March 30, 2011

Success.......
{ and the kiss of death }

{updates}

Our caterpillars have morphed! 4 of our 5 caterpillars spun themselves into their chrystalds last week and we transferred them to their habitat!  We waited and watched and hoped for days while our "runt" caterpillar scrounged around desperately looking for scraps of food the four much larger caterpillars may have left behind. Truth-be-told Hubby and I were not hopeful and both agreed that this would be a life lesson no matter the outcome - and really wasn't this whole project about learning something about the life cycle??

After a few days our little runt climbed up to the paper towel we covered the top of his cup with, hung himself upside-down and we held our breath. within a few hours the poor little guy was a newly formed chrysalis! Way to go little guy! You may have taken a bit longer, but you did it!!

On Sunday the family went out for a morning of shopping and lunch. When we returned I noticed that there were red stains running down the side of the Butterfly habitat. I was thinking "No! No! No! No! How did we miss this???? We can't miss this!!!" Red liquid is expected to be secreted from the newly emerged butterflies immediately following their metamorphosis. These red stains meant our butterflies had emerged.  Thankfully for the girls only two of the four butterflies had made their grand entrance. While watching the two new butterflies stretch and dry their wings, Gigi starting shouting and clapping "Look! Look! One is coming out of it's cocoon now!!" and she was right! The entire family watched in awe as a third butterfly emerged. It was so cool to see!

We now have four butterflies flying around our little habitat and are patiently waiting to see if our last little caterpillar is strong enough to make the change! This has been an amazing and fun project and we are strongly considering ordering more caterpillars and watching a handful more change into butterflies.  We also want to raise tadpoles into Bull-frogs but if we do we need to order them in the next few days as our desert temperatures are rapidly rising and it is bordering on too hot for the little tadpoles to sit on the FedEx truck.

I still highly recommend a project like this one with your kiddos!!  Our neighbor's ladybugs are also staring to change and while I think my girls would love that project too - the changes are not as blatant every day as the caterpillar's.  If you want to see what project options we are considering next go to www.naturegifts.com.

{our caterpillars getting ready to turn into chrysalids}

{the four chrysalids}

{the red meconium from the newly emerged butterflies}

{welcome to the world butterfly}

  
{gtting color into it's wings}
  



{now onto the ''kiss of death"}

um.....okay.....so the Strawberries might not be making it. They might be...well...dead. It is starting to feel very Summer Science Project all over again. On a brighter note though... Our beefsteak Tomatoes are looking very good. The cherry tomatoes are looking a bit spindly but have blooms all over them. The carrots I am still not very hopeful about but there are tons of sprouts {that I know I need to weed out but...} and the tops are starting to look more and more like carrot tops everyday!   

Here's a snapshot of the current state of our "garden"

{um yeah.... this is the state of our strawberries
- I'm going to blame it on the desert heat!}

{we do have a few strawberry plants still growing with the carrots  though...}

{our first beefsteak tomato starting to grow!}

{the beefsteak tomato plant}

 {our spindly cherry tomato plants}

{they might be spindly but they are flowering}
  
{a cluster of carrots}


Stay Tuned...
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{Project Simplify}

Thank God I've taught my 3 {almost 4} year old to bake!

This is not my usual type of musing {or maybe it is but with just a little added bonus at the end}. I am not a gourmet cook, or pastry chef- and while I may have at one time pretended to be... well cooking is really NOT in my wheelhouse! But I do like to bake from time to time, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve for when a home cooked meal is required. This recipe however is something new we tried! {You're gonna have to read my entire rambling before getting to the recipe!}
  
The temperatures are once again hitting that 90* mark, which means we will be in triple digits before I know it.  This is not my first go round with summer in the sun scorched desert- I have been here four and a half years now {Wow! Did I really just say that?  I doesn't seem possible we've been gone from Southern California that long!} so I know what is required to survive this very dry heat. 

