Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fingerpainting

Little kids love to feel and touch things. They also love to paint. So what better way to combine their fun than to have a little fingerpainting!

It's been a long time since Nicholas did any fingerpainting. Looking at the expression on his face, I think he was a little surprised that it was actually ok to run his hands all through the paint and get so messy.



Rachel is kind of funny about getting messy. And fingerpainting is messy.

She had fun squirting the finger paint on her paper. But she just didn't want to put her fingers in the stuff.

She found another way to make her fingerpaint artwork though.



Eventually she realized that fingerpainting is fun and there was no stopping her. She particularly enjoyed just smashing her hand right in big gobs of paint.





I love her chosen color pallet and use of shading and movement :)



I had some real fingerpaint paper (did you know there was such a thing?). It's neat because it has a light sealant on it so the paint stays on top of the paper and doesn't absorb into the fibers. This makes it fun to smear the paint all around or even draw designs in it with your finger or other tools.





Nicholas was proud to show me that he drew my initial in cursive in his fingerpaint.



Then he proceeded to make pretty hearts and swirls all over his page.



Of course, if you know Nicholas, you know he has no qualms about making messes and getting messy himself.

I dare say he revels in it!



Rachel came up with a great design for a paper airplane!



What fun but what a mess!

The Magic Time Machine in Addison



The Magic Time Machine is a really fun restaurant with such an unusual ambience that it is really more than just a place to go for dinner. It's more of a dining "experience" that's fun for kids and adults as well.

We went on Saturday night and had about a 30-45 minute wait, which the hostess said was rather short for a Saturday night. There were some chairs in the lobby where we could wait but if you actually want to enjoy waiting for your table then you've got to venture upstairs.

There we found a game room, a psychic who gave tarot card and handprint readings, a live magic show, and a caricature artist.

Wow! That's pretty impressive to us since the most exciting time we ever had waiting for a table involved being able to throw empty peanut shells on the floor.

We got the call that our table was ready and we were amazed as we walked through the restaurant. Nicholas loved seeing the school bus coming out of the wall. There was actually at least one other school bus in the restaurant and people were sitting at a table in it enjoying their dinner!



There were dining tables in little wooden huts, lunch boxes, a box of crayons, and a carousel, just to name a few. My curious son had to peek in to every little window at an interesting table. Poor people trying to eat!



It was so fun just to peek around each corner because we never knew what we would see next!

We were seated on the Pirate's deck and our waitress was wearing an Ariel costume....you know, Ariel as in the Walt Disney mermaid.

While we looked over the menu, we couldn't help but people watch...or really just waiter watch. We saw waiters walk by dressed as G.I.Joe, Captain Jack Sparrow, Alice in Wonderland, the Tooth Fairy, and Mario from the Mario Brothers game. Many of them stopped by our table to visit with us and sign the Magic Time Machine autograph books that the kids were given with their menus.

Everyone was silly and joking around. How can you not have fun in a place like this? My favorite was the overhead announcement, "Would the customer with the red Mercedes, license plate 342DJO please come to the front desk. Your car is on fire.....no, just joking. It's about to rain and your windows are down!"

All meals, even the kids meals, come with unlimited trips to the salad bar...I mean the salad CAR! Ha ha ha!



The menu has lots of great offerings for kids and adults. The kids were most excited about the Bubbly Magic Time Machine Potion which come to the table bubbling and smoking with their choice of colors - red, yellow, green, blue, or "ugly"!



The kids meals were a bit pricey at $7.99 but they had generous portions and the inflated costs were well-made up for with the entertainment from the staff that stopped by our table.



I had the shrimp scampi for dinner. It was well-flavored and full of big shrimp and more reasonably priced for what you get.



The food was great but obviously the atmosphere is the real reason to go to Magic Time Machine. You just can't have such an unusual dinner experience anywhere else.

And Rachel just lit up when Cinderella came over to get her picture taken with her.



Nicholas got a picture with G.I. Joe. They were quite a team as Joe gave Nicholas a water gun and kept the grenade for himself.



