How to Clean Crayon Marks from Walls

Yesterday was the first time National Homeschool Day was celebrated here in the Philippines. My family celebrated by meeting up with other homeschool families in our area.

Homeschooling, no matter how outsiders view it, is a brave choice. The challenges it presents are tremendously tough. You get the sense that you can’t afford to screw up because you’ll only have yourself to blame, and how can you live with that?

Well, obviously, with a lot of self-directed mercy. More often than not, we’re our own harshest critics, but well-seasoned parenthood is peppered with mistakes. That’s a confused application of figurative language, but anyway… Veteran parenting is the kind that seems easy, that suggests you’ve arrived at expert level but – hah! –   I’m not holding my breath trying to get to that point of parenting bliss.

I get the feeling that it doesn’t really ever become easier. The challenges are new and just as intense as we graduate to new stages. If it really does feel somewhat lighter, perhaps what basically changed is our attitude. We’ve learned to be more forgiving of ourselves. We’ve learned to choose our battles. We’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff, like crayon marks on the walls.

That was some segue, lol. At any rate…

We have cream walls in our home, the perfect canvas for a small, exploring hand wielding a crayon (or a pencil, or a marker, or my favorite eyeliner…).

Who needs wallpaper when you have little vandals running loose and wild inside your house, right? I have veritable murals.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that they’ll eventually learn not to draw on the walls. While they haven’t yet, I’ll just have to enjoy a little bit of toddler graffiti at home.

We could, of course, clean up those wall scribbles, but if you’re like me and a little bit lackadaisical in keeping the house presentable, it would probably take you months before you get around to it. 😀 Why bother, right? A neat and immaculate home lasts all of ten seconds. It’s a losing battle I just don’t have the energy or will for, lol.

Through the years, I’ve learned to be happy with “relatively clean and tidy”. There are maybe two times a year when I think I want ten seconds of an uncluttered, spotless home and make the effort. That’s sporadic enough for me to convince myself that crayon-marked walls have a certain charm to them. 😀

If you can’t live with those crayon marks, however, of if you’re finally getting around to erasing them, here are some ways you can go about it.

You’ll need a wash rag or a tea towel for every method, but the main cleaning ingredients are:

  • Method 1 – milk
  • Method 2 – toothpaste
  • Method 3 – baby oil
  • Method 4 – water and baking soda

Watch how successful my daughter and I were with each one in this video.

As it turned out, crayon marks aren’t that hard to erase from walls. After we made this video, we also tried with some plain water and soap, and the marks came off pretty easily as well.

Basically, we learned that we didn’t need to make a big production of getting rid of those crayon marks. The high difficulty level of the task was all in my head. Now, I don’t know about markers and pen ink. We’ll attack those marks next.

Btw, the video. It was our first video-making effort, which you can probably tell. It’s one of the skills my daughter is interested in acquiring (she says she wants her own YouTube channel), so we’re exploring it together. Just from this one, she has learned to use so many features of a basic video editing program. She was definitely more comfortable and knowledgeable in navigating her way through it than me.

She wanted to do a bunch of other fancy things, but I convinced her to keep it simple this first time. We also removed the music we’d initially put in because we learned that there’s a certain caveat if you use something from the YouTube audio library. I don’t understand it all that well yet, so I thought we’d better not use any music for now. I didn’t want to use music from elsewhere either until I look into copyright issues, so it’s just our voices and the hum of the AC, lol.

I promise, next time, we’ll use a better camera, a tripod, a mic, and my husband’s help. He actually knows how to edit videos, but he’s been busy. In any case, my daughter and I had a lot of fun floundering our way through this experience. 😀

That’s it for this post. What’s your attitude toward toddler graffiti? What method do you use for removing them? Any advice on video-making? Let us know.

Fun and Fascinating Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Dr. Seuss Day is tomorrow, March 2. On this day in 1904, the beloved children’s book author Dr Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachussetts. He adopted his pen name Dr. Seuss when he was still a university student in Dartmouth. That’s what he is most known for, although he also used other pseudonyms such as Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, and Theophrastus Seuss.

