Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Roanoke Community Pool

We went to the Roanoke Community Pool today for the first time. It's a great little pool and waterpark. It doesn't have really deep spots so Nicholas could walk around the whole pool with his head above water. Rachel loved the toddler water slide.



She really liked having me at the bottom of the slide even though the water wasn't deep. Somehow it was just reassuring to her. Even after she started playing with one of her friends and seemed to forget about me, she would go down the slide and still start looking all around for me. She always got a big grin when she spotted me.



We really had a good time here with our friends. It's a small pool and you can see everything from one spot so it's easy to keep up with multiple kiddos. We'll definitely be back!



The Roanoke Community Pool is located at 416 S. Walnut in Roanoke. Children ages 8 and younger are FREE, ages 9 and older are $2 for residents or $6 for non-residents. The pools hours are Monday CLOSED, Tuesday - Friday 11:00 am - 7:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am - 7:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Family History

My dad has been researching our family history since I was little. He has traced our lineage back hundreds of years and across the ocean before our ancestors came to America. When I got married and moved away to a new state far away from any relatives, I found myself feeling very disconnected from my family.

From then on, when I would go home to visit, I found myself wanting to learn more about my family, where other more distant family members were living now, and I had a new appreciation for those old stories my parents have told me over my lifetime. You know, those old stories about family members I've never met and how much harder life was when my parents were young when they didn't have all of today's amenities.

As I started actually paying attention to these stories, I became interested in learning more about who these people were and how I was related to them. My dad would draw out basic family tree structures which showed how various people were related to each other. Knowing who the people were that these stories were about added so much color to my impression of my family. It made me proud of who I was and what my ancestors had done to help in various wars and other achievements that helped our country or even just our family progress and succeed throughout history.

I only wish that I had learned more about my family at a younger age so that I could appreciate those stories from my grandmother who has now passed away. It is so important to take the time to talk to family members and preserve the family history because otherwise their stories will die with them.

I was very excited to see that there is a Cub Scout Belt Loop and Pin award for reseraching Heritages. I had not actually thought of talking to Nicholas yet about our family history and who his ancestors were but then again, why not?

We started with a trip to our library. You can find everything at the library! We found several books about family history written on a child's level so that they were easy to understand.



I decided to just start with a very basic family tree of four generations - Nicholas, parents, grandparents, and his great grandparents. I found pictures of everyone and printed them in a thumbnail size but you could just cut out the faces from any size picture that you already have printed. I got some 12x12 cardstock, tape, and a marker.



I explained to Nicholas how the term "family tree" works well for researching family history because of the many branches in the family that come from a single trunk. Nicholas cut out a tree form from the green and brown paper.



We cut out all of the faces for our project then Nicholas started placing them on his tree. He started with himself and Rachel and easily placed most of the other faces in their proper places on the tree. He either hasn't met or doesn't remember much about his great grandparents so he needed help with those. He also had trouble when working with some of the maiden names that he has never heard of.



He had fun placing all of the faces in place. He said it was just like a puzzle. Wow! He's only 7 and he already has a basic understanding of why I have so much fun researching our history. It's really just the ultimate puzzle with answers to be found all over the world in all different periods of time.

We added the lines to show the relationships for all the people. Nicholas is much more proud of his project than I had expected.



Nicholas couldn't wait to show off his family tree. We got on a Skype call with my dad and Nicholas showed him the tree. They started talking about the people and my dad shared more stories about the people in the pictures and what life was like when he was little.



I could see Nicholas getting excited and actually interested in those stories that he might usually have just brushed off. I'm so glad that we took some time to introduce him to this fascinating part of his history.

To get started tracing your family tree back, ask your family some basic questions about names, dates, and places of your ancestors. There are so many incredible resources available to make it easy to fill in more gaps of your story with just a little bit of information. Libraries are great resources. Many have special genealogy sections with printed family histories and census records. You can also check court houses for birth/marriage/death records as well as land deeds to learn more about your family.

In addition, there are also plenty of websites to help do family history research online. Here are a few that I've used in the past.

National Archives
Family Tree ResearchAncestry.com
Researching Your Family Tree

Take time now to learn about your family history and help preserve it so that future generations will be able to learn about it as well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slip N Slide!



Summer is here and we love the cool off in the water. It's great having our own pool but there is just something about a slip n slide that kids just love.



I found this one that comes with a boogie board and an optional ramp so you can 'catch some air' as you slide.



Rachel couldn't figure out the whole slide thing but she had fun walking through the water sprays.



She was also quite fond of the 'scoot on your bottom' approach.



Nicholas got pretty fancy with the boogie board. He even did some standing slides on the board like it was a surfboard.



Our little Slip N Slide master!



And, of course, what is summer fun without popsicles?



The boy is crazy but he sure makes us laugh!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nicholas Loved Cub Scout Day Camp

We have worked on making swaps for camp every morning this week. Each day Nicholas swaps these with other boys and comes home with new toys and candy. This is such a fun part of the day for him and the swap activity makes it easier for the boys to talk to each other and make new friends with other scouts they don't know. Each morning, the boys in our pack compare swaps before they even get out to camp.



Here he's wearing his cub scout cap with his big alien head swaps on them. He said alien swaps were cooler than the space shuttle swaps we started with earlier in the week.



My baby boy is growing up so fast. He has been gone all week doing all kinds of cool things with his pack. I know he will have a blast someday when he goes to an overnight camp. But I don't think Mommy is quite ready for that milestone just yet.



Nicholas has had so much fun at Cub Scout camp. Nicholas came home the other day with second hat. It has a cup on it and they played a game where they tried to catch ping pong balls in their hat! He loved it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indoor Safari Park in Southlake

With Nicholas at Cub Scout camp all week, I've really enjoyed having one-on-one time with Rachel. We do more preschool activities than usual and I feel more relaxed on outings with just one kiddo to keep up with. Today we spent the morning at the Indoor Safari Park in Southlake.

