Friday, May 30, 2014

Parks, Walks, and Outdoor Time!

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Wow - this week has gone by so quickly! With my husband working a later shift and some beautiful Minnesota weather (finally!) we have spent most of our time out and about. It has been so wonderful to take advantage of the warm and sunny days, we will leave in the morning, stop back home for nap, and then head back out when Skyler wakes up. It has, unfortunately, not left much time for crafting or activities at home, but with rain in the forecast next week, I am sure we will be doing more of that! Here are some pictures from a few of our favorite outdoorsy things this week.

Monday rained off and on, so we braved some sprinkles and checked out a new-to-us park that is near our house. We have gone to the little bucket swings on the other side of the beach, but this was our first time at the big playground, and we had it all to ourselves!

We were given this small basketball hoop from a high school friend after I posted a video of Skyler enjoying a similar one at our ECFE class. He has been obsessed! He wants to "play basketball hoop" all the time. So fun!!

We spent a morning at Lake Harriet to walk and play at the park. I would go there every day for a walk and iced coffee if it wasn't such a drive from our house. Skyler especially loves the airplanes that are always flying over the lake. I have been worried that we wouldn't really get to go for long stroller walks now that Skyler is walking, but he is so happy watching for dogs and looking at the boats, ducks, or any sort of cool vehicle that goes by!

Yesterday we went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for a picnic lunch and to check out their butterfly exhibit. It was so much fun! Skyler was very careful around the butterflies and gentle when we had them on our fingers. He talked about it for the rest of the day. 

Last week, Skyler started smiling if I say "show me your teeth" which used to work on him months ago. I am pretty excited about it - look at that face!!

Fedora family - Skyler insisted on wearing his after mama and daddy grabbed theirs :)

These spring and summer months in Minnesota are completely worth putting up with winter! There are so many trails, parks, lakes, and activities to fill our time with. I am very much looking forward to more bike rides and splash pads in the near future!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Mom Confessions

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I am excited to be contributing to fellow Minnesota blogger Oakland Avenue's series on New Mom Confessions today. This was so much fun to come up with! Click here to check out some of my parenting confessions on her wonderful site!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Okee Dokee Brothers and a Giveaway!

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I have mentioned our favorite children's band, the Minnesota based Okee Dokee Brothers on more than one occasion. Skyler received their Grammy winning CD/DVD Can You Canoe? for Christmas last year, when he was just six months old. I've never been into bluegrass, and was especially skeptical of a children's bluegrass band (working in childcare and teaching for years, I have heard my share of awful children's music). I have always been a ska/punk music kind of person, but after getting that CD, we went from my music and the occasional Baby Einstein lullaby CD, to bluegrass music every day. It was the perfect CD for when we were playing in Skyler's room and was calming enough that I remember walking around his room, bouncing him before sleep to The Bullfrog Opera and Small and Simple. It was a bonding experience for us and I still love listening to those songs and remembering that one on one time with my tiny baby boy. 

Last summer the Okee Dokee Brothers toured all over Minnesota. We could have seen them every day if we wanted, they were always so close to where we live. We didn't see them every day, but we did go to three shows (two were in the same week). Skyler had just turned one at the first show we saw and even though he was so little, he got very excited when he heard the songs he recognized and bounced up and down where I held him up. We got a picture with the guys after the show. I think my husband was kind of horrified that I wanted to wait and get a picture with them, but Skyler was so much younger than the other kids there and I wanted him to see that picture from our first family concert. I love that he will always have that. They are just as friendly as they look in the picture!

The Okee Dokee Brothers playing at our local library and two local outdoor concert series last summer.

Since those three shows (we also saw them at Rock the Cradle a few months back), we usually listen to Can You Canoe? when we are playing in Skyler's room and Take it Outside in the car, plus you can't forget about The Okee Dokee Brothers Pandora station, which plays pretty much every where else in the house. We have heard most of the songs from their other albums that we don't own yet through that station. (We don't have their first album, Kids with Beards, or their awesome Spanish album, Excelente Fabuloso! They are on my must get list!) I excitedly pre-ordered their new adventure album, Through the Woods to add some new tunes to our day!!