From his name, Dr. Seuss is obviously of German descent, and if you know the most basic of the German language, you’ll know that Seuss should rhyme with choice and not choose; however, Dr. Seuss didn’t mind the anglicized pronunciation it popularly took on since it rhymed with Mother Goose. 🙂

I grew up loving Dr. Seuss books, even if the Cat in the Hat often stressed me out. 😀 Now, I’m happy to share the “obSeussion” with my kids. My 10-year old daughter, who’s all about being silly, can’t get enough of the rhymes. The two younger boys love the cadence of these rhymes when being read to, and they definitely also enjoy flipping through the pages and looking at the illustration.

In our family, children’s books do not remain in pristine condition. They also usually don’t stay in the bookcase either. I’m not one for keeping things that were meant for my kids out of their reach. Unfortunately, this means that some pages have rips, scribbles, drool marks, etc. Even the board books are far from damage-proof. This means that our Dr. Seuss books all bear the evidence of my kids’ fondness for them. See?

seuss books

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that’s just me. Different families, different values, different ways of doing things. 🙂

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the US assigned the date National Read across America Day. We’re not in the US, so we can’t observe that. 😀 Having said that, we’d definitely be reading our copies of Dr. Seuss’ books. We’d do other activities as well.  The day’s going to be pretty full. I should’ve made it Dr. Seuss week instead. Here are some of the things I’m including in the day’s program:

green eggs

  • Breakfast of green eggs and ham while listening and probably singing along to songs from Seussical the Musical. (I can paint the ham, but I think I’ll limit the food dye to the eggs. If you want to use something natural – although mine is store-bought “natural” food color – you could puree broccoli and mix it with beaten eggs for a green omelet.)

  • Dr. Seuss books read-aloud from my ten-year-old and our homeschool puppets. (save One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish for later)
  • Visit to Seussville.com for games.
  • First movie (Cat in the Hat).
  • Crafts: truffula trees (pipe cleaners and yarn pompoms), oobleck (homemade slime, basically), Cat in the Hat mask (construction paper and markers).


seuss-oobleck

  • Afternoon snack of homemade goldfish crackers while reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. (makeshift mold using a strip cut from a foil dish or soda can)
  • Second movie (The Lorax).

That’s going to be it for our Dr. Seuss Day, which I think is already plenty, but we love Dr. Seuss, so it’s all good.

Do you plan to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday? What activities will you do? How do you make your green eggs and ham? What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Mine is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Let us know in the comments section.

 

6 Excellent Reasons Why Birdwatching Is Worth Your While

Java Sparrow in Intramuros

We went birdwatching in Intramuros the other day. This was the third time we took advantage of the free guided birding trips periodically offered by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. Not only that, I finally signed up to become a member. I’ve been wanting to join the club for the longest time and I finally did it. Yay, me! It only took me seven years.

My primary reason for joining is that I’ve always enjoyed birdwatching. I’m as much a “Look at that bird” person as a “Look at the moon” one, I suppose. 😀 My spark bird (the one that ignited the interest in birdwatching) was a bee hummingbird I spotted one morning while I was vacationing at my aunt’s home in Southern California.

During that trip, I also frequently saw bluebirds, seagulls, crows, and Pelicans. For a girl who’d never seen anything but Eurasian tree sparrows (maya) and pigeons freely flying about (I was wrong about this, btw), seeing different kinds of birds in the wild (well, suburban wild) was a huge deal.

Birdwatching is definitely an activity that I want to share with my family. It’s my own interest, but I believe that my kids can benefit so much from engaging in it as well. Let me list the obvious perks that come with birdwatching.