And of course, we had to get the kids some of the cool balloon animals. Nicholas got a leopard and a rocket so of course the leopard had to ride IN the rocket.



We had so much fun at the Magic Time Machine restaurant.

But I've got to warn you, don't ask anyone that works there for directions to the restroom. If you do, they just might announce to everyone that you have an itty bitty bladder or clap for you when you return to your seat.

The Magic Time Machine Resaurant is located on Beltline Road near the North Dallas Tollway. Their address is 5003 Beltline Road in Addison. For more information, please call them at 972-980-1903 or visit the Magic Time Machine website.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tarrant Area Food Bank



We had a great opportunity to tour the Tarrant Area Food Bank last week. I love being able to talk to my kids about issues such as hunger in the needy and expose them to these real life problems so that they gain an appreciation for the blessings in their lives and develop compassion for others who are going through difficult times.

Before we left the house, Nicholas gathered up a bag of food to donate to the food bank. He didn't even realize that he can meet a Cub Scout elective for helping the needy by doing this. He just wanted to do his part to help out.



Tarrant Area Food Bank is the distribution hub of a 13-county network of hunger-relief charities and social services centers. They receive fresh, frozen and nonperishable food donated by the food industry and the community. We visited their 69,000 square-foot warehouse in Fort Worth where they distribute food to 300 partner agencies that serve abuse victims, children, the elderly, the chronically ill, the unemployed, the working poor, the homeless and other Texans in need.



The primary mission of the TAFB is to distribe food to a network of hunger-relief charities that provide emergency groceries, meals and snacks to Texans in need. They provide pre-packaged foods as well as fresh produce. But they also have a working professional kitchen where they prepare meals that are then frozen before distribution to the needy.



The Tarrant Area Food Bank really does some amazing work.

To provide nourishment on weekends for children at high risk of hunger, Tarrant Area Food Bank collaborates with elementary and middle schools to offer its BackPacks for Kids program. This program is placed at schools where 80% or more of the students are eligible for free and reduced-cost meals.



The schools identify the economically disadvantaged students, and Tarrant Area Food Bank provides the backpacks and the food that children can easily access without the help of adults. At the end of the school week, children take home food for themselves and their school-aged siblings.

There are rooms and rooms of shelves full of food. Nicholas loved watching the fork lifts at work. Rachel was a little scared, especially when they made their loud beeping sound when going in reverse.



There were boxes and boxes of food everywhere and trucks bringing more food in. However, there were also big trucks pulling in to take loads of food away to get it to the people who really need it.



The Tarrant Area Food Bank, and other local food banks that may be closer to your home, can always use your help. Here are some ways that you can do your part:

1. Donate non-perishable food items such as dry cereals, pasta, crackers, canned goods, pasta sauce, rice, dried beans, as well as kitchen staples such as flour, sugar, and salt. Some food banks also accept donations of non-food items such as paper towels, paper plates, as well as personal items like toilet paper and diapers to distribute to the needy.
2. Organize a community food drive and promote awareness of the need for food to others in your neighborhood.
3. Volunteer your time to help out on-site.
4. Monetary donations are always appreciated.



I'm very glad that we were had the chance to visit the Tarrant Area Food Bank. It was a good learning experience and a needed reminder that we can all do a little more to help others who are struggling with tough times. For as the saying goes, "There but for the grace of God go I".

The Tarrant Area Food Bank is located at 2600 Cullen Street in Fort Worth. For more information about how you can help or receive services, please call them at 817-332-9177 or visit the Tarrant Area Food Bank website.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Fun

Easter has been simple but fun this year. We were out of town last weekend when most of the local egg hunts were taking place so I feel bad that my kids didn't hunt for eggs this year. But we had fun in other ways.

We dyed eggs. Rachel was excited because she's never done this before.



First you put the dye tablet in a cup and add a little bit of white vinegar and wait for the tablet to dissolve. Rachel liked watching the bubbles fizz as the dye and vinegar did their thing.



Waiting really is the hardest part.



Once the tablets were completely dissolved then the kids could add water to their cups.



