Category Archives: Fun & Games

Summer Science Project: DIY Self-Watering Planters

This summer, in addition to the usual summer-slide-combating schoolwork, we will be attempting two science projects!

Our first project will be to see what happens when we try to grow plants in some DIY Self-Watering Planters! O

ur planters will attempt to re-create the layout of Earthboxes, a self-watering container garden, on a smaller scale to see what happens!  These planters are my own design and we’ve never tried them before, so it’ll be interesting to see what the twins will hypothesize about what will happen, and whether or not it will match up with reality.  (Personally, I think that eventually, maybe the roots will grow out the lid holes and enter the bottom portion, but who knows?)

We used 46oz containers of Low Sodium V8 (it’s higher in Potassium than the regular flavor :D)

Once you’ve planted your seeds or seedlings and watered them the first time, wait until the jar lid has stopped dripping, then CAREFULLY lift out the top portion and fill the bottom portion with water so that when you put the top portion back, the jar lid and pour spout are submerged – be careful not to over-fill or you’ll have a mess on your hands! Then, the water will be wicked up into the top portion’s soil through the holes in the lid.

You won’t need to water everyday (unless your plant is REALLY thirsty or you live somewhere hot and dry and the water evaporates too quickly), but keep an eye on it to re-add water if the waterline falls below the jar lid.

Also if you start getting algae growth just empty and clean out the bottom portion and re-fill again.

Have fun! 😀

Feeling the need – the need to READ!!

Both my girls love to read.  But it wasn’t always so.

Zanna took to reading like a duck to water, and whenever her school has a reading incentive program, she’s like a little literary Terminator, just plowing through all available books and diligently recording each book in her reading log.  If there are prizes to be had – she WILL get one, or know the reason why!

Halle, however, has inherited my very low boredom threshold for repetitive tasks.  Unfortunately, most of the things taught in school, such as reading, writing and math, involve tons of repetition to get the foundational skills down.

Trying to teach her to read was like pulling teeth at times.  All the engaging workbooks I bought last summer to catch her up were viewed as though I’d asked her to eat moldy worms.

And then she got into some of the cool things that I like – superheroes, Star Trek and the like. I started showing her some of the cartoons that I’d liked at her age (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), and we’d be geeking out together while Zanna had a ball playing My Little Pony with her father >:D

So I did some amazoning and found a set of phonics books with Scooby Doo.  Halle loved them!  And then I found some local comic book shops that had decently sized “Family Friendly” sections.  While Zanna enjoyed Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Peanuts, Halle was thrilled with Scrooge McDuck, Scooby Doo and some Spiderman titles that were on the tamer side.  We fought over who got dibs on the new Star Trek reboot ‘verse comics.  Sometimes I even hear the girls in the backseat of the car squabbling over who gets the next turn with the Smurfs comic.

At first Halle would ask to have everything read to her, but as that depended on a reader having free time, she grew frustrated at having to wait and soon she was making the effort to read her comics all by herself!

She still likes being read to, but mostly it’s for bonding purposes, as she has become a pretty good reader herself!

A few weeks ago, I took Halle to Free Comic Book day at a couple of our local comic shops and she got to meet Spiderman himself!  She was thrilled about it, and about getting a pile of comics for free!  We shared our new stash with Zanna, and now there are several new titles both the girls are interested in:

Monster on the Hill and Maddy Kettle, as well as Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken.

Halle and Zanna both love reading regular books, but this geeky mama is pretty pleased that eventually I’ll have company when I attend comic book or sci-fi conventions in the future 😀

LEGO® Juniors® Review

Having been much impressed by tales of teen and pre-teen girls inventing all sorts of life-improving doo-dads, my family is very much on board with getting Halle and Zanna interested in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math).

There were several numbered bags of blocks in each set – so that the contents of the bags could be assembled one by one, without having to deal with a huge, confusing pile of mixed blocks!IMG_8668IMG_8670

First of all, we looked at the step-by-step instructions.  These are so great – they show exactly which parts you need for whichever step you’re at, and how many, and then lead you through the construction process.


For the most part, I left the girls to it.  This was an excellent skill-building opportunity: reading directions, following an order of operations, observation and troubleshooting as well as fine motor skills, collaborating and cooperation.


Whenever they had a problem, they’d ask for help and I’d tell them to go back a couple steps in the directions and observe the picture and their own project.  Compare the two – are there any differences?

