“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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Molly Monarch Emerges

We never thought it would happen, but Rowan's butterfly, Molly Monarch finally hatched out of her chrysalis yesterday. She made her chrysalis about a month ago, and monarchs usually only take about 14 days before they come out as a butterfly---so this one took her sweet time. I was just about to take the lid off of her container and set the chrysalis outside because I thought something had gone wrong and it was never going to hatch out, but she surprised us just in time. It was a great thing to discover late in the afternoon yesterday. Since we're all currently sick and spending waaaay too much time at home, this constituted a big event and really turned the day around! Rowan was mesmerized by the new butterfly and jumping up and down and giving everyone in the family congratulatory hugs. We realized there aren't many flowers left in our yard for it to find food, so we cut what was left and put it in her container last night while she got used to flexing her new wings. This morning she seemed ready to go, so we took her down the hill to our neighbors for the big release (our neighbors have a far superior flower garden with a few things still blooming). Rowan proudly carried the butterfly down the hill and then got to hold her for a few seconds before she flew off and perched on a birdhouse in the yard. It seemed quite content there, so I'm not sure how far this slow butterfly is going to get before the next stretch of cold weather, but maybe with the coming winds of the hurricane she'll get blown around and pushed far enough south to catch up with some other monarch stragglers! This was a really simple yet magical fall activity--bon voyage Molly!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Retta at 7 months

 Yesterday my sweet little Retta turned 7 months old! What a big month this has been for her--she is now sitting up, almost crawling, waving, making the sign for "milk" and saying "Dada!" So much has happened in a month. She has also decided that sleep is not a hobby of hers- last night she was up literally every hour on the hour, but the night before she woke herself up laughing so hard in her sleep, which was one of the most adorable things I've seen. She may be getting the nasty cold that is methodically working it's way through our family, or her first tooth might be finally coming to the surface, but as I manually forced my eyelids open this morning I just kept trying to remember that these sleepless nights won't last forever. So, at 7 months we are tired, but happy!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Three Outside Activities for a Blustery Fall Day

Parachute Man

  • Plastic shopping bag
  • a pair of scissors
  • hole punch
  • yarn or string
  • a lightweight figurine
Pick a favorite lightweight figurine to be your skydiver. Take a plastic shopping bag and cut out a square shape (here you have to kind of experiment with the size and just guess what size square will most likely support your figurine). Once you've got your plastic square use a hole punch or pierce holes with a pair of scissors in each corner of the square. Cut 4 pieces of string each about a foot long and tie one end to each corner of the square and the other to the figurine. Crumple up the parachute and press it against the figurine, then find a high spot to drop your figurine! We let our parachute person fly from Rowan's bedroom window on the second floor of our house. It works best when one person stands down below to be the catcher and the other person tosses from above! 


  • 1 piece of cardstock
  • a pair of scissors
  • a ruler
  • a pin
  • a pencil with a good eraser
Pinwheels are also a fun and easy activity for a day like today. Find a piece of cardstock and make a square any size you'd like. Use a ruler to draw an X across the paper and then use something small and round to trace a circle shape in the middle of the paper in the center of the X. Next, cut each line of the X, but stop when you get to the outer edge of the circle. Gently bring the left corner of each segment into the center of the circle and poke a pin through all four corners and through the center of the circle. Then press this into the eraser of a pencil and voila! A quick homemade pinwheel you can test out in the wind!

 The Unnatural Trail

  • 5-10 plastic figurines or random small household objects
 This game is not at all dependent on a windy day, but last week Rowan and I had fun playing this game with her figurines outside. It is a game that Aaron and I used to play often with our students when we worked in environmental education. All you do is take 5-10 figurines or small household objects and place them in a partially hidden spot along a trail in the woods (or we just hid them along the front of the house in the flower bed). Then have your child walk along the trail and see if they can notice the "unnatural" objects hidden amongst the natural ones. Ask them how many they found. If they can't find the objects just by looking, they can go back through and use their hands to pull back leaves and branches and find the hidden toys. It's a great way to introduce the concept of camouflage to your kids, or to discuss what constitutes something from "nature."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sidewalk Scarecrows

Rowan's preschool participated in a fun project where they created scarecrows to put up around downtown. She and a friend created "The Friendship Fairy," decked out in a blue dress, rainbow hair, and a Hawaiian lei. We found her scarecrow in town, and she was so excited to see her creation out and about!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Note to Self: Remember This

Rowan has been wearing her Winnie the Pooh Halloween costume around the house in the evenings in preparation for trick or treating. It is so cute to see these little ears poking up from behind the couch and wandering around the house. Here Pooh is resting after running around dancing. I LOVE having a little bear in the house.

