Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where The Afternoon Took Us....

What a fun afternoon! We started out by stopping at the bank to deposit all of Jonathan's dimes, we do that once a year around birthday time, more about that later! Then we started driving. I took Jonathan to a candy outlet, I thought he'd like that, but they were closed for inventory. Next we headed down a winding road to Route 8, which runs parallel to the Ohio River. One of the things I love about this area is that we can take a drive in the country and we are still close to all a city has to offer.
We drove to Anderson Ferry, which transports cars across the Ohio River. For 50-cents, you can ride the ferry across as "foot traffic", so we parked the car and rode the ferry across the river and back. It's a great way to spend a dollar!
We hung out by the river for awhile, enjoying the breeze, watching the boats on the river and searching for treasures such as rocks and twigs. We sat at a picnic table and had a bottle of water from the cooler in the trunk of the car.
From there, we made our way through rush hour traffic to Florence, where we stopped at Culver's and had ice cream sundaes. Jonathan had a birthday coupon for a free sundae which was expiring in a few days, so it seemed like a good time to use it! Of course, the batteries in the camera died so I couldn't take any more pictures!
Next, we drove to Big Bone Lick State Park. I have only been there one other time, many years ago, and had forgotten all about it and even how to get there. The museum closed at 4 PM, so we couldn't go inside, but we played at the play area. We also hiked the trail out to see the bison that reside in the park. I discovered how out of shape I am! With all the changes in my life in recent years, I  have unfortunately not focused on myself very much. My husband and I used to walk a lot, and now a mile seems to be almost more than I can do! I need to do something about that.
We finished our adventure by stopping at a Sonic drive in and having our dinner on the patio. Again, we utilized a coupon for a free birthday meal for Jonathan.
The entire afternoon cost less than $10.00 (excluding gas). As we were riding the ferry, Jonathan leaned in close to me and said "Mommy this is living". I think he's right, it doesn't get much better than an impromptu summer adventure!

Off On A Lark!

Who knows where the afternoon will take us! It's 2 o'clock on a beautiful sunny summer afternoon. I have packed drinks and snacks in a cooler, put water shoes and an extra outfit for Jonathan in the car, in case we land in some dirt or mud. We have sunscreen, sunglasses, a camera and a few bucks. We are off on  a lark! We'll just drive until we see a place that looks appealing, then we will stop. We'll get home when we get home, sometime before bedtime.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Socks in Bloom!

Remember the socks we planted as an experiment? This is one experiment that has far exceeded any expectations I had for it! There are at least five different plant varieties in the planter. The grass is no surprise. Neither is the zinnia, as I had a bed of them last year, so I am sure some seeds found their way to the ground. There is also another plant with a white blossom, clover and one or two I can't identify.
We started in late March, and this is what the planter looked like in May:
The planter is surprisingly attractive and I am leaving it by my front door. This has been fun to watch and is something we may do again next spring.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Workin' On the Summer List

You may remember my summer fun list from an earlier post this month. The list has grown as we have added more simple and fun things to do. This past week we visited  Newport Aquarium, one of our favorite places to spend a few hours.
Today, the weather was just perfect! So we crossed off another item on our list by lying on a quilt in the backyard and watching the clouds. So relaxing and fun to decide what all the clouds look like! We also talked about the different types of clouds as we watched them drifting overhead.
After bath time and pajamas, I think we are headed out to cross another item off the list: lying on the same quilt to look at the stars. Ahh, Summer!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Science Party: FUN

Jonathan had so much fun at his party. He loved every single scientific demonstration and every hands-on experiment. I truly think each and every one of our guests had fun. Even the parents in attendance enjoyed themselves! Mrs. McDaniel truly made the party special. She was so good with the children and she shows her love of science with her enthusiasm. We were so fortunate she agreed to be our professor!! Take a look at the fun!

Getting the children in a circle, ready to sit down

Tornado in a bottle

Ready for the first hands-on experiment

Air flow demo with balloons

An explosion of color!

Cloud in a bottle-a favorite with the kids

Look at those faces!

More balloon fun

Again, look at those sweet faces!

The "marshmallow masher"

Air/water pressure, another favorite


They listened so intently to instructions

They had a little help when they needed it

The finale, Coke & Mento geysers

Opening presents with each guest

The kids were so precious!

Time for cake

Happy Birthday, Dear Jonathan!

I loved every minute of this party: the planning, searching for all the right products, bringing the months of preparation to fruition, seeing the children learning while having so much fun. I had lots of help along the way: my sister, Pat, was a huge help with every step of the planning, Mrs. McDaniel for volunteering her time and talent and my niece, Michelle, for photographing the party for me. A great big THANK YOU to all of them!
My wish for Jonathan, and for every child, is that they all realize their full potential and be all that they can be.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Science Party: Details, Details!

