So Tristan, use the contact me link to the right and I will get this fun summer treat/activity off your direction.
Thanks for those who entered, there will be a some more gieveaways coming including...one this weekend for those who plan to participate in the Great American Backyard Campout..
And since today got away from me (love living in the moment with my kids and being spontaneous) but sorry it delayed tonights posting.. So, I will work on our intro post to our theme week over night and you can come check out our big 40/50's theme week first thing Monday... Complete with a sock hop at the end of the week.. Lots of fun, retro games, black and white tv shows, Elvis, and a slew of history, too..
Today was art day in our Italy week. We browsed many famous works from Florence and Rome. We made a trip to the local library and read up some more on Italy and the Renaissance. Here are just a few of the facts we focused on today....
The Renaissance began in Florence Tuscany in the 14th century.
We studied the works of Michelangelo, Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo de Vinci, and Raphael.
Architecture changed from a Gothic pointed arch to more of a round arch seen in most of Italy's structures.
During this time Italy consisted of 250 seperate states.
Of course, we spent a large amount of time on an art project which the kids really disliked.. So why did we continue the project - well I am not sure any kid would enjoy the process, but I am fairly certain my kids wont forget who Michelangelo is or HOW he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. My kids, after laying on their backs under the dining room table, cant imagine painting that way for over 4 years...
Using a sketch of Michelangelo's Delphes Sylphie from Enchanted Learning we taped papers on the underside of our table and the children laid there with colored pencils. It didnt take long before the kids started complaining, and each time they did I pulled out our book and we read some more about the process and about Michelangelo the artist as well. The younger two kids were allowed to simply draw, and I was pleasantly surprised when my youngest girl (6) went and got her picture Bible and tried herself to draw a scene from Genesis.
Art is something fun to break up the mondane rainy (or too hot) day. So have some basic art supplies on hand so your kids can tackle a fun project on the spur of the moment. Here are some great little finds from around the web to give a jump start on ideas...(you can always bookmark these blogs -add them to your google reader so they are handy, or create a list that you keep on your fridge or on a clip board hanging somewhere handy)
Crafty Crow every day something new and wonderful and creative...lots of link and ideas.
Henry Family Circus Jill found my blog via TipJunkie and was inspired to have her own theme weeks, and she showcases all the fun art projects that her family has done this week. Some great ideas, cant wait to add some of her ideas to our list of things to do.
Still Finding Cash this blog is full of frugal ideas to get the best our of everyday, and she will be having a lot more ideas this summer, so definately check out this blog.
Family Fun you cant go wrong with Family Fun's great seasonal craft ideas.. I like to print the ones we want to do so I dont forget them.
Dont forget to check out the Sundays This Summer link to the right for all our theme weeks including, tea party, science camp, China week, etc.
I forgot yesterday to post the photo of our Biscotti, oh it was yummy, the kids enjoyed it as a breakfast treat, but only dipped in milk...
We also enjoyed our gelato today and think ice cream is a perfect summer treat so we have a summer giveaway for you.
We are giving away a Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker to a lucky reader.
Have you seen these.. you will have a choice of red or blue. Now I am giving this away with no compensation at all from the manufacturer, it is simply something we love and I figure it would be nice to thank my readers for stopping over this summer. We received one of these from my sister a few summer back and we always look forward to the process of making ice cream with ours.. So here is the scoop ~ to enter... Comment below with your favorite homeade ice cream recipe (you can share a link). You can gain another entry by tweeting the giveaway (you must come back and leave a second comment that you tweeted-follow me on twitter so I can verify). You can blog about the giveaway for a third entry (just come back and link me up to your blog).
Thats it, one lucky reader will have this fun ice cream activity to entertain the kids with during the 4th of July holidays. I will use a random number generator to select a winner Sunday night. The contest entry period will end at 5pm Sunday June 20th.
We are excited about our journey tomorrow, into Florence and Rome, following the life work of Michelangelo and other notables among the Italian artists. But you will have to come back and see all of the activities we have planned tomorrow. I just wanted to share a few of the highlights from our visit to Venice today. I have to say the kids were so curious about the "floating" city. We read some of our books, explored via the internet all that makes Venice unique and notable. Of course we started our day with some yummy doughnuts using our pizza recipe and following along with Giada's Italian Doughnut Recipe...
and if you wonder if the kids liked them....
