Tuesday, August 31, 2010

National Trail Mix Day with Kids!

Trail mix, also called GORP, has been around for thousands of years. Trail mix is a high energy mix of food that usually does not need to be specially stored and you usually do not have to cook it before you eat it.

Indians had Pemmican which was dried animal meat with some animal fat and some berries. This was used to make rubbaboo which is s stew thickened with flour water and maple.

Two acronyms for the word GORP, an alternate name for trail mix, are Good Old Raisins and Peanuts and Granola Oats Raisins and Peanuts. .

Q. Whats Trail Mix called in around the world?
A. In Australia they call trail mix Scroggin.  In Germany it is known as Studentenfutter (students food)

Usually Trail mix is a blend of fruits, nuts, and grains. Some add different flavors and chocolate.

Common ingredients include:

Nuts, such as peanuts or cashews
Dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins
Dried Bananas
Seeds, such as sunflower seeds
Chocolate chips or M&M's
Breakfast cereals
Shredded coconut
Carob chips

There are many mixtures and recipes for granola/trail mix. We love to make our own trail mix too and then we have it on hand at the house. Our recipe that we have made up to fit our own wants and needs consists of old fashioned oats, lots of nuts, dried fruit, sometimes shredded coconut and whatever we can find at a good price or what is in season. We then use a little water and a little Agave mix and bake for 20 minutes and it is delicious. Throughout the year we change our recipe a little to add a few carob chips or sometimes pretzels. The kids love to make this as it is really easy. Trail mix is a very healthy snack to keep around for the kids.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School

The summer is over and a new season is beginning.  Children are headed back to school and a new year of learning is ahead of them.  We believe this should be a happy and exciting time for all kids.  The year ahead is going to be filled with new adventures that we will be reading, doing and discovering.  We will all be learning about things we did not know before, about acquiring new knowledge and applying all of this to our daily lives. 
This year, we are celebrating this occasion with a fun and fabulous party geared especially toward heading back to school.  This was really fun for us and the children.  We started off this year creating an excitement for learning new things and celebrating the things we have already learned.  We applauded the children on their accomplishments so far and reminded them of how much they have gained and accomplished and how wonderful they are.  It’s important that children believe that if they work hard enough they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.  It is really important for children to be excited about learning.  Learning can unlock so many doors to our future giving us the power to act and the knowledge to grow and live on. 
School should be thought of as an adventure that will be fun and exciting and that new challenges should be welcome.  School is a great gift we can give each child and should be thought of as such.  We create a peaceful, learning environment for the children to comfortably learn in and challenge themselves. 
So, with that being said, we had a back to school party at the children’s lunch time. We created a fun and exciting environment using food and decoration.  This gave us a great opportunity to talk to the children about the year ahead and the past year.  We reviewed with the children all we have done since the start of the last school year and what they loved the best and least.  We have created our own bucket lists for the New Year and then compiled those into a master list to refer to throughout the year. (see our "Back to School Party" Post for details and pictures)

INSPIRATION TIME:  (we have compiled a list of our favorites that we have found while researching on the internet, hope you like them....)

Thought this banana dog was adorable from Family Fun, click HERE for more info.

Wow – We think we are completely hooked from this point further on these adorable Cake Pops!!! From Cake Pops Galore - Click HERE to visit her blog and to get the know how! 

Found this website that has a lot of ideas and articles on Back to School Lunches,  http://www.kitchendaily.com/back-to-school

Martha Stewarts Magnetic Lunch Label Chart (Click HERE to get the "how to and HERE to download and print the stickers.

