Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ocean/Water Theme: Mom Camp Day 24/25/26

Yes, we did three days of Ocean/Water Mom Camp!!! It was something of a catch-all category that includes: Ocean animals, pirates, mermaids and anything else that could be thrown in for fun.

I had the bright idea of taking the family on a stay-action to Mandalay Bay.

My plan was to take full advantage of the amazing pool there. They have a wave pool, lazy river and a beach, plus of course normal pools! We checked-in early and went straight to the pool. We soon discovered that The Princess was too tiny to use the wave pool. This really upset her and caused a lot of disappointment.

We got in about three hours at the pool before the Vegas summer monsoons struck. Then it was off to the room. I was planning to have the kids watch a pay-per-view movie in the room. But they didn’t have any!!! I guess they want you down at the gaming tables.

Luckily I had a few simple crafts. The wooden pirate masks that the kids colored. A mermaid coloring book that lets you design the mermaids faces with stickers. Still, the crafts didn’t last long. Then we rode the tram around between the Luxor and Excalibur SEVERAL times!!!!

Then next day we hit the pool again. This time we had a much better time. Cinco started out scared of the wave pool. But he finally got into it. Plus The Princess found a kids pool area that she enjoyed and even caught a few ‘mini waves’ as she called them. After paying $40 for some inner tubes the kids played in the lazy river for quite awhile.

After checkout we went to Shark Reef. We have been several times before, but the kids love it!

Back home the following day, it was crafts galore!
Cinco painted a pirate ship bird house and some wooden pirate peg dolls. The Princess designed a treasure chest!

We also made cute clothes pin mermaids!

The idea came from Disney Family. But, as you can see they are pretty basic.

From Brilliant Bundles we borrowed the idea of the fish CD. Again, simple.


Next up, octopus crafts! From Mom to 2 Posh Little Divas, we got a crazy easy octopus craft.



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A Trip to the Rainforest: Mom Camp Day 23


Day 23 we embarked on a Mom Camp field trip! And, we went with one of Cinco’s friends he has known since his first days of pre-school! As luck would have it, Cinco’s buddy as an adorable little sister who is only a little younger than The Princess. And the two girls have turned into friends as well!

We started by watching  It turned out to be very educational and both kids really enjoyed watching it. It offered information on the people, plants and animals of the rainforest. The Princess was very emotionally effected by the section about extinction and gave me a big lecture about it later in the morning.

Armed with information on the rainforest, we headed over to none other than the Rainforest Cafe. If you live in a tourist Mecca like we do, odds are you have a Rainforest Cafe in your town. In my opinion, the food is not very good and it’s over priced. But the kids really enjoy the rain effects… So I periodically take them.

While waiting for our friends to arrive, we took a stroll through the gift shop. They used to have a talking tree that The Princess really loved. The voice recording still plays, but the mouth and eyes of the tree no longer move. This was disappointing to The Princess. When I sat she really loved the tree I mean she spent a period of several months asking if all trees could talk. I got suckered into purchasing the kids stuffed animal snakes– but 4 days later they are still playing with them all the time. They also used the snakes to design their own stuffed animal rainforest.

IMG_2382After lunch we headed over to another attraction: a rainforest exhibit for kids @ Springs Preserve. . The exhibit had a bunch of fun things to do: a climbing tree, a log tunnel, a gorilla sanctuary, coloring pages, a wooden bridge to assemble and loom with big weaving ribbons. Lots to do.

Plus, I let the kids watch another non-educational show!

Then we ended the day with a little reading!

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Carthage! A book review

Carthage: Uncovering the Mysteries and Splendors of Ancient TunisiaCarthage: Uncovering the Mysteries and Splendors of Ancient Tunisia by Howard David Soren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book. I have found it somewhat difficult to find books about ancient Carthage that don’t focus heavily on the Punic Wars. This book examined Carthage before and after the wars and looked at religion, the child sacrifice issue and the Carthaginians love of the sea and exploration. For anyone who wants some readable non-academic history about Cathage I recommend this book.

