Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A very Harry Potter birthday party!

Both kids have been Harry Potter obsessed this past school year! I have always told them that when they are ready to read them, we will read them together. I never got into them when they were first published, but loved the movies. D came home this year saying she was bummed because the librarian wouldn't let her check the books out. So we started to read the first book a few days later. We have gotten nearly through the first 3 books now, and they can't wait to get to the 4th. Of course when the idea of birthday party came up they both agreed it had to be a Potter Party!

I had found the perfect frog mold from a local cake decorating store, and we just had to give each kid a chocolate frog to take home. Adam found and made the wizard trading cards to stick in the bags as well.

Adam also made the invite and house badges for the kids to choose during the sorting hat ceremony.

We had planned to play a game of Quidditch, and tried to find an inexpensive way to get each kid a broom. Dollar Tree pool noodles to the rescue! We pulled a zip tie around toward the bottom, and then cut long strips from that to the bottom. They worked perfectly!

And of course we needed to have a wanted wizard poster!
The day of the party! We had house banners and the wanted wizard poster hanging from the east side of the picnic shelter.
And Platform 9 3/4 from the west side of the shelter. Here is where the kids and the party began...

After heading through the platform, the kids arrived at Ollivander's wand shop. Each kid stepped up to a table, blindfolded, and had the wand pick the wizard. We practiced our spell waving wands while we waited for our friends, Remember, swish and flick.

Next up it was the sorting hat ceremony! We had the house badges ready with circles of tape on the back. As we put the hat on each person, they shouted out which house they wanted to belong to. Now, some of our friends were not familiar with Harry Potter or any of the houses, so we explained that at this party all wizards and houses were good.

After everyone was proudly wearing their house badge, it was time for draw the scar on Harry. Adam drew a basic Harry face on a sheet of foam core board. The kids lined up, went one at a time, blindfolded, and with a Sharpie had to get the scar in the right spot. They all had fun with this one, and Harry turned out to be super colorful!

Then lastly it was time for a round of Quidditch. We had to modify the rules a bit. We had made goals out of scrap pieces of wood and small hula hoops from Dollar Tree. The different size balls were also found at Dollar Tree and Wal-mart. We had them use the large size to throw through the hoops, since we had kids from ages 1-10 playing the game at the same time.

(I had gotten the kids matching shirts that say "I solemnly swear I am up to no good", I sort of want one now that says "Mischief Managed")

Now that the kids were all worn out and hot, it was time to eat. We kept it simple food wise this year, and just did basic cookout foods. Then it was cake time! I had made a double chocolate "Hagrid" cake, and a very vanilla Golden Snitch cake by the kids requests.

The kids then happily opened gifts and we handed out the treat bags. The treat bags this year were the chocolate frogs, jelly slugs, and Harry Potter rings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Camps for all

The kids have both been very very busy this summer! Our school corporation has hosted a bunch of free summer camps for both kids and they were very excited about it. It started the first full week of break with L going to Culture Camp-Berlin at 8:00am Monday-Friday. There he learned about German history, culture, music, food, and language. It ended with an open house where there was dancing at a disco, pretzels, and showing off the Berlin wall.

The 2nd full week of break, D had visual arts camp at the high school at 8:00am. The entire week was spent learning all about different types of art, meeting an artist, and going on another field trip to the Snite Museum. She was in heaven and even more special was the fact she got to spend the morning of her birthday there. On Friday there was an open house for us to come in and see everything they worked on. I was very impressed with the amount of quality work they produced!

The 3rd full week of break, we were back at the high school at (you guessed it) 8am for swim lessons for both kids. (Can you see the theme)  They have wanted to take lessons for a few years, we just didn't have the time or the money to do them. This year surprisingly we had both. They also had watched friends at these swim lessons the week prior and that was a big motivator for them. They both have friends also taking lessons at the same time, just in different levels. These lessons ran 1 week (Mon-Fri) on, one week off due to the 4th, and then 1 week on again. I have noticed a giant difference in their abilities already!

This past week was our last week of school summer camps! We ended with L taking a week long art camp just like D did last month. Sadly after the 3 day, he didn't feel it was the right fit for him. A person in charge made him feel like a grudge was being held against him and he just wasn't having fun. So we told him he didn't need to keep going, but that we would pick up any art work he had done on the last day. This piece was my favorite by far! It was a clay mask that he had made all by himself, and for a boy who thinks his art is no good, this proved him wrong!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Binder Park Zoo, Battle Creek Michigan

If you hadn't been able to figure out yet, we LOVE going to zoos, especially ones that are new to us. I had heard about this park years ago, and finally decided it was time to try it. We called up our best friends and loaded up in their van for an adventure! This time we were headed for Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek Michigan. We had to postpone our trip a day due to weather but we happily piled into the car first thing in the morning. The friends we went with have been our best friends/adventure buddies now for about 7 years, so travel is always easy. (other than fighting about who sits where in the van and which movie to watch)  Like we normally do as well, we pack a bunch of snacks, water, and a lunch to have mid day.

 We had made sure to pack sunscreen and ended up not needing it. The entire zoo is fully shaded by tons of wonderful trees. What we DID need and neither brought was bug spray. (next time!) Right away there were a bunch of fun things to have pictures with like a dodo bird or a giant ant!

 We decided to start by taking the tram to the Wild Africa section. We were thrilled at the set-up! It was as if we had really taken a tram to the Savannah. There was a customs hut, amazingly decorated areas, a fun walk path where you stumbled across elephant bones poachers left behind, a ranger station and training grounds, and the equipment building. I think that all the kids learned a few new things along the way, and the moms got a kick out of all the details.

 Had to feed the giraffes again!

Once we were done and had taken the tram back from Africa, it was lunch time. Luckily there were a few picnic tables right across where we had parked. So we grabbed our lunches and had a lovely little picnic. Afterwards, we headed into a little nature center. The kids got to explore different animal sounds, small reptiles, hang out in the roots of a large "tree", and run away from a giant life size elephant!

Then it was off to the domestic type animals. Again, things to sit on and get pictures with. There was also a goat petting zoo, where L got a kick out of the fact one tried to eat his shirt.

The only thing that I didn't exactly get was they had giant dinos in the domestic section. Odd, but very neat!

 (they actually fought over who got to sit on the nose of this non-moving not real dino)

Overall it was a great day, and the 1 3/4 hours flew by! I don't think we will go back multiple times a year or even every year, but we will go back.

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