Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm Moving

I do not mean to leave you.  I felt the need to start everything in my life anew, but for some reason I'm not sure why I included my blog in that.  Could I have just changed the URL and header?  Sure, but why do that when I can do things the hard way....uhhh yeah.

Come and check me out at Sort-of Super Mom!  Please! I miss you!  ;)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Whatcha Doin' This Weekend?

What's Going On?

If I have one fave fall tradition, it might just be taking my kids to the pumpkin patch. The past couple years we went with my best friend, her husband, and her kids who are close in age to my kids and are also pretty great friends.  (There are no pictures of them even though they are some of the most adorable children but simply to protect their privacy.) If you haven't been to the pumpkin patch yet this year YOU MUST GO!  There are so many fun things to do: sand art, little trailer rides, pony rides, animals to see, face painting, button making, moon bounces, and of course the hay ride to the pumpkin patch.  

I tried so hard to get pictures of the kids, but of course my daughter is too cool and my son was frantically running from pumpkin to pumpkin overwhelmed with choices.  So the best I could get was this:

Gosh, it looks so much like fall in this post.  I just love it!

Every year we pick a couple pumpkins for the kids to paint and a couple for them to help mommy carve.

What's Cooking?

I love making a big breakfast on a lazy weekend morning.  I cannot wait to make these absolutely delicious looking Baked Upside-Down Cinnamon Apple Pancakes from Flourishing at Home.

What's Happening?

I am so excited to make skeleton cupcakes.  It starts with white icing, a toothpick, white-chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels (I still have to go to the store), and marshmallows with smiley face drawn on with ice cream topping my cousins gave to us.  The face marshmallow is the head and the pretzels are the ribs, all held together by the toothpick.  I will include a poorly taken picture using a camera phone as soon as we make them.

Pumpkin painting and possibly even carving will also happen this weekend.  I hope it's not too early to carve.  I definitely learned my lesson with that one a few years ago.

The power ranger and vampire pumpkin heads.

What's New?

This awesome Melissa and Doug floor puzzle.  We actually received this a little while ago, but my son never had the patience or focus to do a puzzle until now.  He is into firetrucks right now because some firemen came to his preschool last week and from the pictures I saw, it was really cool.  He even got to hold the hose and squirt the water.  So when we unearthed this puzzle, he was amazing and focused, and we got this puzzle put together in no time.

It is only 24 pieces so it was just challenging enough, but gave him a sense of accomplishment and success.  It also was really well made and, where some puzzles are easily discombulated during the puzzle-putting-together process when it is done on a carpet, these pieces actually stayed put.  I definitely recommend it.

We are so excited for Halloween and having tons of fun.  We will also be attending a birthday party and Mommy might very well be attending Fright Fest.  Whaaaat?  Yeah, that's right, I might just get a babysitter and be crazy!

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

DIY Bath Toys

Note:  I am now making letter craft foam shapes of some of my son's favorite letters and the ones we've been working on at home.  I like trying to incorporate a little bit of learning into fun and fun into learning.

With summer over and the pools closed, my kids have been in swimming detox.  My three year old has realized that he can still get his fix by getting his gills wet in a play-bath.  Baths are even more fun with toys, as I'm sure you know.  We have boats, cups, waterslides, mermaids, duckies, whales, and so on and so on.  Then there are all the toys we had a subsequently had to get rid of because they are just SO FREAKIN' HARD TO CLEAN! And have you ever let your kids color with those bath crayons?  They get in the tile every time and are virtually impossible to clean.  

That's when inspiration hit.  I remembered in a past Family Fun magazine, there was something about craft foam bath toys.  I remembered thinking it was cute...if only I could remember what they did.

But here is what I did:

First obtain sheets of craft foam.  I can't remember the price, but I got a pack of 12 sheets from Wal-Mart for super cheap (and I still have 8 or 9 sheets left!).  Then we cut the foam into random shapes.  A few bigger shapes, and then a variety of different shapes and sizes.  I kept nose, eye, and mouth related shapes in mind.  My daughter had the great idea to cut out some letters (specifically ones that would spell BOO).