Let the egg dyeing begin! Nicholas is an old pro at this so he already had a plan for his eggs and went right to work.



Rachel wasn't quite sure what to do.



Rachel did well with the little egg scoop tool and was able to gently put her eggs in the cups.



Now you are supposed to let the egg sit for several minutes while it absorbs the dye.



Rachel couldn't stand the wait. About 5 seconds was the most that any of her eggs got in the dye. And she quit using the nice egg tool that kept her hands out of the dye. She decided it was much quicker to just dunk her hands into the water to retrieve her egg.



Then once her eggs were out, she broke into most of them probabl expecting there to be candy goodies inside. What a disappointment it must have been to find only egg.



In the past, we have been given some confetti eggs that friends have made by delicately piercing an egg, draining the contents through a small hole in the shell, cleaning the egg, and then filling with confetti. You take the egg and crack it over someone's head and confetti falls all over them. It's fun but I've never had the free time to make them myself.

But this year I found some at our grocery store. Fun!



These were even brightly colored.



Nicholas knew just what to do and he enjoyed dumping the confetti on Rachel.



Again and again.



I finally had to get Nicholas to kneel down so that Rachel could actually get her egg above his head to the confetti would fall on him.



This morning the Easter Bunny must have come to visit because he left two baskets hidden for the kids. Nicholas found his right away.



Rachel walked right past hers several times.



Oh, there it is!



It's always fun to go through the goodies in your Easter Basket and then see how much candy you can sneak into your mouth before breakfast!



Kissing his chocolate bunny...



Nicholas told us later today that he knows how the Easter Bunny gets into our house. He said that Stuart and I must be the Easter Bunny because how else could be bunny get in? We've told him before that they must have Easter magic but today he said there is no such thing as magic...except for Santa's Christmas magic.

We didn't confirm or deny his suspiscions so I'm not sure how convinced he is about the status of the Easter Bunny. Stuart and I are very sad that he is getting so close to growing out of this fun, innocent part of his childhood. But at least he still has a strong belief that Santa Claus must be real.

Fun at Anna's Acres

We went to a Spring Eggstravaganza at Anna's Acres in Anna, Texas yesterday morning. It was a free event put on by Playin' Around Town. We love their events because they always do fun things for kids and the events are always FREE!

I had an idea where Anna, Tx was. It was a bit of a drive but I thought it would be worth it so that the kids could get to participate in an Easter Egg Hunt this year since we missed all of our local ones. I don't mind driving a distance but I got lost. My GPS in my car, which I totally rely on to get me anywhere, drove me right up to a gated subdivision in an entirely different town. That was the best it could do to get me there. You know, you have to buy updated maps for those GPS things every now and then so it knows were all the newers roads are. I haven't done that.

Fortunately, my phone has GPS too and it got me to where I needed to be....on a long dirt/gravel road in the middle of nowhere! But after an hour on the road and being lost, I was just glad to be on the right track.



Yay! We made it to Anna's Acres!



The kids were antsy to get out of the car and ready for an Easter Egg hunt.



Unfortunately, we got there too late and missed all the egg hunts. But there were plenty of other fun activities to keep us happy.



Rachel spent hours in the bounce houses. They are her new favorite thing!



She especially likes these bounce houses that have slides and obstacle courses included.



Eagle's Wing Athletics was on site with a whole set up of gymnastic tools to help little kids learn how to tumble.



She had so much fun there that I think I'm going to have to look into a toddler gymnastics class for her.



Nicholas spent most of his time with the other big kids in the game truck from Games, Set, Go!. It's a big truck trailer with big screen televisions and lots of seats for kids to play video games together. It's a cool idea but a bit addictive because I didn't think I was ever going to get Nicholas out of that thing!



We had fun on a horse-drawn carriage ride.



Nicholas kept asking the horse to run. Fortunately, the horse ignored his requests.



Then the kids got to ride on the cutest little pony ride!



Look how sweet that pony is...oh, and my kids are kind of sweet too!



Thanks Playin' Around Town for another fun event! I don't think my kids even cared about missing the egg hunt after all the fun they ended up having.