Friday, January 31, 2014

Geocaching Wilco Park

Our Central Texas weather has been all over the place lately. We had a snow & ice day last Friday. On Sunday, my husband, son, and I went geocaching in light jackets that we ended up taking off. Then, three days later we had another snow & ice day. I thought I would share some pictures from our latest geocaching adventure on Sunday.

We searched for three geocaches and found two of them. We probably walked about 3.5 miles during our outing. My husband and I really think it is a lot of fun. Boogs likes it enough to want to go, but his patience runs out if he can't find what he is looking for quickly enough. I think it is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy the sunshine, and spend time as a family.

This post is linked to:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lunches January 27th - 31st

Boogs' lunches are inspired by the books we read at bedtime the previous evening. Each night, Boogs reads one book to me and I read a book or a chapter of a book to him. I usually post his lunches once a week. Click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post to see lunches from previous weeks. We like to pack our lunches in ELBs and Laptop Lunchboxes.

The Old House by Pamela Duncan Edwards
This poor old house is run down and unloved. No one has lived in it for years. People are beginning to say it should just be knocked down. When a young family stops by to see the house, the squirrel and tree who love the house try to get the house to cheer up and stand tall. The children of the family can imagine themselves swinging from the tree, feeding the birds, and enjoying the wildflowers in the yard. The family bought the house and brought it back to its full glory. Boogs and I talked about taking care of things and not just throwing them out for new stuff. I told him stories of my grandfather's shed. I remember my grandfather repairing all sorts of things from toasters and percolator coffee pots to tractors.

In the ELB lunchbox: almond butter & jelly house, cheese stick clouds, Zbar & broccoli tree, Pringle roof shingles, and berries.

Go To Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox
Groundhog could not get to sleep. He tossed and turned and then finally decided that a walk would help him sleep. He got up had a small adventure and then went back to bed only to wake several more times during his hibernation period. His wakeful times allowed him to experience a little bit of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. He eventually fell asleep for good and was awakened by his alarm clock on February 2nd to find out if there would be six more weeks of winter. 

Boogs and I are hoping that Groundhog does not see his shadow next week. We are ready for warm Spring weather! When Boogs was younger, he used to love the Groundhog song on StarFall. You can find it HERE.

In the ELB lunchbox: boiled egg Groundhog, ham & cheese Turkey, cheese ghost, cheese pumpkin, candy Christmas ornament, berries, salad with orange peppers and radish leaves.

 Lyle at the Office by Bernard Waber
In the ELB lunchbox: Hummus chip as Krispie Krunchie Krackles cereal, pistachios, marshmallow circle graph, ham & cheese Lyle sandwich, cantaloupe, and salad.

Danny's Doodles the Jelly Bean Experiment by David A. Adler
Boogs really enjoyed reading about Danny and his friends, especially about Calvin Waffle. Calvin is a kid Scientist. He is constantly observing and setting up experiments. At the beginning of the book, Calvin has Danny load his pockets with jelly beans for an experiment. It almost drives Danny nuts because Calvin won't let Danny eat the jelly beans or tell him why he should carry them in his pockets every day for a week.  Boogs had a big laugh when he discovered why Calvin tried this experiment. Calvin's observation and theories aren't always annoying to Danny and his friends. In fact, Calvin is able to help them win the big baseball game by using his keen sense of observation to predict the opposing pitcher's fastball, curve ball, and change-up pitches.  Boogs enjoyed reading this book so much, he asked me to see if I could find the sequel for him to read.

In the Laptop Lunchbox: cheese quesadilla baseball diamond, jelly beans, marshmallow baseball, dried apricots, rice & beans, and broccoli.

The Amazing Octopus by Cindy Baker
This book was one of Boogs' reading homework assignments this week. He asked if I could use it to make a fact lunch. Boogs told me these facts were some he thought were interesting enough to possibly put in his lunch box: each arm has 240 suction cups, an octopus fills its body with water and then pushed the water out to propel itself forward at speeds up to 25 mph, it eats fish, crab, lobster, and even sharks, the biggest octopus has 6 ft long arms, the smallest is the size of a freckle, they are smart enough to figure out how to open jars, octopus ink hurts its enemies eyes, and they can regenerate a missing limb.

In the ELB lunchbox: pb&j octopus sandwich, cheese stick missing arm that needs to be regenerated, Goldfish Crackers for its food, 8 carrot tentacles in hummus, and pineapple with an octopus sticker.

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see more book inspired lunches, click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post or go to My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Little Outdoor Fun

We have been indoors a lot lately. Boogs is just finishing up a round of antibiotics for a double ear infection. The cedar pollen count in our area has been at a 17 year high for the past couple of weeks. I cannot go outside when the cedar pollen is up. Last weekend, we took a little break from the pollen by driving three hours north to Dallas for a family gathering. We spent some of our outdoor time jumping on the trampoline at my Uncle's house.

