Surprise! Chicago Weekend

Colleen and I planned a birthday surprise for our Mom last weekend.  I secretly flew to Chicago on Friday, while Mom drove down from Fondy ostensibly to spend a nice weekend with her youngest daughter… only to find BOTH girls waiting to shock her.

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Needless to say, she was surprised. Although I almost gave the game away at the last minute…long story short, there was a waving incident that made Mom think her son in law Adam needed a serious haircut.

Friday night Colleen made dinner for everyone and we hung out at the condo. Eventually we told Mom about part two of the surprise…tickets the following afternoon to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! Colleen and I were both in the show at various points in our musical careers and it’s always been a favorite of Mom’s.

A lionhead in the Old Watertower

A lionhead in the Old Watertower

Saturday morning we headed downtown for some shopping.  After checking out the Old Chicago Watertower (the only building still standing from before the great Chicago fire), we met up with Adam at Eataly.  It is a large  emporium of all things Italy.  You can buy fresh products to cook a meal at home, or go to one of the many stands and order food there.  The place was packed and we had to rush to get our pizza lunch finished in time before the show; the food was well worth the rush though.  Wood-fire pizzas and fresh foccacia!


Then Mom, Colleen, and I hightailed it over to the theater and slid into our seats just in time.  The show was fantastic.  All of the music was the familiar, but the staging was unique and unlike any version of Joseph I’ve seen.  No children’s chorus, but lots of cool visual effects, like flashing all the various colors of the coat as they were sung, or using visuals to help depict the dream sequences.  All three of us were singing along under our breaths – I can’t believe that I remember all the words so many years later!

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After the show we made our way back to Colleen and Adam’s place.  There were important NCAA basketball games to watch that evening – the UW Badgers were playing Baylor (they won!).  We got dinner from a yummy restaurant near the condo, called Handlebar.  Mom and I shared fish tacos.  Everyone capped off their dinner early birthday cake for Colleen.  It was vegan chocolate mousse; since it was vegan, I assume that means it was healthy and calorie-free 😉

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Sunday morning we went out for brunch at Chicago Diner, a favorite spot for C and A.  We decided to skip the vegan cinnamon rolls there, and save space for a new donut place that was within walking distance.  Mom and I both stocked up on treats for our trips home, and puggle Lucy got to come along when we walked to the donut shop.

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The weather even cooperated on Sunday and gave us sunshine and nearly 60 degree temps!  The whole weekend was a great little trip and I think Mom enjoyed her birthday celebration… but she warned us no more surprises for a while!  Her “old” heart can’t take it!

Cheers and Jeers

Cheers... to my zucchini bread turning out today!  It was the first time I tried this recipe (I substituted equal parts applesauce for the oil).  We had slight issues with the amount of batter I tried to put in the bread loaf pan… basically, it all spilled over (thank god I put the loaf pan on a cookie sheet from the beginning), I had to scoop a bunch of the batter out of the pan and into a mini loaf pan, and then cook it way longer than originally called for… but it all worked out and tastes great.  NavyGuy-approved.  And it used up some of the excess zucchini we got in our produce box last week.  (Tangent:  So in looking back to find the link for the recipe, I went through and read all the comments on the recipe.  Turns it out makes 2 large loaves!!  That would really have been helpful info to include in the actual recipe and not in comment #14.  So, I guess you could either make a loaf and freeze the other, or halve the recipe if need be.  Good grief.)

Jeers… to Spring going back into hiding.  We’ve had rain and coldness for several days, and I’m annoyed.  Guess I jinxed it with my hiking last week.

Cheers... to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  We never really watched Leno, but since Fallon took over, we’ve been TiVo’ing it and catching up when we have time.  He’s so much fun!  One of the guests last week described it as “like there’s sunbeams coming out of the tv” and that’s an apt description.  Fallon is affable and upbeat, funny, but can still laugh at himself, and genuinely seems to be having a good time.  The house band, The Roots, are also great musicians and players in the bits and sketches.

Cheers... to How I Met Your Mother.  The show wraps up in a few weeks, and while the last few seasons have not been great, it’s come alive again in the last half of this season.  NavyGuy and I got into a bit of a HIMYM mood and started re-watching the show from the beginning; there really were some crazy funny episodes in the first four seasons.  Legend-wait-for-it-Dary!

