Monday, November 25, 2013

Nearly Finished! - Fall Bucket List

Checking off another item earlier today I noticed just how much we had gotten finished on the Fall Bucket List, and how "little" there is left to do. 

Out of twenty things on our list we now only have five to "finish" and a couple of those are already in the works. 

Things that we've finished include: Pick apples at an apple orchard, visit a cider mill, make leaf rubbings, go to a pumpkin patch, carve jack-o-lanterns, jump in leaf piles, make pumpkin seeds, learn to swim, do a "safe" Halloween event, visit the library, volunteer in the community, learn how to make caramel filled apples, make bird feeders, make water color "leaves", and teach the kids how to make banana pudding! Whew that's a whole lot of stuff we've done in the last two months or so!

What's left:
Visit Detroit Zoo
Visit the fire department
Plant a "winter garden"
Paint at least one kid's room
Learn the rosary

We've got an appointment for a tour of the fire department in the middle of next month, just in time to check it off of the list. We're nearly complete in learning the rosary, only Peanut isn't expected to know these prayers at this point. Planting our "winter garden" will be done sometime in the next few weeks and will be a long term science project for all of us for the rest of the cold months (yes, of course we'll be keeping you posted). Visiting the Detroit Zoo may or may not get accomplished this time, however, if we don't manage it our friends over at Learning Life ... gave me a cute idea that I may just run with.

We're hoping to get Peanut's room painted this Friday. Learning Life with 3 Sons will be coming by to help out and we're hoping to get an item or two checked off of their list as well. It should be a wonderful visit even if we don't get the room completely painted.

So, there's two items that I hadn't previously shown pictures of or talked about how we managed to check them off of our lists. One of these I will not be sharing pictures of. The reason for that is I don't want to post pictures of those we've helped. I hadn't thought before about how much "volunteer" work we actually do. We're constantly helping those around us without thought of what we're doing or if it is intentionally volunteer work. I did mention in September that ECJ volunteered to cut the elder lady's lawn and do her snow this year. I've spent the time between then and now watching what my children do each day, watching how much my husband pours his heart into the community, and noticing all those little things I do for others each day without being asked to. I spoke to a dear friend ( @ Learning ... ) about if this were truly considered volunteer work, or if I should keep looking for something we could do.  

We volunteer each and every day in our community to those around us, we help people simply because that's the type of people we are. We did inquire about volunteering at our local pet store/groomers as a clean up crew but due to the children's ages they're not able to allow it for insurance reasons. We're constantly picking up garbage as one or another child (or myself) notices it on our walks ... "leave it better than you found it" is something we've adopted. I tell you this not because I want to make us seem like saints or that we're perfect ... I tell you this because it's the truth. We do these things nearly every day, of every week, in every month, all year long. My husband and I were raised to look after those in our neighborhoods, our friends, and our families. We're attempting to pass those values down to our children and so far it looks like we're doing a pretty good job of it.

OK, less serious, more fun!!! Here's a step-by-step of how to make water color leaf "sun catchers":

Materials -

  • coffee filters (one for each child)
  • water color paints
  • paint brushes
  • hole punch
  • construction paper (2 for each child)
  • scissors
  • plastic bags (1 for each child)
  • news paper 
  • cooking spray
  • glue
  • yarn
  • cups of water to rinse brushes
Step one - Gather all of your materials. Lay a layer or two of news paper down to protect your surface. Fold your plastic shopping bag in half, make sure the color (if any) is on the inside, and tape top and bottom to the newspaper. If you have a feisty painter you may want to tape the sides down as well.

Step two - Spray the plastic bag liberally but not excessively with cooking spray. There's two reasons to do this. 1) It stops paint from seeping through the coffee filter and drying the whole thing to the plastic bag (or paper if you thought you didn't need the bag). 2) It makes the coffee filter a little more transparent, as you'll see in later pictures. (A change that can be discussed with the children to add a bit of science in there if you so wish.) Place your coffee filter down on the plastic and flatten out so that the entire surface can be painted on. * I put the paints and water on the table after I'd sprayed the plastic bags. *

Step three - Allow your children to paint whatever they want on the coffee filter. Anything goes here. Abstract, geometric, scenery, animals, etc. Let their imaginations go wild. My only requirement was that I wanted the design to take up most (or all) of the coffee filter.

