Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tis the Season

I have been very busy for the past few months. I live very near the ground zero of Sandy, my husband has been help so its been just me and the girls. But the house is all decorated, we cut our own 100% naturally grown tree. Today we made bird treats to give to some friends (I will post the recipe if they turn out okay, still drying)
We also made gingerbread men. I've been busy knitting nice warm headbands for the girls. I do enjoy this season and am so excited for Christmas day, I don't think I've been this excited since I was a child. Hearing my little Liv talk about Christmas, Jesus and God and seeing the light in her eyes is amazing, and makes me feel I must be doing something right. Merry Christmas

Monday, October 15, 2012

Harvest Party

This week I am hosting a little harvest party at our home for Liv and her friends. I thought it would be a nice simple way to enjoy some time outdoors, which soon will be limited. We are painting pumpkins and doing apple star prints. For the star prints you simple cut the apple in half, horizontal, and in the middle is a little star. Simply dip them in paint and make the prints on paper. We are also doing bird feeder with peanut butter and seeds on a pine cone. All of this will be done in the backyard with plenty of time to run around and enjoy the fall weather. I'm also hoping to make a leaf pile for the kids to jump in.
We are serving homemade pumpkin bread and apple cider. I'm hoping to make this a little autumn tradition in our home. How do you celebrate the fall season?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Schools In

I have decided not to send my daughter to preschool this year for many reason. One of the reasons is a this young age I feel children should be close to their parents often, and I can do most of the stuff at home for free. Preschool is so expensive in my state I don't know how everyone even affords it. I've been working on a light curriculum for her to have some structured learning. Its part seasonal, part Waldorf style, part Montessori and part modern preschool. It took me a lot of work, even though its only a very basic curriculum, since I feel at this age a few hours a week tops, is plenty. I decided to share my curriculum for free for the rest of this year. I will be posting some of what we will be doing for that week, book ideas, stories, art, crafts, nature, science and more. Take out what you like, add what you like, enjoy Week 1: Discuss the Harvest season, find stories about the harvest from the library. While collecting from the garden explain that we are harvesting. Make some fresh zucchini bread with zucchini from the garden. Involve the child in preserving some of the produce. Art, using water colors paint with red alone (this is based on the Waldorf idea) explain the color red. Point out on a calender that the month has changed from August to September Outdoors practice walking while balancing. Week 2: Squirrels: collect nuts outside and leave them out for squirrels. Read Squirrel Says Thank you and The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin Art: make a tree using their hand print at the trunk and then finger prints all around as leaves. For snack make trail mix with nuts Week 3: Celebrate Michaelmas, find stories about Michaelmas and read George and the Dragon. Bake apple bread, shaped like a dragon and slay the bread Build a castle with blocks. Make a dragon out of clay or beeswax Discuss the changing of the seasons Read I Know when its Autumn
Week 4: Go apple picking "Apple picking apple picking on a Fall day, take one down and bit away yum yum yum Make applesauce with some of the apples. Cut an apple in half and make star printings Discuss the different colors apples come in, red, green, yellow. Read some books on Apples or Johnny Appleseed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Produce produce

I have soooo much extra produce. I went a little over zealous on my planting this year. I forgot how large most plants get so my garden is hard to maneuver. Everyday for the past 3 weeks I've eaten a tomato sandwich for lunch. I'm not complaining one bit, its the best tasting lunch. Today I tried my first from scratch tomato sauce. Very yummy, but it cooks down so much I didn't get as much sauce as I hoped for. There is always tomorrow
. The rain has been very good to my tomato plants so I will be making lots more sauce. The one challenge has been getting Liv to eat from our garden. She is not a huge veggie fan, but I've found a few recipes that she has enjoyed. I love how excited she gets "I like kini, I like the kini" she said after making zucchini fritters. All I did was shred a large zucchini, squeeze out the water. Then add some bread crumbs and a beaten egg. Put some oil in a pan over a middle heat. Make small patties and lightly fry both sides till golden brown. Dry on a paper towel. Great as our "carb" side with little carb and lots of good.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Note to Myself

Gardening note to myself: Tomatoes in the ground grow so much bigger and produce so much more then my old containers. Space more apart and 13 tomato plants is too much Tomato cages rock Yellow cherry tomatoes, so yummy
Zucchini is a weed, so is summer squash and spaghetti squash, give them room to grow. Lettuce, plant earlier and closer, they do not need much space and bolt quickly in a hot Jersey summer Figure out some trellising or something for cucumbers, they grow much taller then my bamboo rods and need more support. Several plants is the perfect amount, cucumbers and pickle cucumbers grow fast and plenty. Mulch more, weed more. Watch out for slugs, they do damage quick.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Growing and Growing

