10/7/11

Great Fall Game

I was inspired by a toddler activity that I saw and modified it to work for us.It is just 3 different kinds of candy corn, 3 cups, and clip art of the candy corn. There are many different ways to play with this:
  • Sorting - Sort all of the candy corn, put it in the cup with the photo that matches.
  • Math and Counting Games - Count the candy as you put it in the cup. "Eli, can you put three pumpkins in the pumpkin cup". Add up how many are in the cup. Subtract from the cup.
  • Concepts of quantity - which cup has more, some, none, all.
We have had fun with this simple game. AND, Elijah has not asked to eat all of the candy.... he likes the game so much that he doesn't want to eat it!

Off to the races....

Elijah LOVES cars, trucks, construction vehicles, trains.... pretty much anything with wheels. So, when I saw this idea I came up with a modification that worked for us and made this portible road system.
It is just grey felt and yellow paint. That's it! I got the felt to also make some stop signs and street lights, but they are not finished yet. We already took this away with us for a weekend and it worked great! Elijah could build his roads and race his cars and it took up very little space.


The original idea came from http://lilmoptop.blogspot.com/2010/10/easy-fabric-roads.html

Long TIme!

It has been over a year since I blogged.... too much to do and not enough time to do it! I just joined pinterest and I LOVE it! It is replacing all of the projects and ideas that I print and then lose track of. So, my creative crafty side has been seriously neglected lately (something to do with having two kids and working full time). I have set a goal that I think is very realistic... I am going to do/make/cook/craft at least 1 thing that I have pinned on pinterest each month. I think that is a pretty realistic goal. I am going to do a simple blog with a photo of each thing, just to share what I learned and to keep myself on track with my goal.

Here is the first thing that I did from my pinterest bulletin board:


Last week I was the snack mom for Eli's pre-school class. It was orange day and they are learning all about pumpkins this month so it made sense to make these really cute and easy treats. It is just rice krispy treats, made the normal way. When you are done melting the marshmallows, you add orange food coloring before adding the rice krispies. Then, you scoop them out onto a greased cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop. As they start to get hard, push a tootsie roll into the top and shape it into a pumpkin shaped ball. The green is just cookie frosting. Super easy and really cute. Love it! The original idea came from http://grinandbakeit.com/. There are TONS of really cute ideas there!

Stay tuned for my next Pinterest craft!

8/31/10

HARVEST TIME....

The Robert's family had a great time in our yard last night! We dug up potatoes and picked strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, and apples.


I learned about planting potatoes in barrels from my friend "Grace" over at www.lifeunderablueroof.blogspot.com. We planted the potatoes in early May and added layers of dirt as the plants grew. Once the barrels were full, we just let them sit and grow.... it was probably the easiest thing I have ever grown in our garden. So, yesterd ay we pulled the dead plants out and started sifting through the dirt for potatoes. IT WAS FUN!!! I felt like we were searching for burried treasures! Elijah LOVED playing in the dirt and every time he saw a potato he would shout "another one" and then take it and put it in our bucket. We did 3 barrels of potatoes (russet, yukon gold, and banana potatoes). We got about 15-20 potatoes out of each barrell. I need to find more barrels for next year because the potatoes should keep for a while. I loved that we got to harvest our potatoes together as a family... I would like this to become one of our family traditions. When Eli is a grown-up I would love for him to tell his kids about picking potatoes with his mom and dad. We are going to eat some of our potatoes for dinner tonight so I will let you know how they are.


We also discovered a peach tree next to our garden. It is a curious thing.... in June I saw these little round fuzzy green things growing on a "bush" in our woods and I commented that it looked like peaches but it couldn't be peaches because peaches grow on trees. Well, it turns out that it is a peach tree but it is covered in grapevines and other overgrown trees so it isn't growing very well. We are going to clear out around it so that it will grow. The peaches are small and spotted but I am going to use them to make peach jam. Very fun!




Our apple tree also has huge trees growing around it so it is not thriving either. We are going to clear out around it also. We did get about 8 apples off of it and they are good! I picked Eli up to pick an apple and he picked it, took a bite, and said "yummy mama". He then ate the entire thing (really.... the entire thing... core, seeds, everything.... oops!)


I can not fully express how much I love where we live and I love that my son will grow up knowing where his food comes from and being an active participant in growing it! Sure, it is educational but we also really had alot of fun together last night!

We put the cold frame in the garden last night and will be planting lettuce in it for a November harvest. I am excited to see if it works, I have never tried this before. I'll let you know!

8/30/10

A LONG TIME.....

