Archive for the ‘kiddos’ Category

Have you heard of ghosting?  If you live in a neighborhood then maybe you have been exposed to this exuberant little week-before-Halloween ritual.  It’s sort of Halloween meets Pay-it-Forward meets Ding Dong Ditch.

You put some goodies in a bag with a little note alerting the recipient to the fact that they’ve been ghosted.  Then you wait for dark and stealthily make your way to their doorstep where the goodies are carefully placed before you ring the doorbell and run for it!

Eli adores this yearly activity as it really satisfies the secret agent in him, so he was delighted when we got our chance to ghost-it-forward.Obviously it’s hard for me to pass up an opportunity to surprise people with something cute on their doorstep, so I made up some special tags and some ghost straws.  Ghosting is supposed to be this secret hush-hush kind of thing.  Everyone in the neighborhood winds up getting ghosted by someone, but no one knows who ghosted who.  At least that’s how it’s supposed to go.  After our evening of ghosting espionage, we were greeted at the bus stop by cries of, “Eli ghosted us last night!”  We were that obvious?  Eli’s friend Sarah looked at me, Well duh….

“Heather,” she said.  “We know your work.”

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I know the dilemma of how to get kids to eat their vegetables is nothing new.  There are millions of picky eaters out there.  I just never expected my kid to be one of them.  I’m a mama who has been known to eat kale for breakfast.  I’m in love with vegetables.  All of them.   Okay fine, turnips aren’t my most favorite, but I will still eat them.  Really it has felt like a not-very-funny joke that it’s my boy who won’t eat a single vegetable.

The past few years I’ve gotten very tricky about how I get his vegetables into him.  They get pureed and baked into just about everything (chocolate zucchini cake, anyone?).  They get made into pasta (sweet potato gnocchi is a bit hit around here).  And slipped into smoothies (it’s nothing short of miraculous that beets can go totally undetected in a berry smoothie).  But I’ve never lost the desire to see him actually nosh down something green in a form true to its own vegetal nature.

So you can surely share in my delight when I exclaim that Eli, as it turns out, is a forager by nature.  He will glad eat anything that is wild and edible.  Dandelion greens?  Check.  Violet and nasturtium blossoms.  Most definitely.  Herbs of any kind.  And now, thank my lucky stars, he’ll pick the mesclun that he planted in the garden early this spring and actually, you know, eat it.  Not in a salad or anything.  Heavens, no.  You can’t mix things all up like that, Mama.  But Eli will sit and eat, leaf by leaf, petal by petal, a dinner plate of freshly foraged green things.  Green things, people!  My son is eating green things!

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I do so love Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing for Baby.  It’s so nice to sit down for an easy little sewing project (one that I am unlikely to botch) and be rewarded so quickly with cuteness.  These little giraffe rattles were the perfect project for me and a little helper (okay fine, Eli stuffed for about five minutes before getting bored with it.  But those five minutes were still really nice).

These are going to make the sweetest little baby gifts.  Our two-year-old  friend Sam already came and left exuberantly with one.  And there are plenty more babes on the way from both family and friends (and my own round belly, of course).  I’m ready with the rattles.  Bring on the babies!

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It was Eli’s idea.  I confess that I had just thrown a bunch of old crayons and broken crayon bits into the trash when he said, “Mama, don’t throw these away!  We can make new crayons out of them!”  I really wasn’t trying to be wasteful.  It’s just that you can reach of saturation point of broken yellow crayon nibs.  And when those broken nibs are so plentiful that they prevent you from actually closing the lid to the crayons’ home, that’s when a Mama might be led to take such drastic measures.

But Eli saved the day (and a whole lot of crayon bits) with his suggestion and thus began a really happy  activity of recycling those old broken crayons into fabulous new colors.After the old crayons were peeled and chopped, we had the super fun job of mixing the little bits into their new color palettes. We lined a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners (lucky that I happened to have some on hand as I really didn’t want to devote an entire muffin tray to crayon making forever).   We baked them in the oven (175 degrees or so) until they were nice and melty (maybe about 25 minutes) and then took them out to cool.Then we naturally got right to work testing them out.  After doing a full color test of all our new crayons, Eli named every one with sweet little names like “green river” and “sunrise” and “cloudless sky.”

If you have a jar full of broken crayon bits and might be in need of a little cloudless sky yourself, here’s the speedy breakdown of the crayon-recycling process.

You need:   A knife, a  muffin pan and some cupcake liners (I recommend doubling up the liners to protect your pan from any wax that might seep through).

Then all you do is:  Peel off any crayon wrappers, chop up those crayons into smallish bits and layer them about an inch thick in the muffin cups.  Bake in the oven at 150-200 degrees until the bits have turned all melty.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Then bust out the paper and get to work!

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drum lessons 004We haven’t been the sort  of parents to push things.  We’ve let Eli determine his own interests and discover his own talents.  But that doesn’t mean we haven’t hoped.  We hoped that Eli might be rhythmically-inclined like his drummer dad.  We hoped that he would be all, “Dada, teach me how to play drums like you!” and “I want to know everything you know!”

Except we all know that’s not how it usually works.  Instead, for the last 6 years (okay fine, the last 4, who can realistically count the first 2?) Eli has had his own passionate areas of interest.  Areas that did not include the drums.  His friends, on the contrary, go nuts when they enter the little basement recording studio complete with guitars, drum sets and rhythm instruments galore.  But Eli’s always been sort of, eh, take it or leave it.  And mostly, leave itdrum lessons 005So it was an absurd delight for us when Eli decided a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to learn how to play the drums.  There’s a palpable energy around here now on Tuesday nights.  We’re all excited about the weekly drum lessons.  I mostly stay out-of-the-way.  But sometimes I listen in while Jeff imparts a little drum history or Eli gets an introduction to hand drumming and the house echos with the two of them yelling, “Left!, Right!, Left!, Right!”

drum lessons 002drum lessons 003Music to my ears.

