Friday, August 31, 2012

Rest, Renew

My friends, it has been a busy few weeks for us here in the Bluefield household, a busy month, actually.  I mean busier than normal for summer, which is busier than normal for the rest of the year.  We are in dire need of some down time.

I keep thinking that once the school year starts, I'll be able to breathe again, to catch-up on all the things I've been letting slide over these summer months, and especially in the last few weeks--that the pace of our lives will slow down enough that I don't feel like I'm always rushing and never getting anywhere. 

I don't know why I keep thinking that, because I know it's not true.  The beginning of the school year brings its own sort of busy-ness, and in four days we will be off and running in that race.

Today, though, our plans have changed, and so we have a rare summer day free to do with as we choose.  A day of rest?  A day to catch-up?  I'm not exactly sure what this day will hold, but whatever it is, I will embrace it.  I will seek moments of grace, pockets of rest.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Craft of the Month--September

The air is turning cooler and the leaves are beginning to turn color and drift gently to the ground. It's autumn--time to think about getting back to school and bringing in the harvest. September crafts of the month include a paper bag scarecrow, an egg carton school bus, and a fruit of the Spirit apple garland.

school bus craft
{Image Source}
Why not paste school pictures of your kiddos and their friends in the windows of this egg carton school bus?  You can find instructions here.

{Image Source}
Teach your children about the fruit of the Spirit by making this beautiful apple garland.  Visit I Can Teach My Child for instructions.

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
and self-control. 
Against such things there is no law.” 
Galatians 5:22-23
 

{Image Source}

Protect your harvest of apples from marauding crows with this paper bag scarecrow craft.  He's oh so cute and won't leave hay laying around the house: click here for instructions and template.

***********

Bonus craft:
Make some fun crows to keep your scarecrow busy--here are a few possibilities, or make up your own :)

Plastic cup crow from Familycorner.com
{Image Source}
Cardboard tube crow from Kaboose
{Image Source}
Hand and Footprint Crow Craft
Handprint and footprint crow from DLTK
{Image Source}


Paper Craft for Kids - Paper Crow with Movable Wings
Paper crow with movable wings from Craftideas.info
{Image Source}



Have fun crafting!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meet the reMARK(ER)able Teacher (easy teacher gift)

So tonight is meet the teacher night for two of my kidlets.  It's also dentist appointment afternoon and we have soccer practice, so Hubby and I are getting some great multi-tasking-running-kids-around-coordination practice. See, 'cause the dentist appointments are 10 minutes north, followed by meet the teacher #1, which is 10 minutes south, then meet the teacher #2, which is back to the north, and finally soccer practice back to the south again.  Did I mention that all of these activity times overlap?  Don't even ask when we're going to fit dinner in.  I'm so glad Hubby's job is flexible enough for him to help get kids where they need to be on days like today.

Anyway, it's meet the teacher night, and we're coming armed with gifts.  Because we love and appreciate our kids' teachers, and want to show them right from the start.

As you may have guessed if you're a regular reader, I have a fondness for puns, with a particular fondness for punny gifts.  If you share my fondness for puns and punny gifts, check out pinterest--so many great ideas out there.  I haven't seen this idea before, so I thought I'd share it with you.  It's so easy and pretty quick to make.

 I picked up these Bic permanent markers for cheap using a coupon ($3.36 at Walmart, minus $2 coupon), but you could use any type of markers you wish.  Pretty much any teacher can use markers of any kind.
Then I printed "Looking forward to a reMARK(ER)able school year!" on cardstock, cut it out, and used tape to attach to the markers.  You can change the wording to fit your situation--the key is the word remark(er)able.  I had the boys sign their names to the tags after the pics were taken.  I thought about taking the markers out of the package and tying them with a ribbon, but this is easier and still looks cute, right?  That's it.  Easy-peasy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Kissing Hand Back to School Crafts

OK, so I know that a lot of you are back to school already, but we've got a week to go.  And, oh what a push it's been to get everything finished that needs to be finished.  I'm sure you can relate.  Or not.  Whatever.

