Thursday, May 31, 2007

The roses are here!

Head wounds and little brothers.

My sweet little guy. Doing some spunky "fancy dance" this afternoon in what appeared to be plenty of open space and he tripped and blammo. Forehead into the corner of his little wood chair.

As I looked at it right after he hit I could actually see blood bubbling out of the wound and there was so much of it I couldn't even see how bad it was. After carrying him into the kitchen and putting some pressure with a clean white cloth for a little bit, I could see it more clearly. Big purple bruise, an egg shaped lump, and a "hole" tear right in the middle of his forehead. Ouch.

During the hoopla of the shrieking and blood spurting, G decided to unlock the back door (3 locks), wander into the yard, and sit in the wagon. I am a very lucky mama that he didn't go any further and just hung out there until I realized the back door was open and he was gone (only minutes at most, but still). "Too roud mama" he said to me when I reached him ... yes, honey, too loud.

After cleaning up A's head I put on a big honkin' (his words, not mine) bandage. G wanted one too - although he got a smaller model. After that, G spent a lot of time patting his big brother, asking if he was ok, making him drink water, and giving him kisses. Sweet boys.

Organizing spaces...

I've been feeling a little burned out for the past few weeks. Intense 2 year old, too much work to do (biz work, volunteer work, life work), husband having school work a lot - that I just have been feeling like I am dragging. I decided to re-organize some of my creative space to see if that will help rid me of the cobwebs (that and about 18 cups of iced green tea per day).
I don't feel particularly more motivated or anything, but at least everything seems more balanced and coordinated a bit. It only took about 1 minute for the ribbons to become unwound and wrapped around the entire upstairs as the boys ran excitedly by, and G took it upon himself to individually unravel every spool of vintage thread in the wire basket right after I had carefully organized them, but otherwise it went well. It is about the process, right, anyway? :)
And all of the things in progress or made as a first sample "pattern" on my board made me feel like I'm not slacking off as much in this area and that I have made *some* progress!

Making Butter...

We read the book "Let's Make Butter" this week, and A wanted to try to make his own. We started by skimming the cream off of whole milk and putting it in a clean glass jar.

Then you do the shake shake shake for a ridiculously long time. A and I would trade back and forth as our arms would tire, and after a while, the little globules of butter started to separate.

A was thrilled at the end when the butter clumped. We drained it, rinsed several times, and he had some on a piece of wheat bread. Yum!

Monday, May 28, 2007

WIsconsin Family Farm.

This weekend we were able to visit a farm in an absolutely gorgeous area of south central Wisconsin. This farm produces natural pasture raised cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys, in addition to some produce, eggs and sheep for wool. The owner was a very smart and kind person, who took over 2 hours of his busy day to show us around, talk about his practices (sustainable agriculture, pasture/grass fed animals, natural processes, small farms, etc.) and animals. The rolling open hills on one side were perfect for the happy cows and frolicking pigs. The other side had steep hills which we climbed to visit a mama jersey with her 4 day old calf, and a small herd of highland sheep who ran in pack formation from tree to tree if we so much as LOOKED at them.
A few bucks peered at us and rubbed their curly horns on the gate as we passed.
We also visited a room filled with warming lamps and several areas with newly hatched chicks and young turkeys. The boys loved picking them up and how they all ran and jumped on each others heads to shove themselves into the tightest corner if we even walked in their direction.

And the highlight of the trip was that the kind farmer let the boys play in the parked skid steer for a long while as we chatted. I was particularly happy that we had A put on his big rubber gloves (you can see them in his pic below)...they saved him from being zapped when he grabbed an electrified fence just as his dad forgot to watch for that. Whew. Gotta love kid sized gardening gloves. Perfect for farmwork, skidsteer "driving" and insulation.

We had a wonderful time, enjoyed the spectacular scenery and fresh air filled only with the sounds of the birds and a chicken or sheep holler here and there, and appreciated the work, knowledge and dedication it takes to be a small farmer - you are appreciated. And to the most gentle farm dog ever - thanks for being so sweet to my boys. More flickr pix...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Frog Prince.

The Brothers Grimm story re-told by Kathy-Jo Wargin, illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert

This is another book that I got for "me", but that the boys both enjoy. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. Lush, rich, detailed, flowing, intense - just the costume detail alone is - wow. The story follows a fairly traditional version of the story, and is detailed enough for the elementary age kids, but also quick enough for the younger set.

