Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Whirly World and Park of Toys

Sometimes "kid-speak" is so funny you don't want to tell them the correct pronunciation. Sometimes they won't believe you.

The Tumbleweed likes to call the local playground "Whirly World", it is really "Woolie World" after the school mascot, the "Woolies". We've tried correcting her recently, after letting her say it wrong for a year or so, but "Whirly" just makes sense to her because there are lots of things that spin. So "Whirly World" it is.

This morning, the Dandelion had a new one. I told him we were heading off to Purgatory Chasm to go letterboxing. He went running to his room and returned with a stuffed toy and said, "Can I bring Pablo to Park of Toys?" Too cute! I think we are in a little trouble when we get there and there is no "Park of Toys"!

This comes on the heels of the Dandelion's latest word mix-up, which has been landing him in trouble. About two weeks ago, he started expressing his anger by hitting. But not just hitting, by telling the person he was mad at "I'm going to hit you now!" Well after about a week of being punished for hitting & punching. He has changed his warning. Now when he gets mad he says, "I'm mad! I am going to punish you now", and then he punches you. Needless to say, he has been sitting timeout a lot, but at least he seems to be listening to the reasons why.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Our Hitchhiker

After listening to the Tumbleweed beg & plead to do more letterboxing all weekend, we finally had a chance to go this morning. We had attempted to head over to Purgatory Chasm on Friday afternoon to do a little treasure hunting, only to find that everyone else had the same idea. Okay, maybe they weren't all letterboxing, but every parking lot was filled. This had lead to one heck of a tantrum, so we took a letterboxing break over the weekend.

This morning, we went to the practically empty park and made our way to Charley's Loop in search of a couple of letterboxes. Drat, foiled again. Charley's Loop was chained off? Plan B - back to the car for a different set of clues and off we went.

It was a relatively uneventful hike, with the Tumbleweed leading the way and finding the boxes. The Dandelion brought up the rear, but didn't need much extra coaxing this time - he even inked his own stamp and "stamped in" on his own while the Tumbleweed & I were doing other things one of the times. There were two clues in this set of letterboxes, and in the second box a surprise...

We picked up a "Hitchhiker"! That's a letterbox that travels from box to box. I guess we were meant to take that trail today. The kids & I were super excited to find our first hitchhiker and are looking forward to selecting a good box to send it on its way again.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crabs & Creepy Crawlers

Despite being school vacation week, there was a lot of learning to be done this week. It began with letterboxing and ended with planting new gardens around the swingset, but in the middle the kids got to attend some special events to learn about some unusual critters.

On Wednesday, we stopped by the Millbury Library for a special presentation by the New England Aquarium about Tidepools. The Tumbleweed was completely fascinated. She checked out the shark jaws, whale tooth, mussels, and finally hung out at the Spider Crab tank. She was so interested that the Dandelion and I left her there to look for some books. When we came back about 15 minutes later, she was excited to report that she had gotten to hold the Spider Crab "out of the tank!" [the tank had been labled "touch under the water only", but the handlers saw that she was so interested that they let her hold it.] No picture of that though, but she was so proud and made sure to tell me "everyone said I was courageous. Can we get a tank for our house?".

Then on Saturday, before the first soccer game of the season, we stopped at the Tumbleweed's school for a special event called "The Bug Club". There was a guest speaker with all kinds of bugs & critters including roaches, a tarantula, an iguana, a salamander, frogs, scorpions & snakes. The Dandelion repeated his dislike of spiders (not sure where it is coming from, but he says he is "afraid of spiders"), and didn't really want to sit and take part. The Tumbleweed soaked it all in. She said her favorite was the salamander, Spot, until the frogs came out, and then those were her favorites. No surprise there - she held a tree frog two years ago when a similar program came to her other school.

Our adventures with little critters continues next week as Messy Fingers explores Frogs on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

They're Ba-ack...

I was right, the Red Lily Beetles are back. I had really been hoping that all of my hard work to get rid of them last year would have meant we were through with them forever, but we're not.

Fortunately, I am a month ahead of last year and have already killed 8 (3 pair while they were mating) and there are no signs of eggs or larvae [yet]. I am hopeful that this year's battle will easier than last year.

