Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toddlers and Rainy-Day Activities

It was a rainy day yesterday; I had to come up with several activities to keep the kids' attentions.  I know everyone has done this before.  This is just a journal of what the day looked like for my kids and me this time.

5:30 am
Everyone is awake.  I am not saying this with a smile on my face. It is just a fact of life; I am raising farmers for children.  They like to wake with the sun; however, I always lament that I don't have chickens for them to feed.  If I had chickens, at least my kids would have something to do that early in the morning.  Since there are bi-laws against chickens where I live, I tend to relay on the Disney channel that early in the morning.

6:15 am
Daddy leaves for work, and the kids get instantly hungry watching him driveway.  It always amazes me how dirty the floor gets after oatmeal, pancakes, and fruit. Crumbs and more crumbs -- and two of the three food items cannot even make crumbs.  I have determined kids are just crumb-makers; they can make crumbs out of a banana.

7:00 am
Aidan wants to dress up like a pirate. Madeleiene, Zuzu, wants to do anything he wants to do.  So pirate day it is; the house is immediately filled with Arrrrrs. *mommy/teacher hint: dress-up is great for developing a child's imagination.

7:15 am 
Science Play
I set up a fun activity I saw on Pinterest.  Put baking soda in a flat container with sides.  Place a small amount of white vinegar in several small bowls and put a bit of food coloring in each of the bowls.  Place a kid's medicine dropper or a kid's medicine syringe in each bowl. Put your kids in ponchos -- and stand back and watch the fun ensue.  When the colored vinegar hits the baking soda, the chemical reaction is lots of fuzzy colored bubbles.  The kids loved it. Aidan is almost four and it kept him entertained almost an hour and half.  Zuzu is two so it kept her going for about an hour.  Anyway I call that a success.  And at this point, it is ...

*mommy/teacher hint: this activity is good for teaching cause and effect

8:45 am (Only 8:45 am)
Snack Time
This past Christmas, my mom bought me an air popcorn machine.  I thought it would be healthier for me and the kids, they would enjoy watching the popcorn pop out of the machine, and I could put olive oil and salt on it.  Another fabulous use for olive oil --- trust me you have to try it.

9:30 am 
Cooking Play
I thought....... only 9:30am..... what to do... what to do.... ? Let's make pudding.  It is easy, it will keep them on a task, and it will give them something to look forward to eating after  dinner.  They were super excited when I told them we were making pudding. They yelled,"Yeaaaaaaa!"  Then Aidan asked, "what is pudding?"  Once again I realize that my highly healthy eating standards have held the kids back a bit on the spectrum of normal American eating habits; I am not saying that is a bad thing -- but I just cannot help but notice. I explain that it was creamy, light, and yummy.  That is all the kids needed to know.  They enjoyed sticking their tiny fingers in the pudding and sampling the yumminess that they were going to endulge in after dinner.
*mommy/teacher hint: cooking helps kids learn to follow directions

10:30 am
Reading Time
We went up to the kids' rooms and read a bunch of books.  They love taking tuns to pick books out to read.  I am so happy that they have the reading bug; now I just have to keep that momentum going as they continue through their childhood. *mommy/teacher hint: this one is a no-brainer -- reading is wonderful -- teaching kids to appreciate the joy or reading is life changing.

11:30 am
Art/Letter Practice/Stamping
The kids love drawing; most kids love drawing.  They like using those big dot markers, pip-squeak markers, and stamps. I have regular stamps, letter stamps, and stamps that I have made.  I keep those big caps that are on the kid's milk jugs at most restaurants.  Then I glue two of the same foam stickers on the back.  Instant stamps. *mommy/teacher hint: art/ letter stamping inspires creativity and starts kids thinking about and using letters.

12:00 pm
Lunch Time
I put on a little good old fashion Tom and Jerry.  Nothing gets the kids attention as two animals going after each other like cat and mouse -- literally.  This wonderful show allows me enough time to make lunch.  Ahhhh it is so quiet that it is almost scary how much attention the kids give to the TV. About 12 pm Nonna stops by to visit and have lunch with me and the kids.  It is always a  treat to have Nonna come by -- the kids squeal with delight when she walks into the kitchen.  She happily sits down and eats with us.

Nap Time
Zuzu goes upstairs and after a half hour of fighting her sleepy feelings, she surrenders.  Aidan says he is a big boy now, so he wants to take his nap on the couch in the family room.  Nap time today ... it is so quiet in the house that I hate to even breath too loudly.  Most of the time the kids take naps at different times, which is good and bad.  Good because  I get alone time with each of the kids.  Bad because I don't get any down time for myself.  But soon they will be big and they will not want to spend all their time with me and I will have so much down time that I will not know what to do with it.  So for now -- I don't care about my down time.  But today -- they happen to asleep at the same time.  The quiet house and the sound of the soft falling rain is beautiful.

