Our Candy-Eating Robot

The costume is dotted in LED lights, which you can’t really see right now, but they are truly the highlight. They look great at night. Hey – I just noticed one of the blue reflectors fell off….I’ll have to fix that (yay for extras!).

For Halloween night he’ll have on silver shoes and glittery silver makeup (probably just on his cheeks for the effect).

Here’s a video – it’s loud, so take those speakers down a notch. I’ll try to get a nighttime video or at least one at dusk so you can get the full effect:

Since I’ve been asked, the costume consists of the following:

1 – Turkey Roasting Pan ($1.00)
2 – Sets of small reflectors ($1.00)
6 – Small mirrors (unbreakable) ($2.00)
1 – Generic Tin (I used a candy tin) ($0.00)
3 – Sets of battery powered LED lights ($0.00)
1 – Multicolored battery operated LED pumpkin light. ($0.00)
1 – Solar Powered Calculator ($1.00)
7 – Reflective Stickers ($?.00)
2 – Foam-backed reflective car sunvisors ($2.00)
1 – Roll of metallic tape ($1.00)
1 – Roll of Clear Packing Tape ($1.00)
1 – Nail to make holes in pan ($0.00)
1 – Small hammer to make holes (could do by hand)
1 – Shower sprayer hose with sprayer removed ($1.00)
1 – Pair of grey sweat pants (with hole in knee) and grey shirt

I already had the items marked as $0.00, so the total price was about $12.00, primarily purchased from our local dollar store.

You can pretty much figure out the how-tos by looking at it and you might have some better ideas for materials or configuration than what I used but I’m pretty happy with the result. The base of the robot is just a piece of the sunvisor wrapped around and stapled directly to his sweatpants – it’s open in the back to allow for movement. I do have another pan for the back of the costume, but I’m not sure I’m going to bother with it at this point.

Note that it is not the most resilient costume, though, so for a really boisterous child, you’d need to find something more durable than an aluminum pan. Other ideas – paint pan (still shiny, but much harder), dish drying rack pan sprayed silver, several layers of cardboard sprayed silver.

Happy Halloweening!

The First Step Is Admitting You Have Problem

I gots one.

I just downed an unholy amount of Veggie Crunchers – they are deeeeeelish!

I’m feeling rather…….full.

They were so nice, I was going to do a review and whatnot, but for reasons unknown, the product is not featured on its manufacturer, Amport Food’s website, which is annoying. And then I was going to take a photo of the bag, but, quite frankly, it’s much less attractive when it’s not full (read: mostly empty), so I’m linking you to someone else’s blog for pics instead. She has a great review on there as well.

Veggie Crunchers are basically thinly sliced vegetables (sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, taro, and green beans) vacuum dried, rather than fried and then lightly coated in nonhydrogenated canola oil and sea salt. I admit I had to look up Taro since I can’t say I’m the most adventurous eater out there.

The result is fantastic. They are just as crisp and crunchy as if they has been deep fried, but without the scary carcinogenic health risks. Each variety is sweet yet salty, but not overwhelmingly either. And the green beans, which are not my favorite vegetable, are crispy and sweet and almost unrecognizable to the palate. And yes, the taro is quite tasty as well.

There are no preservatives or artificial colors – the veggies keep their own colors quite well. Besides fresh vegetables, canola oil, and sea salt, the only other ingredient is dextrin, which makes for a short ingredients list which makes for a happy mommy. I cannot tell you how often I am excited about a product and yet horrified by the ingredients list.

I’m under no delusion that this product can replace vegetables on a daily basis, but it’s a great choice for school lunches, on-the-go-snacks, or to replace a less healthy option.

The downside is that as far as I can tell, the product is available only at Costco where I paid six-something for a fourteen ounce bag.

The picky four year old begged me to try them and promptly spat out the carrot I offered. I don’t think it was what he was expecting – carrots are his favorite veggie, but the texture was so different. He then he warily tried some of the other flavors. I may or may not have fibbed and said they were all “fancy potatoes” but he liked them enough to finish what I offered him and ask for a couple more pieces.

