Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Club: About Raising a Boy

A couple of months ago I ran into a recommendation for the book Wild Things: the art of nurturing boys by Stephen James and David Thomas. I was immediately intrigued by the title and quickly decided to check my local library for the book. I had to put it on hold, but I have finally received it and plan to start reading it today. 

I am hoping that a few people will also read it over the next month or so and be willing to have a discussion about it with me in the comment section of this post and a new post I will write when I am finished with the book. 

I think this has potential to be a great book for me in particular, because I find myself frequently feeling like I don't understand where my son is coming from or unable to keep my own natural anxiety in check for things that are totally natural for kids to do. For example, climbing trees a little higher than I am comfortable with, climbing up our banister, or jumping in waves at the Oregon coast in 60 degree weather (well I did do this at some point in my life).  
If you want to pick up the book you can buy it from the links below:

I hope you will find the book and read along so I will have some people other than meself to mull over this book with. :) I may make this a permanent book club of sorts, I already have next months book in mind. It is one I have been getting distracted from called Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. So if you want to get ready for May and get this book here are links to that.
                  Paper Back:
I really hope you read along and post comments as you go so we can think about this book together. :) Also if you are interested in following along with future months please follow the blog. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inch Worm: Ways to Measure

Recently, at the library, a book about an inch worm caught my eye (Inch by Inch, by Leo Lionni). This cute little picture book is about a cleaver little inch worm who convinces a robin, who is about to eat him for lunch, that he is usefull and can measure the robin. The robin wants his tail measured so he does not eat the worm. After his tail is measured, carries the worm off to measure other birds. One bird at the end makes an unusual request, measure my song. Well the worm feels he can't do that so he finds a cleaver way to escape. 

I thought about this and although it is true you might not be able to measure a song the same way you measure a tail or a beak, you can measure it. I think you could measure it by seeing how many times the worm can move during the song, or by how may seconds long the song is, and I am sure in other ways that I am not thinking of. I decided that this might be a fun measuring experience for my daughter and I to experiment with.

So we read the book and discussed different ways the worm might have approached this problem. We then made an inch worm out of playdoh and started measuring things. We then turned on a song and experiemented with measuring the song with how many times we could move the worm during the duration of the song. We also observed how the song was a particular length of time.

My daughter seems to have enjoy and absorbed both of these measurement methods as she had been going back to them both frequently over the last few days. :) I hope you find this useful and have fun with finding ways to measure a song and other things in your house.

Reading Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni.

Using the playdoh worm to measure the robin's tail.

Time is one measure of a song's length.

Other ways to measure.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from our family to yours! I hope that your 2014 is filled with warmth, joy, curiousity, exploration, and love.

These are the photos I took to send our to family as our holiday cards, they are not the traditional formal pictures I take, but I thought the kids would enjoy this sitting more. I set up a secret hot cocoa picnic compete with artisan marshmallows and candy canes.  It is fun to give them a big treat like that every once and a while.

After taking the photos we went on our annual December float on the Willamette River with our kayaks lit up for the Illuminata Regatta. It is always fun, but this year was so amazingly pleasant. I don't know if it was the really cold (14 degree ferenheit) weather we had in the weeks leading up to the Illuminata Regatta or what, but it felt so warm we didn't even need our gloves!

I hope you enjoy the pictures.
:) Emilia

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Preschool Turkey Activity

Friday morning I decided that I wanted to do an activity with my daughter and the little boys I was taking care of that day. I thought it would be nice to use the homemade playdough I had sitting around and something with fall colors.

I decided that I could easily make colored pasta and then shape the playdough into the shape of a turkey's body. The kids could then use the pasta to decorate the turkeys. I also added in some long pieces of dried spaghetti so the kids would be able to make longer "feathers" by putting the penne pasta over the spaghetti pasta.

While the kids were making their turkeys we talked about the colors, what the playdough felt like, if the noodles stayed in well, what patterns they could make, how they could make the noodles look like feathers on a turkey, and how the colors of the noodles and turkey looked a lot like fall leaves.

They enjoyed this activity a lot and after finishing their turkeys moved on to making their own shapes with the playdough and decorating those. It is great for fine motor skills, sensory play, creative play, learning about patterns, and colors.
To make the pasta all you do is get dried pasta, fill a bowl half way with white vinegar and add food coloring of you choice (I used probably at least 10 drops of color per bowl) then add pasta so that it is covered by the vinegar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, maybe a little more, stirring a couple times while it sits. Then dump out the liquid and lay the pasta flat on a cookie sheet to dry. It took about two hours maybe three for ours to dry completely.

Now you are ready, just set out the materials for the kids to get to work.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall Fun: Pumpkins, and Apples, and Squirrels Oh My!

We take a weekly trip to the library for story time and to check out books. Usually I let the kids check a few out and I choose a couple to check out as well. I try and find books that fit into a weekly theme that I have in mind or that are seasonally appropriate. So a few weeks ago I spotted this cute book about a squirrel who is busy finding food for the winter (called The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri).
Buy it by clicking this link:

The little squirrel picks up various fall foods and takes them back to his nest. At the end of the book you see him asleep with all of his food. It is a cute book that teaches about what a squirrel does to get ready for the winter and shows some of what they eat.

