.  Think of all the large muscle exercise they're getting on this rainy day!

Happy Chinese New Year! (& Cool Dragon Puppet Craft!)

Chinese New Year is tomorrow, so we naturally started celebrating a few days early!  As you might have noticed, I'm still very much in a Christmas/New Years mood, so this just fit right along with all of our other festivities!

The kids **loved** this Dragon Puppet Craft!  As you know, my kids are pretty little, so nobody actually colored the entire dragon.  However, they played Dragons for the rest of the day!

I found the pattern and printable head and tail here, but we used straws instead of dangerous pointed objects for puppet sticks.  Harry did enjoy popping his straws off, but the rest of the kids (2-4 years old) were very protective of their dragons!  And I really enjoyed hearing all of their dragons growl at each other, climb on mountains (couches), in caves (under the table) and everywhere else the kids knew dragons should go!

Wordless Wednesday: Nativity Exhibit

The Nativity Exhibit was at the beginning of December.  I'm still not entirely sure how I missed posting about it until today!  Most of the pictures speak for themselves, but I still have a few comments.

I'm not sure if my favorite part is watching the kids dress up or looking at all the nativities, so prepare for a massive pile of pictures here!


The lady reading the story is a wood-carver who lives in the area...she's also a fantastic story-teller!


We visited the dress-up room twice, once with our cousins who were visiting from out of state and once after we met up with a friend.  Kaia dressed up first like an angel (in white), then as Mary (with the "beautiful head-dress", then again as an angel (in gold).  If she were allowed, she probably would have tried on every costume available! 




About a month and a half ago, I tried taking the kids outside for some pictures that I could use on Christmas Cards.  We only needed one, and I was sure I could get it!  For some reason, my normally happy, smiley, love-y kids had such a hard time smiling at the same time!  In the end, the "blooper" shots were at least as much fun as the shots I chose for the cards.  (As an aside, if you were expecting a Christmas Card, don't give up on me yet...I still need to mail them!)
Anyways, I thought I'd share these (they still make me smile!):

And, look!  They laugh together!  I even caught enough others for our cards!

My Budding Astronomer!

Kaia has loved astronomy for a very long time!  She can usually point out Venus and Jupiter and enjoys finding constellations.  Last November she overheard me telling a family member about the Leonids Meteor Shower and had to start fighting back tears when I told her we weren't going to watch it.  She assured me that she didn't mind getting up an extra hour early or going outside during a serious cold spell.  She was so passionate about it that I just couldn't quite tell her I didn't want to go outside at 4:30 in the morning in 45 degree weather and look for meteors!  I'm sure you can guess how that ended...yes, with us outside wrapped in jackets and blankets.  And yes, she saw a meteor.

Recently, I introduced her to Stellarium, and she LOVES it!  She even took these pictures with a digital camera because they were "so beautiful!"  Someday I'll tell her about screen shots!

Stellarium is fun because you plug in a location, date, and time, and then you see exactly what the sky looks like.  Stars and other celestial objects can be labeled, grid lines can be shown, constellations can be superimposed, as well as several other little tricks.  I've used it to look up names of stars and make sure I'm looking at the right planet when I point them out to Kaia.  Kaia likes to look at constellations and zoom in on the galaxies and m-objects because they are so pretty.  Stellarium is totally free too (and no, they did not ask me to write this post...we just love it, and I thought I'd share a cool resource...and Kaia's great photography skills!)

Making Ice-Cream (and a recipe!)

Do you know the difference in Philadelphia Style and French Style ice-creams?  Philadelphia Style (aka New York or American) ice-cream is made from churning cream/milk and flavorings while French Style involves first making a custard (usually with eggs) and then churning.  Why am I suddenly interested in different types of ice-creams?  Because my brother-in-law gave us an ice-cream maker for Christmas!

We absolutely love our new little ice-cream maker!  It fits right on our Kitchen-Aid, and it so cool!  We've only used it a couple times and have had such great results that we started storing the freeze bowl in the freezer so it is always ready to use!  Tonight we made Mint Brownie ice-cream...here's our recipe (really, we just added yummies to a basic recipe, but here it is anyway!):

Mint Brownie Ice-Cream

1:  Dissolve 3/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt into 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 1-2 teaspoons vanilla in a small saucepan.
2:  Once it is dissolved (it does not need to boil), add 2 cups skim milk and refrigerate until the entire mixture is chilled.  We took it off the stove as soon as the sugar dissolved and did not refrigerate at all.  We had slightly softer ice-cream, but we will probably do the same thing again next time!
3:  Turn freeze bowl on "stir" and pour the batter into the rotating bowl.  Let it stir for 20 minutes.  (I made a video about every 5-10 minutes, so you can see the progression.)
4:  While it stirs, mix up some microwave brownies and crumble them.  Mix them with about 1/4 cup mint chips and put them in the freezer.
5:  After 20 minutes, add the brownie crumbs and mint chips.  Let it stir for another 3-4 minutes.
6:  Serve it up and enjoy it!

You know you want some!!

Soon, we're going to try some French-style...I'll have to let you know how that goes!  Here's some videos of the stirring process--I just love watching the ice-cream thicken and grow!