I love...

I had to sneak it to get this picture. Sometime after Corey gets home they go upstairs with Corey and pretend to be birds. Our great big king sized bed is their nest, the rug with flowers on it is the field where they gather food, and they hide under the blankets when a wolf (our dog, Kira) comes near the nest. I know all this only because they tell me about it when they come down with red cheeks and full of laughter. At first I felt a little left out when Erika told me that she didn't want me to come and play. But now I love sitting downstairs and listening to their feet run back and forth, their uncontrolled laughter, their special time.

O'Keefe and Salami for Dinner

A book, a favorite sandwich, and some warm milk in a mug that Mom has had since she was a little girl. Sounds like a pretty nice way to end the weekend.

We had black bean and cheese quesadillas tonight, with grilled veggies and rice. Yum. Erika ate her rice, picked at the rest, and left to read a book. She is already such a tiny bean and I hate the idea of sending her to bed hungry. So, I made her a salami sandwich. She doesn't share our love of Mexican food, what can I do?

We got this great art book from the library this weekend and she was looking at it as she ate her extravagant dinner. "This one is my favorite," she said, showing me Georgia O'Keeffe's Abstraction White Rose.

Arts and Scraps

Today the girls and I went on a field trip with some friends. Arts and Scraps is a non-profit organization that encourages art made of recycled materials. I have an area in the basement where I cram any "trash" that I think will come in handy later for a project- coffee and oatmeal canisters, egg cartons, mesh bags, plastic containers. Arts and scraps is that times a million. For $7 you can fill up a paper grocery bag, for $3 you can fill a lunch bag. The kids had a blast running around and filling their bags, and I had a pretty good time too. Here is a quick tour.

Here is what we came home with.

When I got home and organized it all, I realized that I could have gotten twice as much stuff if I had just planned better. But, I was excited. And slightly distracted as it was hard to keep track of Audrey in the maze of stuff. She loved putting her hands in all the bins and feeling the various materials. These letters were her favorite, which is how we ended up with this pile.

Ice Skating with Wax Paper

At preschool today Erika's class had an obstacle course and were awarded gold medals to celebrate the Olympics. She has only watched bits and pieces of the Olympics, but she came home today and immediately wanted to play Olympics. Audrey napped (after taking off all her clothes and diaper a few times) and we had obstacle courses in the living room.

She loved making up stuff for me to do and then watching me actually climb across the dining room table and jump on the couch. And it was a thrill for her to be able to climb all over the furniture without a thousand warnings from me that she was going to hurt herself. We took turns giving each other the gold medal and she loved every single time I put it around her neck and made some fancy speech about her skills.

And then I remembered this post over at Frugal Family Fun Blog. We taped wax paper to our feet, moved the rug out of the way (though I later saw that they actually did it right on the carpet), and skated around for quite some time. I highly recommend this! The picture of Erika was taken before she had the genius idea of taping the wax paper on. The pink stool in the background was later transformed into a podium.

Alphabet Stamps

Erika filled her sticker chart and earned a visit to the Dollar store yesterday where she bought a Barbie-like doll whose legs are always falling off. The bribe has worked (for now) and I hope she learned a lesson about self control.

While at the Dollar store I picked up some foam letters to make stamps like the ones over at Craft Projects . I didn't have wooden blocks, so we just dove right in and used the letters as is. It was a little messy, but we think messy is good! As you can see, Erika's newly developed ability to write letters trumped her desire to use the stamps, but I think we'll be using these letter stamps again in the future. I did the alphabet (above) and hung it in Audrey's room. As she walked into her room her eyes lit up and she said, "ooh-la-la!", proving that the simplest activity can provide plenty of joy.

*This entry was written as part of the "Mom's 30 Minute Challenge"

Painting with Forks

We paint a lot around here. I am definitely an advocate of process over product so today, along with the usual paintbrushes, I gave Erika a plastic fork, a plastic mesh bag (the kind that onions or lemons come in), and a spoon. Eventually, she was up to her elbows in paint and had a blast. Here is the result:


On the third Sunday of every month The Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit has a free Family Day where kids can work on various art forms that highlight their current exhibitions. I don't know how this passed by me for the last three years, but it was so great! Today's activities were collaging with old National Geographic magazines and making stuffed animals out of disembodied stuffed animal parts. I know, rad, right? Erika found a National Geographic from 1969 that was all about the first manned landing on the moon. She has been really interested in space lately, so this was perfect for her.

This was her other masterpiece. It needs no explanation.

Audrey loved the collaging (mostly the glue sticks) and the overhead projector where you could put together faces (see above). I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next month.

The menu: Sunday Soup

Split pea soup and fresh bread for dinner. As the winter slowly winds down these simple bowls of soup seem extra special; we are warming ourselves against the last of winter and savoring each hearty bite. I have been making this bread every week since I found the recipe on Garden Mama's blog. Today I made it with half whole wheat flour and it was especially yummy. I almost bought a bread machine the other day, but decided I was enjoying the feel of dough on my hands too much. Maybe when the weather warms up and we aren't home so much it will be more handy.

Found: Typewriter

Erika and I went out looking for a waffle iron today and came home with this.

She just couldn't live without it (and neither could I) She has been hammering away at it all day and even insisted on taking it to her grandparent's house when we went over for dinner tonight. Unlike the far more expensive toys that she is bored with before they are even out of the plastic, this $15 find is sure to provide years of entertainment.

