This winter was long, cold and dark! As a way to have a bit of fun, we started having a weekly "Family Movie Night" every Saturday night. We planned an early dinner, gave the kiddo several choices of movies and let him pick the flick of the night. Between owned DVDs, borrowed movies from the library, and free on-demand movies, we have had lots of choices.
This activity quickly became the highlight of our weekends and my son looks forward to it each week. He gets to stay up a bit later than usual, enjoy some freshly popped popcorn and see new movies. We've watched The Night Guardians, Star Wars (the original one,) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Spy Kids (1-4,) Rango and Home Alone, to name a few. My son wants to continue with movie night year round.
Here is a list of potential family movies for future viewing:
Sound of Music
Wallace and Grommit (any of them!)
The Muppets (2011)
The Muppet Movie (1979)
Back to the Future
How to Train your Dragon
James and the Giant Peach
Kung Fu Panda
The Wizard of Oz
Despicable Me (the first and second!)
The Lion King
Freaky Friday (1976 version)
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
My Neighbor Totoro
Most of these are new to my son, with the exception of the Wallace and Grommit movies, which are favorites here. I've had fun finding old movies from my childhood at the library. What's your favorite family movie??
My son was off from school for President's Day on Monday, so we took a family trip into Philadelphia to the Franklin Institute. We purchased a membership last February, so we had just another week to enjoy the membership benefits. We had not visited since the snowpocolypse hit, so we were due for another visit.
The Franklin Institute has an exhibit area that features special visiting programs. They seem to change about twice a year. The last ones that we enjoyed were Titanic and a Spy Exhibit. The current program is "One Day in Pompeii" and exhibit featuring artifacts and reproductions from Pompeii. My son really wanted to see it, so despite concerns that it might be a bit boring, we decided to buy the add on tickets. Membership gives a nice discount to the special exhibits. It was a lot of reading, but my son was patient and curious about the different things we saw.
The exhibit was well designed and despite being crowded, we were able to see everything we wanted to see. There were recreations of homes in Pompeii and examples of the way of life back in 79 AD. We discussed how long ago 79 AD was, since my son has a slight fascination with calendars at age six.
The last two parts of the exhibit features potentially frightening displays for young kids. The first part was a small room that visitors stood in with a large movie screen in front. A film demonstrating a time line of the two day eruption of Mount Vesuvius was shown, along with a loud soundtrack and fake smoke pouring into the room to simulate the volcanic ash. The end of the movie soundtrack was very loud as the volcano erupted and destroyed the city. This apparently frightened my son badly. He didn't let on much while there, but did say he didn't like it and did not want to see it again. Which is fine, since once you go through the exhibit you are unable to return to see things before the film room. (My son was up for at least two hours later that night with bad dreams. I didn't realize how scared he was until he couldn't sleep.)
The last room of the Pompeii exhibit was filled with plaster casts of people who perished in Pompeii. This was the room that fascinated me the most. We did move through this room quickly because I wasn't sure how it would affect my son. Apparently he was ok with the "dead people." What we learned about Pompeii was that when Mount Vesuvius erupted over the course of two days, it wasn't lava that covered and destroyed the city, but layers and layers of burning hot ash. It was so hot, that most people probably died immediately.
Following the exhibit, we visited a room that had two examples related to Mount Vesuvius. One display featured different types of rock, includig lava rocks of different consistencies. The other display was an example of what occured to the life on Pompeii and how archeologists were able to create casts of the deceased, using a plastic frog as the example. It was really interesting. I was always fascinating with Pompeii as a child but never knew much about it. The exhibit at the Franklin Institute was worth the trip!
After Pompeii, we visited some of our favortie parts of the museum, including the heart. I even got to see a partial disection of a sheep heart! After a year of fairly regular visits to the FI we acutally discovered three new areas that we had not explored before. The first was the observatory, where we were able to view sun spots via the Zeiss telescope.
We also explored Sir Issac's Loft, a great display of science and art with hands on activities, some of which I recall trying when I visited the FI as a child. The other new room we found was Kid Science, the Island of Elements. This was a room that reminded me of the Please Touch Museum, but with a science flare. It was designed for little kids under age 8, so it was perfect for my six year old.
We will most likely renew our membership this year, since there are several cool new exhibits opening this summer, including one on brains! It is definitely a good value for us and my son clearly is learning from his explorations there. One Day in Pompeii is on exhibit until April 27, 2014. If you have a chance it is a great exhibit to see!
