This is Not Your Dinnertime Story...

...unless, I suppose, you usually talk about gross things at dinnertime.  

My kids are generally very good.  They like each other and have some idea of boundaries.  So, this morning when I needed to use the bathroom I thought the two of them would be fine playing together in my nice, baby-safe house for five minutes. 
(foreboding music enters the background)

I should have remembered they are just 14-months and 4-years old.  I should have strapped Harry down somewhere.  Should have, should have, should have...

Kaia's slightly worried voice interrupted my peaceful toilet time:  "Mommy!  I think you should hurry because I don't want Harry to poop or pee on the carpet!"  

"Did Harry take his diaper off?"  This is a new skill he's been trying to work on.  I've been trying to discourage it.  


"Okay, I'm hurrying!"  I didn't want Harry to poop or pee on the carpet either.

Seconds later, Kaia's voice was a little more panicked:  "Harry!  Ew!  Mommy, Harry pooped on the carpet and now he's playing in it!"  

I ran out of the bathroom.  I didn't even wash my own hands.  I picked up that naked little baby and plopped him in the sink.  I washed his hands.  "Ew" is right.  Ew. Ew. Ew.

Harry, on the other hand, loved it.  He loved getting his hands washed, sitting in the sink with the water on, using the soap, and looking in the mirror.  He did not love getting his diaper and clothes replaced. 

I did not love cleaning the carpet.  Ew. Ew. Ew again.

Kaia, as a toddler, never did anything remotely similar to this.  She said "Ew" today, and I think she would have said "Ew" as a 1-year old!  Harry, on the other hand, does not seem to get grossed out very easily.  Not at all!


I have very vivid memories of my first snowman.  I was four.  The snowman had broken beer bottle glass pieces for eyes.  We had to drive to the mountains to find the snow (from southern California).  

Last month, while we were in Utah, Kaia made her first proper snowman.  (She may not remember, but when she was two there was a strange snowstorm in Houston and she saw snow for the first time!) 

Harry touched snow for the first time.  Again, we had to drive to the mountains...the snow had melted off the ground in the "valley."  It was June, after all. 

Months ago, when Kaia first found out that we were planning a trip to Utah, she said, "We will have to be sure to pack a carrot and some rocks or buttons or something..."

 She had lots of help making her snowman...

Good thing, too, since she kept getting distracted!

 Here she found "the perfect rocks for the snowman!"

 Harry, of course, tasted the snow.

 More than once. 

 What a good looking snowman!

 And some group shots...

 I loved the fact that even as we pulled away, other drivers pulled over to check out our awesome snowman.  We didn't even leave the scarf!  That's how cool he was!

 Nearby were gorgeous mountain views and other great adventures. 

And what better picture to end with, than this one?  You just have to know...he was laughing hysterically because he and his uncles were growling at each other!

2 Amazing Recipes

I'll admit this right now:  These both turned out 1,000,000 times better than I expected.  I'm so happy with the results I have to post these recipes.  

As a result of a very long story which I absolutely do not have time to go into, I bought a lot of fruits and vegetables that I do not usually buy.  This has led to a lot of experimenting with food during the last week.  Here are two combinations that I want to remember:

#1.  Southern Summer Salad

I'm calling it "Southern" because we made a spicy dressing.  Kaia's just had Ranch.  We can call her's a "Summer Salad."  

1.  Chop the following and toss them in a bowl:

  • 1/2 head Kale
  • 1/2 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 banana peppers
  • 2 cups white sharp cheddar, cubed
  • 2-3 grilled chicken breasts (already salted and peppered to taste)
2.  Dress with equal portions of Ranch and Carolina's Treet Original Cooking Barbeque Sauce (or your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce).  Of course, if your young children are opposed to spicy foods, just pour Ranch on their plates.  

FYI:  Kale is a super-vegetable!  It fights cancer, lowers your cholesterol, and is a great source of omega-3s, vitamins C, A, and K, and dozens of antioxidants!

