Sunday, September 30, 2012









Dream of Christmas:

My Husband's Family's Wassail Recipe

2 quarts apple cider
4 juiced oranges
2 juiced lemons
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 c. sugar

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Clean House

My house is rarely clean. I usually have dirty dishes in the sink, unfolded laundry in the dryer (or worse, on the couch), piles of books we've read that haven't made it back to the shelf, and toys all over the floor. I do currently keep my floors swept and vacuumed pretty well, but only because my baby puts everything she can find in her mouth.

I do make an effort to clean before people come over--at least to clear a path so they don't trip on the toys. I remember once having my husband's grandparents over. The house started clean, but slowly the living room became a huge mess as my daughter brought in toy after toy. The mess made me a little anxious, but I let it be. Later my husband told me that his grandpa had said that I was a good mother because I let my daughter play and have fun without worrying about the mess. (Little did he know that I did worry, but I guess since I let it be anyway, I'll take the compliment.)

I always know in my mind that spending time with my children is more important than a clean house. Sometimes the mess gets too much and I tell my husband that we have to clean or I'll go nuts. He tells me it's okay, but there is a point when the house is so messy that it is no longer a nice place to be or the play room is so cluttered we can't even get in it to play. Today's post on Styleberry Blog (link below) reminded me that spending time with my children is more important than having a spotless house. Next time I'm trying to clean and my daughter asks to play a game with me, I'll stop cleaning and play with her.

Styleberry: You'll never regret picking the kids.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Bucket List

I love fall. I love the cooler weather, the leaves changing color, the boots and sweaters, the smells of apple cider and pumpkin desserts. My daughter must realize that fall is in the air because Monday morning she woke up and asked to watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

I enjoyed having a Summer Bucket List so much that I made a Fall Bucket List. Some are old favorites, others are new things to try out. Even if we don't get to everything, the hope is that it will help us be more active and do more fun things during my favorite season.

Fall Bucket List 
Nature Walk in a New Place
Rake Leaves
Collect Leaves for Nature Art
Pick Apples
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Visit a Farmer’s Market or Farm Stand

Soap Clouds
Build a Fort
Family Game Night
Make Homemade Playdough
Dress Up for a Tea Party
Watch a Football Game with Daddy

Paint w/ Evaporated Milk
Nature Art
Apple Stamping
Decorate Pumpkins/Gourds
Gratitude Tree
Handprint Turkey

Homemade Pretzel Bites
Make Applesauce
Bake Apple Chips
Bake Pumpkin Cookies
Drink Apple Cider
Make Stovetop Kettlecorn

Friday, September 21, 2012

Farewell to Summer

The calendar says it's the last day of summer. And I'm almost ready to concede. Our forecast says it's going to be almost 90 degrees tomorrow, but it will cool down after that. It's definitely been cooler in the evenings and early mornings. Summertime is fun for kids, but autumn is my favorite season--boots and jackets, warm soup and cider and cocoa, pumpkins and crunching through leaves.

This summer I made a bucket list of things to do so that our whole summer didn't get wasted away indoors. We didn't get to a couple of items, but some of those can just go on my list of things to do in the fall--especially any indoor things like making homemade play dough or soap clouds. We never did have a picnic, though we could always do that on one of our last warm days we have coming up. And I never made homemade lemonade. That one might wait till next year. Here's a list of some of the fun things we did.

2012 Summer Bucket List 

- Go To the Park
- Go To the Bickleton Rodeo
- Go To the Farmer’s Market (we did this lots of times and is my daughter's favorite)
- Visit the Library
- Go To the Zoo
- Go Fishing
- Go Camping (this only happened in the yard, but my daughter loved it just as much)
- Visit Portland's Saturday Market
- Go Swimming
- Go To a Garage Sale
- Play in the Sprinkler
- Color with Sidewalk Chalk
- Take a Nature Walk
- Stay Up and Look at the Stars
- Watch Fireworks
- Fly a Kite
- Blow Bubbles
- Paint the Sidewalk
- Play Ball
- Family Movie Night
- Have a Dance Party
- Paint Toenails
- BBQ Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
- Homemade Popsicles
- Smores Over the Grill
- Bake M&M Cookies
- Homemade Ice Cream
- Frozen Bananas
- Rootbeer Floats

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Preschool: Ocean Animals

My three-year-old would love to go to school. But as cool as she thinks backpacks and school buses are, she's definitely not ready emotionally to be in preschool. So we're doing "preschool" at home. I made a schedule and everything. My sister in another state is doing the same with her son and the cousins are going to skype and show each other their projects.

This week we talked about ocean animals. (Last week was zoo animals. We went to the zoo. The end.) I got out our Planet Earth DVDs and we watched some clips of ocean animals. Throughout the day we talked about what lives in the ocean and we made a list. I printed off pictures of whales and dolphins and we figured out what was biggest and what was longest. I printed off a coloring page of a shark and she colored it. That afternoon we watched Finding Nemo to figure out what other animals live in the ocean that we hadn't thought of yet.

And very fittingly (and unplanned) Daddy came home early and took her fishing (so it was a pond, not the ocean, but still, it had fish).