Once the shapes were cut, the kids threw on their bathing suits and jumped in the tub for a play bath!
When the craft foam is wet it clings to surfaces, most importantly tub sides, tile walls, and other pieces of craft foam.  The kids used the foam to make Mr. Potato Head-esque monsters.

My son has taken a number of baths playing with his craft foam shapes and just loves sticking them on the wall.  Right now, he puts them up and calls them his symbol power (note: that is a Power Rangers Samurai reference.)

Take Away Tips:

1. Larger Shape are Preferable.  They don't get lost in the tub or bubbles causing widespread panic (okay, very controlled panic, but it feels as if there's enough panic to suit the world imploding upon itself)
2. Be prepared for the shapes to rip at some point.  The first couple of baths in which these were used there was no sign of ripping, but then as I wiped them off for the umpteenth time I ripped a set of eyeballs in half.  Not long after that, the kids ripped a piece in the tub.  Just be prepared with a super enthusiastic "WOW!  NOW YOU HAVE TWO THAT'S EVEN BETTER!" and remember you have tons of craft foam to cut more shapes if need be.
3. These are so easy to clean with some Clorox wipes.  Rinse, wipe, then I store them in a mesh bag so they are ready for next play bath time. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Seat that Saved my Summer (as well as spring and most likely fall)

My daughter is getting older now and able to bike really well.  When I bought her her first BIG  bike from the bike store...not a Toys R Us bike this time (not that I didn't love the Toys R Us one that she had before), I bought myself a bike too.  That summer I ended up not using it too much.  But this spring I was sure that it would be my time.  There are just so many positives to biking.  However, I now have one problem: how to transport my son.  He has an adorable tricycle he received from his grandparents for his birthday, but it just can't quite keep up.

Now, I am not a professional bicyclist by any means. In fact when I bought my bicycle, just after buying my lovey her first real big girl bike from Bike Line. I went back and said "I just need to be able to keep up with her so give me your cheapest bicycle." There were no used bikes so I really did just buy the cheapest there.  Then I didn't even use it, save once or twice for the first year or so I had it.  So needless to say, I was rather lost when it came to toddler-toting bike devices.

Ahhhhhhhh, Amazon.  How I adore thee for thwarting so many of my crises.  My search began with trailers that you attach to the back of your bike.  Super cute and great idea I thought.  I've seen people with those.  I know you have too, but reading some reviews I started to get worried that it would flip or something. Scary! Plus these roads around us don't really have that much room for biking.  I would be terrified a car would not see the neon yellow/green and orange cart in time to swerve or anything!  I think I would bike looking backwards more than forwards! 

Then was the search of bike seats.  I was thinking the ones that sit behind you, but my mom freaked me out about those years ago.  She has always said that they aren't safe.  I have no idea why (and thinking about it they are probably perfectly safe), but it has become ingrained.  So I was hesitant even as I entered it into the search bar.  Then I came across and subsequently ordered the WeeRide LTD Kangaroo Child Bike Seat.

I'm loving it and loving riding my bike. We ride to pick my son up from school. When my daughter rides the bus to her school, I bike my son to school.  I've gone on a couple 8 mile rides through the hilly park with him aboard. And this past weekend, we biked somewhere between 35 and 40 miles, stopping for lunch in the middle. So I think I finally have enough information to make an informed review (beyond YAY!)

**By the way, I have not been asked to provide a review.  I am doing  it completely of my own volition because I am just so excited.**

Of course it has it's pros and cons as does anything, but for me there were far more pros than cons.  If you are a professional or hardcore cyclist, you may whole heartedly disagree. And I get that.


Easy installation.
It took me almost no time to put the seat on.  It is a matter of installing the bar in two parts, connecting the parts and putting the seat on.  I even did it with my son hopping around me out of excitement and my daughter biking circles in the driveway urging me to hurry. Super simple.

A feeling of safety.
 I love having my son in front of me.  We both feel much safer this way.  It is very mama bear-baby bear.  And he feels like he is biking in a big hug.