2:00 pm.  At this point, there is still a lot of day left.
Sorting Game
This game keeps their attention for awhile.  I bought a large divided dish at the Dollar Store, a bunch of colored pom poms, and a couple of tongs.  I give them some of their bowls.... and they are off and running having a good time.  At first I ask them to follow my directions, put all the blue pom pom here and all the yellow there .... you get the idea.  Then after awhile, they start to create their own plan.  It is amazing to watch how they think and the patterns they see. *mommy/teaching hint: sorting and creating patterns with color is the beginning of mathematical skills, literacy skills, organizational skills.

3:30 pm
Pirate Dress up (again)

4:00 pm
Mommy starts to make dinner
The rest of the day is filled with playing in the family room, basement, and mommy making dinner.

After dinner, it is bath time, reading time, snuggle time......whoooooo.... bed time.

Hope tomorrow is not rainy; cannot wait to get outside and play on the swing set.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Zucchini Bread

August 8th is National Zucchini Day (aka "sneak a zucchini on your friend's porch day"); this day was established by Tom Roy a Pennsylvanian who thought it was a good way to spread out the overwhelming amounts of squash being harvested at this time of year.  Tom Roy wanted to encourage the sharing of the overzealous vegetable crop.

"Sneak a Zucchini on your Friend's Porch Day" was a big success this year for my family.  My son is almost four and my daughter is two; they really got into it this year.  Aidan wanted to make a pirate zucchini man.  Which was not a big surprise, since he has been dressing up as a pirate at least twice a week since last September when Target starting selling Halloween costumes, and I bought his pirate costume.  He has actually gotten to the point of introducing himself as Pirate Aidan, Arrrrrr.  And it is always at that point where I happily say, "yes, my son is a pirate." And my daughter decided she wanted a Mee Mee (aka to the rest of the world as Minnie Mouse) zucchini girl. So the three of us were off to crafting a pirate and a Minnie.

We put a pirate scarf on one and Mee Mee (Minnie) ears on the other one. A sword and a couple of sets of eyes and we had accomplished our task; they turned out adorable. It was time to make the zucchini bread. This is the recipe I used; I found it on It had all sorts of great reviews, so I thought I would give it a try. The only tweek I made was adding some nutmeg. I cannot make a recipe without adding something. Nutmeg was an easy no-brainer to add. I have to say the zuuchini bread turned out moist and yummy; I would make it again.

Zucchini Bread 

3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (this is what I added)
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups of graded zucchini (I chopped it finely)
1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and nuts.  Mix all wet ingredients: zucchini, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Mix wet and dry just until combined.  Place batter into greased and floured pans.  This will either make 2 loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 40 - 60  minutes.  I made 4 mini loaf pans and it took 55 minutes.  They turned out perfect.

Back to the Zucchini Day...

My kids were so cute as they creeped up our neighbor's driveway to leave Pirate Zucchini, Ms. Minnie Zucchini, and the mini zucchini bread.  They were very proud of themselves as they ran back to the car.  The only glich in our plan was my daughter; she started to run back to the car with her beloved Minnie Zucchini still in her tight little grasp.  I had to pry it out of her hot little hands.  A few hours later, our neighbor, my kids call her Ms. Dawn, called to say she knew only two little kids who would leave a little pirate and Minnie zucchini on her front porch.  The kids laughed with delight as she teased them and told them how much she appreciated the squash people and the zucchini bread.

Another successful year celebrating August 8th, Zucchini Day.  But it's not about the silly "National Holiday;" that is just my excuse today.  It is about creating traditions and memories with my children who have stolen my heart and soul and filled them with love.  I adore spending time with them; and on that note, I'm closing the laptop so I can go and play with them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sneak a Zucchini on your Friend's Porch Day is ALMOST HERE!

It is almost here --- August 8th.

Wednesday, August 8th is National Zucchini Day -- otherwise known as Sneak a Zucchini on your friend's pouch day.  My kids and I had a ton of fun celebrating last year and making our zucchini people. We left our zucchini people on the Weihe's, our dear friends, porch.  We loved making the zucchini people, and our friend's loved receiving them.

To read the whole story and see the zucchini people we made see my entry from September 3th 2011  or look under my Craft Tab and find "Sneak a Zucchini on your Friend's Porch."  I will be posting our cute zucchini people from this year later this week.  If you are a close friend of mine, be on the look out --- you may be the lucky recipient this year.   We are also making zucchini bread this year to go along with the people -- yummy.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Whose porch will you be putting your zucchini people on?