Animal Crackups

I LOVE animal crackers!  I especially LOVE the Barnum and Bailey red bag of them, YUM!  So when this photo in Parents magazine showed up of a Giraffe eating a little girl’s hair I was reminded first of animal crackers (because I secretly bite off the heads of the animals first before eating the bodies) and second because of all the times we have visited zoo’s and the funny eating adventures that sometimes happen during our trips with the kids or the animals!

I’ll have to fill you in on what I mean by eating adventures because I can only sometimes capture the images on the camera, but hopefully your imagination can fill in the blanks.  Just make sure you sit down with a bag of animal crackers before reading this post!

The boys and I watched these group of penguins being fed by the Zoo staff, and marveled at all the fish they ate!  The boys also marveled at all the POOPING the penguins did after eating their fair share of fish.

See that giraffe behind us?  Do you see him eating?  I swear every time we go to a zoo the animals are eating?!  But you can’t always capture them doing it… let alone on your hair!  This giraffe wasn’t even eating food, he was trying to eat bubbles that were floating around from a nearby kids art project that was happening at the zoo.  It was definitely too hard to see the bubbles in the photo but we watched him trying to eat them for minutes before the zoo staff caught on and ended the bubble-making project in that area.  It probably wasn’t the best thing for a giraffe to eat, but he didn’t get very many… they kept popping before he could get his mouth around them!

This is one of my favorite zoo images because I love Elephants and to watch them eat pumpkins is so cool!  I had to search for this image because the zoo only feeds the elephants pumpkins at one time of year (right after Halloween) so check your local zoo’s website for special feeding dates.

Whatever adventures you find at your local zoo be sure to have your camera ready for those amazing or funny shots that you are guaranteed to have when you put animals, food and kids in the same environment!

Siblings

I consider myself pretty lucky in life because I’ve been given so many opportunities to truly understand the beauty of the “truly important things in life” such as love, family, friends, travel, nature, education and creativity.

One of those items, family, has offered me many lessons in love and life, specifically with my siblings, a younger sister and brother.  I have had so many memories with both siblings that I will cherish forever (or some that I want to forget but in our age have now become jokes we all laugh about!).  I valued the importance of siblings so much that when my oldest son was born I knew I never wanted him to be an only child.  Unfortunately, my life only allowed for him to have a sibling when he was already ten years old and had lived most of his youth by himself.  But, I am an eternal optimist and believe that even with this decade of time between my two boys that eventually when they are adults they will appreciate each other’s presence in their lives in a sibling way.

When I see photos like the one in Parents magazine (below) I am often reminded of my boys and how their sibling presence will affect their lives in positive (or sometimes negative) ways but in the end when I’m gone they will at least have each other.

I already see my youngest son looking up to his older brother, and often have to remind the older son that this little boy admires his every move (so he shouldn’t encourage dangerous jumping-off-the-chair behaviors yet!).  And every once in awhile I see this exchange of love and knowledge sharing happening between them without my cue or oversight and it is one of the most precious things in the world to behold as a parent!

These moments remind me of all the times I spent with my own siblings on our farm growing up together and they always make me smile.  I can only imagine how both my boys will look back on their lives many years from now and know the joys of having a sibling and smile just the same way!

Sybil and Jared, you both have been amazing siblings that have shaped the best moments of my life and this post is for YOU!

Go VOTE!

November always seems in-between the season of fall for me… here in Seattle we have the weather that is half-way between the warm, sunshine of summer and the crisp winds of winter. November sits on the fence transitioning pumpkins from ones of silly or scary jack-o-lanterns to ones of pie for Pilgrims. And this “fence-sitting” has also seemed to fall into place with the big Presidential elections during the first part of this month.

Our family is right on that American fence, half for one party and half for the other (with a couple of libertarians or green parties thrown in for good flavor!) so you can imagine that we have a variety of jokes and serious conversations that have led up to today. But, no matter what people seem to think… we all believe that VOTING is the most important part of all this process and a right we should never take for granted.

This month’s Parents magazine had a couple of different takes on the Presidential election worth taking a look at…

From childish, innocent ideas such as these cute kids toys

To the multi-issue article on mommy’s choices on what they want in a President (this is just a one page wrap up of the entire article)

To a small article and summary of both candidates

But no matter WHO you vote for (for President, Governor, local state representatives, etc.) just make sure you VOTE and excercise your basic American right… just in time to give THANKS at the end of November for that right!

Have a BOO-tiful Halloween!

I am almost done with my Halloween outfit and my oldest son has his done but we need to finish the youngest this week so to inspire us this month’s Parents magazine had lots of ideas and a great coupon from Michaels Craft stores!  Print it and use it for yourself too!

One way I decided to use our Michaels coupon was to get a spider, web and tacks for this awesome pumpkin idea…

We also were thinking of a traditional carved look on our front porch…

Another idea we had for our Michaels materials was to make a second Halloween Candy personalized bag…

I made one of these for my oldest son years ago and wanted another to keep for the little one (just look how small we made these?!  NOT very much candy to get a those ages!)

