Grandpa Jon’s raspberries

Last week we spent a steamy mid-afternoon picking more than our share of Grandpa Jon’s raspberries. Strawberries are usually my favorite fresh summer fruit, but put a quart of hot-off-the-bush raspberries in front of me? Watch out. Amazing.

Wren is a funny little birdie, but you probably already knew that. She’s really into being nude these days and all she needed was to see Grandpa picking without his shirt to join in on the fun. Soon enough, however, even a pair of shorts proved to be too much constriction. Because really, who doesn’t want to pick raspberries in the nude? Oh my.

Phoebe is into a different sort of fun these days. While she too enjoys nudity, she also loves a good round of peekaboo. Or maybe she’s wondering where all the raspberries went? Guilty.

Once we got home, all four of us dove (almost) head first into the raspberries. Phoebe thought it was pretty incredible too.

I’m not really sure how babies do it exactly, but they make such a ridiculous mess from such a small amount of anything. Phoebs, raspberries on your cankles, really? Bathtime was a juicy one.

Empire in April

Everyone is always talking about “Paris in April,” blah blah blah. They obviously have never spent any friend and nature-filled April afternoons in our dear Empire, flying kites, chasing butterflies, playing at the water’s edge, looking for jack-in-the-pulpits and dutchman’s breeches (“pants flowers”), enjoying picnics in the sun… We were lucky enough to have spent two beautiful April afternoons in Empire recently. So good for our spirits and for the strength of our family ties. It makes such a big difference to spend the day outside, wandering around at a toddler’s pace. Nothing hurried. Just enjoying the renewal of spring and letting it fill our wells after the cold and darkness of winter. Aaah, welcome spring. We are so very grateful for you.


Chris called home on his way to work last week and said, “you have to go outside and see the clouds.” So the birdies and I flew right outside and looked up. Dawn revealed some very awe-inspiring clouds, tinged with pink, purple and orange. And just like that (snapping fingers) it was nearly gone as the sun woke up in our neighborhood. Wren had a lot of questions about these beautiful clouds and the “stuff up there” we were beholding. It was so remarkable to her that she asked about clouds several times over the course of the day so I promised her that on our next library visit we would find some books about clouds.

As it turns out this reflection is not only about a love of clouds, but also a love of the library. It’s been rekindled in me in the last couple of years with our almost weekly library visits. Upon explaining to Wren how a library works and how the librarians can help you find books on any subject you want to learn about, she squealed, “that is so cool!” And it really is, isn’t it? She now takes such joy in confidently marching up to the counter in the children’s area and asking one of the librarians to help her find a book on x, y, or z. Last week: “clouds” and “meteorology,” but it’s hard for me to write out exactly how she said “meteorology,” but the librarian understood her anyway.

So we got a few new-to-us kids books on clouds and a book on meteorology experiments for kids.

The first experiment involved making clouds too, perfect. Because really, who doesn’t want to make her own clouds? The experiment is really easy and perfect for little scientists. And Mamas with a babe in arms… All you need is ice, hot water, a glass and a bowl. And five minutes.

So heat a bit of water and pour about 1-2 inches into a glass. Have your kiddo fill a bowl with some ice cubes and then place the bowl on top of the glass. Let it sit for a few minutes and watch the formation of the clouds as the warm meets the cold. After a few minutes, take the bowl off and watch the clouds escape the glass!

Now instead of just calling clouds “cool,” “wacky,” or “beautiful,” we’ve been talking a bit about cumulus, stratus and nimbus. Or a combination like, “look at that wacky, fluffy cumulus! It looks like a mountain. I want to climb it.”

It’s fun having a kid around and having an excuse to spend time watching the clouds roll by… Have you looked at the clouds lately?

Hand-print bunnies

This is a super simple Easter craft idea, but perfect for toddlers. Simply paint on their hand and two of their fingers and stamp their hand on the paper. Let bunny dry and attach some googly eyes. Just another reason to break out the googly eyes I say. Right?! We had a lot of fun with this one. Great for a last minute Easter card or decoration. The brown one below Wren said today was our esteemed Country Bunny. She painted my hand and stamped it on the paper. I have to admit, usually hand-print based “art” is just too cheesy for me, so either I’ve become extra cheesy or these are just really cute. Or I’m just way too sleep-deprived. Probably all of the above…

helping out our feathered friends

Happy Monday, lovelies!

I’m back with another easy kiddo-friendly project to while away the dark days of winter. And a great way to help out our feathered friends… a bird nest helper! Grab a suet feeder or mesh bag and fill it with things that the birdies (or squirrels!) might use to build their nests come the spring. Short pieces of string, hair, dryer lint (if it doesn’t contain chemicals), yarn, pine needles, twigs, you get the idea. Just stay away from plastic or long pieces of string. Who know that pulling hair out of a brush could be so much fun for a toddler?!