On the plus side, things are starting to bloom. I planted this Bleeding Heart root last year, but it didn't grow. I am so pleased to see it's first bud.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Treasure Hunting

Over the weekend, I read about Letterboxing on a friend's blog. I guess I was interrupted and left that page open on my computer because later that day, the Tumbleweed pulled me over the computer and asked what her friend was doing (the little girl was in the photos on the blog). We checked out a few links and talked a little about Letterboxing, and of course she wanted to go "right now!"

There was a little preparation necessary, so a few days later we went in search of our first letterbox in Grafton. The kids were really excited to use their new stamps and I was pretty excited to see the stamps we would find (for now we are using store bought stamps, but many hidden letterboxes have hand carved stamps). We chose a pretty easy one for our first one (ie - once I drove us there & parked there were only a couple of clues to follow). The Tumbleweed found it quickly. After we had stamped everything and rehidden, we climbed back in the car and the Tumbleweed said, "let's do another, and another, and another" (this is a frequent quote of hers - once she likes something she just wants to keep doing it!).

So off we went in search of another one that was nearby. It was a little tougher, in that there was a little more of a hike (with a few muddy spots) and a few more clues to follow. But the kids followed the instructions and found the hiding spot (the Dandelion was mostly following his big sister, but he was interested). Midway through the stamping process he did start to wander a bit, so I need to work a little more on speeding up the stamping and/or keeping him busier.

All in all, it was a good afternoon. The kids are talking about going again (the Tumbleweed also really wants to hide some "for my friends to find"), and I have checked into more places to find letterboxes. I have found that they are all over the place, and often in the same parks that the Eagle's triathlons take place in. Perhaps we will be able to do some letterboxing when he is out racing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventures In Cooking - Meatballs

Would you believe that I have never made meatballs before? Well, maybe you would. Anyway, I tried a new recipe (with a little variation based on what was in the cupboards) from my favorite kids food magazine - Taste of Home's Fun Food. The Dandelion slept through dinner, but everyone else gave it a thumbs up.

Meatball Skillet Meal
with slight changes


1/3 c quick cooking oats
2 T finely chopped green pepper
2 T finely chopped onion
2 T dried chives
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

1 lb ground turkey

half bag of carrot chips
remainder of pepper & onion, sliced
1 can (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes

4 cups rice


1- Start cooking rice.

2- To "finely chop" pepper & onion, I used the magic bullet. They are less conspicuous that way.

3- mix the first 9 ingredients together. Crumble ground turkey over and mix well. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls.

4- over medium heat cook meatballs until no longer pink; drain. Add carrots, peppers & onions; cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes; heat through.

Serve over rice. Makes 6 servings.

iPad Mornings

After getting back from a business trip late on Friday, the Eagle spent some quality time with the kids in the morning. As I peeked in to check on them they were playing "GlowBurst", a game where you have to touch the numbers in order from least to most as quick as you can, on the Eagle's new iPad. The Tumbleweed did great, until the higher level threw in negative numbers. The Dandelion had some help with which numbers needed to be touched and when, but once the Eagle told him he was able to find them on his own, albeit slowly. I certainly can support math games.

Later the Eagle downloaded a Toy Story app, and they played until the battery got low. There were numerous requests for more iPad from both kids. Sorry kids, even I don't get to play with it that much!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Special Person Day

The Tumbleweed's school held their "Special Person Day" this week. Since she attends every day, she actually had two Special Person Days. The Eagle was away on business so I attended the first and Nana came for the second. Thankfully, I found a friend willing to pick the Dandelion up, take him to her house, and meet us in a parking lot to drop him off or would not have been able to go. A huge thanks to Danielle!

I arrived at school at the designated time with all of the other parents to hear the daily songs and the kids reciting the US presidents. Then everyone went in their own directions to show what they like to do at school. The Tumbleweed did some painting, play-doh & coloring - no surprise there. Finally I convinced her to show me something with the "Montessori Materials". I don't really know what it was called, but she showed me something where she counted sticks :)

The highlight for me though was at the end of class, when they were just about hand out Thank You cards to the guests, that the teacher chose her to stand in the middle of the circle to read the inside of the card to everyone. She didn't hesitate and read the card out loud to a crowded room. This was the perfect way to show how far she has come from the beginning of the school year.

