Thursday, October 3, 2013

My 2 and a Half Year Old Said It:

"Please, give me some space"

Halloween Craft Bonanza!

Before having a little one, Halloween crafts meant pumpkin spice pudding shots and fraying the hem of that summers bridesmaid dress for my "sexy/scary" costume. A lot has changed...

Stringing toasted O's onto yarn with a toothpick. These will look festive strung on tree branches by our picture window while giving the birds a treat too!

Three months ago while melting away at a Fourth of July parade we were given these "fans" by the lovely people representing Fifth Third Bank. I held onto them (like I do very often) and was tickled when I got the inspiration to cut eye holes and paint them for a quick Halloween mask. 

I'm preparing myself for B to go totally boneless and lose his mind when Halloween night comes and he is "required" to wear a costume to receive candy... Hopefully these impromptu masks will do the "trick" (pardon the pun) for a costume compromise.

I painted a pumpkin on one and B painted a "shadow" on his. 

While we had the craft chest open B was  inspired by a bag of odds and ends I had floating around. It's amazing how a piece of construction paper and tube of glue can entertain a toddler so thoroughly. 

We have been collecting leaves as they begin to fall (and before our retired neighbor can get out his blower and leaf vacuum) to do a leaf rub picture for our nature table. As you can see, "rub" to B translates to scribble as hard as you can... 

On our little walks this week we have also pocketed a few acorns, crab apples and twigs that B thought were fascinating at the time. I let them sit in vinegar for a day and then baked them on 350 degrees for an hour in case there were any bugs or anything that had laid their eggs in there. 

We had an empty (plastic) nut butter jar and added it to our collection as a seasonal imagery jar. I was going to hot glue the lid, but I'm not concerned with B unscrewing the lid. Even if he did, he's already has his hands on everything in the jar while we collected it.

Look at this spread! Wow!! When we do craft time, we rock it out! We also enjoyed reading fun facts out of our Awesome Autumn book.

What seasonal crafts have you done with your family this year?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Barramundi WHAT?!

Barramundi fish with homemade garden (yes, mine) pesto over brown rice with sautéed kale (in garlic, oil and lemon juice). 

Easy, light and not smelling my house up ... Which is the #1 reason my hubby grew up not liking/eating fish. Unless you count battered and fried cod on Friday at a restaurant (I do not).

My title guy won't eat anything without his Mickey Mouse Fork.

It was a hit!

What's your favorite weeknight meal?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ice Cream at the Beach (a.k.a How to experience your toddler barf like a frat boy)

An impromptu family road trip to the beach on the last "official" weekend of Summer, seems innocent enough... 

You know those frozen yogurt places that have various flavors in a slushy-style self-serve machine and a salad-bar set up for every topping know to man? They charge by the ounce (minus the gigantic cup, they say). It's ingenious really. You think, "frozen YOGURT, that's healthy, right?" Until you slather on hot fudge, gummy bears and York peppermint patty chunks and the calorie count soars to more than a chili dog! I always feel the need to try the most wild combinations at these places, like the kid who is paid five dollars on a "dare" at the lunch table to eat some concoction. Except I've paid them $8.74 (they charged me tax, I couldn't believe it)! 

Anyway, I made B a VERY simple teeny weeny cup with strawberry flavored fro-yo and a few gummy bears. We all sat by the beach, enjoying the sights and sounds of the boardwalk on a hot end of summer night when he starts barfing

Aaaahhh!!! Noooo!! I pick his little body up and prop him over a garbage can. His little hands are holding the sides of the can and he is wretching into it like a frat boy on Spring Break!  We left the beach immediately and I never looked back. My apologies to any bystanders or patrons who had to smell that yak until the beach crea could clean it up ;(((

How did your last beach day go?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Mysterious Magic of Swings (and other ways to skin your knee)

The magic allure of a swing...

Pushing, sitting or belly flying... It's all good :)

No where else in my experience will a mommy-centric toddler take off running away from his safety zone to take off flying!! It seems at every age, we all line up to sit on the swing at the park and kick our feet. My nearly seventy year old mother-in-law likes it, my fourteen year old nephew wants to see how high he can go and I love it too...seems universal to me!

What's your favorite way to swing on the swingset??

Thursday, August 15, 2013

No-Sew Chair Cushion Cover

I bought a beautiful outdoor dining set seven years ago at the end of August for a  steal. It's time to get new cushions but, hard as I tried, NO WHERE had the correct dimensions to fit my chairs. I do not sew and needed an alternative. A friend of mine told me about using drop clothes from Lowe's to cover them. I have twelve chairs, so I needed a reasonably priced fabric. 

I gathered my supplies:
9x12 Blue Hawk washable and reusable drop cloth $25 x 4
Fabric Fusion $11 x 2
Heat Bond $5
Pins $3
Straight edge razor, scissors and iron were already in my "tool box"

Besides sewing, I also hate measuring, so the first cut was a little off, but I figured I could use the scraps for crafts with B at some point. 

