Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs and the BEST Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg Treats

April 18, 2014

Spring Holidays: Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs and the BEST Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg Treats

We’re in the middle of mega festivities with Passover, Easter, and Earth Day all in the span of a week…

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Passover was a hit. With our daughter leading the Seder, I had flashbacks to my childhood. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ahem.

Now we’re gearing up for a low-key, non-plastic Easter, which entailed dying almost two dozen hardboiled eggs for Sunday morning’s egg hunt.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

(Recently I learned that dying eggs is a spring tradition for both Jews and Christians, although the custom predates both religions. (Thanks Ruth for the link!) Pretty fascinating stuff.)

Easter Eggs

We colored our eggs using this nontoxic kit and got such beautiful, saturated results! We will definitely be using this kit again next year. (Want to make your own dyes with foods from your kitchen? Then this post is for you. We’ve done that before and that’s fun too.)

We also made the most delicious chocolate peanut butter eggs inspired by this post, but made with only chocolate and peanut butter — simple, quality ingredients:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Easter Eggs
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Easter Eggs
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Easter Eggs

The results were incredibly tasty. In fact, I think that was probably the best peanut butter cup of my life! I’m so looking forward to indulging more on Sunday. ;)

By the way, we don’t have plans or resolutions for Earth Day yet, but if we do something fun I’ll try to share a photo via Instagram/Facebook.

Happy spring!

Astronomy Homeschool Activities

March 11, 2014

Astronomy Homeschool Activities / Everyday Learning 6

Many of my most treasured childhood memories involve one-on-one time with my father: ice skating, hiking trips, studying astronomy. (Okay, and cuddling on the coach watching the original Star Wars movies too.)

I remember eagerly anticipating each lunar eclipse, comet or meteor shower, knowing that we’d get to see it together.

I have waited many years to share this joyful experience with my kids. After studying the ‘butterfly life cycle‘ and ‘leaves and seeds,’ we turned our focus this winter to astronomy, studying our moon, planets and their satellites in the solar system, and constellations in the night sky.

Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun

We stargazed with the help of Google Sky, the fantastic Earth Sky blog and Facebook page, and Skymaps with monthly, free printable sky maps…

… poured over dozens of great astronomy books (our favorites being Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations, Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations, and The Stars):

Happy birthday to our daughter

… observed the moon cycle with the Phases of the Moon app (that allows you to scroll forward and backwards through time to see how the moon changes each day) and this craft project:

Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun

… discussed the order, size, and characteristics of the planets and their satellites in our solar system with this craft project, these puzzles by Ravensburger, Melissa & Doug, and Crocodile Creek, and a craft similar to this one:

Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun

… explored the Greek and Native American myths explaining the stories behind our constellations…

… practiced identifying, drawing, and embroidering constellations:

Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Solar System Birthday Party
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun

… celebrated our daughter’s six birthday with a solar system themed party:

Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party

… visited the planetarium at the California Academy of Science and created our own version at home (with this fantastic activity)…

Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun

… and watched our daughter write her own astronomy book (from Imagine Childhood with this white gel pen):

Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun
Everyday Learning: Astronomy Homeschooling Fun

Three months of study and we still have so much to learn! I have a whole bunch more astronomy-themed activities on Pinterest to explore in the future.

So many fun projects, so little time!

Easy Baby Meal Cleanup with the Best Bibs Ever

February 28, 2014

Easy Baby Meal Cleanup with the Best Bibs Ever

Babies make for such messy eaters, don’t they? Food on the face, in the lap, smashed in the hair, covering sleeves, thrown across the table… all over the place.

Well, I have a tip that will make meal cleanup so much easier.

Easy Toddler Meal Cleanup aka the Best Bibs Ever!

My secret is using these long sleeved bibs that my friend Dorothee sells in her children’s shop Sofee and Lenee, featuring kinder accessories that she imports directly from her home country of Germany.

I think these particular bibs are ingenious!

(The baby likes them too, despite his serious appearance. Eating takes major concentration!)

The bibs are long, so they extend over the baby’s entire front. No more food in his lap!

Easy Toddler Meal Cleanup aka the Best Bibs Ever!

The bibs also fully cover the baby’s arms and entire front/shoulder area. No more food splattered across his clothes and covering his arms!

Plus they are lined so food doesn’t soak through, and they’re quick and easy to wash.

Easy Toddler Meal Cleanup aka the Best Bibs Ever!

Now after meals I just need to wipe his face and hands, and we’re good to go!

(Cause when babies finish eating, they’re done RIGHT THIS MINUTE, “get me out of here, mama!”)

Visit Sofee and Lenee to learn more. I own not one, but three of these bibs. One for every meal of the day!