Our nephew is heading off to kindergarten this fall, and his little brother is starting preschool (they call it 3-school where they live, which is descriptive, I guess, but it always throws me for a bit of a loop when they call it that.  Here (and everywhere else I've ever lived), it's preschool.  Just preschool.  And then sometimes they call the 4 yr old classes pre-K, I think to make themselves feel important.  Anyway...).  Big month in the D household.

Ua had some separation difficulties when he was in 3-school, and I know his mom is feeling a little apprehensive that it'll continue in kindergarten.  And I am no stranger to school and separation issues.  My poor little AKD cried every.single.day of kindergarten for about the first 2 months.  It wasn't pretty, but I didn't know what to do to ease his anxiety.  If I had known then what I know now...but I digress.

So I sent the boys a couple of back to school crafts based on The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.


The Kissing Hand is a lovely story about Chester the raccoon starting school for the first time.  He's not sure if he'll like it and is feeling anxious and worried about how it'll go.  His mama reassures him, and then shows him a family secret: the kissing hand.  Mama lovingly kisses Chester's hand and tells him that whenever he's missing her, all he needs to do is hold his hand up to his cheek for a kiss and to remember that his mama loves him.

It really is a sweet story, just perfect for little ones who are separating from their parents for the first time or trying something new.

I sent the boys a copy of the book, then had them make shrinky dink kissing hands to keep with them at school, attached to their backpacks.  They made extras for Mom to keep with her as well :)


To make your own, follow the instructions here to use recycled plastic OR use blank shrinky dink material--you can find it at craft stores or online.

I also sent this free printable Kissing Hand poem that I found on Pinterest
 
It reads:
Here's a special thing to do
When I am scared of leaving you.
Hold my hand, then kiss it here.
The kiss will help to keep you near.
It will help me through my day
So I can work and learn and play.

Just print, cut out, and glue to one side of a piece of paper.  Next paint the child's hand, and place it carefully on the other side of the paper (or just trace the child's hand).  Cut out a red construction paper heart and glue it in the center of the handprint.

Have fun making your Kissing Hand crafts, and best wishes for a terrific school year!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Taming the beast

My first and only canning experience as a child left me with a fear of pressure cookers.  There's just so much potential for serious bodily harm.  But today...today, I faced my fears and tamed the beast.  I'm telling you, I'm knocking out fears left and right.  Pretty soon I'll be ready to park the Suburban in a parking garage.  Or not.

I'm fuzzy on the details of that first canning session: I just remember it being hot, sweaty, steamy work.  I remember my mom being flustered and overwhelmed.  I'm pretty sure a few of the jars actually broke in the canner, and some of the tomatoes had worms.  Ewww!  I don't even remember actually eating any of those tomatoes that she canned, although I'm sure we must have.

Needless to say, this was not an experience I had any interest in ever repeating.

I've been canning applesauce for a few years now, using a water bath, but last year I decided I wanted to try canning green beans.  Due to green beans' lack of acidity, they require higher temperatures to can successfully, and that means a pressure canner.  My parents graciously gave me their pressure canner (I think they didn't want to repeat the tomato canning experience either), but our garden didn't produce enough green beans at one time to make a full load. 


And let's face it, if you're going to muster up the courage to face a childhood fear, you want to make sure the potential payoff is as big as possible.

We didn't even plant green beans this year, so I thought I was safe from the pressure canner for another year, until a friend mentioned that her family had 4 grocery bags full of green beans and no freezer space.  Did I want any?

It was fate, I just knew it.  Time to look that pressure canner in the eye and show it who's boss. 

I said, sure, I'll take some.


This morning, with trepidation (or perhaps "trembling in fear" is a better description), I consulted my Blue Book of Canning and the pressure canner instruction manual I had downloaded eons ago, asked my husband for a consult on the weight configuration, and then set to work.

I put my helpers to work, too.


