Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wiggle Room

My little girl was complaining about a sore tooth this week.  The mommy wheels in my head started churning trying to figure out if we had a dental emergency on our hands, or a passing phase.  Do I need to make a dentist appointment tomorrow?  Or can it wait until the appointment we already have on the books in July?  Turns out the tooth was sore and LOOSE!  We are about to embark on a new chapter in life at our house....the Tooth Fairy/Jack-o-Lantern smile chapter. 

As we ate dinner the other night she paused between each bite to check the tooth to make sure it hadn't fallen out.  She was curious and full of questions.  "Will it fall out on the floor?  How does it fall out?  Is it going to hurt?  What if I swallow it?  What does the Tooth Fairy do with all the teeth she collects?"

Hmmm.  Good question.  

As I leaned in close to inspect her mouth and admire the loose tooth, it struck me how teeny tiny her little teeth looked inside her mouth.  Truly, they were teeth meant for a baby. 

And clearly she is a baby no longer.  Sigh. 

She sat in her bed waaaayyy past bedtime wiggling that little tooth, totally fascinated with the mystery of this whole process of dropping baby teeth and growing new adult teeth. She was so excited to go to school the next day to show her teachers and friends this new attraction inside her mouth. 

Lucky for us, we had a garage sale last weekend so we're all stocked up on dollar bills and ready for Tooth Fairy duty. We're prepared with the fancy Tooth pillow that has a tiny little pocket for discarded baby teeth.  We've read our Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth book about 500 times, so we are all 110% clear on the process of teeth falling out, and the fact that it's perfectly natural and we shouldn't freak out if there is a little gore (that's fancy for blood) during the process. 

Now if someone could just explain to me what the heck the Tooth Fairy does with millions of teeth, we'd be all set. 

Bottom right center baby tooth preparing an exit strategy. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Who's Your Farmer?

During the past few years I have come to appreciate the benefits of eating locally produced food when it is in season.  I'm no expert on the politics and logistics of food production, but it's safe to say that food grown close to home is fresher, requires less gasoline to get to your table, and tastes better.  And as a bonus, many small, local farmers don't use chemical sprays or fertilizers, which means a healthier product overall. 

The first thing that got me interested in eating local was the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  The second thing that got me hooked was my corner strawberry stand. 

Each spring, strawberry stands pop up all over Shasta County.  I was a little dubious years ago, because, well, they sell strawberries at why make an extra stop?  Well, if you get a fresh strawberry, just picked at peak season, there is no comparison.  None.  These babies are juicy, sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender.  The crunchy, white-fleshed sorry substitutes they sell at the grocery store are not worthy of the title strawberry as far as I'm concerned. 

These days we buy three pints at a time at our local strawberry stand and go through them in about three days.  This weekend I bought six pints and tossed half in the freezer for smoothies and made a strawberry pie.  I'm in strawberry heaven!! 

This year I started chatting up the farmer at the stand each week when I buy my berries.  I've been going there for years and have never really stopped to talk (mostly because I'm not really a small talker, and because I'm usually hauling kids and I'm rushing back to the car to make sure they don't die from heat stroke).   Turns out my farmer's name is Amy too.  She told me she planted 50,000 strawberry plants this year.  Or maybe it was 15,000.  She's got a bit of an accent so sometimes things get lost in translation.  Either way, she is in charge of a whole lot of berries.  The night before the big Saturday morning farmer's market, she was out in the fields until 11pm picking by the light of her headlamp to ensure she would have enough berries to keep up with demand.

As good as the berries are, there is something even more special about knowing you farmer.  Placing your grocery money directly into the hand of the person that produced your food is a sacred moment.  I consider it a small victory knowing we bypassed the factory farms, transportation companies, oil empires, pesticide producers, and grocery chains.   Product direct to consumer, profit direct to farmer.

Knowing that your produce went from field to table in less than 12 hours is a treat.  A rare treat for most of us, but one that is most definitely worthwhile.  It's worth the extra few cents per pound.  Worth the extra trip to farmers market.  Worth a rogue worm here and there.  Because local food is good food, plain and simple.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Worth the Money

Parents of America are bombarded with advertisements for all sorts of stuff (actually, crap) that will make their lives easier, make their kids sleep better at night, entertain their kids for hours or make life 100% sunshine and rainbows.  Truth is, most of it is garbage.  Literally.  Your kids will use it for 12.3 minutes and quickly forget about it.  It will collect dust in the corner, the dog will chew on it and it will eventually end up in the trash can. The kids won't care who bought it for them or how much it cost.  Either they like it, or they don't.  Believe me, I've scoured online reviews in search of the prefect toys and still come up with duds for my kids. 

