Childhood to do list: Build a fort

Build a fort

I remember as a kid every fall my Dad would trim back the trees drastically and I’d build a fort out of all those branches.  It was quite a feat.



We were trimming the trees in our front yard the other day before the spring growth hits, and we had already completely filled one with branches, when I said, “New plan!  We’re making a FORT!”


The kids were now much more enthusiastic to help haul branches.



We filled the wagon and hauled branches back to the back corner of our yard.  It’s quite nicely tucked under our big huge trees, “The Mommy and Daddy trees,” as my kids say.


Then began the real work.


I don’t quite think they thought it was work.


And of course you need a photo shoot afterwards.  With lots of dramatic posing.

Don’t ever forget the dramatic posing.

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Everyone needs a tree fort sometime.  Maybe I’ll even dig through my Mom’s photo albums and find a picture of MY tree fort.

Round Rock Fall Festival


019One of the cool things about our town is it’s still small enough that it has cool festivals and events from time to time.


Like this chalk art festival designed to raise money for a local foster home.



Of course the down side of that one was it led to hands like this……  And very dirty clothes.



But, back to the Fall Festival.  We headed down there a little early to help set up the diaper changing station for our MOPS group.  Actually we got there later than intended and it was mostly set up.  But, the kids had fun helping me put up the signs.




It’s run by the local parks and recreation department, so you get a lot of “tough” looking guys who are in charge of the games.


I think it’s kind of fun to see these guys interacting with the kids, and you can tell they love doing this.




I have a lot of fun looking at the different games and thinking about how I might make it at home.


I know, that’s shocking, shocking I say.




The kids have fun collecting an inordinately large amount of candy and random little toys.  They spend the next few days on a sugar high as they slowly eat their way through the candy.


It was super duper fun, and we had a blast as you can imagine!


I’m linking this up to Geography/History linky over at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn because in a way this is about geography, it’s about finding cool things going on at the place you live.

Math Links: Finding numbers

Pathfinder Mom had showcased a game her son loves and then commented this would be easy to do with sidewalk chalk and music (sorry no exact link to the post).  Well, I took that and ran with it.  So, here’s our game:


Supplies needed: chalk, hyper kids that need to burn energy, and a sunny day (that last one is key)


Prep work: write numbers all over your sidewalk, this could also be whatever else you’re working on.


How to play:  Call out a kid’s name and call out how they should get to the number.  Ex: Superman hop to 17.  Princess run to 5.  Batman tiptoe to 12.


Happily play the game and trick your kids into learning.

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Play as long as the weather or your kids’ attention span lasts.



Game called on account of rain!  Apparently our rain dance from the other day was successful, if a little late.

Favorite family board games


I’ve mentioned once before that I like games.  Sadly we haven’t gotten to play as many as I’d like.  If you ask my kids, here are their favorite games:

1.  Monopoly Junior Toy Story edition- ummmm, how is it that they can’t add and we have to show them how to make change every time, but they still win every time?  We’ve devised a couple of house rules:  Whoever is Buzz doesn’t get to be blue also; and Princess plays with Mommy (because she doesn’t have the patience to sit for the whole game).

2.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar game-  I don’t mind this one as much, probably because while it still relies on luck, I don’t sit there for 15 turns aware I’m going to lose and having to wait an eternity for the kids to win (can you tell I’ve been forced to play Monopoly Junior one too many times recently?).

3.  Superman (I think) got this for Christmas, actually I think it was Batman that got it from Superman.  Either way, this is a Scooby-Doo board game, and it’s surprisingly fun.  When you spin and get a ghost you have to push the ghost at the top down and when you do different things happen to the board that might send you back to start.  It’s really fun.  I just have to be careful they don’t lose the figures in playing with them.  Sorry Fred, I think you got caught by the ghost at some point.

Now if you left it to me, here’s what I’d want to play:

Carcassonne-  It’s a fun tile laying game where you are trying to get the most points by building the biggest cities, farms, roads, etc.  There’s a lot of expansion and each one adds in something different.  We’ve got about 5 of the expansions, and some of the mini ones.  Actually I talked about it back at my New Year’s post about my favorite board games.

And now I just need to remember to link this over to Kylie at  Our World Wide Classroom.

Fun Field Trip: Shakespeare in the Park

Or, how to have way too tired kids at the end of the day….  Really, I could have planned this better, but didn’t do as well as I could have.


