Friday, December 24, 2010


Maybe in the new year this blog will gain some cohesiveness. Then again, maybe it won't. These post subjects bounce around so much, but I like saying what I do and meaning it. Today's subject? Happy Holidays, be them already celebrated, currently celebrating, or to be celebrated soon. I hope you all are enjoying whatever you're doing :)



Monday, December 20, 2010

What's wrong with "extended" breastfeeding?

Well, to start, what defines "extended?" For some people it's going beyond 6 months, for some a year, and for others they don't feel it's extended until they surpass the WHO's recommendation for nursing until at least 2 years old.

It seems like there's been a lot of talk about extended breastfeeding these days, from the well-educated and articulate Mayim Bialik (aka the former Blossom), to the, well, lesser so naysayers (I feel so bad for the mom in that article, I hope she had some warning about what a negative light she'd be cast in).

What do the opponents say? I've heard that it's gross and wrong. That the mother must forcing the child to continue. It's for the mother's pleasure, not the child's benefit. If they're old enough to ask for it they're too old. If they're old enough to ask for a glass of milk, they should have that instead. It's creating a child that's too dependent and can't self-soothe. There's no nutritional need after a year--it turns to water, doesn't it?




Pardon me while I bang my head on the wall for a moment.

For starters, I'd like to see any baby or child that can be FORCED to breastfeed. I'm sorry naysayers, but that's impossible. For babies less than a year that go on a nursing strike for whatever reason, the mother should absolutely make all efforts to remedy it. These mothers know just how hard it is to coerce a baby to nurse. Now add into that the stubborn will of a toddler and you know what I'm saying here. If my daughter didn't want to nurse, she wouldn't.

And to follow up, I don't like being made out to be a pervert. That's the thing that gets me the most. Because breasts can be enjoyed sexually, the general public jumps off the deep end and dares to think I'm somehow getting off on breastfeeding? Shame on THEM for thinking those thoughts, and *gag*. Seriously. I'm not getting off on it. If your toddler grabs your butt is it the same as when your partner does? When you kiss your child is it the same kiss you give your partner? No? Really? So lay off on the perverted argument. It is not valid.

Oh, and babies are BORN asking to breastfeed. They naturally root and display all sorts of hunger signs. This is their age-appropriate way to ask. As these babies grow in ability, finding their hands and their voices, they learn to sign (if their parents teach them) and eventually speak. Should the 9 month old that learns to sign "milk" promptly be weaned for being clever enough to ask for what he wants? What about the articulate 18 month old that can say and/or sign "more milk please?" Biologically, communicative ability has no relation to the necessity of breast milk. So stop arguing that it somehow does, please.

A common point proponents make is that it's common practice to feed our children the breast milk of another species (that'd be cow milk), and yet human milk is shunned despite its purpose being obviously for the nutritional benefit of humans. Ironic much?

Dr. Jack Newman (and many others) back me up in saying that extended breastfeeding does not create an over-dependence. A child that is secure in knowing his mother is there for him will grow up confident and assured of her love and support. And what mom doesn't want that?

And for the opponents that argue "well just pump it into a cup and feed them that way!" Um, no thanks. To start, a cup of milk doesn't offer the same closeness and emotional comfort that nursing does. Also, not all moms respond to breast pumps as they do their own child, especially later in the breastfeeding relationship when an oversupply is much less common. And lastly, YOU come over here and clean the pump and glasses if it's so important I use them.

I'm not saying everyone should breastfeed; I'm not laying on a guilt trip for those that didn't try, those that tried and were unsuccessful, or those that chose not to go the extended route.

What I am saying is to lay off on the judgment of those mothers and children that choose to continue their nursing relationship beyond whatever arbitrary age you've applied as being acceptable. I can pretty much guarantee the mother is not forcing the child. She is not getting any pleasure other than knowing she is providing nutrition, immunities, and comfort to her child. She is doing what is right for her and her child and that's it. You are not a part of that relationship.