PS - Special Person Day was also Pajama Day, which I was reminded of at playgroup that morning and had to go home to get them! It really was a crazy day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Soccer Kicks-off

Spring soccer season is finally here. The Tumbleweed was excited to put on her new pink cleats and head out to the first practice, although she informed me that she doesn't like to practice and just likes to play games. With rain looming for the weekend it looks like she will have to wait a little longer for the first game.

There are 5 kids from her team in the fall - there would have been two more, however the league restructured the ages. Anyway, her team has 9 girls who all seem eager to play on the "Pink Team".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monte's Final Visit: A Peek into our Weekend

Since the school year is drawing to a close (the Tumbleweed's last day is in 6 weeks!), I knew when Monte Bear came home with the Tumbleweed that it would probably be his last visit with us. Well, we showed Monte the time of his life this weekend!

On Saturday morning we were up early and headed to the UMass Memorial Teddy Bear Clinic. I had seen this advertised and thought it sounded like fun - and even more fun now that we had a special visitor. While at the clinic, Monte (and Popple) got weighed & measured, had their blood pressure taken, learned about x-rays and anesthesia, and got glasses. The big excitement, though, was when they got real casts - Monte on his arm and Popple on his horn. I definitely think we will head to the Teddy Bear Clinic again next year!

In the afternoon we took Monte to the Boston Museum of Science, where he learned about dinosaurs, playground science and about his relatives the brown bear. He had to stay in the car during dinner, but I think he needed a nap anyway.

On Sunday, Monte and the Tumbleweed got to learn about honeybees. They were both very brave going right up to the hives and checking out the bees. Monte sure had a lot to tell the "Bumblebee" class at school including the name of the queen bee, Pink, and how it is important to back away slowly if you are scared instead of running away. Thanks to Michele for letting us come over!

In the afternoon, Monte got to watch the Tumbleweed learn how to ride her bike without training wheels! Even I didn't get to witness that first hand. Then it was out to play on the swingset and help me in the garden before dinner.

Monday morning it was time to get ready to go back to school, but not before comforting the Tumbleweed at the doctor to get her booster shots (she had her physical a couple weeks back, but had strep and couldn't get her shots). Then it was off to school for the two of them, where Monte was greeted by a look of surprise from all of the teachers when they saw his cast. The Tumbleweed was once again very excited to show & tell in front of the class.

We will miss you Monte!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Two Wheels

The Eagle gave me a little break this afternoon and took the kids over to the track in Auburn (near Rocketland) to ride bikes. I had some nice peace & quiet to spend in the yard cleaning up the garden beds and moving plants around, and he and the kids had fun in the sun.

The trip was prompted by the fact that the Dandelion just got his first bike - a Lightning McQueen 12" with training wheels. He was having a hard time riding in our driveway, with all of the little bumps and depressions, so the Eagle wanted to take him somewhere flat. He took the Tumbleweed and her bike for "No Training Wheels, Lesson #3" (sidenote: a few weeks back I posted about Lesson #1 and about a week after that she had gone to the track for lesson #2, where she perfected her balance and got her pedals back).

The Dandelion had a blast on his bike, which fits him quite nicely.

But the big surprise of the day was the Tumbleweed learning to ride without training wheels. She made enormous progress from her previous lessons and was quickly able to ride all by herself! I could tell when he walked in the door that the Eagle was very proud of her, and I am too :)

I heard that there was a little disappointment that the ice cream truck had left before they made it there, but otherwise everyone was quite excited about the afternoon. I am sure there will be many more trips to the track this summer!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Museum of Science

It had been a while since we had been to the Boston Museum of Science - nearly four years [gasp!] - but we finally had the opportunity to take the kids in. With our new membership to the Worcester Ecotarium, we get in free at the Museum of Science. What a great deal! It is so nice to be able to go for a few hours and not feel pressured to "get our money's worth" and stay a whole day.

Since it had been a while, we had lots to explore. We started off with some of the live animals and then made our way to the dinosaur exhibit. The kids enjoyed looking at the large models and skeletons, especially the Dandelion (and the Eagle).