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Mom Camp Day 22: Board Game Day

Okay, okay.  The thing is that Mom Camp has been going on, it’s just that I have been a bit too busy to blog about it.  So, I’d better do some catching up…

On Day 22, we needed to stay close to home because the maid was coming. I had to come up with an idea that would keep the kids engaged all day but not result in a crazy mess or get in the way of the cleaning ladies…hence Board Game Day!

We started out with Clue. This is a childhood favorite and it turns out that Cinco really likes the game, too. Plus,he won twice!

Next, it was Guess Who. I did know anything about this game until a few month’s ago when Cinco’s aunt sent it to him. It’s two players and pretty simple. Cinco and The Princess played against each other for several rounds.

We played Brain Quest Smart. Both Cinco and The Princess were able to play the game and get just about every answer correct!

In the afternoon, we hit the pool. I brought our water proof UNO cards to keep up the game day theme. I was told by Cinco that technically card games did not count as a board game— after all there is no board. Still, I was trying.

After the pool and back at home, I put on Clue The Movie. You may recall this film from the 80s. It was based on the board game and was filmed and released with three different endings. The audience got to vote on an ending and which ever ending got the most votes was played in the theater. I actually real going to the movie and voting on the ending in my childhood. Sadly, the kids might have been young for the show–even though it is only PG– they couldn’t get into it.

The movie went off and The Captain came home and it was time for a family game night–please note this only the 3rd time we have actually had a family game night. A few Christmas’ ago Jillian gave me Bookopoly (I mean really what else would Bookymom play?) I got it out and we set it up. Each person was supposed to play on their own. We also played the fast version–you randomly deal out the properties (this significantly reduces the playing time!). The Captain had never heard of the quicky version, which I thought was strange.

The Captain and The Princess created an alliance. So of course, Cinco and I had to join forces. This quickly disintegrated into two teams, which is fine because The Princess really isn’t old enough to play on her own. The game was rather competitive. Things went sideways when The Captain got up to get some snacks and Cinco took everyone’s money! The game ended with lots of laughter and tickling. So it was pretty much a perfect game!

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Cowboys & Kachinas: Mom Camp Day 21

Cowboy and Kachina Day started off with a bang! We got to work on cowboy vests. The crayola site has an easy tutorial to make some really cute vests. Cinco made his fast and furious with no decoration other than some fringe. On the other hand, The Princess took a lot of care with her vest and really bling’d it out. She even added pony beads to the end of her vest’s tassels.


We had a special guest come by: Grandpa!!! He was a great addition to our day. Grandpa brought over his poker set and established the “Gold Rush Saloon”. He came up with the cleaver idea of assigning the chips to animals instead of money:

    Black = Horses
    White = Sheep
    Red = Cattle

Then Grandpa followed up with an explanation of the range wars. Finally, the poker game got going! The kids lasted for about five rounds. Considering we were dealing with a four year-old and a seven year-old five rounds seemed pretty good.

Next up, Kachinas! Grandpa had a few books with pictures and explanations of kachinas in them.

20130725-164829.jpgCinco copied a few of the pictures and then he branched out and designed some of his own kachinas. The Princess tried her hand at a picture, too.


Our next craft was another kachina inspired item. 20130725-170805.jpgFor some reason, this summer, every other craft involves a toilet paper roll. Last summer, I made a lot of stovepipe hats. Go figure…So we gathered our supplies:

  • Toliet paper rolls
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Pom-Poms
  • Faux fur
  • Ribbons in various colors
  • Buttons
  • Feathers
  • Then we let the decorating take over! Even Grandpa made one. Our two favorites were Cinco’s Bear kachina and my Eagle.



    The day ended with a cowboy movie. Cinco, The Princess and I wanted a John Wayne film. But The Captain over ruled us and went for The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

    Then it was time for bed!