Attention to detail can make all the difference in the overall look of just about anything. Even if individually they may go unnoticed, I still believe the details make the difference! Here are some of the little things that combined to make the party setting special and unique.
This is what the children received as take home treats. It was a bit of a challenge to find  fun, science related favors!
The take home bags contained a Pop Rocks Edible science experiment,found at Party City. Test tube bubbles were from Dollar Tree. Bug jars with a magnifying top are from Oriental Trading Co. Inside I place three sponge capsules to grow when placed in water. A package of chocolate rocks from the Cincinnati Museum Center completed the bag.
The rest of the take home items were part of the party decor. I found these neat science theme sticker sets at Oriental Trading Co. I put them in white envelopes with each "professor's" name on them and placed them in a metal rack that was a yard sale find. It was also used at last year's baseball party to hold Cracker Jacks.
Each child also took home test tubes filled with Nerds candy. These were placed in a glass vase from Wal-Mart and labeled "Science Nerd". Glow sticks were placed in glass vases labeled "Radioactive Rods" and then placed on a round mirror. Each child left with five of these.
There was a clipboard hanging on a hook which said "Bowen Laboratory Observation Notes". This was used to record the gifts and the giver's name when presents were opened.
The hands-on experiments for the kids were prepared with all ingredients pre-measured. They were placed on trays and ready to go to keep the activity flowing as smoothly as possible. Most of the ingredients to be mixed were placed in small cups with lids. I found these at a garage sale last summer, 25-cents for all, another of those purchases I had nothing in mind for, just seemed like a good deal! Similar cups can be purchased at GFS Marketplace or Sam's Club. I placed "Open With Caution" stickers on them that I printed myself. The little beakers containing the green colored water are made for mixing hair color and were purchased at Sally's Beauty Supply.
I really liked the "H-2-O" water bottle labels that were part of the printables package I purchased. They took some time to do but were so worth it! I also had several varieties of single packets of drink mix available to flavor the water. Pouring and mixing the flavor packets almost seemed like a science experiment!
Jonathan thinks no party is complete without balloons, so of course we had to have several of those on the mailbox!
Finally, here's one of the little lab rats on the watermelon test tube. They just made me smile!
This was one of my favorite posters. A child can become anything they want to be with encouragement and hard work. They are never too young to be encouraged to pursue their interests and see where it takes them!
Up next, as I wrap up what I thought was a super party, the FUN!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Science Party: Inside The House

While the party itself was in the garage, we moved inside to open presents and have cake. I did want things to look festive inside and keep with our science theme. I used printables with a science theme from My Grafico to print this banner that was hung over the table. The printables also provided treat bag toppers, cupcake toppers and water bottle labels.
I sat a small table on top of Jonathan's train table and covered it with a green tablecloth. The gifts  were placed on the train table and the take home treat bags placed on the elevated table. Small mylar balloons were anchored in polished rocks in a thrift store glass container.
I took down the mantle picture and decorations and replaced them with science posters and colored water in real science flasks. Jon's microscope was placed on the other side of the mantle. I placed two folding metal chairs in front of the fireplace for the birthday boy and the person giving him a gift to sit. I like to have the child giving a gift sit with Jon so they can feel special and Jonathan can thank them.

This is the cake. I was very pleased with how it turned out!  I worked with Trish, a cake designer at a local bakery, Fantasy in Frosting. I told her what I had in mind, with no pictures except a rough sketch, and she added her input. She did an excellent job with all the details on the cake. I loved Jonathan as Einstein! That moustache just cracked me up! I also ordered two dozen cupcakes and used cupcake toppers from the printables. 

I also served mixed fruit in a watermelon test tube. This was my sister's brilliant idea! I didn't realize it would be so difficult to find an oblong watermelon! I was quite happy with the end result. It had two little mice on the top of the watermelon (charming little cheese cube holders in their real life) with little cartoon bubbles attached to each, one saying "Help Me!" and the other "Save the Lab Rats".
There was also another vintage white metal utility cart in the kitchen (sometimes it pays to be an antique dealer!) holding plates, forks, napkins and a tray of Jello in petri dishes with gummy worms. The kids really seemed to like these! Sterilized petri dishes were purchased on eBay.
The centerpiece for the table was a science experiment, too! Last summer I bought a cool tiered vase with 24 little bubble shaped vases at a garage sale for $1, having no idea what I would use it for. I added food coloring to the water and purchased white daisies, cutting a bloom for each vase. I put them in the water the night before the party and they were just beginning to draw color by party time. They were elevated on a clear glass cake

This is an overview of the table. I loved the way the aqua and orange color scheme looked.
Next I will show you some little details of the party that helped to make it special! It's all about the details!
Click on the pictures to enlarge and see the details, especially of the cake!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Science Party: Setting the Scene

 How do you turn a filled-to-capacity garage into a science lab? With lots of hard work and a little imagination! Fortunately I have a counter in my garage, which gave me the perfect place to showcase each experiment. I knew I wanted Einstein, so I decided to make the wall above the counter the place to showcase oversized  black and white Einstein posters.
I have three folding tables I used for antique shows, so these were centered in the garage as work stations for the kids. I covered these with white plastic tablecloths from Dollar Tree, and stapled them underneath the table to prevent them from sliding and to keep the overhang from being in the children's way. To avoid any conflict and confusion, I assigned each child a place and marked it with a large name tent. We had 6 boys and 6 girls in attendance (including Jonathan) so it worked out perfectly with 2 boys and 2 girls at each table. A card table was available to hold all of the equipment for our Professor McDaniel. Jonathan's preschool teacher graciously agreed to keep things interesting by being on hand to do scientific demonstrations and experiments for the kids. (Check out her new blog, Imagination Station !)
Lab coats with name tags were available for each child, from Mr. Disposable . They were long sleeve, so I cut the sleeves and rolled them for ease of arm movement.
Shelves were covered with rolls of brown craft paper as a backdrop for colorful classroom posters, purchased on eBay.A white metal utility cart kept tubs of water bottles readily available for children and adults. Trash cans labeled "Toxic Waste" were ready to collect the empties.
A vinyl banner, from Vista Print, was placed over the garage door welcomed guests into the "lab".
I was pleased with the final product, it was cute and functional for our garage science party.
Tomorrow: inside decor!
Counter and Einstein wall

Lab coats

Tables for little scientists

Wall of posters

Counter overview