Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not for the Faint of Heart

Yesterday, in an effort to keep Abby occupied while I chatted with a friend, I decided to let her play with water.  Inside.  On the floor.  I was brave.  Very brave.

Obviously, she loved it.  It is not everyday that we get to play with water inside.  Obviously, or what should have been obvious to me from the start, I did not love it.  I tend to be somewhat easy going when it comes to messes, but I bit off more than I could chew on this one.  It was a lot of water and a lot of dishes and a lot of pouring.  But, there were two happy byproducts of this activity:
  • Our play dishes were washed.  I am not sure that has ever happened and we have had them a long time.
  • Our floor was washed.  The water soaked through the tablecloth I had laid down...a vinyl tablecloth.  That was a surprise.  Water soaking THROUGH vinyl?  Is that even scientifically possible?  Is not the point of vinyl to keep what is UNDERNEATH the vinyl clean and dry? 
So, if you are brave enough to try this make sure to  
double your vinyl and 
halve the amount of water 
to triple the amount of fun had by all.  
(Now, if that is not a cheesy attempt at humor, I don't know what is.)

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Dollar Deals

    A while ago I spotted paintable, wooden birdhouses at Joann's for the bargain price of $1.00.  So for a grand total of $2 and some change, I scored two birdhouses that I decided to save, literally, for a rainy day.  I saved the birdhouses and saved them, rainy days came and went, and we just never got around to painting them.  There arrived a day, however, when I had two very cranky kids on my hands.  Though it was sunny outside, we got out the paints and started in on our birdhouses.

     Nothing chases away the crankies like some paint.

    These birdhouses were a steal at $1.  What a find!  The kids even handled it fairly well that we would not be housing actual, real birds in their birdhouses.

    It was especially fun to watch Eli paint.  For the first time ever, I noticed that he had a specific plan.  Eli painted the entire roof orange before moving on to the rest of the birdhouse.  What fun to watch his mind work in a new way!

    The kids were so focused on their painting that I actually did get to drink some of my coffee.

    It was also fun to watch Eli invent this little game.  He would dip his birdhouse in the paint and then stamp the tablecloth.  Again, so fun to watch his mind work!
    Finished products.
    A cheap mantle display.

    So, don't forget to check the bargain bins at your favorite craft store for a rainy....or activity! 

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Fruit Popsicles

    Here is an easy summer treat...blend up fruit, freeze it, and eat it.  Easy enough!

    We blended up watermelon and bananas in our handy dandy little Magic Bullet.  Then we poured it into empty fruit and pudding containers and put it into the freezer.  Let it freeze a bit to set and then put a popsicle stick in.  We also did a watermelon and raspberry combination.  A tasty summer treat!

    Yummy in our tummies.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Professional Development

    Homemaking is monotonous;  it just is.  There have been many times during my two and a half years of staying home full-time that I have said to my husband, "All I do is feed people."  By the time I have cleaned up breakfast, someone is asking for food.  A typical day kind of looks like this:  eat, clean-up, eat, clean-up, eat, clean-up, naps, eat, clean-up, eat, clean-up, eat, clean-up, bedtime.  Throw in some laundry, cleaning up poop and pee, reading books, playing Legos, and explaining for the 19th time why we don't watch Star Wars videos all day and you have a decent glimpse into my life.  Keeping people alive by providing for their basic needs gets pretty repetitive.  At times, the monotony of homemaking has pretty nearly driven me crazy.

    One thing I loved when I was teaching was that I was always learning.  I was in a constant mode of professional development:  taking classes, reading, writing, talking with other teachers, and trying things out in my classroom.  There are many things about teaching that are the same day-to-day, but when you when you are immersed in a culture of learning, the day-to-day life is still invigorating.  As a teacher, it was my goal to always be learning, always experimenting in my classroom, always refining my craft.  Funny how I never continued that when my profession changed from teaching to full-time homemaking.

    My mindset about homemaking changed a number of months ago.  I don't know what happened, but one day I decided to approach homemaking as I had approached was time for some professional development.  I started picking topics, studying up on them, and trying things out in my classroom home.  And, what do you know...homemaking did not seem so monotonous to me anymore.  I still feed kids a lot.  I still clean up from all of the eating...a lot.  I still have a constant stream of laundry and deal with more poop than I might like, but I am in the mindset of professional development and that makes a huge difference for me.  My current, self-proclaimed professional development topics are Nutrition and Herbs/Nutritional Supplements.  I have always, for some reason, wanted to be a hippie.  I think my dream is being realized.