Well, it has been quite a while since I last posted. Actually, my last blog was the week before summer staff training started. So much has happened since then, here are some of the highlights:

SUMMER CAMP
We had a wonderful summer at Lutherlyn. The staff did an excellent job and our camper numbers were up from last year (yeaaaaa)! Summer at camp is a TON of work for me but I absolutely love it! I love training the staff and then watching them make a difference in the lives of their campers. I love watching the staff grow in their own faith and maturity. I love seeing campers grow as they come back year after year. I love the noise of lots of happy kids running around camp. I love running around with Elijah as he enjoys the excitement of camp. I love being outside for much of the day. There are so many things that I love about summer at Lutherlyn. It is always hard when it all ends. I feel a little bit of relief from the fast-pace and "urgency" of everything that needs to be done in the summer but, mostly, I feel sad that everyone is gone.


ELIJAH
My baby boy turned 2 on August 1st. I can't believe it! Elijah melts my heart on a daily basis.... he is hillarious and tons of fun! Eli loves summer at camp too. When he sees kids playing a game in the field he runs towards them while repeating; "play, play, play, play". Ocasionally he joins in but usually we do our best to simulate that game right next to where the kids are playing so he doesn't ruin their game. Frisbee and camoflage where his favorites this summer. He often runs behind a tree and starts counting. He has also mastered "hands-up, mouth-closed". When somone puts their hand up in the dining hall for everyone to get quiet, Eli puts his hand up too and waits for the announcement. He loves singing graces too (the superman grace and Johnny Appleseed are his favorites). Elijah loves the summer staff and the campers... when we got home from vacation he noticed that they were all gone... that made me even more sad.



Another big change for Elijah is that Jon (Eli's "manny" for the last year) left in the beginning of August. Jon is going to seminary to be a Lutheran pastor. We miss him alot. At least once a day Eli asks me "Where Jon?" We are going to visit Jon and Laura this coming weekend. Erica started watching Eli last week and she is wonderful! Eli has not fussed at all with this transition and he is having a great time with Erica. Jeff and I are so happy to have these wonderful people spend time with our son and become a part of his life. It is so hard when the come and go but we think it is great for Elijah to develop these relationships with other Christian adults who care for him.

VACATION
The day after summer camp ended we hopped on a plane and flew to Flordia where we boarded the "Disney Wonder" for a 5 night cruise of the Bahamas. PARADISE!!!! We all loved the cruise! It was very relaxing and there was tons for all three of us to do. Elijah LOVED the Disney characters and gave lots of hugs to Mickey and Goofy. We saw shows, Eli saw his first movie in a movie theater (there is a movie theater right on the ship... we saw Toy Story 3.... I cried), we played at the pool, I got a pedicure, Jeff got a massage, we all played in the sand and the water on Castaway Cay (Disney's private island), we had great food. It was a wonderful vacation! There was even an awesome nursery that Eli spent 2 hours a day at. Eli LOVED playing there with the excellent staff and Jeff and I got to spend 2 hours each day together! We also went to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot for 2 days after the cruise. I wouldn't call that relaxing but it sure was fun! Elijah loved the parks and did great the whole time! We were very lucky, we never waited in a line for more than 10 minutes. It was a great vacation!


GARDEN
I wrote a bit about my garden back in the spring. It has been somewhat successful and somewhat frustrating. We enjoyed some squash and zucchini (before the groundhog ate the leaves and killed the plants), lots of tomatoes, 3 peppers, some strawberries, basil, and oregano. Watermellon are still growing, potatoes are ready to harvest, and we planted lettuce late so it should be ready late-September. The groundhog and/or rabbit(s) ate all of my broccoli, beans, peppers (except for the 1 plant that I had growing in a pot), eggplant, cucumbers, and asparagus. We had a suicidal groundhog living in our yard this year... he must have got into our garden one day and couldn't find his way out. He somehow managed to chew through the fence but while climbing out through the hole that he chewed in the fence he slit his throat on the chicken wire. We found the dead groundhog in our yard. Should I feel bad about that?

I am most excited to harvest our potatoes. We grew them in barrels this year after learning about this technique from a friend. I will post the results later this week, hopefully we will start to dig them up this evening. I am also starting to dry herbs for the rest of the year in my dehydrator. I will dry enough basil, oregano, and dill to last until next summer.