Downloadable FREEBIES (That we found)

This is a Treat Bag that you print and fold yourself - A Nice Welcome Back for the Teacher - Add Cookies, Candy or whatever. Print this landscape on 8 1/2 x 11 Good Card Stock - Enjoy!! You can download it -HERE- or Direct 4-shared link  HERE

Cute Lunch bag sticker labels – HERE and the Round stickers HERE

 Some other cute stickers from Family Fun - HERE is the pdf

Adorable “this book belongs to me” stickers from Orangeyoulocky blog HERE  
Free Gingham Lunch Notes Cards from Executivehomemaker.com, Click HERE for link

This cute list may still come in handy but being the time of the year you probably already have the supplies bought already – there is always next school year - Click HERE to go Executive Homemaker

Check out these adorable snack pack labels you can print and attach to your sandwich bags.  These can be used anytime of the year -click HERE to download from Executive Homemaker 

These are cute...Simply Print and Cut-out these pencil toppers from Family Fun.  These have inspired us to make our own.  The kids will draw or trace the pattern and then just place what they think is cool as their own picture, click HERE and HERE 

FREE Windows School Style FONTS
 (we just love these)

Pencil shaped font HERE

Love this Penman Font that you can download HERE

A few different styles of chalk font HERE

CRAFTS that you can make:

Kids Study Box - Click HERE to for details at Martha Stewart
We are actually going to make these and have Lauren and Matthew decorate them with what they like.  We picked up the cardboard presentation's at our local dollar / party store for $2.00 each. 
Pencil Roll up Kit - Click HERE to for details at Martha Stewart  
Felt Pencil Case - Click HERE to for details at Martha Stewart  
Chalkboard Erasable Labels - Click HERE to for details at Martha Stewart  

Please check back for more ideas.....We are giong to be doing some of these in the next several weeks.  We will be adding to this post!

Wendy says she loves this website and uses it throughout every school year.  Its called Goal For it!  and you can visit it here =  http://www.goalforit.com/ .  You can create Chore Charts for the kids, a quick To-Do List, and even a Goals and Habits Chart.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Wrap Up – Summer Sun Party with kids

We had a summer sun party this year. This was a lot of fun. It has really been a hot summer so why not celebrate it.

What better fun food then to have some grilled cheese sandwiches and Lemonade? We also couldn’t resist making these spectacular sunshine cupcakes!
These awesome suns were created by flattening some jelly candies and then cutting them into triangles. We painted faces and sunglasses in black over the yellow. Of course after enjoying our lunch and cupcakes one person at our lunch party found the black icing tube and created a few summer sun monsters with the undecorated cupcakes for the kids to enjoy.

The lesson: As we always do, we inundate our parties with educational information. For this party the kids learned about the suns positioning in the sky and how the earth’s rotation around the sun creates the seasons and where the sun is in the sky during each season.

Activity: For the activity we chose to do for this celebration we took the kids to a beach near my parent’s house. We brought along lots of colorful glass and plaster of Paris. We then had the kids create designs in the sand and then decorate them. They came up with a fish, a jellyfish, a turtle and a sun. These were decorated with some things the kids found along the beach and the colorful glass we brought along. We used the water at the beach and mixed the plaster in a bucket then poured is over the beach creations. This took about ½ hour to harden and then we had really fun summer sun sculptures. This whole project was a lot of fun and we all enjoyed doing this.

We asked the kids what their favorite part of this summer was....

Matthew said "My favorite part of summer was going to Virginia. I love summer so much"

Laurens said "I liked swimming in the ocean"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer Wrap Up – Wild Horses at Assateague with kids

Growing up, one of our favorite books was called Misty of Chincoteague. This is a wonderful story about a wild pony and life on Chincoteague Island. There is even a Misty of Chincoteague Foundation. Their mission statement is: (Marguerite Henry’s love of children, her love for animals, especially horses, and her passion for writing children’s literature is the inspiration for the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to promote in children a love for reading and an appreciation for fine art. The Foundation perpetuates the timeless legend of Misty by preserving and disseminating educational and research material and displaying the Misty of Chincoteague© artwork.) You can find more information HERE

Misty was taken from the island of Assateague which is an island on the Atlantic Ocean that spans the Maryland and Virginia boarder. As far as we understand the ponies that roam the island came from a Spanish Galleon Shipwreck during the 17th century. Since that time they have been roaming the island free and wild. In 1943 Assateague was sold to the U.S. Government for use as a National Wildlife Refuge.

