Going out to breakfast is one of our little thrills in life.
The boys love it and I get a break from the kitchen.
There are a couple places we rotate through…
Sunburst Cafe for their muffins and fresh fruit cups, Coffee House for it’s extraordinary coffee, Auntie Annie’s for it’s playground.
A favorite local haunt for us is Jim’s Flying Diner, open seasonally and open for breakfast and lunch 6 days a week and for dinner 2 days. The diner serves your regular greasy spoon menu, with a very cool bonus of eating on the back porch that faces a small airport landing strip.
On a beautiful day, you can see small planes take off and land.
We often take weekend guests to this airport / diner. They are impressed by the quaint, simple pairing. Pilots land their planes, walk into the diner for a quick meal, and take off again to their next destination.
Sometimes, we meet friends for breakfast in the midweek. Our loud, rambunctious group sits on the porch, filling the space with wild, scrape kneed toddlers, eating eggs, pancakes and toast…We sit next to the hummingbird feeders. The hummingbirds are somehow not too scared off by our energy.
Little K’s little class at the YMCA, Crazy Concoctions, plant marigolds for mother’s day. They talk about the seeds, they scoop soil, insert seed and water. That reminds me, it’s time to plant seeds for the veggie garden.
Of course, there are so many different ways to go about planting…right in the ground, starting inside then hardening off, buying saplings from a nursery, etc. We start seeds from inside. The best tutorial I’ve found for going about starting seeds indoors comes from Kitchen Encounter Chronicle. The tutorial instructs us to reuse egg cartons, and I like that.
We buys seeds, dig some dirt from the garden, fill a sand bucket, 1/2 dirt and 1/2 compost. Shovel this mixture into the egg cartons.
When the egg cartons are full of dirt, poke a little finger into each cup. Plant seeds according the seed package instructions. Cover lightly with soil and water gently. Keep in a sunny part of the house. I keep ours at the window sill in the kitchen where sun beams in most of the day. It’s also a spot close to water. I check on the egg cartons and sprinkle with water every day. It’s so much fun to watch them pop.
When the sprouts pop and have grown about 2 inches, we slowly introduce the plants to the outdoors by bringing them outside during the day for longer and longer periods of time, eventually leaving them out at night and transplanting into the garden bed.
We have planted beets, carrots, spinach, cucumber, pumpkins, broccoli, morning glories and sunflowers. The flowers are a new adventure.
“I like playing hide and seek with my mom, she makes good noodles. She looks pretty when she goes to meetings at school.” Little J
“I like reading books with my mom. She makes really good beans. I like going to mountains with mom. She looks pretty in her runninng shoes. And she runs, runs, runs.” Little K
The teachers organize a precious Mother’s Day Tea at the boys’ school. It is the event of the year for Co-op moms, or aunts, grandmothers, there was even a dad there this year.
The kids work all week preparing food, decorating the classroom and creating little gifts to give. Little J and K planted a flower in a little painted pot, made a great card with a drawing of mom on the front and wrote the cutest things inside, like, “my mom makes really good beans.”
This year there was a garden tea party theme. We were served peach herbal tea by the kids. We had garden pizza, made with pizza dough topped with veggie dip and raw veggies. There were blueberry muffins and cantaloupe slices. The dessert was a strawberry rhubarb tort. Everything was delicious.
Blowing out eggs for Easter has been a tradition in our family growing up.
Little J and K come from school with homework:
“It’s that time of year to prepare for the famous Nursery School egg trees. This tradition began at least 30 years ago. Each child will need 6-8 white eggs which have been blown out and thoroughly rinsed.”
To blow out the contents of the egg, puncture a small hole in each end of the egg. Make the hole at one end slightly larger. You can use the sink sprayer to remove the insides of the egg. A small drill bit might do the job, but traditionalists prefer a needle and blowing the contents out with a good healthy huff and puff. I’ve seen it done with a nasal aspirator. It helps if you insert a skewer or cake tester into one end to break up the yolk prior to blowing out the contents. After contents have been removed, rinse and blow out excess water to clean out the inside.
Talk about Messes…trying blowing out the insides of 24 eggs.
We started out with 24 anyway.
We used the needle and huff and puff approach, experimenting a little with the nasal aspirator.
6 broke, imploded, caved in, by the time we were done.
We have 18 blown and cleaned out eggs to bring to school for our little egg trees.
