Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles books

This post is a different sort of book review than I've done in the past, but I was excited to see what these books were like and give them a try.

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys by Rob Elliott and Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls by Rob Elliott are unique combinations of kid humor and doodling.  Each joke includes the beginnings of an illustration that the reader can finish or embellish to fit the joke or just make it crazy.  The books targets ages 9-12 so my 4, 5, and 6 year olds couldn't do them by themselves but they sure had fun paging through them and trying a few out.  I think a 7 or 8 year old though could easily enjoy these books though too.

The day the books came in the mail, the kids sat down with me and we read through some of the jokes.  As expected some went right over their heads but others had them laughing.  Since there was only one "boy" book to preview and BOTH boys wanted to try the joke/doodle with a Star Wars reference that they spotted, we ended up copying a few of the pages when we sat down to try some of the doodles.

Here's a few of our initial favorites.  The center one with the Darth Vader joke is the boys' favorite (Q: "What do you get when you cross an elephant with Darth Vader?" A: "An ele-vader")
doodle jokes for kids

I think that we'll keep these books in our camper for the summer as something we can do together during those rainy times when we are all stuck inside.  Because the books themselves are small, they would also fit well in a large purse, backpack or glove box to have on hand when a restaurant wait is long or other times where its nice to have something for kids to do that isn't electronic.

I look forward to getting these books out a few more times to see what other jokes and doodles the kids are drawn to.  As our oldest continues to improve his reading skills, it won't be long before he'll be able to read these to his brother and sister - making it possible entertainment for car trips too.

These books could be a great gift for a kid in your life that enjoys drawing or loves telling jokes.  And I imagine once they are filled with your child's (or children's) doodles, a book like this would make a unique way to capture their sense of humor and drawing style to pull out when they are older.

A fun way to doodle and laugh together here on the gravelly road.

* I was given a free copy of each book to try in exchange for a review.  All opinions and words are my own.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Another garden season begins

Its June and garden season is in full swing here on the gravelly road... just haven't had much time to post about it.

The kids and I planted some seeds indoors back in April which did quite well in our big bay window. Cucumbers, 2 kinds of squash, zucchini, watermelon (none germinated), and cantaloupe. They were pretty excited when the seedlings started to appear.

cucumber seedling

When it warmed up outside, I noticed that I had some lettuce coming up in our un-tilled garden that must have gone to seed last year.  So the kids helped me dig it up and transplant it to a pot.  Then the boys dug in the garden for worms... because DIRT.

Near the end of May we tilled the garden, transplanted our seedlings from inside, and planted the rest of our seeds and plants we purchased.  We also planted a few herbs in my pallet herb garden on the patio.  The kids helped with most of the planting, not sure they will enjoy the weeding as much :)

family gardening

So in addition to our seedlings we planted: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pumpkin, potatoes, snap peas, beans, more lettuce, carrots and additional zucchini and squash.  A few seedlings we transplanted have died and so far our beans, carrots and lettuce are doing poorly -- only a few plants coming up.  The tiny pumpkin plants my husband bought are huge, zucchini and cucumbers look great and the first batch of snap peas have started climbing the fence. (We plant snap peas in two groups, two weeks apart so we can enjoy them longer). This is our first year trying potatoes so we'll see how it goes.

I'm hoping to post pictures and updates on our garden again this year as things grow, at the very least so I have a record to look back to next year.

So begins another season of gardening on our gravelly road.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Weekend Away and Fun Milestones

We just returned from a long weekend away at a cabin with family, as we do most summers.  Besides our family of five, my parents, my sister and her husband were also there.  My grandparents even made the drive for a day to visit a bit.

The kids had a great time with so much to do - playgrounds, a zip line, playing in the sand, riding bikes and scooters, backyard baseball, the onsite waterpark, and even some special activities planned by Grandma.  The adults had fun too of course.  It was great to reconnect, spend time together, be outdoors, etc.  I also appreciated the fact that with extra adults around there were a few more hands to help throughout the day.  My husband and I even got to take a quick trip to the local winery, just the two of us, which is a big deal.


On Saturday, our oldest told Dad he was ready to try to learn to ride his bike without training wheels and off they went to practice (he specifically requested no audience until he was ready).  With just a little practice in the big parking lot, he had it mastered.  So proud.

What I didn't expect is that the next day, little brother asked for his training wheels off too.  And sure enough in not long at all he had his new two-wheel bike figured out.


So now we have two boys without training wheels, enjoying the fact that they can ride pretty much all over the gravel driveway and yard at our home on the gravelly road.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Last Day of School

The countdowns had been going on a for a while and the last day finally arrived. I was amazed at how much fun and activity was filled into the last few weeks -- programs, field trips, a carnival, bingo, family day, and so much more between the 3 kids.