Easy Toddler Meal Cleanup aka the Best Bibs Ever!

Hmmm, maybe I should buy a couple more… ;)

Happy Birthday to our little boy

February 21, 2014

His First Birthday

Happy birthday to our sweet, happy boy!

Happy first birthday to our boy

This past year flew by so fast.

Newborn baby's first weeks at home

Wasn’t he just born?

Happy first birthday to our boy

At one year old he’s an adventurous climber and explorer, yet coordinated and steady on his feet…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Loves music and dancing…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Crazy about carrying, dropping, and throwing (!!!) balls…

Happy first birthday to our boy

He loves playing outside and exploring the natural world (i.e. picking up rocks, trying to eat acorns, and carrying around little sticks or leaves)…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Curious about food preparation and cooking, which means he’s always near our side (and wanting us to hold him) when we’re working in the kitchen…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Loves to eat everything, although he’s particularly partial to braised meats, fresh fruits, and greens sautéed with garlic…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Skilled at drinking from a straw and enjoys blowing bubbles in between sips…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Chats all day long (no surprise there!), though we’re just starting to understand snippets of what he’s saying. He now clearly enunciates the words mom-mom, dad, big sister’s name, up, ba (for, you guessed it, ball), more, and done…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Loving and cuddly, he adores running towards us with his arms outstretched, ready to give us hugs. (He also gets terribly affronted if Daddy doesn’t pick him up the moment he walks in the door after work. How dare Daddy try to put down his bag first!)

Happy first birthday to our boy

His world revolves around observing and playing with big sister, and he wants to do everything she finds interesting…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Happy birthday, sweet boy! We so love you.

Love,
Mama

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

February 13, 2014

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

Six years ago after the birth of our daughter I found the postpartum recovery to be rather ass-kicking. (Talk about the one thing that no one adequately prepares you for when you’re pregnant!) Last year when I gave birth to our son, we resolved to do things differently. Here are some things we incorporated right away after giving birth. I’m happy to report that it made a HUGE difference.

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

1. Apply Lanolin — for the first few weeks after each time we breastfed, I covered my nipples and areola in lanolin. Even having breastfed previously for two and a half years didn’t prepare me for having sore nipples this time around. People say that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt initially. That may be true for some women, but for me I found breastfeeding to be extremely uncomfortable for the first two weeks or so (at times being excruciating since I had a cracked nipple due to a poor latch one night). After each and every session I put lanolin on my nipples and suddenly one day breastfeeding stopped hurting. My nipples got used to it, my son mastered latching, and ta-da! Breastfeeding success. He put on six pounds in the first six weeks and after three months weighed more than his sister did at one year. Phew!

2. Dry Off With a Hair Dryer — who would imagine a hair dryer to be essential after giving birth?! Well, it is. During the first few weeks when you’re using your peri bottle to rinse your you-know-what after each time you pee, dry your bottom with a hair dryer set on the lowest setting. It’s even more fun if you leave the door open to the bathroom and do a little dance while you’re drying to crack up your five year old and husband. True story. (Don’t judge me.)

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

3. Use Comfrey Salve — our midwife made this so I don’t know the exact recipe, but a quick Google search turned up a number of diy recipes. I slathered this on my you-know-what after drying off with the hair dryer after peeing. Magical healing herbs moisturizing that area works wonders. (You can also purchase comfrey tea to drink or add to sitz baths.)

4. Get Sunlight/Adequate Vitamin D — after giving birth, get yourself outside. Even if you haven’t showered in days and are wearing pajamas, you’ll feel better with the sun on your face and taking a breath of fresh air.

5. Use Ultra Soft Toilet Paper — when you’re done using your peri bottle, you’ll want to be gentle down there. We forego our usual recycled toilet paper in favor of the softest toilet paper available for a few weeks. (Bonus: your visitors and house guests will love it too.)

6. Take Pain Medications – No, really. I may have given birth without medication (twice), but recovery is not the time to be stoic! Taking ibuprofen afterwards made a freaking huge difference. After labor I was sore, swollen, and cramping (as my stitches healed and uterus shrunk). Taking away even some of that discomfort is essential. It’s so much easier to focus on and enjoy your new baby when you’re not hurting so badly. So talk to your doctor or midwife about what dose they’d recommended and medicate away.

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

Taking these steps dramatically reduced my postpartum recovery time between my first and second births. Instead of taking around six weeks to feel like myself (as it did with my first baby), this time the recovery took a matter of days. What an incredible difference!

(By the way, I wrote this post last spring and am finally publishing it now, eleven months later. I’m just a tad bit behind with my to-do list. Welcome to life with kids!)