Yesterday morning I pushed myself especially hard at Stroller Strides I am preparing for Body Back in two weeks and I need to step up my game if I want to survive the 8 weeks that I am staring down at the moment. {a blog post about Body Back and 1 year anniversary update is coming via Project Stroller Strides - I PROMISE!} So.... I pushed myself extra hard but didn't really hydrate any more than normal. I was sweating and thirsty but....apparently not thinking. Then I dropped Gigi at school and made Lula lunch, but I wasn't hungry. {Duh.... This is one of the symptoms of dehydration} and somewhere deep down in that brain of mine I knew that if I had a small protein shake before working out and that pushed myself hard and burned a ton of calories, I should be ravenous. But clearly the sun, heat and lack of water were already starting to eat my brain.

Time to pick up Gigi from school and I was feeling a little woozy..... It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I've only had about 40oz of water and I am telling myself "it's just that I haven't eaten." To the grocery store to get the girls something for dinner, the ingredients for our baking experiment and I decide I need to eat something right away! Fried chicken from the deli it is!  I eat in the car - my head hurts and the chicken doesn't seem to be helping. The rest of the night is kind of a blur..... I remember getting a headache and being too tired to do anything. Hubby is on the road again so the girls got to run around like little heathens last night while I walked around like a zombie trying to figure out how to put the house into some semblance of order.  I'd like to tell myself that my girls were suffering without a fully functioning mommy last night, but I think they liked it.... Sure, you want a second ice cream cone... No problem! --- You don't want to take a bath tonight? Perfect Mommy can't deal with bath time anyway..... Yes, please be sure to send in your nominations for me as Mother of The Year!! 

I remember telling myself that I have a headache because I am dehydrated but couldn't seem to bring myself to drink any water.... The evening ended with me dropping into bed early with a splitting migraine and then spending a good portion of the night vomiting.

Long story short {haha} I feel horrible today-- weak and woozy and just plain awful. {but forcing down the water!}  Thank God for Trader Joe's Cereal Bars and their Crushers this morning because cooking eggs for Gigi & Lula was seeming like an insurmountable task.  So breakfast a la TJ's it was!! Of  course my two bundles of boundless energy remembered that we were supposed to bake muffins last night.... and that when mommy couldn't do it then she promised we would first thing this morning..... KILL ME NOW!

I had just told Gigi that our play date with one of her school friends wasn't going to happen because Mommy was too sick. And true to her Elizabeth Taylor persona she had tears and tantrums and every manner of loud and emotional outbursts she could come up with.  I couldn't face another bout of that when I said 'Mommy cannot bake muffins with you this morning peanut" - So Mommy didn't say 'No.' 

I'd done the "worst" of the prep last night {shredding carrots} and all that was left to do was a bit of mixing so.... Out came the Kitchenaid Mixer and with 2 chairs pulled up to the kitchen island, Gigi and Lula got to work. I measured, they combined and mixed- They lined muffin tins with paper cups and spooned batter- and I put the muffins in the oven to bake. Considering how crappy I was feeling it was a really nice way to spend a morning together. It may be 90* in the afternoon but this time of year, the mornings are glorious! We had all of the windows open and a beautiful breeze was blowing in.

We sat on the patio and they enjoyed the fruits of their labor and it was a prefect moment..... until Gigi announced that she didn't want carrot muffins, she wanted apple muffins! - Back to reality...

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin cups with paper muffin liners.


Whisk the flours with the brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg, then whisk in the vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.

Quickly and lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Stir in the carrots and pineapple just until evenly moist; the batter will be very thick. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Turn muffins out of the tins and cool on a rack. Serve warm.

Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.





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{Project Simplify}

March 15, 2011

So Much Science!!

I have a plethora of projects going on at the moment.... Aside from the "Science Projects" I am about to update you all on there is "Project Simplify" {that is past due for a blog update about what this week's
Hot Spot is and... well... it's Tuesday and I haven't even begun! Hot Spot #2 is overwhelming me at the moment, and where to begin is my issue, well one of my issues!} The there is Project Stroller Strides which as just hit the 1 year mark with no updates in 6 months and some news to share. Stroller Strides is about to become a hot topic on my blog again!! Ay-Ay-Ay.... So much, so little time!!


Let's start with our Spring Science Project...