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    Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button: Mom Camp Day 19 Lalaloopsy Day!

    Now it’s Lalaloopsy Day @ Mom Camp!  (For anyone who doesn’t know, Lalaloopsy is a kids toy/TV Show that features rag dolls come to life–I like to think of it as a hipper Raggedy Ann.)


    Now, planning an entire mom camp day around this theme was a little bit of a challenge.  The ‘Loopsy girls have button eyes.  So, as you can see I sorta went wild with the button idea.  All sorts of button crafts.

    We got up first thing and I tried to make “Button Cakes”– which were pancakes with four strategically placed chocolate chips for the button holes.IMG_2151IMG_2152

    The kids thought theses were just great!

    I found these cute wooden buttons IMG_2163at a craft store for about 25 cents and the kids were kept busy coloring these while I cleaned up the “Button Cakes”.

    Then it was on to button crafts galore!  We started out making button flowers with pipe cleaners buttons and beads.  I know, the beads were sorta cheating—but we had to do what we had to do.   We also made a number of vases with some glitter paper, ribbon and an old pill bottle!



    Both Cinco and The Princess had a wonderful time completing this craft and The Princess carried her flowers around all day–  Success!

    But the button fun didn’t end there….


    We made button hair clips…


    And button bracelets…IMG_2153

    And button magnets…IMG_2162

    Enough with the buttons already.  We took a small break to watch a movie and let mom clean up the button made mayhem. The Search for Pillow was not exactly a hit with The Princess. She did a lot of complaining this it was “lame”–Ouch.

    Don’t worry we also read some of the ‘Loospy girl books, too. Meet the Lalaloopsy Girls, was cute and explain who each on was and what made her special.
    Party Time was a cute story about each ‘Loopsy bring something that they made to a fun little party!

    I also bought a few of the girls…. I mean how could I resist? And,

    Then we ended the Lalaloopsy fest with a bit of coloring…


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    Mom Camp Day 18: Despicable Me!

    At the Movies, 2013 | Despicable Me 2

    At the Movies, 2013 | Despicable Me 2 (Photo credit: e r j k p r u n c z y k)

    IMG_2148The Captain was sick today and spent the whole day in bed–poor lovey!  So, I was left with the two munchkins. The plan was to hit the pool for the day, but it seems the weather was a bit cloudy with a chance of meatballs.  Thus, indoor activities took over!

    Okay so, I kinda over did it with TV and movies but what are hot, humid, rainy days for if you cannot watch too much TV?

    I ran off to a Bikram yoga class while the kiddos watched .

    Then a quick shower, quick lunch and off to Despicable Me 2.  The kids really love the minions– although they call the characters the be-doe-be-doe-be-does.  If you have seen the preview for the second movie, you know what I am talking about.   Until about 2 weeks ago, the kids had never seen the first Despicable Me.  I thought it seemed a bit violent.  But I borrowed the movie from a friend and they LOVED it.  Plus, they loved the be-d0e-be-d0e-be-doe preview, so I caved!

    After the movie we made our own little minions.  I thought painting wine corks would be a good idea and Cinco thought covering them in construction paper was a better idea.  I have to agree– his idea won! IMG_2150


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    Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: A Bookymom Review

    Having read Gone Girl, I decided to give another of Gillian Flynn’s novels a try. It is, of course, another mystery-suspense novel. Those of you who know my reading tastes, know mystery-suspense is probably my least favorite genre. Still, when I read Gone Girl with my book club I loved it so much that simply had to give Dark Places a try.

    So what’s it about? A farming family that suffers from one day unexpected events that lead up to a night of unintended consequences which results in three deaths, a son in jail and a young daughter being sent from foster home to foster home. Cherry right?

    As in Gone Girl, Flynn treats readers to different view points in the novel by switching from present day to the long-ago-past. By playing with both time and point of view, Flynn keeps readers guessing until the bitter end.

