Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Be Out There

Here's a scary thought. According to some research from the University of Michigan, kids today spend an average 4 - 7 minutes outside per day. That's basically a walk to and from the car and maybe to and from the bus to school. Ugh! The National Wildlife Federation has reacted to the facts with a new campaign, called Be Out There, which encourages parents to get their kids outside through tips, ideas and activities for kids. Check out the Be Out There website. If you're committed to getting your kids outdoors, take the Be Out There Resolution.

I spent lots of quality time outdoors with my family, ice skating on a little pond in our backyard and eating wild onions out of the woods next to our house. We made about 1,000 snowmen and spent many weekends on the dock at our cabin. Now that I have my own kiddo, I am going to have to get out of my "city mouse" mode a little more and get him out fishing, camping and exploring the outdoors. I'm looking forward to the ideas from NWF and putting them to use!

What were your favorite outdoor memories as a kid? Any you can't wait to share with your kids?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bottlecap Game

Our friends in Iowa got us this awesome John Deere bottle opener that we installed in our kitchen. It even has a little basket that catches your bottle caps. The other great thing about it is that with all those bottle caps in easy toddler reach, we are forced to find something to do with them.

Thus the bottlecap game. You may be more familiar with a game played at babyshowers (or at least one I was at) where you put a clothespin between your knees and try to drop it into a Mason jar. In this version, we got a little stool out and dropped the bottle caps into a little container. I didn't have a Mason jar handy, but any glass or cup will really work. We had lots of fun playing this game, and I love how there's virtually no supplies (unless you consider garbage to be a supply), preparation and almost no clean up. What's more, your kiddo can play it right in the kitchen while you're getting dinner on the table.

Got any good games going at your house lately?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feel the Love

Do you ever stop to think about how everyone expresses love in a little different way? Some people play music or share songs, some people are physically affectionate, others like to write love poems or notes. Me, I like to bake. I bake my love into brownies, cookies, cupcakes, so many things that are usually sweet to eat for all my sweeties. So if you've ever received a baked treat from me, or if you've been to my house and I've baked something for the occasion, chances are I'm expressing my love for you. Sometimes I even bake up a batch of love and mail it out, if I have to.

So this weekend, and in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, I was busy. Heart shaped brownies. Bread. Granola. Cinnamon rolls. Phew. It's tiring just to think about it. But I have a lot of love, and a lot of people to share the love with. There's my husband, the fun, carefree, diligent and handsome person who, even if I just think about him loving me, makes everything better. Then there's my son, the painfully adorable, silly, chatterbox train-lover who I'd rather hug and kiss than anyone else in the world. Add to that my immediate family who I love so much and love even more when I see them loving my hubby and son. That doesn't even cover all my friends, who I miss painfully here in my new home state.

As you can see, much baking is in order. But much to my surprise, my guys baked something for ME this Valentine's Day! A great big, heart-shaped pizza! It was so good that I could feel the love. And I could taste it, too. And today, on Valentine's Day, we spent the day wandering through the Milwaukee Public Museum and musing at Dinosaurs, butterflies, and "Winnie Wolf" -- a character from one of our favorite books. It was a good day, and full of love.

I hope you had a good day with those you love! And if you need a little extra, drop by. We've got about a dozen cinnamon rolls left over!

Monday, February 08, 2010

New Product: Big Sis Shirt

Big Sis Shirt
Originally uploaded by pumpkin-girl
I have slowly been adding a few new products to my Etsy shop, and this is one of them. It's an organic cotton tee shirt that says "Big Sis" on the front in recycled lettering (I used an old sheet!). Coming soon, a Big Bro shirt!

I'm also going to be creating some birthday shirts, and a special request by my mother-in-law, a "Grandma" shirt! Any other great ideas for me? I'm finally clearing away some time now that our house has finally started to feel like a home!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Verdict: Toddler Pasta Making

A while back, I posted some ideas for keeping your tot busy in these long, winter months. Most of the ideas I hadn't tried out myself, but wanted to. Slowly we've been testing each idea. This week, we tried pasta making. The verdict? Well, good toddler activity, not that great results. Here's the skinny on our fat noodles.

We started by laying out 2 cups of flour on our table. Then, we made a little dent in the middle and cracked in a total of three eggs. We also added a tiny bit of salt. I let the little guy go to town with his hands to get it all mixed up. This part went great. Of course mess ensued, but he loved to get his hands in the goop, and was fascinated by the yolks of the eggs (you know how it takes a bit of doing to get them to mix in). Unfortunately, no matter how much the two of us mixed, the dough was WAY too dry to make a dough. So, we added a bit of water and it came together better.

Once we had some semblance of dough, I kneaded it. I am no kneading expert, so maybe this was where we went wrong. Because at that point, I let loose little guy and the rolling pin on it, and no matter how hard either of us tried, this dough wanted to spring back into dough shape no matter what. Eventually with some serious muscle we got it kinda rolled flat, but never flat enough to really be pasta-like.

Then, I gave the shorty the pizza cutter and helped him cut. He could roll it across the dough, but needed a little help with pressure to get it to cut all the way through. And, he wanted to cut smack down the center. This part also kept his attention and he liked to pick up each noodle and put it in the bowl. Then, I let him help put the noodles in the boiling water. We boiled the noodles until our child, who had no nap, began to scream fiendishly and run at mach 20 around the house and then pretend to fall down and be in terrible pain. At that point, I realized it was WAY too late in the game to worry about whether the noodles were totally done or not, and the kid needed to be fed, stat.

We did a little variety preparation with the noodles. Some were buttered with herbs, others with Newman's marinara and Italian sausage. The noodles were extremely dense, listless and chewy. We ate them...well, hubby and I ate them and our child had a meltdown from exhaustion, but they were not all that good. I'm sure the second time's a charm, but this pasta activity, while fun, yielded less than edible results. Maybe they just didn't get cooked long enough...? Who knows, I hardly tasted them because my dinner went downhill so fast!

Anyway, long story short, I will definitely try this again. But not until I read up a little more on making homemade pasta. Any tricks to share?

Friday, February 05, 2010

He's Crafty

My hubby is not the most crafty person I've ever known. In fact, he's usually downright uncrafty. Maybe the most crafty he's ever gotten is to take a permanent marker to one of wee Pumpkin's onesies and write some silly thing on it. He doesn't really build stuff, either. So that's why I was so incredibly shocked and amazed when I learned that he had set to work busily crafting this little step stool for our little guy's new bathroom!

This wood was just laying around out in our garage, and somehow he just put his mind to assembling it into the worlds cutest little stool. And he got wee one to bust out his tempera finger-painting skills to decorate it. He clear-coated the whole thing, put some felt on the bottom and it's good to go. And the wee Pumpkin is EXTREMELY proud of the stool he painted, too. So now what am I going to do with three crafty types in this house? It could be ugly, folks. PIpe cleaner wars. Doily knit-athons!

I'm actually ecstatic that hubby has a new handy hobby. Now how can I keep the interest up? Any ideas are welcome!