Today, a fence on the state line between Virginia and Maryland separates the island's two herds of about 120-150 ponies each. The National Park Service watches over the Maryland herd on the northern part of the island, and the Virginia ponies - known as "Chincoteague ponies" - are the property of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. http://www.chincoteaguechamber.com/map-pony.html

Each year on the last Wednesday in July, foals and yearlings from the fire company's herd, escorted by Chincoteague cowboys, swim the channel from Assateague to Chincoteague. On Thursday they are auctioned off, and those that are not sold will eventually swim back to Assateague. While pony penning on the islands can be traced back to the 17th century, the modern version was organized in 1924 by the fire company as a fund raiser. You can find more information HERE

So, in the spirit of Fun and Facts with Kids, we had to bring the kids to swim in the ocean and to see the wild ponies that roam in Assateague State Park. We took a special day this year when our niece from Colorado was in town and took her and the kids to the island. We went onto the island on the north side. Before we crossed the bridge to the island we stopped at the Visitors Center. The center was very educational and had many hands-on exhibits. They have tanks where the kids can “pet” and hold some of the sea creature indigenous to the island. They offer maps and very helpful information. We highly recommend stopping here before you venture your way onto the island. We decided to drive into the park and walk on the beach from there. We were able to use Laurens National Park Access Pass, which always makes her happy. While driving to our parking destination we passed 3 horses on the side of the road; two adult horses and a baby which was nursing right there on the side of the road. What a fabulous site and we were so happy we saw the horses right away. After parking we walked to the beach. This beach is so beautiful and majestic. The waves were huge and crashing onto the shore and there were a lot of large seashell for the kids to collect. We waded in the water and all had a fabulous time. Since the water was very strong and there was not a life guard in the area where we were walking we did not swim there but they do have a life guard at a designated spot on this beach. While walking back to the car we stopped to clean our feet in the fountains offered for that purpose and while cleaning our feet, we realized that there were many horses just walking around the parking lot. These horses are so cool to see. They are not afraid of cars or people and they just mosey along eating the grass while you walk past them. This was such a beautiful and exciting thing for the kids to see. Needless to say, it took us a while to walk back to the car as we had to walk over and take picture of the ponies and see them up close. Although we did not take advantage of it Assateague does offer some great ranger guided programs so you can learn about this barrier island and the environment of the island.

For more information visit these sites too:


Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Wrap Up – Williamsburg History with kids

One of the most memorable occasions this summer with the kids was our Family Trip to Williamsburg Virginia. Williamsburg is such a beautiful historic town. Due to Lauren’s disabilities she qualified for a National Park Access Pass. This pass is for life and as a family we were able to visit the parks over and over again at no cost. The access pass is a wonderful park pass that is issued for free to children and people with disabilities. Lauren loves her Access Pass and it makes her very proud and puts a smile on her face when we thanked her for providing our entrance fee.

To find out more about the National Access Pass, check out this site. http://store.usgs.gov/pass/access.html

The Revolutionary and Civil War history in this specific area is so rich that one week was to short to cover everything. One of our days, we headed over to Richmond, Virginia and visited the Tredegar Iron Works. This was a wonderful place for the kids. The kids participated in an entire Ranger Program, each earning a Junior Ranger badge. This experience peaked the kids interest into seeing the entire museum, which is usually difficult at best with Laurens easily over stimulating attributes; thought it would never happen but it did!.