Seriously, I couldn't have done it without them.  OK, I could have, but it would have taken me twice as long.

And...

Success!  Eight pints of green beans ready to enjoy when the weather turns cold, and 4 more packages in the freezer.  Actually, it was pretty easy.  That popping sound (the one that lets me know the jars are sealed)?  Pure delight.


Special thanks to my parents for giving (lending?) me the canner, 4-H Mom for giving me the beans, and my Facebook friends for your (virtual) moral support, especially my brother, who oh so helpfully suggested that the pressure canner was more afraid of me than I was of it.

Tell me: have you ever used a pressure canner?  What was your experience like?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer in a Bottle

With summer marching unswervingly toward its inevitable conclusion, do you ever wish you could bottle it up--all that sunshiny goodness--and save it to release in the cold of winter?

Well, yesterday, I did just that.  I took some ripe tomatoes from my garden, added a few other things, and bottled up some sunshine, otherwise known as salsa, to eat all winter long.  Mmmm, yummy.

And here's how you know I'm not a "professional" blogger.  I forgot to take a picture of all of my ingredients laid out so prettily.  I was too excited to get going...

Anyway, I used this recipe because it seemed really easy and doable compared to some of the other recipes I found.  I halved the recipe because I didn't have enough tomatoes to do the whole thing, and 2 gallons seemed like p l e n t y of salsa to last us a good long time.  In fact, I'm thinking a jar or two of this salsa might just end up in my favorite brother in law's Christmas stocking.

Simmering away...
I peeled my tomatoes using the blanch and shock method (place whole tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then immediately plunge into ice water (the tomatoes, not you)--the skins will peel off easily using your fingers).  The recipe didn't say anything about seeding the tomatoes, but I did end up seeding them--I wasn't fanatical about it or anything, though. 
 
Here's a handy tip for seeding tomatoes.  Cut them through the y-axis, halfway between the stem and blossom end--that way you end up with a cross section through all of the seed cavities and it's easy to just scoop them all out.  You probably all knew that already.  Took me a few tomatoes to figure it out, though.
 
I would recommend using a food processor to chop the vegetables, except for the tomatoes.  Not only is it easier and faster, but you get a nice fine chop that way.


Now...to use up the commercially-prepared salsa that's in the fridge so we can dig in to this yummy stuff!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

a beating and pumpkin escape artists

 I put MC and Roger to work this morning beating the dust out of the rug we keep in our mud/laundry room.  We vacuum it regularly, um, semi-regularly, but had never given it a good beating.  Just look at all that dust!  This is a perfect gross-motor job for a child with heightened sensory needs.

 Finally, we have pumpkins.  I'm hoping at least one of them will hang on long enough to turn orange.  True to form, the pumpkins have escaped the garden space.  This year, we have pumpkin vines where they have never been before.
 This one climbed up a handy nearby red pine tree--I put an arrow on the pic so you can see how high it's gone, and actually, that's not even the top.  The garden itself is about 4 feet off the ground at this point--that little vine is probably 30 feet off the ground.
And, yes, there's a pumpkin up there!  I'm wondering if I need to put up a

Watch for Falling Pumpkins

sign.  Good thing the little apes (they don't have tails so they can't be monkeys) are good climbers...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back on Track and Full Cycle*

If making an accommodation is the kiss of death to a home improvement project, there's nothing like a hard deadline to get it back on track.  With guests arriving in just 3 days, we need to get all of the mud/laundry room stuff out of the guest room and back where it belongs pronto.


It's looking pretty good.  Most of the stuff is back--now we're just waiting for the hooks.  And the shoe bins (can't mop the floor because we don't have a mop head (who knew a refill mop head would be so difficult to find?)  Can't put the rugs back in until the floor is mopped.  Can't put the shoe bins in until the rugs are back).

And speaking of laundry...