Just a note: It is the more traditional telling where she throws the frog at the wall which is when he turns into the prince ... but it is easy to work around that for those that are not comfortable with frog-thwacking in a story, as it is just 1 sentence of the book. :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Little Prince.

A wanted to make a crown (after reading The Frog Prince), and he didn't really want to take the time to color or decorate it. He quickly scribble scribble scribbled, pulled his cape over his head, put on the crown, and he was off!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Straw Necklaces - Easy Crafts Can Be Fun Too!

We are always looking for quick craft ideas. We enjoy doing more of the formal waldorf'ish crafts to go along with paths of interest, but we also just like those quick and easy yet entertaining with a little immediate satisfaction crafts. And, some days it is nice to just pull out something quick and easy and not have all the prep work. My boys are 4 & 2, so many times the prep takes longer than the craft! :) Today they wanted something to do and were not happy with how windy it is outside (and hot), so we dug through some drawers and bins and came up with a fun project - straw necklaces.

First cut up straws (we love recycling them into crafts) into small sections. Next, get a bright ribbon or yarn and cut it to a good length that will tie and fit over head. On one end of the string put a little piece of tape to make it more like a shoe string. On the other end tie a few knots so the straws don't slip off the other end.

Put it in the middle of the floor and let them thread away.

When done, just tie a knot and put it on!

Our garden is beginning to look alive.

After all of our hard work the boys are finally starting to see the fruit of their labor. Flowers are blooming, teeny little blueberries are forming, corn and beans are sprouting into what looks more like a plant than a weed (finally), and our lilac bushes and weigela's are in full bloom. Of course 3 days solid of 20-30mph winds means they don't want to be out enjoying it for too long at a time right now, but we still do...enjoy it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fabric Scraps Become Fun Costumes!

I found some cool remnants last week which I bought to make more cloth napkins. There just happened to be 2 pieces of a larger pattern, and 2 strip pieces of the other. The boys found them this week, and immediately claimed them for costumes. First the boys wore them as a sort of toga super hero (super bunnies?!). The big pieces wrapped around bodies, strips became belts and armbands, and silks became capes.

We then proceeded to sumo wrestlers, and the large fabric became the large muwashi belt held on with the strip piece. We read a bit about sumo, and the boys created a dohyƍ circle with chalk, bowed, bent, hands on knees, stomped, clapped, and bowed some more. Of course we didn't wrestle, but it was still fun and interesting!

Of course just wearing their new costumes with capes and running full speed in circles without stopping for 20 minutes was fun too.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Indiana weekend.

We went to Indiana for the kids to visit Oma & Opa this weekend.

On Saturday it was sunny and in the 80's, so we went to a beach on Lake Michigan.

A got to go into the water (waded in up to his waist!), walk with his dad and uncle, and run in the sand.
It was warm enough that people were actually in the water, although I am sure the water itself is still pretty frigid.
I took all of these beach pictures (and those in flikr) from the car. G fell asleep just before we got there, so we let him sleep and I waited with him.
Oma & Opa live a short drive from the lake. It goes from small town to country in no time flat.

Barns in Indiana are a bit different in color and construction than those in my area.
A big highlight of the weekend was the bouncy house in the back yard.
G almost forgot he was miserably allergic to something in the neighborhood, and jumped a bit too.
On our drive home we stopped in Rockford, IL for a visit to the Discovery Center Children's Museum. They loved it there. The science and body areas were great. They piloted planes, shot air from a cannon to displace things, arranged tubes over high power air vents to get balls to float in mid-air, hung from tension bars to gauge strength, sat in a tv studio and acted as news anchors, and then played outside in the biggest park ever and visited some goats, chicks, ducklings, and a freaked out potbellied pig! Of course I didn't want to carry my camera through the museum , so I could only take pix from my phone so I only have one that was decent enough to post!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Summer is coming...iced tea for warm days.

Warmer weather and sunny days make me think of iced tea. We made a pitcher today, and it was so good I had to post about it.

