April 12, 2015

True confessions: hooked on the internet

I have a confession to make, blog friends: I am addicted to the internet. I think I've known this for a long time, but any doubt I had was erased the day my beloved iPod Touch stopped working on Easter Sunday. My immediate reaction was to rush out for a replacement, but since it was Easter most places were closed...and so I decided to see if I could wait a week to get a new one. Here is what happened.

Day One: 
We went to the park to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather. Instead of photographing my children, I watched them play.

I made bread and I was sad I couldn't Instagram it. I was embarrassed when I realized how sad this made me, even after I posted a picture of said bread on Facebook. Did my children refuse to eat the bread because it wasn't Instagrammed? We'll never know.

Day Two:
We spent a day sightseeing and I took not one selfie (okay, so I took one using my husband's iPod). I took pictures with a real camera instead, and when we went to lunch I did not immediately check to see if the restaurant had wifi. Embarrassing to realize how many times I have checked my email behind my children's backs in restaurants.

Day Three:
Rainy, cold, coughing day at home. Kids made paintings and I...was a little sad I couldn't Instagram them. Why? Organized two linen closets. Spent entirely too much time on the iPad, though I did try to hide it in the kitchen.

Day Four:
Home again, home again, jiggity jig thanks to a fever and more coughing. Our cherry tree is in full bloom and...I am a little sad I can't Instagram it. Have considered putting Instagram app on iPad, but iPad has bad camera. Is it better to Instagram  nothing than to post fuzzy pictures? Why am I spending so much time thinking about this?

Day Five:
Acceptance. Didn't miss immediate online access until we went out for a visit with some nearby family and I took a picture of the kids with their littlest cousin and I realized I had no way to send it to my sister-in-law when she asked if I'd share.

Day Six:
Progress! I went a full day without pining for my ability to check my email at the grocery store or feeling the desire to share a picture and a snappy caption. Also...miracle! Husband managed to rig up an onscreen home button in the evening, bringing my iPod back to the land of the living.

Today I had my old friend back in my pocket, and I managed to keep it there most of the day. We went to the farmers market and I took not a single picture. I read the newspaper instead of my email in the morning. And after nearly a week away, I Instagrammed just one picture: my daughter posing in a fancy chair before we saw a play together.

This week has been eye-opening, and I'm determined not to fall back into old habits. Here's to being more present and less dependent on a tiny screen.

April 7, 2015

Little tourists

A and D are both on spring break this week, and today we played tourist in our own backyard. Months ago, A spied a statue on TV. Who is that man? she wanted to know. It turned out to be the Martin Luther King, Jr., or more specifically his memorial in Washington, DC. Where is it? A asked. When we told her it was a Metro ride away from our house, she wanted to go.

The downside to the many lovely sights in Washington, DC is that very few of them are Metro accessible, or if I'm being completely honest: very few of them are close enough to a Metro stop/parking that little legs won't give out before you get to them. So today we decided to be tourists for the day and all four of us hopped on the Metro followed by a hop on/hop off trolley tour to save two little pairs of legs the extra walking between points of interest (and two big pairs of legs the whining and begging to be carried).

Our first stop was the Jefferson Memorial, and I watched D climb up stairs without putting his hands down for the first time. Stairs have long been tricky for him, and now it looks like he's shaking off that last bit of worry. We walked slowly around the inside of the rotunda, reading words off the wall together.

The cherry blossoms are just beginning to bloom, and it made for a beautiful walk around the Tidal Basin.

We walked from the Jefferson Memorial to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, a spot I haven't visited since I was a junior in college. A and D walked hand in hand as we walked through FDR's four terms backwards, because the short way around the Tidal Basin turns out to mean going in through the exit on this one. Lucky for us it is beautiful in reverse too!

One more short walk along the Tidal Basin and we reached the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, A's original goal. None of us had visited it before and it was beautiful - peaceful and contemplative and ringed with white and pale pink cherry blossoms.

I asked A what she thought of it as we waited for the trolley. She liked it, and she was surprised there was more to it than just the statue we'd seen on TV.

We boarded the trolley and took a break for lunch, and as we ate the kids spied something out the window of the restaurant. "Look, it's a president!" A racing president, to be specific, one belonging to the Washington Nationals. When we came outside George Washington was gone, but A bravely approached the men standing outside the Nats truck parked at the curb and asked if they knew where any presidents were. They pointed her in the right direction and...we ran into good old Abe just before we headed home for the day.

When we got home, I asked A what was her favorite part of the day. The Lincoln Memorial, she replied. The Lincoln Memorial that we just saw out the window of the trolley today, by the way. Yes, she said. That was the best part. I asked D, and his favorite part was the trolley. Just the trolley? Yes. But Daniel Tiger is not on it.

It's probably a good thing preschoolers can't leave Yelp reviews.

April 1, 2015

Questions, questions, questions

Life is busy and interesting here, and busy doesn't seem to leave much time for writing. Since January I've finished not one but two Pure Barre challenges (35 classes in 40 days and 20 classes in 31), and tonight I'll take my 200th class. I still can't quite believe that I've gotten so hooked on barre in the last year, but I am. Now that my challenges are over I'm determined to strike a better balance in my life, including more time to blog and write.

Both A and D have been busy too...with a variety of things, but it feels like they spend most of thror time talking. No, not talking...asking. Asking question after question after question day after day after day. Here is a partial list of questions they asked over dinner tonight:

How do you make a liquid?
How do you make Coca Cola?
How do you make wine?
What does endangered mean?
What is a mammal?
Are manatees mammals?
What sound does a manatee make?
Can you Google what sound a manatee makes?