#2.  A New Smoothie

I haven't come up with a name I like yet.  Banana-Acorn Squash Smoothie just doesn't sound right.  Any ideas?

1.  Cook your Acorn Squash.  A fast, easy way to do this is to cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and put both halves face down on a frying pan.  Add 2-3 cups water, put the lid on the pan, and check it every 5-10 minutes.  You want the water to boil constantly, but not completely evaporate.  Add more water if needed.  When the yellow part is soft, it's cooked.

2.  Scoop the yellow part of the squash out of one of your halves and put it in your blender.  Add 3-4 medium bananas, 1/2 cup ice-cubes, 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, and about 1/4-1/2 cup water (depending on how thick you want your smoothie).   Blend until it's a liquid!  Add more water or sugar if desired, and blend one last time.  

3.  You can butter, salt, and pepper the other half of your acorn squash or save it for another new mixture!  It seems to behave a lot like pumpkin, so I'm considering acorn squash muffins for tomorrow...we'll have to see.  Lately, the weather has been discouraging me from baking!

Notes for Parents:  My kids are not picky eaters, but Kaia (four years old) absolutely loved both of these.  I told her we were making an Experimental Salad and she could pick any fruits or vegetables out of the fridge to go into the salad.  She did so, very happily, and chose most of the ingredients for the salad.  She and Harry both loved the smoothie.  They both wanted seconds and thirds before they decided they were done.  It's been a very positive week in our kitchen!

The Teeth That Took 8 Months To Grow

At 13.5 months, Harry's first teeth have cleared the gumline!  Woohoo!!

Check them out...aren't they cute?!

Here's one more view (without the bib): 

We have certainly been celebrating those little buggers this week! 

In some ways, it seems like the end of an era.  He's been walking and "talking" and climbing for six months, but he was still a "baby" because he didn't have any teeth.  Now he has teeth.  It had to happen someday.  Congratulations, Big're a toddler!

Easily Assembles in!

If you've ever put anything together with kids helping, you'll appreciate this.  If you haven't, I hope you enjoy it anyways!

We had a small problem.  I tidied it frequently, but was a problem.

 Let's take a closer look:   Yikes.

I found these drawers that were supposed to easily assemble in minutes.  Well, I'm pretty sure whoever came up with that line didn't have any of this going on during assembly:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

And I'm pretty sure there was nothing like this in the instruction pamphlet:

Still, they were happy most of the time, and they may have even enjoyed the assembly process more than me.  Finally, we had this to show:

Whew!  That's better.  In my opinion, anyway!

It's All Downhill From Here...

Maybe you remember Harry's birthday last was the first time he had frosting.  I'm pretty good at protecting my children from sweets and other childhood dangers...until they're about one year old.  Then it seems like it just keeps going downhill!  We've had a lot of firsts during the last month:

First Ice Cream Cone:

First Candy:

First French-fry:

First Painting:

First Airplane Ride:

First Parade: (Don't worry...I didn't let him stir the water with the flag!)

So, yes, going downhill fast...but it sure is a fun ride!

A Beauty Party

"Mommy, what's rouge?"

"Mommy, I want to try some lipstick."

"Mommy, do they make lipstick for kids?"

I've been fielding questions like this for the last two months.  Finally, I suggested to Kaia that we have a little party and she can get all dressed up and put make-up on.  She was so excited she started jumping up and down and planning her "Beauty Party."

In case you didn't know, a Beauty Party has to have lipstick and lip-gloss and eye-shadow and rouge and nail polish and treats and friends.  Have I ever mentioned before what a little party planner Kaia is?

Well, she had her Beauty Party yesterday.  She had a blast.  Here's a few pictures:

Her analysis?  As we cleaned up she said, "Mom, Let's do that again!"