We finished our planting; at least for the moment. There is still some debate as the weather or not we add a 5th item to our "garden"... But the garden is coming along nicely and the girls are excited to see what, if any progression has been made from day to day.  I must admit that I, um....cheated a little.  Let me justify my cheating if I may and tell you that...if I had simply waited one more day I would have seen that my "cheat" was unnecessary and maybe I should have had a little more faith... and frankly if it's a lesson I want to teach my girls, then a 'failure' as in a failure to produce crops would have been a truer lesson in agriculture and photosynthesis, than lying to them!

My "cheat" was with the carrots, and NO I did not stick baby or store bought carrots in the ground and say "Look what you grew!!"  Lula very much wanted to grow carrots, but in our region of the country, carrots are a fall crop.  Afraid that we may never even get the seeds to sprout through the soil I put a handful of carrot seeds on a wet paper towel, in a ziploc bag and taped it to a window in the hopes that they would sprout. Then when the did I would plant the sprouts in the soil and show the girls the tiny carrot sprouts popping up from where the planted seeds in the soil.  

Yesterday I took a peek at the carrot box and nothing, but the seeds on the window were sprouted and ready to be stuck in the spoil. So I snuck out to the yard, planted a row of carrot sprouts, watered them well, said a Hail Mary and showed the girls their "success". They were so excited to see the carrots they planted !!  Well today, all of the seeds that the girls actually planted have come sprouting up out of the ground. I have no idea if they will, in the end mature into carrots, but I didn't need to trick the girls or pad their results, they did just fine on their own!   Lesson learned mom.... Let the experiment unfold organically.



So where are we to date.... We have one small green strawberry and a handful of strawberry flowers that with fingers crossed and breath held, will turn into the berries they are supposed to!




The clusters of Carrot sprouts that will, if they mature as hoped need to be thinned out so that select carrots will have room to grow...

Our cherry tomatoes are beginning to show a few blossoms. More than anything I think I am excited for tomatoes!!

And the "Mommy and Daddy" tomato or Beefsteak tomato plant is starting to get big. I've already secured it to the temporary steak but will have to get something more substantial for it soon. There are teeny-tiny buds forming on the plant, but I am not sure if they are the beginning of new growth or of they will be tomatoes. Time will tell and that has been the exciting and fun part of this project. Seeing what happens and what the different stages are.  I enjoy these little projects as much {sometimes more} than the kids do!!



Stay Tuned........


Our other "Science Project", we started this weekend. On Friday our caterpillars and butterfly habitat arrived.  We gave our best little neighborhood buddy Ladybug Larvae and a Ladybug Playground for his birthday and I was so excited about all the fun he was going to have watching little lobster like larvae turn into Ladybugs that I decided to pull the trigger a bit early on our butterfly experiment!

In just 4 days our caterpillars have grown quite a bit! Honestly if I had realized how much and how quickly they were going to grow I would have been photographing them daily!! 

Friday March 12, 2011

Tuesday March 15, 2011


The end result - Hopefully!

I'm telling you....  It's a lot of fun to have these little projects with the girl, more fun that I had even anticipated. They may only be 2 and 3 {almost 4} years old but I know that my days are numbered. It will not be long before my roll goes from partner in crime to chauffeur; That my time with them will be reduced to "Can you drive me to soccer; swimming; dance;  the mall?" ... So for now I am embracing spring {even though it's already in the 90's} and youth and digging in the dirt, chasing bugs, examining the bees in our garden with magnifying glass, tasting honey and watching caterpillars grow with my girls... and I am loving, truly loving every second of it!


If you want to join us in some fun critter adventures.... and believe you me, we will be "growing" ladybugs and raising tadpoles up into frogs and likely getting a worm farm....If you want to join in the fun and have a little "Science Project" of your own check out Nature Gifts
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{Project Simplify}

March 12, 2011

The Peanut and the Cashew

Hubby came home from a week and a half on the road yesterday afternoon bearing gifts; I could have both kissed him and throttled him for it! I wasn't upset with him because of my new mission to rid our home of excess- This trip returned him to us with something worth both having and spending the money on.... It was his decision about the gifts.