We spent most of our indoor time playing board games.

Boogs has spent quite a bit of time playing with the neighborhood kids. They have been having fun on all of their new riding toys. Boogs really enjoys the motorized ones.

We are having a day off from school today for a "Snow Day". Central Texas is not equipped to handle ice on the roads. Here are a few pics of how we have spent this day off. Too bad we will have to be in school/work on a lovely day in April to make up for being off today.
 Boogs wondered where all the snow was. He is used to snow at Grandmaman's house in Canada.
 Boogs had a great time prying ice off of the driveway.

 Boogs kept breaking big chunks of ice on his forehead. He is a goofy little guy.
 A friend from down the street came by to play and help with the ice removal job.
That would not be easy to drive on.

We should be back to wearing shorts on Sunday when our temperature gets back up to 75 degrees. Here's a link to a wonderful post of fun facts about Austin "Snow". It made laugh because it is so true.

Just because I think this is so cute, here is a picture of Boogs during our last "Snow" storm.
This post is linked to:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Lunches January 20th - 24th

Boogs' lunches are inspired by the books we read at bedtime the previous evening. Each night, Boogs reads one book to me and I read a book or a chapter of a book to him. I usually post his lunches once a week. Click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post to see lunches from previous weeks. We like to pack our lunches in ELBs and Laptop Lunchboxes
 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book? by Lauren Child
I lost track of how many times we read this book this week. Boogs asked me to re-check it out from my school's library so he can read it a few more times. In the story, Herb does not know how to properly take care of books. His books have crumbs and peas smashed in between the pages. There are mustaches drawn on many of the character's faces. Herb even took scissors to cut characters out of some of his books. Herb never gave a thought to his mistreatment of books until the night he mysteriously fell (or perhaps dreamed he fell) into his book of fairy tales. He met many characters who were very angry with him. Goldilocks was mad because he fell into the story that she was starring in, the Queen was mad because Herb cut Prince Charming and the royal throne out of the book. Cinderella's step-mother was enraged because her page had been torn out of the book and put back in upside down. Herb also put telephone stickers on every page. Herb managed to return to his own room before the mob of character caught him. Then he immediately began repairing the damage in his book - erasing mustaches, taping character back in, trying to remove food stains... He learned his lesson and decided to treat his books better in the future.

In the ELB lunchbox: porridge from the Three Bears house, peas (Boogs will never eat peas, but "they" say if you keep serving a child a certain food the child will eventually eat it. Oh that makes me laugh.) Herb drawn on cheese, screaming pancake Goldilocks, ham with cheese Three Bears, and berries that will not be smeared into a book.

Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner
The boy in this story imagines what it would be like if his snowman friend could stay all year. I was running late the morning I made this lunch. I threw food into the lunchbox and took a photo of it in about 10 minutes. In the Laptop Lunchbox: pb&j sandwich ball snowman, goldfish from the pond, marshmallow snowballs, pineapple sunshine, firework picks over broccoli trees, and carrots.

 Just a lunch
In the Laptop Lunchbox: Zbar, salami, carrots, hummus, cheese stick, and mango.

This week Boogs asked me why his lunches weren't as fun as they used to be. He has started to enjoy reading longer chapter books and is moving away from reading picture books. I LOVE picture books so this makes me a bit sad. I told him I need the books for inspiration to make his lunches cute. He let me know that he ate everything in his lunchbox but would really like to have his regular story themed lunches back all week.

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see more book inspired lunches, click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post or go to My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lunches January 13th - 17th

Boogs' lunches are inspired by the books we read at bedtime the previous evening. Each night, Boogs reads one book to me and I read a book or a chapter of a book to him. I usually post his lunches once a week. Click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post to see lunches from previous weeks. We like to pack our lunches in ELBs and Laptop Lunchboxes.

Something Under the Bed Is Drooling by Bill Watterson
In the ELB lunchbox: Calvin drawn on cheese on top of almond butter & jelly sandwich, graham cracker transmogrifier, Calvin transmogrified into a small candy tiger, broccoli, salad dressing power button, and strawberries.

Last Friday, Boogs began reading this Calvin & Hobbes comic collection. He loved it! When I got up Saturday morning, Boogs had been reading it for about an hour. He had bookmarked a few pages where Calvin builds a Transmogrifier.

Boogs asked if I had a large box that he could use to make his own transmorgrifier. We did not have a big enough cardboard box so I gave Boogs a large Rubbermaid container to use. Boogs decided that his transmogrifier would be called a Switch-Which-Which-inator! He spent quite a long time planning and making his Switch-Which-Which-inator. I provided a big bag of crafting/recycled supplies and hot glue gun skills to the project, Boogs did the rest on his own. I love watching Boogs create things.