When I was first married (and in college, and in high school, and, well, for as long as I've been doing laundry), I would do laundry whenever I had a full load, every week or two (ah, for those blissful, carefree days, when I had the time to do a load of laundry whenever I wanted...).  After the arrival of the first baby, I instituted a laundry day once a week.  Seriously, how in the world does an 8 pound helpless itty bitty generate so. much. dirty laundry?  And that worked well for me. 

When the next one arrived, I moved to doing laundry 2 days a week, because myword, if one produces double, two make the dirty laundry quadruple.  And that worked well for me.  Until recently.  And by "recently" I mean over four years ago when our youngest joined the crew.

It seems like ever since then I've been struggling with the laundry.  I never, ever it get all done on laundry day.  More often than not, in order to dry a new load I have to find an empty laundry basket in which to dump the clean clothes that have been sitting in the dryer getting wrinkly since last laundry day.  And woe to all of us when I forget and leave a wet load in the washer for 3 or 4 days.  Yikes.

I know that lots of people out there do at least one load of laundry every day, and I've tried that.  But ohmygosh, I don't want to have to deal with laundry every. day!  I honestly don't know how they can stand it--it made me bonkers. 

And I've noticed a little something about myself over the years.  The more loads of laundry I need to get done in a day, the more likely it is that I will actually complete them all, washed, dried, sorted, folded, and put away.  It looks a little something like this:


I know.  It seems a little strange to me, too.

Oh, wait.  You weren't thinking it's strange that I drew a graph were you?  I meant that it's strange that the more I have to do, the more likely it'll all get done.  So basically, if I try to do one load of laundry every day, there is very little chance that I will ever be caught up.

So I've come full cycle (I mean circle) in my laundry washing schedule.  I'm back to washing laundry just once a week.  And I have been pleasantly surprised to find that it seems easier to get it all done.  All I can say is, it's working for me.  For now.

*I made a punny!  Sorry, just couldn't resist.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Overwhelmed

My friends, I am feeling a little overwhelmed today, and I anticipate the feeling to continue for quite a while.  There is just so much that still needs to happen before the kids return to school in two weeks.

I know it'll all get done, but in the meantime, I am forced to take these few weeks one day at a time.  I can't, for instance, do what needs to be done tomorrow right now, as much as I would like to be able to.  It would be such a blessing to be able to work without stopping for a few days to earn a few days of rest, along with peace of mind, knowing that everything is set, but no.  Everything needs to happen at its appointed time, and I must keep my eyes open for small pockets of rest, and rest in them, in each day, each hour.

It is so hard to rest, knowing that there is still work to be done.  It is so hard to rest when my mind races ahead to the next task, the next day, the next week.  Knowing that there is not much margin of error in these next few weeks.  Wondering if I can keep the tight schedule.  Wondering what I will need to let go if I can't.

It rankles, to be at the mercy of time, when I so desperately crave control.  My lists, my schedules, those I can control.  Time is one thing that I cannot. 

So, my friends, off I go into this wild and crazy adventure of the next few weeks.  Wish me luck.

And I wish you well in all of your journeys, one day at a time.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Friday, August 17, 2012

Home

My dear friends, after spending around 60 hours in a moving vehicle in the past 2 weeks, it is good to be home. 

The children are complaining about chores and errands, being hungry, and just about any other thing you could think of (and a few you probably couldn't think of), getting on each other's nerves, yelling, screaming, and hurting each other, throwing down-on-the-floor screaming-and-thrashing tantrums (and not just the little one) and yet, even in the midst of all that, it is so very good to be home.  Finally.

We began two weeks ago with a road trip to visit my brother and his family in Colorado.  We spent a few days in the Denver area, then headed south to Canon City and the Royal Gorge, stopping to summit Pike's Peak on the way.

There it is: Pike's Peak!

There we are!  On Pike's Peak.

Did you know that Katharine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful on top of Pike's Peak?  So easy to see why she was inspired by this breathtakingly beautiful place.

 While all the others were in the gift shop, MC, Roger, and I were outside minding our own business when a fighter jet from the nearby US Air Force Academy did a fly-by, just about 30 feet above our heads. Awesome upon awesomeness. Hubby had the camera inside, of course.