And for those that like this sort of thing, science backs me up here (thanks for all the well-organized quotes, KellyMom):

-The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).

-Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

-In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breast milk provides: 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements (Dewey 2001).

-The AAP even states: "As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer." (AAFP 2008)

And a thanks to the medical professionals who are a voice of reason and encouragement. Dr. Jack Newman has a nice little .PDF about extended breastfeeding. Even Dr. William Sears has written on how to handle the criticism.


So, nurse on, mommas, if you so choose! I hope some day our society will not only grow tolerant but encouraging of such a special gift we can give our kids.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My short and easy guide to natural child birth

I'm partially baby-feverin' over here, and that means my brain wanders back to birth often. It doesn't hurt that oodles of my friends either have new babies or are pregnant too; birth and babies are all around me!

I had a normal natural birth with Lily, just as I had set out to do. There were a few things I would change (or rather one big thing--move the whole thing back home and out of the hospital), but overall it went well. I didn't take a birth class. I'm not even sure I finished a single childbirth book from start to finish. I had a doula and my husband present, but the former provided more support to the latter, I think, and I mostly kept to myself.

Here's my Short and Easy Guide to Childbirth (tm)

-Keep vocalizations low instead of high pitched
-Keep brow relaxed instead of furrowed
-Keep jaw relaxed instead of clenched

Add to that educating yourself on what's normal (say, going to 41 weeks and beyond), what to expect (oh, perhaps, transition), and what you might have to fight against (the typical cascade of interventions, for example), and you're good to go.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WeeEssentials giveaway!

I love her soap bits for using to wet our diaper wipes :) Go check out this post to enter!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oatmeal raisin cookies

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups oats

Combine eggs, vanilla, and raisins in a bowl and let stand for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugars. Sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda; add with creamed mixture. Then mix in egg/raisins and oats. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

I probably made them a bit too big and I still had enough left over to bag and freeze after baking 2 dozen. Both Lily and I approve of this recipe! Above is my modified version (I halved the sugar, added the nutmeg, took out the nuts), but the original is here:

Note to self: 21 months is too young to understand that cookies aren't cookies until you bake them, though she did enjoy putting the oats into the mixer with me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Truly enjoying the season

It seems a common theme out in blog world to write about the stresses of the impending holiday right about now. But I'm not feeling it. Maybe it's because I started my Christmas crafting in July and finished 90% of them the week of Thanksgiving. Or maybe it's because we only put up our tree and stockings for decorations so there's no chasing a toddler away from breakables. Or maybe it's that our tree is only decorated with any ornaments from about three feet and up.

I've got a (sort of surprise) gift swap coming up next week, but I'm well on my way to completing that project too. I skipped out on a mass cookie baking event with some friends and opted to play with the kids while they cranked out dozens of delicious cookies. Art and I will bake some cookies one of these weekends together without the stress of making sure half a dozen kids aren't killing one another. I'll wrap presents soon during one of Lily's afternoon naps. We'll celebrate with my parents early so we only need to go to one place on Christmas Eve and two places on Christmas Day. That's about the busiest we'll be.

I'm really slowing down this year and not feeling rushed at all. I literally slow down while driving past every decorated house on our side streets so Lily can admire them. Maybe one of these nights we'll take a drive to the little outdoor village a couple towns over so she can look into the tiny houses they set up with various holiday scenes. We've played in the snow and drank hot chocolate too. I picked up some candy canes yesterday and anticipate Lily eating her first one soon.

Maybe I'm foolish and it's still too early in the month to tell, but I don't anticipate that hurried feeling sneaking up any time soon. The giggle fits though? Let's keep those coming :)

IMG_1583 IMG_1587 IMG_1584

Saturday, December 4, 2010


We woke up to SNOW! And not just a light dusting, but a nice thick layer of packing snow that was perfect for Lily's first excursion of the year.

She tentatively walked out...

She agreed to mittens...