Babybeast ate the bits I gave her and screeched for more, so they were definitely a hit with her.

The five year old is part goat. He devours most anything in his path. I have have absolutely no doubt that he will snarf however much he is offered and then hound me for more. The child eats almost constantly – this is the one who is likely to be 6’5″ or so like his uncle.

Mr. Lawyer will not get to sample them, but he’d probably like them if I had left any for him to try….

Protected: October 2007

Graham Cracking

I had to make a run to Kroger yesterday for graham crackers for the little boy. We (boys and mommy) have been quite ill with the flu and his had progressed to pneumonia. To get him to eat, I promised graham crackers and so we ran (I use this loosely – thanks to the flu, I’m still in no shape for running) in to get some.

As I drove past the freezer section, the baby suddenly realized that she was restrained by the seatbelt in the cart and, displeased, let out one of her bloodcurdling “I am mightily displeased” screeches.

A second or so later, the freezer case that we were standing just a few feet from popped loudly and the entire door shattered into a million bajillion pieces.

I’m not sure what to make of that.

Kindergarten Registration

We registered today – The five year old and I drove over to the school. All three kids are sick, so he was a bit dopey from the Benedryl and kept asking where the teacher was. He is really interested in meeting his teacher, especially since we went earlier this week to meet the four year old’s pre-K teacher.

He liked the cafeteria-style tables they had set up in the gymnasium and spied some art supplies in a corner which impressed him a lot. He asked me if he couldn’t just start school today, please?

I had to take in paperwork galore – proof of residence, social security card, certified birth certificate and a thousand (give or take) forms I had printed from their website. I normally am missing something of vital importance on these occasions, but miraculously, I had everything together. Of this, I am unduly proud.

When we were done, the school lady told us there was a “meet the teacher” night on the 18th next week, so he could meet his teacher before school.

Wait? What? Doesn’t school start on Monday, the 17th?



All this time I’ve been planning for both kids to begin school on the 17th and looking forward to it with glee. Well, maybe not glee. Alright, yes – pure unadulterated glee!

Fine. The 24th it is, then. Mr. PreK will start on the 17th and Mr. Kindy on the 24th. I have a feeling Mr. Kindy isn’t going to be very happy with that, but what are you going to do?

I was lucky enough to land two very well behaved kids (in public anyway), so they usually impress their teachers, which makes me proud. I’m so glad both kids are looking forward to school; I know they will do well and love (almost) every minute. We all will.

Houston Children’s Museum

We spent the morning at the Children’s Museum of Houston today. We actually have an annual pass – the one that gets 6 people in, so I went with a friend who had a five year old and a baby and it covered them too. Phew, am I tired!

Here’s a cool interactive map for prospective visitors.

If you haven’t been lately they have completely renovated and grown in size – the expansion that was opened in mid-March doubled the size of the museum to 900,000 square feet, which was much needed. There are seven new exhibits which range from the baby-friendly Tot Spot to the all-new outdoor water feature, FlowWorks, and the energy burning Power Play which features a 3-story climbing PowerTower.

My kids, at 5.5 and just-turned 4 adore the FlowWorks (that sounds like something to do with toilets to me, but I digress…) water feature and next to that, the native red-eared sliders (turtles) outside, which are part of the ecology exhibit. The ecology area is actually very easy to miss on your way to flashier destinations, but it has a lovely butterfly garden, turtle pond, and a nice quiet air conditioned lodge with information about our Texan-grown wildlife.

The Beastlings also enjoyed the Kidtropolis area, though they find the concept of ATM cards which are used throughout, a little confusing still. I think that area is probably better for age six and up to reap the full benefit of the concepts.

Another hit was the How People Make Things exhibit, which shows how toys and other items are made – it includes a robot that assembles a toy – the kids could barely tear themselves away from watching it!