A Bribe

This is all it took! For the last two weeks we have been struggling with bedtime again with Erika. After almost a year of bliss, I sort of thought we were out of the woods with these kinds of issues with her, but now I have visions of a fifteen year old throwing a tantrum every time it's time to go to bed. After several nights of raising my voice, threatening various mean things, and being totally frustrated, Corey and I decided to try a different approach. A bribe. I was hesitant about this because I want her to go to bed without a fight because that's a reasonable thing to ask of a four year old, not because she gets to visit the dollar store. But in the end we thought that the important thing is to break the pattern and give her a chance to exhibit self control, even if it is for a reward.
I'm curious what others would have done in this situation and what you think of using bribes in this way. All I know is that we had a peaceful evening last night and I really needed it.

Yes, we went to the Mall

Oh, what to do with another cold and dreary day? It was Erika's idea to visit the mall so we could "run around and play in the play area and see the puppies at the pet store." Sounds good to me. The depths of winter will make you do crazy things. Here they are riding a little corvette.

And checking out the puppies.

Corey had the day off and it was his idea to make these when we got home:

And to top off a perfectly laid back day, we rented Up (for $1 at the Blockbuster Express machine at the grocery store!), which was a really wonderful film that you should see if you haven't already.

Attempt at Order

My life is a mess. Literally. Not like Hoarders mess (Yes, I watch that show on occasion), but a mess nonetheless. As a stay at home mom, I find it so, so difficult to keep up with the mess. At the moment I have no idea where my oldest child's birth certificate and social security card are. The towel closet threatens me each time I open it. There are piles of junk in many places and by the time I get to cleaning one, it is usually obsolete. We're not dirty people, just messy people. So when I read about this system somewhere a few weeks ago, I decided to give it a shot. This is more than a planner, it's a planner that tells you exactly what to do. Today, for example, my to-do list was as follows:

change dishcloth/towel
clean microwave inside and out
mop kitchen
clean glass- family/living room
change hand towels in bathroom
wipe down outside of kitchen cabinets

There are daily chores too, that you are supposed to do everyday, like feed your pet (easy, right?) and exercise (this is the one box that never gets checked off for me).

The idea is that if you can tackle these small tasks each day, your home should be relatively clean in a few weeks. We'll see about that. I'll keep you updated.

Bread and Valentines

We had the perfect winter day yesterday. After a mostly snowless winter, we finally had a good storm yesterday and went out to tromp around in it. The girls made the first footprints all the way up our block and and made "snowcastles" with their sandbox tools. The snow wasn't really sticky enough to make this work well, so we'll have to give it another shot in the next few days!

Knowing that we were bound to home by the weather, I took advantage of this time to make some bread. I got the recipe from Allrecipes.com (I swear I don't work for them, I just use the site a lot). It turned out awesome! I was inspired by a post last week over at Gardenmama's blog. Erika loves to help in the kitchen whenever she can and especially likes to make her own tiny loaves and eat them warm out of the oven.

While waiting for the bread, we worked on some Valentine's decorations. This was a big hit because there was glitter glue involved. The hearts were pre-made and we just colored, glued, and stuck lots of stickers.


I love Grooveshark! Somewhere along this path I lost touch with my love of music and stopped discovering new music. I don't seek out music like I once did partly because I don't have the time and partly because even if I find something I love, I'm too cheap to make the itunes purchase. And then Grooveshark entered my life. It's a free site where you can stream damn near anything. I have yet to type in an artist or song and not find it. Even obscure and Indy music is just a click away people! The best feature is the "similar" tab that lets you find new music based on whatever you're listening to.
Last week it occurred to me that kids' music might be available too, and, of course, it was! My ears were bleeding from the three songs that Erika was playing over and over and over again on her favorite kids album, so even music from Disney movies was a welcome relief. Erika and Audrey spent a lot of time dancing this week. Erika puts together intricate dances and Audrey goes around in circles, always watching her big sister out of the corner of her eye and trying to follow suit. And when they are resting, I can enjoy some music too.

The menu: Fish Tacos

The girls were at their grandparents for dinner tonight which gave Corey and I a rare chance to have a quiet dinner alone. We decided on fish tacos, something neither of us had eaten before. I grew up in San Diego, surrounded by fish tacos, but always thought fish and tacos somehow didn't go together. We found our recipe on Allrecipes.com:

Fish Tacos

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup beer

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 teaspoon minced capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 quart oil for frying
1 pound cod fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions
1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded

To make beer batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don't worry about a few lumps).
To make white sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with jalapeno, capers, oregano, cumin, dill, and cayenne.
Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Lightly fry tortillas; not too crisp. To serve, place fried fish in a tortilla, and top with shredded cabbage, and white sauce.

These were awesome for so many reasons. First, they were home made and fresh. I'm trying to cut out processed foods as much as possible and, except for the salsa and tortillas which we bought pre-made, this meal was fairly natural (though, by no means healthy since it was fried fish). Second, the sauce is amazing. I wanted to pour it on the rice, the chips, everything in sight. And the fish was light and crispy and perfectly golden brown. The whole meal (minus the beer) was about $12, which is reasonable and much cheaper than eating out. I could have saved money by planning ahead and buying ingredients on sale, but this was sort of a whim.