Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Not wanting to waste paint when I knew there were other options, I instead poured in a bunch of conditioner that I had and wasn't using because I didn't like it. As is often the case, after doing this, I saw that another thrifty mom blogger had done something similar--maybe with lotion? I can't find it now.
We added another twist by making it a color mixing activity. First, Ninna played with it with just the conditioner:Then we added some blue food coloring, and she mashed and mashed until it was evenly distributed:And after playing with that for awhile, we added red food coloring: And she mashed and mashed again to get purple, of which I forgot to take a photo. This was a big hit, and so easy. You really don't need paint at all. You can use any kind of thick substance with food coloring added for color mixing. I could even see adding glitter or glitter glue to make it fancy.
Oh...and guess what? The clothesline has so far been a success for 24 hours! Ninna immediately strolled over to it first thing in the morning, before even snuggling on the couch, and that's a rarity. She pulled her clothes off the line and got herself undressed. Bojey, being the great imitator at this age, joined in immediately. They neatly hung their jammies up for tonight. Ninna ended up playing clothesline with it using her doll clothes for 45 minutes this evening, hanging and folding multiple loads. There's a new set of clothes hanging for them for tomorrow. I'm hoping to keep it in use for at least another 24 hours ;).
Sunday, July 25, 2010
It seems that we have a hard time getting going in the morning around here. I know there are lots of reasons for this (a tired mama who takes some time to feel the effects of her caffeine being one of them). I find that while I want the morning to be one of the nicest parts of the day, that desire seems to be foiled regularly while I am struggling to get people dressed. I've been trying to make the difficult things "fun" in addition to making them ritualized in an effort to smooth over some of these rough spots.
When I spotted a painted clothesline on Ohdeedoh some time ago, I immediately know we needed one. I'd link to it, but I can't seem to find it. The original had knobs or hooks instead of clothespins, and I'm not sure how they explained its purpose, but it was relatively similar to what I've done here.
Since I just made it today, tonight was our first time using it. The chicks chose outfits and we hung them on the line. Tomorrow morning they'll change into those outfits (neatly waiting for them), and they'll put their jammies up where they'll be waiting for bedtime. I hope it works!
I didn't take a ton of in-process photos, but I did take a few. Here's how to do it:
1. Draw a pencil outline of your clothesline.
2. Paint over it, doing a neater and better job than I. I never realized how hard it is to paint at that angle! I suddenly have a huge amount of respect for mural painters. And feel free to laugh at my bird; I realize it has the body of a sparrow and the beak of a puffin. Apparently the chicks did not see the limitations of my painting ability as Ninna asked me to paint a squirrel on the other post so the bird can have a friend.
3. Figure out a spacing for your clothespins so the clothes on the top line won't be hanging over the clothes on the bottom line. Mark the points on the wall. Don't forget that you want the clothespins to be placed logically where they'd be if they were really holding something on the line. If you notice, I didn't do that with the first one, on the bottom far left. It's not really in the right spot, but I'm too lazy to fix it.
4. Drill holes and, if necessary, insert wall anchors (I did).
5. Remove half of the wood from each clothespin, leaving the spring attached to one side. Drill a hole slightly smaller than your screws through the top of each clothespin half (the one with the spring).
6. Screw them all into the wall, tightly enough that they won't move but not so tightly that you crush and split the clothespin (like I did twice).
7. Using a flat head screwdriver, pull open the metal part below the spring on one of the clothespins so it gives you some space to reinsert the other half of the wood.8. Replace the wood and repeat with your other clothespins.
9. Step back and admire your work!
I'm really so excited about this. I can also see it being used in imaginative play--it would be perfect for playing house. Now let's hope that it brings me brighter mornings...
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Thankfully, there's a ton to do in Michigan with kids. We're slowly building up traditions for this trip, and I have to say that there are so many things we want to do when we're there that we can't possibly fit them all in. That sounds like a vacation destination to me, don't you think?
Here are some of the adventures I actually remembered to photograph:
**The Michigan State University Tollgate Gardens, part of the MSU extension program. This is truly a hidden gem. Or maybe it's not hidden at all, and I was just totally oblivious for the 24 years that I lived in Michigan. Both are possible. Whatever the case, this is a really lovely place for kids. The grounds itself actually features farm animals, barns, a large pond, and more, but I only photographed the part specifically designated as the children's gardens.
One of the exciting features is the toll house:
As Ninna demonstrates, kids can go inside and operate the barrier for the toll bridge:
There's a tiny pond with fish and frogs, like this gorgeous guy:
This sign greets visitors to the garden. Could there be a more perfect way to welcome children? I want this plastered all over our house:
And look! They planted "The Pizza Garden" from Sharon Lovejoy's Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children!
**The Detroit Zoo. As far as zoos go, this is one is decent. I'm always wishy-washy about zoos--the whole caged wild animal thing, you know--but I always, always end up going to them anyway. The Detroit Zoo has a pretty good variety of wild animals, a farm animal exhibit, and several buildings with reptiles, amphibians, birds, and a rainforest exhibit. There are also lots of other things to do, like sit on these frog fountains that my chicks have ADORED the past two summers.