And by the end she was all "MORE DADDY BALL!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010



I laid down on my back in the middle of the living room floor last night. Lily laid down next to me, her entire body pressed up against mine. She was holding a green wood ball that's meant to be whacked through a hole and clank down a wooden track. But it wasn't a ball tonight, it was an apple, which she enthusiastically announced by both saying and signing the word. "Nom, nom, nom!" She pretended to eat it complete with taking "bites" and chewing motions. "Momma, apple!" she exclaimed as she shoved it to my lips. I obliged, and "ate" a bite along with her.

There we were, laying on the floor in the middle of our living room, sharing an "apple," and time just stood still. I had made a conscious effort last night to pay more attention to her, or at least tag Art in to do so. We so easily get swept up in the nightly routine of dinner and preparing for the next day, relaxing on the couch with our laptops or me knitting, and it's so easy for Lily to get restless and bored, which in turn creates a sense of clingy neediness. But really, if we'd just make small efforts all along she will happily play until it's time for bed.

So, here's to leaving my laptop closed and my knitting needles down. I would much rather share an "apple" with my daughter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mandatory Thanksgiving Post

I'm thankful for my adorable and cuddly kid, even though she has reached a new level of persnickety these past few weeks.

I'm thankful for my caring and hilarious husband, even if he still forgets to close the kitchen cabinets after opening them.

I'm thankful for my generous and loving parents, even if they're batshit crazy sometimes.

I'm thankful for my boing and weird odd jobs, the food we eat, the roof over our heads, our health, and our humor.

Thanksgivings one and two have been delicious and I know the third will be too!

Monday, November 22, 2010

So very tired

I have a problem. I don't know how to night time parent when nursing back to sleep fails. Seriously, my brain is mush overnight, and when rolling over and latching Lily on doesn't conk her right out I utterly lack trouble shooting skills until we're hours into the restlessness.

I'm not sure that I would have been able to find a solution last night though unfortunately; I think it was just ones of those nights. She didn't seem to be in teething pain, no fever, no poop in her diaper, but I changed it anyway. Maybe she didn't like that it was warmer in the bedroom since we've had unseasonable weather? Maybe her stomach hurt after celebrating Thanksgiving with my mom's family yesterday evening? Whatever was going on left her tossing and turning and crabbing and neither Art or I got much of any sleep.

I'm seriously zombie-like today. Coffee had no effect. I am really looking forward to bed tonight--hope this is a more restful one!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby wearing, it's not just for babies


When did my baby get so BIG?

She was having a rough time post-nap yesterday, so I wrapped her as I held her in this borrowed Walter's Organic shorty. I am so in love with this wrap; I'm seriously contemplating purchasing one of my own, despite my baby being obviously quite large. I typically toss her on my back in a ruck tied under her bum, but for extra snuggles it works just as well as a ruck on my front, crossed in the back, and tied under her butt.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The starfish

This evening's Peaceful Parenting post shared this story, and while I've heard it before, it struck me again tonight. I was just feeling uninspired with pursuing volunteer work to help other moms and this is exactly what I needed to kick my butt back into it...

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they will die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for
that one."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Play dough to stringing beads

3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup corn starch
Enough warm water to make it dough-like
1.5 year old
A little adult help

IMG_1324 IMG_1328

IMG_1335 IMG_1325

= Stringing beads (to be painted by said 1.5 year old once dry), plus a head start on some Christmas ornaments :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!


This little cat?



...LOVES trick-or-treating :)

Happy Halloween, all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Of painting and carving pumpkins

Seeing as Lily is way too little to wield a knife (hell, we clearly weren't skilled enough either and broke both of our pumpkin carvers), we finally introduced her to paint and a brush. It was a hit, to say the least!



Art and I carved ours, though there might have been a bit more details had we not broken the aforementioned knives.