Jeers… to the Packers letting James Jones go to the Raiders.  I’m very happy we (yes, I said we) got Sam Shields re-signed, and the free agency move of getting Julius Peppers is exciting, but I really liked Jones.  He wasn’t our (yes, I said our) receiver, but he was the veteran, and on a team that already lacks veterans, I suspect he was a good voice in the locker room and still had some productive years left.  (And football analysis over.)

Cheers… to having the week “off!”  Baby C’s parents are on vacation this week, so Grandma and Grandpa came out to spend time with the little one.  I got a video from his mom late last week before they left… C took his first steps!  I can’t wait to see how much walking he’s doing when I’m back there next week.  In the meantime though, I’ve been enjoying sleeping in and having whole days to get shiznit done around here.


How to Keep Your Awesome Babysitter Coming Back

We talked last week about how to be a fantastic sitter.  The other side of the coin is for parents who are trying to lock down that great sitter… here’s what I’d recommend!

1. Leave clear expectations
Your sitter is responsible, considerate, and has common sense about what is and is not good for children.  However, your sitter does not know how you parent and how your household runs on a daily basis.  Tell them.  Leave him or her with specific instructions on house rules, food, discipline, and routines.  Do you expect your children to be in bed by, lights out, by 8?  That’s fine – but you have to clarify, and not be wishy-washy and tell the sitter that bedtime is between 8 and 8:30.  Do you expect the sitter to clean up the playroom after the kids have gone to sleep?  Again, perfectly acceptable, but it has to be stated ahead of time.

2. Set them up for success
You want your children to be well taken care of while you’re gone, and you want everyone (the kids and sitter) to have a good experience, right?  Then, you should do what you can to set everyone up for success.  If your little ones are “bad” eaters, then tonight is not the night to try a new recipe – leave a meal like mac’n’cheese or pizza or something they will almost always eat.  Otherwise, you are just setting the sitter up for food / snack battles all night.  Have the kids had a busy day outside or with lots of outings?  Then recognize that they might be spent by 7pm and give the sitter the green light to watch a tv show with them if need be, instead of thinking that everyone will peacefully play board games until bedtime.  No matter the issue, think about your kids’ trigger issues or potential challenges, and try to mitigate any possible disasters.

3. Payment is Value
How much is your children’s safety and well-being worth to you?  You can’t think of a babysitter’s hourly rate the same way you think of other “menial” jobs.  Minimum wage might be okay at McDonald’s,, but it’s not appropriate for the person watching your children.  You get what you pay for, and some of that is simply showing a sitter that you value and respect his or her time, experience, and effort.  I’m not saying that you should pay your sitter an exorbitant amount of money; ask around and find out what the going rate is in your area (it can vary greatly in different parts of the country).  But, you should not be thinking of child care costs as a place where you can pay the bare minimum.  Sitters know the families who pay a low rate, or who nickle and dime them (I’ve had people figure out my payment to the 15 minute mark…).  Round up to the nearest half hour or hour, and tip if the sitter deserves it.  (Examples of which include a) one of the kids barfed, b) a pet barfed, c) anything involving barf.)

4. Little Extras Sweeten the Pot (or the Stomach)
You can have the brattiest kids on earth (and if you do, you should definitely follow this tip), and still keep a great sitter with two little perks – good snacks and the wifi password.  😉  I’m only 90% kidding.  No, you do not have to buy food specifically for your sitter, but take a quick look in your pantry and fridge… is there something edible that’s easy to snack on?  Your healthy collection of greek yogurt, quinoa, and frozen turkey burgers is going to make a sitter cry.  Chips, crackers, granola bars, fruit, popsicles, bags of microwave popcorn, etc… anything that is quick, easy, tasty, and is recognizable is good.  A good sitter will know not to open a new box of Girl Scout Cookies, but don’t reduce them to snacking on dry cereal because it’s the only thing in the house without a cartoon character on the package.  Other little perks… show the sitter how to work the television (and Netflix, or Roku streaming or however you consume media)… give them the password for the wifi so their phone battery doesn’t get completely drained… or specifically tell them they can and should open the box of Thin Mints 🙂