I bought this knock-off Calvin shirt in Austria many years ago. Boogs uses it as a sleep shirt. When he asked to start making his own transmogrifier, he ran into his room and put this shirt on so that he would really be ready to create like Calvin.
Boogs showed me how he can fit inside. He told me I am supposed to point a fan at the red yarn when he is inside the Switch-Which-Which-inator so it will look like it is really working. The green button is the power button. The black grid of circles is the 6-digit password protected access panel. The little white box on top is an emergency repair kit. Boogs is still in the process of filling out the 5 circle menus of things this machine can turn him into. The pink circle with green grass is "a steam ventilator so it does not get too steamy inside the machine while the transformation is taking place".

Silly Goose's Big Story by Keiko Kasza
Silly Goose always wants to be the hero of the games/stories he plays with his friends. His friends began to feel resentful of Goose always being the star. Eventually, Goose needed his friends to be heroes to save him in a real life situation. He learned that he does not always have to be the hero especially when he has such heroic friends.

In the Laptop Lunchbox: Silly Goose pb&j sandwich with crust crown and fruit leather robe, cheese stick, raisins, Zbar, pineapple, and salad.

Hooray for Reading lunch
I am so happy that Boogs has started to enjoy reading independently. I threw this lunch together and put in a couple of reading picks to celebrate his new found interest in reading own his own. 
In the ELB lunchbox: ham spirals, cheese bites, Ritz crackers, fruit snacks, salad with heart shaped radishes, and mango.

The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola
Boogs loves to eat popcorn. He asked if he could have some popcorn in his lunch this week. I had just the book to read before we made another bowl of popcorn. This book explains the history of this tasty snack. Here are a few of the fun facts we learned about popcorn: Popcorn was discovered by the Indian people in the Americas many thousands of years ago. Popcorn was found by archeologists in a bat cave in New Mexico that was thought to be over 5,600 year old. The Iroquois ate popcorn soup. An Indian legend says that popcorn pops when a little demon living inside the kernel gets so mad when his house is heated up that he blows up the kernel. 
Boogs enjoyed this book. We love to make popcorn on the stove, in the microwave, and even by using Jiffy Pop over a campfire. 

In the ELB lunchbox: popcorn, bat boiled egg for the bat cave where popcorn was found (I really messed up the food coloring on the bat, OOPS!),  cottage cheese pretending to be popcorn soup, little mad demon in popcorn kernel on top of a small pb&j sandwich, blueberries, and broccoli. The boiled egg bat was made using the CuteZcute Animal Palz Mini Sandwich Cutter and Egg Press. You can find it HERE.

Someone asked me what I take to work for lunch. So, I thought I would include a picture of one of my salads this week: kale, baby spinach, carrots, radish, broccoli, tomatoes, ham, and croutons. There is nothing cutesy in my lunch, but it tasted great!

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see more book inspired lunches, click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post or go to My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Austin Aquarium

The Austin Aquarium: Sea to Believe recently opened its doors after a lot of controversy about its owners ability to properly manage and stock an aquarium attraction. Last weekend, a friend invited Boogs and I to go with her to the aquarium with her two nieces. 
The Aquarium is located at the end of a strip mall. My first impression upon walking in the door was not that great. It felt dirty and rundown even though they have only been open a couple of months. You have to walk through a merchandise area to get in to the exhibit area and you must exit the exhibit area by walking through a "gift shop". The exhibit area is so dark that you have trouble seeing the floor. The darkness made it difficult to keep track of Boogs.

I definitely felt there are more cons to this aquarium than pros. Some of the tanks seemed to be well designed but others made me very sad for the animals housed in them. There is a big lack of signage and not much of an attempt to educate the public about the animals and fish. One of the signs actually made me laugh. The sign said something like "Don't Touch. Fish Bite." This sign was not at all prominent on an easily accessible open tank. On the positive side, the staff was friendly and seemed to be well-informed about the animals on exhibit.

There were several open tanks for interacting and feeding sharks, bat rays, and anemones. Boogs enjoyed interacting and touching these animals. The tanks were pretty bare, I felt sorry for the lack of hiding spots for these animals.

I don't really know what to say about the Austin Aquarium. I won't be going again. But, Boogs liked seeing all of the fish and animals. I don't think he enjoyed it much more than when we go hang out and see the animals at the pet store. There is not much of an educational value of going to this aquarium. The entire place felt like it was not well planned and kind of shoddily put together. It does make me want to plan a trip to take Boogs to a real aquarium like Moody Gardens in Galveston.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Thinkery and Home Depot Kids Workshop

The Austin's Children's Museum recently moved and reopened as the Thinkery. When Boogs was younger, I used to purchase an annual membership to the Austin's Children's Museum. We were very curious to see how this new museum compared to the old one.

