Dorian Turns Nine

I have a nine year old. How weird is that? Dorian’s birthday was on the 14th, but we celebrated over two days since Irving had to work on the actual date.

First, the cake. Dorian is obsessed with Garfield right now, having read something like 10-12 Garfield books that my sister brought down, in a month! So, naturally, his cake was Garfield. I can’t say how fun it was to do a non-zombie theme for the first time in years!

Dorian requested bacon and eggs for breakfast and we had pizza for lunch. After breakfast, the boys played with their new Slugterra blasters and played with Dorian’s Doctor Dreadful – Alien Autopsy.

Nice and gross. You didn’t think we’d have a birthday without ANY gore, did you? ? The boys really enjoyed playing with the Alien Autopsy, especially with the oobleck stomach contents. There is a vibrating motor under the alien that makes the stomach contents crawl up and look like worms wiggling out and then back down again. It’s actually pretty cool.

Supposedly the candy is all edible, but the stomach was basically tiny cookie crumbs in cornstarch, with water added, so that was pretty unappetizing. They tasted it and then just watched it crawl around for a good 15 minutes. The intestines were far more appetizing and involved squeezing blue goo into the intestinal cavity with a syringe which everyone had to try. That produced a kind of gummy candy that you had to fish out of the liquid . . . perfectly gross fun.

The second part of the celebration was going to Florencia yesterday. We took along Sofia and her parents and everyone had a blast! The kids ran and rolled and played until they were exhausted while the adults supervised and cooked up some meat and potatoes on the built-in grills. It was very relaxing.

Simple Nativity Suncatchers

We decided to make some nativity suncatchers, inspired by this post, today. We needed a simple activity since three of us have been sick over the past few days, but something that would keep everyone occupied for a bit since Irving is playing gigs pretty much every day and three hyper boys are a little much for this under-the-weather mama when they are going all day long!

I pre-cut the nativity scenes out of black construction paper and put them on contact paper with help from Dante. Then all three boys put squares of tissue paper over the whole thing.

We sealed the back with another layer of contact paper and then trimmed the pictures and hung them in the window so they were backlit. They all turned out really well!

The order, from top to bottom is Dorian, Dante and Dominic. As you can see, even toddlers can get great results!

The San Juan Nispero Festival

With my sister here, we’ve been doing some fun stuff, like visiting ruins and enjoying the local sights. Over the weekend, there was a nispero festival in San Juan del Obispo, just outside Antigua. Naturally, we had to check it out.

Nisperos are also known as loquats and they are rather like little peaches. They are super juicy and delicious, with three or four large seeds inside. San Juan is known as THE place to buy nisperos.

The festival is held in the central plaza, in front of the church. There were stands with assorted nispero related offerings on two sides of the plaza and the rest was simply ironworks and wood carving booths, etc. Basically, all the artisans came out to celebrate and take advantage of the crowds. It was neat to see!

Prize winning nisperos!

You could buy nispero marmalade or nisperos in syrup. My sister snagged a jar of jam to take home.

There was also plenty of nispero wine, some mixed with pineapple or other fruit.

Sometimes it’s good to be a tourist in your own area. :)

Fun with Bubble Dough!

Wow, August has flown by! I apologize for not writing more often. It literally feels like my last post was a few days ago, but I guess it was more like a few weeks.

The other day, Irving was gone for a couple of days and the boys were going bonkers while I was trying to write an ebook, so I decided to make some bubble dough. I found the recipe on Creative Playhouse and it’s a nice twist on ordinary playdough. All three boys had a great time with it.

This stuff is weird, but fun. It’s solid and almost liquid at the same time, like ooblek, but you can mold it! If you pull hard, it breaks, but let it stretch out and it will turn almost gooey. Leave a well formed ball on the table and it will “melt” into a puddle looking gloop that firms up as soon as you scoop it up. I had as much fun playing with it as the kids!

To make Bubble Dough, you need:

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup liquid soap (apparently DAWN does not work!)
2 teaspoons oil

I added the oil to the cornstarch and mixed it well, then slowly added the soap, a bit at a time, mixing it well with each addition. It does take a bit to come together, but it’s worth it! Get the kids to help you knead it.

We also found that it dried out rather quickly, so we just added a little more soap when that happened and it was fine. It does leave a powdery residue if you let it dry on a surface, but since it has soap in it, the whole thing washes up super fast.

The best part of this recipe is that it doesn’t require borax, which I have never been able to find here. Often, we can’t find the ingredients for the fun activities I see on Pinterest, but this is one that we could do.

Reading with My Boys

readingI have been reading to the boys since they came home from the hospital. They almost never go to bed without a story and while they are drastically different in age, the older boys enjoy a good picture book when I read it to Dominic still. However, recently, we have moved into proper chapter books for the older boys.

We’d read Geronimo Stilton books before, which they loved, but those are EXPENSIVE here in Guatemala, so we didn’t get any others (the first ones I found in pacas or they were brought to us by friends). These books are packed with illustrations and bright text, so they’re a good transition between picture books and chapter books.

More recently, the older boys went on a Willy Wonka movie kick and watched the movie about five times in a couple of weeks. I told them that the book is even better because it describes the candy and is much more interesting. Well, they asked if we have it and of course, I did. So we sat down that night and read two chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They were instantly sucked into the story. We read it every night and they were eager for more.

When I reached the end of the book, Dorian said, “What?! Wait, that can’t be the end!” And Dante told me I was fired. They both inspected the book to make sure I wasn’t just joking and that really was the end. I told them that it’s fine to finish a good book because there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of awesome books in the world and we could now read another one.