When we got our CD in the mail, I put it on in Skyler's room, thinking we would just listen while we played. His reaction when the music started was not at all what I expected. I am so happy I thought to grab my camera and take a video.

He was so emotional about the music, after every song he would say "new song!" and then quietly listen on his own, or would sit on my lap. He didn't want to play or do anything, just listen to the music and soak in all of the new songs. He danced to Walking Through Spring and Echo because he had heard them before. The next morning, the first thing he said to me was "New Dokee Brothers?" I put on the CD and laid down on his floor. He laid on my chest and we listened to all of the songs, completely silent. More moments that I will treasure, because of these beautiful songs.

I cannot say enough great things about this amazing band and the music they make. We love the new CD. I expected to do more of a review about the songs, but basically they are just really wonderful. The lyrics are witty, the band is exceptional, the topics are interesting, and I often forget I am listening to "children's" music. It is music I feel really good about letting Skyler listen to. There are fun upbeat songs and some slower songs too - every song is great to dance to, listen to in the car, or use as background noise during play time! Skyler even asked about the DVD, remembering the one from the last album. We sat on the couch together and he actually watched the entire thing - a big commitment of time for a not quite two-year-old! The DVD is just as awesome as the album it accompanies. The Okee Dokee Brothers, and especially their adventure albums, are so so special.

We went to their album release party for Through the Woods yesterday. Here are some pictures from the event. My dad came with me and Skyler, and the three of us had such a fun time!

The first full band show we have seen! Also, we ended up sitting behind their families.

Baby boy was so patient waiting for the show to start!

If you've read the blog for awhile, you have probably noticed Skyler's SUPER serious face. It is the most obvious when he is focusing, and throughout the concert he was completely fixated on the stage, watching them play. No clapping, so singing, no dancing. It was so cute. He excitedly waited after the show to meet the guys, and clammed up when we got to the table :)

The entire way to the car and during our drive home, Skyler was talking about the concert. "See Okee Dokee Brothers! Sitting with Okee Dokee Brothers on a bench! hear a banjo!! Lotsa people...dancing!" It was sweet. Minnesota locals, the Okee Dokee Brothers are playing at the MN Zoo on Father's Day. We won't be there, but it will be such a fun show! Check out their tour schedule to see if they are playing a show near you this summer!

We love the Okee Dokee Brothers and their new adventure album, and I am so excited to be doing a giveaway with this great band. One reader is going to receive their new CD and DVD! You can enter below until Friday and I will email the winner directly. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Homemade Bowling Game

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While cleaning out a closet awhile back, I saw this bag of empty smoothie containers. I started trying to think of a good use for them. I counted six and the first idea that came into my head was a bowling game for Skyler. He has played with the cute animal versions at various classes we have been at, and was very intrigued by them. I knew he would have a blast.

This could not have been more simple to set up. I forgot to grab the tape before I left Skyler's room at nap time, so I quickly decorated the bottles after he woke up, right at the changing table. He patiently waited for me to finish and we talked about the colors of tape and what I was making. I got creative with the two stripes of red at the top of traditional bowling bins, by putting two stripes of pretty tape across each bottle.

When I finished them, I set them up in a triangle shape for Skyler, threw a ball to show him how the game worked, and he was ready to play!! Skyler was actually going SO fast that I could hardly get a picture of him. He had just as much fun with this homemade game as I thought he would. 

I tried to show Skyler how to throw the ball from far back, but his favorite way was to go right up to our homemade pins and throw the balls from above. He also enjoyed setting up the pins on his own! Skyler happily played with his bowling set all afternoon.

Most of my pictures are of a very blurry toddler :)

Some other fun ways to play with our homemade bowling pins... with a bulldozer...


...and making ice cream cones ;)

Looks familiar...that's my boy!

Of course, according to Skyler, the best way to bowl is pantless!