Over the weekend we had a day full of activities planned. Starting with swimming and three birthday party invites, we thought the kiddo would have a packed day. (We had planned to only attend two of the parties.) In the end, the weather forecast was calling for MORE snow, so both parties were rescheduled. I felt that we needed a physical activity, despite the forecast. There is so much snow outside that it is actually dangerous to walk around. Our street is too narrow now to risk walking it (we don't have sidewalks) and any where we like to go for outdoor fun is snow covered. We came to the conclusion that going bowling would be the best bet. We lucked out and only had to wait for 15 minutes to get a lane at our local bowling alley. From 3-5pm, the lanes are lit by black lights for glow bowling. By chance, my son had picked out a lime green shirt that day to wear, and it just happened to glow under the lights! We played two games and had a lot of fun. My son even won the first game! Afterwards we went for a walk at the mall and to pick up a quick dinner, followed by family movie night. We watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs!
Bowling was a great family activity and even though some of us are terrible bowlers, we all had fun. I'll be sure to sign up for the kids bowl free event again this summer so we can work on improving our game!
We did a bit of card making on our snow day(#7.) I have a small collection of Valentine's stickers and foam shapes that I've picked up from the $1 bins at Target over the past two years. They also had small packs of plain red cards for a buck. With a few heart doilies, too, we decorated them to make our own Valentines!
My very crafty friend Hillary of My Scraps gave me this great idea: Valentine heart messages on my son's bedroom door. I used a cookie cutter to trace and cut out 14 red hearts out of construction paper and I wrote a different message to my son about what we love about him. Starting on February first, I taped one heart onto his bedroom door at night (or when I remembered!) for him to see the next day. He liked the idea so much that he asked if he could do the same thing for us! I helped him make some hearts and he scraweled some love messages onto his hearts and has been busy taping them to our bedroom and office doors. It is such a sweet idea! Thanks Hillary!
Valentine's Day has become a completely differnt holiday now that I have a child. I think it is actually more fun! I love how decorating for the month changes our home from Christmas and snowmen to warm hearts and hugs. These paper heart messages might become a new tradition for February for me. I think as my son grows older it will be a good way to comunicate happy feelings to him and show him how much we love him, in this non-verbal way.
...it snowed over ten inches during the first part of the storm and as of 5:00pm we are waiting for "round 2" of the storm to happen, bringing much more snow. My son has had seven snow days so far, and probably will have another day off tomorrow, which means no Valentine's party. (I was one of the parent helpers so I'm disappointed too!!) This snow is really deep! Thankfully my husband was able to use the snowblower for most of the driveway and my son helped with the walkways. He loved that with all the snow he was able climb into the tree in our yard easily, and make his own little snow chair on the walkway.
With the threat of more snow I decided to bake the dessert I was planning for Valentine's Day early, as I was fearful we would loose power again! Last summer we spent a lot of time at the blueberry orchards in NJ and PA, resulting in several gallon zipper bags of blueberries in my freezer. I had forgotten about them until last week in the power outage when I cleaned out the basement freezer. There were still frozen, thanks to thinking to stick them outside in the snow! I am so sick of the cold winter that I decided I needed to make a summer dessert. So, blueberry pie it is!
I used this pie recipe from Simply Recipes. I did not make the crust and cheated by using frozen pie crust from Trader Joe's. I also ended up adding two extra cups of blueberries, since I used a deep dish pie plate. The blueberries were frozen and I think because of that I had to add to the overall bake time. I cut out mitten shapes and one star to act as pie vents on the top crust. I've never used an egg wash on pie before and I'm not sure I like how it turned out. The family certainly loved eating it, even with it being warm and messy!
And what did the weather do today? Over ten inches of snow! Ugh! So here's thinking of hot summer days when we can go blueberry picking again!
It took almost six and a half years, but the tooth fairy finally had a reason to visit our home this week! In preparation, I stitched up a small tooth pillow. My son was amused by it, but said to me, "You're really excited by this!" We discovered that his bottom tooth was loose a week and a half ago when he was talking and I noticed that he had a tooth growing behind his baby tooth. He didn't even realize his baby tooth was loose. I told him he could wiggle it as much as he wanted as long as it didn't hurt. He worked on that tooth for over a week! He came home from school on Tuesday and announced that his tooth came out at lunch! The lunch helper gave him a teeny purple tooth treasure chest to keep it and taped it shut so he wouldn't loose it before he got home. He found a gold dollar coin in his tooth pillow this morning, along with a receipt from the tooth fairy and a new tooth brush, paste and flossers.
