Monday, May 18, 2015

Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm

After 7 years of living only a mile from Claude Moore Colonial Farm we were FINALLY able to go to the tri-annual Market Fair. Claude Moore Farm is a living history museum. Actors "live" as a country family would have lived in the year 1771. They farm crops native to Virginia in the manner taught to them by the Powhatan Indians.  It is like a miniature Colonial Williamsburg but way more manageable.
Nash took to heart the idea of "putting aside the routine chores and cares of life," by practicing a little meditation.
Our first order of business was exchanging our 21st century money for some 18th century Spanish Coins.  Apparently the colonists were not able to import English money so they used Spanish silver. Each silver coin was cut into 4 bits.  At the fair each bit was worth a dollar.
Next task-FOOD!  We had bread and cheese with blood sausage and roasted chicken, pecan pie and homemade pickles. DELISH.
The kids talked to the interpreters of all ages, played colonial games, shopped for colonial wears, made candles, scent satchels, and Harley painted a lovely fan and made a Corn Husk Doll.

Everything was so adorable and educational.  It was great fun!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Remembering V-E Day

May 8th marked the 70th anniversary of V-E Day (Victory in Europe).  To commemorate this important event the air space over the National Mall was opened and a plethora of World War II planes flew over the city in formation and in order of their appearance during the war.  I really had no choice but to take the boys out of school so we could enjoy the festivities.
The airplanes were amazing and even included the only operating B-29 Superfortress in the world.  This is the same type of plane that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
 Atley adopted a grandma at the event.  She was very impressed with his knowledge of airplanes. She asked him questions all afternoon and he was in heaven. As the P-51 Mustangs were flying over, Nash said, "It's pretty cool to be an American isn't it mom?"  Yeah, it's way cool buddy.
The following day we went to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles where the same planes involved in the flyover were scheduled to land at the museum.  Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate but there were lots of other activities for the kiddos. They learned so much about life during the war.
They learned all about planting Victory gardens and even planted some seeds of their own.
Harley learned all about Rosie the Riveter. They designed and launched their own aircraft and even made paratroopers that they dropped into a war zone.
They played in restored WWII military jeeps, used the sometimes primitive instruments that were the only things available to the soldiers at the time and also learned how to spell their name in Morse Code.
The most special part of our V-E Day experience was visiting with the WWII veterans.  Nash has always had a tender place in his heart for the elderly.  I feel like it is a spiritual gift for him. At one point in our day I discovered Nash with a man named Ernie Krause.  People were gathered in front of him and Ernie was explaining his role in the war.  He was born in 1921. He and his brother both enlisted in the Navy. However, his brother was shot down somewhere over Europe and never made it home. He told some incredible stories and people asked him questions and shook his hand. He was amazing to listen to and as sharp as a knife. During his story Nash quietly slipped behind him and the rest of the crowd.  I noticed Nash silently standing behind this hero with his chubby, grubby, little boy hand resting gently on the old gentleman's shoulder listening intently.  I was so touched by the image that I failed to snap a picture.  I later had him return to Ernie for a quick picture.  It was such a sweet moment and something I will always cherish.
Of course, we spent the rest of the weekend recreating the Battle of the Bulge on our dining room table and streaming war documentaries on Netflix.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Refinishing Our Kitchen Table