Misses include The Matter Factory which would be better for older (say 6-10) kids but is also positioned in an awkward area with people traipsing through constantly to get to somewhere else which detracts from the purpose. We also didn’t bother with Invention Convention, though it looks fantastic for the older set – I’m sure ages 8-12 would have a great time in it.

Unfortunately, we decided to go on a day that apparently every single stay at home mom, vacation Bible school, daycare, preschool, and day camp decided to attend. For the first time ever that I have seen, there was a line out the door to the sidewalk ten minutes past opening, which did not bode well. And as feared, it was very crowded, really to the point of unpleasantness in many areas. I have no doubt that we would have enjoyed it much more on a less crowded day, though I have yet to figure out what day that might be. We might try going on a Sunday when daycares and preschools and such are closed and many families are at their place of worship – certainly it can’t be more crowded than today.

They recently changed the rules to charge for any baby over 12 months. My 13 month old was in her sling or stroller 99% of the time – she wasn’t feeling well due to molars and with the crowd, I couldn’t let her out anyway. As a result, I would have been unhappy had I actually had to pay for her to come in. The old rule was that under-24 months were eligible for free admission and older toddlers do enjoy it. I think 18 months would have been a fairer cut-off point, personally.

Another new rule is that no outside food is allowed. Previously outside food was welcomed, but now they would prefer you purchase their overpriced, but not otherwise terrible Kid Cafe offerings. There are signs on all the tables reminding you that outside food is not permitted, however many families obviously did bring their own lunches and no one seemed to be enforcing the rule, which is good, because honestly, enforcing the rule would take the museum out of many families’ reach financially. As we all know, little kids cannot wait to eat (trust me, I’ve tried and it’s not pretty), so waiting until you leave just isn’t practical. With our allergies I prefer to bring our own food and until I get booted out of the building, will continue to do so.

Positives are that the staff is fantastic and always willing to help out. There is always someone at each exhibit to help if you have any questions about how it works or something more basic, like where is the nearest changing table. I give the staff high marks for being so personable when they are dealing with such a constant crowd and probably a few brats (adult AND child) as well.

I also love that the exhibits in the main (old) building rotate regularly, so there is always something new to see there. We’ll probably go back in a month – our pass expires in August, so I need to feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it, which is ridiculous, but hey, whatever.

If you go, look us up – we’ll meet you there.

Summer Survival: Activities for the Wee Beasts

Summer heat got you housebound and crabby? Try these:

Make your own sidewalk chalk. We’ll have to try that – we go through the stuff like water.

National Geographic-sponsored Geography site for kids: My Wonderful World.

Make your own Word Search. I made one with all the kids’ names and pets names and such – you could make one with all of your child’s interests or local place names, too.

Simple Recipes for Kids including special diets (gluten free, vegetarian, etc.)

DLTK’s Chore Chart Generator. Ok, this one is fun for moms, maybe not so much for kids. I told the Beastlings that I would give them a penny per check mark at the end of the week and that was enough to motivate them…for at least the first week. That site has a ton of other activities as well – definitely worth checking out.

Summer activities from Activity Village.

Mazes from All Kids Network.

First School: Preschool activities and crafts. A wealth of ideas for the parent and homeschooler.

Kids-R-Crafty: This site offers activity sheets, coloring pages, dot-to-dots, mazes, vocabulary and worksheets in both English and French.

Making Learning Fun: Preschool and early childhood activities and printables to make learning enjoyable for parents and child.

The Crafty Crow, for you advanced as well as beginner crafters.

Enchanted Learning for complete early learning curriculum – absolutely brilliant and HUGE site – if you have small children, you must check it out.

That’s my offering for the day – hope it helps. I know with the incredible heat and drought conditions we are currently experiencing, outside play just isn’t an option for most of the day and it makes me rather testy and the kids antsy. If only we could install a giant……..


THIS is exactly what I need! Who knew someone else had thought of it first?


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