It didn't matter to Lily though. She was fascinated with them one we lit the candles. It certainly doesn't hurt that she's fascinated by candles and thinks they're all "happy birthday to you" and wants to blow them out :P


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wiener Roast 2010

My grandpa and his family had a tradition of going to the same spot in the same woods every fall and roasting hot dogs on an open fire. The laws of fire pits in forest preserves have long since changed, and my grandpa has also since passed away, but my mom's side of the family continues this tradition every year, and I am so thankful for it. We grill the hot dogs now, but we still take the same challenging hike through the woods around the lake--me even with 21 lbs of Lily strapped to my back. I honestly loved every minute of it, and Lily had such a wonderful time. The weather was weirdly perfect too, even though it looked like it might rain it never did, and we're still getting unseasonably warm temperatures.






Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dane Shawl

You know that proud feeling I had over the acorn hat? Multiply it by about a million for this project! I think it's my favorite to date :)




(Search Ravelry for "Dane Shawl" for the wonderful pattern!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Acorn hat!

It could surely be better, but I'm darn proud!




Here's the basics of what I did with bulky yarn on size 9 needles using magic-loop. It fits my 19 month old--I'll say it's a 1 - 2 year old size...

Cast on 60

Do a 1x1 rib (k1, p1) for 5 rows

Knit all stitches (stockinette) for 12 rows

Begin a sort-of moss stitch: k2, p2 for two rows, then p2, k2 for another two (looks like checkerboard squares) - knit 10 rows like this, so 5 "squares"

Begin the smaller sort-of modified moss stitch (you can tell I'm professionally taught, no?): k1, p1 for two rows, then p1, k1 for two rows

Time to start the decreases! k3tog, k1, p1, k1, p1 and repeat across for one row

k1, p1 across

Do another decrease row by p3tog, p1, k1, p1, k1, repeat

p1, k1 across

Decrease again by k3tog, p1, k1, p1, repeat

k1, p1 across

Decrease by p3tog, k1, p1, k1, repeat

Final decrease by k3tog, p1, repeat

I had 6 stitches left at this point, but YMMV because I'm not professional pattern writer. k all stitches left to make a little nub of an i-cord, bind off, and enjoy on little heads!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wool acorns

When playing at the park with a friend a few weeks ago, she mentioned coming across this adorable little idea somewhere. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. So, when I crunched through some leaves yesterday and nearly twisted my ankle when I started sliding around on some perfectly round acorns, I stole some of their caps and needle-felted up these cute suckers.


I'm undecided on how to fix the caps to the bodies, so they're just resting there for now. Maybe I'll make some fabric version too since I have a ton more caps waiting.

I'm also feeling further inspired to knit an acorn hat for Lily. Off to see what yarns the stash holds...

Friday, October 15, 2010

25 Easy Nature Play Ideas for Preschool Yards

I feel like these ideas translate well for school-aged children as well, and I hope to outfit our yard with some of these inspirations--once we sell our town house and have a yard of our own, that is :)

Copied from Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood...

1. Outside Door
Use it — more than you already do, and in all safe weather conditions!

2. Water
Kids love water play! Provide water from multiple sources, if possible: a hose, a faucet, a sprinkler, a rotating sprayer, a rain barrel, a hand pump, or even just spray bottles.

3. Water Transport
Part of the fun of water play for young children comes from moving it around! Use buckets, watering cans, hollow bamboo poles, plastic pipe (with curves & connectors), plastic gutter sections, pots and pans, recycled milk jugs, etc.

4. Sand
Lots of it, contained by shrubs, landscape timbers, old tires used as planters, boardwalks, whatever — the more sand, the better! Avoid small commercial sand boxes, which don’t have much magic to them. Have a source of water nearby, or a handy way for kids to take water to the sand — since sand becomes areally great, artistic play resource when it’s wet! (Note:Check with your license inspectors about requirements for covering your sand area at night. In some locations, large, open sand areas — i.e., as landscape features — don’t have the same cover restrictions as small sand boxes.)

5. Dirt Pile
Just plain dirt, going up. The larger the pile, the more fun and creative play your kids will have. It will inevitably get muddy and messy — and your kids will have even more fun.

