Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvesting Basil Seeds

I’m a little disappointed in myself.  I purchased a basil plant this spring, so that I could have fresh basil.  This wasn’t my first time, so I knew I was supposed to trim the buds off so that the plant would continue nourishing the leaves.  Alas, I failed.  The plant went to seed and I used maybe a handful of my fresh basil leaves before then.  The heat of the summer has dried the blossoms and it occurred to me that I could probably harvest the seeds.  I figured it was the least I could do after my epic failure to tend the basil adequetely. 

So, I set out to harvest the seeds.  If you are interested here is a video explaining how: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEQNDWJeSG4

As I sat at the table picking the seeds out, Hudson came to see what I was doing.  He wanted to help, so I set him up a little napkin and showed him how to remove the seeds.  He helped me for a bit and we talked about seeds, big and small, and what we are going to do with these seeds.  We also talked about the cost of fresh basil vs. basil plants vs. seeds.  I learned how to harvest the seeds, but would probably never do it again since the cost for a package of seeds is less than the amount of time/effort it took to harvest them.  BUT It was an invaluable teachable moment and made the effort all worth it.




The Seeds                                    The Dry Blossoms
The total harvest


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Haircuts!

Well, it was a ‘momentous’ day in our house today.  Little AJ has been wanting a haircut; I started asking him because his bangs were growing over his eyes.  So, we decided to give him his first haircut and low and behold H wanted to cut his hair too!  H’s last haircut (a buzz) was in May of 2011, about 14 months ago.  He said, “I’ll cut my hair on my birthday.” (October).  The birthday rolled around and he said, “I’ll cut my hair on my next birthday.”  Okay….so it grew and it grew and it became such a part of him and his personality.  We (Daddy and I) became attached to it, we stopped asking because we didn’t really want him to cut it.  Somewhere in there it became not about his hair, but about honoring him. 
We were honoring his choice to have his hair how he wanted it and to decide on his own when he wanted to change it.  It gave us a chance to respect him and his growing personality.  About three months ago he started to get called she or her occassionally, but he didn’t really seem to notice and we didn’t point it out.  Daddy even had a little conversation while helping a little boy about 3 at the park because the little boy was sure he was a girl, but Daddy Mro assured him that he was in fact a boy with long hair (H was on the other side of the playground).  I will admit I was proud to have a son who pushed the gender stereotypes (ever so slightly).  Anyway, it might not seem like a big deal, but it was special to us. 

More food for thought:
About a girl pushing gender roles: http://www.princessfreezone.com/pfz-blog/2012/7/11/youre-her-motheryou-can-say-no.html

Boys have long hair too blog carnival:  http://glitteringmuffins.com/2012/05/21/boys-long-hair-blog-carnival/


                                            Day before haircuts
                                          So this is what a haircut is about

                                            Happy Boys after haircuts

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shaving Cream Painting Playdate

Shaving cream painting playdate (http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2012/07/summer-sensory-play-shaving-cream-and.html)
I know I said pictures, but I forgot again.  This playdate was not super eventful, the shaving cream painting was moderately fun.  I thought it was going to be a lot more fun using the colored ice, but it was very similar to just plain shaving cream play.  The kids enjoyed the sensory experience of it, but the use of color didn’t add anything.  We swam, played bubbles, ate popsicles and treats, and had a mini tea party.  I think next week we will have a tea party playdate (H’s request), but still do a project/activity.  Pretty soon our playdates will change a little as we gear up to do a more
‘co-op/school’ experience. 
Since this playdate wasn’t super eventful and I don’t have any pictures for you.  I am posting some of the kids in the kitchen. 
                                                    Washing Dishes
                                                 Making Sandwiches
                                                     Yummy!
                                               Making Smoothies
                                               (word to the wise....keep your blender unplugged until ready to blend)

And a bonus....our favorite smoothie recipe:
                         3-4 handfuls of frozen strawberries
                         1 banana (fresh or frozen)
                         3 cups of yogurt (soy)
                         2 TBSP ground flax seed (Omega 3s!)
                         1 cup spinach (any greens)
                         3 probiotic capsules broken open (not really necessary depending on yogurt type)
                         Splash of orange juice or almond milk for easy blending

New Kitty!