I don't think everyone should get or have the same. I believe that sometimes you are picked last, not everyone makes the team and someone has to lose. That is life; and no matter how we sugar coat childhood and protect our children from reality someday they are going to lose. If we haven't taught them that life lesson in their youth, they will have no clue how to navigate losing gracefully as an adult.

That said, my Hubby dubbed Lula "The Cashew" when she was a few months old. I am guilty of giggling, and condoning and only half-hearted chiding him for it.  Gigi was since birth and still is today "The Peanut".  She's petite and girly and willowy looking. Lula on the other hand is only average size, but compared to her sister looks like a linebacker. {That and the girl can take a hit. Give one too for that matter!} But Lula is girly, granted not as much as her sister, but they both dig in the dirt and love trucks and roughhouse with the boys. They both like tea-parties and pretty dresses.  Lula simply is more athletic, or rather, athletic in a different sort of way. She's the tough and aggressive kind of athletic whereas Gigi is graceful and balanced and strong kind of athletic. Think Soccer vs. Gymnastics. Lacrosse vs. Swimming. Basketball vs. Track.



In honor of the girl first baseball game {tomorrow} Hubby brought them home their very first baseball mitts! This was the best gift for so many reasons! Daddy was taking his girls to their very first baseball game. After 3 seasons of watching the Red Sox on TV with daddy the girls were going to get to see it all in person! Then there is the fact that baseball {or T-ball} is something Daddy would gladly go play in the backyard with the girls! Teaching them how to field a ball, now that he's already taught them how to throw a ball and bat. I like gifts that require Daddy to participate with the girls! This was a great gift....except..... Why would you buy one pink/black glove and one tan? Seriously? What were you thinking?  Were you thinking? Just because we love that Lula could be a serious athlete like her Daddy doesn't mean she wouldn't want a pink baseball glove too....

I thought maybe I was being too sensitive about this. Maybe Lula didn't really care. maybe all that mattered to her was all that should matter. She was in the backyard playing with Daddy.... But this morning I had to referee the fight over the pink glove and try to convince Lula that the tan one was the one Mommy would choose if Mommy had a baseball mitt.

So here is what I am going to take away from all of this. You don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I do love that my darling Hubby came home and went outside and played with his girls. I do love that he is so excited to take them to their first baseball game. I do love that he put thought into a gift that both made sense for this weekend and created an opportunity for him to play with and influence his children. I do love my husband, unconditionally and with all of my heart. This was a very thoughtful gift {although maybe not very well thought out, still very thoughtful} and the girls and I are so very lucky!

Choosing GRATITUDE... and hopefully this will help me to teach the girls that they should simply be grateful for what they are given.

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{Project Simplify}

March 11, 2011

Project Simplify: Hot Spot #1
{The Master Closet}

Okay. So I am on a five week mission. It is time to reduce my life. There is too much, I am always writing about being overwhelmed and Project Simplify was just the motivation I needed to do something about it.  My home is overwrought with stuff. Unending, unnecessary, unused stuff.

I have often quietly longed for a more simple life, where my children didn't own 12 barbie dolls and 50 stuffed animals and a myriad of electronic, noisy, pointless toys!  Where we had a berry and vegetable garden and only ate produce that we grew ourselves. A life lived more intentionally. Where our family truly lived life together, out loud, in love and didn't simply exist in the same space.... and frankly when your home is filled with crap, it's hard to get around it all. Time and space is consumed with moving it.... and rearranging it..... and storing it..... and cleaning it..... and I for one am D O N E!

{Side Note} For my family who love, adore and spoil my darling girls rotten, From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. For living far, far away and wanting the girls to feel your love in a tangible way, THANK YOU, but from the bottom of my heart.... We {they} do not need any more stuff. They are all set for toys, and clothes, and shoes and trinkets, and baubles. At leas tat the moment. And until I go through what we have and remove what we don't need, I have no clue as to what we might need

That Tsh gave us the week to complete Hot Spot # 1 was a God-send!  Ask me to go through my closet in one day clean all the clothes, touch every article, organize, reduce, try on, donate, throw out, re-hang, fold, dust, vacuum, I am having a panic attack and and underwhelming desire to evening being a project like that all at the same time. But, tell me that I have 5 days to complete this task and it's on!

