We recently moved into a new home and left our son’s bunk bed in Texas.
In the midst of packing and unpacking, we still haven’t had time to go out and find a new one, but after looking around, we figured out that we had everything we needed to give our son a room he’d love!
Our little boy wants to be Paleontologist, loves Indiana Jones, Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, and Nature, so it made sense to turn his room into a Nature Explorer-Adventurer’s Campsite using our family’s camping and outdoor gear.
First, we set-up the 4-Person Tent in the middle of the room. We laid down the area rug to help the mattress stay in place, to protect the tent floor, and to give our son something soft to walk around on inside his new bedroom tent.
Once we blew up the mattress and positioned it in the center of the tent, we put on our son’s bedding.
(Mom Confession! I was tempted to purchase new dino-themed bedding, but stopped myself. The goal was to make use of what we had on hand to make this bedroom!)
Once the bed was set-up, we “sandbagged” the edges of the tent with rolled blankets and quilts to aid stability. This actually was a help for Mom since I was running out of places to store the extra linen!
We placed a small bedside table next to the mattress with a T-rex nightlite, a flashlight, and his favorite animal stories.
His yellow lawn chair fit the theme perfectly so we positioned outside of the tent for reading, and for holding his safari vest and adventure hat.
We reserved a space in the room (not pictured) for him to display his favorite dinosaurs and crocodiles, and to store his habitat-building kit, books, and a small bin of kinetic sand.
This was a simple and inexpensive kid’s bedroom solution and our children absolutely love it!
The best thing about it is that we can keep the tent up as long as he still loves it, and then pack it away for family camping trips!
We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.
SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!
It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!
When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!
They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!
The most interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!
You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.
I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!
It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!
The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!
We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.
Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!
It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….
And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!
This year we wanted to do something fun and nature-oriented for Teacher Appreciation Week!
You might remember the kids’ School Supply Cake last year? That was a fun project, too!
To Make The Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gifts You See Here, You Will Need:
We found some pretty little glass bottles at a craft store and our daughter wanted to place dandelion wisps inside for her teachers.
The children picked the last dandelion we could find in our backyard for this project!
Surprisingly, one dandelion was plenty to fill 9 little glass jars!
The kids placed one to two dandelion seeds into each glass jar.
Handling the seeds and getting them into the small openings was a fantastic fine motor skills activity!
We tried to keep the wispy parts of the flower attached to the seed because we just love the way they look inside the bottles!
Some Quick Tips:
We had more seeds and wisps to add, but we loved the simple, beautiful look of each bottle with one to two seeds.
The remaining seeds DO look quite pretty in the extra bottles…
I helped the kids with the last part of the gift by cutting 36″ lengths of thin, tan leather cord for each of the bottles the kids had prepared.
I tied the knots around the neck of each bottle and then knotted the very ends of the cord so that the teachers could use the bottles as a necklace or lanyard.
The very last thing we did to complete the gift was to develop a short poem called a Haiku to give with the gift.
HERE IS A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE JAPANESE POEM CALLED “HAIKU”:
I realized after we settled on our finished poem for the teachers, that we had mixed up the number of syllables.
Instead of 5-7-5, our poem was set to a 7-5-7 rhythm.
Apparently, English-Contemporary Haiku has been breaking the rules for some time now, so I’m going with “It’s an English-Contemporary Haiku Pattern”.
Here is our English-Contemporary Haiku the kids helped to develop for their teachers!
~Tricia, Critters And Crayons
One of the festivals we absolutely love to attend each year in Laredo is the Kite Festival in March.
Today, we attended our fourth.
This means that we have attended since our children were in diapers, nursing, learning to crawl, learning to walk, learning to talk….all the way up to this year.
This year is the first year both children are past all of those milestones, but they can also both hold their own kites, fly their own kites, and be genuinely interested in holding and flying their own kites.
They can do these things after getting just a little bit of help by Mom or Dad to catch the wind, of course.
I have to say, though, there is one truth that appears to be self-evident and inviolable.
If I had a fortune cookie message to foretell my future or offer sage advice about taking more than one child to any Kite Festival alone, it would read:
“Winds Favor The Wise Parent Who Is Not Outnumbered By Children Or Kites.”
Another possible fortune cookie message might bring a different perspective while delivering the same message:
“One Foolish Parent With Two Children At Kite Festival
Will Be Entangled In The Strings Of Crashed Kites.”
Each year, we pile into the mini-van on a beautiful, but very hot day, with our newly selected kites. We walk to the festival from our distant parking spots.
We find a plot of land that is not completely marshy and that is not so packed with people that we might get one of our kites airborne.
But, the unspoken and unfair Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents ALWAYS kicks in.
That law, in case you have not experienced it firsthand is:
“Your Child’s Kite Will Only Fly When Your Other Child’s Kite Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”
And this Law is also supported by a couple of Theorums:
“The Vertical Height Of One Child’s Kite Is Directly Proportional To The Vertical Drop Of Your Other Child’s Kite.”