Here’s what I did that set the kids up for failure at the play:



Can you tell what I did?  We had a playdate with a friend, and so by the time we got to Zilker for the play they were already tired and over-stimulated.  I know better than this, so why did I do it?  Because I wanted to see Midsummer Night’s Dream, it’s my favorite Shakespeare play, what’s not to love?  Fairies, trickery, and PUCK!  Who doesn’t love Puck?




Okay, back to our trip to the park.  What did I do right for this trip?  I planned simply, no getting chicken or anything, just sandwiches and lots of fruit.  I bought a big bag of apple slices, which we learned “How That Got on My Plate” recently, big bag of oranges, and carton of strawberries, and lots and lots of “dragon drink” (also known as Capri Sun, but in their brilliant bit of branding they got the rights to put “How To Train Your Dragon” pictures on it, so my kids now HAVE to drink it with everything, or so they think).

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I wanted to pack their Leapsters, but one of the boys couldn’t find his, so he grudgingly played his sister’s.  She took my camera to play with.  I wasn’t too big a fan of this trade.


So, I got a lot of pictures like this:

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Well, that last one is somewhat normal.


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We met another family there, and the kids were happy as clams to get to play with the “Armadillos” (not their real last name, but it is another animal).  They love to get together with them, and this was a great excuse for us to have a “double date”.



How was the play itself?

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I judge Midsummer Night’s Dream off of two things: 1 How are the Rude Mechanicals?  They can make or break the play and 2  How is Puck?  I mean if his role is off, than why watch it?  And both of those were excellent!  And they didn’t cut any of Puck’s lines.  Jeff and Aunt Tara can tell you all about the recent Calvin Kline movie, and my opinions on how they cut a few of Puck’s lines from the final monologue.  I MEAN REALLY FOLKS, IT WAS TWO LINES!  TWO LINES, AND YOU COULDN’T LEAVE THEM IN?!?  Take out the stupid bit about Bottom’s wife being a nag, that isn’t in the play anyways, and you have more than enough room to put back in the lines, and put back in the Titania in love with a monster monologue.


Okay, I’m better now.  Mostly, TWO LINES!  I’m done.  Probably.


So, I loved Puck.  He was great, skipping and bouncing all over the place, and approriately “puckish,” yes I did use the word that came from his name to describe him, but it is rather appropriate.  Sigh, happy thoughts.


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How did the kids do through the whole thing?  Not as well as they did at Beauty and the Beast (I was wrong as I went back to get the link, last year was Music Man, the year before was B&B), but like I said I set myself up for failure in some ways.  They were already kinda tired, and we discovered this type of thing they do better if there’s not more kids because they’re more likely to calm down.


So, we got lots of “I need to go potty,” a few rather silly meltdowns about miniscule problems that wouldn’t normally bother them that much.  But after intermission they discovered they could dig in the dirt with sticks and they didn’t get in trouble for that, so they were happy.


And poor Jeff injured himself again.  He slipped on the dirt while carrying Princess back to the blanket, and skinned up his leg pretty bad.


Four days ER free.  We had almost gone six months, and then it was ruined.  Ruined I say.

Math Links: Games



Sorry for the backlit picture, but hey that’s what happens when you take a picture with your cell phone.


So, this is a super quick comment.  My boys found a copy of Toy Story Monopoly Junior at Half Price Books Saturday.  We have played it three times since then, and it’s so great for counting and adding.


When they have to pay for landing on someone else’s property I hand them the number of houses they need to pay that person and they have to put it on the money until they find the right combination.  So Batman up above has added 2 +2=4 to pay for landing on the space he’s on.  After a few tries at this they got GREAT at it.


And apparently Jeff and I have no luck with this game because Superman won both times.  And he’s rather smug about it.

Geography: Our city and the beginning of Texas

Apparently that’s what my kids had to say in my post I left open to draft………
This is the famous round rock that our city of Round Rock was named after.  I know we’re very original, aren’t we?
I wanted to start teaching the kids a little bit about our local area and so we made a field trip of it.
050  We carefully crossed over as close as we could get to see it without getting into the water.  I promised the kids we’d come again in the summer when they could get in the water.  They’re kind of used to coming to this park and playing in the creek.  So, it was a little hard for them to not go in the water.
Afterwards we spent some time throwing sticks into the river.  If you look really closely you can see Superman has a piece of string in his hands that is tied to a stick.  He found someone’s old fishing line and had thrown the stick in the river and was pulling it around.  Of course after he’d let it go and had wandered off I realized I should have gathered up the fishing line so it didn’t get caught on some poor duck.  The things you realize after the fact.

