On the line

Another round up of some of my favorite things on the Internet right now…appropriate for little kids and big kids alike.

  • Baby Bat Burritos – and, no, its not someone carnivorously snacking on baby bats.  My kids asked to see this video at least 20 times and now they want a bat for a pet.
  • The Purl Bee – For any craft lovers.  I WANT TO MAKE EVERYTHING AND I WANT TO MAKE IT NOW.
  • The Shelter Pet Project – No, this doesn’t mean we are adopting an animal, but this is a great Web site to help shelter pets find their forever homes.
  • Oyster Books – If you are an avid reader like me, you must have heard of this.  I just can’t bring myself to fully commit, though, because I adore the smell of library books.
  • The Voice Kids?  Have I been under a rock?  Australia has all of the best television!  And this little girl is amazing.
  • Tiny Hamster Tiki Party – consider this you moment of zen for the day.

Adventures with Caroline

With Vance participating in camp this week, I have taken some fun little morning excursions with my home-slice Caroline.  She doesn’t get much extended alone time with me so she has really been loving the attention.  The other day, the blue sky and breezy morning were beckoning us to bike the lakefront trail.  With a (very good) friend offering to bring Vance home from camp for a playdate, I popped C into her seat and we were off for a long bike ride.

We meandered south for a while before coming to the end of the trail.  Then, we turned around and followed the trail northward until it ended as well.  We then jumped on the lovely Northwestern bike path.  It is hard to believe how many great things are right in our own backyard here on the NorthShore!




It was a great ride with some wonderful, summery views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.  Just what we needed to get our week off to a great start!

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday weekend!

Puppies and babies

 We are visiting Pap and Mimi in Michigan this week. It is a child’s wonderland filled with puppies, squirt gun fights, trampolines, and treats. I love their backyard and had to do a photo shoot with Caroline and Daisy when they were enjoying each other’s company with the garden as a background. Is there anything cuter than a baby and a puppy?

Homemade play dough (and a recipe)

We love play dough….well the kids love it.  And I guess I like it until I am cleaning it up off of my floor at 10:00 pm.  At least it is easier to clean up once it is dry and caked to the floors, right?

Store bought play dough dries out so quickly, so we decided to start making our own.  Plus, there is the added fun of time in the kitchen with the kids and getting to choose your own colors.

Caroline chose orange and purple, which remained separate for approximately 10 minutes before being combined into a now brown blob.  Vance wanted green and blue.  It was so much fun to let them measure and pour.  Since it is not dinner, I am more likely to let them do the job rather than fear that their mistakes will ruin our meal for the evening.  This particular recipe was one we got from a friend, although I changed it up a bit.  It is no cook, which makes it all the more easy to do, and has an amazing texture.


Easy Homemade Playdough

2 c. flour

1/2 c. salt

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 c. boiling water

food coloring

Combine the flour, salt, oil, and lemon juice in a bowl.  Pour the boiling water over the mixture and stir until well incorporated.  Allow to cool slightly, then knead the food coloring into the dough.  I divided the dough into four equal balls so that we could have four colors.  The more food coloring you use, the brighter the color of the play dough will be and vice versa.


Summer sprinkles

The weather has been quite back and forth here.  I think everyone in our area has agreed that we have all put away our winter coats and hats about 4 different times this year…each time only to reach back into the closet to get them out when the temperature drops yet again.  When the weather has been warm, there has been quite a bit of rain, which is ironic considering the droughts in the Western part of our country.

This year, instead of cursing the warm, rainy days, we have been trying to enjoy them.  I have been walking with the kids everywhere despite the weather so we have gotten ourselves wet in a few tiny rain storms.  It is amazing how the air can warm your skin, causing the rain to feel a bit cool and even refreshing.

The other night, we were enjoying dinner on our balcony when a small rainstorm began.  We are completely covered so we could sit and enjoy the sounds and smells of the rain as they happened.  When the small storm was over, the sun came right out, crating a rainbow to the East.  It was the first rainbow the kids have ever seen!  After a few minutes another rainbow formed on top of the first one.  Caroline was a bit scared at first, partly because she really didn’t know why there was something like that in the sky.  She has been talking about it ever since though.  I have had to answer the question “where did the rainbow go?” about a hundred times a day since then.


I am looking forward to the colder days being over so that we can enjoy more warm, sunny days, but I definitely won’t take the warm, rainy days for granted either!

