Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snow Day Enviornment/Nutrition Ramble

So it's snowing.  A lot!  And I'm stuck inside with restless children and nothing to do.  Except laundry, and dishes, and picking up... but who wants to do that right?  So I think I'll blog a little.  I could post some cute pictures of the boys but I think I'll write about something I'm become really interested in lately.  Not that the boys aren't interesting of course!

I have never been extremely interested in "Environmental" issues before.  I sometimes felt like I should be interested but in the end I just never really cared about it.  I think honestly I was in denial and didn't want to feel held responsible for my own actions and my so called carbon footprint.  My footprint was less like a footprint and more like a snow angel.  Two years ago I blogged a post called "Trash Day" on March 20th, 2011.  That marked the first time we started making a conscious effort to recycle.  Since then recycling has become a part of life for us.  Our kids ask where the recycle bins are when they are places without us.  A lady at the YMCA commented one time how impressed she was that Aaron was so concerned about recycling his snack waste.  I am pretty proud of this but I have been feeling recently like this is simply not enough.

I can't pin point the exact moment that I really started paying attention but for the last two years that our family has been recycling, I have become increasingly aware and concerned with taking care of the Earth that God created.  Certainly there some things that have contributed to my views on things recently.

First, we moved to beautiful Colorado.  There are a lot of people here that are very health conscious and in love with nature.  It kind of rubs off on you once you start making friends.  Things like having chickens in your back yard and growing your own food or shopping at natural grocers are not just a fad but a way of life.  Being outdoors in the fresh mountain air is sought after even on the coldest, snowiest day of the winter.  Just this morning, while we are under blizzard warnings, the news caster told the weekend skiers to be careful but enjoy the fresh snow.  Yes.  There are people that brave the worst of weather to enjoy the fresh powder.  Just living here makes me want to live healthier and take care of our planet.

Second, this little movie the kids are in love with called The Lorax has really made us want to grow things.  I love this movie.  It has so many wonderful messages but the key line is "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, its not."  Its about a fictional world where trees and plant life no longer exist.  The air and water are so polluted that they have to BUY clean air.  The people are so oblivious to the way things actually work and are happy in their ignorance.  Now it is an extreme example but I feel like one of the people of Thneedville.  I was happy not knowing where my food came from or how it was processed or what the things I bought did to the environment.  But just because you can deny it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist and the people of Thneedville ultimately decided to change their ways and "Let it Grow."

Haven't seen it?  Check out our 3 favorite songs.  Thneedville, Bad, and Let it Grow.

Lastly, documentaries have taken a hold on me.  I've watched some great ones and some pretty dry ones over the last few weeks.  Watching too many can leave me feeling guilty and helpless.  Other times I feel ANGRY.  I seem to be camping out on food documentaries.  My favorite quotes are

"America is over fed and under nourished " from Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.

"Part of our responsibly as stewards of the Earth is to respect the design of nature." ~ From the documentary, Fresh

"Cheap food is an illusion. There is no such thing as cheap food.  The real cost of the food is paid somewhere." ~ Fresh

The more I read articles and watch these documentaries the more I realize that the food industry is not only damaging our health as a nation but it's also responsible for horrible pollution with all of the insecticides and other chemicals they have to put into their crops, the fuel it takes to power the equipment, the shear waste produced by herding thousands of animals in confined places and so on and so on.  I'm not saying I'm ready to become a vegetarian but it sure makes me think twice about the food I'm buying.  It makes me mad because I feel helpless that I am only one person.  It would/will take YEARS to make positive changes in the way things are done in this country.

All this combined has sparked John and I to become healthier.  For us and for our kids.  We want to be good stewards of our bodies and of our world.