The next day we headed over to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park to walk over the highest suspension bridge in the world.

The bridge

The boys, not falling 1000+ feet off the bridge to the canyon floor
MC, Ty-Guy, Roger, AKD, Con-Man
The view from the sky tram of the Arkansas River on the canyon floor
 The following day, we headed back to the gorge, this time visiting the canyon floor by train.

Four of the boys (and some people we don't know) enjoying the open air car

See how narrow the gorge is at this point!  Only 30 feet across, and the walls are vertical, so this section of track is suspended over the river.

Here's a view of the bridge from below

 It was a wonderful time visiting family and seeing some beautiful sights.

On Friday morning Hubby's grandma passed away, so we headed home early to have a day at home to unload and repack for a trip east to her funeral in Michigan.  Diagnosed with Alzheimer's and plagued by dementia, we had said goodbye to Grandma, at least the Grandma we knew and loved, and who knew and loved us, years ago, but that didn't make it any easier to lose her physical presence here on earth.

All in all, we logged about 60 hours on the road to and fro and fro and to again (more about how we survived all that time on the road with the kiddos in a future post).

The incredible beauty of the mountains followed so quickly by a sharp reminder of the fragility of this mortal life has made me thankful.  Thankful to have, for now, this little family I hold dear.  So thankful to be finally home, even knowing that this earthly place is not my home.  Grandma is the one who is home.  Finally.

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.  
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, 
for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Great

In loving memory of Hubby's grandma, Lucille

Grandma & Grandpa with 5 of their great grandchildren
July 2009

How Great Thou Art
Lyrics ~ Carl Boberg, 1859 - 1940
English Translation ~ Stuart K. Hine, 1899 - 1989
{lyrics from here}

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed;

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!  How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!  How great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;

Refrain

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, My burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Refrain

When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim,"My God, how great Thou art!"

Refrain

Monday, August 13, 2012

10000 Reasons

{Click here to listen}

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name


The sun comes up
Its a new day dawning
Its time to sing your song again
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

You're rich in love and you're slow to anger
Your name is great and your heart is kind
For all your goodness I will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Soon my soul will sing your praise unending
10,000 years and there forever more


Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name (repeat 3x)
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name (repeat 3x)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Minute Fun: Bowling

Five minute fun is a fun activity that requires 5 minutes or less of parental set-up or guidance, but can keep kids entertained for a long time.  It also uses common items that you probably already have around the house.

This week, inspiration came from my 7 year old nephew, Con-man.  He's such a creative kid :)  All the grown-ups were busy, so Con-man pulled out some 16 oz paper cups and a playground ball.  He stacked the cups up-side-down in a pyramid shape, with five cups on the bottom, four in the next row, three in the next, and so on.  Kind of like the way regular bowling pins are set up, but vertically, and with 5 extra pins.

Con-Man and Roger setting up the cups
Once he had the cups stacked to his liking, he commenced rolling a soft, bouncy ball toward them from about 6 feet away.  The cups made a very satisfying cracking sound as they were propelled into the air by the speeding ball.  Con-man even added a masking tape bowling lane to the kitchen's wood floor after a while (I think it's still there).

I was a little skeptical that this would keep the kids occupied for long, but all five of them played for almost an hour, and I'm sure they would have continued for much longer had we not insisted they go to bed.

CRASH!

Try this the next time you need a quick and easy way to keep the kids occupied--you might be surprised by how much fun the kids (and you) will have.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Five Minute Fun: Jumping Cups

Do you ever have one of those days?  I mean those days when the children are underfoot and on your nerves?  When they can't seem to leave each other alone?  When it seems like they pick a fight just to have something to do?

Every mama needs a repertoire of quick and easy boredom busters for days like that. 

Enter the humble jumping cup.  It's so simple and easy to make, using items you probably already have around the house, and it's guaranteed to entertain...or at least break the boredom cycle.

video
(There's a video here...if you read my blog via email, you will need to actually visit my blog to view the video)

All you need to make one are two cups (I used plastic disposables), two rubber bands, and some tape.  You can find instructions and pictures here.
  