Halloween Project: Slime Three Ways

Maybe I just never grew up, but I LOVE making homemade play doh/ gak/ flubber/ slime and all variations on this theme with children. There is such instant gratification in mixing a few ingredients into a bowl, playing with food coloring, and seeing it transform into a malleable concoction. To pass yesterday's rainy afternoon, I decided with Halloween coming, it was obviously time to make some slime. I found a new recipe on Pinterest-here's the one we made yesterday, followed by two other cool slime recipes. Rowan played with her slime at the kitchen table for about an hour (AWESOME) and when we put it in the jar she insisted we keep playing with it--so we played hide and seek the jar of slime. When you find the jar of slime hidden in the house you have to act surprised and grossed out. See?! Endless, cheap entertainment!

1. "Homemade Slime" (recipe fromOur Best Bites blog)


1 teaspoon borax powder
1 1/2 C water, divided
4 oz (1/2 C)  Elmer’s glue, clear or white
food coloring
Add borax powder to 1 cup of water and stir to dissolve.  Set aside.  Pour glue into a medium mixing bowl and add 1/2 C water. Add a few drops of food coloring until desired color is reached and then stir to mix glue solution until smooth.  Pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture and watch the solids start to form.  Stir for a few moments and then use your hands to gather the mass.  The mixture will be very soft and wet.  Keep kneading until it firms up and feels dry.  Discard excess liquid in bowl. The more you knead and play with the slime the firmer it will become.  Store in a ziplock bag or air tight container and the slime will keep indefinitely.

2. Cornstarch Goo

Another favorite slimy concoction we like to make is the cornstarch variety....it's simply cornstarch and water mixed together. All you do is pour a box of cornstarch into a mixing bowl, then add a cup of water give or take (depending on how dry it's seeming), and then a few drops of food coloring if you want it colored. Mix with your fingers until it becomes hard to mix. The best thing about cornstarch and water is that is both a liquid and a solid at the same time so when it's under pressure it will seem more solid (like when you roll it into a ball or whack it on the table) but as soon as you let it rest in your hands, it will become liquid again and drip off your hands back down into the bowl. It's pretty entrancing. One very important thing to note: DON'T EVER POUR IT DOWN YOUR SINK DRAIN...JUST THROW IT IN THE TRASH WHEN YOU'RE DONE. Here's a sort of awkward video of a man demonstrating this amazing goop to a weather lady on a morning news show if you want to see what it's like:

3. Glow in the Dark Slime

If you want to go the extra mile, you can make glow in the dark slime, which I'm sure will knock your kid's socks off. However, I don't know much about glow-in-the-dark paint so I can't vouch for it's safety, but it looks pretty fun. This one is on my to-do list.

Here's a link to instructions:

Domestic Charm blog

Happy slime time!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Weekend at Red Camp

Over Columbus Day weekend we went up to my mom and dad's cabin near Mount Katahdin. I always love going up there this time of year because the foliage is usually right around peak. We had an excellent weekend making bean hole beans on the lake shore, hiking in Baxter, and eating yummy fall foods by the cozy fire inside. On Monday morning when we woke up, there was fresh snow on Mount Katahdin, which was stunning with all of the colorful leaves in the foreground. Here are way too many pictures- I just couldn't help myself!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bookshelf: Favorite Cookbooks

Fall seems to be the time when our focus shifts from the outdoor adventures of summer to cozy indoor time, which I find often revolves around meal-making and sharing. Many rainy days when I'm at home with the girls we end up doing some sort of cooking project, so I've found myself checking out various kid-friendly cookbooks over the last few years. In addition, I've been trying to be better about making out a weekly menu before I go to the grocery store each week, which makes it so much easier to make dinner each night. I've been having fun trying to come up with new things each week, browsing through our cookbooks. I have several favorites that I want to share. These are especially good cookbooks for families, whether you're trying to cook a meal for the whole family or looking for a snack to make with your preschooler.

Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

My friend Emily gave us this as a baby gift- what a great idea! I LOVE this cookbook- it is chock-full of delicious, super-healthy recipes, and each recipe includes a blurb at the bottom of the page telling you how to serve or modify the recipe for your baby. There's lots of info on introducing food to babies, ideas for packing lunches and ways to include your kids in meal preparations. So far we've tried the following recipes and they've all been fabulous:

-Sweet Apple Walnut Kale-- a great fall recipe
-Curried Lentils and Cauliflower
-Bok Choy and Buckwheat Noodles in Seasoned Broth (Yakisoba)
-Santa Fe Black Bean Salad
-Creamy Orange Vanilla Pops

I also just noticed a recipe for Halloween Cookies with Yummy Yam frosting (naturally golden-orange colored for pumpkin-shaped cookies), which I want to try because if I can get Rowan to devour frosting made of yams, well, that would just be plain awesome...which brings me to my next favorite cookbook at the moment:

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

 I'm all for teaching your kids the value of veggies and nutritious eating from the start. Part of me doesn't like the idea of having to be stealthy and trick kids into eating what's good for them...BUT, I have a longstanding nightly battle with a picky-eater. Some nights I feel like a law degree might have been helpful to groom me for the level of negotiating that goes on regarding how many more bites of broccoli need to happen before someone is allowed to be excused. When Rowan was a baby and first eating food, she would eat every fruit and vegetable we gave her and we bragged to everyone how she was so open-minded when it came to food, "she even likes spicy things!" Then her tastes abruptly changed and we entered the White Period, where she only liked foods that were white and starchy and included some form of cheese. This is where I think vegetable trickery is genius...during those picky phases when you worry that the only vegetable-y thing your child is ingesting is ketchup. Jessica Seinfeld uses all kinds of vegetable and fruit purees hidden in kid's favorite recipes. If you have a picky eater, buy this.

Kinder Krunchies: Healthy Snack Recipes for Children
by Karen S. Jenkins

This is my favorite recipe book from my childhood. I don't know where my mom got this cookbook, but I loved how it had these simple black and white illustrations for the recipes, making it easy for kids to follow. I remember making hard-boiled egg sailboats and monster face toast and all kinds of other fun yet healthy recipes from this cookbook.

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters
by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple

I haven't actually made any of these recipes but we got this book out of the library last year and I loved the concept of it. There is a fairy tale to read aloud and then an accompanying recipe to go with the story, like Snow White's Baked Apples, or Jack's Magic Party Beans. Some of the fairy tales are retold with a twist, so don't expect all traditional tales. Mostly it's just a fun idea, and would provide a good story and cooking project for a rainy day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Craft Project: Halloween Lanterns

Happy October! We are in full-on fall decorating mode at our house. This weekend we got together with my parents for a fall feast and some crafty time. Before we went to their house I googled "Halloween crafts" and this cute lantern project jumped out at me. Here's the link:

Halloween Votive Lanterns

You'll need the following materials:
  • some old jars (baby food, or any size mason jar or recycled jar will do)
  • orange and white crepe paper or tissue paper
  • black construction paper
  • modge podge
  • paintbrushes
  • scissors
  • votive candles
Cut or tear crepe paper into small squares, and use modge podge and a paintbrush to adhere to the outside of your glass jar. Cut out pieces for the face from construction paper and use modge podge to affix to the jar as well. Let dry and place the votive candle inside. Turn out the lights and feel festive! More Halloween crafts and recipes are on their way!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Retta at 6 Months

Last week Retta turned 6 months old, which in some ways, it's just another month, but then again it seems momentous because we are already half way to a year. Her abilities seem to be increasing at an exponential rate. She just started waving this cute little wave this week, and has gotten pretty good at sitting up as well as army crawling everywhere, using her arms to drag her body along the floor. She is such a sweet little baby- incredibly easy going and smiley. And oh, that innocence, the gazes full of wonder, that unblemished quality that only someone so new to the world possesses, I wish I could hang onto it forever.

I remember this time last year, when I was only a few months into my pregnancy and I was experiencing those worries that come when you know your life is about to change in a major way. I was thinking, "Rowan is already more than we could've asked for, how will I find room in my heart to love this baby the same?" And yet, you do. Everyone told me I would, but part of me didn't believe them. I am so happy I was wrong- I am continually amazed by our capacity to love more and more, without diminishing the love we have for others. Retta won me over the second I saw her, and I'm every bit in love with her as I am with Rowan. If Rowan is special because she is my first child, Retta is equally special because she is likely my last. I am trying to savor every moment with this little baby because Rowan taught me how fast it goes. Screw the laundry and the dishes piled a mile high in the sink. Snuggle your babies while you can!!!