Here are a few of our finds around the Internet today...
We practiced common phrases in Italian today...here are just a few from our list. My oldest spend quite a bit of time searching phrases and writing them down in his journal today.. I loved hearing him practice Happy Birthday in Italian. We are still working on our pronunciations, but the kids do sound so much better than they did (we did) on day one.
Good morning! Buongiorno!
How are you? Come stai? (or) Come state(polite)?
I'm fine thanks. Bene, grazie!
Thank you (very much). Grazie (molto).
You're welcome! Prego!
Good Night. Buona Notte!
Can you help me? Potresti aiutarma?
How much is this? Quanto costa questro?
Happy Birthday! Buon compleanno!
Look for a few links tomorrow to some great blogs with craft and art ideas for you and your kids.
We had a slower start to our activities today, and that is okay, I like summer to be flexible and relaxed but we are enjoying learning more about Italy. Today it was pizza and The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Here are a few of the finds from taday..
Italy from the Inside Blog What I loved about this blog are the videos for the kids. My kids loved watching the children saying the words in Italian, we would pause the videoblog psoting and try to repeat the words in ITaly. Such a rich source of information on such a fun level for the kids (as well as for my reading this evening.)
Italy Guides A completely interactive giude from so many areas of Italy. Today we walked around the Leaning tower of Pisa using this interactive map. Each map has a wonderful description and historical information along with the great visuals. The kids and I read from the various pages and they really oooh'd and aaaaw'd over the various sights we were able to see thanks to this virtual tool. I have to say that the internet really brings these far off lands into your home in such a different way than the books did when I was a child. Even I felt as if we were there taking a 360 degree tour around the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Stay posted for a graet idea of keeping this experience alive after the week (or unit) of study is over.
Learning Numbers in Italian since the images on the site linked are copywritten I created my own guide for you to be able to download and use for help as your children learn Italian. Similar to the color sheet we printed up yesterday, we printed this out and then I had the kids go throughout the house and find the number of objects to match the number in Italian. Then as they brought the items to me, we said the word in Italian together.
We are practicing our house words too, having those printed out and taped around the house on things like doors, tv, windows, bathroom, etc. It has been fun to hear a child here or there say the word when the are near one of those flashcards.
We made pizza today using my favorite pizza recipe, so I decided to share it here. I included photos yesterday of the mixing of the dough etc so I wont repeat those, but I will share what the finished pizza looked like..
Obviosuly this pizza was topped with fresh from the garden tomatoes, basil, some fresh mozzarella and kalamata olives. We made the sauce too, a mix of crushed tomatoes and herbs. The only problem we ran into was we didnt make enough. Here is the pizza recipe thanks to my friend Erin.
1 3/4 cups warm water (100°F to 115°F) 2 tablespoons sugar 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 1 tablespoon teaspoons salt 1/4 cup olive oil 5 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour
Mix warm water, sugar and yeast and let sit until yeast activates. Add 1 cup of flour and mix. Add oil and salt. Then add as much of the addition flour as needed to make a elastic dough (I stop when it doesn't seem to want any more flour). Cover and let rise as long as you need. You Can use almost immediately or later in the day or put in fridge and use later that night (if refrigerated take out at least an hour before you want to use)
Bake at 475 on a cornmeal dusted cookie sheet for 15-18 minutes.
We also made salt clay today so we could make our own leaning tower of Pisa. It didnt quite give us the result we had wanted, but it was fun none the less. Tomorrow my oldest has asked if he could try his hand at a lego structure from Italy. Of course I was delighted, so he spent some time tonight reading through and looking over many of the historic structures in Italy and I cant wait to see what he picked and how he does with this project.
Tomorrow we head to Venice, lots of fun to be had, including making biscotti, and gelato.
Dont forget to check out my friend Maureen, over at Spell Outloud. Today she had a great post of an interview with a mutual friend Paula Gilarde. Paula talks about how to showcase memorabilia, crafts, and kids art projects in her scrapbooking pages. I know it is something that takes me some thought and time to decide what to keep and how to keep up with. So be sure to check out the great interview.