  1. You learn about nature and appreciate how full of wonders it is. Different aspects of nature are intertwined, so the knowledge gained won’t be limited to birds. The impact on your kids could also be that, from being exposed to nature, they won’t be easily impressed by materialistic goods. If you’re a homeschooler, you could also integrate birdwatching into nature walks, make creating a safe habitat for birds a project, etc.
  2. You get yourself outdoors. Have you ever heard of Nature-Deficit Disorder? Child advocacy expert Richard Louv coined the term, which refers to the condition in which human beings, particularly the young, spend less time outdoors, resulting in various behavioral problems. It’s important to get yourself and your family outdoors. If you’re kind of a homebody, you can start with your backyard, gradually move on to the park, and then move on to easy nature hikes. Perhaps you can venture farther and attempt something even more outdoorsy from there. You get to enjoy the fresh air, soak up the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin D, and have an adventure.
  3. You get some great exercise – So engrossed in watching birds, you won’t notice that you’re walking miles at a time. This gives you a solid cardio workout. You also build up the strength of your upper arms, having to lug around spotting scopes as well as lift binoculars and hold them steadily.
  4. You effectively develop skills necessary to slow living. You learn to be more patient since birdwatching is not an exercise in instant gratification. Sometimes you have to wait hours (or years) to spot the bird you want to see. Besides that, birdwatching can also be a meditative activity and provide you with plenty of opportunity for contemplation and introspection.
  5. You hone quick reflexes and mental alertness at the same time that you develop patience. Birds won’t stop and pose for you while you scramble for your binoculars and focus them accordingly. You also need to be fast at spotting clues of a bird’s presence and identifying its kind based on the features you saw, no matter how fleetingly.
  6. You become a member of a special community. By becoming a birdwatcher, not only do you gain the physical and mental benefits of the activity, you also boost your social health. It’s a great way to meet kindred spirits, both offline and online.

Do you love birdwatching? Do you find it interesting and see yourself taking it up? Or do you think it’s, well, for the birds? Let us know your thoughts on this and tell us which birds you frequently see in your neighborhood.

*This post has affiliate links.

Pluto Day – Remembering the Ninth Planet

pluto

Remember when they messed with the universe as we knew it and said Pluto wasn’t a planet? Did your innards violently recoil at the suggestion and make you want to take to the streets and instigate a mutiny against the responsible governing body? In this case, it was the IAU (International Astronomical Union).

I didn’t understand it then, but that didn’t stop me from having a strong opinion. And I was having none of it. I couldn’t accept what they did to Pluto. I’d never given much thought to the planet prior to that announcement, but I suddenly found myself a staunch champion of the planet – just one of many, as it turned out. Other people were also rising up in arms against the injustice done to the ninth planet. Yes, we astronomy non-experts weren’t going to take the experts’ word for it.

Thanks to the very fun and catchy “Dwarf Planet Nothin’” (the video of which can no longer be found on YouTube, but you can still listen to the song here), I found out what was going on. I also learned how to pronounce Kuiper.

Basically, they decided to have a set criteria for planet status qualification in the Solar System:

  • Must orbit around the Sun.
  • Must be big enough to be rounded by its own gravity.
  • Must have cleared is local neighborhood of other large objects.

Apparently, Pluto failed to meet the last requirement since it’s surrounded by other icy Kuiper Belt bodies.

But the fight continued and people who didn’t want to deal with changes in the Solar System they learned in school pushed for Pluto’s reinstatement as a planet. In 2015, word on the street was that it was about to happen. I don’t know what that was about since I couldn’t find anything official classifying Pluto as anything other than a dwarf planet.

People continue to be torn and confused. Officially, Pluto has dwarf planet status, a clear demotion from being Planet No.9, but many scientists are tirelessly working to prove that it deserves to be considered a planet once again. Hopefully, NASA’s interplanetary space probe New Horizons (which has some of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes, btw) will be able to discover something in aid of this.

Whatever the experts say, Pluto will always be a real planet to me. I’m just waiting for the corroborating evidence, so… Happy Pluto Day, everyone!

Easy, Fun, and Cute Art Projects Your Kids Can Do for Valentine’s Day

Do you observe Valentine’s Day in your family? I keep on saying that we don’t but I always seem to have Valentine-related activities for the kids to work on when the day comes around. I also make sure to give a little something, usually just candy and a homemade card, so I don’t really understand why I insist we don’t. Maybe it’s because my dad taught us not to and because, where it should normally count, we really don’t. My husband and I like to mouth off about presents and dates, but we don’t officially do anything. It’s just something that we agreed not to do.

Arguably, he did buy me mulberry and strawberry seedlings and a new saucepan, so there’s that. It’s not quite roses and chocolates, but if I had to choose my present, I’d choose live plants and something I can use a lot over the traditional flowers and sweets (although sweets will ALWAYS be eagerly received with wide open arms). I’d told him before not to get me bought cut flowers because I feel bad about throwing them away when they’re all wilted and dried. I could store them, but I already have more than a decade worth of dried bouquets turned into potpourri in our small home.

Besides jesting about presents and dates, we don’t greet each other “Happy Valentine’s Day” or treat the day any differently.