REAL FOOD CHALLENGE
Some of you may remember the "real food challenge" from March that I wrote alot about. I have to admit, it was very difficult for me to keep up with it over the summer (we eat most of our meals in the dining hall at camp). So, I am getting back on track with that. I was really hoping to grow enough veggies to can and freeze for the winter but that didn't work out like I had planned so I have been buying veggies from local farmers and freezing them for the winter. Corn and green beans are what I am freezing this week. We are also getting ready to order a local, chemical/hormone-free, grass-fed cow to split with some friends and freeze for the winter. The rest of it is just getting back in the habit of doing the things I was doing in the spring. I am dehydrating apples right now (our favorite snack), I just got the stuff I needed to make granola and yogurt, I have been making our bread since we got back from vacation, and we have been trying to eat "in season" so our food is fresh and recently/locally picked. Baby-steps. Elijah has not been eating well since we got home from vacation, I think he needs to get back in the habit of eating at home too. He has been very picky and wants to live off of fruit, cheese, and bread. The fruit and cheese part isn't terrible but he is refusing veggies (even the things that were his favorites over the summer). We are working on that.

FAMILY
In the midst of all of the chaos and craziness of the summer, we managed to see all of our immediate family (each of our siblings, nieces, nephew, and parents) over the summer, most of my extended family, and all of our God Children also. We had a great family reunion at camp with my mom's siblings and their families.

Jeff, Eli, and I squeezed in lots of family fun too. We have been to Idlewild Park, Soak Zone, the Zoo, Living Treasures, a Pirates Game, the Big Butler Fair, Moraine State Park, lots of trips to the playground, and tons of fun running around outside!


As you can see, we have been busy. I love summer but I also welcome the slower pace of fall. It is nice to settle back into a routine and spend more time with Jeff and Eli and less time at work. Thanks for checking in with us! I hope to have a potato post coming soon!

6/2/10

22 Months!!


Hard to believe that Elijah is 22 months old already! We have had a very eventful month! Some of our highlights:

* Early in May Eli's friend Cassandra spent the night with us and we went to the Animal park. We all had a great time!
* Elijah hiked in Lutherlyn's hike-a-thon early in the month. He raised over $300 for the campership fund and he LOVED hiking around camp (it was more like running... we did over 1 mile and he never slowed down).
* Eli has started to sing. His favorites include "This little light of mine", "Elmo's Song", "Ring around the Rosies", "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes".
* Aunt Rita, Uncle Dan, and cousin Antonio are visiting! Rita and Antonio are staying with us for 2 weeks and Dan is around on the weekends (between work conferences). Antonio is just 2 weeks younger that Elijah so it is so exciting to have them here! They live in Budapest so we don't get to see them very often. About 3 days after they arrived, Antonio and Eli were hugging and kissing each other. They are so cute! Aunt Rita taught Eli an Italian song and Elijah LOVES it! Antonio walks around the house singing "Happy Birthday". We are really enjoying our time together.
* We visited the zoo and Elijah LOVES the fish. For 3 days now he keeps saying "fishy, shark, penguin, ZOOOOOOO".
* The whole Roberts family was here for a picnic over Memorial Day weekend. We all had a great time. It was so much fun to have all 4 cousins together! Elijah and Antonio loved playing with Emily and Sarah.
* Jon has done an awesome job working with Eli and teaching him to clean up. Eli sings a little "clean-up" song and helps put his toys away.


Those are the big events of our month. Elijah continues to talk and understand more and more. He is so much fun! Summer Staff training starts this Sunday so all of Eli's staff friends will arrive shortly.

We hope you are all doing well. Take care!
Deb, Jeff, and Elijah





5/5/10

Garden Started!!!

Our garden is well on it's way! I have been thinking about our garden for awhile now; trying to plan it all out so that we get most of our veggies after summer camp is over (since we eat in the dining hall most of the summer). The thing that I was not particularly excited about was cleaning out all of the weeds and crap that accumulated in the garden since last fall. Well, my WONDERFUL dad, who retired recently, came to our house twice and did a TON of work! The garden is now all dug up, weeds gone, nice dirt mounds, and rocks raked out. Jeff and I got the first row of garden cloth down on Monday night and I got some things planted this evening. I am hoping to finish the garden cloth tomorrow night after Eli goes to bed. I have to say, gardening is much more fun and relaxing when the really hard work is already done! THANK YOU DAD!!! My hope is that we will be able to eat from the garden in the late summer and early fall and that I will be able to freeze and can enough that we have good veggies through the winter.
My next garden project is potatoes in barrels. I first read about this from my friend over at Life Under a Blue Roof and I was curious and interested. I started looking through our garage to see if we had anything that I could use for the potatoes. It turns out that camp had some of the same blue barrels that "Grace" used for hers. So, I have those and will be working on that next. Photos to come when I get that project going.... time is limited, I can usually get about 60-90 minutes in the garden after Eli goes to bed. So, things are started! I will keep you posted!