I know I'm rambling and I haven't even scratched the surface of what I am feeling right now so I will save the changes our family is making for another post.  It's one thing to watch a few documentaries about making changes.  It's another to actually MAKE changes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Story Time at the Nature Center

Yesterday, while Kansas City was buried in snow, we got a whopping 5 inches.  I'm not bitter or anything!  The roads here were kind of slick but they plow well.  So while all the schools in KC were closed, ours were not and I found myself sliding my way to drop Aaron off to preschool.  Ethan and I had a special mommy date planned at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.  I was sure they would cancel it but apparently it takes a blizzard to cancel things here. 

I was more than thrilled we made it.  We have never gone to story time at the Nature Center s there is usually a wait list and I was expecting them to read a book or something.  I was wrong.  When we first arrived they had the kids sit on a carpet of the Earth and pretend to put on space suits.  The lesson was all about Mars.  Then they were given "Soda Straw Rocket ships" to launch at a globe of Mars that one of the assistants held up - count down and all.  Ethan loved it!  I found myself feeling a little guilty that I couldn't bring Aaron as our boys are really into rocket ships and yelling "blast off!"  We launched our rockets and then hopped (there's no gravity in space) to the next room which was decorated like Mars.  The kids sat in a circle and learned preschool type facts about the big red planet and then it was time to visit some stations.  

 They learned about "Curiosity" the land rover that drives around shooting lasers at rocks to analyze.  This station was a rock analyzing station where the kids got to use rock hammers and break rocks apart to inspect with magnifiers.
 There was a craft table where the kids got to make their own laser masks to be used later on.   They also got to use their observation skills by smelling different scents from Mars (cotton balls dowsed in different extracts), testing the wind (a little gadget they blow into and watch a ball raise up and down), and take temperature readings of different containers of water.  Then there was the giant space base to Explore.
It included an Airlock, a habitat area where they would pretend sleep and eat, and a tunnel leading to a green house where they would pretend to grow their own food since there are no plants on Mars.
 Finally it was time to take a ride on Curiosity.  The kids took their laser masks and went on a journey all around the Nature Center looking for rocks to buzz.
I was so impressed with this story time - it was totally free and so much fun.  I look forward to signing up for more and hopefully on days I can take Aaron too.  I understand why they fill up so fast now.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beautiful Saturday

It's killing me that today it's 60 degrees and we are not out hiking!  But I did manage to get a killer Zumba workout in, take the boys to two different parks, and have a picnic so far.  Not bad for a beautiful Colorado Saturday.

One of the parks we stopped at happened to be a community garden.  I have never seen one of these before and it intrigued me.  I guess it works like a co-op where you get your own plot within the garden and then you work the land together.  Each person has their own garden but everyone helps and you can learn a ton.  It's a 100% organic garden so there are classes on how to treat fungus and insect problems without using chemicals.  And last year they donated over 400 lbs of produce to needy families.  Sounds pretty amazing to me.  It's not quite in my "community" though so I don't know if I would get a plot there.  Plus I know absolutely zero about gardening as of now so I wouldn't have much to offer.  Maybe someday though.

Maybe after naps we can go on a mini hike.  These boys sure keep me on my toes.  I love them so much.  Wish John did not have to work today.

Still no hike but we decided to ride bikes and scooters to the park.  Ethan is getting so good on his little strider!

Another beautiful day tomorrow.  hmm... What should we do?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Coo Coo Cachoo - Ethan is 2!!!

Where do I even begin?  Our youngest is now 2!  Little Eman is growing up and we celebrated in Nemo style this year.  Nanny and Papa came to visit and we had so much fun with them while they were here.  Ethan's birthday day was especially special.  And jam packed full of fun events.

We started the day off by taking big brother to school.  How convenient that he had preschool on Ethan's birthday.  That way we could truly spoil bubs.  Since Build a Bear did not open until 10:00 we had plenty of time for "can cakes" at Denny's.

