Monday, June 29, 2009

Choose Better Body Care Products

Thought this was a good article from the Environmental Working Group, especially the "How To Read a Label" section.


I need to go through my bathroom cabinet and look at everything.  I'm usually pretty good about what I buy, but sometimes I get caught up in the advertising and end up with something that I don't need or want.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekend

Matt's Uncle Jimmy passed away yesterday, so Matt is on a last minute trip to Texas this weekend.  We were supposed to be spending the weekend in the mountains with out of town friends, but I opted to stay home since Matt couldn't be there.  We'll get to see our friends later this week.

A weekend with nothing to do is pretty nice.  There was a big storm last evening so I let the kids watch The Incredible Journey (the original 60's version) on On Demand.  Our babysitter has the kids out this afternoon leaving me home alone (poor me!).  I think I'll take the kids to the pool tonight as long as it doesn't rain.  Hopefully they will be in bed early, and I can have another leisurely night to myself which, for me, means watching a movie while crocheting or getting into bed and reading.

Tomorrow we are going to go over to cohousing for brunch.  We joined the community meal rotation for the summer.  The kids really miss everyone and will be excited to be back for a meal.  Matt will be back early afternoon, and I will put him to work grilling some veggies for dinner.  Remind me to post that recipe.  It is super yummy!

Me with Uncle Jimmy
Matt and Uncle Jimmy

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Swimming Lessons (There Will Be Bragging)

Because isn't it a mom's job to brag about her kids?  And where is there a better place to brag than on one's blog?  Blogs are pretty egocentric, no?

Kate and Jack started back to swim lessons about a month ago after taking a year long hiatus (from lessons, not from swimming).  We started in a new program and are very happy with the instructors.  At the end of last session both Kate and Jack tested into the next level.  Jack will be in Beginner II and Kate will be in Advanced Beginner.  Okay, now the brag.  Kate's coach wrote on her progress report that "her technique is astonishing."  Not your normal "what a great kid" and "doing so well," is it?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Strawberry Avocado Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads, and we have had it several times with all our strawberries.  I served it with baked fish, ham steak, or quiche and made roasted rosemary potatoes on the side.  I also used baby greens that I picked to thin out my lettuce planting.



Strawberry Avocado Salad

1 cup sliced strawberries (or more!)
1 avocado, diced
2 cups torn salad greens
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Toss in bowl and drizzle with following dressing.

3-4 T honey
2T olive oil
1T cider vinegar
1T lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Giveaways

My blog email has been totally out of control and backed up.  I thought I was only a few months behind, but I had emails that I hadn't read dating back to October!  Coincides with when we purchased our new house and started moving.  I'm STILL recovering from the move over 6 months later!

Matt took the kids camping this weekend for Father's Day, so I used my solo time at home to catch up on blog emails.  I decided anything older than Jan 1st was just being deleted (sorry if I never responded to your email... just email me now, and I should respond!) I'm hoping to start having some giveaways again that are really good and should continue throughout the summer.

Speaking of giveaways, Colorado Mama is doing a giveaway on her blog.  I've been following her blog since I started mine because we have so much in common - Colorado, kids, running, etc.  I think she was one of the originals on my blog roll.  Go check out her giveaway!

Strawberry Picking

Last week Ashlee and I took the kids strawberry picking at Berry Patch Farms.  It was so much fun.  I couldn't stop telling Ashlee how much fun I was having.  The kids did great picking (and mostly eating) strawberries.  It is an organic farm, so we could just pick and eat strawberries in the field.  I picked two flats worth and have kept busy using them up this week.  I'll have to share some of the recipes I've been using.

Jack anxiously waiting for the tractor
Kate munching a berry she just picked
Ashlee and kids picking
Kate and Bode debating the ripeness of the berries
Me with the kids (Jack is over it)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Busy Week

We had a busy but fun week.  So much I want to blog about but just not enough time in the day.  I keep meaning to get up extra early to get stuff done, but the sleep just feels too good!  Our week included Ito's visit (Matt's dad), strawberry picking, swim lessons, new brakes, and my second pottery class.  I was supposed to have my last quilting class, but my babysitter cancelled 10 minutes before she was supposed to be here.  I literally cried to the lady at the quilt store when I called to tell her I wouldn't be there.  Maybe a bit of an over reaction to missing a quilt class, but I was pretty disappointed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Locavore Pledge

Have you seen this?  I think it might be old, and I'm just a little slow lately.  Can't say that I always follow it, but I like that it gives some order for assessing all the products out there.  I'd like to give credit but I'm not sure where it originated.

If not from backyard, then locally produced.

If not locally produced, then organic.

If not organic, then family farm.

If not family farm, then local business.