In my experience there are precious few items that are actually worth the money.  Boxes get more playtime than the toys inside.  But during my tenure as mother, I have discovered a few items that have stood the test of time.  These things were actually helpful and/or enjoyed by my children for longer than 10 minutes.  I can't guarantee these items are going to be winners in every household, but as far as our family is concerned, this stuff is worth the money.

Sand Box
Take my word on this.  Kids love to dig.  LOVE it, I say!  We put in a sandbox when my daughter was about two years old.  She is now five and still plays in the sandbox, sometimes daily, depending on how much time we spend outside.  My three year old son loves it too, although he is still working on Sandbox Etiquette like not throwing sand or keeping your hands off of other people's sand castles.  You can slap together some 2x6 boards and make yourself a sandbox, or just fill in an old kiddie pool with sand.  Or if you're really crafty, get on over to Pinterest for sandbox ideas that will make your head spin.  Be sure to cover it to keep leaves out, and so the neighborhood cats don't mistake it for a litter box.  It will take quite a few bags of sand (or a small pick-up load) to fill your sandbox, so it can get a bit pricey.  But as I said, Worth The Money. 

Melissa & Doug Wooden Animal Nesting Blocks
Melissa & Doug Wooden Animal Nesting Blocks
Active toys make passive kids.  Passive toys make active kids.  This is most certainly true.  Put a kid in front of a toy with 15 buttons, lights and all kinds of noises and they will sit passively as the toy entertains them.  Put a kid in front of simple toy like these nesting blocks and they will stack them, sort them by color, ask about the animal names, find toys that fit inside the different sized boxes, make staircases for their dolls, ramps for their cars, and much more.  These blocks have been in our house for years, they still get a decent amount of playtime.  They also appear to be virtually indestructible since we haven't managed to break any of them.  Yet.  

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg
We don't have babies in our house any longer, but this book was my Bible when the kiddos were very small.  Everybody wants to know how to make babies sleep better/longer/easier and this book was a foolproof guide to teaching babies to fall asleep on their own.  Turns out that life skill is now a lifesaver.  We don't have much of the bedtime drama that other parents complain about.  Our kiddos sleep in their own bed without complaint.  They fall asleep on their own and rarely require intervention in the middle of the night.  Her method is not difficult, and I don't think I need to remind anyone how AWESOME it is to have a quiet house with sleeping children. The book is old, and therefore cheap (around $5).  Do yourself a favor if you're having a baby.  Or you know someone that's pregnant.  GO and buy this book now, before your baby is born.  Because really, even if you kids are great sleepers, you're probably going to have a hard time finding time to read for the next 18 years. 
Product Details
Simple, lego-like blocks.  Hours of fun.  I once spent an afternoon with my daughter making all kinds of things...giraffes, cars, houses, bikes, lions, and more.  Never mind that nothing I created remotely resembled the real deal.  She believed me when I told her it was a skateboard.  The blocks are big enough to not present a choking hazard, so they are safe even for the smallest builders.  Equally entertaining for toddlers and preschoolers. 

Kettler Kettrike
If you know me, you know I'm not the type to spend $250 on a tricycle.  However, you will also recall that I'm a Craigslist fan.  And that is how we came to own this dream of a tricycle for $40. The thoughtful design and super-study construction on this trike makes it worthwhile, even if you pay full price.  The seat straps allow you to put your kid on this thing when they are pretty young (right around 1 year in our house).  The push handle is critical since little legs do tire quickly and bending over to push a trike rider...well...ouch.  The push handle easily pops off for those moments when your kid insists he wants to do it himself.  And then it goes on in a snap in 30 seconds later when he's crying for a push.  The front wheel locks in place for easy steering when Mom is pushing, and then unlocks when the little one is ready to take full control.  Did I mention sturdy?  We bought ours used over 5 years ago and it's still going strong.  It's a little sun faded, but totally functional.  It's the Energizer bunny of tricycles. 

How about you?  What has managed to keep the attention of your kids longer than 10 minutes?