The best is never enough

It doesn’t matter whether you are the mom of a newborn or an empty nester, at some point today you probably suffered from “mom guilt”.  It is that feeling you get when you doubt yourself.  When you think you just might not be good enough for that angel of yours. You work tirelessly to make sure they have everything they need, they are happy, they are well adjusted.  But at the end of the day, after you put that child to bed and walk out of their bedroom, you will probably find yourself wondering “did I do my best today?” or “I should have handled that tantrum better”.  And if your children are already grown, you are probably questioning yourself in the same light throughout the day.  Wondering what mistakes you have made and are yet to make.

Your best will never be good enough.

But that is because you love your children so much that your heart nearly explodes with extreme emotion for their sake.  They are having a bad day?  You probably are too (in more ways than one).  They are experiencing delight over a new skill they have just mastered?  You couldn’t be prouder even if it was your own self mastering said skill.  You want only the best for them. How many of us see those pregnant first time mothers walking around and just want so badly to tell them all of the love that is coming their way?  And with that all of the heartbreak and emotion. So many emotions, so many parts to being a mother.  And yet I know that I wouldn’t trade it for all of the coffee in the world.

Heres to our children, who make us see the precious reality of life.  Who open our eyes daily with their crazy questions.  Who, just by being themselves, can change us as people for the rest of our lives.

Our new outdoor space…almost as much work as having a third child.

We have been working like dogs for a little over a week to get our balcony tiled so that we can enjoy more time in what was a wasted patio space for years.  It has been something we have wanted to do since we bought this place 4 years ago.  Between babies and travel, we are just now getting around to it, but I guess it is better late than never!

We chose a dark limestone tile mixed with a grey colored grout so there is a little contrast.  We needed something that will stand up to the wear and tear of kids that have apparently earned a degree in destruction.  I made a trip to IKEA with the kids last Friday (because I like to inflict pain on myself) and brought home the decor part of the job.  Now we just have to get out to the garden center to purchase our plants and do some potting.



The kids and I are way too excited to have this little urban oasis.  A place where spilled water doesn’t matter as much, we can feel the early morning sun on our faces, and the plants and flowers can shine their beauty for us to watch.  We have eaten a few dinners out here so far, enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine, and enjoyed a few tea parties, and even caught a nice early summer rain shower.


Of course, we dream of the day when we will have a backyard of our own (although we are kind of attached to urban living at the moment), but for now this little space works so well for us.

Okay, so I am a little old fashioned, but still hip

The other day, after I got done talking to my husband about my ideas for a small raised bed on our small urban balcony, it hit me…

I guess I am an urban homesteader after all.

And here I have been trying to avoid coming to terms with the fact that I am a farm girl stuck in a city girl’s body.  Of course it all makes sense now.  Sewing clothes for myself and my kids? Check.  Fermenting anything and everything? Check. Baking and cooking from scratch daily? Check.  Community garden plots, natural remedies, farmers markets, cloth diapering, grassfed everything, no cable, homemade cleaning products….yeah I guess I am a bit crunchy come to think of it.

But I can see how this return to simplicity, to using our own hands to do so much of our own work, makes us so happy.  Although we don’t live on acres of land, we try to do a lot of good with what we’ve got.  And it doesn’t suck that the amenities of urban living are literally just a few steps away.  Maybe we can have it all.

And being able to walk to the beach at the end of a hot summer day is just something that makes my soul so happy!  Thank goodness summer is finally here….we have been waiting a long time to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin!  I wish you all a wonderful Memorial Day filled with a grateful heart, family, fun, and good food!

YEA! (Young Evanston Artists) Festival 2015

Every year our great little community puts on an art festival to showcase children’s art from each school and art program in Evanston.  It is a great way to teach kids to be proud of the power of their own creativity.  It is also a great way to raise children’s interest in art as a creative outlet.


Vance had a piece of art represented through his preschool, a warthog that he and his class worked together to create for a classroom safari they had in April.  So, we rode out bikes to the festival to see the project displayed.  He had so much fun searching for it and finally seeing it, hung for all to see.  We also enjoyed the numerous children’s activities including live music from multiple children’s choirs and bands, face painting, a working Rube Goldberg machine, and arts and carts scattered here and there.




Both kids were running from place to place, enamored with the art that other kids had created.  I wish I could hang only children’s art in my home.  I love the beauty, simplicity, and purity of it!  Luckily, if Caroline colors one more wall, we will be on our way to a full blown mural around here!