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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Penny Saving Project


Christy (Gigi) had her birthday and the girls wanted to make her something special. Handmade gifts don't always turn out great, but my girls and I like to do them anyway.  It gives us time to really think about the person we are giving it to and put thought and effort into a gift.

I've seen this project before made with pennies, and so it sparked an idea to make Gigi something with pennies!

and this...

I thought the girls would have fun with a penny project.  This project slowly evolved as we went along.  First we intended to just glue a bunch of pennies on a charger plate or something like that to be used as a decorative piece.  Then I thought it might be neat to replicate the design of her coffee table
Gigi's coffee table
 The plan was to have the heads facing up on one side and tails facing up on the other.  We scrounged up all the pennies we could muster out of our drawers, piggy banks, cars, and purses.  Many were disgustingly old and dirty.  Why not just go to the bank and get some rolls of brand new pennies, you ask.  Well, because I felt the need to turn this into a learning and laborious project.   ;)

I've heard that both coke and hot sauce clean pennies, but I had neither.So the first thing we did was stick them in some TSP that I had.  TSP is known to clean grime off of metal.  We soaked the pennies and scrubbed with an old toothbrush.  They got somewhat clean, but not great.  So then Halle started searching online for the best penny cleaners.  People said vinegar, salt and lemon juice, and baking soda solutions worked.  We went with what we had in the pantry.  Halle made the most acidic cleaner she could make:  a combo of tomato sauce, lemon juice, and orange juice.  It got the pennies cleaner than the TSP.  Then Halle saw a suggestion to use SOS pads.  That worked!  Really well.  We were excited at how great it worked, but I only had one left and it lasted about fifty pennies.  So then we tried a Magic Eraser.  That worked the best!  Voila!  We trialed and errored and discovered what we think is the best penny cleaner.  (we had two different magic erasers and one worked better than the other).  After a while the ones cleaned with the SOS pad started to change colors, so don't use that after all!  Unless you want blueish pennies.  

Before and After of cleaning a penny with a Magic Eraser.  Probably about 10 seconds of rubbing.

Halle learned what year the pennies changed from copper to zinc and how to tell the difference.  Which then went into a lesson as to why it was changed.  So we got science, history, and economics lessons out of this project.  :)

Through all of this trial and error, the girls labored hard at scrubbing pennies.  They spent several hours working on getting old pennies shiny.  I was proud of Arden's diligence. 

Brian came up with the idea of topping a trivet or lazy susan with pennies instead of a plate.   And my design wasn't standing out enough, so he also suggested painting one side.  

Halle and I went to the store and found this, a bamboo lazy susan.

We painted the base black, and Brian painted the penny heads a dark antique copper color.  We picked out the brightest pennies for the tails side to contrast against the dark ones.

After lots and lots of configuring and reconfiguring the design, we got the pennies lined up how we wanted them.  The girls and I glued them all down with Loctite G02 glue.  I chose that glue because it works well with metals, dries fairly quickly, but not so fast that it won't budge as soon as you use it.  Therefore, I was able to move the pennies a little if they weren't exactly where I wanted them.

this is before I sprayed a clear coat over the entire thing.

Well guess what happened once I sprayed the clear coat on it.  It ate the paint!!!!!  Ugggghhhhh.  Halle and I were soooooo upset because it looked horrible.  Not sure why it did that because I've never had that happen to me before.  My only guess is it was a reaction with either the chemicals we used to clean the pennies, or the penny itself.  

SOOOO WE MADE ANOTHER ONE!.  (This time just for kicks we made the tails dark and the heads stayed bright.)  We tried a water resistant decoupage sealer for the second one.  Which didn't work either!.  It was too thick and gooped between the pennies.  It was supposed to dry clear, but didn't.  The problem wasn't as catastrophic as the first one so we were able to fix it for the most part.  Whew!  I really knew Halle would be upset if the second one didn't turn out either.  

By and large this was a fun project.  Except for the clear coat catastrophies!  

 So Happy Birthday Gigi!  This project was made with lots of love from your girls.    

Friday, November 22, 2013

Musical Beds

This is a 3 a.m. picture.  Why was I up at 3 a.m. you ask.  Well as you can see my bed was inhabited by three very large sleeping bears.  Don't they look nice and comfortable and sweet?  Jack schmoozed his way into sleeping with us.  I had about six inches of mattress to call my own and was getting pushed off my own bed.  There were two miniature Flinstone feet jabbing my ribs for about an hour before I surrendered.  

Then I remembered that Arden's bed was vacant!  Just like my post from earlier this week, she'd taken up residence on Halle's floor for the night.  I decided to move my rejected self into Arden's twin bed- many times more space than I previously had.  So let's recap.  Arden moved into Halle's room, Jack moved into my room, and I moved into Arden's room.  Maybe we'll take it one step further next time and put Brian in the crib.  :)


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dewberry Farms

The kids and I went to Dewberry Farms twice this year... once for a Mops fieldtrip and once for a homeschool field trip.  Dewberry Farms is in Brookshire, TX.  It's a fun place where the kids can enjoy being outdoors in the country.   

This is why the kids love it so much.

the bigger kids have different kinds of carts.  But the little ones have easier ones to maneuver and their own track.
2.  The bumpy butt slide.  It's a slide made out of rolling pvc pipes.  The heavier you are the faster it goes.