We have a new family member!  The animal shelter was giving away free kitties this past week and we just had to go and get one.  H has been wanting a kitty for some time now.  We had one about 6 months ago that disappeared (I think he was taken) and was an awesome cat.  He was with us for about a month or two, so H got a taste of having a kitty and taking care of it.  I think H is much more of a cat person (like me) than a dog person.  AJ on the other hand is a dog person, but he is also very fond of animals in general.  So we talked about what our new kitty would really need like food, litter box (he is already trained), treats, a couple little toys, etc.  then we headed to the pet store, where we also purchased treats and a bone for the dog so she wouldn’t feel left out.
I think having a pet is a valuable learning experience for a child.  They can learn responsibility and empathy, as well as learning about the specific type of animal they have.  H is 4 (almost 5) and his responsibilities will include cleaning the cat box daily, giving the cat food, and giving the cat water.  Having a cat was something he was very interested in and I hope both boys learn a lot from him.  As of right now, we have not named the cat. 


Monday, July 23, 2012

Friday Field Trip

We had a fun field trip with friends (how do you like that alliteration?)  We went to the mill and learned how they mill the flour.  Of course the adults were way more fascinated than the children, but I remember things being that way when I was young.  I figure, as long as I am being passionate about something then they will learn that passion and one day be fascinated by things their kids are less than interested in.  We had lunch, which was practice in patience on my part.  Then we headed down the road a bit to the park’s visitor center. 
                                          (AJ peeking at the water wheel through the window)

The visitor center was beautiful.  I didn’t really know what they would have since I have been in some visitor centers that are basically cabins, but this was more than I hoped for.  They had a wonderful learning center with all the animals of the region represented and a ‘Please Touch’ table with bones and hides and all kinds of interesting animal/plant items.  They also had a ‘play area’ with books, blocks, puzzles and other toys.  The boys got to practice using some real binoculars too.  Then we attended a snake talk.  H was pretty interested/involved (considering it was his first time in a ‘class’ setting), but did not want to touch the snake.  I had to keep AJ entertained by taking him out, but when the lady pulled that snake out to touch, he was all ready and excited to go up there and touch it.  This is definitely a place worth visiting again and next time I will take more pictures.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Just a Wednesday

Took the kids to the library, made pizza with AJ, swam in the pool, picked up the house as a family, cleaned the garage.  I’m proud of myself for all the good I did today (I try to always pat myself on the back and not focus too hard on the hardcore TV days, hopefully good days will multiply and ).  Let me talk a little about pizza making: AJ helped mix the dough for the crust, he loves this because he can actually stick his hands in the dough (unlike other baking projects).  Then I gave him his second knife wielding lesson.  He helped me chop tomatoes and garlic for sauce before losing interest. 
I think it is good to allow kids in the kitchen and let them practice using knives correctly, with lots of supervision, hand over hand showing them exactly now to handle the knife.  When the kiddos are babies I give them little (silver) butter knives (they aren’t even cerrated, a playset from IKEA) and let them chop bananas. When they are older (around 2) we use knives that are not super sharp, so if they touch the blade or even hold the knife upside down and push on the blade it won’t break their skin.  I also start them with softer things to cut (i.e.: not carrots, that are too similar to little fingers).  I show them for a little, then let them practice while I sit nearby correcting any missteps and always being very vigilant about knife safety (no flinging the knife about like a crazy person).  H (at age 4.5) can help me chop vegetables safely now without correction, I still sit by him and supervise, but he knows what he is doing and I am super proud of his concentration and ability.


(This is an picture of H from a few weeks ago, I didn't take any of AJ helping.)

Oh, we checked out a wonderful book at the library.  It is called In the Town All Year 'Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner.  It is kind of like Where's Waldo, but has several pictures of the town through each season.  At the beginning of the season there is a page of people and pictures that appear in the subsequent pages, some have questions like: "who is the mystery motorcyclist?" The kids will look through the pages and figure out the answers. Some things are simple like, 'this is Cassie the cat, she travels through the town, can you find her in each picture?' (I changed the wording slightly).  I like how it uses recall skills and shows all kinds of pictures of the seasons, there are a lot of questions you can ask like, "How can you tell it is still Winter in this picture?"  Here is a link:
http://www.amazon.com/In-Town-All-Year-Round/dp/081186474X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342706193&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+town+all+year+round


Ice Excavation Playdate

Tuesday we hosted our playdate and darn it, I forgot to take pictures!  I froze some small plastic toys in blocks of ice, so the kids could do ice excavation as found here (I love pinterest): http://chasingcheerios.blogspot.com/2011/08/excavating-toys-from-ice.html 
This was a good crowd, 7 kids and 4 adults total.  We only had one hammer which was the tool of choice for this project.  H promptly broke his toys free with a few well placed bangs and was pretty much done with the project, then he passed the hammer on so the other kids could have a shot.  I found it to be great fun to watch how each kid handled the project a little differently, some tackling it with more gusto than others, but all remaining engaged.  Then we had some free play and pool time.  This pool has been a great source of fun for the little ones, I am so glad we got it.