Online Science Class for Preschoolers: Looking Under Water

Today is the last lesson in my Online Science Class for Preschoolers.  I hope you have enjoyed it!  There are literally hundreds of activities you could do with each theme I touched on during the last few weeks...I hope you continue to explore and experiment with your preschoolers and toddlers!  Also, if you've been following along, I'd love to hear from you...I know you're out there because Google tells me so, but I would really love to actually hear from you.  Comments or emails are fabulous!  Each comment I get makes me even happier about all the time I've put into typing these lessons up!
WEEK 4: Oceans

Day 4: Looking Under Water
Overview: This lesson lets your child compare sea objects in the water and out of the water.  It appeals to the Verbal-Linguistic, Logical, Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Naturalist, and Intrapersonal intelligences.

  • empty metal can--about 10 ounces
  • duct tape
  • pliers
  • plastic wrap
  • big bucket or mixing bowl about 3-8 inches deep
  • outside objects like rocks and sticks
  • shells
  • seaweed
  • any plastic fish or other ocean toys
  • optional: real fish
  • Science Journals.  

  • Gather supplies.  
  • Empty and clean metal can.  Use can openers to remove both ends so it is a cylinder.  Use pliers to flatten any sharp metal edges.  Cover the edges with duct tape. 

Science Time!
  • Have you ever looked under water with your eyes open?  What was it like?  Water bends light, so things under water look different under water than in the air.  Today we're going to make an ocean scene and look at it under water!
  • First, let's put some water in the bowl.  Is ocean water salty?  Let's add some salt.  (You don't have to be technical, but if you're interested...seawater typically has about 3.5% salinity, which means it has 35 parts salts to 1000 parts water, so 8 tablespoons of salt {about 4 fluid ounces} mixed into a gallon of water {128 fluid ounces} is pretty close to real seawater.  Of course, if you look at seawater right where a river dumps fresh water into the ocean, the salinity will be much lower.)  If your child is interested, let her taste a little of the water by dipping her finger in the water and licking it.
  •  What shall we put in the ocean?  Let your child choose what rocks, sticks, shells, toys, fish, etc., to put in the "ocean" -- your big bucket or mixing bowl. 
  • Now, let's make a tool to look under the water.  I have this empty can, plastic wrap, and duct tape.  Help your child cover one end of the can with plastic wrap and use it to look at objects under the water.  Compare them to similar objects on the counter. 
  • Science Notebooks:  Draw or write about what we did today.

Online Science Class for Preschoolers: What is in the Ocean?

WEEK 4: Oceans

Day 3: What is in the Ocean?
Overview: You could spend many hours on many days studying what is in the ocean.  This lesson lets your child learn look at patterns, discuss size, and think about diet.  The lesson appeals to the Verbal-Linguistic, Logical, Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Naturalist, and Intrapersonal intelligences.

Humpback Whale
  • magnifying glass
  • 100 foot long piece of yarn
  • seaweed (available at most grocery stores)
  • graham cracker
  • pile of seashells (available at most dollar stores and Walmarts)
  • Science Journals.  
  • pictures of ocean plants and animals

  • Gather supplies. 

Science Time!
  • What's under the ocean?  Let's climb in our submarine and travel underwater.  Take turns with your child pointing out things you "see."  Look at and discuss pictures of animals and plants that you can find in the ocean. 
  • The ocean is full of many different kinds of animals that have shells.  What kinds of patterns do you see on these shells?  Give your child some time with the magnifying glass to study the shells.  Encourage her to draw pictures of them in her Science Notebook.
  • The ocean has lots of seaweed in it.  Many animals eat seaweed, including endangered sea turtles.  Have you ever tasted seaweed?  It's okay for people to eat.  Let's try some!  (Carrageenen, a seaweed extract, is used in many products--including breads and desserts--as a thickener.)
  • The biggest animal in the ocean is a whale.  Whales can be 100 feet long! How long is that?  Let's find out.  Unwind the 100 foot long piece of yarn with your child.  How many times could you fit inside this whale?  Let's find out!
  • What would you eat if you were that big?  Most whales eat plants and animals smaller than a graham cracker!  Can you imagine how much food they would have to eat to get full?
  • Science Notebooks:  Draw or write about what we did today.