Here is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to make it. A actually makes it for me (of course I pour the hot water).Pick 3-5 tea bags. I usually use 3 green tea, and then 1-2 herbal bags (peppermint, peach, jasmine, etc.). If you want the tea to have more of a tea color (green tea is pale), add a bag of black tea. You can of course use loose teas. A likes to open the packets and then twist all the strings together so they are easier to pull out at the end.

Put the tea bags into a pitcher. I use a 2-liter size since it fits into the fridge. Heat water just to a boil. Pour it over the tea, filling pitcher 3/4 full. I like to use raw honey to sweeten. Sweeten to taste when still warm so honey dissolves --- stir. Depending upon what is growing in the garden the boys also collect lemon balm or mint leaves - we add 4-8 leaves per pitcher for added flavor. Let cool. Squeeze out tea bags, remove bags & herbs, and discard.

A nice way to make it even more delicious - Grind up a few tablespoons of some crystallized ginger with a mortar & pestle (kids LOVE to grind). Lightly rim a glass with some honey. Dip it into ginger powder. It gives it an extra flavor and is quite amazing. I have seen people licking all the way around the rim of the glass! :)

In general, the boys help with about everything that we make in the kitchen. They love helping, the focus and attention to detail are great, and they are so proud when they remember the process, the ingredient and the quantities!

Signs of a healthy yard.

Another sign of a healthy, pesticide-free lawn. This toad loves our little mulched corner. The boys named him Henry.

Baking day - kids and cupcakes.

Yesterday was our "baking day". I try to have 1 kid baking project per week (not including our bread baking). Sometimes the baking is with both boys (eek!!!), sometimes A gets his own time during G's nap. After the last few total chaos measuring attempts and flour fiasco's with overly excited boys, I decided to do an organic vanilla cake mix as the base this time. G carried the box around all day, but was overly fussy from allergies bugging him, so we waited for naptime.

A measured oil and milk, cracked eggs, and stirred. He decided he wanted green cupcakes this time, so he added a little bit of food coloring paste to the mix. Well, maybe more than a little bit. While they baked we made our organic cream cheese icing...A whipped and stirred it to a nice creamy blob. The cupcakes came out a lovely grass green, and with the white icing they look very springy. We had to leave 1/2 of them without any icing, of course, as A doesn't like much sweet stuff.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wisconsin travel...

Travel Green Wisconsin
"Travel Green Wisconsin is a voluntary, affordable program that reviews, certifies and recognizes tourism businesses that have made a commitment to continuously improve their operations in order to reduce their environmental and social impact. This program helps businesses evaluate their operations, set goals and take specific actions towards environmental, social and economic sustainability."

They have a business directory on their site which includes summaries of what each business has done to qualify for the "green" rating. Looks like a great resource when looking for vacation lodging...I was happy to see a few of our favorites are on the list!

Looking for something on a more international level? Visit Sustainable Travel International.

More pictures of the botanical garden.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Objects that inspire playful puttering.

Days like today I am reminded that random simple things can be the most entertaining for the boys. Here are a few things they played with today:

Wooden beads and lacing string. G likes to thread beads. A likes to use them to make things, count, push them into dough or sand to find as treasure...

Rocks in a painted box. A also does "math" with his rocks. He lines them up on the carpet in 2's, 3's or 4's, and adds, subtracts, and counts. G loves to count we have more than one box of rocks! They also work great on the wooden conveyor belt that attaches to their tractor.

Shells (great for pushing into dough or hiding in sand box), wooden bowls, and a mirror. A uses all of the shells to make "tide pools" in the sandbox. The mirror is good for peeking around corners when playing hide & seek!

A tray and a tea set. We have tea parties and sell "lemonade" to each other several times a week. Also good for pouring (and pouring and pouring and pouring).

Today we also had out a sake set with a tiny pitcher and 2 small cups, and A used a child-sized baster to suck water out of the pitcher to fill the cups - mmmmm tasty.

We had a string tied across their shop, and they hung playsilks up to dry using wooden ladybug clothespins. A later found a deck of cards and hung up the face cards along the length of the clothesline.

Of course no day is complete without pulling out the stationery, pencils, pencil sharpener and eraser for writing letters to both visible and invisible friends.

Some days they are so intense and need even more physically intense activities or cannot slow down long enough to focus on small details. Some days though, they get to a point where they like to putter and can focus on their own games and activities - and that is when pulling out a box of random goodies can be the most fun.