Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Eric VanRaepenbusch - March 29

Hi Happy Birthday Author readers! I’m Colleen Kessler, from Raising Lifelong Learners, and I am SO excited to be guest posting about a VERY special birthday today:

Happy Birthday to author 
ERIC VANRAEPENBUSCH!



Yes… today is the birthday of your {usual} blog host, Eric. My kids and I wanted to celebrate HIM, so we *cooked* up a special birthday celebration for one of our favorite bloggers, a talented author, and someone I consider a great friend…

Eric’s sweet books, featuring THREE GHOST FRIENDS are available from iTunes for iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone. While we have a used iPad coming to us, it hasn’t arrived yet, but that didn’t matter – my kids loved reading the books on both my phone and iTouch. Logan (2) said, “Do it again!” every time I finished a reading {and we read… and read… and read… and read… and… well, you get the picture}!

In the first book, Three Ghost Friends Learn about Colors, three ghosts eat fruit and change color. When they start dancing and playing, some unexpected consequences occur – they squish together, mixing primary colors and creating secondary colors. The book is super-silly and Trevor’s favorite of the two.




The second book, Three Ghost Friends Learn about Opposites, features the same three quirky ghosts acting out familiar opposites. Molly loved this one! Logan… well, she liked them both equally, and has discovered how to access iBook on my phone, and she keeps disappearing with the ghosts.




Readers of this blog are very familiar with Eric’s love of children’s literature, but he wasn’t always into books… in fact, he was a pretty reluctant reader when he was young. Reading was tough for him, and he was embarrassed to read aloud (sounds like a certain nine year old I homeschool…), but he eventually discovered fun books by Dr. Seuss, Remy Charlip, Judi Barrett, and moved onto Choose Your Own Adventure Stories. In high school, he became discouraged again as he wasn’t at all interested in the assigned books.

He finally got excited about reading again once he took a children’s literature class in college. Rediscovering favorite picture book authors like Richard Scarry, and finding new ones like Ezra Jack Keats and Faith Ringgold reignited his enjoyment of children’s books, and he’s found great ways to incorporate that love in all he does.

Eric taught special education, and used the hook of celebrating authors’ birthdays to get his students reading… who can pass up a good birthday celebration? Not this family…

…so yesterday we headed over to Eric’s to combine our love of hands-on science with his love of picture books, and created an author birthday celebration both sets of kids {seven in all!} won’t forget… the adults had a good time, too!




When we got there, we spent some time getting to know the newest little Van Raepenbusch – super sweet and only SIX days old!! Isn’t she just the sweetest little thing you’ever seen…




And… while I was tempted to hand over the project materials and hide out in a corner to nuzzle and coo, and kiss little fingers and toes, I pulled myself together and headed to round up the rest of the brood. With my “let’s do science!” cry, boxes of My little Ponies and *ahem* a warehouse of Star Wars action figures and ships were abandoned and the troops headed upstairs to destroy Eric’s dining room mix some colors. {a side-note for Eric… I just need to know when I can drop Trevor off for awhile to play. He knows we’ll never have a Star Wars collection that can even touch yours (I mean your son’s), and ours just isn’t good enough now that he’s seen the Holy Grail of action figures. I think if he stays with you for a week or two, he’ll be ready to visit us again… If he’s any trouble, just set your bees on him.)

As the ghosts in Three Ghost Friends Learn about Colors play with primary and secondary colors, we decided to as well. We used:

  • Color Changing Tablets – these are great for science experiments and sensory play because they’re designed for the bathtub so they are safe, non-toxic, non-staining, and they fizz in a fun way as they dissolve
  • Four clear cups per child
  • Water
  • A bowl for dumping color after they’ve been mixed
  • Medicine syringes, droppers, pipettes, etc. I got mine from CVS by telling my pharmacist I needed them to do science activities with kids… I have a lot now!



Then we set them up by giving them three cups with water, an empty one, three color-changing tablets (red, blue, yellow) and a syringe:




We told each kiddo to put their tablets in their water cups – one in each – and watch what happened:




Next, they mixed red and blue together:




We asked questions like, what color did you get (purple), how could you make the purple lighter (adding red), and then told them to try it out:




Finally, we asked them to dump their purple and try mixing other combinations. And then we stepped back… It’s amazing the magic that happens when you let kids explore their world.

Eric’s older son worked on making black, his younger one wanted more and more color {and splattered it all over his cute little face in the process}, his daughter was methodical and mixed and dumped, mixed and dumped. My kids tried very different things, too. Trevor played with the streams of water coming out of the syringe to see the difference as he shot it close to and far from his cups. Molly worked on “squirt-dyeing” her paper towel, and Logan poured colored water back and forth from cup to cup. The same materials… six kids… six different experiences…










Once experiment/exploration/playtime was done, it was time to clean up for cake! And, since Trevor loves to bake, and I love playing around with cake decorating, and we love Eric, we decided to replicate his adorable ghost as a three-dimensional ghost cake. It turned out FABULOUS! And… I think Eric liked it. His younger son, whose love of ghosts was the inspiration for the books, was fascinated by the cake. To complete the theme, Molly, Trevor, and I dyed the three layers different primary colors. {Come visit us on our blog sometime next week for a tutorial on how to make a ghost cake of your own!}







What do YOU think? Did Eric and his kids like it:









And while this was a fun celebration and a great way to kick off a new year for Eric – a year older, a sweet new baby, TWO books launched, a “blog party,” and a big mess – he’s been blessed with a lifetime of great birthday memories. Here are some in his own words:

“When I was younger, my family always recognized birthdays with a party — grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts, and cousins came together with my mom, dad, and sister. My immediate and extended family has always been and continues to be very generous with gifts and for this I am very thankful.

