Monday, April 29, 2013

Our Family Summer Bucket List!

Every year we sit down together as a family and each of us comes up with ideas of some activities we want to do during the Summer. Then at the beginning of the Summer I try to plug them all into our calender with a back up activity in case of  rain or some unforeseen incident.Of course some ideas might not make it on our calender and, others not listed here might make our calendar.  Here is a copy of our list. Some are activities we did last year and, some are new ideas. I can't wait for Summer time to get here.

*Go for a hike                      *Make Family Park Quest shirts
*Take a bike ride                  *Paint a Canvas
*Go canoeing                       *Make ice cream in a bag
*Make Smores                     *Have a bike wash
*Tent camp                           *Visit a carnival
*Play in the sprinkler            *Use oil pastels
*Visit the Library                  *Family game night
*Start a Summer journal       *Go to $ movie theaters
*Strawberry picking              *Visit a nature center
*Go fishing                            *Fort Magic Fun
*Tour an ice cream store        *Iron on our patches to duffel bags
*Go to the beach                    *Sidewalk Chalk
*Go to the lake                       *Eat on the patio
*Go bowling                          *Go to a baseball game
*Have a picnic                       *Cabin weekend
*Have an Outdoor movie       *Ride a horse
*Go to the zoo/petting zoo     *Go to a new park
*Go to a pool                          *Eat Crabs
*Go to a Water Park               *Play in the creek
*Make a salad using our grown vegetables         *Go to bounce place
*Visit a Farmers Market          *Visit Grandma's
*Watch Fireworks                    *Slip and Slide Fun
*See a play                               *Go to a rodeo

** I decided to cross of the items we have done to see if we can complete them all!! **

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekly recap!

What a fun week we had!

Our week consisted of lots of baseball, a nature center visit, starting our vegetable garden, a visit from some beautiful wildlife and, a visit to grandma's house! I'd say it was one of the most fun filled weeks this Spring.

Both my boys are involved in baseball this Spring. It takes up a lot of our time. The youngest plays on a Tee-ball team where he practices on Thursdays and plays his game on mostly Saturdays. The oldest practices 1 day a week (usually a Wednesday) and plays his games 2 days a week (usually Monday and Saturday). So for 4 days out of the week we are at the field. It is stressful and busy at times but, the boys really enjoy it. Carson wants to go everyday and see his friends and hit the ball. Conner has improved so much over the past couple weeks. His confidence is soaring. That's all we ever wanted from baseball was to allow our boys to make new friends, have some fun and, build their confidence up. Conner played in the fall and was very down on himself. Didn't think he was good enough. We have seen leaps and bounds of improvement with that this season. We are so proud of them both.

We are so lucky to live on the land that we do. There are so many wild animals that come to visit. We love to walk around and see what types of tracks we find. Deer, geese, turkey, even a fox print here and there.  This week, while sitting down at the pond we kept seeing this beautiful bird fly above us. We had never seen it before. It's feathers were very black with a peek of red/orange and yellow. We at first didn't see the yellow and thought it must be an Oriole. After taking some pictures and looking through our binoculars we finally saw the yellow. It wasn't an Oriole but, we had no clue what it was. We went indoors and researched it online. We discovered it was a Red Winged Black Bird. Such a very pretty bird. He also has a very distinct call. We enjoyed discovering him and learning about him.
Some fun facts we enjoyed were:
*Only the male is Black with a red shoulder and yellow wingbar. The female is a blackish brown color.
*They enjoy wetlands and marshes especially areas with cattails. (Which we have)
*They make their nest in the cattail brushes usually anywhere between 3in and 14 ft above water.
*One males will protect sometime up to 10 females. He will swoop and attack bigger birds and even have been known to swoop down on humans to scare them away from their nests.

We also had another visit this week from a Great Blue Heron. Again, once we saw him/her we weren't sure what it was. We all thought it was a crane. After pictures and identifying it on the internet, we discover it was in fact a Great Blue Heron (Or so we think). It is such a beautiful heron. Unfortunately, he is eating a lot of her fish. I sort of hope it doesn't stay long. But, I don't want to disrupt it in case it has babies somewhere. We learned a little about this Heron. We aren't sure if our friend is a male or female. We learned that the male are larger and have longer bills. However, we have only seen one so we don't have anything to compare it to. Among our search we also found a live webcam of a beautiful Great Blue Heron couple and their nest. We have really enjoyed watching them take after the nest.

During the weekend we took a trip to a local Nature Center. They were having an event there with venders, live animals and, a turtle demonstration. The boys tasted some herbs. Their favorite was the mint and their least favorite was the basil. They also planted some catnip for our cat Diesel. They held a couple different species of snakes, a toad and, a beautiful wood turtle. We then listen to a presentation about different turtle species we can find in out state. The boys really enjoyed the event.

Lastly, we started our family vegetable garden. The boys helped weed and dig the garden. We then decided what we wanted to plant. We decided on Broccoli, Green Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash and, Zucchini.  The boys also want to try a couple container gardens too. We're thinking lettuce, strawberries,and a variety of peas and green beans! It is still a little cool for some of our vegetables so we decided to only plant our broccoli this weekend. The boys had fun putting a bit of soil in the holes, placing the broccoli plant in and then covering them back up. It all went very fast as all things with boys do. Next time I think I will slow them down a bit more and have them each do a step with me. I don't think they took time to enjoy the moment.