“If You Rescue One Child’s Kite By Gaining Wind Resistance By Running,
You Will Surely Run Through A Mudhole Where You Sink 3 Inches Before Kite Still Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”
(Seriously, I cannot believe they didn’t move the first time.)
But, do you know what?
I’m certain we’ll be back, again, next year.
We may have muddy shoes and ankles, and some tangled kite string, and maybe even some occasionally frustrated children who haven’t completely grasped how to keep their kites in the air for longer than a few minutes, but, overall, we’re making some serious improvement.
Next year, we may be able to break that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents and its supporting Theorums.
Maybe, our Fortune Cookie Message, if we had a fortune cookie with a message about the Kite Festival, might read:
“Outnumbered Parent At Kite Festival Will See Two Kites In Air Simultaneously.”
“You Will Not Trip On Tangled Kite Strings This Year.”
That would be cool.
But, maybe next year this fortune could really happen:
“You Will Remember To Wear Crappy Shoes To Places Where You Know You Will Run Through Mud.”
And, maybe, just maybe, some folks will get this fortune cookie message:
“Picnicker Who Moves After Kite Crashes Into Face Finishes Rest Of PB&J In Peace.”
But, I want to wish “Cheers” to all of the families out during the pretty Spring Days doing these kinds of activities.
There is humor in them, and sometimes, a little frustration.
Yes. Sometimes, you cave to the frustration after that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents kicks you in the teeth and ruins your shoes, again…when those imaginary fortune cookies foretold the future you should have predicted yourself.
For instance, I FINALLY cut the streamers completely off of one kite, and even sliced clean through the strings from the kite handle to regain the circulation to my legs after a near tourniquet had been formed by an errant kite with a very strong and determined child yanking on the other end.
I DID offer to pay the screaming child for the damage but she ran off to find her parents before I could give her any money.
(Um…..Really Sorry About That If It Belonged To Your Kid And You’re Reading This Now After Wondering Why Your Wailing Kid Brought Back A Kite Frame, But I Couldn’t Feel Anything Below My Ankle…..)
Days Like Today Are Never Boring. The Never-Boring Days Are The Real Memory-Makers.
THESE REALLY ARE THE DAYS WE ALL WILL REMEMBER.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO A KITE FESTIVAL?
My kids often surprise us with the unspeakably comical things that they say.
They also make us pause when their questions require an honest and thoughtful answer.
We’re coming off of a holiday trip that bore some of the typical challenges of traveling during an already busy season.
Sometimes, reality didn’t match the idyllic scenes in a Hallmark Movie for the various tugs and pulls of life, and family, and obligations.
Essentially, it was a normal holiday season- one that many might relate to, and one that might lead a child to ask a simple, but very thought-provoking question of her parents like our six-year old daughter did tonight on the way back from a drugstore where we bought vitamins for immunity support to stave off any more festive seasonal illness-on-the-go.
I could have answered her quickly with a fleeting and dishonest, “YES! It’s Super Easy!”, but I’ve got a sort of rule about not lying about that kind of stuff.
I don’t want to be the Army Recruiter who promises someone a job in a highly marketable computer field who then lands him in a basement working with dot matrix printers circa 1985. That’s just bad Mommy PR. So, I told her the truth.
Our First Grader looked concerned so I elaborated,
Our daughter was confused.
I didn’t have any concrete examples to give in that second.
I may have blanked on examples but our daughter threw one out. She said,
I didn’t think I could put it any better myself so I told her that was pretty much exactly right.
Really, that is about the best metaphor I could think of that I didn’t think of at all.
Maybe, to complete the parallel, I could have added a few crash-and-burns at the bottom of the hill, some broken sleds, or a dud slope or two to round out the analogy, but I felt pretty good she now understood that something can be TOTALLY NOT EASY while still being simultaneously TOTALLY AWESOME.
It’s Not Easy Having Kids. But, It IS Freaking Awesome.
So, to wrap it all up in a nice, pithy little phrase:
Time is scarce so our elf, is very thankfully, not too into mischief and messes.
He IS a very curious Elf, though.
Each morning, the kids find him on top of something that came from a different place in the world.
And, each evening, we sit down at the computer together and they excited ask questions about whatever it is that they found the Elf sitting on or in or under that morning.
We simply Google Away together.
And, each image or map or costume they see triggers another question and another search.
An example of what our curious Elf On The Shelf taught the kids this morning when they found him on the Mongolian String Instrument was that it was not simply a “HORSEY BANJO”, which is what they called it when they found Snowflower Flaky Sassypants sitting on top of the traditional horse-handle like a rocking horse.
The kids now know that Snowflower The Elf is NOT simply sitting on a Horsey Banjo.
So far, we’ve explored Mexico, Afghanistan, and Mongolia alongside our very globally curious Elf On A Shelf.