This is my first garden as a SAHM, an adult and homemaker. Because of this I have made some mistakes, mostly in my spacing. Man does zucchini grow like a weed. And who knew my tomato plants would grow so big. I am already getting an abundance of cucumbers and zucchini, and am already getting a little sick of it. I'm can't wait till my tomatoes ripen to make some yummy salads, with cucumbers and zucchini, but not as the star. I have 1 staple recipe for zucchini that is so easy and simply delicious. I just saute it with butter, a little salt and pepper. So far I have also added shredded zucchini to a lasagna, in some omlettes and made some yummy baby food for Ev. I also have been munching on an old family recipe for cucumber salad Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of celery salt over about 3 cucumber cut very thin. Let sit a minimum of 1 hour, preferable 2 or more. Drain the water out.
Mix 1 cup white vinegar and 1/2c sugar or to taste. Add the cucumbers with 1/2 cut up onion and green pepper. You can add dill if desired. Let sit in the fridge, store in mason jars. This recipe tastes better the next day and lasts up to a month stored in the fridge. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Around the Garden

Since become a SAHM and/or "radical" homemaker I have added some hobbies or other homemaking skills to my repertoire, knitting, crocheting, baking, canning and my most recent obsession, gardening. I used to garden with my parents as a child, my father owns a nursery and my mother always had a fondness for Jersey fresh produce. But this is my first garden on my own. My 2 almost 3 year old daughter helps a lot, which is why carrots are sprouting up every where. She helps me water and loves to help me harvest. She is not so big on tasting them, but I hope she will eventually cave. We so far have been enjoying cucumbers, zucchini and a few cherry tomatoes. We also have blueberry bushes that we eat as they ripen. We just can't seem to wait for a bunch, they are just too fresh and good. What I love most about this hobby is how it brings people together, people talking and bonding over food and gardening. When I knit, cook, bake or can I am limited to who I can talk with this about. Only 1 of my friends crochets, none knit, no one cans and a few bake, but not like I do. They like the back of the box or fancy food dye sugar filled cakes while I enjoy fresh breads, muffins and the occasional cake from scratch.
But with my garden I feel there is something for everyone. I greatly enjoy talking with my father about the types of plants, which grow best, which taste the best and what plants are best for which part of the season. He enjoys some of the odd plants I found, my cooking them and my organic methods which he isn't too familiar with. I also enjoy asking my mom for old favorite recipes that she would use with all the fresh produce. I think she also enjoys my new skill of canning and I know she loves trying them. My children also love trying, especially the baby. Liv is a little more picky but I get her to eat those veggies in many ways she doesn't even know. My husband also has fond memories of his mother's garden and actually enjoys helping me take care of mine. It is the only hobby that we really enjoy together other then hiking and just being out in nature. The season is just starting up by me and I am enjoying read every cook book and preserve book I can find. I went way overboard and need to preserve as much as a can to not waste it. I also love talking gardening with people, people of all ages enjoy gardening so I find young friends, old neighbors and more are more then willing to talk you up and give some great advice. Most of all I just enjoy sharing my produce or cooked and baked good with my friends and family. I feel this garden has brought me a little closer to natures, closer to creating my own homestead, close to my past and homemakers of the past and closer to being a healthier, greener and self-sufficient family.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Church in the Eyes of a 2 year old

Liv loves going to church with me. We go to a progressive Catholic church. It is fairly laid back for a Catholic church, but still has all the wonderful tradition. In our church the kids participate in the Mass. They are expected to sit in the church and listen with everyone else. There is not nursery or Sunday School during Mass. We do a Children's Liturgy of the Word every other week. Children leave the church and get a child's version of what is being discussed, but they still do participate in parts of the Mass. Liv is too young to do this by herself, but I think I might start going with her so she can get a little more out of church on her level. All of a sudden Liv is like a parrot, she repeats everything she hears. Tonight at Mass she had me cracking up at points from some of the things she repeated and commented on. When the priest mentions a Cardinal in his homily Liv started looking for a bird asking "where is the cardinal?" How do you explain that one to a 2 year old when I can't even 100% tell you the hierarchy and what a Cardinal does. On most days Liv describes church as "I get books, read stories, shake hands and get crackers." The shaking hands is when we Catholic's wish each other peace and extend a welcome to people near us in the pews. The crackers, well that is a tradition just at our church and we are joking referred to as the "Cracker Church" because of it. They leave out crackers by where we receive the Eucharist so the younger children who are not participating in communion yet do not feel left out. I do think the children like this part and it does help them participate in church a little more since it is not so geared towards them. Today she also cracked me up asking about the "hospital" which really was the gospel. She asked over and over what the gospel was. I quietly replied the word of God. She also stated very loudly "what's that farting?" when a man moved his chair (we had chairs in church and pews. She repeated this every time he moved his chair. But other then the crackers and shaking hands Liv's other favorite part is the music. She loves to watch people since, play instruments and for the parishioners to get involved. I love when they play more lively music since we both seem to enjoy that better. What a better place to gain a love of music? Kids so rarely hear live music anymore so it is nice that once a week Liv hears live singing, drums, organ, piano and guitar. Told you we are a progressive Catholic church. Sometimes she even gets to hear bells. The music is always beautiful and on certain occasions some busy but very amazing singers join the choir and to hear them is so moving I almost always get tears in my eyes. Tonight a beautiful young woman sang Ave Maria and it got the whole church clapping after her performance and even clapping along to the beats. What a fun little music lesson right in the middle of church? Tempo and beat. The one thing I feel our church is missing is a children choir. I think Liv would love seeing that on occasion. I might google other local churches to see if they have one we could watch one Sunday. I love how excited she gets when you ask her what happened in church and how much she truly enjoys going. I know this may not always be the case, but I can hope for the best and pray that this foundation of Church, Christ and faith grows strong roots in both of my girls.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Thumb