6. Digging Pit
Just plain dirt, going down. If you have heavy clay soil, you may want to lighten it by mixing in a few bags of sand.Note:Dirt digging pits miraculously turn into mud puddles after a rain. Your kids won’t mind a bit — but it’s probably best to forewarn their parents! Mulch or pea gravel can also be used for digging pits.

7. Logs
Just lay one or more large logs on the ground, for balancing, sitting, and hiding. Stake them in place or partially bury them, so they can’t roll unexpectedly. Laying several together, end to end and zig-zagging, produces a nice challenge course! (But have a soft fall surface around them, just in case.) Tree care companies are a good source for logs from trees they have had to cut. They can sometimes be sweet-talked into delivering them for free!

8. Leaf Pile
If you’re lucky enough to have large deciduous trees nearby, rake the fallen leaves into giant piles and let the kids have at ‘em! Better yet, let your kids do the raking — they’ll love it! The good memories will last longer than the leaves.

9. Shrubs
They’re usually faster growing than trees, and can seem almost as giant to a preschooler’s eyes! Plant shrubs in groups to create nooks and niches, or in parallel rows to frame a narrow pathway. Choose some evergreen varieties (if possible in your climate zone), and be sure to include species with flowers and berries that will attract insects and birds. Look for arching or weeping varieties that can create hide-aways under their branches or when planted along a wall or fence.

10. Rocks and Boulders
Let your kids build with rocks that are small enough to carry around, but too large to throw. Even larger, rounded boulders (beach ball size or bigger) can be great for climbing and pretend play — either singly, or in a jumbled “boulder mountain.” If you don’t naturally have large rocks on your site, you can buy them and have them delivered — but choose your exact site(s) first, as you won’t want to move them again!

11. Plants — Lots of Plants! — Everywhere!
Grow plants in beds, in giant pots, in window boxes, in old tires, and up trellises and trees. Choose plants for species diversity, various colors, different heights and textures, and fragrances. Have the kids help plant and care for them. Raised garden beds can help protect young or more fragile plants from active preschooler play. And if you don’t already have a shade tree, buy the largest one you can afford and have it planted by the pros. Protect it from harsh play until it is well-established, and don’t compact the soil over the root zone. Use a hardy species that is native to your area. It will take years to become a great play tree, but the sooner you get it growing...

12. Hills and Berms
Children love small, grassy hills that they can roll down, charge up, sled on, hide behind, or play “king of the mountain” on. If you have such a slope, plant it with a tough, hardy turf grass and keep it clear for uninhibited play. A preschool hill doesn’t need to be huge — even just four or five feet high will do — and it can be either a conical “bump” or a longer, serpentine berm. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have varied topography in your play space, you’ll need a large supply of soil and heavy equipment to create a good play hill.

13. Vegetable Garden
Choose vegies that will ripen during your school season — either rapidly in the spring (like peas, radishes) or ones that will be ready in the autumn. (If yours is a year-round school, then this is no issue.) Good possibilities include berries, potatoes, carrots, sugar snap peas, and cherry tomatoes. Use planting beds, giant pots, or both. Start vegetable plants inside from seeds during late winter/early spring, if you have a sunny and warm window sill. Then transplant them outside (check with local gardeners for timing). If garden care is needed during summer months when your school is out, try to schedule one returning family each week to do garden care and watering, until school starts again.

14. Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkins are unique enough to merit their own category! They are not hard to grow, but they benefit from lots of rich compost or fertilizer, and they won’t mature until fall. Pumpkin vines need some room to run, but you only need two or three plants. (No need to grow a separate pumpkin for each child; maybe one per class.)

15. Loose Parts for Outdoor Construction Play
Use small logs, large wooden blocks, boards, and “tree cookies” (log slices). Sand the edges and corners of these to avoid splinters. Also use sticks, milk crates, small tarps, sheets of cardboard, blankets, etc. Do not use chemically-treated lumber.