And enough eggs to mix with milk and cheese to make lots of mini chicken sausage, sweet potato and spinach quiches to put in the freezer for an easy dinner another night.
We melt crayon hearts and now have them mounted on small squares of spin art and ready for a Valentine exchange at Little J’s preschool.
We punch 4 holes in each corner of the paper, tie the crayon on by criss crossing yarn and write “heART,” and Little J’s name on each Valentine.
They are colorful, useful and we look forward to handing them out to all our friends.
Along with the box of Valentines, Little J will be delivering a full plate of heart shaped soft pretzels.
Half are salted with sesame seeds and half are sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. We get the idea from our friend P, who told us we could buy a Auntie Annie’s soft pretzel kit at BJ’s wholesale store. She uses them with her boys to make fun shapes and letters when cabin fever sets in. Also, a constant inspiration to our creative impulses, Artful Parent made some heart shaped soft pretzels last year. I thought it would be a perfect treat for the classroom on Valentine’s day and a healthy contrast to the traditional cake, cookies and candies that are typically handing out on such occasions.
This is a great recipe for soft pretzels from the best baker I know, if you don’t have a BJ’s around, or would rather make pretzels from scratch:
1 cup warm water
1 package of active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
3 – 3 1/2 cups flour
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon of water
course salt, sesame seeds, cinnamon, sugar
In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Stir to dissolve. Add sugar, butter, salt, whole egg and 2 cups of flour. Blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour to form stiff dough. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2- 24 hours. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Divide dough into 20 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20 inch rope. Shape into pretzel, (or heart, or letters or other fun shapes.) Place pretzels on cookie sheets. In small bowl, combine egg yolk and water. Brush pretzels with egg mixture. Sprinkle with salt and, or sesame seeds. or cinnamon and sugar. Let rise in warm place until doubled in size. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. If making cinnamon sugar pretzels, leave pretzels bare, bake, then brush with melted butter and dust with cinnamon sugar.
We love the idea of reconstituting crayons. Since last Christmas, this has been made our business. Microwaving crayons, using a crayon machine, and melting them in the oven. We are given bags of broken, used up crayons when friends catch wind. We have a lot of materials to say the least, so when I see this idea on Pinterest 3 months ago, I pin it as a start to our Valentine making plan.
The Pinterest junkie that I am, I also find an easy way to remove crayon wrappers from Time to Play. Jeez, you can find any answer on Pinterest, I swear. It’s awesome. So the kids fill the process table with water…it’s already filled with broken crayons. They soak for a few days, the instructions say 10 minutes, I know, but I forgot they were steeping. A friend and I sit at her kitchen counter and peel away while the kids play one evening. There are still some crayons that are impossible to peal, even after soaking for awhile. Thanks Friend H, for helping a sister out.
The kids have been showing a lot of interest in helping in the kitchen, especially when it comes to using my knives. We are at the store and find some colorful paring knives that appeal to the kids. We get out the cutting boards…I very carefully supervise and advise, while they try their little hands at cutting crayons. We cut up lots of crayons, keeping fingers as far away as possible from the sharp side of the knife.
Then, we divide them by color on a little white platter. We choose our colors carefully to go into a silicon heart molds.
Put crayons in silicon mold in the oven at 230 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Let them cool completely. Pop them out of the mold, and you have the most beautiful, simple, heart shapes crayons you’ve ever seen.
I draw a heart for Little J and ask him if he can draw a heart.
He does draw his first heart as one of his first tries at representational drawing.
He does this on a huge piece of paper that wraps a low table set up for scribbling and Valentines.
He writes little pretend letters inside the heart using a pencil and flashlight.
On the huge piece of paper, we set up a drawing robot that Big K and the boys build using the idea from Teacher Tom’s blog.
We print photos of the heart with the robot scribbles and use them when making Little J’s very first classmate Valentines.
We cut out hearts using brown paper bags from the grocery store.
We write a loving message and Little J’s name in silver Sharpie.
We modge podge paper bag hearts with crayon wrapper pieces.
This project takes about a month to complete given all the little parts.
It is set up at a table during this month so we can work on whenever the mood strikes.
We go to Little K’s 3 year check up at the Pediatrician’s office yesterday.
They always give us a great book to take home.
The doctor gives us one of our favorites, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
I work on a newsletter for my local MOMS Club and this month the theme was happiness.
