22 April, 2013

Hunting for Critters

     Well, it's that time of year again.  The woodpecker is knocking, the frogs are croaking, and the geese are honking on their way back from the south.  It's time to critter hunt!  This year already we have found snails, caterpillars, lady bugs, squirrels, pheasants, frogs and many kinds of stingers.  Lil' Mama has even been stung already and the snow has just barely left us!
     While we were at Cricket's house Friday the kids spent plenty of time trying to capture poor innocent amphibians, mainly frogs.  Spaz was especially talented at the catching part, he snagged several of them.  Of course we tried to discourage them from holding onto them too long because the frogs didn't seem overly fond of their predicament.
     Turns out frog's eyes don't actually pop out when they are poked, so Cricket photoshopped the frog above to reflect the mood.  I think it came out pretty darn cute. That frog was surprisingly content and didn't try to hop away like most frogs would.  In fact, I think it rather liked being the focus of the camera.  Don't believe me?
     Have you gone critter hunting yet this year?  Find or catch anything good?

Camp Out During the Day

     Just because you have a tent doesn't mean you have to go spend the night in the woods somewhere.  You can have just as much fun right in your own back yard.  And this weekend, we did.  Streaker has a birthday on Monday and was really itching to get a tent set up, so we decided to give her a present early.  It was her very own tent.  It happens to already be damaged, but we will look past that and get to the fun of it all.
      It so happens that the Maine camping season is not as long as we would like.  Unless you have a heater, you can't start spending the night outside until June.  We have definitely made plans to do just that, but for the mean time, we needed daytime fun.
     So after the set-up, which was really easy, we took turns playing bear and shaking the tent from every which angle every few seconds.  The girls inside would scream and laugh so hard and so loud that there really was no separating the two sounds.  And the person outside had fun just watching them squirm with fear.  We also had some giggles over the funny hair the girls all seemed to get when inside the tent.
     Baby Bee had different plans with our old Goodwill doggie tent.  She slept for quite some time, which is just fine because she tends to burn very easy, and under the tent she was perfectly safe from those nasty sun rays that plague her.  The tent was so fun that we decided to bring it to Auntie Cricket's house to share with the boys.  Lil' Riot and Spaz had a great time camping out in the day.  Even The Gamer got in on the fun for a few minutes.
     Of course no fun comes without a few rules.  There was absolutely no horsing around allowed inside the tent or any eating either.  That didn't seem to stop the kids from having fun, possibly because they paid little attention to the horsing around rule.  We'll definitely be adding more tents to our backyard this summer.   The new one was only about $23 at Walmart, so it will be something we can add to the girls' birthdays this year without too much strain on the wallet.
     We also set up a fire at Cricket's and had fun with some more camping activities, stay tuned for those posts.
     Have you ever done a daytime camp out?

15 April, 2013

Firmoo Review

     My daughter has astigmatism.  I was surprised to first hear that she may need glasses after a routine eye check at school.  She had passed her Kindergarten test with no real concerns.  But come 1st grade, all of a sudden there was definitely concerns.  We knew she would need glasses.  She was nervous about the idea of being seen in glasses, so to calm her worries, I decided that I would make myself an eye appointment and we could do this whole thing together.  Having never worn glasses, I knew I was in desperate need for an eye exam and I knew I probably would need my very first pair.  I was actually glad when I received a prescription (though a small one) because it meant that The Big One wouldn't be by herself in that venture.  But when I went to choose frames out for myself, I was told that my insurance would not cover glasses for me, but only for my children.
     I went a year without glasses waiting for the funds to cover a pair.  Then I did finally get a pair from online and it lasted a month or so before my children destroyed them.  They used to like to play with such things, and so I waited a bit longer and got another pair, but accidentally ordered them with a strong tint which I thought to be transitions that would clear up indoors.  No luck, I really only use them while driving.
     So I went another whole year without glasses.  I think my eyes are probably worse now.  But I am happy to say that I have new glasses again and they are the best I have owned.  I don't have to keep reshaping the ear pieces or adjusting the nose bits.  It's just a comfortable and stylish pair.  Though they are made of plastic, I have no worries about them breaking anytime soon.  They feel VERY strong.
     These glasses are from Firmoo.  I had heard about Firmoo in the past.  My sister owns a few pair and she had only good things to say about them.  After seeing them in person, I had to agree that they were awesome.  So I checked out their online eyeglasses store and saw how easy it was to navigate.  Right away I was able to choose to see only women's frames and from there I was able to choose to see only the style frame that I knew I would look good in, which is rectangle.  There were lots of great options for my favorite frame style.  So I decided to use the Virtual Try-On feature on the site.  It showed me what I would look like in the frame that I chose.
     What I love about the Firmoo online store is not only that it is super easy to find the look you are going for, but that you can tell if the glasses will fit you before even opening the individual frame's page.  You get a page full of choices and each choice comes with everything you need to decide if you even want to look at the pair up close.  You can see the measurements in the upper left and the price in the lower right.  You can also see whether they are eligible for single, bifocal or progressive lenses on the bottom along with their average overall rating among customers who have purchased them.  And if you happen to have other questions or needs, they have a great help section with the most frequently asked questions.
     I opted to get a pair of unisex full frame acetate glasses.  It came in the mail after a minimal wait (about a week and a half) and came with a drawstring case, a hard case, a repair kit and quite possibly the best lens cleaning cloth ever.  I love that the screwdriver from the repair kit is a key chain, that is a great little feature for someone like me.  The hard case is very sturdy and about the size of my billfold wallet.  I am glad to have the soft case as well and I think I will use it for my sunglasses to keep them safe in the van.
     These glasses will only set you back $39 plus S&H, which is crazy when you consider that I would have had to pay $80 for JUST the frames at my local eye wear store for the very cheapest they have.  That doesn't include the lenses themselves or shipping.  It also doesn't include a hard case or repair kit.  But Firmoo is amazing in that they have a program where you can get your first pair absolutely free.  Because they are giving away free eyeglasses, they do ask for S&H which is a good deal at just $6.95!  That is an insane deal!
     Have you ever used Firmoo?  Are you going to now?  You can't beat $6.95 for a new set of prescription eye wear :)

Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

11 April, 2013

Freezer Paper Stenciled T-Shirt Tutorial

     In just a few short days our followers have gone from zero to fifty!  That's just terrific!  I hope you all are out having fun with your kids this week.  My kids and I have big plans today and I hope I can share them with you tonight or tomorrow, depending on if we finish the projects tonight.
     But for now, I thought I would share a project my sister and I did last year with the kiddos.  It was a dollar store project, so for all the kids and us, it only cost me about $9!  We had bleach and freezer paper on hand, but if you don't, you can also find bleach at the dollar store and freezer paper runs at about $2.39 for the cheap brand at my local store.
      Here's what we did.  First, you draw up a design for the t-shirt.  My sister made a coffee shirt inspired by a favorite coffee cup and I chose a Pepsi design.  The kids got designs to best suit their interests at the time.  Then you draw that design onto a piece of freezer paper IN REVERSE and cut it out using scissors or an Xacto knife if the design is complex.  When the design is cut out, place it carefully onto the shirt in the spot you want it and iron it well to be sure that all edges are firmly pressed into the shirt.   This creates a seal so that the bleach will not penetrate.
     Next, hang the shirts onto an outside laundry line or tree branch.  We put white kitchen bags inside to prevent the backs of the shirts from being bleached.  You could use card board as well, or any random thing that will fit and protect the back side.  Then you spray with a bleach/water mixture.  I fully recommend doing this on a sunny day.  We did this on a cloudy day and as a result, some shirts did not show that they were bleaching when in fact they were.  Strange, I know, but trust me on this one.  Sunny day.
      So we sprayed the shirts with a little bleach, or in some cases a lot and let them sit on the line.  In some cases, we prayed it thick to let the bleach drip and make cool lines running down the shirts.  When the shirt is bleached to your liking, soak it in a bucket of water immediately to stop the bleaching process, then run it in your dryer to wear it.  Or if you are more patient then we were, you can run it through both the washer and the dryer. Here are a few of our results:
     The Good:
     The Bad:
     And the downright Ugly:

     But we learned through trial and error how to fix these mistakes and will be doing it again this summer.  I hope you give it a try.  If you do, please leave a comment letting us know how you did or what you learned in the process :)

02 April, 2013

Bird Nest Tutorial

     What a beautiful day it is today. The past week it has been Winter all over again and I've been pretty down about it, but today God put an end to his little funny and let Spring come back. Thank heaven for it, we are all done with Winter in this home.

      As we walking back back from the bus stop, we came upon some old cut grass on the lawn from last year that had been buried under the snow for months. It was grass and not straw, so it was thin, dry, and brittle and I knew it would be perfect for our bird nest project. So we gathered some up quick as a jiffy and went straight home.

     Next we gathered some mud from the driveway and added some water to make it easier to use. Those are the only two things you need to make a nest, so we were good to go.
     First we took a small clump of flattened grass and put a dollop of mud on top. We then topped it with another clump of grass and smooshed it flat, like a small disc.
     After we had a good base disc, we put a small string of mud around part of the edge and worked a small amount of grass into it and shaped the edge. As we went we found that a bigger and more sturdy base was a must, so we added more inside the middle of the nest and around the outside for support.
     It didn't turn out too badly I don't think. The girls had some trouble with shaping and general construction. If I had to rate this project, I would definitely day it is difficult. Lil' Mama did okay, but needed some help. Boss Lady did okay, but the Lil' Miss had a lot of trouble and asked continually for help. All ended up fairly nest-shaped and they all were happy with their creations though, so all is well.
     We've made some papier mache eggs that we are going to paint to go inside of them when they are done drying. I am not sure where these will end up just yet, maybe on the mantle shelf. The girls want to leave them for the birds to use, but I am not so sure that a bird will use a man made nest. We'll see I guess. Ever try to make a nest? How did it come out?