Spring is well on its way and I have been playing in the thawed and warmed dirt. This past weekend I spent a lot of time planting flowers and working on my garden. This is the first garden I have grown by myself. My first "grow-up" garden. My dad always had a garden and I would help him, but this one is all my own. My husband built the structure for me, to keep the deer out, but the rest is all me. I used the compost I've been working on for fertilizer. My goal is to have an organic garden. I also used to organic mulch to help with weed control. I planted several variety of tomatoes, peppers, onions, peas, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, watermelon, 2 blueberry bushes and some herbs.
Liv helped me plant the carrots, so I am starting to see them sprouting up all sorts of spots in my garden. But that's okay, my garden is not meant for beauty or order but to help feed my family and to help teach Liv about where food comes from. I'm also hoping that it will help her eat some vegetables. Tonight we had pierogies, she looked at the green peppers I sauteed with them and she said "yuck, I don't like this" She refused to even try it. I'm hoping once she sees then growing in our garden and gets to pick them right from the plant she might be more likely to try them. I find I am becoming obsessed with my garden. I have such pride in my garden and keep thinking how many wonderful meals I can make from my garden. I even checked out Balls Canning book from the library to preserve some of my harvest. I have very quickly understood why people enjoy gardening. The dirt in my fingers, digging in the earth, the physical labor, being out in the spring sun. I also love learning a new skill. Since being a SAHM I miss the intellectual stimulation from work or school.Gardening, at least for now, has seemed to fill that gap in my life. Even thought my dad gardened and even owns a garden supply store, there is so much I need to learn. First is learning how to garden organic, which is something my dad never did. But all learning how to do it myself. I usually just helped him plant, would water and then pick the harvest. But there is so much more. Crop rotations, how to fight infestation, staking and cages, planting, spacing, even learning what types of varieties there are. I really did not know that tomatoes come in a whole rainbow of colors, not just red. I'm also excited to learn more ways to cook and to save and preserve my harvest. And to taste fresh picked fruit and veggies, straight from the ground or vines. I feel very much like a homesteader or a housewife from the early 1900s, which I love. People with out gardens have no idea what they are missing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pee Pee in the Potty

I've been wanting to get Liv going on the potty for a while. I hate diapers and she has been getting diaper rash lately. She is not the type of child that the typical tokens work for. I've heard sticker charts, m&ms and all other sorts of behavior mod to get children to potty train.
For her I knew something very simple would motivate her. Seeing her older cousin in big girl underwear. It worked like a charm. Since their visit Liv has gone pee in the potty every time except at nap and nightime. She is still asking to poop in a diaper and I'm okay with that for now. One thing at a time. I love Liv getting to see children older and younger. With older children she can see where she is going and with younger children she can see where she has been. I think for a child her age, 2 1/2, somewhere in between baby and preschooler it is even more important since so many things are changing and she is growing up so quick. This is one reason why I would love mixed aged preschools. The ability to move around, freedom to be a baby or be with the babies if they need or to be a big kid and practice other big kid things. Since there are no preschools like this I just make an effort to have playdates with kids of different ages. Just because my friend's child is only 18months doesn't mean Liv can not play with her. I have a harder time finding older children since I'm one of the first on my friends to have children, but she does have 2 cousins, one a few months older. I often played with my younger cousins. I think it helped prepare me for being a mom. I also played with my older cousins, but being boys they taught me more about sports and being able to take some teasing. These things helped shape me helped me learn. Big girl underwear, seeing Lily wearing them was all the motivation Liv needed.Sometimes peer pressure can be good. She wants to get wear underwear too. So Liv understands that to wear them she needs to pee in the potty. Simple and yet it works. Nothing else worked before this. I didn't push any other methods too far, since with each of them she pushed back very hard so I just let potty training go for a bit. I'm hoping we keep peeing and eventually pooping in the potty. 1 in diapers is a little easier on my budget then 2.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Screen Free Week

