Saturday, July 25, 2009

Preschool Humor

Today we went to Seafood Fest. Monkey enjoyed an obstacle course sponsored by Children's Hospital (got a free jump rope at the end), making a boat (Center for Wooden Boats), the bouncies, climbing in a fire truck and especially listening to Billy Bear. In fact, Billy Bear made us a bit late for quiet time as Monkey just couldn't break away - but we made it home. He walked the whole way with only a teensy bit of whining. If he started to slow we'd just start talking about that silly bear and he'd about fall over laughing.

Now Billy Bear is a silly, silly bear. At first he tried knock knock jokes - but really word play like that is pretty lost on the wee ones (unless there's something about potty involved). But then he started repeating words fed to him by his "owner". And this is when hilarity ensued. The man would say, "can you say lollipop?" and Billy Bear would respond, "Polli-Lop" - then all the kids would roll on the floor (literally) laughing. Hamburger - Bamhurger and on and on. The kids ate it up and I bet Monkey will still be talking about it right after he wakes up.

I love the simple humor that leaves preschoolers in stitches. Many times to get Monkey to put on his own clothes (for some reason he loathes doing that) we'll play a game where he'll put his shorts on his head and ask, "like this?" and I'll respond, "YES!" then pause and say, "nooo" as if I'm confused (he loves this and sometimes the game goes on a bit long . . . but in the end the shorts get on).

I try to use this technique when I see a tantrum or something brewing (note: if the tears have begun this will NOT work). Just anything silly or out of place will do it to snap him out of it (if I'm lucky that day). I'll put on his hat - or put a bracelet on my head - or try to put a hat over my shoe, etc. Anything that's "wrong" is right in this case! Rhyming games can also head off the tears if started at the right time. Rhyming is a big deal in Monkey's world right now. Combine rhyming with twisted words - you've got yourself an act.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kids in the Garden

Monkey is closing in on four and this year has been great for the garden. I've actually been able to work in the garden once in a while while he's awake! In the past he would want to "help" in ways that were not so helpful - like pulling up prized flowers or eating dirt. But this year he listens (mostly) and if I can keep him busy he can even be semi-helpful (or at least stay out of the way). Here are a few ways I attempt to keep Monkey engaged in the garden.

1) Kid's gardening gloves - I found some at the Thriftway on Vashon (I swear they have everything). He LOVES them.

2) Clearly defined places to dig - I gave up some space in the garden early on and came to terms with the fact that some plants nearby might die. Last night my husband took it a step farther and pulled out some plants to make a dirt area just for Monkey - it is currently filled with dump trucks.

3) Kid-size watering cans (big ones get over-filled and frustrate Monkey to no end) and tools.

4) Water Barrels - great source of entertainment and easy on the water bill. If he wastes the rain water I still get annoyed - but not as annoyed as running the faucet! He sometimes waters the plants that actually need water and the rest of the time he makes water tracks on the driveway. Either way it keeps him busy and that's what you're looking for.

5) Fast-growing veggies that are easy to pick and eat. Snap peas and cherry tomatoes are great. Bush beans or pole beans are also a lot of fun to watch grow. He also picks out a few plants to plant and tend aside from veggies.

Scarecrow Project

Today we noticed that something is chomping on our squash so we brainstormed ways to stop it. Monkey decided we needed a scarecrow (little does he know we probably need a scare raccoon or a scare squirrel). So we decided to make one and this is how we did it (note: this is not waterproof!):

You'll need:

2 sheets of large paper (I used packing paper we've been saving from an Amazon shipment)
scrap paper or newspaper
long stick/pole + shorter stick/pole
child's shirt

1) Have your child draw a face on a piece of large paper (even better have them draw faces on two pieces of paper so you can make a two-faced scarecrow). We discussed what kind of face to draw and Monkey landed on a "mad face".

2) Cut out face(s) or face and another blank piece of paper

3) Staple together leaving a large opening for stuffing purposes.

4) Ball up scrap paper and stuff the head.

5) Staple shut leaving small opening for stick/pole.

6) Creat a small cross by nailing smaller stick/pole perpendicular to longer one.

7) Stick in the ground and put on the shirt.

8) Top with the stuffed head - enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dining Al Fresco

I just wanted to share an easy (and relatively cheap) way to beautify your outdoor dining experience (or cover up a funky table in our case) which was inspired by my good friend Ashley.

1) Measure table.
2) Decide how much overhang you want (add to measurement) - check it twice!
3) Go to local fabric store or Etsy and pick out oil cloth.
4) Come home, pop it on the table, pour a glass of wine and voila!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pick a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Latest pick - PASEO! (# 2 titled "Surf's Up")

You must go . . . it's making me hungry just thinking about it!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Veggie Burgers

I really like these veggie burgers - and so does Monkey! Many I've tried haven't held up to the burger test (too mushy) but after I made a few adaptations - these are awesome (or as the original recipe calls them "The Ultimate Veggie Burgers") - adapted from Vegan Planet.

1 t ground flaxseeds (grind your own if you can or you can buy then ground)
2 T tamari (or regular soy sauce but I prefer tamari)
1/2 c walnut pieces (I use a bit more)
3/4 c cooked brown lentils (squeeze out the moisture - if you're using canned rinse well before squeezing)
1/4 c grated onion (really squeeze out the moisture!)
1 T minced fresh parsley
1/3 c wheat gluten flour (vital wheat gluten - Bob's Red Mill makes it)
1/2 t browning sauce
2 T olive oil for browning (maybe a bit more depending on pan)

1) In a blender combine ground flaxseed and tamari - blend until viscous (Personally, I don't think it's worth it to use the blender - I try to whisk really fast in a small dish. If you have an immersion blender you could try that too.) Set aside.

2) Using a food processor, pulse walnuts to coarsely chop.

3) Add lentils, onion, parsley, wheat gluten flour, browning sauce, flax mixture and salt and pepper to walnuts. Process until well combined with some texture remaining (till it turns in to a ball).

4) Shape mixture into patties (I usually make 6 small patties) about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.

5) Refrigerate on platter for at least 30 minutes.

6) Heat olive oil in large skillet (medium heat). Cook until browned on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side). Serve hot with all the fixings.


For squeezing out the moisture - you can do a few things - squeeze in cheesecloth, paper towels or press through a fine mesh (that's what I do since I don't have cheese cloth - but I have used paper towels in a pinch).

If you don't have buns on hand (and your kid is picky like mine and wants burgers to look like burgers) cut circles out of bread. You can do it freehand or with a cookie cutter. Works like a charm! I toast them after cutting so they'll hold up.

It was hard to get the picture of Monkey eating the burger as he was scarfing while I was finishing up in the kitchen!