We then spent a great amount of time in Malvern Hill and Glendale going over The Seven Days Battles of the Civil War. This was amazing to see and the rangers in that area are fabulous and so helpful. We went on a few ranger led tours and learned a great deal. We spent a lot of time in Yorktown which is a very beautiful historical town on the York River very close to Williamsburg. (click HERE for more visiting information on Yorktown)

We took another ranger led tour here to learn a great deal of the Revolutionary War. Matthew volunteered and played the part of the Commander of the artillery piece. Basically a group of people recreated the act of firing the cannon. Matthew yelled out the commands, aimed and then yelled FIRE! What a great time we had. For more information on Williamsburg click HERE

On our way home from Williamsburg we stopped in Fredericksburg, Virginia to walk The Sunken Road. We have a family member who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg who served in the 81st Pennsylvania. This town is really beautiful and so full of significance for us. The Sunken Road is a breathtaking site to see and when you realize how huge, dramatic and traumatic this battle was it is really something to experience. The Civil War history to be remembered in this town is really eerily phenomenal. What a tragic battle during the War Between the States. This is a place I really think should be taken in by seeing it in person. Again, all the rangers here are fabulous and extremely helpful. We really enjoyed our time here.

Check out this site to find out more about Fredericksburg Virginia. http://www.nps.gov/frsp/

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Wrap Up – Whale Watching and Fossil Hunting with kids

We wanted to share our “just girls” trip with you to talk about the experiences that we were able to come home and teach the kids about. We had a terrific opportunity to go fossil hunting and whale watching. We took a quick (yes I actually mean quick) driving trip from Pennsylvania to Brier Island in Nova Scotia where we had the great pleasure of taking a Whale Watching Zodiac boat trip out on the Bay of Fundy. We truly came back with unforgettable memories and unexpected teachings. When we returned home the kids we in all about what we saw and found, that of course, they can’t wait till they have the same opportunity.

On our way up we stayed overnight in Alma, New Brunswick Canada. We then visited Hopewell Rocks. This was really neat because the tide comes in so fast and so high there. You can literally walk on the ocean floor and then kayak over it all in a day! (click HERE for more information on Hopewell Rocks Park)

Picture on Left is the of Wendy at the bottom when we first got there. 

Picture on Right is the of Kristen after only being there for 18 minutes!

On our over to Nova Scotia we stopped at a fantastic place called Joggins Fossil Cliffs. This is a wonderful place where, due to the great tides of the Bay of Fundy, the cliffs are eroding and leaving many fossils showing in the cliffs and also lying on the beach. We spent many hours looking at all the unique fossils just lying around. There is a ranger on the beach at all times that you can bring your finds to and she or he can tell you what fossil you have found. You have to leave all fossils on the beach so that everyone can enjoy them. The rangers can also show you some fossils in the cliffs. This was such an enjoyable time; we are both so glad we took the opportunity to experience those cliffs. (click HERE for more information on Joggins Fossil Cliffs)

The next day on our trip we headed down to Brier Island and after donning our floatation suites, boarded a small raft called a zodiac and headed out to the middle of the Bay of Fundy. It was a mystical foggy day on the Bay and to be honest we were worried we would not be able to see anything. After we reached the destination the guide wanted to take us to because he had just found a group of whales there the previous day, he stopped the boat and told us to just listen. All of the sudden you heard the most wonderful sound, the sound of a whale spouting out water while we were sitting in the heavy fog. The feelings rendered by this experience are indescribable. It was truly phenomenal. He then maneuvered the boat closer to the whales and before you knew it we were sitting in the middle of a pod of about 25 Humpback Whales. Before our eyes, the whales emerged from every direction! You didn’t know which way to turn your head to try and take a picture. This was truly a moment in both our lives. What a unbelievable, most beautiful experience to have such gigantic mammals around us. They sometimes were so close you almost to reach over and touch them. We even saw them directly under our zodiac. You then get a sense of how small humans really are. The majesty of these creatures is stated boldly in their quiet gracefulness. Hopefully everyone will get to experience this wonder sometime as we are very grateful to have that moment in our lives. (click HERE for more information on Brier Island Zodiac Whale Watching)

Here is a short video we took on our Zodiac Tour:

Some additional pictures:

Bald Eagle we saw:

Puffin that we saw:

More Fossil Pictures:

This one below is Wendy lost in all rocks and fossil's - She couldn't have felt more comfortable with love of rocks!

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