Monday, December 31, 2012

Art Organizer from Shoe Holder

I saw this on Pintrest (sorry, not sure from whom) and it works great!! We put butcher paper under it so the kids could write on the door with the art supplies.  
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Visiting California Academy of Sciences Aquarium

I used to live in San Francisco, but hadn't visited the new Academy of Sciences since it was remodeled a few years back.

I took the kids there the other (blustery) day, and we were so happy with the excursion. First off, it was warmer in the city.  Second, my older son likes when I point out to him where I used to live and play.  Third, it was awesome.

Here they are at the sharks and rays exhibit.  It was a really special lagoon with reef sharks and rays swimming around.  We even caught their feeding time, which was extra cool.

Downstairs, the boys and I were awed by the huge aquariums and they ran around talking to the fish.  We went into a special garden eel viewing area that was really quite cool.  The eels were right there, and wiggling about.

The below photo was one of the jellyfish tanks.  These had blue spots on them.

On our way out, we saw they had live reindeer outside on exhibit for the holidays, and a reindeer antler to pass around and hold. Extra cool.

I'm sorry I didn't capture a photo of the little one taking an extra nap in the car on the way home, and the big one was speechless and exhausted.  A trip well worth taking, and fun all around.
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Loaded Xtracycle Edgerunner - Two Kids + Three Bags of Groceries

 This is our new Edgerunner by Xtracycle (with homemade child seat).  It is getting COLD here in Northern California, so we have been riding at noon, mostly.

On this day, the little guy and I went and picked up older brother from preschool.  He was happy I brought his gloves.  Then we went to Trader Joe's and got two bags of groceries.  We had to navigate where to put big bro's feet, and decided that in the bags, at the front with the toggles, was best.  It is interesting to negotiate legroom with him every time I fill up the bags.

Then we went and picked up our CSA box, which was a (heavy) bag of veggies.

The bike rode great, even loaded with 70 pounds of kids, a little clothing and food bag, and three heavy bags. I was nervous about the start in the TJ parking lot, so walked the bike out to the street and started up there, on a slight downhill.  It is quite difficult to move it around once loaded (if I don't want to start where I load it up). Also, I need to remember to downshift when stopping to get a load, so that when I start again I will be in the right gear (same as with the trailer). When riding, I noticed that I was in a bigger gear fully loaded than without. We are still working out the kinks of getting used to the new bike.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Confessions of a Baby Class Hater

I walk in to the classroom,  full of hope, thinking this one will be better than the ones I've tried in the past. This class will be the one that is fun for me, enlightens my baby, and the one where we make a new friend. I imagine my children following directions, watching the teacher, and participating in the activity totally appropriately. In the meantime, I have chosen just the right outfit for the temperature, fashion, and activity level, and find another mom to connect with, and we hit it off, immediately exchanging nap tips and recipes. My child will play and laugh, and we will all leave, excited about returning the next week.

But then the actual class starts, and I am one of only two moms who thought bringing both kids was a better idea than a class on a school day, and that other mom is calm and smiling and both of her kids are participating appropriately. Meanwhile, I got the baby's shoes off and he is heading toward the nearest electrical outlet and my preschooler has decided he wants his shoes on and that hiding behind me in the Velcro hold. It is cool and misting outside and hot inside, and I forgot to layer beneath my sweater. I break a sweat.

I hold my older child on a hip and wrangle off his shoes and head to the activity. The baby toddles over, falling over one prop and sticking another in his mouth on the way. I pick him up and give him a kiss, then we get the teacher's attention to give her the soiled toy for her "yuk bucket" and catch our breath. Both kids are on my lap, looking at the classroom and activity. By then, we have all slightly adjusted to the bright lights and busy room, and briefly join into the activity.  Whew. I am already tired and we are less than 5 minutes into the class.

It looks like I am only one who is working hard at playing with the kids in a class setting.