If not local business, then fair trade.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Night Away

I escaped up into the mountains yesterday afternoon without kids or husband. It is under the guise of needing to get some work done, but I really needed some quiet time. (Jack's antics continued through the week... another highlight was when he unrolled 3/4 of a roll of toilet paper into a poopy potty. I attempted to have him clean it up, but the chore gagged him and he puked all over the bathroom floor. I'm sure I'll laugh at it someday. And I shouldn't let Kate off too easy. This week she has insisted on wearing bikini tops under her clothes. Apparently she needs to wear a bra. *roll eyes*) After getting some work done last night, I went to bed early, slept soundly, woke at a decent hour, and read a little in bed. I just finished breakfast outside to the sound of a full, rushing creek and a view of wild flowers. I'll get a few things done while breakfast digests then plan to take a long run (although at 10,000 feet long runs aren't always fun... or very long!). I'll head home later this afternoon in time to greet my father-in-law who is coming to visit. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pottery Class

Did I mention that in addition to my quilt class (which is only 2 sessions), I am also taking a pottery class?  The kind where you use a wheel.  Pretty fun.  After the first class I have a new appreciation for the pottery I see in art stores.  I was definitely one of the slower ones in the class to catch on (although to my benefit, I believe that many of the other students have experience.  Probably definitely the girl who ended the class making a fancy vase), but by the end I was getting the hang of it and even finished a little pot sorta thing.  I wish I had some photos to share, but I doubt my camera is going to any of the classes.  Much to messy.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Curious Jack

Whew!  Jack has been a little too curious for me the last few days.  

The other night he was out and about exploring in the yard.  When he came inside, he proudly announced that he had picked and eaten a whole mushroom (we usually lavious praise on our kids for trying new foods!).  I am a normally calm mother, but I admit I felt more than a wee bit of panic.  Jack took us over to the neighbor's yard and pointed out the mushrooms he had sampled growing around a tree stump.  We spent the next hour online trying to determine if the mushroom was safe to eat.  I certainly know a lot more about mushrooms than I did 24 hours ago (I'm actually a bit intrigued by wild mushroom picking but probably won't take up the new hobby quite yet), and we finally identified the mushroom as being an Inky Cap.  It is edible but isn't safe when combined with alcohol, so no nightcap for Jack that night.

The next morning I took the kids to an art class at the local art museum.  After class we were walking out and admiring the artwork displayed on the walls.  Kate was pointing out some detail when suddenly lights started flashing and an alarm wailed.  I looked up to see Jack quickly pulling his hand off the fire alarm.  Lovely.  The whole museum had to be evacuated, and I had to deal with a very unpleasant secretary.

Jack is a bit traumatized by both ordeals.  He keeps justifying the mushroom eating by telling me that the grocery store picks them from that location.  He also keeps asking, "What if I forget not to touch the fire alarm?" I've assured him that he won't forget.  I would like to think that poor Jack may not touch anything unknown ever again, but I know he will... I just hope it isn't today.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Clean-Up Hike

We were up in the mountains this weekend for a meeting that Matt needed to attend.  Fairly uneventful in a good way.  I slept in, Matt and Kate took Nina to the dog park (she loves the dog park and is usually the fastest dog there... a good thing since she is also usually the smallest. We weighed her this weekend, and she is coming in at a feisty 8lbs!), and our friend Greg and his two dogs Moose and Wilson came over for breakfast Sunday morning.  It was a pretty rich breakfast so we decided to follow it up with a little hike. (In the photo is Greg, Wilson, Moose, Jack, Kate, Matt and Nina Sprinkles)
It is amazing how much trash accumulates on trails after a winter of snow, so we turned our hike into a trash pick-up.  Picked up two full grocery store bags, but could have picked up many more.  I tried to be very non-judgemental as I picked up litter thinking that more than once a receipt or candy wrapper has probably blown out of my car or my pocket without my realizing it, but by the end I was pretty annoyed at how much trash was on this short trail.  A secondary benefit of the trash pick-up was that it kept the kids distracted so we had less whining and complaining.  Always a good thing.

Believe it or not, it SNOWED on our hike.  Just a few flakes while hiking, but some decent flurries once we were back inside.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Summer Road Trip

I had planned to take the kids to Spanish immersion school in Mexico this summer for a few weeks, but we decided to not to go several months ago for various reasons (swine flu was NOT one of the reasons!).  I was actually a bit bummed because I was really looking forward to the adventure.  I have been feeling like I need a bit more adventure.

So what am I doing to replace it?  Our Midwest Road Trip Adventure!

Here's the plan:
  • Drive from home to North Platte, Nebraska (my mom will join us for the first part of the trip) to visit relatives for a night.
  • Visit Gothenburg, Nebraska where my maternal grandparents are buried and then move on to Omaha to visit more relatives
  • Make the long haul across the rest of Nebraska and all the way across Iowa to Davenport, Iowa to see my grandma and aunt.  Stay there for a couple of days.  Leave my mom there.
  • Drive up to Minnesota.  Maybe camp a night or two (maybe at a state park?) before descending on friends in the Twin Cities.
  • Matt will meet us in Minnesota, and we'll head west across Minnesota and through South Dakota.  Planning on camping and seeing Mt. Rushmore, Badlands National Park, etc.
The whole trip should take about 2 weeks.   Goals for the trip?  See relatives that I haven't seen in years; visit some early childhood places (I spent my early years in Davenport); practice some photography (I love Midwest fields and sunsets/sunrises); catch-up with good friends and kids; see some new sites, earn another Junior Ranger Badge with the kids; not lose my mind or my cool after 2 weeks of traveling with kids!