It is true, I dont speak Italian very well. But we had a blast discovering a new language today. Below are some of the activities we completed today as we started out on our Italian adventure. I had a friend email me today and asked WHY I did these "units" with my kids. I know in the middle of her email she was not asking me this question with ill-intent, but while I was responding I kind of felt like I was justifying my summer plans, and I didnt like that. I hope to simply offer my kids a chance to expand their horizons, to think outside the box, to step away from the computer and tv, to stir their imagination and foster their creativity. Thats it and it may look different for each us when we do things with our kids. My kids happen to enjoy our theme weeks during the summer, they are apart of every aspect of the planning phase and the execution phase. We as a family enjoy learning and growing our minds to include other cultures, other countries, and new horizons, we hope you enjoy the journey we are on.
Today we looked at the globe and found Italy, identified surrounding countries and bodies of water. We talked about the "boot" we were looking at and then we looked through the encylopedia and read about Italy and touched on some historical aspects of the country. The kids then found the flag in the book and colored their own Italian flag. (I guess we could have just turned on the World Cup, lol).
Here are a few finds on the computer that helped us with learning the sounds of the Italian language.
Here is a matching sheet we did as we practiced saying our colors in Italian today.. The kids cut the words out and then matched them, we played against each other in a race format to see who could properly identify and match their English color words with the Italian color words.
(note: the colors dont match right to left with the Italian/English words)
At little explorers, you click on the letter and a great picture dictionary page appears
One of the things we are is flexible and today we had a fun surprise visitor and spent a long time catching up with her, so we didnt get to as many things as we had on our chart, and that was (is) fine. What we did, was fun - it included all the kids (ages 5-10). I was so happy to see how active the 5 year old was, too..tried so hard to sound out each new sound of this beautiful language, colored his little heart on on his flag...
We had fun making dinner tonight, fresh homeade garlic bread, pasta and a delicious new sauce we picked up from a specialty market straight from Italy... We usually make our pasta and pasta sauces, but when the kids saw this pasta and sauce and that it was from Italy (being shown during a cooking demonstration) there was no turning back, so I obliged and it was actually very good...
(just realized I didnt take pictures of the kids flags today - but really its a basic flag, lol you can imagine that there are 4 red, white and green colored pages here...)
In addition to our THEME weeks, we also have a "summer fun jar" the kids all wrote down or told me a few things they would like to do over the course of the summer, so I then used the fabulous digital supplies at
Designerdigitals.com to create little note strips with each of the kids ideas. These were then cut in strips, and rolled and tied with ribbon before placing in our summer fun jar.
On Monday, we pull out one from our jar, and sometime during the next week, the kids are surprised with the treat that had been written down. One fun thing we have added to our summer fun jar this summer is the aspect of serving. I feel it is so important to teach our kids to serve the community in which they live..to help those in need..to be of service to others.. So on the back of each strip of paper is a service project, and it has to be completed before we can enjoy the activity on the front. (For example, the kids chose Go Fishing and on the back it says pick up litter at the fishing pier) So that is actually a service we get to complete while enjoying our family activity. I would love to hear how you get your family involved in your neighborhoods and communities.
To help you quickly find the supplies I used to make our summer fun jar, I am posting some links to the store at Designerdigitals below. I have to say I love that I didnt have to run out to the store to buy stickers, papers, etc. Having digital supplies right here on my laptop makes instant crafting and projects so much easier to tackle these days.
Well, we may not be traveling across the ocean to get there, but we are excited to start our Italian studies next week. Below are a lot of links to the sites where we have been gathering our information to use during our unit on Italy next week. Even if you dont follow along with all of what we are doing, you will find some useful ideas and links that you can use any day that the kids need a little something different to occupy their time. Each day next week I will post photos of our days activities along with more detailed information on each of them. But for now, this is a glimpse (and a chance to share some resources) for what we will be doing as we embark on our Italian journey.
Here is one resource for helping teach Italian. Our first lessons
will be over basic objects and things around the house.
This page also includes a link so you and your children can
hear the proper pronunciation of the Italian language.
And we will explore the Italian Opera and other aspects of the Italian impact on music as well.
As we go through our week the kids will be creating a book on Italy
similar to what we did with our studies last summer.
Here are book resources, as usual, I have loaded these into the DigitalReflections Amazon store for easy browsing or adding to your shopping cart, but also as a one stop place where you can look and then request the items from your local library...