It was a pretty chilly day, but I am looking forward to trying our homemade bowling game outside. A very simple activity using recycled materials, that provides hours of entertainment with a toddler - such a win! Give these fun homemade bowling pins a try.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

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We had a busy and fun weekend. Saturday my husband went for a long run, and instead of turning around at his halfway point, he ran to Lake Harriet, our favorite place to walk, where Skyler and I met him. We got our first cold press coffee of the year from their food stand, Bread and Pickle, and walked around, then we went to Sebastian Joe's for ice cream before heading out to dinner. It was a fun afternoon with my boys.

Yesterday for Mother's Day, we had a very low-key, food focused day :) I meant to post these last night, but ended up falling asleep while reading right after putting Skyler to bed! The busy weekend caught up to me. Here are some pictures of our day.

 Skyler painted some egg carton flowers earlier this week to make these beautiful spring wreaths.

We also made some simple hand print flower cards for my mom, step mom, mother-in-law, and grandmothers. Skyler loves making hand prints. We could have made one for every mother we know. 

My boys and I went to brunch at our newest favorite place, The Happy Gnome. My hubby and I went for date night there several weeks ago and had the best meal! 

I gave Skyler a small bowl of oatmeal and yogurt at his typical breakfast time, but he was so ready to eat some french toast! We were talking about it in the morning, so when the table next to us got their food he turned around and talked to them until our food came! "People eating! Eating potatoes? I eat french toast!" It was so cute, luckily the mom and daughter didn't mind his brunch conversation :)

Skyler happily ate an entire piece of french toast, eggs, potatoes, and bacon when our food came soon after! Such a special treat. I have the greatest picture of my husbands face after trying his first bite of pork belly hash, but he won't let me post it. Let's just say he REALLY liked his meal. We all had a very happy belly.

We went for a short walk after and went to look at a new camera, my gift from my sweet guy. No luck finding one I liked, but I am so excited to get a new one! Skyler happily played with the train set at the store while I snapped pictures of him with the cameras I tried out.

While Skyler napped, Joe cleaned the inside of my car!! It is one job I despise and I can never get it as clean as I like. When my husband does this dreaded chore, it always looks perfect. Plus, I got a picture with his cheesiest smile :)

We went out for dinner with my in-laws where Skyler was a very busy boy. This wall of colorful tile kept him entertained for a long time! He talked about the colors and textures. 

Happy belated Mother's Day to all the mama's out there and our thoughts go out to those missing loved ones on this day. Thank you to all of the mother's in my life that help me be a better mom every day. I am so blessed to have such incredible influences in my life.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pinecone Painting - Two Ways

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One of Skyler's favorite things to do when we walk around our neighborhood is find pinecones. He collects all the ones sitting on the sidewalk and throws them around. The other day we had his recycling truck with us, so all the pinecones ended up getting recycled and dumped throughout our walk. We ended up with several when we got home, so I wanted to let him explore with them. 

Skyler's only experience painting with natural materials as a tool was when we did flower paintings. I thought that using the pinecones as a tool to paint with would be a fun way for him to use the pinecones that he enjoys collecting so much.

Skyler really enjoyed this. He used his little pincer grasp to create lines with the small pinecones, and also liked to roll them around in the paint.

Of course he did some finger painting as well! :)

Having him use the pinecones as a tool was an extra activity, my original idea was to have him paint on the bumpy texture of the pinecones. I used hot glue to adhere some pinecones to a piece of foam and set out a paint brush with some fun glittery paint.

At first Skyler wouldn't paint on the pinecones, but would paint around them. After awhile he did try painting them, and eventually they all had some paint on them. Most of the paint ended up on the foam or the white paper, though. The pinecones made a cool noise when painted on, like a washboard. Skyler liked the sound it made, but treated the painting more like an obstacle course which I thought was pretty cute.

Since all the pinecones did have some paint on them, we pulled out the glitter to add to the craft. Skyler started off by sprinkling the glitter over the pinecones.

Then had fun dumping the glitter out, pinching some back into the bowl and dumping it out again.

Both painting methods were a lot of fun and it was great to use the pinecones that Skyler loves to collect on our walks in an extension activity at home.