In addition to the tradition of getting together with family, I have had a few birthdays that stick out in my mind.  I remember my first party with school friends that was held at McDonalds. I can remember enjoying the party games including dropping clothespins in a jar.  I remember my 21st birthday when my father fulfilled a promise to take me to Las Vegas.  He had said for many years that he would take me there once I was legal gambling age.  I didn’t win any money but I had an unforgettable trip with my dad.

Lastly, I remember my first surprise birthday party.  I was in college and I had just started dating a lovely gal (who I ended up marrying).  We went to a movie and then headed over to Chi Chi’s Restaurant.  When I arrived, she had reserved a party room and all my friends from school were there!  I even got to wear a sombrero!  

I need to take this moment and tell my whole family that I love them very much and thank you for all the great birthday memories!”

Eric, thank you for welcoming us into your home yesterday, for becoming such a great friend in such a short time, for the inspiration you’ve blessed me with, and for trusting me with this baby – your blog. I hope this is your best year yet. I’m so proud to have been able to celebrate YOUR birthday…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUTHOR!!


***************************************
Colleen Kessler is a homeschooling mom to three highly gifted kiddos and is passionate about hands-on learning, fun, and exploration. She is the author of seven books for teachers including “FREE Resources for Elementary Teachers” released this week from Prufrock Press, seven books for kids, and lots of other classroom and educational materials. She spends her free time playing with her kids, launching rockets, hunting for salamanders, dreaming up new activities to try, and blogging about life, learning, and kids at: www.raisinglifelonglearners.com





52 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday, Eric, and many happy returns!

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  2. Colleen what a brilliant post! Loved reading and seeing the wonderful birthday celebrations! Happy Birthday Eric!!(all the way from Oz!)

    Absolutely LOVED the cake - what a beauty! Looks like everyone enjoyed playing and making colours...cant wait to get the Ipad APP! Yes, this looks like to be a brilliant year! :) cheers Nicky

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    1. Thank you Nicky! I have never had so many birthday wishes from around the world!

      Colleen and her kiddos did such a great job on the cake. Not only does it look good, but it tastes delicious!

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    3. Hi Nicky! The cake was fun (and surprisingly easy) to make! The kids loved it... You'll love the eBooks once you get them -- super cute! Eric did a great job.

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  3. Great Blog Post! Happy Birthday, Eric!

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  4. Colleen, you got to meet Kate a,d celebrate and play with this super special family! WOOT! What awesome festivities.

    And joyeux anniversaire, Eric!

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    1. Even with all the fun activities, I was so happy that Colleen got to hold the baby for a while! It was a fantastic day!

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    2. I KNOW, Joanna! It was MY lucky day! She's SO SO SO sweet... fits right in with a great family.

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  5. I'm thrilled we can finally say "Happy Birthday, Author!" to you Eric. Colleen, you came up with wonderful activities to celebrate the day. I love the color mixing activity. And that cake is dynamite!

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    1. Thank you Kirsten. I was a little overwhelmed at one point when I was taking photos of the kids color mixing. I realized that we were doing this activity because of a book I wrote!

      Then, Colleen brought out the CAKE! I was speechless!

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    2. Thanks, Kirsten! It was a lot of fun, and the cake was so fun to make. Eric deserves a Happy Birthday Author post!

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  6. Happy Birthday Eric! and congratulations on your new little one!

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    1. Thank you Sophie! The little one is doing really well! We are so blessed!

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  7. What a wonderful celebration, and what a delight to be able to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUTHOR! to you.

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    1. Thank you Beth. I appreciate that you shared the post too! This has been an amazing birthday!

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  8. Eric, what a wonderful friend and fellow blogger you have in Colleen, who I think did an amazing job of honoring you on your special day. It is SO nice to see you as the subject of your own blog -- it's been a long time coming. Since I don't have any gadgets, I was glad to see the screenshots of your books so I have a better idea of what they're all about (adorable!). The color project was so much fun, and that cake is spectacular.

    Colleen, thank you for such a fun post. I'm so glad to have found your blog through Eric - I have 2yo twin boys, so I'll definitely be by to peruse your wonderful projects. Great job to you both! :)

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    1. I was blown away with everything that Colleen had planned. The crazy thing is that we didn't even get to everything! She had a craft planned too -- we will have to do that at another time! I am so thankful for her friendship.

      I am glad you checked out her blog. She has really been working hard at it! She has so many great ideas!

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    2. Hi Renee! Thanks for your kind words... and thanks for visiting Raising Lifelong Learners. This was a fun post to write -- probably one of my favorites so far!