Expanding the lesson:
The kids will be corresponding with a pen pal from Italy over the course of the summer.
We will be visiting an Italian resteraunt that is owned by a family with rich Italian
heritage who have agreed to share some of that with the kids, including a cooking
lesson and the sharing of some family photos.
We will be visiting our local Museum of Fine Arts and locating the Italian masterpieces
that are currently on display. The children will have a chance to sketch the masterpieces
in their summer art journals and will have open discussions about each of the pieces
and the kids have each looked over Giada's recipes at FoodNetwork and we picked a few that they will make on Friday when we invite our friends over to see all that we have learned about Italy. (of course we will make some gelato for our sweet treat this day.)
Our last of school was yesterday and we celebrated with the traditional afterschool party.... But now its summertime and since the school system think its great to let us out midweek, we are taking advantage of these few days to get organized, clean up and get ready for our summer fun. On our agenda for today...
Packing away school clothes, winter clothes, etc.
Clearing Clutter in the art cabinets, and closets.
Creating our summer charts (samples to follow)
Organize reading lists and summer school supplies (print out school sight words, etc)
Confirm any outside sporting activities, registrations, etc. (swim classes, gymnastics, etc.)
So, here is a sample of some of the charts we created ...
These charts were made using products from Designerdigitals. Specifically Mindy Teressawa's Its A Girl Thing Kit. Scrapbooking supplies have such great appeal to kids, we incoporate a lot of my supplies into our everyday, like charts, lists, book covers, etc.. (side note: the chart on the right has 5 purses for 6 days, as a behavior occurs which we are trying to avoid, a purse is cut off for that day, once all 5 have been cut, there is a consequense tailored specifically to this child. - her goal is to NOT loose all her purses each day)...
We have a shelf in the kitchen that has 4 baskets, one for each child. In it they will find their art supplies for quiet craft time. Their summer school bridge books, a few reading books, some paper, and grade specific items (a clock and set of money stamps for my soon to be first grader, a protractor and elements chart for my soon to be 5th grader, etc). These baskets are great for some needed quiet time around here. We have a lot of fun plans ahead, but our days will always allow for quiet reading, and activity time where they can get into their baskets and work on something alone.
We create booklists from Charolette Mason's Guide to Homeschooling. I always said if I were going to homeschool that I would be following Charolette Mason's methods... You can see the lists of classic literature, poetry and others on the Ambleside online website. This is a link for year 0 (kindergarten and preschool). And again for year 1, you can continue to find the lists as the years progress through that website. You can take advantage of your local public library's summer reading programs, or check out places like Barnes and Noble who also offer reading incentives and summer reading programs.
Some of the books on our shelf this summer include:
Some of you are finishing up school like we are here this week, and I wanted to share a few ideas for teacher appreciation gifts. A few simple handmade cards and some summery gifts any teacher would love. But for a nice alternative, we were able to get some baby oak trees made ready for planting. We attached a poem (written with the aid of my 10 year old) and look forward to being 'green' in our gifting this year.
This card and all cards are made using the amazing digital scrapbooking products available at designerdigitals. I think handmade cards are a great personal touch especially when your kids can get involved in the process the way my son (and my daughters did).. We also made a collage print for the kindergarten teacher, and had all the children sign a mug for her. One of our favorite things to do at the end of the year is to give classmates a little something, too. This year we made little pouches to hold beach balls, which said, "have a ball this summer" on the outside. It is fun to think outside the box just a tad and do a little something for the friends your kids have come to know during the year.
We have less than two weeks of school left, and aside from being really excited, I am taking the time while I have less kids at home to get organized and prepared for our summer activities. I think this is one of the few times I make lists, and lots of lists, so I thought I would share that organization and preparation process here. If you are planning to follow along with us this summer, this is a great heads up and sneak peak into some of our hands on ideas.
Load up on books, do the research, pick activities...
Be creative and be flexible....
Keep it kid friendly...
Stock up on the basics.... (art supplies, misc. sales items from Michaels and Hobby Lobby go a long way when you have a house full of kids) start saving toilet paper and paper towel rolls, baby food jars, etc. Check with appliance stores about getting some large boxes, or carpet stores for large carpet rolls, check with the schools art teacher to see if they are disposing of partially used items such as colored pencils, crayons, etc.... they will often donate them to you.