5. Be Realistic
Your kids are not perfect.  I’m sorry – should I have said spoiler alert? 😉  One of the ways you can keep your awesome babysitter is by realizing this fact.  Your sitter is going to try her best to have your children eat a healthy meal, play nicely, clean up their toys, bathe, brush their teeth, and get to bed on time.  However, your little angels have a totally different understanding of  a night with a babysitter; for them, this is an opportunity to stretch every rule and routine that mom and dad have set up!  Kids are not malicious, they’re just kids!  I once had a parent get upset that I let her seven year old eat two frozen pancakes as an after-school snack.  The first grader told me he was allowed to, and it seemed reasonable – it wasn’t like he was asking for a giant ice cream sundae, it was pancakes!  I don’t know whether the kid was trying to be sneaky, or if he had never asked to have pancakes for a snack before and was just trying something new… either way, is this something worth getting upset about?  Kids convince good sitters to let them sty up 15 minutes later to read one more book, or to play with playdough in the livingroom, or take a glass of water to bed with them.  If it’s something that’s worth a battle, you can encourage the sitter to say no next time or whatever, but if it’s something minor, let it go.

6. Be Respectful
Your awesome babysitter is taking care of your most precious possessions.  Treat them with respect.  Overall, this is the biggest factor I notice in families that I want to sit for again and again, and those who I begrudgingly sit for a second time.  Respect your sitter’s time by arriving home when planned, or at worst, texting or calling to let them know you’ll be late (this should not be a frequent occurrence).  Respect their abilities by believing their version of the evening and trusting that they made the best judgment calls possible.  Treat your babysitter with respect and they’ll be with your family for a long time.

Spring Sing Fling Thing*

This was what greeted me as I walked into the dentist’s office this fine March morning.


Yes.  A thousand times, Yes.  Bring it on spring.  We certainly haven’t had a harsh winter (especially compared to the frozen snowy hellscape that the Midwest saw this year), but I love it when the weather turns and spring arrives.  I live a much healthier life when the weather is nice.  I eat better, I get outside more, I’m more active, and my mood improves exponentially.  Blooms more blooms.

It was 50 degrees in Anacortes today, and we’ve had glorious sunshine all week.  Tally and I took advantage today.  We started cleaning up the yard a bit – weeding and trimming back my hydrangea bush.



We headed up to the community forest lands behind our house and hiked.


It was deserted enough that I let Tally off the leash.  She is surprisingly adept at trotting a bit ahead, then stopping and checking to make sure I’m still on my way.




I got this look a few times though, which clearly means, “Mumma!  Hurry!  Hike faster!  This is soooooo much fun!”

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The trail had some slight elevations, but nothing too steep.  Most of the path was dry as well, though I did have to do some creative footwork in a few spots to avoid mud puddles.  All in all, today has me very excited for more spring!

*This was the title of our elementary spring music program.  Too this day, it makes absolutely no sense, but rolls off the tongue in such a pleasing manner that you can’t help but smile when you say it.


Sunday Odds and Ends

… Did you remember to Spring Forward?  I think we’ve changed all the clocks in the house.  Someone needs to invent a little device that you can click and instantly make all your time-telling-devices jump to the correct time.  Like the Deluminator.  But for clock accuracy.  Also, how do you explain Daylight Savings Time to kids?  Sara mentioned the other day that goddaughter Macy is very big into telling time right now, and I can’t even begin to imagine how you explain this antiquated system to a six year old.

… NavyGuy and I took Tally pup for a short hike today.  I’m excited for the weather to start clearing up, and for the rains to lessen, so that it’s more of a hike and less of a “stomp through trenches of mud and water in the woods until everyone needs a scrubbing from the knees down.”

… On Saturday night, we brought baked ziti over to new friends, and had a nice little dinner together.  They are another Navy couple that I originally met when they were seeking a babysitter.  I occasionally watched their son, who is now three for the past year; less than two months ago, they welcomed a baby girl to the family.  They’re good Midwestern stock and we’ve started to spend more time with them socially (instead of babysitting) because we get along well and they’re very casual and fun.  With little ones at home, our evening was over by about 7:30, but that worked out perfectly for us!  A quick trip to Toppins (the frozen yogurt bar), and then home in time to finish Season 2 of Luther.  (Idris Elba is a delight.)

