“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." - Rachel Carson

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Retta's Advent Calendar

What is eliciting the most excitement at our house right now? What reduces my girls to squeals of pure kid joy, grins from ear to ear? It's not Santa's impending stopover at our house with his reindeer, or the piles of new-fallen snow...it's a $3 Rudolph chocolate advent calendar from Reny's! I remember thinking the chocolate advent calendar was just about the best thing going when I was a kid too. Every morning Retta wakes up at some ungodly hour when it is still dark out and bellows in her deepest baritone, "ADVENT CHOCOLATES!!! ADVENT CHOCOLATES! ADVENT CALENDAR MOMMY?" At which point I usually concede in a sleepy haze and say, "Yes, you may go in and wake up Rowan and Daddy (who inevitably ends up sleeping on Rowan's floor sometime in the night, reporting for monster/ scary shadows patrol) and eat chocolate. She goes in, rips the calendar off the wall and opens a door that never corresponds with the number of the actual day. She somehow manages to make that small piece of chocolate last for far longer than I would think possible. She starts to eat it, then retrieves a half eaten, melty blob, mushing it in her hands, decorating the walls and everything else she touches with that lovely, greasy brown...and her face, oh her cute little face--totally covered, to the point that I wonder if any of that chocolate actually made it to her stomach. She then proceeds to carry the calendar around for the better part of the day, opening and closing doors, then eventually just ripping them off all together. The thing has been jostled around so much I'm pretty sure all the remaining chocolates have popped out of their spots and are just settled down in the bottom of the calendar. She also manages to sneak about 3 extra chocolates per day, so at best we've only got a couple more days with this thing before she realizes she's all out. It's not going to be pretty. That's when you'll see me at Reny's, frantically trying to find one in the Christmas clearance section in an attempt to appease my little chocolate-fiend's deep-voiced demands for "MORE CHOCOLATE!" I vow to someday buy these for my sweet grandchildren,  just as my mother has done for me. And I will sit back and laugh as their mothers wash their faces and the walls at 6 am each morning, marking the days until Christmas.

***Update: Since I wrote this post yesterday afternoon, the calendar has met its demise. This morning she dumped a glass of water in it and after hanging it upside down to dry, she found it again and ripped off all the doors and finished off the chocolates when I wasn't looking. Once it sunk in that this calendar had nothing left to give her, she said, "Rowan's calendar?" and proceeded to march up the stairs in search of her next chocolate conquest. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tortilla Snowflakes

One of my favorite easy-but-fun holiday snacks to make with kids is tortilla snowflakes. Simply take a warm tortilla, fold it into quarters or eighths--whatever you can manage without breaking it, and then use kitchen shears to cut shapes out of the tortilla, just as you would making paper snowflakes. It is fun to unfold the tortilla and see your edible snowflake! Arrange tortillas on cookie sheets, then brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, or drizzle honey over them--season however you would like. Bake in the oven until golden brown- the tortillas should be getting crispy, but not burned. Let cool and then enjoy them with a mug of hot cocoa or a glass of egg nog!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Project: Egg-Gathering Aprons

Last week while the girls were cycling through a round of fall colds, I found myself home a lot and with some free time while they took extra long naps and watched movies on the couch. So, I dusted off my long-dormant sewing machine and set to making the girls some aprons. I recently found some old fabric scraps at my grandparents house- gingham and this retro-looking purple and orange chicken print. I liked the idea of making something with my grandmother's fabric, but there wasn't much of it, and then I thought maybe I could make something small and chicken-related. The girls are always wanting to collect the eggs from our chicken coop, but they often get dropped or squeezed a little too hard, or there are just too many to carry in those little hands. And so, these egg-gathering aprons were born, with special padded pockets to hold eggs!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rowan: On a Mission for Dolphins

Rowan holding up pictures of Winter the dolphin

Last week, on a rainy day with nothing to do, we watched one of our library movies, "Dolphin Tale." Rowan has been telling me how dolphins are her favorite animal now, so I thought she might like this one. It turned out to be a wonderful family movie (like one I could tolerate and even enjoy watching too). It is the story of a boy who finds a dolphin washed up on the beach in Florida with a rope and some sort of trap wrapped around it's tail. He uses his pocket-knife to cut the rope, and some people from a marine mammal hospital arrive and take the dolphin back to their center. The boy visits the dolphin often and they form a special bond. The dolphin, named Winter, has to have it's tail amputated, but eventually they find someone willing to design a prosthetic tail, and she can swim again.

At the end of the movie, we found out this is all based on a true story. I thought Rowan was going to come unglued with glee when she found out that Winter actually exists, and it is possible that she might visit this dolphin someday. We went to the website for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and found out that they have a live webcam where you can watch Winter swimming. You can also "adopt" Winter and donate money to help with her care--and if you do, you receive monthly updates about the dolphin as well as a photo, etc.

Rowan immediately decided she wanted to set a goal of raising enough money to get mail from Winter, which costs $50. We brainstormed a bit to come up with a way for her to raise the money and decided on an art sale. She has spent the last week making a variety of drawings and paintings and telling all the grown-ups in her life the story of Winter and how she has decided to help this dolphin. All I can say is if she ever joins the Girl Scouts, she is going to kick butt in cookie sales. She is like this mini marketing maven. The kid has already raised most of the money in under a week. Of course, when she tells her grandparents and aunts and uncles and the neighbors that the paintings are 3 dollars they tend to give her a few extra to help with the cause, and we donated the contents of the family change jar. I just love seeing this ethic of helping out a good cause blossoming in her. The other day out of nowhere she told me she wants to volunteer at the animal shelter for her birthday party this year...we'll see if it actually materializes, but the fact that she would consider it at age four makes this mama proud!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sidewalk Chalk Stencils

We tried out another easy-but-fun project from Pinterest the other day...we made our own sidewalk chalk stencils and decorated our driveway with hearts! I just used some cardboard from a box in the garage and cut out a couple of heart shapes. Both girls had lots of fun with these and we saved them to use again.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Craft Project: Halloween Bats

Time for some Halloween crafts! This is one of my favorites--take a toilet paper roll and paint it black, and while it's drying, use black construction paper to cut out some wings and ears. You can also use white paper to cut out two little fangs. Once dry, glue googly eyes and construction paper parts to the painted toilet paper roll. If you have any magnetic tape you can cut two little squares of magnetic tape and peel off the adhesive and stick it to the ends of the wings so you can make the bat's wings close around it's body if you'd like. Rowan drew a mouth and designs on hers with crayons and chalk too. This is fun for preschool-age kids, and when finished, you can either hang them from the ceiling or let the kids run around with them!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


A girl's gotta have cool accessories, right?! Well mine have really been donning some interesting choices lately...here are a few I've managed to capture on camera. As a matter of fact, while we're on the subject of fashion, I think I need to blog post on self-dressing as well, because we're in that phase where some pretty crazy outfits are leaving this house each day!

Don't forget to wear your readers before eating oatmeal

Always wear ear protection when Mommy uses the noisy blender to make smoothies

Let's go for a bike ride! Bike? Check.  Helmet? Check. Creepy baby in the trunk? Check.

Every nature girl needs a flower crown...

And a little chef  must have the proper attire!