Thursday, July 23, 2015

Story Themed Lunches

The Kid Lit Blog Hop is a twice monthly (except during the summer) blog hop devoted to children's literature. You can hop from the link-up to find book reviews, author interviews, book comparisons, book recommendations, and more. It was through the Kid Lit Blog Hop that I found the book these two lunches were based on - The Ninja Librarian by Rebecca M. Douglass.

Skunk Corners is a small town with many issues. It is a community of illiterate people who are proud to stay that way. The unfriendly townspeople have chased away several librarians and are expecting to get rid of the new librarian just as easily as the last ones. Big Al, the school teacher, feels that there is something special about the new librarian, Tom. She warns Tom about some of the sneaky ways the townspeople are trying to get rid of him. Big Al should not have concerned herself about Tom. It turns out, Tom is not an ordinary librarian. The black handkerchief in his jacket pocket is actually a Ninja mask. Tom was able to use his Ninja skills to clear the library of some unsavory folks plotting to run him out of town. He also managed to scoot a skunk right out the door before it sprayed its nasty smell. This is the lunch I made after Boogs (my 9-year-old son) and I read the first chapter of The Ninja Librarian.
In the ELB lunchbox: pb&j Ninja Tom sandwich with fruit leather Ninja mask and candy eyes, Babybel cheese with a skunk drawn on top, pita chip library books, sesame stick booby traps, salad with READ radish letters, and plum slices.

Boogs and I really enjoyed reading this book.  We took turns reading to each other. I loved listening to Boogs read the character's words with a twangy Southern accent. Each chapter is kind of a self-contained short story. We are having fun repeating a question that is asked in almost chapter: Does that completely answer your question?

Tom is able to quietly and gently steer the townspeople into becoming more literate and to work together as a community. His best pupil is Big Al. Tom guides Big Al to develop her own problem solving skills.

Boogs asked for another Ninja Librarian lunch. This lunch is based on the last chapter of the book in which Big Al uses her problem solving skills to get rid of some out-of-town toughs who are trying to take over Skunk Corners. I won't give away her plan, but you might be able to figure out a little bit of her plan by reading what is in this lunch.
In the lunchbox: pb&j train sandwich with sleeping ZZZs coming out of the top of the last train car, cheese stick railroad tracks, pistachio moon, blueberry night sky, Pringles moonlight, and carrot stars.

We finished reading The Ninja Librarian last night and Boogs is already asking if we can get the next book, Return to Skunk Corners.

This post is linked to:

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see my 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, July 17, 2015

Keep Austin Weird Day

The slogan for the capital city of Texas is Keep Austin Weird - the slogan is used to promote small/independent businesses and creativity in Austin. Last week, Boogs and I went with K and her kids for an adventure in downtown Austin.
The Greetings From Austin mural was touched up shortly after we last posed for pictures with it. Here is a picture of Boogs in front of the sign in August 2013. The sign looks much better now. Boogs has grown a lot in two years.
I had fun watching K doing back bends to get the perfect angle for her pics.
A graffiti park recently opened up in Austin near the Baylor St. and 12th St. It is called the Hope Outdoor Gallery. We thought we would go have a look.
I was impressed that we did not see any profanity painted on the walls. There was a little shop that rented rollers, ladders, and sold paint and spray paint. There were several people painting while we were there. We asked the kids if they wanted to paint anything on the walls but they said they did not want to cover up the artwork that was already there.
The castle building at the top of the hill made a neat back-drop. The incline was too steep for the kids to climb safely all the way to the top. There was a man in need of rescue blocking the path to the top. There were 8 uniformed rescue workers trying to figure out how to slide him down the hill with a tarp and rope pulley system. They had placed a splint on one of his legs. There were able to get him down and into an ambulance before we left.
The kids were really interested in seeing all of the paintings. Boogs had his own camera to take pictures. It was really neat to see what caught his interest.
We took the kids up to the second level. It was a big effort to get them up there because it was very slippery and there was a ton of broken glass everywhere. I would have felt more comfortable if they were a bit older. This was a really neat place to visit. I am glad we went.
Our next stop was a visit to the BIG TOP CANDY SHOP on South Congress. Yes, it does have to be capitalized. The kids asked all morning when we were going to get there.
This place is candy heaven. We probably spent an hour browsing through all of the different kinds of candy while the kids made their selections. It seems like bacon flavored candy is big right now.
The walls in the shop are covered with neat circus-style signs, instruments, and taxidermied animals. Here is Boogs standing in front of a bear holding on to a selection of honey sticks.
 Boogs made his choice - lots of gooey, squishy, sour flavored candy.
We told the kids they could not eat their candy until after we had lunch. We went to Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. Back in the day (oh my goodness it was 20+ years ago) I used to go eat at Magnolia Cafe at 2 a.m. after the dance clubs closed. It was one of only a few restaurants that were open 24 hours a day.
 The kids loved the chips and salsa! We sat outside on the patio for a long leisurely lunch.
K and I were worn out but the kiddos still wanted to play. We told them they could play at K's house ONLY if they played outside. They thought that was a great idea. They spent almost two hours running up and down the hill in the backyard. I don't know how they had the energy for that. I was exhausted just watching them.
I had no problem getting Boogs to bed that night. He was worn out from our Keep Austin Weird day.
This post is linked to:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Getting Ready for Our Trip