First, make four small slits in one cup, equally spaced around the rim.  Use a little bit of tape on the inside and outside of the cup to keep each slit from splitting further.
Cut the rubber bands, and put a knot in each end of each rubber band.  Place them in the slits, making an X in the cup, and ensuring that the rubber bands are just taut.
Like this
{Image Source}
Use more tape to secure the rubber bands, if desired.

Now you can add some decorations to the side of your cup if you wish.  You could have your child draw a picture of a rocket or frog or other flying/jumping thing.  In our house, we made this during an emergency situation, so no pictures for us.

To launch, place your modified cup down over the other cup and let go quickly.  We found that it worked best to press down on the bottom of the cup with our palms, and then when the cup was all the way down, hold on to just the rim with our fingers before letting go.  Have fun!



Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to Make Magnetic Tangrams (for travel)

When faced with the prospect of an upcoming mega-(17 hour)-roadtrip, I am overcome with anxiety.  Our kids do fairly well in the car, and we make long drives of about 7 to 10 hours with some frequency, but 17 hours in the car?  That's taking it to a whole new level.  What am I going to do to keep those children off of each other for 17 hours?
 
Inspiration came in the form of a cereal box.  Cocoa Krispies, to be exact.  The box had Tangrams on it, along with a few patterns to try. 
 
 
According to Aunt Annie's Crafts,
The tangram is a puzzle game that originated in China during the 1800s. It rapidly spread to the United States and Europe, and became very popular with both children and adults. Each tangram puzzle has seven pieces, also called tans, cut from one large square—two large triangles, one medium-sized triangle, two small triangles, one square, and one parallelogram. It is a puzzle that requires imagination and creativity.
 
 
What a great game to bring along in the car!  It has endless possibilities, and anyone can have fun with it.  For hours on end.  The only trouble was, those cardboard pieces cut from a cereal box would be easily lost.  And tangrams with lost pieces are no fun.
 
Enter my friend, magnetic inkjet paper.  You may remember that I made some paper dolls from this stuff a couple of years ago.  It's paper with a magnetic backing that you can run through your regular inkjet printer.  Good stuff.
 
To make some, just find a printable tangram you like--they're all over the internet.  I chose the ones from Aunt Annie's Crafts, because I wanted my tans to be colored, and I liked how the patterns were as big as possible to print on an 8.5 x 11 page so I wasn't wasting as much of the magnetic paper.
 
 
Just print the tangram you choose onto magnetic paper, then cut it out.  Try to cut as straight as possible--the puzzle will work better and be more fun with straight lines.  You could even go so far as to cut using a straight edge and x-acto knife (which I would love to have, by the way, if you're looking for gift ideas for me).
 
Angelfish

The beauty of the magnetic paper is that now your tangrams will stick to metal.  Use a baking sheet, craft tin, or metal clipboard to keep all those pieces contained.  At home, you can put them on the fridge or dishwasher for when the kids need to be entertained during meal prep.
 
Camel
 
That's it, you're done!  Now all that's left is to start playing.  See what kinds of shapes you can make.  There are all sorts of solutions all over the internet to try to copy, too.  I like this Tangram Zoo, because animals are fun for the kids.  Here are tons of tangram outline solutions.  I also printed off this tangram worksheet to give the older kids a bit of a challenge.
 
Dolphin
Have fun, and happy travels!

A few notes about these tangrams:
  • As you can see, the large tans hang over the edge of my cookie sheet in many of the solutions.  For travel, I would recommend the smaller tans (printed 4 to a sheet) so the solutions don't get so big.
  • Some of the solutions online do not work with this set because of the way the parallelogram is oriented (even some of the ones on Annie's website).  If you're having trouble figuring out a solution, try turning the parallelogram over, or flipping the whole shape you're attempting to make horizontally.
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