16. Butterfly Garden
Plant a jumbled selection of insect-attracting flowers, both annuals and perennials. Ask your local garden center for help in choosing good plants, or research this on the internet. Don’t forget food plants for the caterpillar life stage, like ones from the parsley family. (Note: your local Extension Service is also an excellent source for advice regarding any plantings. Their Master Gardeners may even help you establish your gardens, since they are required to do volunteer community service. Ask!)

17. Tunnels
You can make a simple tunnel by burying a culvert pipe under dirt (cover the inside with sand, for comfort). But you can create more interesting tunnels by linking several store-bought trellis arches in a line and growing gourds, beans, or other vines over them. You can also plant willow whips (straight stems) during late winter, in two parallel lines, and tie the tops together as they grow tall. Most species of willows will grow well from cut stems, as long as they are cut during their dormant winter months, stuck firmly into soil (vertically, cut end in the soil), and kept moist while they get established and start growing. Willow stems are flexible when young, so it’s easy to shape them with twine, wire, or posts.

18. Play Stream
The best approach for preschools is probably to create a shallow stream running on a slight slope over cobblestones, which kids can use to create dams and channels. Dig the stream bed, and then line the bottom of the channel (beneath the cobbles) with a heavy pond liner (available at most garden centers). Use a water source with a spring-loaded, child-activated valve so there’s no water left running after play (ask a plumber for help with this). Since re-circulating or standing water is usually a no-no with license inspectors, have your stream drain into a rain garden. If you can’t (or don’t want to) use real water, make a dry “stream” out of a twisting gravel bed (use rounded gravel, for better play). Either way, be sure to include a small bridge! Plants along part of the stream’s edge will add more interest, too.

19. Discovery Board
This is just a piece of scrap plywood, roughly 2 feet square. Place it on the ground in a quiet corner area amidst plantings, and leave it there. Periodically check to see what’s moved into the micro-habitat underneath the board — like pill bugs, ants, slugs, millipedes, and other mini-beasts with kid appeal! Be sure the board gets placed back down in the same spot. (Note:if you are in an area where poisonous snakes are common, be careful with this. During hot weather, snakes seek out cool, hidden places like this to curl up during the day.)

20. Bird Houses
It’s wonderful for kids to watch nest building activity, and then see (and hear) the babies. Not all bird houses are alike, though; swallow, wren, or bluebird nest boxes are generally good choices. Get building instructions and advice from a nature center or internet sources — including about where to mount them and how high. Site them thoughtfully, as they can produce messy droppings below.

21. Seating
Kids like small, comfortable seats for looking at books, daydreaming, playing or talking with a friend, or just plain resting. Use a variety of types: small benches, bench swings, kid-size Adirondack chairs, hammocks, hammock chairs, rockers, boulders, stumps, logs, etc. Put at least some of them in intimate, sheltered spots, ideally with overhead shade.

22. Milkweed Patch
Milkweed unfailingly attracts Monarch butterflies, as it is the only thing that Monarch caterpillars normally eat. The caterpillars (easy to identify; use a field guide or the internet) can be collected by cutting a branch they’re on, and then placing them (branch included) into a screened box (about the size of a ten-ream paper box). Keep the box supplied with fresh milkweed leaves until the caterpillars turn into chrysalises (“cocoons;” usually in less than a week). There must be a bare stick or two standing in the box, from which the chrysalises can hang in open air. After 9 to 14 days, the chrysalis’ contents will transform into a new adult Monarch — you can clearly see this inside the chrysalis, which gradually becomes transparent. The Monarch will break out as a fully formed adult, but be sure there is enough room in the box for its wings to completely open, or else they will be permanently deformed. You should release the adult within a few hours. This is a truly magical process for children to see! (Note:Swamp milkweed from a nursery is prettier than the Common milkweed that grows wild everywhere, and it works just as well.)

