Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Field Trip #421, The Anthony Thomas Chocolate Factory Tour

Remember, the key to my daily survival is keeping the kids busy, while I stay fully intoxicated by generous amounts of strong coffee and or fine chocolate. Field trip #421 killed two birds with one stone. Kids were engaged and learning while Mommie ate chocolate, CHECK!

Argenida and I schlepped the kids to the Anthony Thomas chocolate factory.
The guided tour was the perfect field trip on yet another day off from preschool. We saw how chocolate is made and the 8 little eyes with us were in awe. Of course, they do not allow photographs to be taken inside the operation, so we just paid attention and soaked up all the information. It was a 30 minute tour on a catwalk above the machines and staff in action. CJ asked our guide if he could work there, as in, right now. She told him he could apply for a job when he turns 18, and poor CJ was heartbroken. He got down on the floor and looked so sad.

The tour concluded with a free sample of their famous chocolate buckeyes.

My children were thrilled to taste what they just witnessed in production. My four OSU buckeyes ate their chocolate-peanut butter buckeyes with pleasure.

It would be too obvious to say that my field trip was as much fun as being a kid in a candy store. The tour begins and ends in the Anthony Thomas gift shop, so it was temptation overload for our group. We literally were in the candy store.

I was just happy that I could share this moment with my little ones. I am sure they will remember this for a long time. There are some things that get burned on your brain as a child, and I am pretty sure this is one of those things.

I highly recommend this tour if you are in the Columbus area. It is free, only 30 minutes or so long, and is very kid friendly. I suggest you follow my lead and take a helper with you, so that when it is time to leave you can tell the kids, to go to the van and get buckled because those who listen get a chocolate surprise to eat on the way home. I am totally not above bribery, and it works. We got out of there without any meltdowns or whining.

Now... who wants to ply me with coffee and chocolate? I can be bought you know. I promise to behave, really I do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Field Trip #420, visiting our NICU friends

When I need a feel good field trip I can count on the NICU staff at The Ohio State University Hospital. There is nothing more rewarding then showing the nurses and doctors how far we have come in such a short time.

Our photos still hang on the wall as you enter the unit and I can't help but gawk and stare at those little baby birds of mine. My how times have changed. Now we can all traipse up to the 6th floor without a stroller. We all hold hands, buzz for access into the unit and say hello. It has become so easy to go places.

Of course the highlight of the visit is the group hugwith Dr. Cordero, the chief neonatologist that discharged our preemies. He and the nurses get a sense of pride when they see our success story, times THREE!
It is so fun to show off how far we have come since our own stay in the NICU.

When it comes to field trips and days off from preschool, we have so much to do to stay busy. The field trip to the NICU is always a happy day for us.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Craft Craze Continues

It all started with some coloring books and crayons a few years ago. Now our craft craziness has morphed into a daily spectacle that includes glue, glitter, scissors, papers, beads, feathers, and all kinds of mediums. If my kids are in the house there is a good probability that they are creating something.

If I had a child or two, doing art projects would be relatively fun and easy. Since I have four kids so close together in age, our artwork is chaos, and clutter from the time we start until days after we finish. Imagine sprinkles of glitter in the grout of the tile floor. Picture tiny shards of paper cut with fancy pinking shears, stuck to various surfaces. Doing arts and crafts with my kids is like turning my kitchen into a preschool.

I found that keeping my children busy is the key to my happiness. So we have a craft to do on days when we do not have a field trip. I keep a stash of supplies and materials in the garage so that I can WOW them with something new and exciting. Lately, I have been letting them have unrestricted access to paper and crayons. This allows them to just help themselves and surprise me with their brilliant works. Whether it is a constructed or spontaneous activity the kids are all too glad to get their hands dirty.

Welcome to Passover break- these few non-school days must be over scheduled to avoid whining, boredom and temper tantrums--- MINE! So field trips and craft time are lifesavers for my own personal sense of sanity.

Big Lots carries the discontinued craft kits from Martha Stewart. I scored these fold over photo cards with envelopes. The package comes with everything you need to create 8 fancy photo frames with glue, glitter and card stock.
These were really simple to decorate and assemble and they turned out awesome! I filled them with some of my favorite photos from Jennifer Mullinax.I would like to think that the quality of the images helps the cards really pop. How cool is it to receive a custom made greeting card in the mail? For my $2 investment in the kit, we totally got our monies worth.

This balloon bird kit was another example of the Martha Stewart finds from Big Lots. The kids had a blast following the directions to embellish the balloons into various birds.
All the doo dahs and parts were individually wrapped so it kept things somewhat organized. The key in this little adventure seemed to be doing only one bird at a time.

The parts were all self stick with a peel back adhesive strip so this batch of birds was crafted without any scissors or glue. They turned out adorable

and the kids then played bird parade and various other games with their new pets.

Thanks to some great spring weather, it looks like we might be putting craft time on hold so we can enjoy some outdoor field trips. I might just send Amanda and Argenida to the park with the crew so I can take my own field trip to Big Lots. I must re-stock the garage for the rainy days in April. Ahhhh, the constant craft craze continues.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sisterly Love and Laughter

Having an older sister has advantages. Just ask Charlotte. She gets spoiled rotten by Amanda who is home for spring break. Our oldest and youngest daughters are so cute together. You can just tell how much Charlotte misses Amanda when she is away at college. Charlotte worships Amanda.