Quilting Class

Did I mention that I am taking a beginner's quilting class? A few months ago I went into a local quilting store for fabric, browsed their list of classes, and decided that I should take a class since my last formal sewing instruction was 25 years ago (7th grade home ec class).  Everything since then has been self-taught (not counting what you've taught me, Mom!).  The first class was this last week.  I can't say that I learned anything profound, but it was nice to get some confirmation on what I am doing right and learn some techniques for the things I am doing not-quite-so-right or haven't been confident enough to try.  We are working on a small, table topper quilt for the class.  Although it isn't quite my decorating style, I really like the fabrics I picked out and it is still fun to make.  I am looking forward to the binding and machine quilting during the next class.  Hoping to pick up some tips, because I know I am not doing it quite right.  I need to add the edging pieces and cut my binding pieces before the next class.  I'll keep you updated on the status.
I am also in the market for a new sewing machine.  My current machine is 15+ years old.  That is fine in itself, but I can't find bobbins to fit!  Three bobbins just isn't making the cut.  I am going to visit a few local sewing shops to try out some different brands.  Bernina, Janome, and Viking are the favorites right now.

Friday, June 05, 2009

View from the Hammock

We have 3 big ol' Blue Spruces in our backyard, and two of them are perfectly positioned for a hammock.  Up until now the space has been empty, but Matt surprised me by filling it in last weekend.  I forsee much reading, giggling and napping in this spot.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Biker - Part II

Someone is SO proud of himself!  All he has wanted to do all day is practice.  He can even get himself started now, but we are still working on the braking.  Grass and dragging Crocs are working for right now.

ps - remember bike from last year when Kate learned to ride?  Trying to decide if we should move Kate up to a bigger bike or get Jack a different one. 

Another New Biker

As of this afternoon, Jack can officially ride a bike!  He is very proud of himself, and I'll take some photos and video this evening when we show Matt how well he is doing.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Junior Rangers

Remember last year when I mentioned that I was going to see Richard Louv the author of Last Child in the Woods speak?  I am pretty sure that I never got around to blogging about the actual event, but it was very inspiring and enjoyable.  During the presentation, the park service honored a little girl that was about 10 years old and had visited EVERY national park and monument in the country.  It was pretty impressive, and I immediately decided that I wanted my children to see as many of our national parks and monuments as possible.  

This little girl had also completed every available Junior Ranger program.
  This was the first that I had heard of the program, but it is really pretty fun.  Kate and Jack did their first Junior Ranger program at Arches.  We picked up the workbook, and they each had to complete 4 activities in the book.  The activities for 4-6 year olds were pretty simple... connect the dots, "x" off things in the picture that you are not supposed to do in the national park, draw
 a picture of something you saw in the park, etc.  The kids turned in their books and did a question/answer session with one of the rangers, said a pledge, and got their badges.

We are hoping to co
mplete a few other Junior Ranger programs this summer including ones at Great Sand Dunes National Park (so close to us that it is embarrassing that we haven't been there yet!) and at Bandlands National Park in South Dakota (on our midwest roadtrip).

Monday, June 01, 2009

Arches National Park

Part of our annual trip to Moab is a visit to Arches National Park.  The kids love seeing all the arches and most of the hikes are manageable for preschoolers.  This year we showed my parents some of the arches we had seen previously like North and South Window Arches, Delicate Arch and Sand Dune Arch (the kids favorite), and we also saw a few that we didn't get to in the past years like Skyline Arch and Landscape Arch.  Next year I want to explore nearby Canyonlands National Park.
My parents with Skyline Arch
The hike back from Skyline Arch

Playing around Sand Dune Arch



The family with Landscape Arch

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home this weekend.  It was a great trip, but it is good to be home.  I have a long to do list this week after being gone...

- Dentist appointment this morning
- Take Nina to the groomer
- Reschedule eye doctor appointment
- Attend quilt class (I'm so excited to go!)
- Start researching new sewing machines
- Make yogurt
- Make banana bread
- Go to grocery store
- Make some beans & quinoa to have in the fridge (wait until I tell you about the beans!)
- Mix up some 5-min-a-day bread
- Find someone to haul away all the yard trimmings that we cut yesterday
- Schedule some babysitters for mommy time (since preschool is out!)
- Sign up for Apple computer classes (we made the switch from PC to Apple and I'm lost!)
- Call & catch-up with friends
- Mail off a couple packages at the post office
- Download and post photos from Moab trip
- Plan next big trip (my midwest road trip with the kids!)