Those of you who have given birth, what else would you recommend? I’d love more tips for the next time. ;)

Solar System Birthday Party

February 11, 2014

Solar System Birthday Party

In the past our daughter has insisted her birthday party be about dress-up and princesses and tea parties, which is all well and good, but frankly it’s not really my thing. Each year I’d hope for a literary or science theme (cause that’s how I roll), then gracefully support our daughter’s desire for pink and pouf and finery, with tricycles.

Solar System Birthday Party

Imagine my surprise and delight when our kid announced that this year she wanted a “solar system tea party” theme. It quickly became just a solar system party when I pointed out, gently, that our little girl doesn’t particularly like drinking tea. Ahem.

Now a space, galaxy, astronomy, planet, solar system themed birthday party sounds like a whole lot of fun to me! Throw 20 kids, plus their mamas, in the mix and we’re talking about a whole lot of crazy fun (in our little house!)…

We made solar system lollipops (using these stickers) to go with glow-in-the-dark sun, moon, and stars temporary tattoos, glow sticks, and chocolate earth balls for the goody bags:

Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party

Our homemade cake featured our daughter’s favorite constellations Orion, Sirius, and the Little Dipper (with Polaris):

Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party

Our banner, made using NASA photographs of moons, planets, stars, and nebulae, hung proudly above historical photos of the birthday girl:

Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party

We displayed some of our homeschooling projects, which I’ll blog about in more depth soon:

Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party

The kids colored constellations of the night sky (photocopied from this coloring book) and made spiral galaxy mobiles:

Solar System Birthday Party
Solar System Birthday Party

The sunny, warm weather allowed for outdoor scooter and bike fun for this sweet group of kids:

Solar System Birthday Party

The most perfect day!

Solar System Birthday Party

Happy birthday

January 30, 2014

Six, Say What?!

Our little girl young lady turns six years old today!

Happy birthday to our daughter

She’s full of sass and fire, keeps us on our toes, and brings such tremendous joy and love to our lives.

She’s a passionate reader…

Happy birthday to our daughter
Happy birthday to our daughter
Happy birthday to our daughter

Kind, loving big sister and friend…

Happy birthday to our daughter
Happy birthday to our daughter

Brilliant, endlessly curious, and dedicated student…

Happy birthday to our daughter

Talented cook and able helper…

Happy birthday to our daughter
Happy birthday to our daughter

And fun, strong girl…

Happy birthday to our daughter
Happy birthday to our daughter

We love you, sweetheart.

Happy birthday to our daughter
Happy birthday to our daughter
Three cheers for the birthday girl!

xoxo,
Mama

4 Healthy Salads Recipes to Try

January 21, 2014

Yep, I’m Still (Reluctantly) Eating Meat, Plus 4 Yummy Vegetarian Salad Recipes to Try

After ten long months of mama torture (ha!), our breastfeeding boy appears to finally tolerate my eating dairy! Hooray!

Hip Hip Hooray! Well, Maybe. / Snuggling Siblings

Here’s what I learned though: I feel soooo much better NOT eating dairy. Except for during several ass-kicking colds this fall, I didn’t blow my nose once over the past ten months, and I was a blow-my-nose-every-half-hour kind of gal before.

Sigh.

So right now I am basically a meat-eating vegan. Oh, the irony.

Hip Hip Hooray! Well, Maybe. / Happy boy

It’s been two years since I said goodbye to twenty five years of vegetarianism in an attempt to stay pregnant. I still eat meat every day. I continue to feel so much more energized now than when I was a vegetarian, despite getting so much less sleep. I’ve had to completely rewire my idea of what constitutes healthy eating and how I personally need to eat to feel my best. At this point in my life, breastfeeding a rapidly growing toddler 24-7, I basically eat hearty, gluten-free vegetarian meals with a side of meat.

Here are four dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free salad recipes that recently caught my eye:
4 Healthy Salads Recipes to Try
1. Orange, Avocado & Arugula Salad (pin) / 2. Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad (pin) / 3. Kale Citrus Salad with Orange Tahini Dressing (pin) / 4. Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Garlicky Orange Tahini Dressing (pin)

For other simple, healthy, gluten-free meal ideas check out my Recipes & Kitchen Tips To Try / Whole30 boards on Pinterest.

What sorts of yummy dishes have you enjoyed recently?

Weekend Moment / Kids Reading The Hobbit with Daddy

January 19, 2014

Weekend Moment

Weekend Moment / Reading The Hobbit with Daddy

David has been reading The Hobbit aloud to the kids. (Despite the incredibly violent movie adaptations, the book is written for children.) Our daughter is LOVING the story and now all imaginative play involves hobbits, wizards, and dwarves. Daddy is in heaven!

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