Tooth Pillow tutorial:
two pieces of white felt, approximately 8" by 11"
small piece of red felt, about 3" square
white thread (I used embroidery/crochet thread, but regular sewing thread works too)
sewing needle and a few pins
small amount of fiberfill fluff
tooth pattern (see step one below)
I started by sketching out a basic molar shaped tooth on a piece of paper, cut it out and pinned it onto the white felt. I cut out two tooth shapes from the white felt using pinking shears.
With the red felt, I cut out a heart shape, using a small cookie cutter to trace the shape first.
Using white thread, I stitched my son's first initial on the heart. Then I sewed the bottom of the heart onto one of the felt tooth shapes, leaving the top open to act as a small pocket.
I then pinned the two felt tooth shapes together with the wrong sides facing each other. I stitched the two together with white thread using a running stitch. I loosely stuffed the "roots" of the tooth while stitching it up and before it was completely sewed together I finished adding the fluff.
Having the pillow with the tooth in it under his pillow made it very easy for the tooth fairy to find it in the dark!
We were looking for an indoors entertaining activity to get a break from this crazy cold spell we've had this winter and I remembered that my son had been begging to return for a visit to the Turkey Hill Experience last summer. Why not eat ice cream and drink iced tea on a frigid day? I surprised the kiddo with a weekend overnight trip to Lancaster County, PA starting with lunch at our favorite spot, Issac's Deli and then a visit to THE (Turkey Hill Experience!)
He is a nut. He really had a good time. He refuses to smile for photos. He says his photo face is serious. Oy.
THE is like a simulated factory tour filled with a mix of educational exhibits, hands on experimenting, and taste testing. Using a computer system/program, visitors get to create their own virtual flavor, packaging and even act in a commercial for their "new flavor." We each got to create one, my flavor was Mexican Hot Chocolate: a mix of chocolate ice cream and cinnamon with marshmallows stirred in! There is a tasting lab there too where for an added fee you can technically make your flavor, but we didn't do that part.
They even have pretend cows that one can pretend to milk! Thankfully it was only water, otherwise it would have been quite a mess!
There were about eight different flavors of ice cream available to sample. We had fun trying a few of the flavors, as well as sampling iced tea flavors. One we all liked was a half tea half lemonade sunbrewed tea. Not sure if it's in stores yet, but we were able to buy a bottle of it there. That's right, they have a Turkey Hill gift shop! The boys picked out iced tea and lemonade scented lip balms, some pencils for school and of course a variety of teas to bring home.
All in all, it was a fun way to spend a cold winter Sunday. It's never too cold for ice cream, right?
Here's hoping for another good year filled with adventure!
We spent part of this January first on a walk through part of the Pennypack Preserve exploring what was in our own neighborhood. We had been cooped up indoors for two days of play/relaxation and I felt we all needed to get out for a walk. The kiddo was adamantly against it and agreed to only take a walk in Whole Foods (WTF?) Instead, I insisted that we go for a walk outdoors and promised to stop by Whole Foods afterwards.
It was really cold but it was fun to explore this park that is less than a mile from our home yet we never go there. We found a flock of wild turkeys that were a bit frightened by us! We found a frozen pond that the kiddo had fun hurling sticks onto the ice to see how far they glided. We also checked out a small spring house. Then we got to see the sun start to set...
Afterwards, as promised, we went for a walk around Whole Foods. When I asked him why there, he replied that he liked it there and wanted to buy chips. I said no to that and asked him if he wanted to find his new food to try there. On New Year's Eve we had a discussion as a family about what we wanted to have as goals for the new year. One of the ideas we all agreed to was that the kiddo (and parents if applicable) would try one new food per month this year and even went as far as to plan to find different ways to serve that food. So we went on a quest at Whole Foods to find a new food to try this month.
The kiddo wants the new food to be new to all of us, however he doesn't realize how adventurous his parents are. We decided to add green smoothies and drinks to our January menu. I've tried green drinks before and didn't really like them, but they are really healthy so I'm willing to give them a try again. I decided to purchase pre-made green drinks first, since in the past my attempts to make them were miserable. I just don't have a blender or juicer that will emulsify the veggies to a drinkable texture. (I am always tempted by the Vitamix blender, but am just unsure of that kind of investment!) We picked out two smoothies, a green one and a blue one. We tried the green one when we got home.
The kiddo declared it delicious! He loves green apples, so he thought it was full of them, and disagreed with me when I informed him that they had broccoli, spinach and kale too. We just went along with him not believing that the green was from veggies. I also picked up a bunch of kale, so maybe I'll try to make a homemade smoothie with my new stick blender I got for Christmas.