I collected answers from MOMS and kids for the question, “what makes you happy?”
Little J says, “cookies and playing super hero songs on the guitar.”
He then proceeds to beg me to make cookies with him for the entire week. I meant to get around to it, but kept getting through the day without baking. We finally get around to it. It seems the universe is pointing us towards cookies.
I try a “healthy recipe” for chocolate chip cookies.
(best not to tell Big K, cause he won’t eat them. Hi Babe…disregard this post.)
Chocolate Chickpea Cookie
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 cup of packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and pureed
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ, or less
1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup raisins (optional)
Cream butter and sugar.
add eggs and vanilla, beat.
add pureed chickpeas, beat.
Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixer little by little.
Add chocolate chips and raisins, mix.
Small spoonfuls of dough on cookie sheet.
Bake 350 for about 8 minutes.
I know the secret to happiness is not sugary sweets.
I know what makes my babies super happy.
Time spent together. Paying attention to what they say and do and who they are.
It all takes balance, but time spent together baking a semi-healthy cookie,
just might be the secret to every mommy’s and little boy’s hearts.
There are moments when I am with the kids, that I don’t want or cannot have my camera on hand:
moments that are just too special to have a camera in the way
and moments like today, when we brave the freezing rain to sled in the slush.
Here are some pics of weather and some of our icy and watery foot and sled prints.
Part of me did NOT want to go outside! It was so cold and so wet, but we all needed to get out there for fresh air, big movements and big voices.
There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear…anonymous quote.
Here are the 5 BEST things about us going outside in the worst weather:
1. We slide down a big hill and laugh so hard, we don’t feel the cold or the many climbs up the snowy hill so much.
2. Glowing, pink cheeks and noses.
3. The wood stove feels so good when we go back inside and it doubles as a dryer for the wet snow suits, coats, mittens and socks.
4. We work up a hunger for lunch which helps the food taste better…
5. We get to make some mad hatter tea.
This is the first winter that Little K feels competent in the snow.
Dedicated to all those wonderful people who play outside with us, rain, wind or shine
BY SUSANA MOLINOLO
take it outside
breathing is different now with two children
I’m tired, often, so my body is unsure how to work
sleeping is about recovery rather than pleasure
yet, I have the privilege of often lying next to my little ones
breathing their breath into me
I feel their aliveness in my blood
their smiles in my hair
their tears in the tips of my fingers
so often each day their grimy fingers
reach for me, desperate for their mama
it is their pangs that make the bags under my eyes badges of honour
instead of getting mad when my babies don’t understand
my need for a single minute to pee
or my necessity to close my eyes, face down on the kitchen table
we bundle up, fleece upon fleece, mitts, kleenex in every pocket
and head outdoors
outside there is air, large trees, naked branches with rustling leaves,
crunching leaves underneath, bird songs, train thunders,
street car rumbles, honks, beeps, motos
outside there are others like me who love so much
who know that being an outdoor parent brings some inner peace, and calm
and fun swing rides, puppies, shadows, and big trucks,
and cackles of laughter from our babies,
and discovery of twigs, rocks, wet sand and the sun playing peek a boo
on gorgeous October days
Susana Molinolo is a Toronto-based parent.
You can find her at Mama’s Village.
Forts are a super important element to play in this house. Whether the boys are hiding from an erupting volcano or reading books, the play usually goes hand in hand with building some sort of awesome structure.
Here is a great read to go along with fort building:
Oliver Pig and the Best Fort Ever by Jean Van Leeuwen.
For Christmas, Auntie K puts together a fort kit for the kids, that includes the Oliver Pig book. I don’t know who’s enjoying it more, the kids or the adults. The first time we set up a fort using the kit, Little J spends the afternoon, snacking and stockpiling toys inside. That night he camps out under the huge sheet suspended by bungies and drapes across the living room with all his toy planes and trucks and remnant crumbs from all his snacking in there.
Fort Number 2, we set up in the boys’ room.
Auntie K gets her gift idea from Saltwater Kids. What I like the most about this diy fort kit, is that it’s open ended.
You can set it up anywhere, using almost anything to support the sheet. The kit comes with suction cups, clips, ropes, and the sheet has loops sewn to each corner and one loop in the center. The possibilities are endless and I have a sneaky suspicion that we’ll be using this fort endlessly.