Get them to wash their hands

June 30, 2007 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

Here’s a quick trick I’ve been using to get the boys to wash their hands.  I have them each pick out one of their tub animals (frogs are popular this week) and tell them to give it a bath.  They turn the water on and I give each animal a liberal dose of soap from the foaming dispenser.  They scrub away for the next 5 minutes!  The boys enjoy some play time in the sink and get their hands clean at the same time.

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks

June 28, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews

Monster MuttOkay, this is a toy that I would never have seen myself buying in my pre-kid days but its a big favorite in our house now. These little monster trucks are modeled after real ones that my boys like to watch on T.V. and they have proven to stand up to a lot of abuse (we have had a few wheels come loose but crazy glue got them back in working order). They have neat axles and are well built. I try to avoid the ones with removable parts. It seems there are a million different trucks available. I have called toy stores to have them search for a certain style truck (we are currently in need of Batman and a dalmatian version of Monster Mutt).

PouncerWe have tried the mini ones but they are made of plastic and have all broken. They have the rubber wheels that all pull-back cars have so my 2 1/2 year old has more fun taking off the rubber wheels and breaking them then he does playing with them. So the mini ones have since disappeared but the 1:64 scale ones are being raced around the house for months now by our boys. There are bigger sizes too but who wants a bunch of big trucks kicking around and they of course cost more anyway.

Batman TruckI like that the kids can watch the monster truck show and play with the trucks at the same time. We only watch shows we tape on Tivo so we can skip the commercials and anything we may not want the kids to see, in all its pretty wholesome compared to other kids shows. We have recently discovered a show called Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks which the boys love. Its one of those cartoons where the trucks have faces and talk (like the Cars movie but with trucks). I am totally turned off by Nascar but the monster trucks are fun and as a mom its a boy thing that I can get into.

The Friendly Skies

June 27, 2007 by  
Filed under Family Activities

Model Airplane Open HouseBefore Fathers Day weekend we checked the local paper to see if there were any fun activities to take the family to. We decided to try something different and went to an open house offered by a local model airplane club. Their field was about 10 miles from house located in some gorgeous countryside on top of a hill without any houses in sight. They had a barbecue going selling hot dogs and hamburgers and it was a lot of fun checking out these planes and watching them fly. They offer a free tutorial flight to anyone over 10. They have a regular flying schedule for the members of the club and visitors are welcome anytime.

Nice model biplaneThis activity was such a nice discovery. So many of the activities geared towards kids involve too much noise, crowds, and money. This one involve fresh air, lots of greenery, and a friendly group of people and their planes. We also learned about a great craft project for the kids. Ethan and Ben were each given an airplane made out of styrofoam egg cartons. Worked great and they had a blast flying them.

Ethan’s photo of model airplanesI strongly recommend looking off the beaten path for finding activities to share with your kids. I also recommend letting your kids take some pictures with the digital camera. They often get some great shots like this one by Ethan.

Creating the “Perfect” Mural

June 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

Little Bear MuralWhen Ethan moved into his own room I wanted to do something to make it special. He loved Little Bear so I thought that would make a nice mural. Inspiration hit me one day while he was watching the show on our big TV. I bought a roll of tracing paper, paused the show, and taped the paper over the TV. It was easy to lightly trace the pictures of the characters. I decided on the tree idea since they are always in the woods and it was easy to find scenes in the show to trace that I could then bring together by drawing the whole tree.

After you make your initial tracing, retrace the picture on the back of the paper using chalk. Tape it to the wall in the desired location (chalk against the wall) and retrace the front one more time. This will transfer the chalk to the wall. Just to be safe (the chalk easily wipes off), lightly trace the chalk on the wall with a pencil. Draw the rest of the scene freehand and let the painting begin!

I took these pictures because I just moved both boys into a bigger room and I painted over the Little Bear mural to do a girly room for Jamie. I’ll post about the new rooms soon. The boys now have a sports room and Jamie’s is stripes and polka dots in bright colors.

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Too Much Stuff

June 23, 2007 by  
Filed under Our Life

Our kids have a lot of toys, some bought new by us or other relatives, some hand me downs from family and a lot from garage sales. I love all the kids’ toys that are actually played with regularly and don’t just sit and collect dust. I have a hard time getting rid of the ignored toys but I make myself either give them away or put them away until one of the kids is interested in them. John has gotten really good at putting up shelves and buying clear storage containers so we can keep things organized (somewhat). It took us a long time to get the hang of it but toy rotation is the way to go. If the tinker toys have been away a few weeks and then get taken out its like Christmas morning for a few hours. After a few days, I’m tired of stepping over them and its time to pack them back away and get out the legos or a collection of trucks.