As we move through the decades this summer, we will embrace the music, fashion, and food of each decade. This has required some research so I went straight to the local library. I have checked out books, that are decade rich, and have been pulling ideas and started planning activities around some of the typical daily life during each decade, and planning field trips (if I can relate it to a decade) and creating menus... Along with daily activities, the kids will be creating a notebook from their summer, so I ordered as many copies of newspapers and magazines as I could find that had to do with major events of the decades. One of our activities, is to watch a black and white film (of course on dvd, lol) as well as watch popular television programs from each decade.. I found a record player on craigslist, and some cool records on ebay. We will study the evolution of the automobile during each decade. I am having a lot of fun preparing everything and I know they will enjoy learning more about these different decades as it related to their grandparents and to my husband and I growing up. Of course we will touch on all major events that occured and shaped our world during this time. I have also researched our area to find homes built during each decade so we can study architecture and building supplies and how they changed. Here is a site where I have found some great and relavent information, the peoples history site... The kids will all work on posters comparing things like the price of gas, milk, houses, etc.... I also wanted books for the kids to flip through and I searched at AMAZON and found these.
When it comes to Egypt I have been gathering supplies for the kids to use to construct a pyramid out back. We will also construct pyramids from sugar cubes and glue on a smaller scale. I found a great kit
with some activities for the kids. We will write in hieroglyphics, learn about mummies (this is probably a little scary for my younger ones, so we will touch on it lightly for now). And a few other activities.
One thing I want to point out, a lot of our activities require some preparing, but most require little money, and when it does cost for supplies, I look at it this way... a family vacation for 6 would cost a few thousand dollars, and so far I have spent less than $80.. I know I will spend a little more probably, but in comparisson, it really is a frugal way to have fun. My intention with summer activities is to involve learning with fun and to keep my kids from being "bored".
I will post more this week about basic summer fun, including recipes, arts and crafts, and party ideas.
Are you ready for some BIG SUMMER FUN? I know we are, and we are counting down til school is out. One thing I really love is making the most out of our summer together, by creating activities and 'units' that help keep my kids from saying 'we are bored'. This summer DigitalReflections is teaming up with Maureen from Spell Out Loud to offer lots of ideas, host gieveaways and have guest bloggers.
Maureen is a homeschooling mom of 5 who is a master at winging it. :) She will be touching on how to mix planned activities with spontaneuos ones, and activities that aren't necessarily time-intensive. Her forte is planning toddler activities, but since she does have some older kids, she might even showcase some things for them too. ;)
Earlier this year we (the kids and ) started brainstorming about what our summer would look like, and a lot like last year, we came up with theme weeks... So some of our weeks we will be unearthing Egypt, traveling to Italy, diving deep into Oceanlife and dancing our way through the decades of American culture and history, to name a few. We are also participating in the Great American Backyard Campout. I love that the kids are involved in even the planning stages of our summer activities. They have invested thought and time and that just helps to ensure that our summer is all about them. I will do anything to keep from hearing that they are bored, and I also love that each of our summer week themes are full of rich learning experiences disquised as fun -sometimes I think thats the best way to teach kids.
Whats most important is that summer is a chance to connect with your kids and have a blast while you are doing it. It doesnt have to be expensive, or over the top, it just has to be you and them, enjoying life, discovering, exploring, and being together.
We hope you all will join in with your ideas and blog posts. Feel free to snag the blog button too. We'll be setting up McLinky's each month, having give-aways, guest posters and more. All new Big Summer Fun posts will be posted on Mondays alternating between Spell Outloud and Digital Reflections now through the end of July. (Don't worry, we'll both let you know where to find the newest posts! :) )
With school starting on Monday things have switched gears around here. Lots of preparing but hopefully some final summer fun with a week of stay-cation activities to enjoy as we get ready for the upcoming school year.
Some things on our list are, going bowling, hitting the drive-in movie, end of summer bar-b-que complete with smores and a chance to pull out the telescope again, finish up some puzzles, make one last summer trip to library (although we continue to go year round), we will head out on one more hike and picnic, have a late night movie night with popcorn and ice cream sundaes.
We have lots of organizing projects going on in preparation for the start of school. Here is a great site with lots of ideas on how to start the year ahead of the game when it comes to being organized and ready to handle the back to school process, and all that comes with that.