    Some books I'm into right now (All checked out from our local library!):

    Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day:  Seriously, it takes five minutes.  Maybe less.  I love these recipes because I know EXACTLY what is in our bread.  The last recipe I tried used spelt flour.  It's even fun to say it.  SPELT.  See?  Fun.  The authors of this book have a website and blog on which you can find recipes.  

    Real Food: What to Eat and Why:  Eat butter, you say?  You don't have to tell me twice.  You've probably heard before "if you can't pronouce it, you probably shouldn't eat it."   Well, it's true. I am working to gradually remove the fake things from our diet.  Yes...even Diet Coke.  **gasp**

    Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health:  A wonderful guide for learning about various herbs and how they are used. 

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing:  Lots of handy charts...perfect for this mathematical mind.

    Prescription or Poison?:  The way I work is to find something, get excited about it, and immediately go out and do it.  I am really glad that I did not go out and buy pounds of St. John's Wort (good for anxiety and depression).  I am learning that you have to be really careful with herbs and supplements.  This book has been a great reference.

    So, I'm getting all professionally developed over here.  Do I bake bread and grind herbs and eat perfectly every day?  Absolutely not.  But, it is fun to learn and try out new things.

    A recent hippie purchase.  No, not THAT hippie purchase.   Spirulina and tea.

    What have you been learning about recently?

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Green Pancakes?

    Eli is very excited to be on summer vacation.  A few days ago I went into his room after his rest time to find one drawer completely emptied of its contents.  When I asked Eli what he had intended, he said, "I am trying to decide what to wear for summer vacation."  The first morning that Eli did not have to go to school he told my husband, "I don't know what to have for breakfast on summer vacation."  So, we decided to try a lightsaber pancake.

    I am on a bit of a "whole and natural" foods kick around here.  In the old days, which means about eight days ago, I would have dumped generous amounts of food coloring into our pancakes to achieve the desired hue.  Thankfully, Eli asked for Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, which is green, and I did have an idea how to naturally color that.  Spinach.

    Our ingredients:  spinach, bananas, and pancake mix.

    So, I mixed up the pancake batter and then pulled out a cup or so.  Then, using our little Magic Bullet blender, I blended the spinach (about a handful) and bananas into the batter. batter.  I did need to add more water to get the right consistency.

    The finished lightsaber pancake.  Hmmmmm.
    Not everything is a rip-roaring success around here.
    (Is it just me, or does this look a bit obscene?)  Yes, Sarah.  Oh yes, it does look obscene.
    I did get an "Awesome" from Eli, so I guess that is something.

    He ate it all.  Every last bite.  I tried it too and I promise could not even taste the spinach.
    Even Abby, who tends to be a purist when it comes to pancakes, gave the greenies a try.  I don't think she disliked them, she just prefers them plain.
    So there you have it:  spinach pancakes that don't taste like spinach at all.

    What's your favorite way to "hide" healthy food??

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Don't Forget the Classics

    We spent Memorial Day Weekend at my parents' house and had a great time of fishing, boating, and playing.  While we were there, Eli somehow got it into his head that he wanted to build a volcano.  Let me tell you, it's very handy when your kids have a grandpa who spent a career as a science teacher.  Enter....the Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano.  A classic.

    Grandpa fashioned a volcano using a pizza box, some cardboard, tape, and a film canister.  Film canister?  People still have those?  Thankfully, Grandpa is not one to throw potentially useful things away.  Grandma provided a large supply of baking soda, vinegar, and even made a special trip for red food coloring for the "laba," as Eli called it.  I tried to convince his it was lava, but he was not going for it.

    Grandpa fashioned the cardboard into a cone, with an opening large enough to rest the film canister inside.  You put some baking soda in the film canister, add some vinegar, and put it in the volcano.  Leaving the cap OFF of the canister allows for a slow flow of lava, hence my kids close-up viewing of it. 

    You can also create more of a lava explosion.  To do this, put baking soda in the film canister, add the vinegar, cap it QUICKLY, and shake it, and place it in the volcano.  If you do this, make sure to have everyone stand at a safe distance.

    Ooooo and Ahhhhhh

    Have you ever been doing something "for the kids" and then suddenly realized that the adults were having more fun?  I think we got to that place.


    Another classic not to forget...Diet Coke and Mentos...
    Grandpa the Science Teacher drilled a hole in the Mentos and strung them on fishline.  Then, drop it into the DIET pop.  Another one to stand a safe distance from.  Again...not quite sure if this is for the kids or the adults...

    What wonderfully scientific questions we are asking.

    Finally, two sites, among LOTS, that describe the chemistry of each of these reactions:

    Have fun with these classics!