 "can cakes for me please"

Next up: Build-A-Bear.  I haven't been there in years and forgotten how much care they put into making the bears.  Or a dog in Ethan's case.  First he had to choose an animal.  It was a close call between the monkey, the black bear, and the dog.  He chose the dog and headed for the sound station where Nanny and Papa added a special birthday wish which can be played back when you squeeze it's paw.  Next it was time to stuff it and add lots of love.  Ethan picked out 5 hearts and handed them to each of us so we could make a wish for Ethan and place our love inside the doggie.    Then it was time to give him a bath.  Papa helped Ethan "spray" him down with an air hose and brush off excess fur.  Then Nanny helped him pick out an outfit.  A birthday shirt of course, jeans, and even big boy underwear!  (We are starting potty training very soon.)  Lastly it was time to name him.  Something from Finding Nemo seemed appropriate so... Chum it is.  Chum is one of the sharks in the movie.  So little Chum is Ethan's newest buddy and he has been added to the pile of friends that must be present in the bed for Ethan to go to sleep.

The mall near our house (where the Build-A-Bear is located) has a few cool things for kiddos to do.  I'm usually too cheap so we had never done the train ride.  It travels all throughout the mall and to my pleasant surprise, lasted 15 minutes!  Pretty good for a $3 dollar ticket.  Nanny and Papa rode in a car with Ethan while John and I sat in the car in front of them.  We'll have to take Aaron some time - he would love it.

 Though none of us were hungry yet, it was time to pick up Aaron and he would be hungry for sure.  So after dropping mom, dad, and I off, John went to get him while I set up lunch.  Keeping with the Finding Nemo theme, we had Fish Food (melon balls), Fish and Chips (sandwhiches and chips), and Sea Water (blue Koolaid).  Lunch was perfect.  I gave the kids their party favors which consisted of the card game "Go Fish", Finding Nemo fruit snacks, bubble bath from the character "Bubbles", little plastic sea creatures for the sand, and sun glasses.  Guess which went over the best?  Yup - the sun glasses!

Poor Ethan was about to fall asleep at the table.  I don't blame him - we were all tired by nap time. It had already been a busy day but the day was not over yet.  So after both boys had a nice nap we were finally ready to head downtown to the Aquarium.  The boys wanted to see Nemo really bad.  In fact, we sort of sped through the first half because that's ALL they wanted to see.  The exhibits were fantastic and I look forward to going again, and again, and again.  We purchased a membership so we can go as often as we want for a whole year.  Some friends of ours did that with the Kansas City Zoo and its a great idea.  It pays for itself after two visits and we got my parents in for free.

We had dinner reservations at the Aquarium Restaurant.  Dinner was great and we enjoyed sitting next to the enormous fish tank full of "Dori's" and "Bubbles" fish.  Later we found out that there are sometimes "Mermaid" performances in the tank too.  How cool.

We fought all the way home to keep the boys awake for cake and presents!  It was not the best timing on my part to plan the gifts for the very end of the night.  Luckily they both made it and by the time they got some cake in their systems they were bouncing off the walls.  John and I worked very hard on the Nemo cake.  We had fun working together to create sea life from fondant.  I love making cakes with my fabulous cake boss hubby.  It turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

After cake we skyped Chelsee and Katie and let Ethan open his gifts.  The day was pretty much perfect.  Ethan loved his presents and after a little bit of wrangling we finally got the kids to sleep - tucked in their matching sleeping bags.  Whew! What a day!

Thanks Nanny and Papa for coming to visit.  We had so much fun while you were here.  Especially on Ethan's special day.

Happy Birthday Little Eman.  We love you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Hiking

A few days ago we set out on the 3rd hike of the year.  Number 2 was a Mountain Mama Hike that Ethan and I did last week.
Mountain Mama Group (Some of us at least)

This one was a family hike and it was one of those perfect stars-are-aligned-and-everyone-is-happy kind of hikes.  We went up to Red Rocks and did part of the trail - about a mile and a half or so.  It was a short trip but also sweet.

First off, Aaron hiked the WHOLE way by himself with his own pack and water.  He did fantastic!  He huffed and puffed all the way to the top making comments here and there like, "I love hiking!" and "I love my water."  All smiles - even when he got tired. Little Ethan rode on my back and as we passed people he would say, "we're hhhhiking!"  It's very cute that he holds the "h" sound out so long.