Boogs and I are excited about our upcoming camping trip with D and her four boys. This will be the third summer in a row that we have packed the boys in the car and taken off on a trip while our husbands stayed home to work. Our previous camping trips were to Colorado Bend State Park in Texas, Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. This year we are planning a longer trip to Pikes Peak in Colorado, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

We made a few fun things for the trip. D and I talked about taking a washers game, but neither of us owned one. We decided to get the boys together to make one. D stopped by the hardware store to buy some astro-turf and have wood cut to size.
The boys each took turns helping put the boxes together. Unfortunately, the wood kept splitting when we used the power drill and screws.
 So, the boys had to use a plain old hammer and nails to finish the project.
 Our washer set was a success! We played several rounds of washers before the heat sent us inside.
The washer kept getting lost in the grass. I ended up painting them bright yellow with a glitter finish.
Boogs and I painted one box and the J-Boys took the other box home to paint. We have the perfect spot in the cargo carrier to transport our new game on our trip.
Next up on our project list was a Flat Stanley-type craft. We each made a mini-me figure to take on the trip. We used the directions from Frugal Fun For Boys Pipecleaner Ninjas. I made one first so I could show the boys how easy it was to make. We are planning on posing our mini-me figures everywhere on our trip. The boys thought it sounded like a fun idea. Here is my mini-me drawing a little art project.
Everyone got to choose three colored pipecleaners. I did not have enough pony beads for the craft so we substituted pearler beads for them. These are fairly easy to make.
The boys got to choose what kind of bead they wanted for their heads. A square bead let you have space for four different expressions.
I took pictures of everyone and then hot-glued their face on their mini-me figure. We had fun posing them around a pipecleaner campfire.  I can't wait to take them on our trip. 
Posing with their minis. I love that Boogs' is holding his mini doing a ninja kick.
The third project I worked on this week, is a travel journal. I found some plain notebooks in the $1 bin at Michael's. I used some camping clip art to decorate each cover. Everyone got to chose the cover they wanted and surprisingly they all wanted different ones.
On the inside, I put a title for each major stop on our trip.
The tabs on the sides are spaced out so each stop has a few pages for journal writing. D and I figured these might keep them busy for a while during our long stretches of driving. But, that could just be wishful thinking.
One more week to go. I should start thinking about my packing list. We already know what is NOT going to be on the list - electronics. D and I have never taken dvd players, hand-held games, phone games, or iPads for the boys to use on our trips. These trips are the perfect opportunity to be unplugged for a couple of weeks. I am happy to say that when we started planning this year's trip, one of the boys offered up a couple of rules: "Number one rule is to have fun. The number two rule is no electronics because this is our time to bond." Yes! That came from an 11-year-old. We have brain-washed them well.

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Days

Grandmaman, I thought I would show you how we are spending our summer.