See Conner is so fast, I hardly got any pictures with him. Except silly ones! ;)

Overall, we had a very fun with nature week. We can't wait for warmer weather and more outdoor activities. Come back as I update everyone on our life-cycle of the toads and frog in the pond. We finally have tadpoles!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ice Cream Magic Review

Conner has been wanting to start a You Tube page where he takes fun kids items, and talks about his favorite and least favorite things about the items. I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. He could help children see what the items look like out of the box and see if they really work.

I also thought it would be a great idea to have Conner use his creativity. Something he struggles with a bit. I allowed him to pick a product under a certain price point. I told him I wasn't very good at editing so he had to allow it to be raw. He originally wanted a intro and sound effects. Momma is good but not that good, buddy!!

Conner decided to do his video on the Ice Cream Magic. We have all seen the infomercial I am sure. It claims to allow a child to make ice cream in 3 minutes with little to no assistance.  Here was Conner's take on the product and some fun pictures of his brother trying it too.

I think over all the experience went really well. He had a lot of fun. He described the product well. He came to a conclusion if he thought other children would enjoy it. I think we will be doing more videos soon.

*Product Review Disclaimer: I bought this product on my own with my own money. I was not paid or sponsored by the product makers. All thoughts and opinions were solely my sons. *

Continuing our Pond Study

We are continuing our pond study this week with learning the life-cycle of our toads and frogs. However, I wanted to share with you something we did last week to learn the difference between our new little friends in the pond.

Last week, while taking our walk around the pond the boys were pointing out what they saw. They kept calling out frog, toad, bull frog but, they had no clue what was what. I shared with them the difference between the amphibians. I talked to them about their appearances, and where they lived. After discussing with them these difference. They went around telling me which was which. They got most of them correct.

The next day, I wanted to test Carson to see if he remembered. I found this really cool free printable over at Deceptively Educational of a frog and toad. I printed that out on some heavy card stock for Carson to paint. After he was done painting them, we discussed which one he thought was the frog. (The drawings are a bit hard to tell the difference) He figured out the frog was the one with the skinnier, longer legs with webbed toes. The top half of the two drawings really had no difference, so we discussed what in real life was the difference between the frog and toad's skin. Carson continued to tell me the toad's back was bumpy and the frogs was smooth. To represent the toads bumpy skin, we glued on some beans.

Lastly, I helped Carson cut out the frog and toad and we glued them on to their correct habitats. I was really impressed that he remembered most of what we learned out at the pond the day before. He really enjoyed making these. We have since removed them from their habitats and added brads to make them moveable. Carson has been hopping them all around all weekend!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Our Pond Study

We are lucky enough to have a pond on our property. Once we heard the toads calling we knew exactly what we were going to explore next.

We added an old downed tree bench and a small swing set to the pond area for added fun! (Sorry for the piles of leaves...spring has just started and we are just cleaning up the area!)

In the past years the pond on our property has been a big worry for me. I was worried my boys or the neighborhood kids would go down there and something bad would happen. We have instilled in them that no child is allowed down there with out an adult. Only once did they get spoken to due to a curious boy wondering what the pond frozen over felt like. After that talk, we felt that our boys and the neighborhood children understood the rules of the pond. Now that my boys are older I am less worried about the pond yet, we do still have the an adult must be present rule.

We started our pond lesson by, taking a walk around the pond. We made sure to be very quiet. We took note of all the sounds and sights we saw. We heard and saw the toads in the middle of mating season, we saw their eggs, we saw deer prints, tons of fish, lily pads, and even a pretty frog.

We also discussed why the pond was there. Our pond helps keep our yard from flooding. During rain the rain flows down to the pond from our driveway. It then releases slowly out into the wooded area behind our house where it then releases into several creek areas.

The boys really enjoyed feeding the goldfish and observing the pond. We sat on the bench and listened to the toads chatting. It was wonderful.

Up next we discuss the difference between Toads and Frogs. We also get to catch and release a couple!

Welcome to Giggles and Grass Stains!

Hi everyone!

I'm Shannon. I am a mom of 2 active, fun boys. We live in a pretty big city in Maryland. Some of you may already be following me from Momma on the Run. I appreciate you coming on over to my new project!

For the last three years, I have been blogging about my weight loss and running experiences. However, for the past couple months I've been having a hard time getting motivated to write a blog post over there. It's not that I don't still enjoy running. It's just not something I'm doing as much of. The races and training for them were taking up a lot of my family time. Not to mention my PF injury.
My blog post were pretty scarce.

I have been thinking about starting this new blog now for about three months, and finally it's here!! I have in the past heard things like "You're so busy with the boys" "You are so creative with crafts for the boys" "How did you make those?". I figured why not just share them all in one place.

So, enter in Giggles and Grass Stains!!! A blog about my adventures with my family. Trips, days out, crafts, fun activities..etc. During the warmer temps we are always outdoors getting into something. Getting outdoors at least once a day is something our family is very adamant about. We wish that more children and families would spend their time outdoors getting to know nature. I hope that my blog might even help a family see how fun it is and get out there.

Please stick around! Add Giggles and Grass Stains to your favorites list, your blog rolls etc. and, come back and check out what we've got in store. Right now, the boys and I are working on a couple fun things we can't wait to share!!