The first thing you or, more importantly, your child sees when you first walk in the door, are all the toys for sale. Boy, I thought we would spend all day looking here and never getting to play on anything.



Eventually, I got Rachel over to the real fun part of our outing. She loved the "robotic" elephant. She was so excited just sitting on him.



Then the employee helped to guide it around in a circle as Rachel grinned from ear to ear. I'm not sure how they work. The animals seem to have wheels and a motor but I guess the employee has to help with steering.



There is a fun little area called Kids World. There are little rocking toys, giant blocks, and a bridge with a slide.



Then inside the main area of Kids World is a slide that goes into a ball pit.



Rachel had never seen a ball pit before but she had a blast just flopping her whole little body down in the big pit of balls.



There is also a strap trampoline. Rachel brought over some of the balls from the ball pit to make the bouncing even more fun!



There is a great safari-themed miniature golf course.



Rachel tried it but she doesn't really understand how to hit the ball and she isn't interested in watching me as I tried to teach her. She preferred her own method which is something closer to what I've seen with shuffleboard. But is it really worth arguing with a two year old?



I noticed that there was a little tumbling area with padded structures but there wasn't any children playing in it. I'm not sure if they were just all entertained elsewhere or if it was closed. Rachel was busy having fun elsewhere so we never even tried to go in here but I think she would have had fun in here.



We heard on the overhead speaker that there was going to be a train ride. Rachel hopped in the first car with two other little girls she had met while we were here. I loved seeing the excitement in her face as she rode the train.



The train just went around in a small circle but the scenery was full of jungle animals and even a waterfal. The conductor did a great job of pretending that the children were going on a train safari and really seeing all of the wild animals in the jungle. Rachel excitedly waved at me every time the train passed in front of me.



There were tons of doll houses, play kitchens, train tables, and other activity tables to keep kids happy here all day.



And if you really did end up being here all day, they even have a snack bar to keep everyone's tummies from growling like a lion in the jungle.



You can even do some ceramic painting while you are here. You just pay for the ceramic piece then use their paints and paintbrushes. You don't even have to worry about cleaning up!



There is also the Animal Factory were you can stuff your own animal, pick out clothing and accessories. They even offer birthday parties.

Rachel loved our visit to Indoor Safari Park. We really could have stayed there all day if it was up to her. An Open Play Pass is $9.99 which allows your child 2 Safari Train Rides, 1 Robotic Animal Ride, Unlimited Mini Golf, and Full access to Jungle Gym, Soft Play area and hands on Play Centers. They say that this is for ages up to 10 years old. I can see that my 7 year old son would have fun for a little while exploring the place but it's really geared more towards younger kids. I think it's great to have an indoor place like this that IS geared for little kids so they don't have to get trampled at the big kid places with inflatables or gigantic climbing structures that they get lost in.

The Indoor Safari Park is located at 2116 E. Southlake Blvd in Southlake. There is also a new location at 6205 Coit Road, Suite 200 in Plano. For more information, please call them at 817-310-1080 or 817-714-0321 or visit the Indoor Safari Park website. You can also follow them on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Playing with Perler Beads

This morning before Cub Scout Day Camp, Nicholas and I were scrambling to make some more swaps to trade with other scouts. He really has fun with the Perler Beads so I thought I write a little more about them.

I just happened to find these at Michaels craft store this weekend. I've never heard of them but the packaging showed a lot of cute designs that you could make with them so I thought we'd try to make some space-themed designs for his swaps. (And don't forget that Michaels and most other craft stores offer 40% off coupons if you join their mailing lists!)

I got a basic package that had some shaped pegboards and lots of different colors of Perler beads just to get us started.



They also sell lots of individual packages of beads if you want a lot of one color.



There are also boxes of just assorted colors of beads without pegboards.



And of course, several more kits including this giant kit that shows you how to make 3-D creations.



We used the shaped pegboards that came with my kit but didn't make the animal designs. We just used them for the pegs and created our space designs on them. However, the shaped pegboards don't have equal spacing between the pegs and are really best to use when creating that particular shape.



So I picked up some basic square pegboards that have perfect spacing between the pegs.

There are patterns you can find online to make certain shapes but we had fun just coming up with them on our own. Here Nicholas is working on an alien spaceship.



You just put the beads on the pegs in any pattern you'd like but the beads must be touching another bead for the design to work.



On my second trip to Michaels I decided to try these specially designed Perler tongs. They are a must have for when you need to pick out beads in the middle of your design and replace them with a different color. Trust me, even little fingers can't move some of these beads around without knocking out lots of other perfectly placed beads.



I also got a generic bead organizer to keep all the colors separate to make it quicker to grab the bead you want.



So now you have all of these beads on a pegboard, what do you do with them? You'll need the special ironing paper that is included with the kit or you can buy some individually. You drag out your iron (yes, there is a bit of work for Mommy on this project). Place the pegboard gently on the ironing board. I say gently because those little boogers of beads will hop off the pegboard if you bump it too hard. Place the ironing paper on top of the design and iron it for 10-15 seconds. The iron will just barely melt the Perler beads enough that they stick together. Once one side is melted together, remove the design from the pegboard, flip it over, put down the ironing paper, and iron the other side the same way. This will create firm designs that you can do just about anything with.

Here are our alien creations for today.



I picked up some pin backings and used a hot glue gun to attach the pins to the alien creations so that Nicholas could pin them to his hat.



His alien swaps were a big hit. His friends were running up to check them out before he even got out of the van.



He had several pinned to his hat and more in his backpack.



Off to day 2 of Cub Scout Day Camp!