On that note, though, I’d also made it my mission to celebrate each day with my kids and find special things to do daily. If we observe silly “holidays” like Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, then why not Valentine’s, right? It’s just for fun, so for homeschool, I naturally have to include arts and crafts activities that involve hearts. Lots of them.

I have three kids who are quite far apart in age: 10, 5, and 2. I could think of something that they could all work on together, but I can appreciate that my eldest would prefer the freedom of working on a project all by herself. She wouldn’t have to sacrifice quality to indulge her brothers. And she can use all kinds of materials without having to worry about somebody getting hurt or something getting swallowed.

For my two-year-old, here’s what we did. His contribution includes rubbing the glue stick inside the heart and sticking the pieces of construction paper onto the heart. I guided his hand through most of that, plus the writing of his name.

Sawyer's Valentine Artwork

With my five-year-old, he cut some, but mostly glued. We traced his hand for the trunk, btw. Cameron's Valentine Tree

My ten-year-old did all this. I just came up with the suggestion. 🙂

Marguerite's Stuffed Felt Hearts

This one isn’t really a homeschool project, but it’s still pretty crafty, so I’ll include it. I just made pillow boxes using cardstock, and then put inside some chocolates their grandmother sent over from Switzerland. I just winged it with the pattern, but you can easily find printable templates online.

Pillow Boxes with Candy

Did you get crafty this Valentine’s? What did you make? How did you celebrate? Share in the comments.

You Might Be A Kindred Spirit To Anne Shirley If…

Did you grow up reading the Anne of Green Gables books? Did you become obsessed with Anne Shirley and wish to be her best friend? Did you feel as though you had many similarities with her? Were you convinced that she would have recognized you for a kindred spirit if she had met you? You might be right if…

1. You can never call a body of water just by its name (lake = shining waters). You use a poetic turn of phrase for everything because that just makes it more interesting or more properly conveys just how interesting whatever it may be is.
2. You love big words and feel joy and rightness in using them. You’ve felt others’ scorn toward this propensity of yours, but that’s how you enjoy language, so they can just like it or lump it.
3. You’re forever in despair over your hair. Anne may have lamented hers its color, but you could complain over any number of other features. Try texture, density, and shape (somebody must hate her coarse, frizzy, MUTANT hair). Because you can’t stand your hair, you might have tried to alter it to disastrous results (not quite green hair, but the outcome is still highly unpleasant).
4. You read books like they’re going out of style. They’re your most cherished material possessions. You’ve failed to do important tasks because you just couldn’t put a book down.
5. You write novel-length letters. You probably spend a small fortune on postage stamps. Some people may have delayed reading your letter because it required too much commitment.
6. You daydream like your life depends on it. You believe indulging in fancies is enriching to the soul – totally not a waste of time.
7. You speak and write with a lot of asides. You consistently go off on a tangent, but piously returns to the original point.
8. You have a genius for getting into trouble. Good ideas tend to turn traitor on you, but that doesn’t stop you from jumping in with both feet the next time you get another.
9. You don’t hide your passion for unpopular interests, even if you’re teased for it. Even if you get to be known as the girl who namedrops characters from the Anne of Green Gables series as though they were her peeps and quotes lines from the books ad nauseam. In modern times, the term “dork” may have been employed.
10. You wonder about the most prosaic things and have been told on more than one occasion that nobody gives a flying fig.
11. And finally, you keep going on and on about your kindred spirits and appreciate the heck out of people you’ve discerned to belong to the race that knows Joseph because as Captain Jim pointed out, they’re the salt of the earth. Meeting a kindred soul is like hitting the mother lode. It’s a relief and a delight to find somebody who gets you. Thankfully, as you grow up, you learn that “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.

Is this true for you? Do you feel heartened to learn that so many people share your love of Anne Shirley? Can you be a candidate to be Anne Shirley’s bosom friend? And do you have anything to add to the list? Comment your thoughts below.

If you haven’t read the books yet or don’t have your own copy, you can buy a Kindle version of the eight-book collection for just $0.99 (about Php50). There’s nothing like cozying up with a traditional book and flipping through paper pages, but if the stories are what you’re after, the ebooks work just fine. And, yes, the following is an affiliate link.