I ironed the first piece to the cushion with the heat bond. I did melt the original cushion a little, note to self, hot iron and somewhat plasticky fabric do not work well together :(  

Another note, if you don't like peeling permanent fabric glue off of your fingers for days, this may not be for you. I, on the other hand enjoy peeling things, weird, I know. Like the first good burn of the summer... Probably why I've had skin cancer three times before I was 40 years old, but that's an entirely different story for another day.

I iron the fabric as I go too so that I can get sharp sewn-like angles. This fabric is great because it has sewn edges that give the illusion of sewn seams.

Once it's ironed, I match up the "seams", apply a gooey line of Fabric Fusion as close to the edge as I can without going over and pin it. I tried pinning it the way I've seen people do when they were sewing, but that left little ridges when it dried, plus I kept sticking myself. I don't know how to sew, why would I have a thimble? Sticking the pins straight in seems to work the best. 

I used the straight edge razor to slice a tiny opening where I could pull through the Velcro pieces that are on the original cushions. I could not figure out how to make them look pretty. They still do the job they were created to do, they are behind the cushion, so I kept them. Any shag /fringe I got from opening the fabric up I just trimmed and I'm hoping it doesn't fray. Although I did see a "no fray" spray near the Fabric Fusion at Michael's, so if it does, at least I know there is something I could do about it.


I fold up the edges as if I'm wrapping a present. I use the natural "seam" on the drop cloth fabric whenever possible. But, because I cut the original fabric into thirds, I wouldn't be able to get a "pre-sewn" seam on both sides. Some people may not like that. It is completely up to you. I figured, at least one side will look sewn. If I have any persnickety guests in my backyard, I'll make sure the sides of the cushions that look sewn face their seat. Ha ha! 

The other side without the "pre-sewn" seams doesn't look too shabby, in my opinion. Some may choose to do both sides the same, just for uniformity. Either way, the cushions get covered :)

After 2 - 4 hours (I just let them dry over night because this is a nap time project for me) you can remove the pins. I used needle nose pliers because those straight pins can really be difficult to take out, especially with my stubby inept fingers and the fact that they've been pierced through permanent glue!


The final product. I scored a cute pillow at Bed, Bath & Beyond with my 20% off it came to $5.21. DONE.

What DIY projects have you been working on?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Craft Shmaft!!

Craft Shmaft! For his last birthday, a dear friend subscribed B to a monthly craft program from Green Kid Crafts. It really is a super cute idea. Each month has a theme. There are three or four instant crafts with all of the supplies you'd need to create them in individual bags. A sheet for "add-on" ideas and a teaser for the coming month for those super prepared parents who would start sharing books with their wee one on the subject in advance. I have a stack of them, largely unopened because every attempt I made to engage B in their uber cool aspirations of teaching us about marine biology or organic gardening was shunned with a VERY cold shoulder.

I'm not sure if it's just a "boy thing", or if he wasn't developmentally ready but B had NEVER been interested in gluing, painting or creating in any way what-so-ever. Until... recently, we were at a friends house for a play date and out of the blue B walked up to me and asked "are we going to do a craft, mama?" In his sweetest I want candy voice. I had to check my pulse! Was I dead?! Had I crossed over?! Then I checked B for any bleeding or head injuries, then I checked his tags to make sure he was MINE! Sure enough, he really did want to do a craft. Thankfully our friend has two boys and lots of readily available craft supply options. 

This was his creation. I helped peel the sticker backs off and we talked about letters and words and daddy, of course, but he chose everything else. It's not intricate, but it's about five more minutes than he's ever spent "crafting" before, so I'm impressed. 

I think I will try the Chinese Swallow Kite craft as our first Green Kids Craft and see how it goes. It is a cool and rainy day today in our neighborhood, so outdoor play will be limited and we will need some activities to fill our day. 

It literally has EVERYTHING I need in this little bag. B has flown kites before with his daddy on various beach and park trips, so he has the concept. We shall see, I suppose...

Do you have any craft projects that were a hit with you and your toddler?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog, the Tale of 3 Little Dachshunds

S3 is what the extended family calls them, but we just call them our furry babies. If you get a holiday or birthday card from us, you will get some paw prints along with the usual salutations. If you come within a hundred feet of our property, even if you are just driving by on your way to somewhere else, they will alert us. If a squirrel or (Heaven forbid) a rabbit shows themselves on our lawn, their chorus of woof woofery will echo. They are our constant soundtrack. 

They can tell you what time it is by the urgency of their bark (time to EAT). They are smart when needed and lazy the rest of the time. I swear they are a cat/dog cross-species breed. They love to spoon and dig in the yard (not fun if they find a mole or grubs) depending on their mood. 
They let me put silly costumes on them for Halloween and I give them frosty paws doggie ice cream treats on their birthday (yes, complete with party hats!). 

We are in love with each other, for better or for worse (sometimes the oldest one eats poop-blech!!) and we wouldn't want it any other way.

The Buffet BOMB!!

You would think a "buffet" would be a good choice for a family with a toddler to grab something quick while away from home and on the way to somewhere else. My main priorities when dining out are loud backgrounds so my toddler isn't the loudest one there and quick service because his attention span and willingness to sit still wither and DIE within twenty minutes (MAX). A buffet answers those two priorities in spades, so it should've been was, how do you say "effin horrible!!??". 