We have tried swimming, gymnastics (at, ahem, four places), science,  Gymboree, Spanish, art, library hour, and music.  We have done classes at the YMCA and at swankier venues.  Needless to say, they all tire me out and I'm not sure my children are all that zen with them either.  Actually, our first gymnastics class was decent (hence trying three more), but we moved from that area and haven't found the equivalent.  We also had a good spell with Mommy and Me yoga, but still my baby was the one who needed to nurse while everyone was doing Sun Salutations.

So why do we keep trying? Why not call a spade a spade and get on with it? We could play in the back yard, go to the grocery store and the park, and watch the clouds and the dogs on the trail. Nobody is telling me how I need to spend my time with my children yet I insist on classes every so often and they make me palpitate.

I read "Our Babies, Ourselves" when my older son was a newborn and it was fascinating to learn that how we parent is a reflection of our cultural values. I suppose it is obvious, but it still makes me think about how we have our babies do things like sleep alone or sit in a stroller because our society values independence. 

That being said, here is my confession: I hate baby classes. I find "The Wheels on the Bus" dull and don't like making smiley faces at strangers' babies across the circle as I do hand motions.  I don't like shadowing behind my children as they learn to take turns on a brightly colored plastic slide.  Maybe my repeated attempts at the classes are a reflection of my value of learning from a teacher in a group setting and trying to give my children a jump on skills that will be useful later. And I do need to realize that no matter how cynical I am of some of our societal norms, I have still chosen to raise my children in this setting.

So maybe they will flourish more if they can sing along with a chorus of little ones and their caregivers: who knows. But I do know that I flourish less when I spend my time in that setting and that my kids need me to be as present as possible, whatever that takes.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bubble Bum Inflatable Booster Seat Review

We use a five point harness car seat for our 4.5 year old who now weighs 42 pounds.  So, on our recent trip, we thought we would try a booster seat.  I found the Bubble Bum on amazon and bought one (I actually checked out their website as well- turns out it's made from the stuff of life jackets).

It was AMAZING to fly with one car seat (little bro) and to have our older son's seat deflated and rolled up in our luggage.  How easy to get through the airport!!

Once we got to the rental car, it blew right up and had all the right clips to make the car's seatbelt adjust to the right places on our (bigger) little guy.  What a great invention!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Preschooler/ Toddler Travel Toys

We just took a trip on a plane with a preschooler and toddler and found these toys great:


The memory game has a variety of cards, and is a nice two-player game.
The travel tangoes are small and can be made into many shapes, and the magnetic pieces are harder to lose.
Wiki Stix are fun to make into shapes and letters, though plain pipe cleaners would do the same. The wax on these are nice and tactile, though.
The mini slinky was good for both kids.
The farm animals were fun for the toddler, who is learning to talk, but makes some great animal noises.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Toddler/ Preschooler Tracings

These are hand and Popsicle stick tracings... quite entertaining...
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Xtracycle Two (2) Child Seat from Milk Crate

I got the Edgerunner from Xtracycle and got right to work making a seat for my two kids.

The milk crate was in the garage, and leg holes were cut into it with our Sawzall.  Then we bolted it to the deck (#10 3" bolts with fender and regular washers on top and locking washer and wing nut below) and the Hooptie (U-Bolt) (see here).

Then I measured it to make a pattern, and cut my laminated cotton fabric and foam (double layer under and in back, and single layer in front and sides). I also made the side bag for the front child. We decided on the belting arrangement, which ended up as a seat belt through the larger bottom holes with 1" webbing and a clip. The front child is attached to the crate and back is attached to the crate and Hooptie.

Then I made the pads, attaching them with Kam snaps and adding pockets to the crate child's front and side pads, and a lovey clip (similar purpose) to the side pad and an additional lovey clip is tied to the Hooptie (the yellow and white striped ribbon and suspender clip).

The yellow fleece on the sides and below the crate pad are to soften the edges of the cut crate.