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And then they had to try all the places they could throw sticks.
That was our first activity.  After we learned about our city we started to learn about our state.

First we read L is for Lone Star.  This is a great series if you ever get a chance to read these, there is one for each state in the union.  I had this from back in my teaching days, and it does a great job of giving you some fun facts about the state, one for each letter of the alphabet.  If you have a kid a little older than mine than you can read them the extra facts, or if they’re little like mine just stick with the one sentence statements.
As I read the book I thought of all sorts of great day trips I could go on if I were doing this forever and a day long study of Texas.  This is definitely one of the advantages of homeschooling, as long as it is in my budget I can do as many field trips as I want.  So, I could take them to the Texas Ranger museum, or go the the Alamo, or the Dr. Pepper museum, or the Blue Bell ice cream factory (I was kind of surprised this wasn’t the b word, but I guess it does make more sense to use the state flower, but come one “Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country,” what Texan doesn’t know that jingle?), and the state capital down in Austin.
Of those my plans are to go to the state capital, originally that was going to happen last Friday, but………  After that I’m thinking either Dr Pepper museum or the Blue Bell ice cream factory.  Many of the others are probably better when the kids are older.
We also read The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola.  I’ll have a post specifically for that later this week.  In theory.
For more great geography ides head on over to Children Explore, Children Learn, Children Grow.
Oh, and this is the first post I wrote in Windows Live Writer, or at least first one I scheduled.  We’ll see if it shows up at 4:13 today.

Running in the Park

First don’t forget to enter my GIVEAWAY. I’m privileged to give away a SpellQuizzer. Maybe I should be using it now that I look at how I spelled that.

Since it was a short week, I didn’t really want to start our new theme of Nests quite yet, so we did some general review and lots of playing. My kids were quite happy with this theory.

We stopped by Round Rock Memorial park as part of one of those marathon errand running days that seem to come up from time to time. As a good job not going completely crazy at the stores we stopped here after the library.

Of course the first thing you must do once getting to the park is find a stick. This can be used for all sorts of things, it can be a sword, or a gun, or something to poke suspicious looking dirt with. You can also use it to hit leaves and other stuff on the ground.


Of course we had to check out the brick wall and try to climb it. The miracle was no one hurt anything in that experiment.


I really love this playground because it has some fun playscapes and climbing challenges. Of course that day it was way too hot to actually play on it. So within 10 minutes of getting there, they were looking for something else to do. Sigh, stupid 100 degree weather.


This was Princess’ solution. Of course if she had her way, that’s all I’d do at the park. Push her in the swing. It took about 15 tries to get this picture.


Batman had a different solution. He set about building his very own rock town. It was quite a city by the time he was done. Then he had to take one of them with him for the rest of the park excursion.


Superman solved his dilemma by sending his Batman toy down the slide A LOT, and I do mean a lot.


Finally my arms had quite tired out, and had turned to spaghetti. So, I suggested a walk. The water used to be quite a bit higher, but after the nonstop rain of the last few days it’s probably a little higher. I hope.


And of course we ended the time with wading in the creek. It was a lot of fun, and let them get thoroughly wet.






After much splashing and playing we headed back.

Rank and file.

And then we ran into a great object lesson. So we sat down to talk about it.

So, I’m guessing this tree stump was cut down to protect the overpass above us. After all it was growing pretty close to right underneath it. We all took turns guessing why they might have chopped down this tree, and looking at the new tree that is growing in the middle of it. Like I said, great impromptu science lesson about growing things. Of course the creek was also a great hands on lesson about ponds and such, and the water level was a great lesson about how much we need rain and how it isn’t just trees that need rain.

And of course as we went home we checked to see if our Flat Stanley had come yet, but he didn’t come until the next day. So, he does start showing up more soon. Like I said, in order to keep my sanity I post about a week after it’s happened. Except for the odd thing that amuses me like the Two Dollar Bill story. So Stanley, I mean O-Mite gets to appear in my rain story tomorrow.