After the dinosaurs, we went up the Science in the Park exhibit, because I recall that being one of the Tumbleweed's favorites when she was little. How could you go wrong with teeter totters and swings? The kids had fun exploring, but the Tumbleweed found her favorite spot racing kids on the track. I particularly liked the fact that she was in a skirt and wearing party beads - and taking the racing very seriously!

We will definitely be making the trip back to see more of the museum, since the kids were so engaged we didn't make it to some of the other parts of museum that we thought they would like.

A couple flashback photos from the Museum of Science...

October 2005 - Star Wars Exhibit

August 2006 - The Tumbleweed loves the ball mazes in the Discovery Center

Friday, April 9, 2010

Merry Swap-mas

Today we hosted a big toy and gear swap for our MOMS friends. Several people stopped by and dropped things off beforehand, and I did my best to clean out as much as possible, so by the time our guests arrived we already had quite the pile going! It was a good thing that I had cleaned out the garage because between moms & kids & stuff, we needed all the space.

I love swaps because they are great motivation to look through your belongings and decide what you no longer need. Not that you can't do this whenever you like, but having a swap gives you a good deadline to work towards. I also like knowing that the things we have used & loved are finding a new home with someone else who can use and love them all over again. This time we even had free samples & coupons from GreenWorks to giveaway thanks to House Party.

I was pretty impressed with how much the Tumbleweed was into giving away her things. She had carefully selected some items from her room (after I took out the things that I thought should be swapped), and was showing them to other moms & kids as if she was a sales person - LOL. She still "rescued" a few of the things I had chosen, but overall I thought she did really well.

The kids are both really enjoying the "new" toys they chose at the swap. The Dandelion chose some Cars toys (big surprise) and the Tumbleweed selected a spiral drawing kit, a little ballerina doll, a Littlest Pet Shop display (no more stray pets around here... they now live in "Pet Town") and a few other things. This afternoon it was like Christmas all over... first playing with one toy, then the next, then the next. We have decided to call it "Swap-mas".

Now it is time to get ready for next week's book swap and then the big semi-annual clothing swap!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Friskies & Posh

Around St. Patrick's Day, I let the kids choose Lucky Charms at the grocery store. Recently the box moved to the front of the cereals and the kids have started asking for it. Why is that noteworthy? Well, because the Dandelion keeps asking for "Friskies" not Lucky Charms, cereal, etc. I am not really sure how he knows that it looks like Friskies because we don't have a cat. I have tried to explain that Friskies is for cats, but that has only lead to him asking for "Friskies for boys not cats".

That is not the only strange food request these days. His favorite drink right now is "posh" (said with a long o). This is short for "potion", which the Tumbleweed decided to call the new juice we had (which we highly recommend - Apple & Eve FruitAbles "Apple Harvest"). The Dandelion shortened it and some how it has stuck, now both kids call it "posh".

I love kid-lingo :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Under Attack - Year 3

They're Ba-ack!

Well, sort of. This year there is a nuthatch flying into the family room windows (for the past two years it has been a robin - 2008, 2009). This poor nuthatch has been coming to the bird feeder for the past two months, and suddenly yesterday he decided to start flying at the windows. He is so set on doing this that he has done it while I stood on the deck taking pictures from about 5 feet away! Last night he did it for two hours while the kids sat inside laughing hysterically. I like to call it "Must See Bird TV"

This afternoon I will be attempting to construct something to break up the reflection.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Project Swingset: Complete

With a layer of rubber mulch, the swingset is complete! Just in time for the nice weather. The kids have been spending every minute that they can out there swinging, sliding and taking turns being the "lemonader" (aka person who serves lemonade). It is so great to see them enjoy it and spending time outside.

This week was the first week of needing to find shorts & sunscreen, so someplace to play outside has been a perfect way to spend out time in the warm weather. A big thanks to Daddy for building it!

Both kids love swinging

My Little Monkey

Monday, April 5, 2010

Birdseed Ornaments

For Easter my parents sent the kids some birdseed ornaments to put out for our birds. The birds really like them - and it is fun to watch them try to land on one. So far the Downy Woodpecker and Nuthatch have had the most success, but all of the birds have enjoyed the seed that has fallen to the ground. I think we will make some more when these are gone.