The ability to bike with my daughter to my son's school, pick him up, and bike back.
We love doing this now when she doesn't have too much homework, weather permitting.  (And it's mostly a very slight downhill 3/4 of the way home.)

It adds extra weight and resistance to a bike ride, adding some strength training to your cardio.

The weight limit is 40 pounds.  Unfortunately, I did not come across this seat until my son was already 35 pounds (thank goodness, he didn't have some kind of crazy growth spurt over the summer), but all that extra weight really feels good.  It makes uphills more difficult but in a wonderful work-the-extra-dessert-off kind of way.

It looks so cute!
I mean seriously....look at us:

 I get a lot of smiles and "awwws" whenever we go out.  People turn around in their bikes as they pass us and when people are biking the opposite direction you can see their faces visibly soften as they smile at the adorable-ness that is this bike seat.


It adds extra weight and resistance to a bike ride, adding some strength training to your cardio.

Yup, this was one of the pros as well.   But it could be a con depending on how you look at it.

It changes the way you peddle.  

In order to accommodate the seat in between your leg, you must peddle with your legs and knees at a rather awkward angle.  When my daughter ends up riding behind me, she giggles that I look like a frog.  (Hey maybe that's a bit of a pro - it provides entertainment for loved ones.)

You can't really rise out of your seat like you would otherwise.

Because the seat and your child's helmeted head is directly in front of you, it is hard to get the same leverage that you may get from standing up to propel yourself uphill harder.  (Although I did see this interesting article in which it explains that some people may argue that sitting while riding uphill is faster, although there are times standing is preferable.)  Anyways, I did find a way to compensate by pushing the peddles more forward from a position further back.

So I think, all in all, this seat is really great for me.  I bike for entertainment, to get a bit of exercise while spending QT time with my kids. It is so much fun and I'm always looking for ways to promote a healthy lifestyle while having so much fun with my kids!

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our Camping Staycation

Growing up I read books and watched shows where the families go camping together.  Usually the kids complain that they didn't want to be stuck in a tent with their parents or whatever, but for some reason that never dissuaded me.  I always desperately wanted to go.  We just weren't the outdoorsy type so it never happened.  

Now that I have kids of my own, I thought "I simply must take my kids camping one day.  It'll be so much fun!"  

At least I was smart enough to have trial runs.

We started by practicing sleeping in a tent.  We tried in the sun room, in the family, wherever it just didn't work.  My kids decided they wanted to sleep in the tent outside last year.  You guessed it another fail.  We lasted until about 10:00...then still awake we ended up back inside AGAIN.

This year we decided to try again.  I was weary, but you know the definition of insanity...try the same thing expecting different results...  Yeah, I'm insane.  But the results were actually DIFFERENT.  We slept the whole night in the tent.  And I learned a few lessons from it:

  • The kids sleep better if you let them play in the tent while setting it up, but then don't actually get in it until bed time.  (We went inside and watched Rugrats Go Wild til bedtime.  How Wilderness Chick of me right?)
  • Get EVERYTHING you need into the tent before you all get into it.  This way you can stick together. The second you get out to get something else the kids will freak out and you will be sleeping in your bed again.  (This includes sheets, sleeping bags, extra blankets, hoodies, socks, books, water, and any snuggies that are also sleeping in the tent.)
  • Reading camping books in the tent is super fun. We read Curious George Goes Camping, Fred and Ted Go Camping, and Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping
  • Bring a flashlight for reading.  Unless you are 10 feet from your house using up your cell phone battery because you used the flashlight app to read the books is probably not a good idea.
  • Scenes from the Walking Dead video game may flash through your mind.  Try to ignore them because zombies can do nothing to a bad@ss supermom like you.
  • This is NOTHING like camping outside.  What in the world do people eat for breakfast in a tent?  I thought we could use the grill like a campfire in the morning and throw eggs and peppers in tin foil and on the "campfire."  (I saw that on a camping website somewhere.) Um where exactly do we keep these eggs until the morning?  Okay so we scratched that.  My daughter and I made homemade whole wheat raisin bread last week.  We figured  perfect we can keep that in a cooler or something overnight so we brought that out.  But in the morning we realized the butter was in the house in the refrigerator.  ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KEEP A FRIDGE IN THE TENT OR SOMETHING??? I DON'T GET IT!
What tips or tricks do you have for me?  Please comment!  I need all the help I can get!   :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Papier Mache Volcano