Then hang it from a tree where your little ones can keep an eye on it. We’ll have ours near the feeders where our birdie friends come every day.

We’re looking forward to the spring when they really do their nesting. It’ll be here before we know it, but for now we’re uncluttering for the benefit of our feathered friends. Have you been doing any fun indoor (or outdoor!) projects lately with your little ones? Let me know – we’re looking for more fun (easy and meaningful!) things to do in our own nest!


We have been spending a lot of time this winter with Wren’s creative pursuits: coloring, drawing, painting and equal time “fixing” puzzles, but I thought it would be fun to delve into an easy science experiment as we while away these dark winter days in a meaningful way. And I’m not talking about the accidental science experiments in my kitchen like the cranberry Jello from Thanksgiving (!) that I cleaned out yesterday. Who knew that it could even go bad? Yikes. Ahem. No, we’re talking intentional science here, lovelies.

Enter Gak!

I saw Gak mentioned on several other blogs recently and thought we’d try our hand at making some too. Making Gak is a simple experiment in the creation of a polymer. This is a great one to do with little ones (and big ones alike) because it only take a few minutes to make and provides endless fun. In fact, we got it out again today and it was even more fun than when we made it the other day.

All you need is a bottle of Elmer’s glue, liquid starch and if you like, some food coloring. There are other recipes that involve Borax, but we opted for the liquid starch.

Simply pour an 8 oz bottle of Elmer’s glue into a bowl.

If you want to color your Gak, drop a tiny bit of food coloring into the glue. This was a fun part because it reiterated some color mixing that we’ve been working on with our paints. I am a proud Mama of a two year old that knows red and blue make purple!

Then pour 8 oz (1/2 cup) of liquid starch into the glue, a bit at a time, stirring as you go. A real lesson in patience and pouring skills! Pour a bit, stir a bit, pour a bit, stir a bit… My overzealous little birdie poured too much in at the end, but it worked out fine anyway. It will begin to come together right away – some crazy stuff! You can also knead it with your fingers and this is fun for the little ones too. I wasn’t sure what Wren would think of it, but she thought it was yucky and wonderful at the same time. Now that’s my kind of girl!

beating the winter blahs

We were experiencing our first case of the winter blahs today. A bit too cooped up, a bit disappointed because a friend and her son were supposed to come over for a visit but he got sick, a bit tired after a fun weekend, a bit of the Mondays when Papa goes back to work and we found ourselves back to the same ole-same ole. So we thought that baking a treat for Hoppy would be fun to do together. Hoppy is my Dad and his birthday is at the end of the month, but Wren wanted to bake them NOW. But I only could find two cupcake liners and there was no way I was making a special trip to the store for cupcake liners. Boo! And then I remembered that you could use ice cream cones for cupcakes. I shared with Wren what we were going to do with the cones and she squealed, “you make me laugh, Mama, that’s silly! This is going to FUUUUN!” And it was a hoot. I was also really impressed with Wren’s attention to her work. I showed her how to frost one after they had cooled and then dip them into a cup of sprinkles. She did the other eleven. It was perfect because around that time Phoebe was waking up and needed some attention…

Did you eat these when you were kids? I always thought they were so cool! And Wren does too.

Wondering about the chocolate? Those are the ice cream cones that have a chocolate rim. Cheers!

it really sucks

Wren keeps asking, “is it pretend?!” No, it really sucks. I can’t believe people spend oodles of money on cool-looking pretend vacuums that do absolutely nothing when you can spend $19.99 on something that actually works. Just let your child go to work while you kick back and drink a mimosa, ha! Ahem. While it doesn’t work great on the two (!) small rugs we own, it’s perfect for the wood floors. And perfect for Wren. It’s much more fun to clean when Wren wants to participate. I really don’t like cleaning, but I’m trying to create a different attitude about it (boy, how many times have I said that?) It’s just never-ending… sigh. You know the drill, Mamas. You turn your attention to one area of the house and meanwhile another disaster zone is created. You can’t get to picking it up and directing your child to help because you’re helping another child, or making dinner, or trying to have a conversation with another adult. It just snowballs! And now we’re entering the world of toys with small parts and puzzles with lots of puzzle pieces and it’s gotten to be a bit overwhelming to me. Side note: I DID just take several boxes and bags of stuff to Goodwill because really, how many shape sorters does a family need?!

But did I tell you the fun (and sad) thing about this vacuum? This past fall I was a guest blogger on Moonfrye, Soleil Moonfrye’s blog. You know, Punky Brewster? Well, she sent me a handwritten note and Target gift card, yahoo! So I spent part of the gift card on this vacuum. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what Punky would’ve spent her money on, but this Mama has to be a bit more practical with her gifted cash. Boo!

Lovelies, have you cultivated a good attitude about cleaning? How do you do it with small children in your midst? It’s one thing to have things picked up, but I just can’t get to the real nitty gritty cleaning… any ideas? Do you involve your toddler in cleaning too? Thoughts?