Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: The Little Train

The Little Train by Lois Lenski is a classic from around the mid 1900s.  It is just as interesting to kids now as it was then, I am sure.  Both of my kids (almost 2 and 4.5 years old) love this book, and have for quite a while.

It is well illustrated, uses informative language, and also uses words as sound effects.  The story is quick and interesting, and they really like it.

In fact, the younger one likes it so much he has taken it to bed with him a number of times. Pin It

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: Caps for Sale

I remember reading Caps for Sale in my childhood and was browsing children's books and ran across it.  It is a story about a peddler who sells some caps, then the monkeys take the caps and imitate him. I like it as much now as I did when I was young!

I enjoy the repetitive language and the rhythm of the writing.  The story is also compelling for the kids and me, and there is a bit of shouting and stamping that is always fun for the kids.  It is a classic well worth keeping in the rotation.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipe: Ultra Low Carb Ginger Hot Chocolate

Ultra Low Carb Ginger Hot Chocolate

1 piping hot cup ginger tea
1 T coconut oil
1 T psyllum
1 T cocoa powder

Melt coconut oil into tea.  Mix in psyllum and cocoa powder.  Stir as you drink.  

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bike Bags for Passengers

We just finished making a wooden bike seat for my older son.

After making it, we decided we needed the back passenger and front passenger to have a little storage.

So the front passenger got an old plastic organizer from the garage screwed into his arm rest.  It's just big enough for a banana and some nuts.

The back passenger got a storage bag that I made when I made the crate seat.  We got a little crafty in attaching it, since it was made for handlebars.  We found a plumbing piece at the local hardware store with wider ends (these keep the bag from sliding off).  We also found two metal pieces to screw on each side.  This way, the bag is still removable.  Another option would have been to screw right through the bag.  I decided against it because I didn't want to permanently damage the bag.

Here are both bags, below.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eggshell Seedlings

I saw this in a magazine and we are trying it.

These are half eggshells with a hole poked in the bottom and a seed in each one, with dirt.  Once they sprout, we will be able to plant the whole half-shell into the veggie boxes and they will compost.  Ideally, the shell will compost in the veggie box before the veggie needs the space (I wonder how long it takes eggshells to break down).

This is appealing because:

1. We have a lot of eggshells
2. The chickens are quite loved and discussed around here
3. Same for gardening
4. The little baby veggie roots may have a better chance for survival if we don't disturb them when transplanting

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Preschooler Activity: Cleaning Money

The bigger guy (4.5 y) has recently gotten a fascination with money, and is collecting coins.  He mostly begs them off of us when we have them (we mostly use credit cards, so it's not that often).

He likes to organize them by type, stack them, sort them by year and by where they were minted, and count them.  Yesterday he even cleaned them. It took quite a while.

To do this, he used toothpaste and an old toothbrush.  He sat on a towel and scrubbed each one.  You could have your child rinse them in a bowl at this point, but I have a sonic jewelry cleaner that plugs in, so he wanted to use this.  They are super shiny now!
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Alipne Strawberries

Alpine Strawberries are really easy to grow. They bush instead of meander as they get bigger.  The berries are small, and fragile, and like a tiny burst of flavor in your mouth. We have white and red, and both are divine.

They are incredibly delicious- and one of the reasons to have an edible garden!  
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Toddler Pottying/ EC on the Go

We love that we did EC (diaper-free baby) with the kids.

Now that the little guy is almost 2, he can go a while between potty breaks, and we try to do less peeing on trees when we are out and about.  Putting him on a little potty in the trunk before we get going in the car is quite useful.

In addition to him peeing before we drive, passerby often smile and say he looks cute (we live in a semi-conservative area of CA now) rather than me avoiding their looks as the boys pee in a tree in the same parking lot.

We keep a roll of toilet paper in the trunk (in a baggie), and doggie-style plastic bags for poop (rare- he mostly pees here)-- plus water to rinse the potty out.
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Earth Day Activity: Feeding the Birds

Making your own bird feeders is a bit messy but definitely entertaining.

We made a few kinds.

The first was mini-bagels and the second was made from pine cones.

Each was basically rolled (or smothered) in peanut butter (UNsalted), then rolled in bird seed.

Above you can see the third kind in action- it is a half gallon milk jug being cut out. The plan is to fill it with bird seed, then hang it from a tree by the handle.

The little guy got distracted by eating...

Here is the bagel version sitting in the nook of a branch.