This week is Screen Free Week, a week were you are supposed to turn off your tv, computer, and now the apps and anything else your smartphone can do other then call or text. It is supposed to get kids and adults to do other things. As you can see being online I am not participating. I don't think many people are since this is the first year since its start I have not seen is publicized much. Maybe with all the apps and smartphones we have gone to far for screen free?
While in theory I think it is a great idea one week of taking the screen away isn't going to help if rules are not set about electronics. Most people will go right back to being a tv addict, using their "crackberry" all day long or playing in an ipad any downtime they get. I am pretty anti-tv, but I do let Liv watch some tv. PBS shows are usually what I will put on. I find them simple and informative. And often I will use ideas on some shows for learning at home. Last week we watched a Curious George were he planted carrots and had a hard time waiting for them to grow. We just happened to plant carrots several days before and Liv had not been impressed with our garden so far. But after watching this George it lit a little fire in her. Seeing what will happen over the course of months in a 15 minute show helped her realize that those seeds will be carrots one day. She now get very excited to water the garden and check on our slowly growing vegetables. I really enjoy doing outdoor learning at this age so I often find Curious George and the Cat in the Hat Knows A lot About That are often about nature and will get Liv excited to do more outdoor activities like gardening, feeding birds, picking weeds, composting and other things that usually might be too "boring" or slow moving for a toddler. She learns a little from the show and I re-enforce the learning with actives and expand on it. For a toddler just turning off the tv for a week will not teach her anything about how tv and the internet can be addictive and a huge drain, but placing limits now will help teach her that so hopefully we won't feel the need for screen-free weeks. The APA recommends no more then 2 hours of tv and it is a rare day we even reach that. Some days we watch none and at the higher end we will watch an hour or so. I feel its all about balance. PBS doesn't have commercials for toys or fast food, which for me its the commercials that bother me most about children's programming. Young children are so impressionable at this age. They can not tell the difference often from where the show ends and the commercials begin. This is another reason why I love just getting DVDs from the library. Liv has been asking for Dora. Sad part she realized Dora is a cartoon from seeing her on swim diapers. She asked to watch the girl on her diapers. Commercialism at its best. My 2 year old knows that if its on a diaper its probably a show on tv. So to satisfy her Dora fix I get a Dora dvd from the library so I won't subject her to more commercials on Nick. Props to those who are going screen-free, and then you are probably not reading this anyway. I will keep my tv on, just turned to channel 13 for an hour a day :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chalk Art

The Easter Bunny took Liv's binkies and left some wonderful gifts in return. The transition to life with out the binkies has been challenging but I'm am glad to say she is sleep okay with out them. We have some nights and naps that are not great, but it seems to be getting easier. One of the gifts the Easter bunny left was a small chalkboard with colored chalk. This has been a great source of entertainment for Liv and its great for learning. She loves coloring with it, drawing and also cleaning it. I have to say I really forgot how nice it is to color with chalk. There is something so easy about it I enjoy playing with it too.
Liv often tells me things to draw. She learns a lot from observing. She usually doesn't jump into things or just try she watches and watches over and over again till in her mind she thinks she has it then she tries it, usually with great success too. I was not to found of drawing with crayons on paper so it is nice now that I can enjoy drawing while she studies my techniques, or lack there of. But I guess it really doesn't matter much to a 2 year old. She is still working on drawing simple shapes so her watching me draw the sun or moon is teaching her about circles. She also watches me to see how I hold the chalk. Once she gets shapes down better I am planning on using a Montessori method for teaching her how to write her letters. I plan to make sandpaper cut outs of the letters and she can use those to copy the letter on the chalkboard. I am not one to push learning on my young child so I don't think we will start this till the fall, if I think she is ready now. But we do work on letter identification now. I will draw letter and she names them. For the most part our chalkboard is used for art but it amazes me how something so simple could be such a great source of learning for her. Simple really seems to be best when it comes to learning for children and most enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For the Birds