Globs of brown and fried everything and no known origin of the food or recent health inspections left me with little options for B. Of course he wanted "soda" which we've told him is an "adult" beverage (horrible, I know) because you can self- serve and mix concoctions (as taught to him by my neighbors heathen child) he thinks it's a-friggin-maaaazing!! Plus, there are lots of interesting people to look at and talk about in a loud toddler voice "why does that lady have a beard?"  for example (yikes) and rows of food he can just grab on a whim. It was a total flop!

We all had severe "cow tongue" for the next twelve hours, clearly from consuming a months worth of sodium. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toddler Sick Day

Waiting patiently to see the doctor is very  difficult. "Can I take my shoes off?"

Let's look at the pretty mural of a tree frog. Say "ribbit!" 

Can mommy make a balloon out of the rubber gloves in the patient room like you did at the dentist? Why are the gloves blue? 

B woke the house up at 1:00am with a wheezing barking cough. It was scary and I'm sure painful for him. Poor little guy. We calmed him and the cough and settled back to sleep (after an hour) and B woke up this morning with just a runny nose. I had already made up my mind to call our pediatrician when the office opened, even though B seemed miraculously better by morning.

I felt almost as if I was telling a tale instead of reenacting our nightmare scare, until the doc literally mimicked the exact cough / wheeze combo B had displayed in the wee hours. The diagnosis: croup. I was not making up tales, it was primarily a nighttime ailment and a simple one dose steroid in the doctors office would be the only thing B needed to get well. That sounded like a magic trick to me, but, a few hours later B happily laid down for his nap and there wasn't a cough in sight. 

Has your toddler had any ailments this season that required a doctors office visit?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Water Bead Sensory Play

Squish, squeeze, smoosh and pour. Water beads from the local craft store entertained B for over thirty minutes, that's like hours of entertainment on an adult scale. I bought purple because they were on sale, but they had a rainbow of colors including clear. 

A mixing bowl and some kitchen tools laid out on a towel for B and I was free to cut and prep dinner. It was one if the best/easiest/ cheapest evenings we've had in awhile. Thank you water beads!

Oh, and they are pretty too! I dare you not to try your own sensory play in the mixing bowl. It's something we will definity be doing again!

What screen-free "dinner prep" activities do you do with your toddler?

Toddler putt-putt

Open your stance, check your grip, tap it with your putter slowly aaaaand score!!! Yippee!! We kept adding levels of difficulty to his putt-putt course. Through chair and table legs, across train tracks, over a stuffed animal. We had fun just playing and making things up in our basement play room. The weather has not been conducive to outdoor play lately so we've really had to put our thinking caps on. Developing gross motor skills, creativity and strengthening our relationship are always in season.

Putt-putt anyone?

Are there any games you've played with your toddler that you had fun with too?

Sea Glass Memory Jar

We spent a perfect weather day on the beach of Lake Erie. It was very therapeutic to feel the sand, sea glass and stones beneath weary feet. The swishing, washing and rhythmic back and forth of the waves was mesmerizing.  It all started out with a rock skipping lesson from father to son (VERY serious work) and bloomed into the beginning of a "collection". 

This was the final product: 

There was the cleaning, sorting and the selecting process, all happily done by B when we got home. This meaningful work gave him the chance to be useful and creative simultaneously, it was a perfect end to our family beach day.




Have you started any collections with your toddler?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Toddler Soup

I've been told that, as parents, we are building a brain for the first five years. So, on this rainy afternoon we made "toddler soup". I had bagged up four different herbs: dill, oregano, Italian parsley and mint. I brought out a simmer pot and lid, a measuring cup with water, then laid it all out on the kitchen counter on top of a towel. 

We identified, smelled and plucked each herb one by one into our "soup". We put it over low heat and let it simmer. It made the house smell like an Asian apothecary but it was worth it as we poured it into bowls and pretended to slurp it down, picture a soup "tea party". 

Time elapsed: seventy minutes. It filled the time between dinner and bath with something new and interesting for B.

What are some activities you do with your toddler on rainy afternoons?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Family Vacations (and other things I hate about summer)

Whack! Right in the eye!! OWWWWW! Was that a TOE?? Jeez! These are sounds I hear in the night as we co-sleep with our toddler on "vacation". I put that in quotations because I really don't think driving to visit family qualifies as a vacation. It's more of a summer task. Yes, I love my parents (in small doses) and my siblings, but I don't like getting the queen (which felt like a twin) bed to share with our child, in the guest room decorated by Aunt Rita in 1979. I don't like the squish of pink carpet between my toes. I abhor fabric softener that smells like a mix of eau de toilet and fertilizer. Are those mothballs on the Laura Ashley comforter?

My brother, who's also visiting with his wife and children pokes his head into the bathroom (still no privacy) asking if I want orange juice with my pancakes. I nod in a sort of a stupor, hadn't I left all of this behind in high school, and then I yell through the closing door "with VODKA!"

Bon Voyage!