Today my younger child begged to go on the bike.

So I took him for a ride. He fell asleep within minutes, nestled forward onto his brother's seat pad.  

As an aside, I LOVE the kickback kickstand by Xtracycle here! He fell asleep, then we got to big brother's school for pickup, and big brother and I could sit on the bench next to the bike while the little one slept, secure in the fact the bike was stable (I was too hesitant to put big brother on and go home; as you can see, little bother was hanging into his space! Need a sleeping solution?? Maybe...).

UPDATE: Here is our new seating solution.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Waterproof Bicycle Bucket Bag

I am making a set-up for the new Xtracycle Edgerunner and it needs to include somewhere for my bigger child to hold his stuff like snacks or a water bottle.

I decided to use Noodlehead's Bicycle Bucket Bag tutorial which I have used before. The last time I made it, I had some bunching with the top binding, and it felt floppy to me.  So, this time, I used buckram as the interfacing and it turned out quite stable. I used fleece as the interfacing on the handle and it is a bit thicker than what would be ideal.

After completing it, I realized what I did wrong both times with the top binding (and you can see I "fixed" it differently both times).  When she says to bind like a quilt, I put right sides together on the outside piece and it would have worked out properly had I matched right sides together of the inner piece and the binding.

I also added a special addition this time: velcro to the inside. I wanted a way for my son to be able to keep it closed while we were riding. He struggles with snaps a bit still (he is 4.5 years old), but does velcro like a snap (ha). I added it to the top middle.

I did the interior and exterior in laminated cotton- waterproof- for food on the inside and rain on the outside.


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Monday, December 10, 2012

Bike Bucket Bag Modification for Adult Bike

I have taken my son's bicycle bucket bag and adapted it for me to use on my new Xtracycle Edgerunner.  I needed something light to hold my credit card, sunglasses, cell phone, and maybe a snack to hand back to the kids.

To adapt this for my purposes  I needed it to close.  So I poked a hole in the binding and added an elastic rope and toggle.  Then I made two pockets on the inside: one is sized for a credit card and the other is made of soft fleece and sized for my sunglasses.

Ride on!
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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Recipe: Goat Cheese dipped in Flaxseed Meal and Chia Seeds

This is 2T Flaxseed Meal and 1/2 T Chia Seeds mixed together on a plate.  When eating it, you take a little spoon of soft goat cheese and dip it in. Yum!
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

DIY Sunglasses Case

This was so easy to make.

It is a rectangle of fabric sewn on three sides.  On the top, I took a toggle which I had already with a rope piece and folded it into the hem.  Then I stitched around it, leaving a rough opening which is hardly visible and through which the toggle moves.  I left it rough because this will likely not be washed.

Super easy and keeps those lenses from getting scratched!
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Shucking Pomegranates

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Just Like Dad Flannel Robe x2 in Action

Here is the post on the smaller robe.
Here is the post on the larger robe.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Edgerunner and Xtracycle Child Seat Project Commences

We bought the new Edgerunner from Xtracycle from the nice folks at

But we didn't buy the baby seat accessory for the toddler... we are making one instead...

Here is the base of it: a milk crate with holes cut out for the legs and it is bolted onto the deck and the Hooptie...

Stay tuned...
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Sunday, December 2, 2012

4.5 year old in Ergo

This 4.5 year old weighs 44 pounds!!

Admittedly, it is much more comfortable on the back, but for brief stretches, the front is ok, too... He really loves it.
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

My 4-year old Sews (on my machine)

All those hours on my lap have officially paid off.

He knows how to sew.

On this, the first item he has made by himself, you see the variety of stitches.  He also switched feet here and attached a zipper plus a size tag and label.

Plus my machine is in the same condition in which it started, plus an hour passed, and he is happy.

Look at that workmanship!

He keeps asking me for his own labels now... not just ones that say "Mommy made it..." hmmm... maybe....
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