Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Ant Farm and an Ice Cream Shoppe

Happy Valentine's Day!

We give the kids gifts on Valentine's Day, rather than just cards or little trinkets. I don't know exactly why we started doing it, but I enjoy it because in my mind, winter is long and dreary and it adds some fun to the dark days. Besides, I usually shop for the gifts while I shop for Julia's birthday, so it's easy.

This year, Ben got an ant farm. One of those really cool ones with the green gel that they live in and a light that will make it all glow in the dark. It even has ports for rubber tubing so that if you have nothing better to do you can buy a few of them and hook them together! You have to send away for the ants, and in a few weeks they will send 2 dozen Western Harvester ants (which they caution should never be handled as they "bite and sting," but, they quickly reassure, also make the best tunnels and societies to observe!) that you have to stun in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before you set them into their new home.

Ben is very excited, although he was suitably disappointed that he'll have to wait for the honored guests to arrive. I am kicking myself--when I bought this 2+ weeks ago I thought I should send away for the ants immediately, but then decided not to because I'd have to pry the box open, which would make it look bad when he opened it. If I only had, the little buggers would be arriving soon! Julia got a bug habitat for her birthday, so between the two of them they should be all set! (The interesting thing here is that I absolutely detest bugs of any kind--so you can see the devotion of a homeschooling mama here!

For Emma, I got a Dairy Queen ice cream set. Of course we have loads of toy food, but most of it dates back to Rachel's toddlerhood, and is showing its age. When I saw this set, complete with strawberry shakes with straws, banana splits, a 6 piece cake with removable candles and a shiny cake server, ice cream sandwiches and pops on sticks, soft serve ice cream cones and even a basket with paper doilies that holds strawberries and squares of chocolate bar--I knew Emma would have a ball. She immediately set up a restaurant and the kids paid her with plastic money we use for math practice. She fed her dolls and bunnies, had a birthday party, and served me endless slices of cake all day. It was a great gift, if I do say so myself.

As for Julia and Rachel--they were thrilled with a bracelet kit (Julia has already made herself a beribboned horse charm bracelet, plus one for her best friend) and a journal, special pens and a new book to read, respectively. We also got goodies from Grandma Barbara via mail, and chocolates that Matt picked up when he was shopping for me, and Rachel surprised us all by buying bubble gum for her siblings and fancy chocolates for me and Matt from her babysitting we all had a lovely Valentine's Day. Hope you did too!


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