They picked Harry Potter. It’s a smidge old for them and the British English throws them off sometimes, but they are both listening. Dante draws while I read and Dorian rolls up in his blanket and leans against me to listen. So far, they are most fascinated by the flying lessons, but of course, everything is new for them, having never been to school and certainly not boarding school, so sometimes we have to stop and I explain some things to them. So far, considering it is a more difficult book, they are doing very well and we’re all enjoying it.

I grew up with my parents reading to us until we were teens. I fully plan do that with my boys, too. What are your favorite books to read aloud?

Funny Animals

My parents have a small hobby farm where they keep ducks, chickens, a pig and some goats. Since we can’t be there to hang with the animals, they send the kids photos of the chicks as they grow and the other animals, as well as videos of the goat kids doing silly stuff like climbing on the pig. The boys LOVE these and it has gotten to the point where if I show them an animal picture or video, they assume it’s from Gramma and Grampa.

The other day, I found this video on Facebook and showed it to the boys. Their reaction? “WHOA! Gramma and Grampa got a LOT of baby goats! I hope they don’t all jump on the pig!”

This is now one of their favorites and is guaranteed to make them laugh every time. Even if it isn’t one that their grandparents sent. :)

Family Movie Night: Wall-E

I have been wanting to do something as a family that doesn’t involve spending much money. While visits to the park are nice and free, I wanted more fun factor. On a forum that I frequent, there was a discussion of movie nights with themed food and it was such a cool idea that we decided to make it happen.

I chose Wall-E for the first movie night. We hadn’t watched it since Dante was about 3 or 4, so it was a good choice. Plus, Dominic is really into robots at the moment.

To begin, I made some tickets for the movie night, based on the tickets found here.

We colored some planets and made a planet mobile and we cut out some Wall-E glasses that I printed from this site. The boys loved them!

Finally, there was food. It was all Wall-E themed!

The menu:

The table (I used metallic twist paper to give it a space age feel and cut out stars from colored paper, it wasn’t too fancy, but it used what I had on hand):

I made meatloaf in a brownie pan to get the cubes. Surprisingly, everyone liked them, except Dorian!

We also had a Build-Your-Own-Robot Salad, where I cut some veggies into squares and rectangles of varying sizes and everyone got to build their own robot with them. You can see Dante’s robot here and the cubed potatoes.

And finally, Galactic Jello for dessert! This was MUCH anticipated by the kids. They saw me making it and were dying to try it. I got the idea from this awesome Dr. Who galaxy Jello, but I didn’t have many of the things she did, including blue Jello. I used pink Jello with blue food coloring to give it that darkness and added an assortment of sprinkles. I didn’t have stars, so I put snowflakes in and they worked fine. Unfortunately, most of the sprinkles in the middle dissolved and there was weird sugary liquid seeping everywhere when I cut into the dessert . . . but the kids didn’t care!

Overall, the first family movie night was a big hit. We’ll be doing more, for sure, but I need to plan out the movies in advance so I can make sure to include the proper ingredients in our monthly shopping. It was hard to find something that we had the ingredients for!

Discovery Bags

I’ve been trying to do at least one fun activity with the boys each day. So far, so good! Here’s another fun thing we did the other day. I thought it would be just for Dominic, but I did make two bags, just in case one of the big boys wanted to mush stuff around. Boy, was I wrong! They BOTH wanted discovery bags and were quite miffed that I didn’t make three. Ah well. Next time.

So, discovery bags are basically just bags with hair gel in them and a bunch of small items from around the house to fit a theme. We did ocean themed bags. Our hair gel is already blue (???) so there was no need to add food coloring, but you can do that if you want. About a quarter cup is all you need.

I used a variety of items, including some fish sequins I’ve been saving since forever, some sequin spirals, some foam fish that I cut out myself, plus some starfish, also from foam. I also put in a little of the silver raffia stuff I found in the paca the other day and some star and moon confetti sequins (“Hello, my name is Genesis and I’m a sequinaholic.”)

Make sure all the air is out of the bag or it will pop. Oh, who are we kidding, it’s going to pop anyway, if you have crazy kids like mine. :) The first bag lasted all of ten minutes, but the second one is still going strong. Seal the top with tape to remind little fingers not to open the bag. The gel is really cool, so on hot days, apparently, it’s fun to smoosh the bag over bare knees and feet.

All the blogs I’ve seen that have done this have taped the bag to a window. I didn’t do that because Dominic just broke the one window that is low enough for him to do this with. I did try putting them on the fridge, but they stayed put all of 2.4 seconds. Whatever. I told them to play outside and they did, so the gel was just hosed away later. No biggie.

Last, but not least, Dominic demonstrating the squishiness of the bag in a blog-safe manner. I seriously didn’t tell him to do this, he saw the camera, held the bag over his face (while grinning his photo grin behind it and waited for me to take the picture. Then he said, “Let’s see?” and ran to check out how photogenic his chubby little hands are.

Fun with Water Beads

Last night, I dumped 23 packets of water beads into the boys’ pool. I had this image of a pool full of water beads, but since our pool is 6 feet across, it would have been nearly impossible to fill. So I had to settle for about 2 gallons of fully grown water beads.

This morning, it looked like this:

Around 7:30, the kids wandered out to dip their fingers in the water, as they like to do each morning. The next thing I heard was … “WHAT the heck?! What the heck are these things?!” and then, “Dorian, there’s JELLO in the pool!”

Needless to say, it was a big hit! They jumped in even though the water was freezing.

And then, the big discovery. “There’s INVISIBLE ones, too!” Nearly half the beads were clear and they totally disappeared in the water. They spent about an hour dipping the beads out and seeking out all the invisible ones.

I highly suggest this if you want to have some fun with your kiddos. We even used them for school after they dipped them out.

Dominic did color sorting:

And the big boys learned about weight.