The kids and I love making papier mache volcanoes.  They are simple and can be made with things found around the house. No two volcanoes ever need to be made exactly the same way. Here are a couple:

This was the first one we ever made.  We took three days - the first to construct and let dry, the second to paint and let dry, the third day the volcano ERUPTED!

Our most recent volcano took two days, we made it one day, then painted and erupted it the next day.  

Here’s what we used:
A piece of cardboard
This served as the base of the volcano
A cookie sheet
This was just to contain the mess from papier mache-ing and the "lava" when the volcano erupts.  We didn't need this for the first volcano because we actually used a the bottom half of a box.

An empty water bottle 
I know that I need to stop buying them, but I haven’t quite yet been able to kick the bottled water habit.
Pink Duct Tape (masking tape works quite well too)
A newspaper
 My dad still gets the newspaper daily (old school lol) so I'm generally able to get my hands on some old newspapers pretty easily.
1 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1 cup vinegar
4 drops of red food coloring (fun but optional)
4 tablespoons (or something like that) baking soda
A magazine insert (used at the end in lieu of a funnel)

We created the basic shape of the volcano using the water bottle, duct tape, and cardboard.  First we stood the water bottle in the middle and use the tape to hold it in place and also to create the bones of the structure around which to papier mache. Precision is not required.  (Thank goodness!)


Then we mixed 1 cup flour with 1 cup water in a bowl, cut the newpaper into strips and papier mache-ed!  
We left our wonderfully messy volcano to dry for the night.  The little lady was a little upset we didn't cover the top of the water bottle this time, but still looks good to me!

The next morning, little lady painted it with my directions to keep the paint thin so it wouldn't take so long to dry.  I wanted to erupt it the same day.  It became a two day project this time instead of 3.

To erupt the volcano we poured a cup of vinegar into the center of the volcano.  This is where the optional food coloring can be used.  Then as I got out the baking soda, I realized I didn’t have a way to get it in the little hole of the water bottle all at one time to make the big eruption.  That’s where the magazine subscription insert came in to play.  I rolled it into a cone shape and we put the baking soda in it.  Then we put the cone into the top of the water bottle and opened it into a cylinder.  The baking soda fell in and the volcano erupted.

 Then as I got out the baking soda, I realized I didn’t have a way to get it in the little hole of the water bottle all at one time to make the big eruption.  That’s where the magazine subscription insert came in to play.  I rolled it into a cone shape and we put the baking soda in it.  Then we put the cone into the top of the water bottle and opened it into a cylinder.  The baking soda fell in and the volcano erupted.
This was so much fun for both of the kids (even though my BMOC refused to be a part of the papier mache-ing process cause he can't stand having yucky hands.)  

I think we are going to do some science experiments examining the chemical reactions created when using different amounts of vinegar and baking soda another day.

I love having fun with things around the house!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Liebster Award

So I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Life of a Full Time Mom, which is an award for ((new)) bloggers with less than 200 followers.  It is really cool and I'm totally honored.  I can't believe it took me so long to accept it. 

In order to accept this award, I must answer questions and then list 11 random facts about myself.  So here goes:

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

I used to love riding my bike around our cul-de-sac.  I like that I live in a neighborhood that is not heavily trafficked so that my kids can play outside as well.  (My memory ends with me attempted to stop and running into the garage door, falling, and skinning my knee, but I still have to go with it as my favorite.)

2. Where did you go on your first vacation?

I can't remember what my FIRST vacation was, but when I was young my grandparents had a cottage in Coboconk.  We used to go there every summer and climb on the rocks, see the chipmunks, feed the ducks, and swim in the lake.  This probably was my first vacation.  It's the first I can remember.