Boogs really enjoyed the outdoor playscape. It offered plenty of wonderful places to climb, play in a small pond/stream, and run. The museum was very crowded. There were some exhibits that Boogs decided he did not feel like waiting in line for. Out of the main floor exhibits, Boogs liked the simple machines wall best.

The Light Lab exhibit had many hands-on activities for exploring light. We waited in line for about 10 minutes for Boogs to take a picture of his frozen shadow. He thought it was very neat that the camera was able to only capture a shadow image and not a full person image. In the En Mi Familia exhibit, Boogs made sure he sat in the wishing chair. He never told me what he wished.
Boogs two favorite indoor areas were the Currents water exhibit and the Let's Grow farmer's market exhibit. There is a sign at the Currents entrance warning parents that there kids WILL get wet. Boogs spent quite a while with a drum set played by falling water drops. He also enjoyed turning a crank that made water shoot out all over him. The Chicken Coop and cooking area in the Let's Grow exhibit were a definite hit. Boogs kept gathering different ingredients to cook and serve me different types of omelets. Some of the omelets had interesting ingredients like lemon zest.

Boogs had fun at the Thinkery, but I believe he is right on the edge of being too old to truly appreciate all of it. We will probably go a couple of times this year, but are not going to get an annual membership.

Last Saturday, we actually remembered it was a Home Depot Kids Workshop weekend. Boogs is always happy when we get to go work on a new project. This month's project was to make a desktop calendar.
I love watching Boogs work on these type of projects. He is very careful about following the instructions exactly. He built the calendar and painted it at Home Depot. We had to wait until the next morning to put the number and month stickers on it. For the past week, Boogs has been using the calendar and changing the date each morning.

Next month's project is to build a race car. We have already done that project and Boogs is not interested in making another car. Maybe I can talk Boogs into working on one of the projects in the woodworking kit he got last year for Christmas (2012). For some reason, he prefers to make these kinds of project at Home Depot rather than at home.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Favorite Lunches of 2013

The Bento Bloggers & Friends Group is having a BBF linky party for their favorite 13 lunches made in 2013. I thought it would be fun to join in. I really had trouble trying to decide which 13 lunches to include. For me, choosing the lunches is more about the connections Boogs and I made to the books rather than what the lunches look like. But, in no particular order, I narrowed it down to these: (click each picture to link back to the original post)

Me On the Map by Joan Sweeney
I loved the activity Boogs and I did with this book. We made a concentric circle craft to show his place on the map.

Good Boy, Fergus by David Shannon
I just love the way this Fergus sandwich turned out. Boogs liked the messes created by Fergus.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I love BBF hops and usually take a little bit more time making lunches for them. I was surprised how well the Toto basket sandwich turned out.

Face to Face with The Hamster by Paul Starosta, Hamsters by Susan Merideth, and My Pet Hamster by Anne Rockwell
Boogs got his first pet this past year. Our family has been all about hamsters since April.

Morris Goes to School by B. Wiseman
Boogs chose this book as his first book for the 2013 summer reading program. He reads on grade level but is a reluctant reader. I try to foster a love of reading in Boogs and the bribes, I mean prizes, from the summer reading programs sure do help.

The Opposite by Tom McRae
This was such a fun book to read and I loved Boogs' reaction to it.

The Naked Lady by Ian Wallace
This book inspired a wonderfully creative outing with Boogs to a local sculpture garden.

I Need My Own Country! by Rick Walton
This book inspired a week's worth of creative fun and learning with Boogs. Our country flags are still taped to our door frames four months later.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

For the past three years, I have sent a Kissing Hand lunch for Boogs on the first day of school. It has become our back-to-school tradition.

Skylanders Giants Master Eon's Official Guide Book
Boogs is obsessed with Skylanders. He talked about them for a year before he owned one. He has even requested a Skylanders birthday party in 2014.

The Greedy Apostrophe: A Cautionary Tale by Jan Carr
This book sparked a few fun learning activites about apostrophes and plurals. I thought the apostrophe's eyebrows in the illustrations were too good not to try and replicate.

Leaf Trouble by Jonathan Emmett
This was such a sweet book about a squirrel trying to save his tree. I loved all of the beautiful illustrations. It was also pretty neat that the author tweeted about this lunch.

Captain Arsenio Inventions and (Mis)Adventures in Flight by Pablo Bernasconi
We read this book over and over again. I even took it to school and shared it with my classes. The illustrations and descriptions of Arsenio's attempts to fly are hilarious! I also really liked the "never give up" message of the book.

To see all of the other BBF Top 13 posts, click the button below to view the linky party.
 photo BBFtop13of2013button.jpg

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see more book inspired lunches, click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post or go to My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.