Birdseed Ornaments

1/3 cup gelatin (this equates to 2 of the little boxes each of which contain 3 envelopes of powder)
1 1/2 cups water
8 cups seed

1. mix gelatin and water on low heat until gelatin is melted clear
2. remove from heat and stir in seed (VERY STICKY!)
3. pack tightly in shaped container OR lay out in say a cookie sheet with sides if you want to do cut outs. Keep in mind this is jello - so unmolding it from a bundt pan or other container requires soaking in cold water.
4. refrigerate for 2-4 hours
5. dry on rack for couple of days
6. if you do cut-outs and want to hang as an ornament, use a pencil to make the hole for hanging, just be sure to give it a wide margin.

Thanks for the recipe, mom!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Swingset Egg Hunt

It was so nice to have nice weather for Easter. For the first time, the Easter Bunny left the kids eggs outside. The Eagle had spent the entire day Saturday assembling the new playhouse/swingset. The kids had gotten to slide a few times last night, but the Eagle finished staking it and putting the swings up this morning while I cooked breakfast and the kids played with the new things the Easter Bunny had left in their baskets. Then he hid the eggs.

The kids were so excited to go outside to hunt - and play on the swingset - that they didn't even put up a fight about getting dressed. And once they were outside, I thought they would never come in. Thankfully, the Easter Bunny had taped their eggs shut (so nothing would get lost in the grass or ruined by dirt), so in order to find out what was in them, they had to come inside :)

Then it was off to Nana & Papa's house. I failed in my attempt to get a nice picture of the kids in their Easter clothes, and despite two kids who had meltdowns during dinner and barely ate, we had a good time.

The kids fly mini kites

The kids model their new clothes that Nana and Papa brought back from their travels. Cameron's from Egypt and Daniela's from Kuwait.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Bunny

Despite failing to do so last year, we made it to see the Easter bunny this year.

On Saturday, I took the kids to Waters Farm for the Egg-stravaganza. The Dandelion was not too into sitting with the Easter Bunny, especially after waiting in line (which we did without the stroller!), but he did agree to sit with his sister. He never agreed to smile. Oh well - it could have been worse :)

After everyone got to sit with the Easter Bunny, it was time to hunt for eggs. Despite several days of dry weather following the monsoons, there was still quite a lot of water in the fields. The Tumbleweed was very determined to find a wooden egg and win a prize, but it was not meant to be.

Next year we will wear rain boots, no matter what.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Or "clementime", as the Tumbleweed would say.

For some reason, this has been a clementine week. Last week, I checked out the book "Clementine" by Sara Pennypacker from the library. I must admit, I judged it by it's cover initially. Can you guess why?

Several nights ago, I picked it up to read to the Tumbleweed at bedtime. When she heard the name, she said "Oh, we had those for snack at school today. Can we buy them at the grocery store sometime?" After I promised that we would buy some, we settled in to read the book. Turns out, it is a great "out-loud" read. She has really enjoyed it and asks for extra chapters each night. I have also enjoyed reading it to her, especially in comparison to some of the other books she chooses.

I think we will be getting "The Talented Clementine" when we go to the library on Tuesday :) And will be getting another box of clementines at the grocery store, because the Tumbleweed is peeling and eating one every time I turn around and the first box has only 2 left!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Camper

One of my favorite movies is The Parent Trap. I actually like both the original with Hayley Mills and the remake with Lindsay Lohan. I think part of the reason I like this movie is because of the quintessential summer camp the girls meet at. Besides having your cabin booby trapped, it seems like a fun place.

My kids aren't quite old enough for sleepaway camp, but they are going to "summer camp". These days there are all kinds of day camps for kids, even at age 3! The Tumbleweed has gone to a couple of different camps the past 2 summers, but this will be the Dandelion's first time. He will be attending soccer camp with his sister - although in separate groups. He is so excited.

The Tumbleweed is excited about soccer camp, but even more excited about "Flippers Camp" at her gymnastics center*. Five full mornings of gymnastics, swimming, crafts & playing in the zone. She loved it last year! We signed up a couple weeks back, and ever since she has been bugging me about when she gets to go. She was even featured in the April issue BayState Parent magazine. I have a feeling we are going to have a calendar marking off the days from the end of school until camp!

*GLC Discount! Any new students who sign up before May 1st for a summer camp or current/summer class (swimming or gymnastics) at GLC and mention our name can get $5 off each child's tuition!