I meant to go over the letter A last week, but never got to it. And I'm still not sure how to teach letters. Any advice?

Our wall of projects.

Which is biggest? Which is longest?

Note the first three on our list. This was all my daughter. She told me: fishes, sharks, and little fishes.

Coloring page (with more than one color!).

Field trip: going fishing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gluten-Free Living: AKA Sacrifices We Make for Our Children

Two of my sisters have children with celiac disease. They were diagnosed this year and I've been impressed with the sacrifices and changes they've made to get and keep their children healthy. My youngest sister came to visit me this past week. Her husband and one son can't eat gluten. Which, turns out, is in a heck of a lot more stuff than just bread and pasta. She read me an amazing thing that she wrote about what it means to live with celiac disease, which I'll link to once I convince her to post it (or maybe I can even post it here too).

Hosting them here gave me a tiny glimpse into what my sisters do for their families every day. They brought their own bread and crackers and I planned meals that simply didn't usually depend on anything with gluten (though they had to bring their own soy sauce for a recipe because most brands have wheat in them). I made something with pasta once and bought a brown rice pasta for those who couldn't eat gluten. So on top of making the sauce I made two kinds of pasta in different pots, stirred with different spoons. And I timed it so I could drain the gluten free pasta first.

Cross-contamination can be a serious problem so they brought their own toaster and their own condiments. I put away all wooden utensils so that I didn't accidentally grab them (my sisters have thrown theirs out). I wiped down my counters and table and even used a toothpick to get crumbs out of the crevices. I swept and mopped and vacuumed. I wiped up after my daughter ate her food and before her son sat down to eat his. I found myself worried about every crumb, even though they were most often crumbs from harmless things like the tortilla chips that we were all eating.

Our preparation went beyond food. We put the play dough away and I had to tell my daughter no when she wanted to play with it. She has a beloved giraffe given to her by her favorite aunt. His name is Macaroni and Cheese and he is filled with wheat (one of those that you can put in the microwave and cuddle with to warm up on a cold night). So I hid him before they came. Soon after I hid him, my daughter came to me in tears because she could not find Macaroni and Cheese. I assured her that he would show up in a few days and distracted her with a smaller stuffed giraffe whose name is Tiny Macaroni and Cheese.

They are gone now and my daughter is playing with play dough like most kids can. I can go get Macaroni and Cheese out of my closet. I can put my wooden spoons back by the stove. And I can and have let all the crumbs in my house sit on the counters and the floors since they left. (Not that I love stepping on Cheerios, but the laundry that I neglected while they were here was more pressing than my dirty floors.) My life is back to normal, but theirs is an added challenge every day. They have to think about what they put in their mouths (and what else it might have touched) all the time.

I so admire my sisters for the sacrifices they are making for their children. It's not something that will go away either. It will become easier with time, but they will have to be vigilant about what touches their children's mouths until their children are old enough to advocate for their own health. Yes, I think just about any mother would do the same, but not every mother has to. Today at least, I'm grateful for my picky eater who won't be harmed if she eats fish crackers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer Bucket List: The Zoo

Say roar! We fulfilled one of our last big summer bucket list items today--visit the zoo. It was a new zoo to us. And though it was smaller than most zoos I've been to, it was lots of fun (and just as confusing to navigate).

My sister and her family are here to visit, so we got to have company and cousins at the zoo which made it a lot more fun. No one got lost or peed their pants, so it was a successful day with two three year olds and two babies.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Painting the Sidewalk

At the beginning of the summer, I made a summer bucket list so that we wouldn't spend our days bored inside--which always ends up with my three-year-old testing my patience and me losing it. We didn't even have to wait to get bored before my daughter was testing my patience this morning. And then I remembered this wonderful list that was going to make me a more fun mom than I naturally am. Thankfully, I have no school aged kids yet, so summer's not over until the weather says it is. I got the list out and was pleased to see we had done lots of things on it. But there were plenty of new things left to try. 

I bravely attempted sidewalk chalk paint, which I originally saw here. I say brave, because I don't like messes. I know, I sound like tons of fun to as a mom, right? I mixed them in a muffin tin and carried it out on a baking tray because I could just see it splashing during the two steps over the carpet between our kitchen and the outside. I even painted too, but the baby you see in the background was not thrilled with being left out of the fun, so I couldn't paint the whole time.

Conclusion: it was fun. I did get food coloring on my hands, but it came right off after doing the dishes (good thing I had dirty dishes to do). I think it would be more fun as she gets a little older and attempts to draw something less abstract. All the colors turned out very light, so red was actually pink when you painted with it. It would be fun to do with more kids--like when cousins come to visit, but not when half the neighborhood comes over for playgroup.

A side note, my daughter has been putting dirt in pots and "planting seeds" when playing outside. Today she sadly told me that her flowers weren't growing. I told her that seeds needed time to grow. But then I looked in her pots--she planted dandelions in her pots and wanted them to grow and is sad to see that they are dying instead. It broke my heart just a tiny bit. I guess we'll have plant some seeds inside and hope they grow for her. I hope I can find some seeds somewhere.