Or, you can be like Bojey and try to climb into the flamingo habitat:
Most importantly, during my entire childhood The Detroit Zoo had THE BEST COMMERCIAL EVER. If you're from Michigan and were born between the 60's and the 80's, I know you have this commercial memorized. If you're not, behold the awesomeness and wish you were.
**Kensington Park. As a child I visited this park many times, but this was my first visit with the chicks. It's a huge county park with so much to do, you couldn't possibly do it all in one day or even two--there's a lake with a sand beach for swimming, a waterpark, trails galore, a farm, and too much more for me to remember. We visited the farm and went to the beach, but I'm not quite talented enough to manage a four year old, a two year old, and an expensive camera in the presence of sand and water, so I've only got photos of the farm.
Off to the side of the farm proper is the children's section. There's a frame house that encourages climbing, with a wraparound bench, open windows with wide ledges, and more:
And perhaps my favorite part, a massive field of corn with a trail smashed down for the kids to explore.
Ninna and my best friend's daughter with their heads poking up over the corn. What could be more fun?I sometimes need a break from photo-taking (or I forget my camera, or Bojey wants me to carry her nonstop, or my battery needs charging...), so I have nothing to show for the following places, also on our favorite destination list:
**Greenfield Village. This gathering of historic buildings, complete with dressed-to-the-nines employees playing the part, has so much to offer. At four and two years old, the chicks were primarily interested in the riding the historic train and carousel, but there is so much more for them to do as they get older. It sounds kind of dorky, but I promise it's not. Or maybe it is; I probably wouldn't know the difference.
**The Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop. I know--it doesn't sound like a vacation destination. But it is for me. Holy mother of toy stores--this place is amazing. Each year the chickies and I have to visit. It's like a compulsion.
The list of things we didn't have time for is miles longer than the list of things we did do, so I know we'll continue to have variety on our Michigan trips. But we went on enough fun outings to truly make it feel like a vacation.
Oh, and I drank Vernors. Lots and lots of Vernors.
How are you spending your summer travels?
Monday, July 19, 2010
I know it may seem hard to believe, but I do occasionally leave the house without my chicks. One of my child-free destinations is a bi-annual clothing swap in which I've participated since moving to Montreal. Twice a year--once in November, and once in June, I get together with a group of women, some of whom have been participating for close to fifteen years, to trade clothing we're no longer using.
Each woman shows up with a stack of clothes; some just bring a few things, and some bring two huge trash bags full. We take turns showing our wares and distributing them around the room to whoever lays claim. Women's clothing constitutes the majority of what is shared, but there is also usually some men's clothing, children's clothing, jewelry, shoes, hats, and other accessories.
Being poor and frugal, I jumped at the chance to go to my first clothing swap and made sure to firmly plant myself in the group as a continuing participant; there's no way I'm going to miss out on a room full of free clothes! The women are generally fashionable and up to date, so it's not as if I'm coming home with the polyester one-piece jumpsuits favored by my Intro to Sociology professor. In fact, several of the highlights of my otherwise relatively lackluster wardrobe have come from clothing swaps.
I've also gotten jewelry, children's clothing, and the occasional crazy/unique item to add to the chicks' dress-up collection.
The clothing swaps are a ton of fun. Before getting down to the serious business of wrestling over the best and fanciest duds, we all share a potluck, gossip, and catch up with those we haven't seen since the last swap. It's fun, social, eco-friendly, and free--my kind of activity. If you've never participated in a clothing swap, I encourage you to organize one. You really can't go wrong!
I've somehow accidentally volunteered myself to organize a clothing swap for children's clothes with the members of our community garden, so perhaps I will be posting about them again. I can envision doing this with all kinds of things: books, toys--the possibilities are endless.
**I linked this post to Steady Mom's 30 Minute Blog Challenge.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
So...it's hot in Montreal right now, really hot. We live on the second floor with no air conditioning, so we're trying to do everything we can to keep cool. Like most kids, my chicks love popsicles, and like most moms, I hate corn syrup and artificial colors, so we're trying out various homemade popsicle flavors.
The most recent are Orange-Cranberry-Raspberry. I wasn't sure how these would go over with the kids because they're pretty sour/tart, but they're oh-so-healthy. To my surprise and delight, the chicks LOVED them. I didn't hear a peep from them until they were done eating them, and they asked for more (and being stingy and rule-enforcing, I told them they had to wait until tomorrow...)
Here's my unofficial recipe:
In our popsicle makers, which are relatively small, this made six popsicles (technically five since we're missing handles and only have five of the eight it came with). In addition to being tasty, the blend freezes nicely--not hard as a rock, but not slushy.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
On a more productive note...In the 48 hours since we got back into town, I've accomplished more than I have in any two day period since before the invention of the internet.
See you soon with more adventures!