How You Get More from Doodling

Zentangle Our Lemonade Days

I don’t know how things work in classrooms now with all the technology available. Do students still use notebooks or do they just record the lecture in their mobile devices? Hmm, I wouldn’t like that at all. When I was teaching, I didn’t allow my students to have their phones, ipods, or laptops out, except for very few and select instances. Gadgets weren’t as rampantly used back then, so I didn’t want some students to have an unfair advantage over the others by using one.

Since I homeschool my kids, they can’t clue me in either on what learning in a traditional classroom is like these days. In our eclectic homeschool setup, my daughter doesn’t have to take down notes. She does copywork, but she doesn’t note down important details when I’m explaining things to her. I think that’s a pity because I’ve found note-taking to be a very beneficial skill.

I was great at taking down notes. Classmates were forever borrowing mine to photocopy back in the day. They were practically written in shorthand, but were mostly legible, so the borrowers patiently put up with my penmanship.

I do have a nice cursive, if I do say so myself, but it’s hard to maintain it when you’re trying to catch and jot down all the salient points that the teacher is saying.

My chicken scratch wasn’t the only thing they had to deal with when using copies of my notes. I doodled in between actual note-taking, so they were treated to a lot of swirls, flowers, butterflies, paisley patterns, and Spencerian script practice lettering along the margin.

Doodling was frowned upon in my school. Notebooks were to stay neat. Also, I suppose if you were supposed to be listening to the teacher and taking down notes, but were doodling instead, it would seem as though you were being inattentive.

Doodling advocate Sunni Brown, however, proposes that the activity is more than just mindless drawing. She says it’s deep-thinking in disguise and is an effective problem-solving tool. There is also research that indicates that doodling actually aids memory retention.

Now, I may not have an eidetic memory, but I was the kind of student who remembered what she learned in class. If I had been paying attention, I would have been taking notes and doodling. Even if I never got around to reviewing my notes, I would still do well in tests.

Outside the classroom, doodling often helped me pass the time. I don’t have any remarkable drawing skills, but I have to admit liking the results of my doodling, which tended to look psychedelic. I had the habit of starting from a simple shape and then building up from that. You could tell that I was partial to swirls, polka dots, and paisleys. That was my natural doodling style. It was certainly a surprise to me to learn that there was a name for it: Zentangle®.

Described to be a purposeful and structured style of drawing similar to doodling, Zentangle® supposedly supports a mindful state of being (as opposed to mindless doodling). It is said to be a meditative art form that promotes relaxation and stress-reduction as well as improves mood and self-control.

Like my doodles, Zentangle® consists of repetitive patterns of straight lines, dots, curves, and shading. The Zentangler is allowed to be as creative and free-form in her use of these patterns.

I looked at examples of Zentangle® images and, wow, there are really gifted Zentanglers out there. A lot of the pieces I’ve seen are really intricate. Some people are even selling their creations.

My own doodles are pretty simple, and like I said, I’m not really particularly gifted when it comes to drawing, but I can come up with a pretty picture from putting together patterns of simple swirls, dots, and lines – nothing that anybody would want to pay money for, but the satisfaction derived from the creation process and the pleasure from the result make pretty good compensation as well.

I don’t know about traditional schools, but doodling totally passes as an art lesson in our home school. I introduced the concept of Zentangle® to my daughter and now she enjoys putting together easy patterns, usually inside alphabet letters. I’m grateful that she finds it engaging and that I can include it in my list of suggestions for replying to declarations of boredom. Also, she likes to include drawings and small craft projects in her letters to her pen pals, so for the next batch of mail, she’ll be enclosing their names done in Zentangle®.

Zentangle Midge

I think most people would cotton to the activity. It is simple, creative, and soothing. If your feelings are in some kind of turmoil, you might want to try some aimless zentangling and see if you’ll calm down. You can check out this Pinterest board for some easy patterns to get you started.

There’s obviously more to doodling than meets the eye. Are you a chronic and pathological doodler like me? What’s your doodling style? Have you tried zentangling before? Did you find it enjoyable? Go ahead and share photos of your efforts.

Are You a “Look at the Moon” Kind of Person?

View of Moon from Kombi

Somebody recently tagged me on an image shared on Facebook. It mainly had the text, “I’m such a ‘Look at the moon’ kind of person.” She was probably alluding to that time I urged people to take the time to look at the full moon. It was really big, round, and bright that night.

