Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

March 23, 2012

Miss Fox’s Class Shapes Up by Eileen Spinelli & Outing to Coyote Hills Park

Miss Fox's Class Shapes Up by Eileen Spinelli

Our local library system was celebrating Art IS Education this month.

As part of Art IS Education, Alameda County Library is presenting 50 free arts events for youth and families. Many of these events focus on the theme “Creating a Better Future Together” encouraging library patrons young and old to explore through the arts ways we can create healthy lives, thriving families, peaceful communities and a green planet.

One of the resources they provided was a list of books that helped support the ideas about exercising, the environment and different types of art.  Several of them looks interesting and since my 4 year old’s preschool recently finished their “Race For Education” run and my daughter is excited about exercising I had to check this one out.  It starts off with Miss Fox noticing her students are so tired they fall asleep in class, have a hard time climbing up stairs and are not eating healthy foods.  She makes a decision to try and help her class shape up.  They talk about things the students can do to help each other and activities they can do at home with their families to become healthier.

I really enjoyed reading this with my daughter because we have been cutting back on the amount of TV she watches and she has been complaining about why.  Between reading this book and watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid (I know it’s a tv show but all in moderation right?) about how your body needs to exercise to stay healthy she has become much more cooperative.  She also finds it funny how one student doesn’t want to eat carrots as a healthy snacks because those are one my daughter’s favorite snacks.  Fortunately my daughter is pretty good about eating her vegetables so this isn’t an area we struggle in too much.

This was a fun book to read with my daughter and I am glad I came across it in the suggestion list from my library otherwise it’s not likely to have been one I would have picked up while browsing.

One of the activities the book mentions several times is riding your bicycle with your family.  Since we finally had a break in the rain I dragged my husband out of the house and told him we were taking the kids walking.  I wanted to take the kids to a park nearby called Coyote Hills because my daughter has a fascination with “mountains” (hills qualify as mountains in her mind so this park was perfect.) and it was a place I used to enjoy riding my bicycle before I had kids.

So off we went.  My daughter on her bicycle and I pushed our son in our jogging stroller.

Coyote Hills

I was impressed by how far she did manage to ride by herself and although she was getting tired we did make it to the picnic spot to have some lunch.

Coyote Hills-picnic

The kids caught their second wind and wanted to go hiking up the path above the picnic area.  It wasn’t the most stroller friendly so we ended leaving behind the stroller & bicycle hoping they would still be there when we came back.  At one point the path got too steep for my 20 month old so I did end up having to carry him (talk about getting exercise in!)

Once we reached the top of the peak there was a great view and the kids loved looking out at the water.  We could also see herds of sheep grazing on the other side of the hill which got my son really excited as he started to “baa” and yell “sheep, sheep!”.  We also found a couple lizards/salamanders? crawling around the rocks, several butterflies which my daughter loves and even a few turkey vultures flying around.

As we were afraid of our daughter was tuckered out by time we climbed back down and my husband ended up carrying her on his shoulders and carrying her bicycle back to the car.  I told him at least if we take them out here more often either our daughter’s stamina will increase enough for her to be able to ride longer or his stamina will increase enough that it’s not so tiring carrying her and her bicycle. 🙂

What are your favorite ways of enjoying the outdoors and getting the family to exercise together?

March 14, 2012

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 11:17 pm
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I just got back a few hours ago from the most wonderful author event put on by Books Inc.’s, Not Your Mother’s Book Club, and picked up some awesome sounding YA books.  As an added cherry on top of the event, the wonderful woman who organized the event suggested a few books for my four year old.  They were all ones that I had my eye one except for Stuck by Oliver Jeffers.  So I flipped through all her picks and finally went through Stuck and knew I just had to buy it.  I put it on top of my things so I would remember to pay for it on my way out.  At different times the other 3 children’s/YA book specialists from the various Books Inc. stores saw the book and raved about it so I was feeling good about my choice.

It is the cutest story that starts off with a little boy, Lloyd, getting his kite stuck in a tree.  He starts off throwing his favorite shoe to try and get it down, then proceeds on with more and more outlandish things like his cat, his neighbor’s house, a whale, etc.  The illustrations are adorable and I love how in addition to the story telling, the characters in the illustrations have little blurbs that my daughter enjoyed going through.  For most of the book both my daughter and I were giggling especially when Lloyd pulls out things like a ladder and instead of using it to climb the tree he instead throws it into the tree and of course… it gets stuck.