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lego party 002You needed a pass to get into the lego party.lego party 007Then you were assigned to your station and got to work building the best vehicle you could with the allotted pieces.lego party 018Some of us needed help from the brick-master himself.lego party 013Auntie Erica cheated a little bit by sneaking some pieces from Eli, but shhh…

lego party 022A scavenger hunt devised by Auntie Eliza…lego party 023with hidden notes inside from the kitties (who aren’t the best at spelling as it turns out).lego party 020Little lego candy made the perfect treasure.lego party 005Of course we needed lego napkins.lego party 006And good thing there were some old duplos left over from the baby years, as they made the perfect placecard holder.

Eli’s passion for legos runs deep.  It  kind of blows my mind that three years of his life (and that’s half his life at this point) has been devoted to the exploration of these little plastic bricks.  Honestly, I never pictured so much plastic in our house.  I maybe imagined that my house would be pleasantly full of wooden toys made in Germany or something.  Ha.  But legos are a true creative wonder.  It is no exaggeration that Eli spends hours of every day designing new creations.  He specializes in lego vehicles, but occasionally some other structures or contraptions find a way into being.  All I know is that when something inspires that much passion and creativity  in a human being, it is a blessing.

Eli’s lego convention birthday party was a blast.  Everyone got assigned a station and got to work building a vehicle with the available pieces.  Since the rest of us have not spent the past three years specializing in lego vehicles, our creations were a bit crude compared to the birthday boy’s.  But it was fun all the same.  We had planned to race our designs to see who had engineered the fastest, most streamlined vehicle, but good food and conversation took the lead instead.  And now my resident six year old has a whole bunch more little plastic bricks to ignite that beautiful passion.

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someone is six

How did we already go from this…Birthday Eli 0 (1)

…to this?

eli copy

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Eliza, or Auntie, as my youngest sister is most frequently referred to, lives in western Massachusetts.  This is just close enough that she can come for a visit on her day off and still make it home in time for dinner.  And it is just far away enough to make an outing with Auntie really special.

outing with auntie 003outing with auntie 004Our Auntie outing was spent at our favorite places… our swimming hole and Tangerini farm.  The swimming hole is deep and clear and cool.  You can walk for miles on the trails that circle the reservoir and find your own little secret spot to slip into the water.  The farm has the allure of delicious ice cream, berry picking, friendly goats and a crazy hay maze that I’m too scared to go in.outing with auntie 008outing with auntie 011The hay maze is pitch black and just wide enough for an adult to squeeze through.  I guess there is fun to be had in shimmying and feeling your way through damp hay.  It was fun had by Eli and Eliza while I waited outside in the sunshine, but see, that’s why she’s the Auntie.outing with auntie 015

outing with auntie 014Auntie showed us how to make a little treat for the goats that she calls a goat burrito.  A nice wide leaf of plantain wrapped around a wad of clover and bam!, we had three new best friends.outing with auntie 018Were you lucky enough to have an aunt or uncle like this?   Someone who devoted time to you as a child, who actually played with you while the rest of the grown-ups were talking boring.  Someone who was just responsible enough to be a good role model, but just inappropriate enough to be really, really fun.  I so wish an Auntie for everyone.

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ode to the road

roads 001roads 002roads 003roads 004

There are so many incarnations of the road.  Scraps from mama’s paper drawer get taped and lined, trails are made in the dirt with small bulldozers, the patterned lines on a knit blanket become a busy intersection.  Roads get drawn in crayon and pencil and chalk.  Roads get uncovered in books and rugs and patio stones.  All to give these miniature vehicles the means to go somewhere.

What I find so marvelous and refreshing is that every new road, whether created or discovered, is met with the same crisp excitement.  “Mama, you’ve got to check out this road!…”

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letterboxing 003

A recent trip to Maine brought about a flurry of letterboxing activity.  I have my sister Eliza to thank.  She discovered this wonderful treat of a pastime that combines hiking and treasure-hunting  with the artistry of hand-carved stamps.  We’ve found that it is the most fabulous way to hike with kids.  The allure of a hidden treasure is the best motivation…

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You need to scout the Letterboxing North America site first to pick out your particular destination before you can head out on your adventure.  Though we spend lots of time each year in Maine, through our letterboxing clues we found some new and really beautiful places.

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The finding is always the best part.

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The letterbox always contains a little book of some sort and a rubber stamp.  It is part of letterboxing culture to carve your own stamp, so it’s really fun to see what the stamp will look like.

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You also need to put your own  little letterboxing kit together.  This consists of a little book , a stamp pad and a personal stamp.  We forgot to bring Eli’s  kit from home, so we didn’t have his usual dump truck stamp and letterboxing book.  We fortunately had an eraser and an exacto knife on hand (doesn’t everyone go on vacation with an exacto knife?), and I carved up a pick-up truck real quick.  Eliza whipped up the little letterboxing book.

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You stamp your personal stamp in the book inside the found letterbox.  It’s common to put your letterboxing name, the date of your hike, and where you’re from. You can also write any notes for future finders.

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And in your own little book, you stamp the special stamp from this particular excursion.  It’s a little thrill to fill the pages with unique and beautiful stamps representing your letterboxing quests.

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