The Doodle Bug Painting & Pottery

The Doodle Bug Painting & Pottery
AUG 17, 2013

The Doodle Bug Painting & Pottery

My children are truly at a disadvantage when it comes to art. Neither I nor their father passed on the gene for artistic creativeness. Until the boys met Ms. Sarah at The Doodle Bug a few years ago their inner Picasso remained hidden.

I was a skeptic when I first took them to a class – I was sure that I had just wasted $25 and there was no way that the finished product would still exist after the first opportunity for a trash pick-up by the city of Huntsville. I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did the boys love being in the classroom but the finished product is still proudly displayed in their rooms. That first sock monkey canvas gave the boys the confidence to create art and to believe in themselves that they too could make a piece of art worth keeping. Since that first class they have asked to attend classes at The Doodle Bug not only for fun but to go and make gifts for family members on different occasions.

Artists hard at work!

Artists hard at work!

Sarah Sharp started this Huntsville small business in October of 2010 after she realized there was no place in Huntsville for young children to explore painting and art on either canvas or pottery. She also found that this would be a great idea for children’s birthday parties. Sarah has always had a love for children and after taking my boys several times it is obvious that children love her too! Sarah also has a philanthropic heart and is always giving back to the community. If you have a specific cause and would like to involve the kids in fundraising  opportunities  Sarah is often able to help. We recently had a Swim for Melissa painting party where some of the proceeds were donated to our Swim for Melissa team, The Invincible Sharks.

The maximum class capacity at The Doodle Bug is 25 artists. Parents are welcome to stay, but if you would like to use that time to run errands the kids are safe and entertained. Sarah welcomes children of all ages and has experience in working with children with special needs. She teaches the art class stroke-by-stroke and will assist where needed. Everyone leaves the class feeling that their art is a masterpiece! The smiles are priceless.

The Doodle Bug specializes in art classes for kids of all ages , but have recently added some fun adult classes. Children create canvas art and pottery with the guidance of Ms. Sarah.  Sarah has a great classroom rapport with the kids. She is able to keep their attention and focus, maintaining a calm environment while still allowing them to have a ton of fun.

Program Offerings

  • Scheduled classes
  • Walk in times
  • Birthday Parties
  • Fundraisers (call Ms. Sarah to discuss opportunities)
  • Adult Classes
  • Off-Site Sessions- Doodlebug will even come to you! (last year she visited our second grade class at school.)

Details

Address:2117 Whitesburg Drive, Huntsville, AL 35801 (Next to GiGi’s Cupcakes)
Cost: $10 to $30 per child depending on the size and type of art they choose to create
Phone: 256-270-9797
Doodlebug Facebook Page (sometimes has discount updates!)
View Website

A Campout Adventure, Unplugged!

A Campout Adventure, Unplugged
MAR 20, 2013

A Campout Adventure, Unplugged

In an effort to show my sons and their friends that fun CAN be had without being “connected” I hosted a campout adventure!

A friend provided me with a tent – since this was my first time camping with the kids I didn’t really want to invest in a tent of my own. Plus, I didn’t want to go to a remote location. Most boys had never slept all night in a tent and I wasn’t sure if this would even work, so our camping adventure took place in my backyard.  All invitees were asked to bring their own sleeping bag and flashlight.

Would I be calling moms at this point because I had scared their little first graders to death? Would the boys get wound up with fear and anxiety? This was, after all, a new overnight play date for all of them.

Now the hard part, coming up with ways to entertain eight 7-year-old boys without using anything that had to be plugged in!  First I went to Lowe’s to buy a fire pit… how else would we roast marshmallows for Smores? That is an essential activity to any campout. For dinner, I kept it simple. I grilled hot dogs and served them with chips and juice boxes. 

The little campers began to arrive about 5:30 in the evening. Before dinner they spent time getting acquainted with the tent by making room assignments (it had two bedrooms) and laying out their sleeping bags. They were entertained on the trampoline and running around in the yard with very inexpensive, yet totally fun Punch Balloons.

After dinner darkness had set in and it was time for a surprise. My neighbor helped me create a scavenger hunt for them. We kept it age-appropriate, yet challenging, hiding seven clues around the neighborhood which eventually led them to a Treasure Chest Of Excitement for boys! They were in first grade at the time and it was fun watching them take turns reading the clues. Sounding out the hard words was a team effort.

The Clue Master's letter & camper sleuths.

The Clue Master’s letter & camper sleuths.