… Lazy Sunday for all of us – especially the smallest.  She’s been overly needy and snuggly this weekend.  Perhaps my being gone three days a week is emotionally scarring for her… I should probably quit and stay home with her 😉


… NavyGuy is now telling me to wrap this up because he’s forcing me to watch COSMOS, this new science TV show that starts tonight.  NavyGuy has literally been looking forward to this for weeks.  We are watching it live, which we haven’t done for any show in years.  I am dreading this.  It’s like NOVA on steroids, and I don’t remember agreeing to this in our wedding vows.


How to Be the Babysitter Every Family Wants

After almost twenty years of providing child care in various capacities, I feel fairly experienced in what parents are looking for in a babysitter*.  Of course, every situation has its own particulars, but in general, I’d say the following tips can make you the in-demand babysitter in your neighborhood…

*Occasional child care provider.  For instance, you watch the kids on a Saturday date night, or for an afternoon while Mom goes shopping.  Nannying or doing home day care is a whole other subject.

1. Ask Questions
Beyond the basics – “where are the emergency numbers?” and “what time do the kids go to bed?” – are lots of other crucial questions that can set you up for success and show the parents that you are invested in caring for their children.  These are topics that I always make sure to bring up, especially the first time I’m sitting for a family:

– medical information for kids (allergies?  anyone have a cold right now?  teething baby?)
– food (what can the kids eat?  where are they allowed to eat?  are snacks ok?  what happens if the kids don’t eat the provided dinner.. can they have something else later?)
– bedtime (all the specifics of how each child sleeps… with a certain blanket, nightlight on, door open or closed, sound machine, etc?  bedtime routine… stories, brush teeth, cup of water, potty?)
– activities (what do the kids like to do?  where are they allowed to play?  any toys/games/electronics not allowed?  where are art supplies or board games that might be stored in a different area?)
– house rules (any rooms kids can’t go in?  television or screen time limits?  can we play outside?  if the kids are older, are their neighborhood friends they like to play with?  how do you handle discipline?)
– current issues (is anyone going through a phase?  hitting his brother?  lots of backtalk?  potty training?  nap strike?  throwing food off the highchair?)

The specific questions you ask are obviously dependent on the ages and number of kids, what time you’re sitting, how long, etc.  But the point is that you want to think of as many scenarios ahead of time and think about what information you would need to know to handle the situation… instead of waiting until something comes up and you have to call (or text) mom or dad.

2. Be Prompt
This should be obvious, but I can’t tell you the number of parents who have complained to me about sitters arriving late.  It’s a job.  You need to be punctual.  If something happens and you’re running late, at least contact the parents to let them know you are on your way.  Additionally, if something comes up and you have to cancel a job, contact the parents as soon as possible so they can find a replacement.

3. Plan to Play
Come dressed to play on the floor with the kids.  You don’t have to dress like a slob, but be comfortable and don’t wear your newest, nicest outfit or shoes.  Tennis shoes are a must.  Mentally prepare yourself to play trains and cars and Legos and barbies and kitchen and chase and whatever other crazy nonsensical “game” the kids create.  I’ll admit, I’m better at certain kinds of play than others – art projects and Legos and board games are more my speed than imaginative play or simply racing cars around a room.  Whatever activity you end up doing, you need to be attentive to the kids.  It’s not rational to suggest that you never check your cell phone while sitting (most parents text nowadays, so I do check mine every so often), but it should not be your focus.

4. Do Not Take Advantage
Almost every parent will tell you to make yourself at home, eat anything you like, some even often computer access after the kids are in bed, etc.  I’m sure most of them are well-meaning, but you need to be reasonable and respectful.  Do not open new bags of chips or boxes of cookies.  Do not eat up the rest of the bag of Pirate’s Booty or finish off the last two Diet Pepsi’s.  My rule of thumb about meals is if I’m babysitting over a meal, I’ll eat with the kids; however, if the job doesn’t start until 6 at night, I can certainly eat my own dinner at home first.  In general, you should be comfortable while you are watching the kids, but exercise restraint around the box of Girl Scout cookies 😉

5. Bring Something Special
I always carry a few balloons in my purse.  These are the emergency fail safe for babysitting.  There’s not a kid alive that doesn’t love playing with balloons, so if all hell breaks loose, I whip those out (make sure to have enough for each child or you’re just asking for WWIII), and we have a great game of balloon volleyball or whatever.  You can also bring stickers, bubbles, or basically any other fun little thing you can get at the Dollar Store.  It shouldn’t cost very much, but it will be a special surprise that a) will entertain the kids, b) make you memorable, and c) show the parents that you cared enough to think ahead.