At the top we had a little snack and enjoyed the view.  Daddy was a little chilly!  But we bundled up the boys really well so there was no complaining about being cold from them.  I learned this great trick from my friend Amy in Mountain Mamas.  She puts adult wool socks on her little girl who's about 4 months younger than Ethan.  It works perfect.  I just used a pair of John's socks and pulled them all the way to his arm pits.  Then we put his sweatshirt on and then his coat.  Oh and I also put a pair of his size gloves on first so his hands were double insulated.  He didn't even care that he couldn't grip anything and I just fed him his little Teddy Grahams so he wouldn't have to take them off for snack time.

On the way back down we spotted "prints" in the snow and dirt.  Aaron was so cute.  He was like, "daddy, whats this print?" We spotted human, dog, deer, and bike prints. We even saw some Aaron prints from the trip up!
This was probably one of the best family hikes yet.  I can't wait to do more.  I found a $4 hiking boot score at a local thrift store for Aaron so now he can wear those instead of his snow boots.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A few (P)interesting projects...

Here are some things I've found on Pinterest, others that I created on my own that were inspired by things I saw on Pinterest, and still others from my very own noggin.  A lot of them were Christmas gifts to friends and family and some are just things I've done around the house.  Some things are from as far back as last summer and none of them are in any particular order. Check it out.

 Kids art work displayed in our hallway.  They open up to display the latest masterpiece and then you can store older ones inside.
 This is our deep freeze.  I found several recipies and made a bunch of meals for our freezer.  A lot of them are crock pot meals.  I keep and "inventory sheet" on our fridge so we know what's in there.  It's perfect for the age old question, "what should I make for dinner tonight."
 This is in our coat closet.  It's shower curtain rings on a hangar to store our scarves.  I also have one in my bedroom closet for my belts.
 Home made doggie treats for all the dogs in our life back in KC.  The kids helped me with these.
 These are some onsies I made for my bestie's baby last summer.  Baby Jett.  They started as plain white and I dyed them and created iron-ons for each one.
Sometimes we use ice cube trays as paint trays. 
 Scarves I made for Christmas.  My SIL, Jenny, helped me learn how to knit when we were in town for the funeral in December.
 This is my "bored-um box".  Inside are tabs for things to do at home, free things to go do, inexpensive things to go do, and date night ideas.
 A bath paint set for kiddos.  The bath paint is homemade and then I just found things that kids might think are fun like paint brushes and sponges, a spray bottle to wash it off, and an "eraser" or sponge to clean up with.
 This was a decoupage project.  I actually dyed regular computer paper with wood stain and it turned out looking a lot like the wood I used as the base.
 A hand painted olive oil bottle.  I see more of these kinds of projects in my future.  Maybe flower vases, salt and pepper shakers, or candle holders.
 Grandparents Art Portfolio.  We gave a portfolio to each set of grandparents so that the boys can send them their special artwork and they can keep it in a special place.
 Another Decoupage project.  Decoupage is just basically gluing pretty paper onto an object with several coats of modge podge.
 Reindeer beer...  also done in root beer as well.
 A massage shirt to be worn by daddy while the kids drive their cars around.
 Not the best picture quality but this is a salt dough plaque of the kids feet. "Mistletoes"
Christmas Tree 6 pack of sprite

I have others that I forgot to take pictures of like the bathroom tile coasters I made.  I thought those were pretty neat.  You take a bathroom tile and decoupage pretty paper on them and then glue felt to the bottom.  Here's a set that someone else did.

So there you have it.  My obsession with Pinterest grows more and more!  I can't wait to post pictures of Ethan's Party.  We're having "Fish and Chips" (Gold fish shaped sandwiches and potato and chips), "Fish Food" (Melon balls), and "Sea Water" (blue koolaid) for lunch.