Zilker Botanical Gardens

So, I’ve posted a couple of times about our fabulous trips to Zilker Park. Across the street from there is the Zilker Botanical gardens. It has several parts: Japanese gardens, Rose Garden, Prehistoric Garden, and some sort of farm area. The really great part is it’s FREE! We went there 2 weeks ago with a friend, and we went again this weekend with the grandparents.

First, let me tell you a genius way to keep your kids involved to someplace they may not be super thrilled with. Go beforehand with your camera take lots of pictures, then give your kids the pictures and send them off to find the stuff. It was hugely popular! Thus ends any sort of pretense at giving any sort of review or anything, now into the fun.

I also learned that if they know there are dinosaurs there, make sure to go to the dinosaurs first, otherwise they won’t want to look at anything else.

So while we were waiting for the “big guys” to get there, Superman entertained himself by spinning his backpack around. I wasn’t as entertained by this when he hit his sister in the head…..

Then as we were sitting and waiting, I noticed that Princess’ shoes were about 2 sizes too small. That would explain why she kept taking them off. Sigh, now she gets to walk around the whole day in these miserable shoes. Note to self, when we get home hide these shoes so she won’t try to put them on again.

Batman had a blast trying to find everything in his pictures. He eagerly ran from place to place looking for his pictures. Of course Nana and Granddad actually wanted to look at the flowers. Thus came the dilemma.

Here’s a great “teachable moment,” what is supposed to be in a well? Water, what did we find?


I still love these butterfly chairs, and yes I will keep taking ridiculously large numbers of pictures of my kids pretending to be butterflies…..

This is our usual site of the big guys while on a trip, they find something that interests them (usually an old tool) and then stand there and discuss it for a while. It’s rather amusing… usually.

“Follow me guys. I go to old ‘saur.” I can’t quite bring myself to break them of missaying dinosaur, it’s just too cute. I know I need to fix that.

“See Mom, I found a big leaf. This is my stick, it’s a gun.” Then he proceeds to shoot me. I think they have the entire concept of hands up wrong. They run up and tell you to put your hands up, and as soon as you do they shoot you! Why, would I want to put my hands up?

Daddy is really the best transportation for a Princess.

This was so much fun. They went from letter to letter finding all the letters of their names. Well, almost all.

And then they realized they had a picture of it, and that made it even better!

And that’s just cute. There’s something super duper cute about a Daddy and his little girl holding hands.

Look, I got to be in a picture!





This was another one we had a photo, of and it led to a discussion about why the water was falling, and why we didn’t have that much water. Sigh, stupid drought.

These next series are super fun. Superman kept trying to get Daddy to chase him. Which would have been a challenge considering he was carrying Princess. He’d run up and say, “Nyah, nyah, you can’t get me Daddy.” Then he’d run to a spot and site down with the most mischevious face you had ever seen. Once Jeff got too close he’d run to the next spot and start it over again.






You can see his brother hiding around the corner.

All in all, that was probalby our most successful trip to a non-kid themed park. They had lots of fun, and did a really GREAT job walking around for over an hour. If anyone wants a copy of our park pictures let me know, but they’re really only useful to local people, being for an Austin park.

Zilker Musical: Music Man

I love the Zikler Summer Musical. This has been a tradition to go see it, since I’ve been in college. The great thing about my birthday being in the middle of summer is I can make everyone go see it for my birthday. This is the second year we’ve included the kids, and they had lots of fun at it too.

We got there way super early and set up our blankets, then after hanging around for an hour or so waiting for more blankets to adequately have room for 11 people we set off for the playground and the train.

Poor Princess is just like her Mom and Mimi, she turns red when she’s hot. That is not a sun burn, she is plastered in sun screen.

First Batman insisted he needed his picture taken next to the statue. I’m raising a ham I tell you.

* Important side note, anytime you’re spending a long afternoon in the hot sun, pack a couple of spray bottles. They are a great way to entertain little kids and help cool you off. Okay, end of side note.

We got to ride the last train of the day. We rode it a few years ago when I made Mother’s Day books for the grandmas, and so Jeff recognized things as we drove by.

Sadly, there’s no pictures of the musical, what with not wanting to make the dancers fall as they dance across the stage, but we had lots of fun eating chicken nuggets and apples and drinking large amounts of liquid (did I mention it was hot?). At the end of the night Princess was out, and had decided she’d had enough and she was sleeping.


She’s been shot!

And then Uncle Sean decided to have some fun…..


Sigh……. at least it was only Powerade.