Over the winter I sat down and tried to make up a preschool syllabus for Liv. I am not sure if she will ever attend preschool so I wanted to start homeschooling at home. But after working on it for a few months I stopped. Liv is 2 1/2, which around where I live is probably the average age kids go in to preschool. I am not a huge fan of this, especially if it is an academic preschool. I don't think young children are made to sit around and be taught at. They need to experience life, learn with their hands and hearts. So I've been doing an unschooling approach for preschool so far. I just try to "teach" Liv things she is showing interest in. Recently it has been birds.
She was asking me what type of bird that was one day. Luckily I knew it was a blue jay, but there was so much I didn't know so I though what a perfect way to teach her about natures, categorizing, her colors and so many other skills that I probably don't realize. So the first thing I did was go to the library and get a bunch of books about birds, bird watching and how to attract birds to your yard. Blue jays are blue, cardinals are red, Baltimore orioles are orange and black. We spot these birds in our backyard almost daily and I go over their colors with her. We put out different feeders and seeds for different birds. She is learning which birds eat seeds, and how other like suet. We watch robins in our lawn pulling worms all day. Today we sat in our bathroom and spied on a cardinal singing for a mate. In addition to learning bird calls and how they attract each other she is learning how to be quiet and patient while watching these birds. Teaching a 2 year old to whisper and be still is hard, but when the motivation is watching a beautiful bird she does much better. Sometimes we listen to bird calls in the car. She loves it. She is learning all different types of birds, about the seasons, where they live, what they eat, what songs the sing, how baby birds come to be, about migration and so much more. So of this goes over her little head, but I know she is absorbing so much from just watching the birds and looking at the books with me. This also keeps us outdoors. We will go out and fill the bird feeders every couple of days so she is gaining a sense of responsibility too. This is just one thing I have been doing with her, but right now it takes a large part of our "schooling" since the birds are flocking to our yard and we often just stop and sit to watch them. She really enjoys looking through the bird books too. I love watching her get all excited about learning and wanting to know more. I hope this helps instill a life long love of learning. We are also working on a garden, but it is very early in the season for to be taking up too much time of our day. We have a nice weekly routine of activities but when ever we have nothing to do or a empty spot in our day I go to my some of my unschooling ideas to keep us occupied in a fun way.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

6 months is enough

My newborn is no longer a newborn anymore.
In way you look at it 6 months is way out of the newborn stage, yet in many ways I feel I have been slacking like I'm still dealing with a newborn. I still take naps most days (with Ev) my excuse has been well she is not sleeping through the night. I am often in sweats, partly because I still need to lose some weight so I have a limited amount of clothes. Our routine is lacking, the tv is on more then I like, meals are done on the fly and I just feel like a general slacker. I decided 6 months is enough. Today Eve is 7 months so for about 2 weeks I've changed things up and am slowly starting to get back into a routine. I'm not jumping in head first, I'm slowing adding things back into our days and week to get us motivated, keep us happy and productive. The first thing I have done is eliminated my morning tv time. It just started the day off wrong. When Eve was waking several time I needed to sit and watch some morning news, that would role into some tv time for Liv then aroun 930 10 our day would start. We were still in our pjs and got nothing done. I've got Eve sleeping better and am trying to go to bed earlier so now its breakfast then right upstairs to get dressed. Some days I will let myself be in sweats, but I'm trying to limit that too. Its not possible 100% since I still don't fit in lots of my clothes, but I'm getting there. 10 more lbs and some toning and I will be at pre-baby weight. That is another reason why I wanted to get back into a routine. To fit in exercise time. On nice mornings I get everyone dressed and we go out for a walk while Eve naps in the Ergo. For our week we are now doing: Monday-market, grocery shopping in the morning afternoon-free Tuesday-storytime in the morning at a local library, then park afterwards if nice afternoons-free Wednesday-laundry day, outdoors garden day Thursday- cleaning day/errand day Friday-playdate, park day Sat-free Sunday-church I am trying to incorporate some more activities in our day so we don't depend on the tv anymore. I would love to get tv time back down to 1/2hour. Some days we are as high as 2 hours, most closer to 1. Right now Liv is loving birds so its taking up lots of our time. We bird watch, listen to bird calls in the car, identify birds from books, make sure there is food for them and try to listen to bird calls while outside. I'm trying to get some of myself back. Dressing nice, doing my hair or make up daily, knitting or reading in the evenings, yoga and pilates some nights to help get back in shape. I think 6 months is enough time and time to move on out of being all about the new baby. Spring is here so its the perfect time to refresh and get back to living life the way we enjoy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

St Patrick's Day

I just love St. Patrick's Day. I worked at an Irish pub for years and even though it was a crazy busy day it was filled with good food, good friends, dancing and music. Now with young children I plan to keep some of our Irish heritage alive on this day. In the morning I will start an Irish stew in the crock pot for dinner. We will also make Irish soda bread to have with dinner. Then on to some crafting. Since Liv is only 2 we will just do the simple craft of dipping a pepper in green paint to make shamrocks. When they are older I will explain who St. Patrick was and how the shamrock is often shown to explain how the Trinity works, 3 leafs but really it is all one. There is so much history behind the story of St. Patrick, but much of this will go over their heads. Right now I just explain how St. Patrick was a very important person in Ireland because he led so many people to believe in Jesus. We will listen to some Irish music and sing some old songs. I will also show Liv how to do the Irish jig. I may also let her watch some of the St. Patrick's Day parade. Hopefully one day we will go get to go see it. I did in my younger days, but being 22 I was doing it more for the drink then the entertainment. When they are older I plan to take them out to some places that have Irish step dancing and bag pipers, but at their young age it is just too much for them right now. At night when they are asleep I will enjoy a drink with my husband. Happy St. Patricks Day!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Walking with Children