We have this kitchen table that we bought when Atley was a little baby. It has been used and abused, moved and moved again.  It has been written on, spilled on, burned, carved on and repeatedly stabbed with forks. It fact, it has been so maltreated that it probably should have been replaced long ago. But, this same table is the place where we have eaten almost every meal.  It is where the kids have done their homework, where they have learned to write their names, where they have completed dozens of crafts and decorated cookies each Christmas. It is where I bathed two of my newborns. It is easily transformed into a fort with just the unfolding of a bed sheet.  I just can't bear to part with it. This kitchen table is part of our family institution and perhaps the only piece of furniture I am sentimental about.  However, it was turning into an eyesore.
When I finally decided something had to be done I knew that I was way to lazy and much too impatient to go the whole sanding-stripping route when it came to refinishing.  After some research I discovered a product on the market called Annie Sloan Chalky Paint. Not to be confused with chalkboard paint.  These two things are totally different.  I am sure Annie Sloan's paint is wonderful but it is also extremely difficult to find, doesn't come in a ton of colors and is astronomically priced.  So, I opted for making my own.  The best part of this process, is you don't need to sand or strip anything just make sure you begin painting on a clean and dry surface.
1 1/2 Cups Any Latex Flat Paint Tinted to your Color Preference
(I used Behr's Builders Grade Paint $14 per gallon at Home Depot)
1/2 Cup Plaster of Paris
1/2 Cup Warm Water
Mix plaster and water thoroughly until all the lumps have dissipated. Add paint and mix well.
I put three coats on the kitchen table and chairs.  Waiting about 15 minutes between coats.  The mixture dries well and adheres like a dream.  When the paint dries apply a few layers of Minwax Finishing Wax to seal and protect the furniture. 


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Harley Belle's 5th Birthday "PAW"ty!

Belle turned 5 today.  (Tear, Tear)  She requested a puppy themed birthday party and her wish is almost always our command. Yes, we have indeed created a monster. It was lots of work but tons of fun for the whole family. 
I'm a firm believer that the key to any successful kid party is keeping them occupied at all times or else you will lose them forever.  We set up a table with puppy coloring sheets and crayons for the kids to work on while all the party guests arrived.  Every child was given a pair of puppy ears and took turns getting their face painted, along with temporary tattoos while they were coloring. Of course, they all had to take a turn on the trampoline as well.
After everyone finally arrived and all of those who wanted their face painted were painted-up, we gathered around for a story all about puppies.  We pretended to be puppies by digging in the sand where there were lots of doggie treasures buried.
Once the kids knew all about what it meant to take care of a puppy it was time to adopt one of their own. 
After the adoption paper work was completed and their dogs were given a proper name, each puppy had to be checked out by our local vet, Dr. Atley.  He was very thorough in his examination and equipped each new owner with a free sample of puppy vitamins.
When the puppy was given a clean bill of health their owner could visit Nash's Tee-Pee Pet Shop where each child purchased a collar, puppy chow, a blanket, and a ball for their new pet.
Next the kids decorated puppy houses.
By this point our new pet owners were famished.  We plopped them in front of the TV with a carton of "PUP"corn for an episode of Paw Patrol while we got their Hot "DOGS" ready.
I used a bone-shaped cookie cutter for the water melon and each child had their own doggie dish to eat from.
Harley's cake looked like a giant bowl of dog food.  It was obviously Nash's favorite part of the whole evening. 
Last, but not least, the little kids whacked the puppy piƱata with all their might but it took the brute strength of Nash to fully decapitate the poor fellow.
By the end of the evening the party got completely out of hand when the party-goers stripped to their underwear and jumped into the hot tub.
Happy Birthday Princess! You are a precious gift to us and we love you more than you could possibly imagine.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

You Do The Math


Little Boys are Evil!

Spring Break

Sadly, our Spring Break is coming to a close. We have had lots of fun and lots of fights. We have made lots of messes. We have eaten lots of junk food, watched lots of movies, practiced lots of piano, read lots of books. Generally, we have worn each other out.  One day we spent at an indoor trampoline park, one day at the farm, one day at the zoo, one day doing chores and visiting the library, and one day playing glow-in-the-dark mini golf.  Today we played baseball, did yard work and decorated our Easter Eggs. It has been a memorable Stay-cation and it makes me giddy with excitement just thinking about when summertime comes and we have two months instead of a week to play.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fifteen-Minute Farmers

A couple of weeks ago I had a genius idea. We were going to raise chickens.  We were going to buy some baby chicks for Easter. The kids were going to be small-time farmers and we were never going to buy another egg again.  Granted we live in the suburbs of a big city, in a neighborhood with an HOA, and in a community that doesn't allow farm animals within its city limits. But, since when did a few little laws stop us from doing what we wanted. No wonder the kids scoff at my rules. I am such a fine example of obedience.  I ordered the chicks online from a local farm, because these days even chicken farmers accept Paypal.  Today they were ready for us to pick them up. Scott was not thrilled about the prospect of chicken farming, but he didn't say much to stop us from following through with our plans. Maybe he could foresee just how short our experiment would be. We had a great day at the farm.  The weather was warm, the allergies were controllable, and we were on the cusp of making big on our dreams of an Egg Empire.  

