Friday, July 20, 2012

Mini Music Appreciation "Camp"

Since Nate's classes just got out for the summer, this is the first week of our "summer vacation." This year we're planning on doing some different fun and educational activities with the boys. One of the things we're going to try to do is an informal learning "camp" with a different subject each week, as our time allows.

This week we were doing music camp. We talked about one composer and one instrument each weekday. Then we would watch videos that played music by that composer or taught something basic about how to play that instrument.

This was really relaxed and informal. For the composer information and music I mostly used this site. And for information about different instruments I mostly used Wikipedia and Youtube videos. I taught them a little about playing piano and Nate taught the boys a little about the guitar and drums, the instruments we actually know how to play. We also got some little plastic instruments from Walmart so they could play around with different things. All of this was really low key and I didn't actually do a lot, but I was really impressed with how much the boys got into it. They actually learned a lot and had a lot of fun too. Then I read this article and realized maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised that an at home could be great.

It was really neat to see how Aaron could learn some facts about each composer so quickly. At the end of this week he can now tell you the country, music period, and some famous music of Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Chopin. And both boys really got into talking about and "analyzing" the music. They both liked to talk about whether the music was happy or sad, fast or slow, etc. And both had very distinct favorites. Aaron generally seems to like faster music and happy, "bouncy," music in general. He liked all of the parts of Vivaldi's Four Seasons that are Allegro, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacthmusic, Beethoven's Fur Elise, many of Chopin's Etudes, but he also liked Bach's Fugues. Andrew had more of an eclectic taste and said that he liked Beethoven's Fifth symphony even though it was "really scary." Both boys thought Beethoven's Fifth symphony was scary, but Andrew kept asking to listen to it and Aaron started covering his ears. This might just be a case of each trying to irritate their brother though. The finish things off the boys had a final "recital" and "parade."

Family Fridays: Andrew's Paternal Side

Andrew changing Winnie-the-Pooh's diaper
Andrew is already loves talking to and hugging his new sibling in my tummy and has been doing these things for a while now. But this last week or two, more and more of his paternal side is coming out. He loves to "take care" of his stuffed animals. Lately he has changing Winnie-the-Pooh's diapers, feeding Pooh, dressing Pooh in blankets, wiping Pooh's boogers, and hugging and rocking Pooh Bear. I have a feeling he is already training to be a great daddy one day. After all Andrew's daddy is an amazing one, so he has a great teacher.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Frugal Family Fun: Defrosting the Freezer and a Snowball Fight in July

So one of the things I wanted to get done this summer is defrosting the freezer. We hadn't defrosted the freezer completely since we got it a year and a half ago and it really needed to be done. This doesn't really seem like a fun family activity until my brilliant husband thought we shouldn't waste the sink full of soft chunks of ice (we hate to throw anything away) and that we should let the boys have a snowball fight with it. What great free fun we had.

So we all put on hats and gloves and headed outside into the light rain. We had a great snowball fight here in Kunming in the middle of July, where it rarely ever snows even in the winter. However, it does give new meaning to their saying here, "It's winter when it rains."

How to keep cool at 29 weeks pregnant

No idea why the neighbors recently put a toilet in the bushes.
I don't think anyone has used it yet thankfully.

Got to go fast!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Family Fridays: Our 5th Anniversary, Fun with Kids, Nate's Birthday, and Finishing Classes

This has been a very full and exciting week for us. Saturday was our 5th wedding anniversary. We had a low key, but wonderful day celebrating at home. I think the boys had fun too and are glad we got married, even if right now they only recognize that it brought they special food, chocolate, and a wedding video to watch on our anniversary. :)

On Sunday we went to a traditional open air market on the edge of town. The boys enjoyed the "petting farm," otherwise known as other people's future dinner. There are very few foreigners who go to this part of town so the sellers were quite happy to let the boys look and touch their animals and take their pictures. There is also a moon bounce thing that the boys had fun on and we stopped for ice cream bars on the way back. The boys had a ton of fun and actually did a lot of walking themselves this time, so they slept really, really, well that night.

Wednesday was Nate's birthday and we had a great family day. A water balloon tug of war and a strawberry- chocolate chip cookie ice cream cake were two of the highlights.

Nate finished up his third semester of Mandarin classes today. So tomorrow officially starts our summer vacation. We are starting to plan out our summer fun and summer to do lists now and looking forward to a little more relaxed schedule for a few weeks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Family Fridays: Fourth of July Fun

We did lots of fun things this Fourth of July.

We made crayon resist fireworks
and painted over them with watercolors.

We played with red, white, and blue water balloons.


After everyone got baths
we played with regular balloons.

We made cookie fireworks.

We did some patriotic themed educational activities.

We made fireworks in a jar.

Which didn't go according to the directions,
because of gel food coloring I think.

But we added glitter and
let the boys shake up the jars.
And they loved it and played with
them the whole time I was making dinner.

We ate LOTS of Traditional American Food.

And we had patriotic peach pie.
I think we tried to squeeze enough fun for all of July into one day, and we all slept in until 10am the next morning. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fun for July Ideas

In case your still looking for fun things to do for 4th of July, or anytime this month, here are a few things that we've done in the past.

This American Flag Cake is always a classic. Everyone oohs and ahhs when I've taken it to a gathering, but if you use store bought mixes it comes together in no time, and homemade cake and toppings don't take that much longer.

These Cookie Fireworks were a hit last year with the boys. The idea would work well with any sugar cookie recipe too.

But we'll probably be having something like this All American Apple Pie again, since strawberries and blueberries aren't in season here. I'm thinking maybe I'll do peach filling this year though.

We'll also be revisiting some of the learning activities from the America Unit Study we did last year to reintroduce some basic facts to our boys.

And we'll definitely be having some of this Easy Fresh Squeezed Lemonade with our hamburgers tomorrow. :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 6 Lethal Points of Safety Checking (The Chinglish Files)

Some of the "Chinglish" mistranslations on signs and other things around here are quite funny. I thought I'd share some of them from time to time here in "The Chinglish Files." Here are the 6 Lethal Points of Safety Checking presented for you amusement only.


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