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National Marrow Donor Program

June 22, 2007 by  
Filed under Our Life

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from the National Marrow Donor Program.  I’ve been on the bone marrow donor list for over 10 years and aside from the occasional mailing haven’t heard anything from them.  This letter, however, was a little different.  They wanted me to sign a form to give them permission to perform further tests on the blood sample they collected 10 years ago when I first registered.  At first I thought this was something they were sending to all donors so they could perform a new advanced test to help find matches, but then something caught my attention.  They requested that if I agreed to the test, send the letter back in 2 weeks.  Still not sure what to make of that, but it seems like I might be a possible match for someone.  Just in case, I went to their website and updated my contact information with my home, cell, and work phone so they can contact me quicker than using the post office.

If you’re not already registered as a donor it is a great program to join.  They take a small blood sample and add your information to the registry.  After that all you need to do is keep your contact information current.  The chances of someone to find a match outside their family is like winning the lottery so the more people registered the better.  And if you happen to be the one who matches then you get the rare opportunity to be someone’s winning lottery ticket and save their life.

Get Dirty – Doctors Orders

June 21, 2007 by  
Filed under Parenting

Has anyone else noticed that the pendulum is starting to swing the other way in regards to child protection? The last 10 years or so we have been training to fear everything and that has found its way into raising children. Protect them from strangers, the sun, too much soap, not enough soap, needles in candy, etc, etc. What parents are starting to realize is that some of these fears are well founded and others are completely bogus.

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Top 10 Reasons Geeks make Great Dads

June 19, 2007 by  
Filed under Parenting

Here’s a list near and dear to my heart.  Here are my favorites:

1. LEGOS. The Geek is really more of a Man-Child than an adult. In their minds, they are still 10. They freakin’ still love to play with their legos, and have never grown up.

2. VIDEO GAMES. Due to the whole Man-Child thing as stated in #1, the Geek loves video games.

4. SMART KIDS. Smart Geeks make smart children.

7. TOY ASSEMBLY. You will never, ever have to spend six hours of your life, that you will never get back, trying to assemble some 2,000 piece toy at 3 am on Christmas Eve again.

Tip for Keeping Toddlers off the Table

June 18, 2007 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

One of my favorite parenting sites is ParentHacks.com. A hack is typically associated with computers, but in simpler terms a hack is just “a clever solution to an interesting problem.” I have yet to meet a parent who hasn’t come up with a unique and often brilliant solution to one of the dilemmas that parents face every day. I now present my own favorite hack that I plan to submit. I’ll let you know if it makes it onto the parenthacks site.

Ethan and Ben were both very tall toddlers and excellent climbers…a dangerous combination. One of their favorite destinations was the dining room table because we have a large hanging light above it that will spin when pushed and could probably be used for a good Tarzan swing if a toddler were given enough time to muster up the courage. Heather and I were always on our toes to make when we heard the dreaded SILENCE that meant someone was up to no good.

One day while I was perusing (ok drooling) the tools in Lowes I discovered the solution to our problem. Tie down straps! And no, not for tying down the kids. For those who down know what they are a tie down strap is simply a flat nylon rope with hooks on each end and a ratchet in the middle to pull them tight. They’re meant for holding down objects in a truck or trailer. If you’ve ever seen someone towing a motorcycle on a trailer then you’ve seen a tie down strap.

Tie Down Straps for Kids!My solution was to hook together the chairs on opposite sides of the table and pull them tight together. Now the boys couldn’t pull out the chairs to make their ascent. The ratchets are easy to disengage so we could still use the table for meals. I’m sure anyone who visited our house thought we were insane, but in truth locking down the chairs returned some of our sanity because we didn’t have to worry about one of the kids taking a header onto the hardwood floor.

What I particularly love about this solution is that it screams ‘Dad’s idea!’ No power tools involved, but it does require a trip to Lowes and offers that proper balance of manly effectiveness and ugliness that guys strive for.

Amazon Grocery

June 16, 2007 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks


I’m a huge fan of Amazon. This past holiday season I signed up for Amazon Prime, the $79 service where you receive free second day shipping on all Amazon items. For anyone who isn’t organized or likes to procrastinate (guilty both charges) this is a great service for those last minute gift orders.Now Amazon has started offering groceries. When I first heard this I dismissed it. Why bother ordering online when you’ll have to go to the grocery store anyway to buy your perishables?

Then I heard about their subscription service. You can subscribe to grocery items on Amazon and have them delivered automatically. Free shipping, no sales tax. Wow…NOW I’m interested. We’re going to test it out on a few items, like the ones our grocery store always seems to be sold out of, and I’ll let you know what we think.

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