One my favorite forms of exercise is walking in a wooded area. Maybe because I did this so often as a child, but I really enjoy nice country walks. We are lucky to live in a rural area. Just out my door and a short walk down the road are some woods, then an old church and a small farm with cows and some chickens. I strap Eve in the ergo and put Liv in a jogging stroller I got from my neighbors for $5. After about 5 minutes Liv wants to get out and explore. I try to time it with Eve's nap so she can just sleep and enjoy being nice a close to momma. She usually passes out in 5-10 min. Now comes the patience. Most people want to walk, move, get going, keep their blood pumping. But with a toddler this is hard to do. She wants to explore. I let her as much as possible. Her new thing is looking for nuts. I am no expert so I'm not sure what kind of nuts she is picking up, she calls them acorns. Liv collects them for our backyard squirrel she lovingly named Jumpy. She is a big Curious George fan. In the spring and summer she collects flowers. We stop to look at the cows, talk with them and moo at them. We listen, to roosters, the wind, a train whistle or maybe a tractor in a near by field. We feel the sun on our face, the wind blowing. We may cloud gaze or look at the blue sky. Sometimes we sit on the steps at an old church and have a sip of water. Occasionally we will look at a small creek, if we are lucky we will see a frog. We might talk with a neighbor, but since we have only a few that is rare. We just listen, look, explore and relax.
It is not much of a work out, but having Ev in the ergo helps. Eventually Liv tires and wants to go back in the stroller. This is where I can work out. Its a pretty nice work out up and down small hills with a baby strapped to your chest and pushing another one. In the spring we will do this twice a week. Liv never bores with this. There is so much for her to see and discover on our walks. She is learning so much about nature, animals, weather, sounds, and much more while getting some exercise too. When she wants to explore we walk at a very slow pace. I also have some rules since we do not have a sidewalk. She must always stay to the inside of the stroller and when a car comes she must hold my hand. But other then that I give her the freedom to learn as much as she can. I carve out up to a 2 hours slot in our day. Our walks usually take 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I do not want to rush this. We go in the late morning and have a snack when we get home. This is a lovely way to start our day, gets our blood flowing and gets us in nature. I sometimes through in an impromptu lesson about nuts, cows, clouds, colors, corn, tractors, trains, whatever we see. And often we will go to the library in the afternoon and get a book about what ever lesson I "taught." I don't spend too much time on this, I don't want it to become to school like. We might talk about th
e nuts for the squirrels, maybe I will point out they are round or brown, or which tree they fell from. I might tell her what squirrels eat and how they hid their nuts. She gets excited and brought the nuts home and left them in our yard for Jumpy to eat. This is our little nature walk, preschool study time. I love these simple things and the simple way I get to teach her about nature and more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent Season

Today marks the start of Lent. Lent is traditionally a time of abstaining. Fridays are meatless and people often give up something such as sweets or drinking. In my younger days I always gave up drinking, with a dispensation on St. Patrick's Day. But there is something very flawed with this simplistic view of Lent.
People fasted and gave up certain foods, traditionally, because food was scarce this time of year. Its a time before spring crops have arrived and many people would go hungry. The idea wasn't just to fast for the sake of fasting, but to give then food you would of eaten to the hungry. But many people go with the no meat on Fridays, and eat fish or even lobster, which misses the point. At my church there are recipes of traditional meatless meals from third world country. We have little donation boxes to put in the money you would of spent on a modern American meal since a meal of rice and beans does not cost much. This goes with the point of Lent, not to just give up, but to also give. So instead of just giving up something for its own sake, think of something you can do positive instead. A common theme I have seen of my facebook page is people giving up facebook for Lent. I know for myself this would not be easy and may not be the best for my mental health, as unfortunately it is lately the main source for adult conversation. But for those who plan to give facebook think of a positive twist to use the time you not spending online, such as spending time with family, reading the bible or volunteering. This year I am not giving up anything per say, but just trying to make some time to be more healthy for myself. Even though this is a time of giving, being a mother and a wife I feel making this a priority in my life is not just for me. A healthy and happier momma means a healthier and happier family and a good role model for my children. I will be spending less time online and watching tv and just being indoors in general to achieve my goals. I'm hoping to take more walks with my children, exercise, eat healthier and cook healthier family meals. Part of this is to help lose the remaining baby weight I have, but part is just to get myself back on track. I do not have the easiest pregnancies and then when the baby was little exercise and healthy meals took a back seat to sleep and caring for a newborn. It is not much easier to grab a cookie over an apple, I just need to make the conscious effort in my mind to go for the apple, and make sure they are stocked in my house. Being a good role model through out Lent is important for my children to see and hopefully they will see how important Lent is. That it is more then just not eating meat and the time before Easter. Its a time of prayer, almsgiving, family, being center and working hard to be the person you want to be, the person for yourself and for God.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Favorite games