3. If you can only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

I have to say broccoli and cheese.  I usually put it on baked potatoes, but I can live without the baked potato as long as I have my broccoli and cheese...yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

4. What's your favorite comedy movie?

I don't know what my favorite is, but on a recent rainy day, my children and I went to see Despicable Me 2.  It was cute.

5. If you're given a chance to go to outer space for a few months, will you take it?

This is actually a hard question.  Like any good undercover nerdy chick I love space - fiction and non fiction.  I love following what the Mars Rover is doing (making its way to the base of Mount Sharp) checking out the new names for Pluto's moons - Styx and Kerberos.  Plus I just love any new exploration so I want to say yes, but only if my kids can come too!  Hey, it would be a good learning opportunity for them too....ummm right?

6. What do you think is your best skill/asset?

I think my best skill that I'm currently working on is learning to compartmentalize.  I know some people look at this as not so good, but I can be Me-The-Mom when I'm with my kids or blogging (or cleaning or cooking....) and Me-The-Worker when I need to focus and switch gears.  I've learned to be able to put aside the pain from the things my parents say to me in order to still be happy doing whatever it is that I need to do at the time.

7.Straight or curly hair?

I love curly hair.  I have straight hair, but my mother and my kids have tons of curls.  While it is definitely easy to comb through my straight hair their curls are to die for.

8.  Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer?

FALL!!! Love the clothes, the food, the produce, the pumpkin rides, the Halloween costumes, the mosquitos leaving, the cool weather....I could go on for days.

9.What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?

Is it strange that I cannot remember???

10.  Is there something you want to change about yourself?

My confidence.  I have insecurities that hold me back from doing a lot.

11. Red or nude lipstick?

Lip gloss!

11 Random Facts
1. I am a Resident Alien.
2. I love cutting my kids sandwiches with cookie cutters and making them into cute shapes.
3. I have said the exact quote "I wish life was more like a spreadsheet then everything would have it's own special little cell and be completely organized."  I love organization.
4. Reading charts excites me.
5.  I'm going back to school for a post grad certificate of accountancy. (As a single mom, my belt just keeps tightening but it never feels like I can tighten it enough.)
6. There are certain TV shows I cannot live without:  Walking Dead, Orphan Black, and Doctor Who for starters.
7. My undergrad degree is in Therapeutic Recreation.  Even though I have not worked in the field for years, I try to use as much as I learned in school about creating activities that will fulfill physical, emotional, and cognitive needs and apply them to the things I do with my children.
8. I have been asked if I am my children's nanny 3 times in the past month or so.  I'm trying to take it as a compliment.  I guess I just look that young and skinny!  HAHA So just kidding.
9. I hate that young girls today look up to people like the Kardashians and try to encourage my daughter to take interest in people like Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Blackwell, Amelia Earhart, or other women that can be applauded for their brains, bravery, and willingness to go above and beyond.
10. When my kids wake up in the middle of the night and try to sneak into my bed, I let them.  I know I shouldn't, but I love my babies and I like to snuggle.  Plus it gets lonely in my bed sometimes. :)
11.  Instead of music, I listen to the podcasts Stuff You Missed In History Class, Stuff You Should Know, and RadioLab while I'm running.

Blogs I'm Nominating for Liebster Award

Rules for Nominees
- Link back to your nominating blog
- Answer the questions they have provided
- Share 11 random facts about yourself
- Nominate blogs with less than 20 followers
- Create 11 questions to be answered by your nominees
- Contact your nominees and let them know

Questions for Nominees
1. Tea or Coffee?
2.  What is your favorite children's book?  (Either from your childhood or that you read to your children)
3. What is your favorite date night idea?
4. What is the last thing you ate?
5. Who were you named after?
6. What are you listening to right now?
7. What is your go-to pick-me-up when you are feeling down?
8. What is your dream vacation?
9. Dog or cat?
10. Strength training or cardio?
11. What;s your favorite recipe to cook?

Thanks again for this award!  Looking forward to seeing other people's answers.