And here is the pine cone version hung from another branch using thread.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

DIY Xtracycle Wooden Seat

This was our original kid setup for the Edgerunner by Xtracycle we got in November: 

Then we switched which kid was in the crate and bought the Yepp seat (and took off the Hooptie):

Now we have made another change. It looks like this:

My older son was scraping his legs on the crate- it was far too narrow for him.  But he still needed a back rest so his brother wouldn't kick him while we were riding.  Just a little personal space goes a long way.

So we made him a wooden seat.  We actually made two in case we need a second one day.

First we took some wood that had been in a closet as a shelf but was now in our trash heap.  We cut it to size for the length of the bottom and top.  I think the measurements were 12" and 15".  I just measured my older son's upper leg length and shoulder height and rounded it up.
Then we screwed the top and bottom together.  Then we added arm rests and screwed those in.
They had to test them.
And they had to label them by kid.  And draw all over them.
Then we patched over all the screws and holes with wood glue.  Then we sanded and then we primed.
Then we chose some cool exterior paint colors and made designs using masking tape.
After this photo, we took off the tape and did the bottoms and then did 2 layers of varnish on each one.
To install it, we set it where we wanted it to go and used an awl to mark where the pre-drilled holes were on the deck (poking from the bottom up).  The we used a drill bit and made holes in the seat.

We took the screws and nuts from the original crate seat and put them to use again here.
After this photo, we added storage for each kid: the one in back has his handlebar bag but it is attached to a piece of plumbing instead of handlebars (the plumbing piece is screwed onto the back of his brother's seat).  The kid in front has a plastic basket (we had been storing batteries in said container in the garage) which is the length of one arm rest.  It is now screwed onto the outside of one arm rest.  Look for a future post on these.
 We are happy with this after a trial run.  The kids feel secure and the front child hasn't started talking padding yet.  I used the same seat belt (webbing and buckle) we had been using with him-- in this case, I laced it through the underneath part (it is orange in the last photo).  A potential future issue may be the clearance between the arm rests and the front of the Hooptie (the front and back are still attached but we have the Hooptie off for now)- his legs may get too wide to get in and out easily.  I am also concerned about the stability of the arm rests.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tutorial: Make Robeez Elastic Wider


  1. Clip elastic but make sure that you are holding one side and you have a safety pin attached to the other side do it doesn't get lost in the shoe.
  2. Use a zig zag stitch and connect 2" of thin elastic to both sides of the existing elastic (the ends you cut).
  3. Slide it around inside until the elastic is even again.  Now you can keep your child in the Robeez without marks on their ankles (did you know they size up to age 5?)!
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Make your own Cat Leash


This is a key fob and length of elastic.

My almost 5 year old wants to take the cat for a walk and created this. It will hook to her collar straight or loop around it and attach to itself.

Now... all we need to do is catch her... then we can walk her...
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Friday, April 5, 2013

Organizing Our Shoe Place - Backyard Entry Area

The entry area into our back yard is our drop zone for our play time.  By mid-summer, the little space between the sliding glass door and the kitchen counter is full of shoes, hats, sunglasses, and fly swatters.  In winter, it is overgrown with rain boots.  Here you see the spring version.

This is actually the AFTER photo.  In the BEFORE photo, you would have seen a cardboard box with all of this thrown into it, as well as some markers and a play drill that ended up in there.  Before the box, we had a shoe rack, but it was lopsided because of the trim on the kitchen wall.  It kept falling over.  This is also a narrow space, so it could hardly fit a traditional shoe rack.

The fly swatters now each have their own nail hole.  Before, they were on push pins and the pins kept falling out.  If you were wondering, we have three because: 1. I hate flies, 2. Sometimes more than one of us swats at a time, 3. The swatters end up in different areas of the house, and 4. I hate flies.  Oh, and 5. Fly swatters get rid of flies.  For $1 each at Target, we went crazy.

The stick-on hooks went up last summer for the hats and sunglasses.  They are great, except when the kids play with them and they go missing.

Today this old rack got screwed into the wall and the box was recycled.  This rack is a spice rack from Home Depot that we had used in a closet for intimates on a narrow wall (we took it down when we remodeled the closet and it's been moonlighting as the produce rack when we play "store.").  I put it in backwards because the shoes are longer than the rack width.

With two kids, we really need to keep organized, otherwise we drown under the mountain of "necessities."  Let's hope this works, just for that area, at least.

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