Step four - These really need to dry for several hours or over night. I moved ours, newspaper and all, to the girls school desks for over night so that they'd dry and we'd still have a dining room table to eat at. We did allow ours to dry over night. this is the only way I know to avoid 100+ questions an hour by a curious and excited 5 year old about if the paint is dry yet or not. We also did these first four steps right after dinner Saturday night.

Step five - When the paint is dry peal the coffee filter off of the plastic. The cooking spray will still be slightly holding it on at this time. Place on one sheet of construction paper and trace around it. Decide on the shape you want the whole project to be and change your circle slightly to accommodate it. We chose leaf/tear drop shapes (they'd found a big round leaf on a walk last week and wanted to copy it's shape). Then, making sure you have two pieces of construction paper placed neatly together with edges lined up, cut out your shape from both pieces of construction paper.

Step six - Cut out the center of these shapes. You can get more technical and measure all the edges to make sure you have the exact same width for your "frame". But we just eyeballed it.

Step seven - Decide on which parts on the inside of the frame and which on the outside. We didn't want to erase pencil marks so all of those went on the inside and we matched our other piece so that it would line up right. Apply glue to one piece of the construction paper, all over. We found that good old fashioned white school glue worked best for this. Then put your coffee filter on top of the paper.

Step eight - Glue the "matching" side of your other piece of construction paper. Line up the two shapes and sandwich your coffee filter painting inside. * I also put small pieces of tape at four or five points on each one at the edges to help hold them together. *

Step nine - Set these aside to dry again. We chose to do steps five through nine again after dinner. This was after Sunday night's dinner so that they could dry again all night long and Mommy could avoid several hundred more questions on if they were dry yet.

Step ten - This is the final step and it takes the least amount of time. Just punch a hole in the top of your paper and string a piece of yarn through the hole. Make sure the yarn is long enough so that your painting will hang in the light of a window. Tie a knot in the ends of the yarn and hang up in the sun light. Watch as the kids notice that their painting is now a "sun catcher". The now dried cooking spray has made whatever parts of the coffee filter that still show translucent and the painting is nearly see through in the light.
Left: Peanut's garden under a blue winter sun (red)
Center: A very good rendition of one of our stuffed penguins by YCJ (green)
Right: A panda in a bamboo forest with a Japanese house by ECJ (yellow)

You can find us on Facebook here. Come on by and check us out. There's a couple things coming up in the next seven days that will only be shared there!


  1. Two things: 1) from Evan Almighty A.R.K. Act of Random Kindness, that volunteering even little bit counts and helps :)
    2) Love the sun catchers, I think we may add snowflake (or snowmen) ones to our winter bucket list

    1. I need to make a sign for A.R.K. :-) and those snowmen or snowflakes would look really neat (all my materials came from dollar tree by the way)

  2. I love your take on life and helping everyday! Jason and I were just talking about how we need to help the boys understand about helping others and making our world a better place. Thanks for sharing.

    I think we may have to try your craft! It looks super cute and the boys would LOVE to do it!

    Curious... Any suggestions on getting kids to memorize prayers? I'd like them to learn the Rosary as well so we can try and start praying it daily or at minimum weekly but for some reason this is something they have trouble with. I'd love some tips if you have them. :)

    btw, I accidentally replied instead of commented, so I fixed it. oops. LOL

    1. The prayers for the rosary can get a little tricky because it's not just memorizing them but the right order they go in. Find something on the internet or make something that will show the order they go in. Then start with one prayer (like the Hail Mary) and work on that one together as a family for a week or two, when they have that one go ahead and move to the next prayer and the next, so on and so forth. Break down the prayer into smaller bits ... Try to get them to say "Hail Mary, full of grace ..." then you pick it up from there. When they've got that then add the next line.

      My kids learned it more quickly one I and their father began saying it with them every day. Once they saw how important it was to us and our faith and they worked really hard to "get it". :-) It's the same way we taught Peanut her prayer before meals "Bless us oh Lord..."