5b. Bring Something Extra-Special
If you read the Babysitter’s Club Books back in the day, you know about Kid Kits.  They were little kits that the fictional babysitters made filled with a few toys/books/crafts.  They would bring them along occasionally to sitting jobs because kids love new and novel things.  I have done this lots and it’s gone over like gangbusters.  Or just bring an age-appropriate project.  With Pinterest, this is even easier nowadays – I’ve done Christmas countdown calendars using construction paper and cotton balls, popsicle stick crafts, etc.  The kids have fun and the parents are crazy impressed.

6. Leave the Home Better Than You Found It
Pick up the toys and playroom after the kids have gone to bed.  (If you’re sitting during the daytime, you probably won’t be able to put everything away, but if you’ve turned one room into a toy-store-explosion, at least try to clear some of the chaos.)  Clean up the kitchen and any dishes you used.  You do not need to vacuum their house or wash every dish in the sink, but having the house a bit neater when parents arrive home than when they left is a nice gesture.  Most parents will prefer that you focus on the children’s well-being and safety when you are sitting, and you should, so this is really more applicable for night time jobs.

7. Give Parents a Detailed Report
Parents love to hear about their kids.  They love when you reply to their question of “how did it go?” with more than just the word “fine.”  Talk about what you played, what the kids ate, how bedtime went, etc.  Extra points if you can recall a little anecdote about the kids (Mason loved playing with his trains tonight and was doing really well with saying the right colors!).  If there were any problems, try to frame them as “I” statements.  For instance, instead of saying, “Emma just would not stay in bed and go to sleep” you can explain, “I had some trouble getting Emma to bed… I don’t know if I wasn’t singing the right song or if she just missed you guys.  Any tips for next time?”  This helps make sure the parents know what really happened without too much sugarcoating, but avoids the possibility that mom and dad think you are complaining about their precious angel.

Providing child care is a big responsibility.  Parents are taking a leap of faith, and finding good babysitters is really tough.  But it can be a really fun, flexible, profitable job IF you are committed to doing it well.  Happy Babysitting!  (Up Next… How to Keep Your Awesome Babysitter)


Bedroom Updates



I had to search back pretty far to find a photo of the master bedroom before our recent updates. Well, I had to search to find a photo of the room without a giant puppy dog head taking up most of the frame.


I’ve been on a mission to make our bedroom less cluttered, more grown-up, and generally just more peaceful and relaxing.  It seems like the master bedroom is one of the last places to get any attention in a house.  I’ve always attributed it to the idea of “why would you spend money on the room that only you and/or your spouse see?” when there’s so many other public spaces in your house that get lots of use.

So for a long while, this is as far as our bedroom got.  Mismatched furniture, a small-ish television, and my one attempt at a “gallery” wall of various framed works.  This photo was from before the new duvet cover even.  Slowly but surely, it’s coming together.  I sold NavyGuy on the matching nightstands, and our new white duvet cover.  A great sale on brought a larger flat-screen television.  And then finally, the Pottery Barn gods shone down from above, and they let me use a 15% promo code on the dresser I’d had stashed in my online cart for years…

Beautiful.  And it was delivered fully assembled!  This still amazes me as most of my furniture experience involves a box, an allen wrench, and head-scratching assembly directions.  Anyway, with the addition of this dresser, it was finally feasible to mount the tv on the wall above it, and take this master bedroom upgrade into the stratosphere.


NavyGuy was in charge of the project, and took my OCD into account in the planning… all of the cables/cords/ugliness would be hidden in the wall.  This required sawing into the wall and doing all kinds of electrical and manly work that I frankly, was not convinced he could safely do.


I had to step out for most of the process, because the chaos and mess was making me twitchy.


Successful electrical work with no shocks!


The television has been up – securely – for about a week and a half.  Tally approves.  The TiVo sits nicely on the top of the dresser and now I have room for my sitting chair and big Target mirror in the corner.