So from hot-mess to goodness.... Here is my Hot Spot#1

{The Master Closet}

The Disaster...

The Shelves...

My Jewelry....

My Shoes.....



Drum-roll please...........
......................................................
......................................................


Ta-Dah!!


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{Project Simplify}

March 7, 2011

Project Simplify




No time to write about it.....Aw heck I haven't even completed my family purpose statement {although I haven't seen my husband in weeks to be able to create such a statement so....} Suffice to say, I have a HUGE project ahead of me and hubby will be pleased with the first "HOT SPOT".

I have done zero prep work and am likely not mentally ready to take on this task but something must be done about my home and the state it is currently in. And frankly, if I were a bit more organized there might be more time for, well.... me. Wouldn't that be nice?? "Me time"

*sigh* so here I go. I will post before and after photos and I beg of you to hold me accountable! For those of you taking on this project in your homes, please help me, support me, encourage me, this is not my forte!!

On your Mark.... Get set..... {God or someone... anyone help me} GO!




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March 3, 2011

It's That Time Again!!
"Phase One"!


Last summer the girls and I took on a science project. I won't say "failed" because we did manage to sprout and grow bean plants, we just didn't get them to survive long enough to produce beans. This spring we will be growing....


Drum roll please.....


S T R A W B E R R I E S !


The girls were so excited to see and water and pick strawberries from my Step-mother's garden when we were back east last month, so..... Here we go! I would like to add green beans and tomatoes to our "garden" in a month or so, but for now..... I'm excited to start this project.

Phase One was picking out our "Garden". Would it be a planter? Or pot? Or strawberry planter?? I gave the girls some options and I was pleased with their choice of this 44" window box/patio planter. I think it will make a sweet and appropriate sized "garden" for their strawberries!

Phase Two is paying attention to our yard and the sun today and tomorrow to decide where our "garden" should be.... but I think I already know.  Then we will get the soil and plants and the girls and I will get to my favorite part...... Getting our hands dirty!!

Stay tuned to see how we fair with this next "science project".... I'm excited.... Are you?




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March 2, 2011

Stuck on memory lane.....

The Girls are I are back from 2 weeks in Florida.  I haven't blogged since we left and didn't bring my camera with me on this trip.... I really do want to share stories from our flight, rave {again} about how much I love our CARES Harnesses {and go on for days about how you should NEVER fly with your child on your lap.... But I digress} Tell you about our adventures at the zoo, beach and of my baby brother's engagement and party. I even want to recount the horror of my poor step mother's severely dog bitten face. Yes, she sustained a nasty dog bit to the face! *shivers*........ But I am stuck,  on memory lane.

I say I'm stuck on memory lane because that is where I spent a good part of my trip. The reason the girls and I flew cross country this time was to see my grandmother. It's been a year since we've seen her and her Alzheimer's has progresses quite a bit in the past 12 months. Last year, while she didn't recognise me, "Shelbi" still existed in her mind. I was someone she could at the very least recall by name. This year.... I cease to exist at all in her mind.

It was bittersweet spending time with my grandfather looking at old photos, remembering my childhood and seeing my grandmother as a young mother and yes, a young grandmother.  The smell of her jewelry box when my grandfather opened it sent a flood of memories of her washing over me. It was like a time machine taking me back through my life, touching and  turning over different pieces in my hands that we so iconicly Gramma Dottie, and Gram O'Reily{my great-grandmother}....I struggled with all of that. It was so joyful to remember such great times and see things that reminded me of her and of my great-grandmother, but in the back of my mind was "Memory". I was sitting with my grandfather reveling in my memories and that is exactly what my poor grandmother no longer has.... memories.

I haven't decided quite how to process all of this yet. So I have sat here for days in front of a blank blog post trying to figure out what to say and eloquence fails me. I would love to wax poetic about my memories of my grandmother or how saddened I am by this loss.... But words fail me.  Glossing over this trip, and moving on with my life dosen't feel right either. My grandmother was in my life. She was there, she made an impression and she loved me and is loved in return. Maybe someday I can write my memories down.....



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