Monday, April 30, 2012

It's Golf Season! - by Lauren

Yesterday marked the official start of golf season in our house.  There may have been frost on the greens in the morning but my husband and his friends were out of the house at 6am to get in their 18 holes.  For those of you who now lose your husbands to golf on the weekends, here are the top signs (in our house) that golf season has begun:

  1. My husband starts making tee times in a hushed whisper, huddled into various corners of our house.  He does this with as much secrecy and care as if he was calling a mistress and always looks startled and guilty when discovered.

  1. Every weekend I begin to hear, “Do I need to go to this birthday party?”  “If I need to be gone one day, should it be Saturday or Sunday?” “How late can we be to this event/party?” “How about I just meet you there?”

  1. When doing laundry, score sheets, beer bottle caps and tees begin to fall out of pockets or turn up in the dryer.

  1. On any given Saturday or Sunday, he can be seen napping at 4pm in the recliner.  When questioned, he will tell me that golf is exhausting and that he is not a young guy anymore. I will try not to roll my eyes…

  1. My husband is far from a complainer but I will begin to hear numerous complaints such as:

“I think I got windburn today.”
“I think I pulled something…”
“Walking 18 holes is exhausting.”
“Running the day before golf is a not a great idea.”
“It was too hot (too cold, too windy, too rainy…)”
“I got too much sun.”

  1. He looks like he has been assigned a weekend uniform of khaki shorts and a polo shirt.

  1. Not only will I hear stories about golf (how he did, who chocked on the 9th hole and sometimes even some amusing stories), but he will begin to watch every golf event on TV.  Throughout the house, I will now hear the whisper of the golf announcer followed by the quiet, polite clapping of the crowd. 


Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Earn a Dime - by Aimee

Although we try to not make our home very money-focused, the kids certainly know that 'stuff' costs money and the shiny coins in their piggy banks will someday allow them to buy something.  Pennies found on the ground and quarters from the tooth fairy are treasured so I knew the idea of earning some money would go over well.  I know a lot of parents start having their kids earn an allowance for doing chores but we decided to take a different angle.  One thing we just can't seem to work into our daily routine is brushing the kid's teeth in the morning and I know it's important!  It's part of our nighttime routine but just seems to get over-looked on the way out the door to school.

So, I created a 'dime sheet' to hopefully work this into our day.  Each of the boys have a sheet which are hanging on a bulletin board in the hallway for us all to see.  Usually during breakfast or while packing up their back-packs, one of us looks at the sheet and quickly announces  "It's time to brush teeth and earn a dime!" to which the boys respond by running to the bathroom and brushing!  They then get to color in one dime on their sheet.  We've told them they can save up their dimes to use at their school's store or to buy a lemonade or pick something out at the dollar store. 

I know it may seem more like a bribe but for the health of their teeth, I'm willing to do it! 


Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Bird Crafts - by Rhiana

This week in our Spring Into Arts class we learned a little about birds.  We made our own bird nests with paper bowls, shredded paper, yarn, twigs and other natural materials.  We also used glue.  Lots and lots of glue!  Glue is a great material for sensory experience.  It is messy fun that doesn’t stain!  


We also made a Momma Bird and a Baby Bird with plastic Easter Eggs, feathers and google eyes.  They looked fantastic!  One of the things we learned is that once the Momma Bird lays her eggs she doesn’t leave her nest until they hatch.  This means that the Daddy Bird has to gather all the food.  

We decided to help the Daddy Birds by making some simple bird feeders.  Here is how we made them:

Pipe cleaner

First you make a loop at the top by bending the pipe cleaner in a circle shape.  Then give it a twist to secure the loop.

Then you add a couple of beads to add some visual interest.

Then add lots of cheerios.  You simply slip them onto the pipe cleaner.  This is great for little ones to do.  It works their fine motor skills and it is a great quiet time activity.  My classes were very quiet as all the little ones were busy adding Cheerios onto the pipe cleaner!

You want to save a little room on the bottom to add a couple of beads.  The beads help keep the Cheerios from falling off the bottom.  Once you add a couple of beads double over the pipe cleaner and give it a twist to keep the beads from falling off.

I can’t wait to hear next week if any Daddy Birds paid a visit to the bird feeders!

- Rhiana

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adding to our 'Toolbox' - by Aimee

Like many of us grown-ups, my 7 year old son is often filled with disappointment when Sunday night rolls around.  After a fun weekend with the family and lots of play-time, Monday morning is right around the corner and it's a whole 5 days of school before 'home-time' starts again.  We've realized that part of this frustration comes from him not getting done everything that was on his 'to-do' list.  I never really gave that much thought - he's only 7, what could he possibly need to get done??!!  But apparently even little ones have 'to-do' lists that must be addressed for them to feel settled and accomplished.

