Friday, March 29, 2013

Big Wheels! And a blast from the past.

Here are the boys yesterday on their Big Wheels.  So FUN!!

The big guy went "so fast" and the little guy could reach the ground, so the activity kept his interest and he could walk the Big Wheel along the street.

Here is a blast from the past: my brother and I ridin' way back... check out those wheels!!


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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Broken Lawnmower

I forgot to take action shots!  We were having so much fun that I forgot to get the camera out.  Really.

This project was our broken lawnmower.  At my older son's preschool, they have been taking apart old broken machines (like a vacuum) and finding the motor and then putting the pieces back together as something else (the vacuum became a rocket ship).

The lawn mower danced its last dance and we took it aside.  First we tried to take the blade off.  It was rusted right on.  So we moved to the wheels, visions of a Go-Kart dancing in our heads (I explained it as a sled you can use without snow).  They proved even tighter.

We got more tools and started with the handlebars.  Finally- success.  Then we cut the cord and went in for the motor.  We found it (I wish I had a photo of me and the kids hammering and tugging at the cover to get it open).  Needless to say, the motor was stuck on by the blade on the opposite side.

So we went back to the blade and got two of the three screws off with some brute force and determination.  Then we decided it was time for a snack and we would come back to it.  Stay tuned to hear how we fare with the wheels.

In the meantime, the littler guy keeps turning over his ancient plastic lawnmower and asking for tools.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Steggie from "One Yard Wonders"

This project was directed by my preschooler, who flipped through One Yard Wonders and marked the projects he wanted us to make.

This project hadn't been on my list, so I avoided it for a few weeks.  But he persisted.

So here it is, without the pull-along part (he said we didn't need that).
I was surprised at how long the project took, but I haven't made a stuffed item since I was little. The directions were clear.  The foot circles could have been bigger, and the turning hole was also a bit small.

Another nice project from the book.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Driving the Tree Car

My older son came home from school and told me we needed a play structure. I told him we had swings in the tree; what else could we possibly need?

He said we needed steering wheels.  And a ladder.

So, $24 later, we now have steering wheels (thanks, amazon).  They were really easy to mount~ I just used a drill bit to make a hole, then the bolt rounder kit to tighten it up.  Then I hammered on the center piece to hide the bolt.  Easy.

And off we go.

Today we went to the steam trains and Trader Joe's.  All in the Tree Car.  With two drivers.
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Family Bike Ride (Xtracycle Edgerunner Empty Performance)

As we were loading up for the Farmer's Market, our older son said he wanted to ride with Daddy.  So we hitched up the trailer.

Then the little guy said he wanted to do what his big brother was doing.

Well, I guess it is rated to 100 pounds....

So I rode the Xtracycle Edgerunner empty for the first time.

I was surprised at how wobbly it felt.

I mean, I am usually riding with at least 30 pounds (child #2), and usually 75 pounds (both children) plus whatever our "necessities" are.

I was also a bit (gasp!) bored.  There wasn't anyone to talk to, and there was no challenge (it was flat and I was behind daddy hauling the kids).  Funny perspective change.

But the point of the post is that I think the Edgerunner performs best loaded around 30-50 pounds.  I took just the toddler on a long ride the other day, and it was nice.  There were even a few hills.  With both kids, I am also happy with the performance, though it feels loaded when we ride.  Both kids PLUS stuff and I have to psych myself up at starts and really go through the gears as we ride, but I have been able to climb short but steep hills, and long upward slopes as well.

I am really enjoying the bike overall.

Oh, and on the way back from the farmer's market, I got both kids plus a lot of the goods, and did a poor job balancing them side to side (the little guy started the ride home with Daddy then switched to my bike part of the way home), so we were plenty challenged and Daddy said he could have gone faster. Hmph.
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Our Dandelions (aka Scissor Skills for Toddlers)

Last year, we neglected to pull dandelions.  This year, it is a sea of yellow flowers out there.  Needless to say, we have been beheading like crazy.

Then they all end up in the mud box or we have a pile in the front yard to compost... plus the chickens get some.... there are plenty to go around.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Learning to Write

The big guy is getting so big! We have been using this writing board as he has started wanting to write letters.

Now he has moved on to paper.
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lemon Gummies and Gummy Popsicles

We love these gummy stars, and actually make them with just lemon juice, water, and gelatin.

This time, we made them in our Ikea popsicle molds as well as our silicon ice trays in shapes.

We learned that if you take them out of the molds when they are frozen, the shapes stay intact better.

They also used HOT water in their dipping bowl to be able to eat them right away.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cool Pants for Big Bro (Finally!)

I have been using this awesome free pants pattern for ages.  I was sad when my big guy sized out of it, and kept making them for a while, just lengthening the legs and making the waistband elastic a bit bigger.

I finally stopped doing that, but am at it again.  None of the other patterns I tried seemed to fit so nicely and be so easy to go up and down.

I thought to try the lengthening trick after the big buy ended up in his little brother's pants at the park one day after playing at the water table.  They fit fine everywhere but the legs (which were about 6" too short).  So I whipped these up, old skool style, just using that pattern in an XL and lengthening the legs.  They are so cute- I am so happy with them.  So happy, in fact, I have another pair cut and waiting to be stitched together...
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Asparagus Harvest

Another sign of spring?  The asparagus.

