Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Hiking Bag

We're a hiking family. We love to spend time out in the woods. We love to find cool bugs, mushrooms and rocks and we love to take some of our findings home with us. My pockets were tired of being filled with rocks and leaves and all of the other treasures my kids find. When I saw this hiking bag, I knew that I would be making two!
I purchased the pants at the thrift store, used webbing that I had intended on using to make belts for the kids (which is a stupid idea. Kids don't need belts, they need elastic especially when they are potty training!), and Sadie's bag got backed with a Japanese Kawaii print that I got on etsy. The kids filled their bags with very useful things that one would need on a hike: their water bottle, a bug catcher, a magnifying glass, a journal, a camera, a net, and a Cinderella figurine. Very easy. Very useful. Very fun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Worm Farm

The kids spent yesterday digging. While they were digging, they discovered worms. Lots of 'em. Lots of little tiny worms and a few juicy fat ones!So we spent the day learning about worms. How they are natures composters and that they aren't "icky" but instead very helpful. We made a quart jar worm farm made with layers of mud, oatmeal, and sand with about 20 worms added. You can find the complete directions here. Now, we just have to be patient and wait about a week or so to see what those worms do! Find more earthworm facts:
National Geographic
The Adventures of Herman the Worm
Composting with worms

Monday, April 27, 2009

Secret Messages

After Easter's egg dying, I got to thinking of things I could do with that wax crayon they include in the egg dying kit. I thought that a secret message would be the perfect thing.
You will need:
  • wax crayon (or a white crayon)
  • paper
  • water color paint

While the kids napped, I wrote a secret message to each of them using the wax crayon (going over each letter several times assures a clear message). Then, I set up the table so they would find it when they woke up. I told them that I had written them a secret message and that they needed to paint over it to see what it said.The messages were quite simple, and actually a picture may have been better since neither of them can read. But, they liked revealing the message either way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You know you're a "Housewife" when...

...you blog about amazing dish towels. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I'm in love with my microfiber dishtowels and I feel like I need to spread the word about their amazing-ness. They're from Casabella, makers of home cleaning products that promote eco-friendly cleaning.

Here's the story: I was shopping at my local World Market and they had the Casabella microfiber kitchen towels on super-duper clearance. So, I bought one thinking they were still a little more than I wanted to spend on a dish towel, not to mention that I already have a closet full of them, and I've had other microfiber towels, but just wasn't that impressed with them. Well, let me tell you, I tried it out and it picked up every drop of every spill, wiped dry each of my dishes even the last one, and just felt so soft that I went back to World Market the next day and bought up every last one of them. Now, you won't see me in my kitchen without one of those babies tossed over my shoulder. I think I would even pay full price for them. They're just that awesome.

Cut to two months later, I was again at World Market (you gotta love that place!) and they had the microfiber glass cloth and the microfiber dusting cloth on sale so I bought both of those. The glass cloth is amazing. I don't even have to use any cleaners, I just dampen a corner and wipe the glass and they're clean WITHOUT STREAKS, my glass cleaner can't even do that. And the dust cloth, well, it picks up just about every speck of dust in this house. It's just that good.

Casabella also sells floor-dusters with washable heads that I'm tempted to buy. Man, you just got to love a company that makes you feel so good about cleaning your house! So, there you have it. As you can see, I need to get out more so I can tell you about amazing music, or shoes or... anything but cleaning products.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Discovering New Things On a Hike

I'm a big fan of the Take-Along Guides series of books for kids. These books are perfect for younger kids as they are not so jammed full of information that kids can't find what they're looking for, they cover only the animals (or trees, flowers, etc. depending on the topic of the book) that you are most likely to see, and the illustrations are clear and helpful. Eli and Sadie recently got the book Tracks, Scats, and Signs. We brought it with us on our latest "hike" to Prairie Oaks Metro Park. This is a great park because it has prairie, forest, river, wetlands, and relatively short un-paved trails (and the fact that it has a playground and bathrooms doesn't hurt either). The park meets all our needs and it is filled with a wide-range of wild-life, not bad for a 15 minute drive from our house!We set off on our hike and the first thing we found was some very furry scat. This scat was probably the most interesting that I've ever seen as it contained an entire foot with bones and claws still attached. I'm guessing that it used to belong to a rabbit or perhaps a squirrel. We quickly paged through our book to find that the scat probably came from a coyote:It just spent four days raining in a Columbus so tracks were very easy to find and identify. The first we spotted came from a deer:Down by the river we identified a perfect raccoon hand:And we think that this print might belong to a muskrat:We also found signs that a beaver lives near by:I'm including this picture because we have seen a lot of them lately mostly in grasses or wetlands areas. They look papery, but are more spongy and they look like they would be very sticky, but they're not. I'm guessing they belong to some kind of insect, but if anyone knows, I'd love to know:We also found a perfect blue and black striped feather from a blue jay, which is perhaps my favorite find of the day. By the end of the trip, Eli was able to tell us a lot of the animals that lived in the park that we didn't actually see, but saw signs of. It was a great day for a hike and a great day to see tracks, scats and signs!!

Hey, I got nothing to do today but smile...

You know when you hear the first notes of a song and it instantly brings you back to a moment in your life? Like every time I hear the first notes to Devil Inside it instantly reminds me of the smell of our schools gymnasium and seventh grade cheerleading try-outs. Eternal Flame somehow reminds me of being in the back of the Burley's van (get your mind out of the gutter)belting out tunes with the girls. Hey, Jealousy will always bring me back to driving around in my BFF's red Honda Prelude the summer before our senior year.

Simon and Garfunkels Only Living Boy in New York was my song of the summer 1996. I was living with my BFF in a cool old down-town apartment in the town where we attended school. I was working at Target, but barely. I didn't have any money and I lived off of popcorn, beer and clove cigarettes. I had nothing to do most days "but smile" and I would sing "the only living girl in Grand Forks." (clever, right!?! ha, ha) I checked the weather and decided what to do from that: go to the pool, head to the coffee shop to read, go for a bike ride, etc. The reason I bring this up is because lately I've been singing "I get the news I need from the weather report" because with kids my big question for the day is: can we go outside or not? The weather report determines our entire day. Will today be an indoor game playing, movie watching, picture coloring sort of a day or a run outside, play in the dirt, go to the park sort of a day? Today is a pouring rain, ride the bus to dad's work and eat lunch in the cafeteria kind of day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a sunshiney, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flop wearing kind of a day. But, it's spring, the weather is unpredictable and I need to just go with the flow. After all, I have nothing to do today but smile (and take care of my kids)...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Butterfly Release

The butterflies emerged before I was ready for it. The first one was born inside it's little cup because I was still waiting for the lurker to build it's chrysalis (which it never did and has since passed on) so she has little wrinkled wings. I promptly moved the rest of the chrysalises into the netted cage so they could have a safer place to live. The rest emerged unscathed and were so beautiful to look at. Here you can see the empty chrysalis and underneath their is some red goo on the mesh netting that came from the wings and the chrysalis. I'm not really sure what it is.
The butterflies should have been released a lot sooner, but it has been pouring rain in Columbus and we didn't want to send them off into a wet world. We waited until yesterday when the sun was shining. Here's Eli slowing unzipping the zipper.Three of them quickly fluttered away on the wind, but our little damaged wing lady had a harder time. She could hardly get off the ground but she eventually disappeared from us as well.I'm really tempted to order another set of caterpillars and do some journaling with Eli. It was so much fun the first time to watch the changes!