And of course you can use your coupon to get items for your costumes, just look at all these cute (and creative) ideas! …

If you’re wondering what those orange scissors are on the images, these are pages from my online magazine which has great how-to instructions linked into the photos.  I am really getting into this online reading thing… so much more interactive!  (but I secretly LOVE Libraries and printed copies too!)

Another option for all that candy your kids are going to gather is to trade it in for other things like toys, gift cards or MONEY!  Parents gave another example of a program you can find in your area to turn candy into $$ CASH $$ and even help sweeten the lives of others at the same time!

Have you put a LOT of time into that costume just to only wear it once or twice?  Need some other ideas for all that work?  I’ve donated my old costumes to my younger son’s preschools in the past for a dress up area.  But don’t give anything away that you can’t stand to see torn apart… it will happen!  Another idea I found this year (for those lucky costumes that didn’t get pulled apart by Toddlers) is to find a local costume store and consign them!  I ended up taking in two older costumes and in return earned enough credit for my great Mad Hatter’s hat (normally $45-50 retail)… SCORE!  And if neither of those tickle your fancy you can always try for a reward in a costume contest?!  You might just get some great prizes to share with the whole family like this idea below mentioned in Parents magazine

No matter which way you go for costumes… the stars seem to be aligned for many of us to have a completely enjoyable day and night, so savor the one day of the year we get to dress up with the kids!

Quick on the Draw…

My oldest son has my creative gene and thank goodness for that!  I’ve always taken my families creative gene as a wonderful gift to possess and seeing it in a child is even more wonderful to watch, nurture and encourage!  Ever since my oldest and I had a children’s line of clothing he has been in an art studio (aka the extra bedroom or garage) with me working on something or even doodling in-between (hopefully not to much during!) class.

As he has gotten older his tastes for what kind of art he feels like creating have been changing too… the whimsical crayon coloring has turned into pretty great drawing abilities and all that designing of clothes has turned into redesigning larger sports objects like bikes and scooters.

This month’s Parents magazine article about drawing and the meanings of drawings is an interesting look into a child’s gift…

My son’s drawings definitely range from everyday items (like these multiple images below of his scooter pictures he wanted to take for an art competition for school) to some that show a lot into the advertising that young people are exposed to on a regular basis.

My son wanted to show off his drawings from yesterday for you…

He is constantly working on replicating characters that he enjoys from familiar cartoons and/or working on a new bike or skateboard logo design and we are thinking (and encouraging) movement towards computer aided design for his future because of this clear passion he has.  Just look at his finished scooter below… from redesign to art entry!

My suggestion to parents… read these kind of articles that talk about your child’s drawing or art abilities but more importantly ENCOURAGE their exploration of their passions because they are a gift worth sharing with the world!

Retro baby!

This month Parents magazine suggests taking your child back to your childhood with some Retro-fit ideas!

I ADORE photo booths and immediately wanted to do this with my boys… but BOY, is it hard to find a photo booth around Seattle?!  I used to go to one with my older son for a couple of years in Boulder, CO when we lived there but they break down often and there are not very many repair men anymore so it too was short-lived.

Instead we decided to go Retro cool by cutting a record at the wonderful project called Needle on the Record.  I shared the two individually created songs I made for both boys when they were born and we talked about their wonderful qualities.  I had wanted to go into the studio and cut this record for months after hearing the KUOW program about it this summer and it closed on October 21st so it was now or never!

My boys (and family and all my friends for like the last 20 years) know that I ADORE Polaroids as well which are tremendously RETRO and if you haven’t tried any of the new Polaroid-like cameras I would recommend this easy (but not cheap) way to capture a bit of your youth with your young ones!

Trick or TWEET

My kids use my iPhone for all sorts of things… gaming, naming, school work, photo taking, little-brother-crying… really ANYTHING that is needed at the time, especially if the computer, TV or iPad are all being used by others… iPhone is the backup no matter what.

With this month’s #Halloween theme I’ve been searching all the iPhone apps for #Halloween inspired #TrickOrTWEET inspirations.  Here are a couple you might want to check out…

I LOVE Instagram… so it was necessary to find the #Halloween photo-editing equivalent which seems to be the “Scary Camera Free” version.  Here are some fun images with it…

Of course since this is a whole year of Parents magazine I had to download their “Carve-a-Pumpkin” app which is great (and not scary) for my little one.

I decided to go a bit into the paranormal activity for myself and download the “Ghost Radar” app.  It’s like being a paranormal researcher in your own home?!  I can’t wait to go outside and try it out!  (but I think I’ll still stay away from the cemetery just in case?!!)

Have fun with your #Halloween apps this month and don’t forget to #TrickOrTWEET all those cute costume pics!