This was our second harvest this year.  

We have a dedicated box full of asparagus crowns which we planted two winters ago bare root.

It is the far box in this photo.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Magnolia! Spring!

Here it is! It's been in bloom for a week or so, and is actually starting to get some leaves.

Here it was last year....

Happy Spring!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recovering Kitchen Chair Cushions

Our old chair cushions were a bit too worn to be useful anymore.

So I traced them onto some new home decor weight canvas from Ikea I had and added a seam allowance.  Then I made some ties from an old pair of jeans cut into strips (I made 8 and folded each in half at each corner).  I stitched around the curved edge, then across the straight edge with the straps inside, and left a hole for turning (and stuffing) in the middle of the straight edge.  Then I hemmed the opening on each side, and intended to put snaps there.

Then I turned them and stuffed them (I cut the broken ties off the old cushions before stuffing).  I put them onto that chairs without adding the snaps, and think I could leave the snaps off for a while.  Let's see how the troops like them first.  

The initial response is favorable.  They didn't get removed during dinner!
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fitting in Fitness - Lamorinda Area

It is generally well known and accepted that your level of fitness and activity generally improves your outlook on life and your level of interaction with your children and peers.  But the question remains: how to fit it in?

Next Barre - Lafayette, CA (free childcare in adjacent room)
You must first decide to exercise with your children or without.  Do you want to cart them along, or leave them with your partner, nanny/ babysitter/ childcare/ school?  Do you want to do something while they are at home with you, either awake or while napping?  How can you fit in a good workout while also taking care of your progeny?  Must you only do a workout that's "good enough" until they are school-aged and you can make it to the gym regularly and alone?

You also need to think about if you want a class or solo/ with a personal trainer, and if you want to be doing weights, cardio, or yoga.  What are your goals (i.e. general health, weight loss, flexibility, increased muscle tone and strength, improved mood and attitude, etc.), and what is the best way to achieve them?

Bikram Yoga - Walnut Creek, CA (childcare elsewhere)
There are plenty of options of how to fit in fitness, whatever your level, that you needn't feel weak or like your needs are met last.  You can:

Go to the Gym (or Pool, or Yoga Studio, or Wherever)

 You can drop the kids off at childcare at the gym (Forma Gym and Tot Drop don't make you stay on the premises, either), or leave them at home while you go and do the deed.

Forma Gym - Walnut Creek (childcare available for additional fee- also available as tot drop) - you could also use Tot Drop in Lafayette or Pleasant Hill and go do something else.
Then you can find a place that will help you meet your goals.  Local gyms with childcare include Forma Gym in Walnut Creek, 24 Hour Fitness in Moraga and Walnut Creek, Bloom Yoga in Walnut Creek, and NextBarre in Lafayette (ahem, for free).  Others without childcare include Bikram Yoga Walnut Creek, Lamorinda CrossFit, Heather Farms Pool, and Curves in Walnut Creek.

24 Hour Fitness - Moraga and Walnut Creek, CA (childcare available for additional fee)

Build It In 

Meaning~ build activity into your day.  Ride your bike.  Walk. Get wherever you are going withOUT your car.  Burn some calories.  Talk about the birds.  Talk to the birds.  Whatever.  Just move.

You are more likely to do it this way if that is how you usually do it.  Try it for a month and see how you do.  Chances are you and the kids will love it.  No need to move fast.  Just keep moving.

Bike with your kids in back - Anywhere
They make bikes now that are called Cargo Bikes and they can hold 1-3 kids (!) plus 6 grocery bags.  These are made by a number of companies including local ones Xtracycle and Yuba. Or you could haul a trailer like a Burley or Chariot with your kid on your regular bike- or load up a baby seat and get moving.
Biking with two kids and storage space - Cargo Biking - Anywhere

You could also grab your stroller and have a jog or walk to playgroup or the grocery store.  Or load the baby into your Ergo and go meet a friend for coffee.  Burn off that whipped cream on the way there.

Bring Your Kid and Just Do It 

There are classes targeted just for our demographic that include the kid.  Some use the kid as your weight, and in some, you put your kid in the stroller and they come along as you sweat and meet other moms.  You could also be self-directed and run the Lafayette Reservoir or the path or wherever.

Nursery Rhymin' and Stealin' Calories- Maui, HI - baby as weight for a fitness class
Stroller Strides/ Baby Boot Camp - Walnut Creek, CA - Boot Camp-style class with baby in stroller

Jog with your kid in a jogging stroller - Anywhere
Do It At Home

You could also work out at home, in your living room.  Beachbody and Windsor Pilates (and many other vendors) sell DVDs you can follow along with, if you need some support.  There are also many websites that offer routines, like The Daily HIIT (formerly, or you could read a book and make up a routine.  Put the baby in a doorway bouncer and let him exercise right along with you.  Give your preschooler some 2 pound weight and they can join along.  Find something you think is fun and don't even change your clothes to go sweat.
The Daily HIIT - in your living room in 12 minutes per day (kids next to you or in other room)

There are so many awesome ways to break a sweat that include the kids and that don't include them, and working out is well-known to improve your mind and body and spirit tremendously.  You know how the saying goes- when mama's happy, everyone's happy.  Find something and make it work.

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