Kair Bath Visor Review

     Streaker washed her own hair yesterday.  It's a milestone for her, she always has me wash it IF she lets anyone wash it at all.  Last year, we went months with her refusing to let anyone wash it.  I did manage to wash it during that time, but nowhere near as often as it should have been, and I had to threaten to get it done.  Loss of toys, among other things finally spurred her to begrudgingly tolerate it enough to get it done with.
     In fact, only one of the girls lets me wash their hair without a fight, and only if she has a washcloth to cover her eyes while I do it.  It is terrible the way they are so scared of it.  I don't remember ever being scared, probably because back then tear-free MEANT tear-free.  I remember actually rubbing the shampoo onto my eyeball when I was a kid to test the promise on the bottle.  Stupid move for sure, but it didn't hurt at all.  However, I remember a few years ago, I got some "tear-free" shampoo in my eyes, and it wasn't pleasant.  It's no wonder the girls don't want their hair washed.
     Thank goodness for the Kair Bath Visor!  It's a silicone visor with an air cushioned headband that is super soft and contours to any head shape.  It guarantees that there are no leaks down the face while you are washing your kids' hair.
     Streaker loved it from the moment she saw it.  She likes to wear it even out of the shower, but she asked immediately if she could take one to test it out.  So we started the shower and she got in.  She was all smiles when I checked on her a few minutes later and she was very eager to wash her hair (!!!!!)  I was stoked, anything to get her excited about washing her hair is a miracle.  So I gave her some shampoo and helped her collect all of her hair into the top and she began washing.
     At this point, it did slide down her face a few times, I think she had gotten some soap between her head and the visor when she adjusted it.  After we rinsed her off, we tried flipping the visor upside down, like a normal visor would be worn and it seemed to help with that issue because the water from the shower stopped pooling behind the shield.
     Next time we will make sure not to put her under the water until it is time to rinse if she is wearing the visor.  That way, the water will stay behind the shield part and not pool and get too heavy.  But it worked very well considering that it was so slippery from her readjusting it.  It did just as it promised and kept the water out of her face.  (Don't mind the water streaming down her face in that last pic, that was because she stepped under the shower head... silly girl).
     We are in love :)  She washes her own hair now, does a good job without fear of painful eyes, and will rinse without washcloths or crying.  It is amazing.  Look, she's smiling!  That is definitely a success in my book.
     I am very grateful to have the Kair Bath Visor and I do recommend it to any parent with fussy kids, especially those with an actual tub and no sprayer.  This is a lifesaver for sure.  And it comes in blue and green too!
     Do you use any tricks or special products to make your bath time go more smoothly?

Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Poopendous by Artie Bennett Book Review

     So, my kids find potty humor funny.  I'm not sure why, they aren't exposed to it at home.  I usually frown at such things and I have not ever really been known to laugh at it.  It just doesn't strike me as funny I guess so much as just... gross.  However, I do enjoy their infectious laughter when they are calling each other "Poopyhead" or "Fartface".  They mean nothing by it and even the person being called "Butthead" is laughing hysterically.  They seem to laugh most at potty humor than they do most anything else.
     At some point you have to decide to just join them.  And while you won't be hearing me call anyone "Booger Licker" anytime soon, I did find a very funny book that the girls love and actually opt to read.  And any book that makes my kids read is welcomed in this house!  Especially when it is funny and educational, even for us adults.
     Introducing Poopendous by author Artie Bennett!  He is the very same Artie who wrote The Butt Book, his spin on Suess's The Tooth Book and The Foot Book.  Poopendous is his follow-up of The Butt Book, is full of awesome illustrations and silly verses, and it's all about poo!  You learn all about the different names and uses for poop, as well as lots of other facts on the subject.  Did you know wombats poop in cubes?  It's true, Google it!
     The girls love the book.  Punk says the author does a pretty good job and her favorite part is when the lady stepped in doggy doo.  She thought that was pretty funny.  Streaker loved the way it read and also liked the part with the lady the best.  And baby Bee, well... she just liked the poop :)
     When The Big One started reading it, she was joined by not one, but two of her sisters who came to listen.  Just hearing all the different words for poop sent them running to see what she had.  It kept their attention and they loved looking at the pictures and discussing what was happening.  Illustrator Mike Moran did a wonderful job.
     Wanna hear some trivia on the subject?  Thought you did :)
      Courtesy of Artiebennett.com:
     Young, elephants, koalas, pandas, and hippos eat the feces of their mothers or other animals in the herd to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest vegetation found on the savanna and in the jungle. When they are born, their intestines do not contain these bacteria (they are completely sterile). Without them, they would be unable to obtain any nutritional value from plants.
   Traditional Chinese medicine uses poop from flying squirrels to treat a variety of ailments, from snakebites to menstrual cramps. It's believed to promote blood circulation, thus relieving pain, and is served as a beverage, like tea.
   British composer Jon Hering has premiered a new work entitled "Number Two." It was "written" by birds, which placed the notes by pooping on a piece of paper with musical scale lines that was positioned under their perch.

     I definitely recommend Poopendous for any parent.  It's entertaining as well as educational, we love it :)

What's your favorite kids' book?
Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
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