One of the things we are doing around here is starting off with a system in place to tackle the onslaught of papers, assignements, and information we get on a weekly basis from school. I decided to go with the Stockhold collection from The Container Store. I have a dedicated cabinet in the kitchen that will house a set of each of these in various colors (one for each child obviously).
The stand up magazine holders will house the daily folders and homework assignements. The flats will house short term homework assignments, and the large flats will house the projects I am keeping to add to their memory chest. (Each of the children have a memory chest and each year we add birthday cards, photos, favorite items, (I add magazines, etc. to preserve current events from their childhood - ie. the Time/USA today re: Michael Jackson) and we add a collection of their school work. It is a great reflection of their childhood and a little time capsule of sorts.
I really love the idea of this lazy susan supply center WRITE START lazy susan. I plan to organize their basic supplies in a way similar to this one, too. Making sure to start off the year with everything in a place and a place for everything will make the daily homework and the projects they will tackle that much easier. (Meander around Write Start blog - it is FULL of great ideas for your children and the learning process).
In our gameroom we have a wall dedicated to the kids art projects. And I love the idea at Ohdeedoh (wire handing system) using the Dignitet system from Ikea. But we got our hanging system from Land of Nod.
These make for great wall art. And the more I look at the one on the Ohdeeoh Blog, the more I like that Ikea one, it adds depth for the handing items which I like. We love Land of Nod, and these systems are usually seasonal. So when we switch out our art, we can also switch out the clips, which is a nice addition.
Another way we are preparing for school is planning out their lunches. We decided last year to be as GREEN as possible with lunches and stopped purchasing ziplocs and other throw away plastics. So we have gone to LAPTOP lunchboxes, and I love the whole concept. It is based on the Bento Box style lunches so popular in Japan. This option allows more freedom with food choices and opens up a lot healthier menu for the kids. And, they are actually excited about this new lunch concept as it is more inline with how we eat on a regular basis. Here is a link directly to a photogroup at FLICKR dedicated to laptop lunches (and this is where I get a lot of the ideas on what to include in my kido's lunch.
Bakerella apple mini pops. A definate must make for the beginning of school. We are hoping to have a back to school social for the kids and their friends in the next 2 weeks, and I will be attempting to make these. I dont think there is anything cuter that just says back to school like these pops do.
Another area with food, is in snacks for afterschool. My kids are not terribly picky, but they do like sweet things and I would just rather save those sweet treats, for just that - a treat! A friend posted about a smoothie on FB yesterday and it made me start thinking through how good of an idea that was. So here are a few links with some ideas for you to try with your kidos. Chicago Smoothie, kids-simple-smoothies.
We like to mix up snack time making it fun, giving them almost playful attempts at snacking, they do like veggies with dip, especially hummus, they enjoy fruits and cheese as well. I think its key to make snack as stress resistent as possible both in the preparation and in the eating. In my case my kids will be winding down from the long school day and I will be gearing up for the long haul of dinner, study and bed routines. So its definately time to make like simpler and we are all about SIMPLE around here these days.
What a fun week. Today was the first part of our tea party camp and we had a great time crafting. We sewed, glued, cut, taped, painted, and prepared for our actual tea party tomorrow. We will spend the first little while in the morning finishing up some decorating details. But so far, we have made our placemats (painted and stamped), sewed our napkins (the kids cut and pinned, and helped sew some), cut and made our bunting, cut, glued and decorated our flower pots and baked the cookies...here are a few pics from today... (but you will have to wait for tomorrows post to see how cute the whole room looks)
this by the way, is my favorite photo from the day - little hands preparing to sew...
And here are a few books we are enjoying from our trip to the library:
this book is perfect for my animal loving 4 year old, especially since we are a pet free home, it helps him learn how to approach a new animal. and he loves the pictures.
We love baking and cooking, and whats better than a book about all that in a fun natured and colorful artisic way. We love this book.
What I love about this book aside from the timing (ahem, wrong dryer setting recently - no not me!!) was how all 4 of kids were drawn into it even though it started by my reading it to the youngest. I love books that do that!
Well, come back tomorrow - the dining room is all decked out and a room full of beautiful little girls will be coming for tea. And I will share some pics and more details about everything we did...