I immediately started thinking of ways I could create activities surrounding this book, so I checked it out. We read it several times before ever getting to the activities, but finally I set things up and we did some writing, math, and science exploring some of the things that squirrel might have picked up to eat.

I got out a large bowl of water for a float or sink test, a measuring tape to measure each item, and some fall vegetables (a sweet dumpling squash and a bright orange squash), an apple, grapes, and dried fruit and nuts.

The plan was to read the book and then talk about why the squirrel was saving for food and if we had any of the same things. Then we put the things in order from largest to smallest.

I had written out a list of what each thing was before hand so then we measured each thing with the measuring tape and I wrote how big it was in yellow and then my daughter traced the number with a black marker.
Next, for each item, we predicted which items would sink and which would float. Then we put each on into the bowl of water to test our predictions. We then put a mark in a column for each one that sank and one in another column for each that floated.
This was my daughter's favorite part of the activity and she wanted to do it several times. We then drew a picture of one of the items as an added art activity. It would also be great fun to use the items to paint or make prints into play-dough.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Pears: Easy Fall Dessert

This is a great simple dessert that also has the added advantage of being really quite healthy. It also happens to be gluten and dairy free. A great paleo or vegan dessert as well.

I first served this dessert to a group of my family members who were visiting from out of town. We had a large dinner of my favorite ribs, with mashed potatoes, fresh tomatoes with basil, garlic, olive oil and vinegar, and other fresh vegetables from a farm box I picked up. For Dessert I wanted something just as fresh, but I also wanted it to be really easy to put together with people there. This fits the bill. 

Roasted Pears With Coconut Whipped Cream:

For the Pears:
Half a pear per person, slightly firm
A sprinkle each of cinnamon and cardamum
About 2 teaspoons real maple syrup per pear half

For the Whipped Cream:
A can of Whole coconut milk in a can (or Trader Joe's Coconut cream, in a can)
           Chilled well (I usually just keep a can in the fridge in case I want it)
A teaspoon vanilla extract
A tablespoon of maple syrup
A pinch of ground cardamom


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, put the beaters and mixing bowl into the freezer to chill

Wash the pears, cut them in half length wise and use a melon baller to scoop the seeds out. Sprinkle the pear with a bit of cinnamon and cardamom and then lightly pour maple syrup on them (about 2 teaspoons). Place in the oven for 30 minutes to bake until soft.

About 5 minutes before the pears are done get your mixing bowl out of the freezer and set it up. Open up the can of well chilled coconut milk and you should see a firm thick white layer. Scoop out just the very firm white layer into the mixing bowl, leaving behind the clear liquid for another use. Start mixing the coconut milk in the mixer on medium speed, add in the vanilla, maple syrup, and cardamom. What should happen is the coconut milk should become fluffy and look like whipped cream.

Serve the pears hot with the whipped coconut milk on top. We also served dark 80% chocolate with them and some people put small pieces in the middle of the pears so it would melt, that was great!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Planning A Party

Every year I get to plan at least 4 birthday parties. My kids, mine, and my husbands. This year is no different and as I approach my husbands birthday I am getting into the nitty-gritty of planning his party.

Over the years I have found a process that works to keep me organized, on track, and well not to insane during the day of the party.

The first thing I do is figure out the guest list. Then I figure out a theme (mostly for invitations at the adult stage). Next I invite people making sure to try and give them a month notice so they have time to plan around it, but honestly there are times that I am not perfect at this aspect of it. 

The very next thing I do is go to Pinterest and start a board dedicated to that party. This is probably my favorite part of party planning because I can imagine I have limitless possibilities, of course this means that I usually have to bring myself back down to reality of a budget and time. It still really helps with organization, especially because I am a visual person. 

On Pinterest I look for menu ideas that might fit into the theme, cake designs, decorating ideas, and entertainment ideas. Later I can go back and make my lists using these ideas. 

About a week before the party I really figure out the menu, decorations, and any entertainment ideas that I am going to use for the party, along with the number of people who are coming. I start a list with the menu, decor, and games written down under their own sections. Then I make a grocery list and a list of other items that I will need. I try and do this all on one piece of paper in sections so I can see it all at once. 

At the beginning of the week I try and buy anything that will need time to make for decor or games. Then in the evenings when the kids are in bed I start working on those things. 

In the morning the day before the party I try and do all my shopping and cleaning. Then that evening I try and do prep work. I usually make the cake but don't decorate it, do anything that can be done ahead like washing produce. 

The day of the party is all about decorating and making food

Here are a few links to Pinterest boards I have done for parties in the past in case you want to take a look at them. The next party I am holding is for my husband's birthday on Friday and it is a BBQ theme. I hope maybe letting you in on my process will help you a bit with your next party. (this was a bird themed party for my little girl) (This was a superhero themed party for my little boy)

Do you use Pinterest at all? Do you make a board for your parties?