Since our Cozumel trip, we have been keeping busy. Swim team is winding down. I think Boogs is going to miss swimming six days a week. We have one final meet coming up this Saturday. The end-of-year swim team party is next week. I can't believe how fast this summer is flying by.
Boogs and I have spent a lot of time hanging out at home these past couple of weeks. We have taken walks around the neighborhood to a couple of parks. In the bottom right picture, Boogs is trying to do the limbo under a tree branch. He was much better at it than I was.
We have gotten out the Dr. Dreadful candy making kit. It is kind of gross but Boogs had fun making blue-raspberry intestine-shaped candy. The candy was super squishy and had a liquid center that sprayed out when you bit into it. Ewwww!
We have spent time with friends - having playdates, going to the movies, and to neighborhood pools.
Boogs is still going to Tang Soo Do classes. We have only been making it to class once a week. Boogs hopes to make it to more classes when swim team is finished for the summer. Last week, he practiced breaking boards.
Boogs and I have had trouble finding a good ball to use for playing two-square. So far, three balls have gotten holes in them and deflated after only a couple of uses. Hopefully, this new ball will last for awhile.
We tried backyard camping one night this week, but the neighbor's dog was barking so much we went back inside. I did not mind sleeping in my comfy bed. We will have plenty of camping in a couple of weeks when we go to Pikes Peak, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore.
Boogs is still responsible for cooking one meal a week. His go-to recipe is baked potatoes with taco seasoned meat, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits.  He has also been helping me in the kitchen with other things. We made some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins the other day. I had to include one muffin with three chocolate chips on top of it to represent the volcanoes on the Little Prince's planet. We enjoyed reading The Little Prince together.
Even though it is not his favorite thing, Boogs and I work a little bit each day on reading, writing, spelling, and math skills. Some days we use a workbook, other days we play games to brush up on his skills.
This past weekend was 4th of July. Last year, we had family pedicures to celebrate the day. Boogs asked if we could do that again this year. He thought the sugar scrub felt really nice. He said he wants pedicures to be our annual July 4th tradition.
We spent the afternoon with friends in their backyard pool. Daddy won both of our basketball shooting contests. We had planned to go see the city fireworks after barbeque and a movie with them, but we were all too tired to face the traffic and crowds.
I tried to get a picture of Boogs smiling underwater. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Boogs took a good one of me. Then, we tried to get a picture of Daddy underwater. He did a better job of keeping his eyes open and smiling.
When we were in the pool, Boogs asked Daddy to throw him as high as he could into the air. Wow, did he ever fly. Then Boogs tried to throw Daddy. That did not work out very well. The weather was perfect that day.
School starts in 6 1/2 weeks. We are going to enjoy every minute of this summer that we have left. Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Little Prince

In the ELB lunchbox: dried apricot Little Prince, pb&j with snake drawn on cheese, salad, and nectarine.

I read The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery, when I was young. I recently saw the book when Boogs and I were at Barnes & Noble, so I bought a copy. I showed Boogs the picture of a drawing at the beginning of the book. Boogs guessed that it was a hill of dirt. Then he had an a-ha moment when we turned the page and saw the outline of an elephant inside the "hill of dirt". As we read, he realized the hill was actually a snake who had eaten an elephant. We had an interesting conversation about perspective and how a person's background knowledge colors the way they see things. We discussed this line from the book: All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it. The narrator was making the point that as people grow up they lose their wonder and creativity. Boogs told me that he thinks I still know what it is like to be a child. That comment made me smile. I am so glad summer break is here and we get to hang out together more. I made our first lunch of summer based on the two snake drawings in the book.

As we continued to read The Little Prince, I realized that it was not like I remembered it. I looked into it and realized the Barnes & Noble book I bought had an updated translation. I read the Katherine Woods translation when I was young. The book I was reading with Boogs was translated from French into English by Richard Howard. I went to a used book store and found a copy of the book translated by Woods. The Woods book had black and white illustrations whereas the Howard book had color illustrations. Boogs liked the color illustrations better, so he followed along in the Howard book while I read aloud from the Woods book. Naturally, as he followed along, he noticed many differences in how things were written. Boogs told me he liked the Woods translation more  because it gave him a better picture in his mind. He also said he liked the "stronger vocabulary" in the Woods version. He gave me the following example to show me what he meant.
Snakes - they are malicious creatures. This one might bite you just for fun.

Snakes are nasty sometimes. They bite just for fun.

A couple of days after we finished reading The Little Prince, Boogs and I were in the kitchen. He said, "I am eager to go visit my friend M at 10 o'clock. I can't wait for time to speed up." Then Boogs smiled and added, "Or, in the words of the poorly translated Little Prince,  I could say 'I am very, very, happy to see M.' Saying it the second way is not as interesting." I love Boogs' interest in words.

Boogs said he would like to keep both translations of The Little Prince because the Woods book had better words and the Howard book had color illustrations.

I made a second lunch to go with the book.
In the ELB lunchbox: ham rose, cheese rose stem with four thorns for protection, pumpkin muffin with two active & one dormant chocolate chip volcanoes, pistachio planets for the Little Prince to visit, Pringles, salad with laughing stars, and blueberries with strawberry stars.

This post is linked to:
Kid Lit Blog Hop

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see my 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.