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  9. Yay, it's Eric's Birthday! So how does it feel t be the subject of your own blog for a change? Ha ha. Looks like you and your posse had oodles of fun, how fantastic. I have my little guys 4th Birthday coming up and I'm quaking in my boots, hope I survive it! Happy Birthday Eric, so glad to have 'virtually' met you. :D

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    1. Helga -- I am having too much fun! Colleen's celebration was fantastic, her blog post was perfect, and all the birthday wishes from everyone have been very special!

      I fret and worry about all my kid's birthday parties too! I put so much pressure on myself to make sure everyone has good time. You can do it! Happy early birthday to your kiddos! 4 year old are awesome!

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  10. Happy birthday, Eric!! Congratulations on the new addition to your family!! And congrats on the ghost books!! What a great friend you have in Colleen, too. Enjoyed reading about your birthday adventures!

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    1. Thank you Kerry! We are so blessed to have a healthy baby and great friends like Colleen. I am so glad you stopped by!

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  11. Happy Birthday, Eric, and thanks for all the Author Birthdays you've shared with us!

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    1. Thanks Sandra! Your support over the past year has been very much appreciated!

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  12. Happy Birthday Eric--my favorite, former Special Education teacher, turned stay at home parent/blogger/writer (like me!) :) May you celebrate many, many more with your very beautiful family!

    And Colleen! Wowza!! That's some cake--It looks amazing! Terrific job with today's post. :)

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    1. Thank you Natalie! I think "former Special Education teachers, turned stay at home parents/bloggers/writers" ROCK! So glad to have met you!

      I am hoping for many more! But, it is going to hard to top this one!

      The cake is amazing. Colleen told me that she had a cake for me and I tried to envision what she would do. My thoughts weren't even close -- I was blown away by the creativity!

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    2. Thanks, Natalie! Can I join the club as a "former gifted teacher turned stay at home parent/blogger/writer" too? ;) And, believe it or not, the cake was surprisingly easy (and super-fun) to make!

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  13. Happy Birthday Eric! What a great post from your friend Colleen! I loved it!

    And a special congratulations on your little one!

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    1. Thank you Loni! It was a fantastic post! Thank you for stopping by to help celebrate my birthday!

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    2. Thanks for the comment on the post, Loni. Eric's birthday was fun to celebrate... Logan is still singing "Happy Birthday to Eric" today!

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  14. Happy Birthday Eric, Wow Colleen did a fabulous job of throwing you a wonderful party here on your blog. I loved it. You are so lucky to have such a great lovely friend like Colleen. Its nice to be able to wish YOU a great birthday and all the best from kiwiland. (oh and your little one is soooo cute)

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    1. Thank you! I have been very blessed with a wonderful family and some very special friends. I think this is my first birthday wish from kiwiland! Thank you.

      Congrats on your movie news!

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  15. What a terrific post from your friend, Colleen!!! I can't think of a better author to celebrate than you--Happy Birthday!

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  16. I was SO hoping that cake would have colors inside, and I was not disappointed!

    HBTY EVR - glad it was a great celebration!

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  17. So much happy news in one post, what fun times. Awesome cake! Yum! I really like the how you guys did the color experiments with the kids. I'm sure they probably learned a lot from doing that. Congrats once again on your books and new baby Kate!

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    1. Thank you so much Jennifer. The kids had a blast with the color mixing. There was colored water everywhere! If we would have had more color tablets they would have played even longer.

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  18. Congratulations on your book and your celebration. The ghost looks yummy. My son and I have read through your book a couple of times. He's not yet two, but laughed at the ghosts, etc. We give it two thumbs up — well, technically I'm still trying to get him to do that. He'll high five you!

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    1. Stacy,

      Thank you so much. I wrote the ghost books for my son who sounds like he is about your son's age. He has loved ghosts ever since Halloween last year! Thanks for the TWO THUMBS up! I am so glad your kiddos enjoyed the books!

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  19. I am one day late to this party, Eric, but I am SO GLAD to see YOU celebrated on YOUR birthday. What an amazing day AND cake!!! I'm going to get your ghost book right now, and I know my kids will love it!. Happy belated birthday!

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    1. Better late than never. Glad you stopped by! I will never forget this birthday! I got to celebrate it with friends, family, a new baby, and my Happy Birthday Author Readers!

      Thank you so much for purchasing the book too! I hope they like it!

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  20. Oh, and I'm so envious that Colleen got to hold that sweet little baby! :-)

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    1. Colleen was very excited to hold her! It is such a blessing to have a new baby! (Even though we are not sleeping much!)

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  21. Julie... I can go over and hold her again for you -- in your honor, of course. It will be a hardship, but I'll make that *sacrifice* for you after all you've done for 12x12x12 authors...

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  22. Happy Belated Birthday! Looks like you had a great celebration!

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    1. Thank you so much Iza! I am so glad you stopped by!

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  23. Oops, I'm late to the party. Happy belated birthday, Eric! Your new little one looks like a little slice of heaven. So sweet!
    Colleen, thanks for a fabulous guest post and fun activity!

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    1. Better late than never! Thank for the birthday wishes!

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