When April vacation was starting, I began getting nervous that his return the following Monday would be miserable.  If he has a hard time after just 2 days off, what would it be like after 9!  So I tried out a new tool.  We decided to map out the week with the things that were already scheduled, the name of the person who would be caring for he and his brother each day, and a list of things we would like to accomplish.  As the week went on, we filled in more items, crossed some out, and moved things around.  I showed it to him each day and reminded him of our plan and asked if there was anything he wanted to add.  (Do you notice the one thing he wrote in??!!)

I'm happy to say that we had a wonderful Sunday night and Monday morning.  I'm not sure if it was because of this tool or the stars just aligned but the night and morning were flawless!  As my kids get older I'm realizing that just little tools like this can help them be more at peace and comfortable with our crazy life and if they're happier, I'm happier!


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Pizza Guy - by Lauren

The other night EJ asked me what we were having for dinner.

“Pizza!  We are having pizza!”

EJ: “The pizza guy is coming?”

Me: “No! Mommy is making pizza!”

EJ: “So is the pizza guy coming?”

My son’s inability to grasp the concept of me cooking made me think that perhaps I need to start cooking more often.  We recently began an effort in our house to eat fresh and organic foods and get rid of the processed.  I have seen a difference in all of our eating habits and I am continuing to eliminate things with too many ingredients to simplify our diets.  But it is definitely time to up my cooking.

A little over a year ago I bought a crock pot.  I was skeptical. Along with my fear of having something plugged in all day while I am not home, I was not convinced that I could make a great meal in a slow cooker. But after my first attempt, I was sold.  I am now convinced that you can make anything in a crock pot and I even made an Ethiopian dish! This whole “throw it all in, turn it on and just wait” concept is amazing.  Hard to believe something like a crock pot could make me so happy but sadly it did.

Well, it is time to break that crock pot back out and say goodbye to the pizza guy. The best recipes that I have found for slow cookers were on the blog A Year of Slow Cooking.  This recipe is one of our favorites and it is what I will be using this week to replace pizza night:

The Ingredients:

--2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

--1/2 cup bread crumbs

--1/4 cup parmesan cheese

--1/2 t Italian Seasoning

--1/4 t black pepper

--1/4 t kosher salt

--1 T olive oil

--1 beaten egg

--sliced mozzarella cheese

--favorite jarred marinara sauce

The Directions:

--spread the 1 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crock pot stoneware insert

--whip the egg with a fork in a separate bowl

--mix the bread crumbs with the seasonings and the parmesan cheese in another separate dish

--dip the chicken into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides with crumbs, cheese and seasonings

--place the chicken breast pieces in the bottom of the crock

--layer 2-3 slices of mozzarella cheese on top

--cover with entire jar of marinara sauce

--close lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4. If your chicken is still frozen, it will take longer.

Serve with your favorite pasta. I LOVE using the new vegetable pasta from Ronzoni.  I am all about tricking my kid (and husband) into eating vegetables…

Lauren Jordan is a part-time stay at home mom.  She has been married for 7 years and is the mom of a very energetic, hilarious almost 3-year old boy!  She hopes to some day get a full night of sleep.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Many Uses of a Snack Bag - by Aimee

What in the world is a snack bag??!!  That's what I said a year and a half ago when I received a message from a local mom who made 'snack bags' and asked if I would be interested in selling them at Kite Tails.  But I soon fell in love with these simple, cute little bags and have found so many uses for them!  I'm proud to have been the first store to carry norajane snack bags and I thought I'd share with you just a few of the ways we use them at our house!

Game cartridges




...cosmetics, jewelry, camera, and snacks of course!  My little ones bring them to school almost everyday with their snacks; the bags are easy for them to open and close and provide a little extra padding!  Last year we gave them as gifts to my son's teachers - he picked out the pattern he wanted for each teacher and then helped me fill them with little wrapped candies and drink mixes.

Have you found a unique use for one of norajane's snack bags?? 

Mention this post and receive a free admission to Kite Tails with your next in-store snack bag purchase!

Happy snacking!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Winter Get-Away - by Aimee

A friend reminded me today that I never shared with all of you the details of our trip to VT last month.  My younger brother lives in Stowe, VT and works at the mountain so we try to get up there at least once each winter to ski.  With the mild winter this year, the skiing wasn't too great so we found something new to try:  The Pump House Indoor Water Park at Jay Peak!