At age two and a half, Charlotte is a total sponge right now. If you say something once, there is good chance she is going to recall your statement and repeat it. This means that censorship is crucial around Charlotte because you just can not predict when and where she may say something she has picked up.

After Amanda saw Charlotte dancing like a Latin girl, she said, "Oh, good now she is going to be a stripper!" Of course, Charlotte the little repeating parrot totally achieved that piece of wisdom. So now, when you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, quite clearly, " A Stripper!" The whole conversation is not complete without the dance video.

Thanks Amanda, we have missed your sense of humor around here. Thankfully your Spring Break is only a week long. I am not sure how much more sisterly love and laughter we can take.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Definition of Clean

It is customary to thoroughly clean your home before Passover. It is a time to get rid of anything forbidden during the holiday, like crumbs, and leavened products. Since we are gluten free, and pretty much Passover-esque 24/7/365 it seems a bit redundant to revamp the pantry. Instead we focus on the more social aspect of Passover, like family time and drinking wine.

It is the deep cleaning element of Passover that most Jewish homemakers dread. Depending on the level of religiousness, preparing for Passover can be all consuming. Fortunately for me, we are on the relaxed side of celebrating. In fact, after the drama in one of my moms of multiples forums last week, I am questioning my own sense of priorities when it comes to cleaning and keeping a neat home. There are some moms that are control freaks about their homes and their kids suffer the wrath of that obsessive behavior. I am over on the other extreme of housekeeping. My kids will never know that white glove lifestyle.

I have never been a stellar housekeeper.(quit laughing Mom) I do not enjoy cleaning even though I appreciate a tidy environment. When we had a cleaning helper the house looked presentable most of the time. Now, fast forward a few years to: 4 toddlers, a 17 year old boy, and a Jack Russell Terrier under our roof, and things are not what they used to be. Our house looks lived in by 9 people because it is. Our home is NOT a museum or a show place. God Bless Argenida, who keeps us presentable and does damage control. Without her contribution we would be condemned.

I choose to spend my time enjoying my family. I play, read, craft, cook, blog and work every single day. I could find time to deep clean and keep our home looking magazine ready if I wanted to, but that would drastically cut into the time I get to spend with my children. I doubt they will remember our home being spotless, as much as they will recall how much fun we had together.

I look the other way when the clutter gets piled up, and I do the bare minimum it takes to keep the place one step above embarrassing. It is my easy going, fly by the seat of my pants attitude that makes this all work. Oh sure, I could be all anal retentive about the carpets and furniture but it would not do any good. We have berber carpet with the remains of the 16 ounce jar of honey that the boys spilled, we have a leather couch decorated in marker, and our walls are Jackson Pollock meets the preschool set. I love it all just the same. Perhaps some day our decor will be more mainstream, but for now, not so much.

To some folks this is horrifying, to others it is just keeping it real.

Our play room gets picked up every evening, but if you were to stop by during the day it is a war zone. It looks like children have invaded the space with books, toys, games, snacks and art projects. I appreciate the fact that this is their area, and I allow them to reek havoc so long as it stays in that room. This is our normal.

In honor of my Jewish heritage and tradition, I asked the kids to help me get the play room ready for Passover. They have been soaking up all the information at school, so why not use them as slaves like our ancestors. You have to understand my sacrastic teaching methods by now. Handing them some of theseamazing pre-loaded cleaning wipes, I was able to encourage them to wipe down the surfaces, clean the windows and detox the back of the couch.

They dusted, and spread the anti-bacterial liquid on the surfaces, so in some respects, it is actually cleaner than before. When they were done, it looked exactly the same as before they started. They tried and that is what is important to me. In their minds they were being helpful in getting ready for Passover.

My definition of clean is way below average. I am confident that someday my home will be clean by just about anyone's standards. For now, I like it just the way it is- happy, healthy and LOUD.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting Ready for Passover

somehow this post got stuck in draft mode, and did not post as originally planned. So it is posted today, even though the actual field trip occurred two weeks ago- ehhh, technical difficulties or user error?

The kids have been busy preparing for Passover. They have been learning all the details of the Seder Plate and the meaning of the items. We are almost to the point where they know more than I do about Passover. (not that I am setting the bar all that high, mind you.)

We went to a Passover story time at the Easton location of Barnes and Noble. The kids listened as the holiday related books were read,

and they helped volunteer to turn flaps on the pages. This was another one of my free field trips. I managed to get in and out of Barnes and Noble without stopping in the cafe for a caff-a-chino, call the Guinness Book of World Records on me.

It would not be a Passover event without some form of macaroons. The kids ate a few

before digging into the craft table. My children will use scissors, markers, glue, glitter, tape, and staplers like nobody's business. They have yet to meet a craft table they did not like.

In addition to the affikomen treat bags, there was a special Seder plate kit. The circles needed to be colored, cut and pasted onto the paper plates.

This is me without my brewed beverage in hand. While I might look normal next to the representative from The CHANEL school, I was really jonesing for a caffeine boost.

I helped 8 hands make some nifty Seder plate treasures. Natalie was really proud of her handiwork.I made sure to write her name and the date on the back so this special Seder plate can be a collectible, original work of art.

Given the usual preparations for Passover, like cleaning, and organizing, I will take a free field trip anytime. Thankfully, coffee is kosher for Passover and we are getting ready to celebrate a gluten free friendly holiday.

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