Friday, June 17, 2011


My mother was nice enough to run a post (Staycation) in the Eagle Press this week. If you're in the Hutchinson County area, grab a copy and show your support! I'll probably be contributing there once in a while. I believe there is also a special right now on a year's subscription. Tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playing With Purpose

I am by no means an education expert or a proponent of homeschooling. I am a mom, though, and therefore an educator, and I believe that the home is the first school a child encounters. With that in mind, I set out to create a functional, fun area in our home for Lily a few months ago. Her room is full of toys, too, but she tends to play in the communal areas of the house more than anything so that's the part I wanted to focus on.

There are so very many resources online when it comes to things like this. I spent hours lost in Regggio Emilia, Montessori, and found the blog to be helpful. In the end, we pulled inspirations from each of these but the main idea is to keep it simple, fun, and interesting.

Accessibility is important because it fosters independence. With that in mind, everything is at child height and she can do what she likes without asking for help. However, in the montessori spirit, that thing has to be put away before a new activity can begin. To help with that, we labeled her bins with pictures instead of words. Check out that fancy tape job:

The shelves and bins are filled with blocks, wooden puzzles, crayons, books, magnets, playdough, and the like. Almost everything is from around the house and I'm pretty sure I've spent less than $50 putting this area together. I had Nathan add the curtain rod to display her art just this week and she is very proud of her "art wall."

And of course, outdoor access because, well, that's where the dirt is. I guess you could say we take the "environment as the third teacher" idea literally. I'm not sure what it is about dirt, but it makes her infinitely happy.

All in all, I am pretty proud of the space. It's serving it's purpose & she seems to enjoy it. While my husband disagrees and says our house looks like I'm running a preschool, I think it takes up a very small area and keeps things from exploding all over. If you know me, you know that my home is in a constant state of evolution. I rearrange my furniture way too often & just last week swapped curtains from one room to another. I guess I'm bored easily or just like to try new ideas. Any way, I'm sure this space will change, too, and I would love to hear (and see!) ideas you have on functional play areas, or ateliers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yum Balls!

After a few hours of playing outside and (uggh) laundry, Lily and I headed to the kitchen this afternoon to satiate my undying peanut butter craving and her unending demand for cookies. What we came out with was a variation on the no-bake cookies you were probably served or taught to make in your childhood. The major difference here is ours contain no sugar, corn syrup, or butter and there's no need to use instant oats. Rolled oats have more texture, protein, and fiber.
Also, I don't really believe in measuring unless I'm baking so everything's a bit approximated.

1/3 C Peanut Butter (we used Skippy Natural)
1/3 C Honey
3/4 C Rolled Oats (or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 C Wheat Germ
1/4 C Coconut
Dash each cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa powder (ok, maybe 2 dashes of cocoa!)
Small box of raisins

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then together. Spoon onto wax paper (should make about 12 balls) and refrigerate.

This takes about 5 minutes to prepare and is completely toddler approved. Lily has deemed them "yum balls." If I were making these for Nathan, I would probably dump in some protein powder, but Lily and I like them just fine like this.

Friday, June 10, 2011


My husband asked me if I wanted to actually go somewhere this year or just take a week off and do a staycation. After some thought, I asked what one does on a staycation. The answer was something like "parks, swimming, museums, etc." Ok, that's not an exact quote, but you get it. At that moment, I realized that I was, in fact, on a permanent staycation. The things that other people take off of work to enjoy with their families are just my daily activities.

Earlier this week, my staycation included a picnic at the park followed by a trip to the Don Harrington Discovery Center. Somewhere during this, my lovely, usually well behaved daughter remembered that she was two and decided to act as such. About the same time, my three month old woke with a start and small explosion. A quick check confirmed my fears: a blow out to beat all blow outs. After using every wipey in the diaper bag to wipe such things as his ears and my forearms, I settled into a chair in the preschool area to accept the stares that come with nursing a naked baby, tried to relax, and then called my husband. No answer. This annoys me. I'm a cell phone era girl, born and raised with the idea that everyone should be reachable at all times. How dare he ignore my calls when I'm covered in the excrement of HIS children!

Two hours later, he finally calls back. I've calmed down, of course, but nonetheless tell him about the overall suckiness of our hot, sticky afternoon. "Oh. Well, sorry I didn't call back. I was stuck in an outdoor elevator 150 feet in the air for the last 3 hours." And that, folks, is what I like to call perspective.

Maybe the days can seem a bit long and monotonous sometimes, but really, I am thankful for the opportunity I have to enjoy my life every day with the people I love. Some days may be shitty (pun totally intended), but my bosses are way more cuddly and easier to pacify. It can be a thankless job, but it's one I'm thankful for.

As Father's Day approaches, I think it's important to say thank you not just to our own fathers, but to our children's fathers. So, thank you, honey, for affording me this opportunity to enjoy these years with our babies. Thank you for allowing me unlimited lazy mornings such as this one to snuggle, sip my coffee, and watch them play. Thank you for being a modern father, not afraid to come home and help with laundry, dishes, and diapers. Although somedays I might seem ready to throw in the towel, I can't imagine doing anything else with anyone else.