I wonder where she’ll take us tomorrow?
One thing I am over the moon about is that our 6 year old girl loves to play basketball.
It is pretty much the only sport I know how to play.
I am nearly 40 years old and truly have no concept of what “fourth down” or “offsides” means. Basketball is IT.
It has been amazing to watch a team of girls go from not knowing how to simply dribble at the try-outs, to watching them practice fast break drills.
The hoops are lower and the rules at this early level of girls basketball can pretty much be boiled down to the following,
“You Are Allowed To Travel All You Want,
Just As Long As You Remember To Double-Dribble In Between!”
They often forget.
It is a real highlight to watch a little ponytailed girl fight for the ball, and with exuberant intent, take off down the court in a full sprint, protecting that ball like it’s the hot Black Friday Toy Of The Year.
One thing that all of our girls can do this year is protect the ball. We have come up with a drill wherein the first one to grab the rebound or the fumbled ball yells, “I’ve got it!” so that team-mates don’t continue to try to wrestle it from her.
WE ACTUALLY PRACTICE NOT STEALING FROM OURSELVES.
One of the funniest things to see in a game is how desperately and self-sacrificially these 6 year olds will throw themselves on a basketball, and how difficult it is to pull it from their grasps. The person who seems to have the most difficult time getting the ball out of a little girl’s hands is the referee.
You can often see the referees attempting to get the ball after repeated pleas for it. When they get ahold of it, they nearly lift the determined girl’s body up as a rigid unit since she has encased the ball in a tight fetal position, sealed with the resilience of Super Glue, eyes closed, and with a clenched will to NOT LET GO.
We may also not have our shots perfected, but they are generally headed in an upward AND forward direction.
This is a vast improvement from where we started 2 months ago.
Getting the ball INTO the basket, or simply NEAR the lowered basket, is on the long-term training agenda. Just you watch. We’ll be swishing soon.
It is helpful to remember that these are skills that are cumulative.
We’re going to get it.
Besides, these young ladies and future UCONN Point Guards and Forwards have already demonstrated a tenacious spirit and drive to WIN.
As you can see, they are a formidable bunch in pink.
Attentive. Driven. Ready To Go!
The diminutive hoopsters with matching pink hairbows (which will surely result in technical fouls in later years if worn during a game) are pounding the court!
On those hairbows, the greatest problem with them is not that they are particularly hazardous in the under-the-basket brawls for the ball.
It is that they tend to fall out, and the little girls spend their time searching for the fallen bows on the court rather then focusing on their part of the zone defense.
It’s a little comical to watch. “I Got Her! I Got Her! Wait a minute. Where’s my hairbow? There it is by the boundary line!”
And a nice little hole is made for the fast break straight to the basket.
Often, the little girls end up tossing their hairbows to mom in the sidelines as they run up the court after a basket was made because they were obliviously searching for their lost hair bows.
Even so, the B Team is waiting with baited breath for the chance to go in and redeem that error!
We’re down by 2! Put Me In, Coach!
I have absolutely no idea why we lost.
We’ve got ‘em.
We may have lost the basketball game, but some of these girls were TOP DOG in Rock Paper Scissors.
My daughter can often be overheard after a hard-won Handsie-Game on Sidelines as saying, “ROCK ALWAYS WINS! I LOVE ROCK!”
And, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t just lose because second string likes to play Say Say My Playmate.
Lots of parents want to know what the Red Shirt Policy is.
Some of those opposing team kids look like they’ve already started memorizing multiplication tables.
They probably already know how to tie their shoes and keep their letters facing the right direction. I bet their lower case “b’s” don’t look like “d’s”, anymore.
It can’t possibly be this.
Just give us a couple of years.
It’s All Cumulative.
We’re working on dribbling without looking, fast break drills, a crippling man-to-man defense, and a very cool double-back-hand-reverse slap for Say Say My Playmate, in the meantime.
DO YOUR KIDS PLAY SPORTS IN EARLY ELEMENTARY?
ANY FUNNY OBSERVATIONS?
PLEASE DO SHARE!
** HUMOR DISCLAIMER: I am by no means implying that there is any wrongdoing by any teams in the league we play in. That snippet about the Red Shirt policy was thrown in for comedic effect. I’m sure there are lots of reasons for 5 ft tall 1st graders with uncommon hand and eye coordination to abound on some teams.**
They just a find a way to get over the minor obstacle of competent verbal communication.
One of the best aspects of living on the US/Mexico border is the opportunity for our children to experience a different culture and language.
I was reminded of this today as my children played at an indoor play area.
I posted about it on the Critters And Crayons Facebook Page and realized that such a great thing really warrants its very own blog post.
Our 6 year old daughter ran around playing tag with a new friend.
She ran up to me and said,
I asked how they played that game. And our daughter answered,
I noted how brilliant that was.
It is, isn’t it?
That’s something children have figured out.
A reader commented on Facebook, “And a child shall lead them.”