As soon as we finished my daughter was lifting the flap of the back cover hoping for more and when she realized there wasn’t any more she begged to read it again.  I will admit despite it being past her bedtime and having read the set number of books I usually limit her to at bedtime I gave in and read it again because I enjoyed the book that much as well.

As we said our goodnights I teased my daughter about all the things in her bed she could throw up to help get everything out of the tree and I am sure we will be reading this one again (multiple times) tomorrow.  Now I have to brainstorm about fun activities I can put together to go along with this book.  Any suggestions?

March 3, 2012

Bubble Wrap Painting & A Color of My Own by Leo Lionni

Last week a couple of my friends and I had a book swap/borrow play date in which we brought books our kids were either done with or wanted to share with their friends.  One of the books my daughter borrowed was A color of his own by Leo Lionni.  It’s about how all the other animals have their own color like pigs are pink and elephants are gray but the chameleon doesn’t have a color of his own.  Instead he becomes the color of whatever item he is near.  We read it today and both my four year old and 19 month old really enjoyed it and in fact even after we were done my 19 month old kept picking it up to go through the pages.  I enjoyed it because the art work was cute and reminded me of Eric Carle books and I am still working with my 19 month old on learning his colors.  The only down side is some of the illustrations colors didn’t match the words.  Like one animal was supposed to be red and both my kids said orange and honestly it did look orange to me.  Same was true about a few other colors so hopefully it won’t confuse my son.

Since we were working on colors and my kids love art work when I discovered a bag full of bubble wrap while cleaning out a cabinet I decided why not let them try jumping on it.  We had done that a couple weeks ago with the wrap with larger bubbles and they had a blast popping it all.  These were tinier bubbles and definitely didn’t have as satisfying a pop so for plan B I laid a piece out on their table and taped it down.  I usually use paper plates to put the paints out but since I was cleaning out our stash of plastic bags and planned on recycling a whole bunch I figured why not use those as a paint palette instead.  As I poured out each color I had my son call out the name of each color so we could get in some color practice.

Then as you can see they went at it painting the bubble wrap and had a blast.  Once they were done painting a section I gave them a piece of construction paper to press down on their painting and see what kind of art work it created.  Here is my daughter with one of her finished pieces.

My daughter’s colors started blending together as her brush got all the paint colors mixed up so I got a bowl of water for them to rinse their brushes in.  Of course then my son had more fun splashes around in the water bowl.

My daughter just enjoyed painting, painting and more painting until her side of the table was entirely covered.

All in all a fun activity for the kids, it kept them occupied for awhile and I got to get in a little color practice for my son and it didn’t cost me anything extra since I hadn’t even realized we had this bubble wrap saved from some package delivery.

March 2, 2012

When Cookies Go Wrong…Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Filed under: Books,Recipes — by dsuzuki @ 12:21 am

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday and to celebrate I tried baking these swirl cookies I found on Pinterest because they totally remind me of the book Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  Alas, recipes don’t always go as planned.  So this was the picture I saw that inspired me:

Here’s the pin if you want to try the recipe.  So that’s how it’s supposed to look and this is how my cookies turned out:

So I think my problem was that it says to use the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix which I didn’t have.  So I went hunting for sugar cookie recipes.  I ended up using this Wilton cookie recipe and didn’t notice until I got to almost the last step where it says the dough will be very stiff.  So of course that doesn’t lend itself to rolling it out and then swirling it.  I really had to squish the dough together and then it didn’t bake evenly so I ended up flattening them out.  So next time I plan on trying a different sugar cookie recipe.  Suggestions are welcome!

The other problem was getting the dough the proper color without overworking the dough.  I used the neon colored food coloring like the recipe called for but getting it to blend nicely was hard.  A friend did just suggest that if you have a stand mixer it would be easier but I was mashing it in by hand.

Anyhow, they didn’t turn out how they were supposed to look but my daughter thought they were tasty.  I had planned to send her to school with these tomorrow to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday but guess I will end up keeping them at home for the kids and try again next year.