Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beach Week!

I'll have to admit, I'm running out of steam on the summer "mom" camp front. Will be taking a break next week when I will need all week to prep for our actual family beach vacation to the Outer Banks!

The kids woke up on Monday morning with a beachy centerpiece on the dining room table and leis on the back of their chairs! It's Beach Week!

I had just gotten back from my Girls Weekend in Philly so I wasn't quite as prepared. We spent most of the day talking about beach type stuff... animals, sand, saltwater, fish, waves, etc... LAME I know but I'm hoping they didn't realize it ;) They had a ton of questions so we kept busy with that really.

For lunch I rounded up some stuff (hadn't been to the store yet) and found that I was lucky that daddy let the boys junk a little while I was gone. There was a bag of gummi lifesavers and some teddy grahams... so that was the inspiration for this lunch... PB&J sandwich, peach slices (one big one turned into a ship), "beach" goldfish that I left Evan pick up last week for beach week, and blue milk (a glass of milk with a drop of blue food coloring).

I let them play with their food and they had the best time! The sandwich was the island that the bears in inner tubes were playing beach ball and a pirate ship stole their beach ball, but it was okay, they had another one, and the fish swam around the island.

Another day I literally dragged the bag of sand we bought when Hurricane Sandy came through last fall and dumped into into their sand & water table. First time there's ever been actual sand in it... it's usually just water ;)

The camera was all fogged up for the longest time!

Someone kept knocking over the sand castle and had to take a little break from the sand.
This pic is actually a recreation of him pouting ;)
But more or less, I gotta say... Beach Week consisted of us going to our neighborhood pool a LOT. So that was a treat for them. We don't usually go everyday! Luke is slowly warming up to it. He's just not sure what he wants... when we're in he wants out, when we're out he wants in. The big boys are total fish (they say they have gills!), Jake is jumping off the diving board like a pro and Evan can do two -three backwards somersaults underwater!

We did get a get selection of books from the library one day... the boys filled our book bag! Even Luke!

I highly recommended  "Bats on the Beach", written and illustrated by Brian Lies ... the cutest and unique story with fantastic pictures! I just found out he has a whole "Bats at the..." series, can't wait to get more in the future.

There's a few worksheets we did here and there as well... here's a couple...

It's all leading up to a BIG finale... in FIVE days we leave for our first family beach vacation! Simply cannot wait! We've done day trips to Galveston, Tx when we lived in Houston, but never days in a row like this with a beach and a pool. We're staying in a beach house that we're renting with Greg's parents, sister, brother, brothers wife, and our new nephew! The boys look at the online slideshow of the rental house pretty much daily, we've been counting down the days, and they're super excited (but Greg and I just might be a smidge MORE excited).

You may hear from me once or twice before we leave. If packing overwhelms me then maybe not, but no worries! Hopefully, you'll hear from me again that first full week in August. BEACH OR BUST!
"To myself I am only a child playing at the beach,
while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me"
 ~ Sir Isaac Newton

Friday, July 19, 2013

22nd Flaunt My Friend Friday! Lindsey!

For this twenty-second Flaunt My Friend Friday, I'd like you to meet Lindsey. She's a busy gal... a soon to be mom of three and was integral in helping start up a museum! Not sure many people can say that... "oh, when I was starting up a museum the other day..."  Please read  what she is sharing with us about her venture (or as she calls it, her labor of love) and hard work. If you're anywhere near upstate New York, I hope you check it out in person! Lucky for me, she has family near the area we just moved to last year... so I've been able to meet up with her and her busy fun family before!

Hello! I am Lindsey and I am the Director of the ImaginariumChildren’s Museum. But, that’s only part of who I am. First, I am a wife to Alex and I am a mother to two pretty cool boys, Max who is 5 and Owen who is 3. Baby J #3 will make his/her appearance in December….Just in time for Christmas!

When Tyson first announced her “Flaunt My Friend Friday” blog posts, I thought… “I’d love to participate, but I have NO idea what I would blog about.” I really am not crafty nor do I have any regular hobbies I participate in… I’m quite boring. THEN, Tyson proposed that I talk about the Imaginarium – my other baby!

The Imaginarium Children’s Museum is a project that I joined in December 2011. The museum was in its infancy and I knew this was a project I couldn’t pass on. I wasn’t sure what I could offer, but I knew that our community needed a children’s museum in a bad way. When I started volunteering, things were just getting started and fundraising efforts were in full force. The founders had already been busy at work getting the museum recognized by the New York State Board of Regents and the Association of Children’s Museums. In November of 2011, the Imaginarium was officially granted a Provisional Charter, which is good for five years, by the NY Board of Regents as an educational corporation. As an educational corporation we promise to operate as a hands-on interactive museum devoted to educating children of all ages in topics ranging from science to math to history to business.  Thus far, I think we’ve met and exceeded those goals!