Jay Peak is a ski resort about an hour north of Stowe (we get to Stowe in 4-5 hours depending on how many potty breaks we take!).  I'm not much of a skiier so I can't say much about the actual mountain and resort but it's well worth the drive for the water park!  My brother did a little research and found some coupons that allowed 6 of us to get in for just under $100!  Since we were there 'off-season' it was pretty quiet and the lines and crowds were small.

The Pump House has just about everything you'd want in an indoor water park:  kids area, hot tub, lazy river, water slides, climbing wall and basketball hoops pool, surf/wave pool, food and drinks!  I spent most of the day in the hot tub with my little guy while my older one hit the water slides and surf pool!  There were plenty of life guards on duty and the attendants at the surf pool did a great job helping the kids (and adults!) learn to boogie-board and surf.

This is definitely a family-destination that is worth the trip.  The kids area is great for little ones and there's enough excitement for older kids and adults.  I went for the restful version and enjoyed watching my kids have fun while sipping a cocktail!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Liquid Sidewalk Chalk - by Rhiana

Today at Kite Tails we had a great time making liquid sidewalk chalk!  It is a super easy and inexpensive craft that is fun to make and play with outdoors!  

Here is the recipe:
  • 1 cup of cornstarch (there are probably 3 cups to a box)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food Coloring

You just combine the water and the food coloring and stir.  Then pour the mixture into egg cartons (you can also use muffin tins or plastic cups) and add the food coloring.  The more color you add the more saturated the color.  If you are making this for just a few kids one batch is plenty.  I doubled the batch and it was enough for 15 kids to have fun with some left over.  Then give the kids some paint brushes and watch what they create!

It was so much fun to watch the kids explore color and a new media at Kite Tails this morning!  They made quite a beautiful mural together on the outdoor chalkboard!


PS- if when first applied the chalk looks really faint, don’t worry, once it starts to dry the color looks much brighter and much more like the chalk we are used to seeing!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The 3 Year-Old Teenager - by Lauren

I once wrote a post on my blog about how toddlers were very similar to drunk college kids.  They pee the bed, love you one moment and then hate you the next, and can trash a room in less than five minutes; I found the similarities to be amazing.  As EJ approaches three, I am now amazed at how similar he is to a sullen teenager.  Moody, smart-mouthed, defiant; I feel like we skipped right to 16.

Like most stages during this parenting journey, I am once again caught off-guard and unprepared. My sweet natured child was quickly replaced with a cranky, overly dramatic teenager and I didn’t get the memo soon enough.

“What Mom??”

“Mom, go away! Go over there!”

“I said no!”

“I am going to my room!” (Door shuts in our faces)

The theme to most of my posts is “I am not totally sure of what I am doing here”. And believe me this stage is no exception.  He was smart at two but they get scary smart at three.  Scary.  I even sense fear in Mike. We now say no, take a step back and hold our collective breath for the dramatic reaction.  It also doesn’t help that Mike and I find almost everything amusing and fight most of the time to keep from laughing. Sometimes I think he must be practicing for an audition.  He is clearly up for the role of “angry, unreasonable, but very short, teenager #1.”

I will say this stage has forced us to take a harder look at discipline.  Up until now, we have had days or moments but no real “issues”. With three it seems like the whole year may be an issue.  I posted on Facebook about approaching three and one mother replied that she had to get more flexible with her parenting.  I thought that was great advice.  Pick your battles; go with the flow a little better.  Unfortunately for me, the word flexible has never been used to describe me.  You will never hear a family member or friend say, “Boy that Lauren is such a flexible person.” So this is bad news for me all around.

I am once again confronted with facing my weaknesses head on in an effort to become a better parent.  I am beginning to realize that parenting is more about how we react as parents and less about how they act as kids. I cannot say that I have always been perfect with my reactions but I can say that I have seen vast improvement with myself as a parent and as a person.  Being challenged daily with handling situations better, communicating better and always reacting positively has made me feel like I have grown more in the past two and half years than I have in the previous thirty.

And so I look to three as yet another challenge and one I feel very up to. Maybe it is the fact that my child now finally sleeps in his own bed and through the night (see my post on co-sleeping for a good example of what not to do) or maybe it is just pure na├»ve stupidity, but I think we will all get through this year, however long it may feel, unscathed.  Wish us luck…

Lauren Jordan is a part-time stay at home mom.  She has been married for 7 years and is the mom of a very energetic, hilarious almost 3-year old boy!  She hopes to some day get a full night of sleep.