    I listened to the audio version of this story and it presents listeners with several readers for the book, which enhances the story and the listening experience. This is one of those books that is propelled forward by the audio narrators. The added level of interest helped me finish this book quickly.

    I would recommend the book in both its written and audio versions.


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    The Norsemen!

    The Modern Scholar: The Norsemen - Understanding Vikings and Their CultureThe Modern Scholar: The Norsemen – Understanding Vikings and Their Culture by Michael D.C. Drout

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    The lecture series on the Vikings by Michael Drout does not disappoint. I have listened to several of his other lectures including The Anglo-Saxons and his lecture series on fantasy literature. As always, Drout does a great job. However, his Anglo-Saxon lectures are still my favorites!

    The Viking series spends a lot of time on the Norse and Icelandic literature of the period. Drout is knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. His understanding of the material is helpful to listeners. Unlike other lectures dealing with the sagas (For example, Shutt’s Celts and Germans), Drout offers both a summary of the saga and explains the meaning of the story in Norse society. Other scholars do a fair job explaining the plot of the stories but do not take the extra step of explaining what the stories mean and why and how they were important to the culture.

    Another aspect that makes Drout fun to listen to is his passion for the subject. I have only read The Saga of the Volsungs and while I enjoyed it, it was at times a little dry. But Drout makes the stories come alive and I finished the lectures with a desire to go and read some of the other sagas. He makes them sound so entertaining–if they aren’t!

    If you like Drout’s other lectures or you have an interest in the Vikings and the people of Northern Europe I suggest this series.

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    Mom Camp Day 17: Baseball

    20130717-163735.jpg In preparation for a trip to Dodger Stadium to see Cinco’s first major league game, we invited some friends – a brother/sister team- over for Baseball Day.

    We got things rolling with awesome baseball crafts:
    Decorate Your Own Ball cap

    • 4 Ball caps from The Dollar Store
    • Lots of beads
    • Glitter glue
    • Markers

    The boys were not overly excited by this project. But The Princess and her BFF had a great time designing their hats. They liked arranging the beads on the glitter glue, although a few fell off and I had to hot glue them later for The Princess.

    Color Your Own Ball bat and Players: 

    The next craft was coloring in little mini-wooden baseball bats. I found them online when I was ordering a bunch of wooden craft supplies.20130717-164408.jpg Cinco also took some wooden peg men and paired them up with the bats!

    Cinco’s guest made a baseball player out of a Round Clothespins and we glued his bat on him!IMG_2119

    Who’s #1?

    No cheer leading section is complete without the famous finger sign! I found these little gems at The Dollar Store and we decorated them for the game!!!IMG_2118

    All the kids also got bouncing baseballs. The idea was to color them with markers and glitter paint. The boys left their’s plain and the girls went wild with glitter!!! Imagine!

    The boys also had fun playing a fun game Cinco got from his grandmother for his B-day. You throw soft cloth baseballs at a target and depending in what you hit, you move small plastic men around a ball field. The boys abandoned the ball field and players and more fun throwing the balls! But having fun is the point so who cares?

    Treats Please…..
    20130717-165911.jpgFor treats, I tried make to Carmel corn. Out came my beloved Whirly-Pop!!!And, my attempt to make the Carmel corn. After the first batch turned into a gloppy mess, I decided to consult my ‘Internet cookbook’ and found a better recipe. We added peanuts and packed it up in a red and white striped popcorn bag!

    The treats continued with baseball themed gum. 20130717-170601.jpg

    I know you are thinking Big League Chew. But, no! These little baseball gum-balls had cute little saying on them such as ‘Home Run’, ‘Strike’ or ‘Single’.

    We read this book. Short and cute. It’s a baseball themed version of Goodnight Moon!

    And, Cinco finished:
    It was a good book to read before heading over to a Dodger game because the end is full of interesting facts about the stadium. So interesting in fact, The Captain kept sharing them with his sister and her family (who went to the game with us!)

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