Once the loot was found, we made our way back home. They spent another hour playing with the army men, cars, silly putty and other miniature prizes that they just worked so hard for. About 9pm it was time for everyone to change into pajamas and the ghost story portion of the evening. This is the part I was not sure of. Would I be calling moms at this point because I had scared their little first graders to death?  Would the boys get wound up with fear and anxiety? This is, after all, a new overnight play date for all of them.

Boy was I surprised – the boys quickly changed and situated themselves in their self-assigned section of the tent. I requested that while I read, they settle down and listen. I began the book using my best suspense and scary voice, speaking quietly so they would have to concentrate to hear me. The tent was silent other than my voice. In amazement I looked up about 25 minutes into my reading to notice that everyone in the tent was sound asleep!  I’m not sure if I can credit the fresh air, the action packed evening, the fact that we “unplugged”, or a combination of all factors! At this point I considered my think outside the box idea a total success.

Out like a light.

Out like a light.

I have to admit I didn’t sleep in the tent with them – I really enjoy the comfort of my bed. I checked on all of my campers, made sure they were tucked in, turned on the porch light and left the back door open before I headed inside to retire to my bed.

Just as quickly as the boys fell asleep, with the first sounds of morning they were wide awake! At 6am to be exact I had trampoline full of energy!

I was afraid I might be getting a call from the neighborhood association regarding the noise ordinance, but I suppose since the night was quiet and uneventful my neighbors were able to overlook the early morning wakeup call. The night unplugged will go in my parenting guidebook as a success.

Have you hosted an unusual slumber party? Share your story in the comment section below – I would love a new idea for next time.

An Unusual Twist on the Sleepover

An Unusual Twist on the Sleepover
JAN 19, 2013

An Unusual Twist on the Sleepover

Do your kids LOVE having a sleepover? Do you find yourself stressed and anxious at the thought? Are you worried that the kids will destroy your home, or that you don’t have enough activity to entertain five children at home?

This weekend I thought outside the box and invited four boys over for a new twist on the sleepover. I booked a room at the *Embassy Suites in Huntsvilleon a Friday night.  I chose this particular hotel because it offered an indoor pool and I knew the made to order breakfast would be a big hit with the boys!  Another deciding factor is that the Embassy offers a two bedroom suite, which provided us with two double beds and a sleeper sofa. If you are able to use a AAA or Military Rate ($87-$111) it significantly helps with the room rate.  However, the regular rate for this weekend was offered at $129.

Crunching the Number$

Considering that an evening movie ticket is over $7 per person and popcorn and drinks at least $7 per person, an evening at the movies for four kids and one adult is over $75!  Taking the kids to a hockey game with snacks would be even more than that considering that general admission tickets are $10 each and that doesn’t include snacks or dinner. I was able to get a discount room rate and even with ordering two pizzas (picked up on the way for a $10 per pizza cost) I was able to keep my total cost for the adventure under $135.  The Embassy offers a manager’s reception from 5:30 – 7:30 in the evening, and this offered us sodas and chips and pretzels to snack on (plus complimentary glass of wine for the grownups!)

There are a few points advice I would give after this experience:

  • I didn’t tell the boys where we were going or what we were doing because I wanted them to be surprised.
  • I made a point to have a frank discussion with them about behavior and respect. A surprise hotel stay is SO much fun, but we needed to be respectful of other guests in the hotel.
  • I would set a certain lights-out time, if you plan on enjoying the pool in the morning you want well rested children.  The kids swam all evening and then had about thirty minutes in the room to wind down before I turned out the lights at 10pm.
  • Next time I will pack goggles for the kids, the chlorine in hotel pools is often at a higher concentration. I did pack a few diving toys and balls for them to play with at the pool.
  • The following morning after our swim I had all of the boys shower, during that time the ones waiting to shower were entertained with UNO and Rack-O.

Fun was had by all, and for less than dinner and a movie!

Fun was had by all, and for less than going to the movies!

The sleepover was a huge success, and a great idea for a birthday party if you can keep your guest list to five. Out of respect for the hotel and other guests, discuss manners and behavior with your crew prior to the event. Take advantage of the manager’s reception for sodas and snacks. Have a reasonable bedtime so that the kids can enjoy the next day and you are able to return them to their parents in human form. Respect the hotel and make sure you and the kids clean up… don’t leave wet towels all over the pool area and make sure the room is in a reasonable condition upon your departure.

Most importantly relax and enjoy the kids!  You will be parent of the year after a night like this!