(Don’t be alarmed by the cockeyed angles in this photo – everything is straight in real life, we just hadn’t pushed the dresser all the way back when I took this photo.)  I’m in love.  The dresser holds a multitude of sins (in fact, I still have three empty drawers just waiting to be filled with either stuff from closet or stuff from Old Navy ;).  The TV set-up is so slick, and I feel totally pampered lounging in bed at night watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  (We’ve totally started watching and are both big fans… he’s just so earnest and happy and willing to laugh at himself.)  NavyGuy’s dresser got moved to the right wall, and all that’s left to do is rehang the pictures.  I think I’m going to make another gallery wall above the blue chair, next to the window.  And now I’m off to chill and relax in my sanctuary… 🙂

Oscar Preview

For the third year in a row, NavyGuy and I managed to see all of the Academy Award Best Picture nominated films before the Oscar telecast.  I have to admit, we’re quite proud of ourselves, and really enjoy how this has become our little tradition.  The quest to see all of the nominees adds some adventure and fun to the typically dull month of February.  My thoughts before tomorrow night’s show:

… I think the Best Picture prize is a race between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, with American Hustle as a potential spoiler.

… Cate Blanchett is going to win Best Actress.

… Matthew McConaghey is most likely going to win Best Actor.

… The Best Director award will go to a director whose film does not win Best Picture.

… Idina Menzel is going to perform, which could be a highlight of the night.

… I am neutral about Ellen DeGeneres as host – I’m not overly excited about her, but I think she’ll be fine.

… All of the nine nominated films this year were enjoyable to watch.  That has not always been the case!  (I’m looking at you, 2012’s Tree of Life.)  

… Nominated Film I am Most Likely to Rewatch: American Hustle (funniest, most engaging and entertaining)

… Nominated Film I am Least Likely to Rewatch: Her  (Long and depressing.  Of course, 12 Years a Slave is no joy ride, butI could see rewatching it at some point because it is historical.)

… Nominated Film I was Most Surprised By: Nebraska (Less depressing than expected)

… Nominated Film I was Least Surprised By: Wolf of Wall Street (Typical Scorsese flick – lots of swearing, drugs, and about an hour too long)

… Nominated Film YOU Should Watch if You Only Have Time for One:  Gravity (It’s the shortest, and the most likely to still be talked about 10 years from now.)

Bring on the champagne and insane red carpet dresses!

A Nannying First

Due to a scheduling mix-up, I ended up being the one to take Baby C to his one-year well baby check-up on Monday instead of his mama.  Definitely a first for me (and technically for him too!), but it all went well.  I came armed with questions from his mama, and a bag of treats to keep him occupied while we waited.  The Doctor was super nice and was very understanding about the caregiver swap-a-roo.


(Clearly, he’s getting some new back teeth, and no teething ring or biter can match the excellence that is one’s fingers.)

Baby C measured off the charts for height (like 110th percentile) and clocked in at a hearty 26 lbs… so he basically resembles a two year old 🙂  Everything else checked out healthy, but then came the worst part – shots!  C was due for two vaccinations.  There were a few big alligator tears when the needle went in, but he bounced back like a champ.  All in all, I think we both passed the check-up with flying colors!


Pinning This Week

This is what has caught my eye on Pinterest in the past week…

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

This recipe is from, which is a blog I follow.  I’ve tried a few of her recipes before and they’ve all been successful.  Unfortunately, these were not.  Don’t get me wrong – the taste was spot on.  You’d have no idea that there were beans in them.  The problem however was the texture.  Somehow they were moist, but crumbled when touched.  I had to serve them on a plate with a fork, which to me, is not a brownie.  Alas.

Flat-Belly Yoga Sequence

I’m not sure my belly is much flatter, but my arms certainly hurt after doing it!  Numbers 6,8, and 14 are particularly challenging.  The last move often leads to me somersaulting and flying into Tally pup if she’s observing the livingroom yoga.

Kale Smoothie Base

If I’m going to make a smoothie instead of snacking on chips, I need every convenience I can get.  Blending up a whole container of kale is the way to go.  I added a bit of water to make sure everything froze well and stuck together, and then filled a muffin tin with the mixture.  Wait until they freeze, then pop them out and store in a ziplock bag.  Works like a charm.  Pinterest Win!

Toddler Activity

This is on my list to try with Baby C the next rainy day we have.  You attach a couple toilet paper / paper towel tubes to the wall, and let the little one have fun dropping pom poms or small-ish items through them.  It’s a Montessori inspired activity that is supposed to encourage coordination and the finger/thumb pinch; obviously if you’re using small items with a youngster who is still apt to put things in his mouth, you’ll need to play with him 🙂

Just because…