Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's Shark Week!!

This week is Shark Week on Discovery Channel. My 4 year old is a HUGE ocean creature lover (claims he will be a marine biologist when he grows up), so we thought we would do some fun activities to tie in with it. We have a Tivo, so we are recording a few shows which are child-friendly (not scary), have lots of great underwater shots of sharks, and have a conservation/facts theme in them - and with the Tivo we can watch just a little bit each day. We checked out several fun books from the library and have a few crafts and games related to sharks planned too.

A loved the printed shark and ray cards we made today, which we printed from the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.

Here are just a few of the books we checked out so far this week (more coming!):

Encyclopedia prehistorica Sharks and other sea monsters

This book is a bit "old" for him, but boy does he think it is cool. It is a 3-D pop up book filled with prehistoric sharks - very neat.

I liked looking at it too, and it has many fun facts about the ancient creatures.

Surprising Sharks

We just got this book in today. It is very cute artwork, and more geared towards the younger set. It has a storyline going along, with facts about each shark (illustrated wonderfully) wrapped playfully around the artwork as subtext. The interesting thing is that this book features many of the less known and obscure sharks that you don't usually hear about.

We have several more books coming in, and A wants to make a shark hand puppet (I have lots of felt!!!). What a fun week!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday morning nature walk.

Today we had our Sunday nature walk at a Hoyt Park - a local park with enough shade to make it bearable on these super hot days.

The park is a densely forested hilly area right in the midst of city, neighborhood and university. There is a park with shelters and bball court, and then trails that wind up and down the hillside.

There are many great fire pits, stone tables, and stone shelters along the trails. They were all built by workers in a government program established to give people jobs during the depression.

Many of the structures do still stand, and are spotted throughout the trails. A was in awe of the size of the stone slabs used to make tables next to many of the fire pits.

G just liked the shade, the rocks, and the shelter where we stopped for lunch - and of course walking along the moss covered rock wall in the clearing.

It was a super hot day (and only getting hotter this week) - but it was so comfortable in the shade - and we were able to see great plants, a few birds and animals, and of course swing!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

CSA and hope for rain.

As I sit here to type, the smell of basil is wafting over and filling my senses with its exotic rich warm greenness. Something about that fresh intense basil smell just is summer to me. The hot sunny days and the thick sultry nights just make its aroma intensify until it just overtakes any other smells around it.Picking up our CSA tonight the first thing I smelled was the basil. Driving down the driveway at the farm I had that deep summer feeling - the insects chirping, the birds singing, the wind rustling the trees, the air thick with heat but also the promise of cooler evening, and far off on the gently rolling hills the spray of water on the crops. Today our bounty is of the summer - peppers, tomatoes, basil, onion, cucumbers, broccoli, beans, summer squash, lettuce, potatoes, and fresh uncured garlic. And no, that is not a head of cauliflower in the pictures, it is a 4 year old boy (although he posed, intentionally silly, giggling hysterically).

Our own peppers and tomatoes have also been ripening daily, and the favorite activity of the boys is to go from plant to plant to pick whatever is ready. The minute we got in from picking up our CSA tonight I sliced through the warm tomatoes from the farm and our garden, sliced up some of that fresh basil, sprinkled it over the top of the tomatoes along with some fresh pure grey salt, and drizzled organic balsamic vinegar over the top - mmmmmmm.
We are in the midst of a drought here in south central Wisconsin. It has not rained in our immediate area in ages, it seems. Rain continues to pop up all around us, but *just* miss us here. Our lawns are all brown, but driving in the country tonight the intense green of corn, soybeans, vegetables, prairie grass and thick forests still look lush and green - but not much longer. There is a massive line of storms moving down from the north and we hope hope HOPE they do drench us tonight. So while my farm pics may look dark and gray, they are actually hopefully cloudy. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Putt putt putting.

Last weekend we went to the Wisconsin Dells to play miniature golf (which A has been really really really wanting to try). I am not much of a busy weekend tourist destination kind of person, but we went early on Saturday morning and surprisingly it was not too hot nor too crowded.

The place we went has 4 courses, 2 of which are super easy for the little people, so we had the course to ourselves, it seemed, and could meander and play at each hole for however long it took. Our course only ran parallel to the busier more challenging course once, where we nervously skipped a few holes to get past a large family of smokers, especially once I realized I had forgotten G's inhaler.

The boys loved it, they both focused and tried to play the game, and actually did really well. They surely lasted longer than I expected, and A played to the 18th hole. G even devised his own way of using his club to "shoot" the ball in like playing pool, and could do so from a distance.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And one for me.

I am notorious for making things and giving them all away as gifts...some skirt or bag that I toiled over for myself, only to think it came out so well it would be great for XXXX or XXXX. This week though, I made another Bend-the-Rules Sewing bag - this one just for me - and I love the fabric so much it is staying with me. I am working on several sunglasses cases, and there was just enough of this lovely black and white fabric left over to make one to go with this bag.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday morning camp out.

It is a beautiful morning for a "camp out". The boys asked about their tent. So we found it, set it up on the deck in a spot that was all green out the back window. They went around the house and collected blankets and pillows, and made a nice cozy place to play. They wanted a "canteen", so their SIGG bottle had to suffice. We popped popcorn for their snack, and they hung out and enjoyed the nice breezy morning!

Well, back to the tent for some reading!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What a day - and CSA This Week.