I can't count how many times Jack went on this thing
 3.  Feeding the animals
I gave Jack some feed to give the goat.  He promptly put it in his mouth and ate it!  Should have guessed that would happen.
4.  The cow train.  A set of drums painted like cows and pulled by a tractor.
Myleigh and Arden pretending they're on a roller coaster

5.  Ziplines

6.  Farmer Flinger
a set of bouncy balls rigged up on a swinging contraption

7. Rope swinging in the hay

8.  Getting lost in the maze

9. Web crawling

10. Slide mountain

11.  And just horsing around!
Crystal practicing her cow roping skills
This is only half the fun stuff!  There's a tractor ride, pig races, carved pumpkin stroll,  pony rides, big jumping pillows, Christmas tree farm, a huge play fort, and more.
this is one of my favorite pictures.  Alicia captured this sweet moment.  He's is soooo tired at this point because it's way past his naptime.  All he wants is his mama.  As soon as we got in the car he was out like a light.

We love Dewberry!

Banana Ice cream

Our new favorite healthy snack is banana ice cream.  Thanks to my neighbor, Jessica, for introducing us to this!  The texture is so creamy like regular ice cream that Arden doesn't know the difference between the two!  I just slice up 3-5 bananas and freeze them for a few hours (side note* We eat a lot of bananas anyway.  I get weird looks and comments from the check-out workers every time I go to the grocery store because I buy so many bananas.  I get about 15 pounds of bananas at a time and they don't even last us a week.)  Then I stick them in my blender (I have a Ninja) and voila, banana ice cream.  DELICIOUS!  This particular one I poured a tiny bit of coffee in and added some cinnamon.  Sometimes I add a teaspoon of cocoa powder.  Sometimes nothing at all!

Now go make your own.  You know you want to.  :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kids are Weird

Sometimes kids do things for no reason at all.  I don't get it.

Her floor, my floor, Halle's floor, her chair.  Lately she sleeps anywhere and everywhere BUT her bed.  Why, Arden, why?  She doesn't know.  "Is your bed uncomfortable?"  "No."  (She continues to sleep with Sweet Blankie even though it's too small.  The upper right picture is her using it as a pillow.)

Jack sucking his thumb toes.  Why Jack, why?

Halloween 2013

our poor attempt at caramel apple slices.  The caramel was too hard, but the kids got a good science lesson out of melting sugar!  I didn't plan this at all, just pulled together what I had in my fridge and pantry.  So yes, those are sunflower seeds, not nuts.  And Kocoa Krispies.  The kids got the jist.
Brian and I trying to look scary.
We passed out the halloween candy in surgical gloves.

Pinterest craft- skeleton made out of q-tips.  Simple and Easy
Jello shots for the kids.  Also easy.  Halle and I drew Jack-o-lantern faces on the bottoms of the cups
Rapunzel, The Next Great Baker, SFA Lumberjack, Supergirl, and Superman.
he won first place for his costume!
I was quite proud of myself for crocheting this Halloween bucket for Halle's baker costume.  I didn't have a pattern so I went off of a picture online.

Jack's check up and vocabulary

At 20 months:

Still short and squatty with a lot of body.

It took two nurses and four tries to get his head measurement.  They kept thinking they were measuring it wrong even though I repeatedly told them he just had a big head.  lol.  I mean, the kid barely fits in a 4T hat! I've come to the conclusion that it's to hold all of his smartness.  ;)

As far as his height, I think they over-measured it.  He's been in the 6-25% tile all the way up until now.  But hey, maybe he stretched???

And his weight?  I guess his diet isn't working.  Haha, the kid is on 1% milk and he's still fat.

I love my Fat Jack.

Jack has his own language.  It's choppy and full of unintelligible words, but he repeats the same phrases over and I guess to him he's saying something meaningful!

His words right now that I can understand:
"DeeDee"- Daddy.  He says this when he hears Brian's loud truck pulling into the driveway during the evening.  He also says it anytime we're on the road and he sees a white truck similar to Brian's.  Soooo cute.  Very excitedly, "DeeDee!  DeeDee!" in a low raspy voice.

"Mamamamamamama" - Mama 

"Hyum, hyum, hyum" - Some?  He says this over and over when he sees food he wants.  Pronounced hee-yum with the hee said soft and fast and blending into the yum part.  

"Ooo-bah" - Football.  He says this when he sees a football game on TV.

"Up"- cup

Then naturally he should say Up correctly, right?  Wrong.  "Uuuuh" is Up.

"Beh"- His favorite huge bear

"Eee-yah" -Outside

MY FAVORITE!!  "Ba daw"  Bad dog. That's what he thinks Rudi's name is!  (apparently Rudi gets in trouble a lot for barking incessantly at the squirrels outside...and plus he's not house trained.)
But he sometimes calls Rudi, "Doody"


Monday, November 4, 2013

**Hargrave Homies are about to go PRIVATE!!**

I've recently gotten some traffic to our family blog from some bad websites.  Since I post a lot of information about our kids on it, Brian and I decided it would be best to make our blog private.

But, we still want our faithful friends and family readers to continue following us!  You motivate me to stay on top of blogging!  :)  So, to those of you that want to keep up with the Hargraves, send me your email address so I can list you as a reader.  You can text me, FB me, or leave a comment below.