Monday, February 29, 2016

Popcorn and Birdseed and Binoculars

One thing that's nice about being a teacher and a parent is having built-in guinea pigs at home to try new ideas out on. Sometimes Henry and Nick like my ulterior motives for our "activities" and sometimes they don't. They were pretty pleased when I bought the binoculars and promised to return them after my lessons this week.

Children's binoculars for $0.99 at Goodwill? Yes, please. 

This week I'm working on nonfiction text features with some of my students through a book called Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard. That's what the binoculars were for, and I'd highly recommend the book. Sunday morning, we laid out a ton of birdseed for the mourning doves who hang out in our backyard.

To attract some birds, I wanted to have my students string popcorn and lay it on some bushes near our windows. I figured that if Nick and Henry could make a popcorn string, my students would have no problem with it. Nick caught on right away.

Henry had a harder time, but he still managed pretty well.

It remains to be seen whether the popcorn strings will attract any birds, but Nick and Henry sure got a kick out of trying out the hands-on portion of my lessons.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Pretty Typical Sunday

Today was not an exciting day, but it was a pretty typical Sunday. Greg and I like to sit around and drink coffee leisurely on Sunday mornings. For the boys, there was lots of gear-building. Nick remembered from the movie "Hugo" that there was an automaton, and he wanted to use his gears to make his own.

The clean floor is thanks to Nick, who spent an hour scrubbing Friday night.  :)

Nick also helped his daddy out today. Our washing machine seems to get a sock stuck in the drainage pipe nearly every week. It's not even tiny little boy socks, necessarily. Today it ate one of Greg's socks. Nick's tiny hands were quite useful.

I took the boys to see Kung-Fu Panda 3 so that Greg could work on cleaning the boys' bedroom. Ahh, the excitement of a giant vat of popcorn and a cheesy cartoon movie.

They loved the movie, and Henry and Nick can't wait to see Zootopia, which apparently is coming out next week. The movie theatre even had this photo op set up in the lobby.


The boys both really wanted me to buy them these "Harry Potter glasses." I had to tell them no because they're reading glasses, but now I'll be on the lookout for clear ones. Henry was quite distraught that I said no.  It's funny how they both want glasses but don't need them, and I used to refuse to wear mine as a kid.

 Henry is really proud of his new sneakers. They have Snoopy wearing sunglasses on them, and they light up when he stomps his feet. (Which he does. . . frequently.) I found them, brand new with the original tags still on, at the Goodwill for $2.99.

Before dinner, they decided to use their newly clean room and pretend to be astronauts. The top bunk, you see, was the space ship, and they blasted off by jumping off of the stairs headfirst.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

An Hour With Henry

Each week Henry and I get a whole hour to spend together while Nick is having his music lesson. Henry doesn't like to wait--he wants to stay busy. What can you do with your mommy if you are a four-year-old and you only have an hour? Quite a bit, it seems. You can go to consignment shops and try on scarves.

You can sit on quaint old furniture.

You can eat giant chocolate-chip covered donuts! (Henry's favorite)

We brought a donut for Nick to have after his lesson. It was only fair.

If you have time after donuts, you can also visit the library and play with the toys in the children's section.

If you're feeling brave, you can pretend to check out imaginary books like a grown-up.

If you're cool like Henry, you can show off your leather jacket, penguin t-shirt, and sneakers. Oh, and when your mommy asks you to smile, you can roll your eyes like a teenager and give her this look:

Finally, you can peek in and see your older brother's drum lesson.

I find myself looking forward to this hour each week. Henry and I have visited the children's resale shop and found cool t-shirts. We've also gotten yummy meats at the butcher shop and ice cream sandwiches at the tea shop. Once, the bakery even had Oreo Donuts.

Henry and I enjoy killing time while Nick is "killing it" on the drums.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day 2016

I hope everyone had a spectacular Valentine's Day! We got our boys books for Valentine's Day, which has been our tradition since they were babies. 

It makes me smile every time they bring me one of their "Valentine Books" to read and we can see what year they're from. Nick got a book about the orchestra. He's really, really into all kinds of music lately, and he wanted me to read the whole book to him. It took 15 minutes just to read two pages, so I think we'll have many nights of reading ahead. 

This year Henry got a few Octonauts books. He's currently obsessed with these undersea adventurers, and we'd read the one Octonauts book he had probably a thousand times. I'm so glad they're is a selection now, so we don't expire of sheer boredom. 

My project today was to make a copy version of Hostess cupcakes--you know, the chocolate kind with the ganache on top. I haven't been very creative lately (grading grad-school papers has taken up most of my time), and I wanted to do some baking with the boys. Henry helped with the mixing and with putting the wrappers into the holes. 

Nick? Well, he helped with licking marshmallow filling off the spatula. Honestly, he did put the ingredients into my stand mixer and press "on," but he spent the rest of the time eating marshmallow fluff. 

Nick also ate the little circles I cut out to make room for the creme. Very helpful, that boy was--he ate the insides of 24 cupcakes. 

They both helped with the decoration. I didn't try the loopy white frosting. Instead, we just used Valentine's Day themed sprinkles, which worked pretty well. 

Can you see the shiny ganache on top? Yum.

By the way, I'd highly recommend this kind of cupcake. I don't think I'll ever make traditional frosting again. I like bittersweet ganache one hundred times better. 

The boys made pictures for their daddy for Valentine's Day, in addition to the many cupcakes we made and consumed. Nick's artistic skills are improving, though I noticed he made himself taller than his daddy. (He's third from the left.) "That's just my Harry Potter hair," he said. "It makes me taller." 

This is the family picture that Nick drew for his Daddy. Those are our cats, in case you were wondering.

Nick traced his hand for this one. "Duby" is how he spelled "Tubby," Greg's kitty.  

Nick made this picture for his daddy, too. 

Henry drew his daddy a rainbow and wrote all kinds of stuff inside, though I don't know quite what most of it says. I had him copy the "I heart u" at the top, but the rest of it is all Henry's invention. Looks kind of like ancient runes to me. 

I think I'm going to go have another cupcake before Valentine's Day is over and the calories aren't free anymore.  :)