In January 2012 we began sparking the community’s interest by being involved in any and every community activity we could. They were hooked and everyone knew that this project was desired, loved and already a huge hit!

Things began to move extremely fast and we were lucky enough to be given a space to use as our temporary location in February 2012. The building, where we are still housed, is a little more than 7,000 square feet in a fairly popular part of town. In March 2012 we moved in, put some color on the walls and began brainstorming how we would fill the space with exhibits and mind blowing fun. Since funds were limited, we went to the wonderful world of Pinterest to see how we could be creative and inexpensive and we stumbled upon a milk carton igloo. Why not, right? But, our igloo couldn’t be simple; it had to be large in scale. We used almost 1,000 milk jugs to create our first colossal exhibit and boy, we were proud!
After the milk jug igloo “melted” we needed to keep wowing our visitors.  Each month we held an education program with a special theme. Some of the programs held at the museum were focused on spring, different countries around the world, and story book characters. As the museum evolved and grew, our next step was to go from an emerging children’s museum to an established children’s museum. To make this transition, the Association of Children’s Museums requires certain steps and criteria to be met. We knew we were ready and the plan was made and our deadline was October 2012.
Before October, our work was cut out. We needed to make a plan. Our plan was to close the museum for 6 weeks and build some permanent exhibits. We were granted funds by our local Kiwanis Club, we had volunteers all ready and the plans were drawn. Phase 1 of our exhibits commenced. By October, the museum was completely transformed with the latest and greatest from the Imaginarium. At our Grand Opening we unveiled five new exhibits; a Farmer’s Market, a Dentist’s Office, a Construction Zone, A Glow Room, and a toddler corner. But, having REAL exhibits and a Grand opening weren’t the only stipulations to becoming an established museum. We also had to have regular hours…. And starting in October 2012, we did just that. The museum was established and booming! Our visitors reached almost 2,000 by December and our volunteer staff was so proud!

Most recently, we’ve added a science lab, a doctor’s office, a dress up corner, a nature center and several other small kiosk exhibits throughout the museum. The Imaginarium is projecting 10,000 visitors this year and hope to double that in 2014. Throughout June, our halls were filled with field trips from elementary schools and daycare facilities. We’re receiving the support from families, schools and even some local politicians have shown interest in helping us.
In December, the board of directors decided to make some staffing changes and hired ME as their first paid staff. My hard work and time had finally paid off. I had some transitions to make within my family life, but with a supportive husband and children (I mean, this is for children, mine included, right?) this job was something I couldn’t turn down. I started out as a part time “Member Services Director” and slowly became the Chief Operating officer and have most recently become the Director of the museum.
The Imaginarium has been a labor of love for me for almost two years now and with more and more hard work daily, I know things will continue to grow and be better each year. I was recently asked what my “Pie in the Sky” vision is for the museum and my mind floated to a beautiful building with expensive exhibits and lots of money flowing for purchasing at will, but I was quickly grounded and thought, Pie in the Sky, hmm… My ultimate Pie in the Sky vision for this, little Upstate NY museum is for it to be a community fixture, for it to be a safe and affordable place for families, for it to boast a friendly staff and clean environment and for all of our visitors to leave happy and with giant smiles on their faces.
Learning Center - Imaginarium Children’s Museum - Plattsburgh, NY

Thank you Lindsey! Kudos to all of your time, energy, and efforts... it really has paid off! Best of luck to you and the museum. Can't wait to see it keep on growing and shining under your direction. Maybe someday we'll make it that far north to check it out ourselves, we loves places where kids can play and be learning at the same time! Best of both worlds. Be sure to check out Imaginarium on their site and on Facebook!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekend in Philly & The Color Run!

Last weekend I got to have a weekend out of town with some friends! Greg is a great daddy and kept those boys busy all weekend long!

The main thing that got us together was doing the Color Run! Then it turned into a girls weekend!

Besides it taking me almost FIVE hours to get from here to Philadelphia instead of the normal 3 hrs or so (took my only 2 hrs and 15 mins to get home on Sunday, ssshhhh)... it was a fantastic time!

We stayed right downtown, city hall was right out our window! Everything was so nearby, valet took my car on Friday and didn't see it again until Sunday.

Friday was a great little dinner (I had fish tacos) at a neat place called Smokin Betty's!

On Saturday we did some sightseeing... it was just a quick walk to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (fyi it's free to tour, but you must get timed tickets from the Visitor Center on Market Street) we also checked out the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers for the Revolutionary War at Washington Square and toured Betsy Ross' home.