How did people parent curious birds without Google, by the way? Because "I don't know" is never an acceptable answer, and A knows we have the power to find an answer tucked in our pockets.

We're a school day away from spring break...here's to adventures to spark a thousand new questions.

March 20, 2015

Cooking with kids the Raddish way

Note: I received a Raddish kit in exchange for my honest review.  No further compensation was received and all opinions are my own.  

Cooking is one of my very favorite things to do with my kids, and because it's one of my favorite things to do in general I started them young. I dragged A's high chair into the kitchen so she could "help" as a baby, and I bought us matching mother-daughter aprons when she was about six months old. As soon as he was old enough, D joined in and now I have two little sous chefs eager for jobs in the kitchen. 

Bringing your kids into the kitchen can be a lot of fun - but it can also be stressful. Little chefs need a lot of supervision, and it can be hard to follow a recipe when not everyone can read. But thanks to a clever little kit, cooking with kids can be easy, fun and educational for everyone. 

Meet Raddish

Founded by mother of two Samantha Barnes, Raddish is intended to help families give their children a love and appreciation of good food - and to encourage families to sit down at the table together. Each Raddish kit includes:

  • 3 family-friendly illustrated recipe guides
  • A skill card to help kids (and parents) learn culinary techniques
  • A creative activity intended to get families sitting, talking and eating together - ours was a set of colored modeling clay
  • A shopping list
  • A Table Talk card deck to encourage fun conversation at the table
  • A Raddish patch to iron onto your little chef's apron

D was delighted by the illustrated recipe cards, and he took great pleasure in telling me what we needed to do next as we worked.

Our kit had an Italian theme, with recipes for meatballs al pomodoro, herbed focaccia, and chocolate chip biscotti. While spaghetti and meatballs are always a hit in our house, things with visible herbs and seasonings are almost never popular with A and D...so I was completely shocked by their reaction to the herbed focaccia. Not only did everyone eat it and ask for more, both A and my husband had some in their lunchboxes the next day. It is definitely a recipe we will make again and again.

Our Raddish kit made cooking fun for everyone, and it definitely got the kids to taste things out of their normal comfort zone. If you'd like to try Raddish at home, you can get $5 off and free shipping with the code RADFAMILY5.

Bon appetit!


March 11, 2015

Little boy, big artwork

D loves many things these days: trains, cars, books...but there is nothing he loves quite like coloring at the easel. A friend of mine mentioned wanting to make more time for quiet activities like coloring with her kids, and I almost laughed, because coloring is anything but quiet in our house.

Sometimes D is quiet and careful as he colors...

 ...but most of the time he is SINGING and SHOUTING as he works.

He colors with crayons in both hands, with an ocean of crayons and pencils waiting in his tray.

 Sometimes there is dancing.

He colors right to the edge of his paper, and usually winds up coloring the easel as he works too. He colors both sides of the paper and we still have a hard time keeping enough paper in the house to keep up with D and his sister. Always busy, always creating...but rarely quiet.

March 1, 2015

Beating the winter blues with Heroes of the City

Though the calendar tells me spring is just a few weeks away, we're in what feels like a never-ending and very frosty winter. A's school district used up the last of its snow days last week, and I've lost count of how many delayed openings we've had for both kindergarten and preschool. I like to think that I am a resourceful and creative parent, and when another snowy, icy, too-cold-to-be-outside day hits I pull out my list of Fun Things To Do So None Of Us Goes Crazy. But I've used up an awful lot of our super fun and occasionally educational plans this winter, and when we are in need of a little distraction there's nothing like a new video to mix things up. 

We have been fans of Heroes of the City for quite awhile in our house - if you're not familiar, it's a Swedish cartoon about rescue vehicles in a small town where everyone has a chance to be a hero. Aimed at children ages 3-7, Heroes of the City emphasizes friendship and teamwork as Paulie Police Car, Fiona Fire Engine and others work together to keep their town running smoothly.

Both A and D enjoy the Heroes of the City apps, and one of their favorite pieces of those apps are the video clips. They love to watch the adventures of these silly and helpful friends, and I love that they're videos I don't mind watching either. 

You don't have to have an app to watch Fiona, Paulie and friends - Heroes has a great YouTube channel full of fun videos. 

Check it out and tell me which Hero is your favorite! 

Disclosure: this is not a sponsored post - simply sharing a favorite of ours with you!

February 15, 2015

Two bunnies are better than one

The jig is up, friends. For a very long time, we have kept a secret from our A and today she found out.

Once upon a time, a very small girl fell in love with a very small bunny. And for a little more than four years, A hasn't realized that there were two bunnies, not just one. We've swapped them out in secret every few weeks, and I've mended them to match each other every time one bunny developed a love-worn spot.

I tossed a bunny in with the last load of laundry, a load that has lingered on the couch in our basement for...well, let's just say awhile. And while my dear husband folded it today, A spotted her bunny. Except bunny was already with her.

"LOOK, MOMMY! THERE ARE TWO BUNNIES!" A shouted as she raced up the basement steps. I was glad to see a smile on her face, because I've worried for years what her reaction would be when she realized bunny was really bunnies. But it turns out her reaction was delight, because for weeks she's been telling me bunny needs a friend, and now he doesn't just have a friend he has a twin.

Bunny and Hopster (because she can't just call both of them bunny, obviously), I hope you'll be very happy with our girl.