Our CSA this week was a bit anticlimactic, as the monitor on my lovely only a few months old laptop got destroyed in a freak honey jar accident by my 2 year old this afternoon. I am sitting on my chair at the desk in the room where I now have to work for who knows how many months, so that I can have my laptop, which is now just a hard drive, attach to my giant stationery monitor. I could go on about how I mainly work at night after the boys go to bed, and how the only time my husband and I have to chat and spend time with each other is when we are working on our computers side by side each night, and how now I am in here and he is in there. But I won't.

In our box this week?
Onion, peppers, carrots, swiss chard, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, squash, tomatoes, and currants. Yum!

How the garden is growing.

The boys worked hard to help plan and plant and water the garden - and get so excited as the veggies grow into something recognizable - and have such a hard time waiting patiently until they reach their full juicy ripeness.

With tomatoes, of course, they flower and then slowly grow from the size of a pea to a tennis ball, then go even more slowly (it seems) from green to red. The hardest part, I believe, is seeing the slight tinge of yellow beginning, and having to wait many more days before it can be picked. Many a green tomato has been picked and smushed on the front sidewalk by impatient hands. The peppers are the same - how hard for a 2 year old to differentiate when jalapenos can be picked small and still green, yet all of the other peppers must be picked only when large and red or orange. They are learning, though, and interested and happy with the results.

It is nice to be able to go out to check the plants and water the pots and have something ripe and ready to pick every day now!

Yes, those are all tomato plants-they are HUGE...and there are more! We have some in the back, some down the side, and some in pots in front. We will see which do better in different soils and light.

The pumpkin plant is massive and taking over our entire back bushes - but the boys are SO excited to see so many pumpkins growing!

The pepper plants are all looking amazing!
The big sunflower garden which is near the back peas and tomatoes (and popcorn corn!!!) is flowering and beautiful.

The morning glory bamboo pyramid is full and lush and growing off the bamboo onto the deck and spreading rapidly, giving us a nice enclosed cozy space on our gazebo covered spot

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sewing...hand bag.

I know, I know, more sewing. But my little people have recently been playing happily together and thus allowing me to sew a little bit every other day or so without the - pay attention to me/too loud/what are you doing/let me touch the knobs on that sewing machine/mooooooooooooooooooooommmmmm...So, I sew!

I made a handbag from the idea I saw in the Bend-the-Rules Sewing book. I just made it a little smaller, added 2 inside pockets, used a quilted lining, and think I need to add a little flap with a button to close it. I have a floral liking person in mind that it would make a good gift for!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Photo of the Day

A, 3 years ago today.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday morning nature walk.

We went out this morning to one of our favorite "in town" parks. It is a fun place for the kids in that it has 3 small play areas with picinic tables, each separated by a long shady walking path, with a more narrow lake path for the return trip - and a dock on the lake in the middle. It was warm yet breezy, beautiful, quiet, and after the heat of last week, a welcome respite.

More pix on Flickr.

Friday, July 13, 2007

CSA Box This Week + Surprise!

I apologize in advance for the funky lighting - we got back late tonight so I had to take a pic in the dusk with overhead lighting. ;)

This week in our CSA box we have Romaine Lettuce, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Yellow Beans, Cucumber, Tomato, New Red Potatoes, Carrots, Walla Walla Onion, Parsley and CURRANTS! Yum.

Also - I had a little surprise today. We were making staff ID badges and admission tickets for the train show the boys were hosting for me (!), and I had written "Train Show" on one of the tickets and got up to get some water. A took my ticket, placed it just above his blank one to use as reference, and hand wrote "Train Show" on his ticket himself! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pressed Flower Kids Craft.

Do you remember the flowers from our garden that the boys placed in a book to press a few weeks back? Well, we took a peek and they were dry! We pondered our options and A decided on the hanging "art" project. The end result looks GREAT, and they were easy to make.Supplies:
Glue stick, mod podge (or elmer's), large blank folding cards, ribbon, tape, background paper, brushes for glue.

I had several large recycled paper blank greeting cards which we used - and the background paper we used is hand made paper flecked with plants, so it matches the dried flowers. We used duct tape because my children wandered off with all my other tape, so that is all I could find!

Step 1. Rub glue stick on back of background paper, then center background paper on the front of the card. Press down.

Step 2. Tape the ribbon to the inside back of the card. Glue stick the inside of the card and press closed, sealing the card with the ribbon looping out the top to create a hanger.
Step 3. Lightly mod podge with brushes the background paper. Place the flowers gently on the glue. Using the brush, add more mod podge over the top of the flowers to coat (mom needs to help a bit with this part if the kids are little).
Step 4. Let it dry 15-20 minutes. You can do additional layers of mod podge over the top if you want.
They turned out great and both boys were able to work on it. You know how it goes - there was gloopy glue with brushes and a glue stick involved, so the kids loved it!

And even more sewing. Zip wallet/coin purse.

I saw a cute idea in "Bend the Rules Sewing" by Amy Karol for a small coin purse. I made it longer and skinnier (I only had larger zippers and wasn't patient enough to wait), used felt for the inside lining to make it heavier, and added an inside pocket for small stuff. I made two thus far - one for me and one for my mom...but they are quick and easy and I have lots of remnants and vintage zippers left in my stash, so I think more are coming!

The book has many cute patterns and ideas - I want to make the felt elf hat for our dress up basket!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Keeping Cool Inside.

What to do with little kids inside on those HOT HOT HOT summer afternoons?

Play charades.
Play dress up.
Make yummy things in the kitchen.
Do fun crafts.
Have a tea party.
Hang out!