I was certain that there were people who were kindred and would appreciate a beautiful moon like I did. In Anne of Green Gables-speak, we’d all belong to the race that knows Joseph. I suppose that would be the race that got excited over seeing Venus in the sky even if it’s pretty much there every night, that flipped over the promise of a meteor shower, that noted down all the predicted celestial events in her planner…

In any case, if you’re a backyard astronomer like me (that’s an astronomy enthusiast who’s too busy, too tied down, or too lazy to properly pursue the interest – I’m all three. I’m a backyard birdwatcher too, btw.), you might be interested in noting down the following dates. This list is not the most detailed. It’s basically just the dates and the corresponding celestial body or bodies of interest. Check out this 2017 astronomy calendar for a more comprehensive list.

I’m skipping January since it’s over.

February
• 11 – Snow moon/penumbral lunar eclipse/New Year comet
• 26 – New moon/annular solar eclipse
March
• 12 – Full moon
April
• 1 – Mercury after sunset
• 7 – Jupiter at opposition (note four moons with strong binoculars)
• 11 – Full moon
• 22-23 – Lyrids meteor shower
May
• 6-7 – Eta Aquarids meteor shower
• 10 – Full moon
• 17 – Mercury before sunrise
June
• 3 – Venus before sunrise
• 9 – Full moon
• 15 – Saturn at opposition (note ring and moons with strong bins)
July
• 9 – Full moon
• 28-29 – Delta Aquarids meteor shower
• 30 – Mercury after sunset
August
• 7 – Full moon/partial lunar eclipse
• 12-13 – Perseids meteor shower
• 21 – Total solar eclipse
September
• 5 – Neptune at opposition (tiny blue dot with strong telescope)
• 6 – Full moon
• 12 – Mercury before sunrise
October
• 5 – Full moon
• 7 – Draconids meteor shower
• 19 – Uranus at opposition (tiny blue-green dot with strong telescope)
• 21-22 – Orionids meteor shower
November
• 4 – Full moon
• 4-5 – Taurids meteor shower
• 13 – Venus and Jupiter conjunction before sunrise
• 17-18 – Leonids meteor shower
• 24 – Mercury after sunset
December
• 3 – Supermoon
• 13-14 – Geminids meteor shower
• 21-22 – Ursids meteor shower

* I didn’t limit the list to only those that are visible in Southeast Asia, so you may want to confirm the hemisphere/s in which they’re supposed to manifest.

The way I obsessively track full moons, you’d think I shifted into a she-wolf or something. Nothing so supernatural. Like somebody implied, I’m just a “Look at the moon’ kind of person. Although you should probably expect me to act crazier than usual on these nights – but only because I get excited over a pretty moon. 😀

And shooting stars! That night in college when a bunch of us UP French Club folks were treated to a plethora of shooting stars while we were hanging out at the roof deck of one of our alumni is one of my fondest memories from that time. Alongside that time when I walked out of my husband’s (then-boyfriend) house and the whole yard was twinkling with fireflies. I’ll have to write about fireflies too…

Okay, now, I’m just geeking out, so I’ll go back to the original topic.

Are celestial events of interest to you? Have you gone past the backyard to pursue the hobby? I might have to and you can find out the reason by reading this blog post. Are you another kind of backyard enthusiast? Let me know. 🙂

Three Fun Ways to Celebrate Crêpe Day

One of our homeschool quirks is that we like to learn about and celebrate silly or obscure holidays. For February 2, we had several options. Groundhog Day, Crêpe Day, Dogsled Day, and Play Your Ukelele Day are just some that I can recall from the list I consulted.

Groundhog Day and Dogsled Day weren’t very relevant to us since we live in the tropics (although we still discussed Groundhog Day to satisfy the kids’ curiosity). We don’t have a ukulele for the moment so we couldn’t play one even if it was just the kind of holiday we’d have liked to observe. Crêpes, on the other hand, are something we enjoy eating, and I had several ideas for expanding on this occasion.

Crêpe Day, as you can probably guess, originates from France, a part of the La Fête de la Chandeleur or Candlemas. Now, I’m not Catholic, so I’m not the person to ask if it’s also celebrated here or elsewhere. Supposedly, however, it commemorates the day when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.