One of my favorite things to do with Liv and now Eve is to sit down and do some fingerplays. They are a great distraction when Liv is upset, keep her entertained during down time or while we are out some where. They are also a great little activity when we are stuck inside during the winter.
Round and round the garden like a teddy bear (walk fingers around babies belly) One step, two step tickle you under there ( take 1 step with fingers, 2 steps and tickle under chin) 5 Little Ducks 5 little ducks went out to play (hold up 5 fingers) Over the hills ( move arm in a wave hill motion) and far away (put hand above eyes to look out) Mother duck cried "Quack quack, quack" (Clap) But only 4 little ducks came back repeat all with 4, 3, 2, 1 No little ducks went out to play (say with sad tone and hold hand up to make a zero) over the hills and far away But mother duck had hope and prayed so still cried "Quack quack quack!" And all 5 ducks came running back! (say very excited and tickle child with 5 fingers quickly running back) Beehive Here is the bee hive (make a fist) here are the bees ( point to fist) Hidden away where no body sees Here they are coming out of the hive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (open fingers one by one) They're alive..bzzz (tickle withthe bzzz) Alligator Alligator, alligator (take arms one on top of each other open at end with hands long and green (open and close extended arms that are together) Alligator, alligator ( repeat above) Teeth so mean ( hold finger tips together, curved open and close them) Alligator, alligator what's for lunch (open and close alligator arms) Liv(you child's name) is, munch, munch, munch (munch child with arms)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's in Your Breast milk?

I always thought that your body took what it need for breast milk and ignored the rest. That your body took the right fats, vitamins and minerals and made breast milk perfect for your baby. This is partial true, but recently I read that trans fats can make there way into your milk. I couldn't believe this. If you eat trans fats they may come out in your breast milk and replace some of the other fats in your milk. I always avoid trans fats as much as possible. But they are in our food in some sneaky ways. If less then .5 grams of trans fat are present the label can say 0 grams of trans fat. If you eat more then one serving you are eating 1 gram of trans fat. This small amount could add up through out the day. Your milk could be missing some great things too. Omega 3s. They are brain food for your baby and for you. Fish is a great source of omega 3s, I also take a fish oil supplement just in case I'm not eating enough fish. Breast milk is so amazing for your baby, so why not make sure it is perfect for your baby in every way and not let our modern junk get into your milk.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Welcome to my Home

Since I had children and moved to the "boonies" I do not have many visitors. Having children and moving a 45 minute drive from most people you know really lets you know who your real friends are.
But I do love when my friends and family come take the time to come for visit. Most of my friends are working, some multiple jobs, some working and still going to school, so they have few time to spare and I love that the choose to spend it with me and my family.
Since I have 2 young children the only real preparation I can get done before people come over is cleaning up the toys and straighten up the house. I have some things I like to always do before guest come, simple things like sweep the entry way, change the linens in the bathroom, and do a quick swish and swipe to my bathrooms.
But I really like to make my guest feel at home. I love making some tea or coffee for them, the kerig is great for a nice little fresh cup for them. Another nice touch is fresh baked cookies.
While I do not have the time to make a batch from scratch I also couldn't imagine giving someone break and bake cookies either.

So a nice little tip I've learned from my latest obsession of reading cooking and baking books is how nice cookie dough freezes. So when I am making cookies with the girls instead of cooking the whole batch and watching half of them go bad before we can eat them I freeze half of them.
I roll the cookie into little balls and place them on parchment paper and place them in the freezer. Once they are a little frozen(so they won't stick together) I move them into plastic bag and write on the bag with tape the date and how to bake the cookies, temperature and time.
Then I can make a small batch for who ever comes to my house, on cold days where I want a nice hot cookie or when ever we get the craving for some baked goods.
Its just so nice for people to come over and I get to show my appreciation for them with out breaking my back to do so.
Life is always a little more complicated with a toddler and infant at home so this just eases it up a little for me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Outdoors In

Even though it has been a mild winter so far we are spending more time then I would like indoors.
Its mainly because Eve is so young. She is only 4 months and I am not found of the idea of bringing her out in mild NE winter weather. Cold rain, blustery wind are fine for my toddler and me all bundled up, but I would rather not bring her out in it.
We do go out on the not windy, warmer days, but they occur not so often so poor Liv, my toddler, spends more time then I would like indoors. And on those warmer days we spend a large part of the day outdoors enjoying the weather.

