rocket ship

apple, whip cream, strawberry

5…4…3…2…1…BLAST OFF!

We were invited last weekend to visit the Virginia Air & Space Center on the opening day of their new hands-on exhibit “Space Racers,” which is based on an animated PBS Kids show by the same name. Children are able to explore space through the multitude of interactive exhibits in this new installation.

We had actually never been to the Virginia Air & Space Center, so we took our time investigating the rest of the center before heading upstairs to the new exhibit. Avery was completely enraptured.

A view above and below of the new exhibit. There is an area (above) geared towards the younger preschool set, packed with coloring stations and soft blocks for building rockets.

It doesn’t get more hands-on than this. Did Avery understand how this activity relates to space travel or did he just have fun trying to snap blocks together while wearing big gloves? I’m not totally sure, but if something educational manages to entertain this high spirited five year-old on a hot day and it isn’t a video game, I’m all for it. We will be returning for sure.

taj mahal

Chocolate hazelnut spread and multigrain breakfast cereal

We’ve been touring the world from the comfort of our own bed lately. Several books, including the one below, have taken us on international journeys and Avery has become quite adept at identifying major world landmarks and defining architectural characteristics.

So, it seemed like the opportune moment to bring a little India to the breakfast table.

I highly recommend this book. Not only are the illustrations gorgeous, but each spread contains numerous hidden flaps allowing glimpses into the buildings and surroundings. It’s great fun.

Tips: Use different kinds of cereal to add details and ornamentation to your pancake.


Apple windows and doorknob; chocolate hazelnut spread covered door and roof

Never have I realized these words rang true until the last few months. Our lives have been in a state of transition and we’re starting to settle into our new house, though most of our belongings are still enclosed in cardboard boxes. I made this pancake to celebrate our impending moving day a couple weeks ago, but alas, the camera cord was buried in said cardboard box until yesterday. Typical.

But I can’t wait to start making pancakes in our new kitchen! It’s just more of an incentive to finish (start?) unpacking if I can ever find the time.

Tips: Use a fork to scallop the roof and add texture to otherwise flat surfaces. I used a knife and the results aren’t nearly as satisfactory.

amusement park

Ferris wheel: Strawberries & Nutella

Roller coaster: Strawberries

Welcome to our latest obsession: roller coasters. Peter Pan is still holding strong, but watching front seat POV videos of the world’s scariest rides has replaced the Wipeout fixation.

It started this summer after visiting the Chincoteague carnival and riding The Whip (pictured below). Countless of times. In fact, so many times in a row that I knew vomit would be in the near future (thankfully it wasn’t). But something was triggered in his little brain and he’s been hungry for it ever since.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got myself a little thrill seeker.

Above: “Hey Mommy, pretend I’m on a roller coaster. Aaaaaaah!”

And lucky for me, Avery’s new favorite toy is the cord to our vacuum cleaner. He contorts it in such a way to create multiple loops, which in his mind makes the perfect roller coaster track. It sure beats Thomas, which was starting to get expensive.

traveling man

“Mommy, are they here yet?”

Powdered sugar, apple

When Avery was a baby, I hung a map of the United States over our kitchen table hoping if he saw it everyday as he ate his morning breakfast, his knowledge of geography would be top notch by the time he hit elementary school.

And he is proficient at identifying at least four states: Virginia, California, Florida and Texas. He recognizes Virginia as the state in which we reside, California as the production location of Wipeout, Florida as the magical place of Peter Pan (Disney World) and Texas as home to all his cousins and relatives.

So when I made the mistake of telling him last week that his young cousins would be driving from Texas to stay with us starting Thursday night, he’s been asking me every hour since if they would be arriving soon.

A little tasty geography lesson was needed.

I carved a miniature minivan out of an apple and parked it by the star representing Austin. I encouraged him to “drive” the minivan to Virginia, but you know what his comment was?

“Why does your car have legs? It looks like a hippo.” He promptly popped it in his mouth before I could capture an image. Oh, well.

And by his reaction to the powdered sugar, you’d think I sprinkled Comet all over his pancake. What child doesn’t want sugar?

He’s becoming quite the critic, but I think he understood the message. Though admittedly, he hasn’t stopped asking that dreaded question.

Tips: When wanting to make a state or letter pancake, draw your outline on a piece of paper and press it against a window to trace on the reverse side. This will give you an accurate image from which to work. It’s hard enough to pour a good outline, let alone its reflection.


Strawberries & Cool Whip

We spent the Memorial Day weekend in Chincoteague and the only thing Avery could talk about was climbing to the top of the lighthouse. Lighthouses rank up there with Peter Pan and playing the drums, so we made sure we included a visit in our itinerary.

Since we were on vacation, supplies were limited. Available was a tub of Cool Whip and an overflowing quart of ripened strawberries, which worked out perfectly.

*Side note: I used a knife to trim the tower, giving it nice smooth lines, but the natural shape from the pour is more organic and bulbous at the top. I always pour quite a few of the shapes and pick the best to decorate. This being said, as I prepared a plate of lighthouse form rejects to serve the rest of the family members joining us on vacation, I realized the undecorated pancakes were better suited for a bachelorette party than my parents…if ya know what I mean. So, I used the pancakes to make these:

Roly Poly Pancakes

Same ingredients, just folded and eaten like a sandwich. They were a hit.

And back to the lighthouse visit – much to my surprise, Ave climbed all 175 steps by himself while holding my hand. Just one event of the most memorable weekend ever.

Tips: To get the outer red skin of the strawberry to lay flat, cut each one in half, quickly carve out the core and press flat with hand.