Each kiddo in the house had a different "last day" so we celebrated the last day of school with our ice cream tradition 3 times!  Our kindergartner was the last to have his last day, so we went out for ice cream cones together after we picked him up from school yesterday.

All 3 kids had a great years at school and were blessed by wonderful teachers and many new friends. Each changed so much - especially considering our 2 preschoolers joined their classes in February.  Amazing really. I wish I could post the other last day pics but alas there are rules to be followed...  

Here is our kindergartner's last pic, with him holding a picture of his first day of kindergarten. Its hard to believe he's a first grader now!


So let the summer fun commence here on the Gravelly Road.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reaching Out

We're now nearing the 4 month mark of being a family of 5.  It feels like a milestone worth pondering.  I've been trying to take time to remember how far we've come, especially in those hard moments that can sprinkle the days.

I'm also trying to pause and count the gifts of laughter bubbling from an upstairs bedroom, less meltdowns, a brother offering to share, kiddos running happily in the backyard together, smoother bedtimes, or hearing "serious planning" of a battle or adventure as two brothers go off together (with a little sister tagging close behind).

We are getting to a place where its easier to be out and about as a family.  Attempting a restaurant or errands as a whole family no longer fills me with nearly as much worry.  Its a good feeling.

After a discussion with my wonderful hubby, this month I set the goal to be more intentional about reaching out and slowly increasing the circle of people our new kiddos know.  New people are still a bit nerve wracking to them but its getting easier.  There are a few friends of ours that they met several times (playdates, open gym, church family activities) and its been great to see them more comfortably interacting with those families.  So we've been trying to plan a few more playdates, invite others in, plan short day trips as a family (cousin birthday party, trip to the zoo, etc).  We even managed a very wet and rainy camping weekend.




From a paper chasing perspective for those detail oriented readers... This month we finished all the paperwork and visits to renew our homestudy again to keep our foster care license active to get us through finalization.  (The mountain of paperwork was a bit more complicated to get done with 3 kiddos but totally worth it). We are still hoping that we'll be able to finalize the adoption of our two precious kiddos by late summer or early fall, completely dependent on the schedule of courts and lawyers at this point.

Please continue to pray for us.  Summer is just around the corner and with it a new routine to adapt to, with a bit less structure than the school year naturally provides -- and all 3 kids do better with structure.  My husband's travel schedule also increases and our weekends get busier.  I hope we can create great memories together, enjoy the outdoors, strengthen relationships and really enjoy each other.  And on those days that tempers flare or kids are melting or someone is just feeling "off", pray we can approach the situations with grace and do the best we can with God's help.

Monday, May 4, 2015

April Projects

We are finding a good rhythm now with all three kids and I was able to do a few projects with them this last month or so.  It is much harder to take pics while helping them finish their projects though as I just don't seem to have enough hands.

Here's a two of my favorites:

Watercolor Eggs
Before Easter I cut a bunch of egg shapes from regular printer paper (each about the size of half a sheet) and had the kids paint them with watercolor.  It was super simple with almost no prep (I cut more sheets while they painted) but I loved how unique they all turned out and how fun it was to decorate with them.  We also gave a few as Easter cards :)


Toilet Paper Roll Flowers
With 5 people in the house, we seem to always have an over abundance of empty toilet paper rolls so I decided to come up with a spring project to use them.  I made this one up as we went, which actually turned out better than I expected.

First I took the empty rolls and made 4-6 cuts in them 3/4 of the way down the roll, leaving about an inch uncut at the bottom (my 6 yr old helped with this step).  I folded each section down like you see in the top left.  I then cut petals out of colored paper.  The kids glued them on and had fun discussing patterns etc.  I'd originally planned to just have petals on the top but the kiddos wanted to glue them on both sides which actually added some nice extra color.  I hung them on a piece of string using clothes pins so that they point a variety of directions.  Bright spring colors to enjoy inside when is rainy outside.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Baby Chick Time

Its become a sign of spring here on the Gravelly Road -- the annual trip to get a few more chickens to add to our small backyard flock.  Its been fun to share the cuteness of baby chicks with our new kiddos as well.

backyard chicks

We added four this year.  If you've read our previous spring posts, you'd know we started with four chicks (with one ending up being a rooster) and added three more last spring.  Well, the rooster developed a mean streak and was evicted from the Gravelly Road last fall.  Sadly we lost two hens over the winter to predators that managed to get into the coop at dusk before we'd made it outside to lock up the gate.  So four is just about right, giving us a little flock of eight hens (hopefully).

chicks new feathers

Already the chicks are quickly getting their real feathers and loosing their soft fluff.  Hopefully spring will be here to stay soon so they can get a bit more fresh air than their temporary home in the shed under the heat lamp.

Names are still under discussion... right now we have Anna, R2-D2 and Chicken Little.


And while having preschoolers around baby chicks means a never-ending chorus of "gently, gently", we are enjoying our new chicken residents on the Gravelly Road.
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