I try to do some more active things with her on occasions she does not get to go outside.
We- dance, play right light green light,have parades around the house, do action rhymes like ring around the rosey, chase each other, pull and push special walking toys, pretend we are different animals, hide from each other and pretend we are outside. Today we pretended to splash in puddles, climb trees (the bed) and play in the snow.
I love the old Swedish saying "there is not such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." But until I feel I can bundle up Eve in a carrier better (and even in rain and snow this does not work at all) bring the outdoors inside will have to do.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Last week when I was grocery shopping I noticed a new product in the cleaning isle. It was a little tablet you place in your dish sink so you won't have sink odors overnight.
I thought to myself what a great product. Being a SAHM/Radical Homemaker I'm often influenced by things that claim to make my life easier. But then I thought about it for a minute.
Argg, they got me. Why would I waste my families hard earned money on this? I already sprinkle baking soda and vinegar down the drain at night. This little odor eater costs me next to nothing.
But I still can't believe I almost fell for it.
They are always trying to pitch products to SAHMs to make our lives easier. No scrubbing, sweet smelling home, no mopping. Yes please, let me spend my money on chemicals to fill my home with.
Its amazing how many products just go into our unconscious. Who knows what was in those little pills to put in my sink?
I'm very glad for being an educated consumer. I try hard to not let products and commercials sway me to buy things. But I realize that I have to try and be aware of this so they won't trick me.
Since having Ev I've been on a de-clutter kick since I feel our house has gotten very crowded with an additional person in it. Because of this I have even been more conscious of what I bring into our home.
But if they can get me, what can they do to our kids? I'm a 30 year old woman, with a BA from a major University and some grad credits from a great MSW program. How can my children stand a chance against advertisers?
I feel they can't. So I try to avoid it as much as possible.
TV programs are limited to PBS or DVD rented from the library. Kids sitting watching tv are the prime victim for advertisers.
I really like this website for advice on keeping your children commercial free.
Commercials are every where. On tv, radion, t-shirts, beach towels, cereal boxes, and if my state gets its way, on the side of school buses!

It angers me to think my children can get picked up in a bus that has a McDonald's billboard on the side. Anything for a buck is what school districts are living I guess.
Its sad and I want my children to be educated consumers, but at this young age this in not possible. So I avoid. And I plan to avoid as long as possible.
Hopefully by the time we can't avoid any more they will be older and smarter consumers.
I feel like I am swimming up steam in this buy buy buy world we are living in.
It doesn't matter though, I will keep fighting the fight and not let my children be another consumer and taker in this great world.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kids Need to be Kids

An interesting article caught my eye on preschools and children. This article from WebMD states that kids in a preschool setting or childcare spend 70-80% of their time in sedentary activities. What I found interesting is that the main reason for this is the push of academics on children too young.
Children need time to play period. They need time outside, to run, jump, climb trees. This is all very important for their physical development. But we have this push in America for academics earlier and earlier and it is coming at a cost.
Parents putting their children in school at early ages so they can read earlier, write at a young age. All of this, studies shows, backfires and these children who learn this early often do not do better then other children who were let to be children.
These parents don't want their children just playing while they are paying for them to be in school.
And on the flip side some schools are scared to let children play outdoors for fear of injuries in our sue happy culture.
What is sad is this push does not just come from parents. Many kindergartens expect a lot from young children and expect them to know a lot when they come in to kindergarten. They also try to teach them so much in the short period they are there. Consequently they are shortening play time and outdoor time. This is not by the choice of the teacher, but by laws and mandates from states and government agencies.
Parents feel conflicted, how much to push before kindergarten? Ideally not much, but its harder and harder to do this.
I just think of an average day for a young child in an academic preschool.
Wake up 7:30 eat breakfast
8 get dressed and ready for school
Out the door by 8:45
9am school
School till lunch time.
Lunch at home then nap till 3 ish.
This leaves several hours at home for the child to get outdoors and just play but many parents schedule playdates and other activities during this time. They also might allow the 2 hours of tv the AAP says is okay for children.
This leaves dinner, bath and bed.
Where is the time for free play? When can kids run and climb, balance and logs? These are important to their physical development.
When can they just explore their world, discover on their own? Find acorns, dig in the dirt?
When can they play, pretend dance and sing on their own?
I feel bad for many children in this generation. Being pushed to their little limits but not allowed to live limitless.

Spend time outside with your children, everyday unless weather is severe.
Give your children plenty of free time, indoors as well.
Turn off the tv, video games and computer. Young children do not need these at all. Limit them as much as you can.
Encourage play, do something outdoors, garden, shovel snow, go for a walk, a hike, swim, indoors, cook,bake, sweep, knit, craft. All of these things your child will love to imitate and play out other times.
Encourage play, not academics in this young age.
As I stated in a previous post I plan to home preschool school. But this will be less academic and more play based. I want my children to enjoy childhood, not feel pushed at a early age, and look back on this period and smile about the smile times we spent together, not the simple times we spent in a car riding from activity to activity.