23. Adventure Paths
Create very narrow, meandering routes through tall grass, between boulders, or just connecting two activity areas. Use small stepping stones, tree cookies, planks, etc. — or just dirt or mulch. If the path leads into a “secret” nook, all the better!

24. Tools and Toys
Keep handy a variety of tools and toys to help explore and play with nature — e.g., insect nets, bug houses, magnifiers, binoculars, spades, scoopers, sieves, colanders, buckets, rakes, small plastic containers, pots and pans, watering cans, etc.

25. A Change of Clothes
You can’t have good nature play without kids getting muddy and wet, at least sometimes! Keep a change of clothes handy for each child.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunshine, Baby

Baby was successfully replaced yesterday after finding an identical one at a different nearby Target. I will say there are some advantages to living in suburbia; there area about five Targets within reasonable driving distance of here, and I knew that one of them was bound to have a suitable Baby replacement. We walked down the doll aisle and I spotted the bin of little dolls. Only one was wearing purple and its hat was removed. I had to turn my back to Lily, sneak the hat onto its head, and then I turned around and offered it to her. She quietly asked, "baby?" and I replied, "yes, Baby..."




We're having a crazy awesome Indian summer around here. I'm sure some of you are experience this sun and warmth too. I didn't have much planned today other than some mundane errands and I blew off half of them in favor of a leisurely stroll through the nearby nature sanctuary.


I let Lily lead the way and we toddled down random paths, looked at rocks and bugs and sticks, and just took it slow. She's going through a very shy phase right now so I was thankful that it wasn't crowded there and we only encountered one field trip (which she was okay with because it was kids) and two older gentlemen (who she was terrified of and hid her face in my chest until they were well out of sight).

I'm eagerly awaiting the crisp fall weather which I know will be gone in a blink and we'll be onto snow and slush in no time, but I'll still bask in this uncharacteristic sun and warmth just a bit longer. We honestly could still be in shorts and skirts, but I've packed away all the summer clothes and refuse to shave my legs :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Missing: Baby (doll!)

Baby went MIA. Here she is last pictured being worn in the mei tai I threw together for Lily when she was begging to wear Baby and I couldn't find her the pouch I made a few months ago. Baby has been missing since Thursday night.

IMG_0192 IMG_0190

Of course today I win a doll ring sling for her at the Lake County Baby Wearers "Baby Wearing Week Event". I also won myself a Sakura Bloom linen ring sling in a GORGEOUS green. I don't really need it though, and I'd rather have money to buy groceries, so I'm attempting to sell it along with the Sleepy Wrap I won at the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition conference. I'm totally on a winning streak!

Anyway, Baby is missing. We tore apart the house tonight after attempting to replace Baby at Target. They only had babies in pink, and Baby wears purple; Lily was totally put off by these imposters. She left with a little Magna-Doodle type toy and an airplane :P

She has Blue Baby that I made, but he's apparently not good enough, what with his only having balls for hands and a hint of a nose for facial features. I'm hoping Baby turns up soon, or she grows fonder of Blue Baby. I just have no idea where Baby could have gone! I keep trying to think like a toddler and have checked literally every cabinet and drawer and under every piece of furniture to no avail.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Home is where the crap isn't

A goal for this coming year? Purge the stuff that has no purpose or sentiment, and fill our home with beautiful things. I want to hand braid a rug. I want to display the things I'm working so hard on in my pottery class. I want to finish the cross-stitched family tree I started when I was pregnant and frame it. I want to hang a quilt on these walls, empty all the drawers/cabinets/shelves/closets of their crap, and give this space a feeling of home. Even if it's not our forever-home and we could be moving in as soon as a year, I don't want to feel like we're just making do any more. It started yesterday with a good sweep through my big bookcase, and today I tore through our kitchen cabinets and drawers. Now the kitchen table is covered in things I need to Freecycle or donate, but that's a good problem to have!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Harvest Festival

I'm so thankful to have this working farm less than a mile from our home :)















Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...