Liberty Bell

Benjamin Franklin's Grave

Betsy Ross' House

Then it was time to meet up with a couple other friends and we got lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. Then literally chatted our butts off until 7pm when we were like "Oh wow, it's 7pm, we better figure out dinner plans!" Another quick walk to Reading Terminal Market, and we had a delicious family style meal at Maggiano's.

Went back to the hotel to get all our of stuff together for the Color Run (I brought my big ole fabric shears to cut our shirts a bit for fun) in the morning and get our butts to bed. It's been a long time since I laid in bed giggling like a school girl before falling asleep! Can't even remember what we were laughing about!

Next day we got up at 5:30am, got ready, caught a cab to the Color Run that started at the Please Touch Museum. We ended up being the first people in the third wave of people to start. I hadn't been able run much due to my longer than expected recovery from surgery. A couple of the gals had their own injuries... so we did a run/walk combo that was good with everyone and easier for chatting & people watching! It was a great time with great company!


Found these quote very fitting:

"The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself." 
~Author unknown,
commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Monday, July 15, 2013

Transportation Week!

For our third week of H Family Summer Camp... they woke up to a road in the middle of the dining room table with vehicles and paper airplanes flew overhead!

It was Transportation Week!

The road was my black tablecloth folded into thirds and yellow construction paper dashes taped to it. Paper airplanes hanging with looped sewing thread taped to the planes.

After breakfast we started out by going through the books we have to find TONS of ones with some sort of transportation theme. It brought new life to books they've had a long time!

On the way home from the gym that day we drove the same way as always... but this time we talked all about the signs and rules of the road. They were so interested! Made it stand out even more since we drive that way ALL the time!

Then went outside for some bike safety. First we checked our helmet safety, I must admit both boys' helmets were a little too loose. Check this out for your kiddo too:

Bike Helmet Fit Test #bike #helmet #safety #safekids #bikesafety #kids

I then made them "pass a test" to get their license. Questions like... what shoes to we always wear when riding a bike? Sneakers. What do we always wear on our heads? Helmets. Things like that and went over the parts of a bike. Then they were good to go! Made some drivers licenses and license plates for their bikes.

Evan's Drivers License and then Passport we used later in the week!

I had a babysitter that day for an eye appt so I left her with a snack to make with them... stoplights! Using graham crackers, nutella, and fruit loops! She took a couple pics for me!

Eating a stoplight!

They made other designs as well. I rarely buy Fruit Loops, didn't even think to check. Got some "special" box with the red ones being squares with some sort of chewy center. I tried one, GAG... so FYI ;)

Then we had a couple of sickies for a couple days. Caused us to not get to do as much. I wanted to take them to watch planes, but not feeling so poorly. So we turned our living room into a plane, grabbed the globe and off our imaginations went. Beforehand I made them passports and tickets. I tried to replicate a plane ride... even wore a police hat and a black button up shirt with a pair of wings pinned on that they had gotten from a flying a couple years ago. It was fun we had a good time... when to lots of places and I "stamped" (signed) their passport at each place... from Angola to Kazakhstan to Fiji Island, to Canada, and many more! I had them close their eyes while I spun the globe and we flew to where their finger stopped. I'd look up the place a tell them a few things about it when we "landed". We even had an on board snack of pretzels ;)

Ready for Take Off!

Fortunately a couple days later we were able to go watch planes take off! Very neat. Very loud, but they got used to it and enjoyed it. Lots of space to run around too, so that was a bonus. Anyone ever in the area and would like to know a good spot, I totally recommend Gravelly Point Park right after Reagan Airport on George Washington Parkway (do note that it can only be accessed going northbound).

Breakfast that morning...
Kashi Waffle, Banana on top with Graham crackers shoved in as wings,
I sprinkled a little blue sugar as the sky and a few small dollops of whip cream for clouds.

Took a bag of our own toys planes to play with while there, that was a big hit!

Before we left they sat in the back and made/colored their own airplanes (clothespin with construction paper wings)

A lot of what we did involved our own stash of vehicles. We'd sort by type, by color, by where they work/go (Jake drew the settings during his quiet time), etc... Also a couple times I just did a google search for various worksheets like connect the dots and itsy bitsy "zoom" book.  Basically made old toys "new" for example, bringing the rug that's normally into the playroom into the family room... they were drawn to it immediately while they've ignored it downstairs for months!

They even helped Greg put on new windshield wipers for both vehicles and fill up the window wiper fluid too! So easy to take things you might normally do, call as part of your "week" and BAM it's instantly interesting!

It was a good week! Stay tuned for this/upcoming week... Beach Week!