There must have been some sort of Christian-pagan fusion in the celebration since the crêpes were mainly associated with the time of the year. They were made to use up the extra wheat before the next harvest. They also were supposed to look like the sun, so making them was a kind of salute to the coming warmer season.

At any rate, you gotta eat crêpes on Crêpe Day. That’s the part of the celebration we were all looking forward to, but we could definitely make other parts of the celebration fun and engaging too. Here are some of the activities we had on Crêpe Day that made it even more fascinating for us.

1. Learning French Chandeleur proverbs – I’m a confessed Francophile, so I love any old excuse to spout off French sayings. My eldest who’s 10 can already appreciate the beauty of the language, and while we’re officially studying Spanish and not French, it’s still fun to expose her to the latter. Here are two of the easier ones to remember:

À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur.
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens.

Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte.
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost.

2. Flipping crêpes – There’s a French crêpe-throwing game that sounded fun, but it also sounded like a potential waste of good food, and since we avoid doing that as much as we can, I decided to come up with an alternative. Flipping crêpes is even more fun than flipping pancakes since they’re thinner and lighter, yet wider. The kids basically had a go at just one crêpe, holding the spatula over the table, so even if they missed (and they did several times), it still wouldn’t get dirty.

3. Coming up with a signature crêpe – We concocted our own crêpe filling. We didn’t have a lot of time by the time we got around to this. We also didn’t have much in the way of ingredients, so we stuck to the common options. Next time, I’ll prepare better and supply them with a variety of food items. These are what we came up with.

Banana with Nutella

Banana and Nutella on Crepe  Homemade Banana Nutella Crepe

Ham and Cheddar Cheese

Ham and Cheddar on Crepe
Homemade Ham and Cheddar Crepe

This is the recipe I followed for making the crêpes themselves.

Basic Crêpes

Ingredients
• 1 C all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• ½ C milk
• ½ C water
• Pinch of salt
• 2 T melted butter

Directions
• Whisk flour and eggs together in a large mixing bowl. Add in milk and water gradually, stirring until well-combined. Beat in salt and butter until smooth.
• Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour about a fourth or a fifth of the batter on the pan, depending on how big your pan is. Tilt the pan in a circular motion, taking care to evenly coat the pan’s surface.
• Let the crêpe cook for one to two minutes until you can easily loosen it from the pan. Turn it over and cook until the bottom side is light brown.

If you’re interested in learning about fun holidays and observances, try checking out Brownielocks.com. Here’s the list for the month of February.

Do you like crêpes at all? Which kind is your favorite? Would you consider observing Crêpe Day next year? The above suggestions will hopefully give you a good idea of where to start. What other ideas would you recommend to observe this holiday? Would your rather celebrate Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, which falls on February 28 this year) instead of Crêpe Day? Let me know.

And remember that it doesn’t have to be Crêpe Day for you to get your crêpe on. You can have fun with crêpes anytime you want to.

Summer Fun: Colored Bubble Bath

blue and yellow bubble bathSince summer began, Marguerite has been having bubble baths about twice a week. She’d have one everyday if given the choice, but we don’t want to use up so much water. Anyway, now that it’s May, bubble baths are getting old, so to make them more fun, I looked for a way to make the bubbles purple (her favorite color). One blog suggested liquid water color (we only had the cake kind), and another suggested powdered tempera paint (we ran out and only had the liquid kind to begin with). I thought of food coloring and tried it out on the bubbles before telling Marguerite about it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have purple or red (which I could have mixed up with blue), so I had to make do with what was there. I put a few drops of blue food dye in a mister, added some water, and spritzed. It worked. It wasn’t as vibrant as I would have liked, but I made the solution super diluted since I wasn’t altogether sure that it wouldn’t turn my daughter blue. I found blue, green, and yellow dyes, so I only made a solution with the blue and the yellow (mixed up, they would have made green anyway). I spritzed away at the bubbles and then called Marguerite in for her bath. It was definitely a fun surprise for her. She spent almost an hour happily spritzing at the bubbles. I’ll make sure to keep this activity in mind the next time I stock up on art supplies. And in case you’re wondering about the baby, Cameron doesn’t care for bubble baths just yet. Maybe he’ll appreciate them more in a few months.

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