After playing for a couple of hours. We were ready to take posession of our chicks.  Names were quickly given to our four fluffy friends-Flick (as in Chick Flick), Nugget (as in Chicken Nugget), Hot (as in Hot Chick), and Joe Flacco because Nash has a one-track mind.  Little did we know how prophetic the names Hot and Nugget would prove to be in just a few short hours.  The woman at the farm kept stressing how much the chicks needed a heat lamp, even if we were keeping them indoors.  I kept thinking, "I got it! I got it!"  But, maybe I should have asked a few more questions.  I put our shoebox of baby chickens on the front seat with the seat warmer on high. We made a quick stop at the farm supply store for a heat lamp and some chicken wire before we headed home.  The kids were so excited to get to know Flick, Hot, Nugget and Joe.  I let them play with them for a couple of minutes when we arrived home.  It was love at first hold.

We gently dumped them in a bucket with the heat lamp plugged in above their fuzzy little chicken heads. I gave Nash and Harley explicit instructions to keep them safe from what I assumed would be their greatest threat, the cat.  Atley and I headed outside to nail some chicken wire to the kid's playhouse which was going to serve as our brand new chicken coop. We had been outside for about 5 minutes when Nash peeked his head out and said, "The chicks aren't moving too much anymore."  My reply, "They are probably just tired and stressed out from their journey. Go protect them!"  Two more minutes pass and Nash was back outside. "Mom, I think something is wrong with our chickens."  My reply, "Well, maybe unplug the heat lamp.  They might be getting too warm."  Two minutes later, I hear Scott's truck pull into the garage.  I was a little anxious to see/hear his reaction when he saw the baby chicks but nothing could have prepared me for what he said.  I could see him approaching the Bucket of Chicken through the kitchen window and I saw him back away from them fairly quickly.  He came out the back door and said, "Why do we have a bucket of dead chicks on our kitchen table?"  My reply, "Oh, my gosh! Enough. They are not dead.  They are just exhausted."  Nash's reply, "No, mom. I think they really are dead.  They even kind of smell cooked."  My reply, (yes, I am great at denial)  "Whatever! Bring me the bucket. Their house is almost ready anyway."  Nash brought me a bucket of dead chicken and not the Kentucky Fried kind of bucket of dead chicken. The cooked-with-all-their-feathers-under-a-heat-lamp bucket of dead chicken.  Actually, that might be the same thing.  Anyway, our Egg Empire is history and the kids were only farmers for 15 minutes.  They learned a lot about life and death and I learned that heat lamps have various watts for varying conditions.  
If you happen by our house and wonder what the little white cross in our back yard represents, it is the burial site of four beloved chickens, who lived hard and died young.  Harley has been drawing pictures of them for the past few hours.  Assuring us she has to do it now, before she completely forgets what they looked like.  It is all rather heartbreaking.

Our Annual Easter Seder

We have many traditions in our family. Many, okay maybe most, are really only loved by myself and the kids just play along because they know it makes me happy. But, the Easter Seder is not one of those only-for-mom traditions. My kiddos love the Easter Seder.  They have been asking about when our Seder was going to take place since Valentine's Day.  A Seder is a ceremonial Jewish meal. The food is representative of different events in Jewish Scripture. For example, the Passover Meal is considered a Seder.  The food and scriptures read during our Easter Seder are all representative of the events of Jesus' last week of life. For a full list of foods and instructions you can check out my ORIGINAL POST about hosting an Easter Seder.