They could find where things went wrong with no trouble, and soon things were once again moving along smoothly – well, mostly smoothly. 🙂


Both of the girls were so excited to work on these sets that they started fighting over who would get to do what step, so I made them take turns.  Halle would do one step and Zanna would do the next, and so on.IMG_8687IMG_8684


When they had finally completed their projects, the girls played with them, creating little stories and having such a good time that they barely even knew I existed (freeing me up to get other things done).IMG_8714IMG_8710

By bedtime, they still wanted to play on with their new Lego sets, Halle even wanted to have some in bed with her (no!), and the very next morning, we were almost late for school, because I couldn’t get the girls to stop playing with them!

And as soon as school was done – they were eager to get home and play some more!  So I leveraged – get ALL your homework done first, and THEN you can play with the Legos again.

Worked like a charm!IMG_8729


Introduce your child to the fun of building with LEGO Juniors – our new range of Easy to Build sets for children ages 4-7. These quick and easy builds will give your child a feeling of accomplishment and provide hours of imaginative fun.

LEGO® Juniors® Digger

Hit the streets and repair the burst water pipe with the Easy to Build LEGO Juniors Digger. Use the bucket to dig down and the crane to lower the pipe into position! This iconic and Easy to Build set makes a great gift item as it is packed with cool details like the water pipes, valve and of course the Digger and its driver. It’s lots of fun and makes a great way to grow your child’s building skills. Includes a workman minifigure.


LEGO® Juniors® Police – The Big Escape

There’s been a breakout down at the town prison. One of the crooks has been able to escape and now he’s on the run! Give chase with the motorbike and police car then return him to the police station and back behind bars where he belongs! The fantastic Police – The Big Escape set is a great way to introduce your young builder to LEGO brick building. It makes a great gift set, too. Includes 3 minifigures with assorted accessories: 2 policemen and a crook.

*I received the products mentioned above from House Party’s Chatterbox program to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of House Party or Lego.

**Text in italics was provided by Lego and House Party

Liberty Science Center in NJ! Review & Giveaway

Recently, we’ve been promoting the idea of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics) to our girls, so when an opportunity came up to do another review of the Liberty Science Center’s new exhibits, we were thrilled!

They have a new Bob the Builder exhibit!


And they have a new NFL Training Camp interactive exhibit, as well as Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame!

profootball logo

First, we made a bee-line for the Bob the Builder exhibit, and were very happy to see some of our favorite friends waiting to greet us at the entrance!



We were amazed by just how many features and interactive activities there were for the kids!  This exhibit blew our minds!

The girls loved helping Wendy with her flower and veggie gardens!



They proudly demonstrated the solar-power feature on Wendy’s camper.


They joined up with other kids to keep the ‘water’ flowing!

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Halle got right to work on that pesky plumbing problem Bob’s been having!

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We built a rock wall!

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And the girls loved getting up close and personal with their favorite construction vehicles!

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We easily spent a couple hours here, as there were many, many activities here, before almost literally dragging the girls away for a potty break!

(I strongly recommend that you experience this exhibit as soon as the museum opens.  It’s very popular, and with so many children around, a lot of the smaller pieces of equipment get scattered.  But at the start of the day, everything is all organized and in its proper place.  It’s also easier to keep track of your kids when it’s not so crowded, it’s also a little quieter.)

Then I thought we could chill out for awhile and watch as Daddy explored the NFL exhibit.  Boy, was I surprised at how much fun EVERYONE in my family had with the Training Camp!  Of course my husband had a ball, but the girls were insatiable and tried each feature again and again and again and….well, you get the picture!

training camp blurb

And the LSC staff on hand were very kind and helpful!

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Then we took a stroll thru Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and even that was pretty amazing!

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After that, we went for lunch in the LSC’s cafe – the food is so good there! (and very reasonably priced)

To give my husband   lsc2013_506    a bit of daddy-time to explore the museum on his own, We took the kids to the I Explore exhibit which is just across the hall from the cafe on the 2nd floor.  My girls loved visiting this favorite from a previous trip!

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They spent nearly an hour just with the ‘sand’ (rice) box, and made some new friends!lsc2013_492   lsc2013_544

And as we were about to go, we found that LSC had set up some more NFL-themed games for the kids to play in the lobby!

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So while the kids were occupied with that, I took a quick look thru the LSC gift shop!

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We had a great time here, and I am personally very grateful to the Liberty Science Center for making S.T.E.M. fun for my girls!

And now you and your family can have the chance to win some free passes to LSC and see the new exhibits!  Just enter this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bob the Builder exhibit runs until April 27, 2014

Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame runs until March 2, 2014

Here’s some more info on the Bob the Builder exhibit

Here’s some more info on the NFL Training Camp & Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame


*This review was facilitated with complimentary passes provided by Liberty Science Center.  The opinions expressed herein are my own.

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